Balloons and signs fill the fence between Black Lives Matter Plaza and Lafayette Park near the White House on Monday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 5 (UPI) -- The 2020 election entered its second day of ballot counting Thursday with 71 electoral votes in the balance and ever-tightening margins between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
The biggest prize -- Pennsylvania's 20 electoral votes -- could be awarded Thursday evening when election officials predicted most of the 250,666 outstanding ballots would be tabulated.
Biden's electoral count stands at 253 to Trump's 213, according to projections by NBC News, CNN and CBS News. It takes 270 to win.
As of Thursday evening, Trump had a lead of 53,300 votes over Biden in Pennsylvania, as the lead has dwindled as the count progressed.
"Counties are furiously at work," Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told CNN. "It's looking like we are ahead of schedule."
Election officials said they still had about 72,470 ballots to count from Philadelphia, which has leaned toward Biden.
Besides Pennsylvania, the race remained too close to call in Arizona with 11 electoral votes, Nevada with six, Georgia with 16, North Carolina with 15 and Alaska with three. There is also one electoral vote in a Maine district that has not been projected.
In North Carolina, election officials said Thursday that as many as 40,000 provisional ballots needed to be reviewed. State officials said 98% of state ballots had been counted. Trump was leading Biden by 76,701 votes or 49.98% to Biden's 48.57%.
Gabriel Sterling, Georgia's voting system implementation manager, told reporters that a little more than 61,300 outstanding mail-in absentee ballots remained to be counted as of Thursday afternoon. That includes close to 5,000 in Fulton County, which contains Atlanta, officials said earlier Thursday.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the counting should be completed Thursday.
On Thursday night, Gwinett County elections supervisor Kristi Royston said the only remaining absentee ballots were ones that required "adjudication," meaning they require review due to issues on the ballot picked up by counting machines.
The latest count on Thursday evening shows Trump leading by about 3,486 votes.
In Nevada, Biden's lead fell slightly to about 11,438, state officials said.
The number of ballots still outstanding in Nevada cannot be accurately determined because mail-in ballots were automatically sent to all registered voters due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Arizona, Biden's lead over Trump tightened with the release of a new batch of results late Wednesday and early Thursday from Maricopa County, which contains Phoenix.
About 450,000 ballots remained to be counted, including 300,000 in Maricopa County, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs told CBS News Thursday afternoon, adding that officials may not be sure of the winner until Friday.
Officials said Trump won 57% of the 140,000 additional ballots counted on late Wednesday and early Thursday. As of Thursday evening, Biden's lead in the state was about 56,800 votes. The lead had previously been about 90,000 votes.
Meanwhile, the Trump campaign announced plans to file a lawsuit in Nevada to halt the counting of "improper" mail votes. The campaign lost challenges it filed Wednesday in Georgia and Michigan.
Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said Thursday the former vice president is confident he will win Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania and called Georgia a "true toss-up" that's leaning toward Biden.
Dillon dismissed the Trump campaign's legal maneuvers as "meritless."
"Nothing more than an attempt to distract and delay the inevitable," she said. "Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States."
Biden senior adviser Bob Bauer said the suits are frivolous and intended to create "a cloud" over the election.
"[They are] part of a broader misinformation campaign that involves some political theater," he said.
Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said the president's chances for victory were "alive and well."
"We are going to keep fighting for this election because that is what the American people deserve," he said on a call with reporters.