By Ochiaka Ugwu with agency report
President Donald Trump and Joe Biden each claim to be ahead in the US presidential election, even as the final outcome hangs on a razor’s edge and both sides gear up for legal action.
The Associated Press statistics as of 8: 30 PM WAT yesterday showed that Joe Biden, presidential candidate of the Democratic Party Clinched 264 of the electoral votes and 50% of the total votes cast standing at 72, 463,752, while Donald Trump of the Republican Party got 214 of the electoral votes, and 47.9% of the total votes cast representing a total of 68, 904, 595 votes.
Either of the candidate must score at least 270 of the electoral college votes.
The Trump campaign is contesting counts in the key states of Nevada, Wisconsin, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
The BBC projects Mr Biden won Michigan. US media forecast he took Wisconsin. No result has yet emerged in Pennsylvania.
Winning all three of these Rust Belt states would hand Mr Biden victory.
The Democratic candidate is also currently leading in Nevada and Arizona, while the gap is closing between him and Mr Trump as counting continues in Georgia.
Mr Biden has stopped short of declaring victory, but said he was confident he was on course to beat his Republican rival.
Overall turnout in the election was projected to be the highest in 120 years at 66.9%, according to the US Election Project.
Mr Biden had the support of 70.5 million voters, the most won by any presidential candidate ever. Mr Trump has pulled in 67.2 million votes, four million more than he gained in 2016.
The bitter election race was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, which hit a new record high of 103,000 daily cases in the US on Wednesday, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
Mr Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware: “When the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners.”
“I will govern as an American president. The presidency itself is not a partisan institution.”
He and his running mate Kamala Harris have launched a website for the transition of power, which says that their team “will continue preparing at full speed so that the Biden-Harris Administration can hit the ground running on Day One.”
Mr Biden also said he was feeling “very good” about Pennsylvania, although President Trump’s campaign said it was “declaring victory” in the state on the count of “all legal ballots”.
Senior Trump campaign aide Jason Miller said: “By the end of this week, it will be clear to the entire nation that President Trump and Vice-President Pence will be elected for another four years.”
Mr Biden has 243 Electoral College votes, giving him the edge in the race to accumulate the 270 needed to win the White House. Mr Trump has 214.
In the US election, voters decide state-level contests rather than a single, national one. Each US state gets a certain number of electoral college votes partly based on its population, with a total of 538 up for grabs.
If Mr Trump does lose Wisconsin (10 electoral college votes), he must win Georgia (16 votes), North Carolina (15), Pennsylvania (20) and either Arizona (11) or Nevada (6) to prevail.
Officials in Georgia said they would keep going all night until counting was finished, but as of midnight local time (05:00 GMT) they reported that there were still about 90,000 votes to count. At that time President Trump was ahead by some 31,000 votes, but his lead has narrowed since.