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The status of vote counts in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia

Correction: In the original, live version of this broadcast, reporter Dan Bush misspoke and said voting is continuing in Pennsylvania. What he meant to say was that vote counting is continuing. Anchor Judy Woodruff later made a correction on the air. Both the error and the correction have been removed from the video here.

What’s happening on the ground in the critical states where ballots are still being counted -- and how many votes remain to be totaled? Judy Woodruff gets updates from Daniel Bush in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, William Brangham in Detroit, Michigan, and Miles O’Brien in Atlanta, Georgia.

Read the Full Transcript

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, according to early data, Black voters made up 11 percent of the national electorate. Ninety percent of them voted for former Vice President Biden, while 8 percent backed the president.

    But, in Pennsylvania, where Black voters made up 8 percent of the electorate, 93 percent voted for Joe Biden, 6 percent voted for President Trump.

    Our Daniel Bush reports now from Philadelphia.

  • Man:

    Count every vote! Count every vote!

  • Daniel Bush:

    Outside the Philadelphia Convention Center, where the race to tally the city's remaining mail-in ballots continues, demonstrators gathered with one simple message: Count every vote.

    Across the street, supporters of President Trump shot back: Count every legal vote.

  • Dan Kelly:

    It is a corrupted process. It is already very unsafe. It hasn't been done before.

  • Daniel Bush:

    Philadelphia's only one part of a very divided state that President Trump won in 2016. But the city's overwhelmingly Democratic ballots could propel former Vice President Joe Biden to statewide victory, and that may be thanks in large part to the city's Black voters.

  • Man:

    Black people once again are going to save this country.

  • Daniel Bush:

    The Democratic Party said today that the Black turnout in Philadelphia is on track to rival Barack Obama's record in 2008.

    Sharif Street is the vice chair of the Pennsylvania Democrats.

  • Sen. Sharif Street, D-Pa.:

    He will be the vice president of the first Black president, and the president of the first Black vice president. He will have sent the first Black man and first Black woman to national office. That is not lost upon Black people.

  • Daniel Bush:

    It is the culmination of years of outreach efforts by people like Nicolas O'Rourke.

  • Nicholas O’Rourke:

    Joe Biden, if he were to win, owes the presidency to Black and brown communities turning out the vote in record numbers.

  • Daniel Bush:

    He is a state organizer for the Pennsylvania Working Families Party.

  • Nicholas O’Rourke:

    What we saw in 2016 was a major drop-off in major Black voter engagement here in the city of Philadelphia. If they turned out because they were excited and they had a reason to go vote, then that by itself could flip the entire commonwealth.

  • Daniel Bush:

    Many Black Philadelphians say their vote for Biden is as much, if not more, a vote against Donald Trump.

  • Candace McKinley:

    Even some of my more radical friends who don't vote on principle have voted in this election, just because, like, it is so stark. And so it is a vote for survival, I think.

  • Daniel Bush:

    Candace McKinley lives in West Philadelphia, not far from where last week police fatally shot Walter Wallace Jr., a Black man armed with a knife who had a history of mental illness.

  • Candace McKinley:

    Walter Wallace, I think that was on the minds of a lot of people in Philadelphia when they went to the polls, also because it was sort of a reminder of this sort of cycle that we have been in for decades when it comes to the policing and police violence.

  • Daniel Bush:

    Despite the huge turnout from Black voters in Philadelphia, and regardless of the outcome, people here say there is more work to be done.

  • Nicholas O’Rourke:

    As a progressive myself, I know that, even though we have endorsed him, he is not our ideal candidate. Joe Biden has said that he doesn't believe in defunding the police and investing in other communities. We do.

  • Candace McKinley:

    I think a lot of people have been disappointed just by how little fight the Democrats have shown over the past four years.

    So, yes, I would just — I think he owes this community a fight.

  • Daniel Bush:

    Here in Philadelphia, Judy, the voting continues, but that battle to deliver on promises to Black voters is still ahead.

    And a quick note on the vote count here in Pennsylvania. The secretary of state just said a little while ago that 350,000 ballots remain to be counted in the state.

    But a bit of news, Judy. She said that only a fraction of them are in person ballots cast on Election Day. Those are the ones that have favored President Trump. The majority of those ballots, Judy, are absentee mail-in ballots that had been breaking heavily for Joe Biden. Democrats here are telling me it's not a matter of if Joe Biden passes Donald Trump, whose lead is shrinking by the hour as those votes come in. It's now under 100,000. They say it's a matter of when. That could come as early as tonight, maybe tomorrow.

    And, as this is happening, Judy, you can see a lively scene behind me. There are Trump supporters who are focused on all of these legal challenges we reported on at the top of the hour. As well, there are Democrats here. They are starting to party and celebrate. They see that a victory could be close at hand — back to you, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    All right, Dan Bush.

    And we know some of the counting of those mail-in ballots, because they didn't start the counting of those until later than the in person ballots.

    Daniel Bush joining us from Philadelphia.

    Thank you, Dan.

    And we turn now to Michigan, where we find our William Brangham. He is in Detroit.

    William, you have been out talking to voters. Tell us what they are saying to you.

  • William Brangham:

    That's right, Judy.

    I spent a good chunk of day in Macomb County. This is the county famous for the legendary Reagan Democrats, the Democrats who turned to the Republican Party. Obama won Macomb County twice in a row. But Donald Trump in 2016 flipped that county.

