Voters cast their ballots in Pennsylvania as possibility of legal dispute looms

In the Pittsburgh neighbourhood of Garfield, a queue began building outside the polling station before dawn.

Voters who had dragged themselves out of bed to cast their ballot waited in the cold for the doors to open at 7am.

But American voters are energised and keen to make their views known.

Nearly 100 million voters have already cast their ballots before today – a record for early voting in America.

Live updates from the US election

Some voters have waited in the cold since 7am
Image:Some voters have waited in the cold since 7am

While this is perhaps to be expected amid a pandemic with a spike in the number of people voting by mail, there is a sense Americans are more engaged than ever in the increasingly polarised politics of the country.

People are pushing through the challenges of the pandemic and long lines at polling stations to exercise their democratic right, and the country is on course to surpass 150 million votes for the first time in history.

More from Donald Trump

  • ‘Four more years of Donald Trump would hurt America’

  • US election 2020: Donald Trump warns of ‘violence in the streets’ as voters head to the polls

  • Sir Sean Connery: Donald Trump claims Bond star ‘stepped in’ so he could build Scottish golf course

  • Joe Biden would be ‘very realistic’ about UK’s trade struggles if he becomes president – David Miliband

  • US Election 2020: Joe Biden summons Obama’s star power in final push for votes

  • US election 2020: Dermot Murnaghan’s 7 things to watch on election night

Pennsylvania has been blitzed by both candidates during this campaign, with both Donald Trump and Joe Biden visiting the state up to the wire.

The rust belt state was key to Mr Trump’s victory in 2016 and is widely viewed as the knife-edge of this election.

Whichever way Pennsylvania goes, the country is likely to fall too.

Trump supporters show Biden that winning Pennsylvania won't be as easy as the polls say

Trump supporters show Biden that winning Pennsylvania won’t be as easy as the polls say

Joe Biden prepares to travel to Pennsylvania on election day
Image:Joe Biden prepares to travel to Pennsylvania on election day

While Mr Biden has a clear lead in the polls nationally, it has become an increasingly tight race in Pennsylvania in recent weeks.

Mr Trump took the state by fewer than 45,000 votes in 2016. Analysts say a mere gust of wind could blow Pennsylvania blue.

Around a third of people in Pennsylvania have voted early, fewer than in the other rust belt states, and the majority of voters are due to cast their ballots on election day.

While early voting favours the Democrats, on the day voting favours Mr Trump.

:: Subscribe to Divided States on Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Spreaker

State polls will have staggered closing times due to the different time zones, but the result for Pennsylvania may not be known for days.

While the state’s largest cities, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, are aiming to count postal votes on election night, many suburbs and rural areas will count into Wednesday if not beyond.

This is expected to create some election night anxiety.

Mr Trump has repeatedly demanded that the candidate leading on election night should be named the victor.

But not all the votes will be counted by this point.

On the day, votes are counted before postal ballots and Mr Trump has sought to discredit voting by mail throughout this campaign.

Calling the result early could show an incorrect result – but the president is all too aware that would likely work in his favour.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Long lines across US as voters head to polls

The Supreme Court recently ruled postal votes could be counted in Pennsylvania for up to three days after election day, provided they were postmarked by 3 November.

In a tweet which was flagged with a warning on Twitter on the eve of the election, Mr Trump wrote: “The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one.

“It will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws. It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!”

Local election officials are braced for possible legal challenges in this closely contested state which could decide the election.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Why are some states key in the US election?

Postal votes that arrive in the window between election day and the deadline will be separated in anticipation of a legal dispute.

This is not the first time a presidential election result could be decided in the courts, after the Florida vote was settled in George Bush’s favour in 2000.

Unlike that election, Mr Trump is peddling the suggestion of violence in the streets, rather than quelling the unnerving idea of unrest.

Counting has always taken place after election day.

Some of the states that favoured Mr Trump in 2016 were called in the ensuing days.

Amid the unprecedented electoral climate of a pandemic, there is a need for patience and calm. The president is showing signs of neither.

Sky News US election coverage

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *