US President Donald Trump has hailed a victory after Georgia Governor Brian Kemp insisted only "legally cast" election ballots would be counted in the key swing state.
Trump shared fellow Republican Kemp's Monday tweet with the comment "I won" in the deep south state, where Democratic candidate Joe Biden has taken a wafer-thin lead of 12,000 votes based on large numbers of controversial mail-in ballots.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 10, 2020
Biden's apparent lead of only 0.2 per cent, with votes still being counted a week after polling day, is well within Georgia's 0.5 per cent threshold for a taxpayer-funded recount, at which observers from all parties can scrutinise ballots and raise objections to any they deem suspect.
And Kemp's comments raise the prospect of an audit of the Georgia elections in a hunt for fraudulent ballots that the Trump campaign claims reversed the president's overwhelming early lead on election night.
Georgia, where both houses of the legislature are under tight Republican control, has 16 electoral college votes which Trump desperately needs if he is to defy media projections and win re-election.
Recounts in States Continue
Earlier on Monday, Trump expressed optimism that he would take Wisconsin, with 10 electoral college votes, where Biden is currently leading by a margin of 20,000 votes or 0.7 per cent. The President cryptically wrote on Twitter that more time was needed "statutorily".
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 9, 2020
Wisconsin law gives presidential candidates one day after completion of the first count to request a recount, which must then be completed within 13 days. Wisconsin governor Tony Evers is a Democrat, but the state legislature is firmly under Republican control.
On Saturday the Republican-controlled Michigan state legislature, in a rare weekend sitting, issued subpoenas for state election officials to testify over the process that saw Biden snatch another narrow lead over Trump that could be crucial to the election result. Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer is a Democrat who has claimed Trump incited a plot to kidnap her that was foiled by federal authorities.
Michigan state House Democrat minority leader Christine Greig called the move a "political stunt designed to undermine confidence in our electoral process and disenfranchise voters who legally cast their ballots in record numbers."
State legislatures must vote by December 14 for which party's nominated slate of electors gets to vote in the electoral college that decides the presidency. Each state is allocated a number of electors equal to its number of congressional representatives plus the two senators for each state, a figure that ranges from three for the least-populous states to 55 for California.
Republicans also holed the governorship and state legislature in Arizona, another key swing state where Biden is leading by a whisker.
With not all states penalising electors for voting against their popular mandate, and then only with a fine, other upsets may be in store.
Trump supporters will march on Washington DC and state capitols this Saturday, in what they dub the "Million MAGA March" after Trump's Make America Great Again slogan.