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Examining The Presidential Vote Tally In Georgia, Nevada And Arizona

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

At this hour, Joe Biden continues to lead President Trump but is still short of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency. Biden's at 264. President Trump is at 214. Biden requires just one of the handful of states still not declared to go his way to hit that mark. Those states are incredibly close right now. We're going to focus in on two of them, Georgia and Nevada. NPR's Leila Fadel is in Las Vegas. And Georgia Public Broadcasting's Stephen Fowler is with us from Georgia. Stephen, I want to start with you because there was a big change overnight in the count in your state, right?

STEPHEN FOWLER, BYLINE: That's right. So as of about 4:30 this morning, Democrat Joe Biden has the lead by about a thousand votes, as absentee ballots from a heavily Democratic county just south of Atlanta came in. But there are still about 10,000 absentee ballots that we know of coming from places like suburban Gwinnett County and other isolated places across the state.

Then there are a number of ballots that we don't know how many there are. These are things like military and overseas ballots that can come in before 5 p.m. Friday, as well as provisional ballots and absentee ballots that needed to be cured for some sort of signature mismatch or other issue. And so it is a very, very razor-thin, close margin. But for the first time, Joe Biden is ahead in Georgia.

MARTIN: President Trump yesterday called out Georgia as a place with suspicious vote counting, alleging that Democrats are in charge of that process, suggesting that there's a politicization to the vote counting, which there is not, because, actually, the claim is just false, right? Democrats aren't in charge there.

FOWLER: That's correct. Georgia is a Republican state with a Republican governor, Republican secretary of state, Republican state legislature. And most of Georgia's 159 counties have local Republican leadership. So that claim is just false. What we have seen from the Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, here, though, is an increased commitment to transparency in explaining the process that this is normal for it to take time for ballots to be counted, and that people should trust the process no matter who is ahead. And so that's been a really big push back to this kind of claim of fraud or aberration.

MARTIN: All right. Stephen Fowler, thank you. We're going to turn to Leila Fadel. Where do things stand in terms of the count in Nevada right now?

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: Well, it's a waiting game. We're expecting some new counts to be released at 10 a.m. local time. The race remains really tight. Vice President Joe Biden has a slight lead. And Clark County's registrar of voters, Joe Gloria - that's where 90% of the ballots left to be counted are - said he didn't expect to release the count for the majority of those votes until Saturday or Sunday. Clark County is the most populous in Nevada, home to Las Vegas. And the state's counting mail-in ballots that are postmarked by November 3 until November 10.

MARTIN: I mean, the Trump campaign is putting a lot of pressure on Nevada. I imagine the longer this goes on, the more tense it feels there.

FADEL: Right. Absolutely. Yesterday we heard the state GOP and Trump's reelection campaign threaten another lawsuit to temporarily halt vote counting, claiming they believe people who were dead or had moved out of Clark County cast ballots. The state GOP later tweeted they sent a criminal referral to the Department of Justice again, claiming over 3,000 people from out of state cast ballots.

So far, though, the Nevada courts have blocked suits filed by the campaign and state GOP because the evidence for fraud just isn't there. Gloria, the registrar of voters, dismissed the accusations. The Democratic Party chair said they were baseless scare tactics to interfere with the elections. But evidence or not, some people really believe the president's baseless claims of a rigged election. And we're seeing small, peaceful protests. All of this has led to a lot of pressure on poll workers. They're working under intense scrutiny. And they're fearful about their safety. This is Joe Gloria describing that fear yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE GLORIA: I can tell you that my wife and my mother are very concerned for me, but we have security here. We have law enforcement who are protecting us. I am concerned for the safety of my staff.

FADEL: So he says it won't stop the count. They're boosting security. And they're monitoring vehicles coming in and out of counting centers.

MARTIN: Leila Fadel in Las Vegas. Thank you. We also heard from Stephen Fowler in Georgia. And I want to turn to the state of Arizona now. The Associated Press has already called the state for Biden. NPR goes with AP's calls. Fox News already called it for Biden as well, but several networks have not. And the count goes on. And we've got Jimmy Jenkins with us from KJZZ in Phoenix. Jimmy, we got a significant update on the vote totals in Arizona last night. Where does that leave the vote count there?

JIMMY JENKINS, BYLINE: That's right. Biden now leads by a little more than 47,000 votes. In the last update from Maricopa County last night, President Trump narrowed the gap here by nearly 11,000 votes. We also had something of a surprise last night when traditionally liberal Pima County, home to Tucson, posted a large update showing Trump winning more than 50% of those returns. Many people were speculating those ballots would be better news for Vice President Biden. But over the last few days, Biden's lead has been narrowing. And based on what we know about where the uncounted ballots are coming from, the expectation is that Biden's lead will continue to dwindle. But no one can say for sure at this point who will ultimately prevail.

MARTIN: We should just note, again, the AP has called Arizona for Joe Biden already. But as you say, it's very tight there. Any idea when we can expect to get another update?

JENKINS: The county says there are 204,000 early ballots left to process and tabulate, as well as 15,000 provisional ballots left to verify. Maricopa County will do another update of unofficial results at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. today - that's 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern - and, again, until all ballots are counted. It could take another day or two before we get a definitive winner. The Maricopa County election team has been working from the early morning, late into the night, while massive crowds have gathered outside the county election center.

Hundreds of people have been rallying there in support of President Trump, calling for votes to be counted, which is exactly what workers on the inside are doing. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has been on site in riot gear, keeping the peace and looking out for election workers. The president yesterday kept alleging the process had been kept secret or that there was a suppression of vote counting. But Maricopa County is actually one of the elections' operations that has livestreaming cameras of the work being done. There is a press observation room. I've stood in it. You can see where the counting is being done. So...

MARTIN: Yeah.

JENKINS: ...Maricopa County has been very transparent about this process despite enormous pressure from the president and threats from people outside their workplace.

MARTIN: Jimmy Jenkins with KJZZ in Phoenix, thank you.

JENKINS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.