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US election 2020: Could it be decided in courts?

Democrat Joe Biden has a path to victory in the US election but his Republican opponent President Donald Trump is challenging vote counts in four key states. So what might happen?

The Trump campaign has claimed, without evidence, there is voter fraud and wants to stop the count in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Michigan.

We speak to legal experts about what this means – and what comes next if the contest drags on.

Shouldn’t we know the results by now?
Yes and no. Usually, when the data shows a candidate has an unbeatable lead, the major US networks declare one candidate the winner. This tends to happen in the early hours of the morning after voting day.

These are not official, final results – they are projections, and the final official tally has always taken days to count.

But this year’s massive volume of postal votes means the counting is taking longer, especially as some battleground states have not allowed counting ahead of election day.

So they have had to count everything on the day itself, and counting postal votes can take longer than in-person votes due to verification requirements.

If races are too close to call, and neither candidate concedes, it’s normal for the counting to go on, says Matthew Weil, director of the Bipartisan Policy Research Center’s elections project.

There were obstacles before voting.

It was already a very litigious election.

Before Tuesday’s vote, there were more than 300 lawsuits across 44 states regarding postal and early voting in elections this year.

They centred on a range of issues such as the deadline for posting and receiving ballots, the witness signatures required and the envelopes used to post them.

Republican-run states said restrictions were necessary to clamp down on voter fraud.

But Democrats said these were attempts to keep people from exercising their civic rights.

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