    Biden still lost Macomb County to Trump, but he did much better than Hillary Clinton did. And when I was talking to voters there today, the overall sense I got was just one of exhaustion with the entire election.

    They're done with this being — they don't want to talk about it anymore. One woman I talked with today said she was sick of the lawsuits, sick of the allegations of fraud, sick of all the name-calling.

    I made the assumption that she was a Biden supporter. She said: Oh, no, no, no, I have supported President Trump, but I'm still sick of all those things.

    This has been, what I heard today as well, an election that has cost and caused some personal scars for people. I heard a lot of stories of people who have seen their relationships come apart because of this election. One grandmother told me a story about how she and her granddaughter nearly came to blows over this.

    Heard about friendships lost. One couple I talked to who were both Biden supporters. The husband in that family, he's a retired mechanic. He said he had lost five friends over their differences between President Trump and Joe Biden.

    So, it's taken a toll emotionally in some way and personally for a lot of voters.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And no doubt across the country as well.

    So, William, yesterday, you were at protests at places where they were counting votes. There had been a lawsuit, has been a lawsuit, filed by the Trump campaign to stop the counting. Tell us where all that stands right now.

  • William Brangham:

    That's right.

    If you remember, from last night, there were really strong protests of people trying to stop — this was outside the Detroit location where they were counting mail-in ballots. Protesters were out there saying, stop the fraud, stop this count.

    The count continued. That office closed up. We went there this morning, and there was just a handful of protesters. So, that sense of ardor has really died down.

    The Trump campaign, as you mentioned, did file a lawsuit, claiming that they had not been getting enough access to those counting sites, and they wanted better eyes on that process. A judge today threw that suit out, citing that there was no real evidence cited by the Trump campaign.

    It's important to remember, Donald Trump campaigned here six times. He really wanted to win Michigan. He fought hard to be here. The very last campaign stop that Donald Trump made in the entire election was in Grand Rapids, Michigan. That's Kent County.

    This is the county that has gone several times in recent cycles, been pretty red. He left saying: I — if you don't vote for me, and you don't turn out tomorrow, I may never come back to this area again.

    Joe Biden flipped Kent County, helped him win Michigan and its 16 electoral votes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So interesting. That was a big crowd the president drew, but it's a reminder that the size of the rallies don't always tell us what the vote is going to turn out to be.

    William Brangham, reporting tonight from Detroit, thank you so much.

    And, as we have been reporting, President Trump's lead in Georgia has been cut to a narrow margin. And, as of this hour, there are still more than 47,000 ballots from around the state that remain to be counted.

    Our Miles O'Brien joins us again tonight from Atlanta.

    So, Miles, tell us, at this hour, where does the counting stand?

  • Miles O’Brien:

    Well, Judy, as you point out, that margin between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is diminishing as we speak. Only about 9,500 votes separate the two candidates at this juncture, with more than four million votes cast in Georgia.

    There's still some counting to be done, as you suggest, in the mid-40,000 range. Mail-in and absentee ballots need to be scanned and tallied. Most of these ballots come from the pockets of blue in Georgia, the urban centers, which have voted very strongly in favor of Joe Biden.

    So, if you do the mathematics on that, there's no question that margin between the two candidates will diminish. And depending on how you do the math, it could mean that Joe Biden would overtake Donald Trump, being the first Democrat to win Georgia since Bill Clinton did in 1992.

    Tomorrow is the deadline for processing military overseas ballots. There are less than 9,000 of those that could potentially come in between now and then. And then there are provisional ballots, which need to be verified. We don't have statewide numbers on that. Here in Fulton County, there are about 3,000 of those.

    So, we're watching the numbers. By tomorrow, we will have more visibility on this. But they're moving deliberately here, Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So — but, Miles, we know that Georgia was one of the states where they were able to start counting early the ballots that came in early.

    Explain how then it's taking so long to count.

  • Miles O’Brien:

    Yes, it's — they had some time. They had a couple of weeks in advance to the election. And it's not as big a number as you're dealing with in, say, Philadelphia.

    But what happened was, a lot of people frankly, waited until the last minute. There was a huge arrival of ballots right up before the election and on Election Day. And, of course, election officials on Election Day have other things to do.

    So, we have had to wait for that. So they didn't really get busy until Wednesday. You go through the process of signature verification. The ballots must be scanned. And then about 2 to 3 percent of these hand-marked ballots have these ambiguous markings on them.

    And that requires a bipartisan panel to adjudicate, to go through and try to determine voter intent. So, it's a relatively laborious process. And the folks here in Georgia want to make sure that they get it right.

    We spoke a little bit earlier with Gabriel Sterling. He's in charge of the implementation of the voting systems here for the secretary of state.

  • Gabriel Sterling:

    Fast is great. And we appreciate fast. We more appreciate accuracy. Accuracy is going to be the bedrock upon which people will believe the outcomes of these elections, be they on the winning side or the losing side.

  • Miles O’Brien:

    So, the dates to keep in mind here are, the counties have to certify their elections individually. Their deadline is Friday the 13th of November.

    The state has to certify statewide by November 20. After that, if the margin is inside half-a-percent between the two candidates, it's all but certain there will be a recount. So, there's still a long road ahead here, given the closeness of this race in Georgia — Judy.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    It certainly sounds like there could be a long stretch to come.

    And even as I'm asking you about why it's taking so long, of course, our attitude is, it should take as long as it needs to, because every vote needs to be counted.

    All right, Miles O'Brien, reporting from Atlanta, Georgia, thank you.

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