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Race for the White House up in the air as polls close

Race for the White House up in the air as polls close
Poll workers tabulate absentee ballots at the TCF Centre during Election Day in Detroit, Michigan, November 3, 2020. (Reuters)

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WILMINGTON – President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden split the first U.S. states to be projected in the White House race on Tuesday, with the two contenders neck and neck in vital Florida and other competitive battleground states, including Georgia and Ohio, still up in the air.

As polls began to close in more than half of the 50 U.S. states in an election held amid a pandemic gripping a deeply divided United States, Edison Research projected Trump would win conservative Indiana and the Associated Press called Kentucky for Trump, while Fox News projected Biden would win Democratic-leaning Vermont and Virginia.

In the vital battleground of Florida, a must-win state for Trump in his quest for the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, Trump and Biden were essentially tied at about 49 per cent with about 81 per cent of estimated votes recorded.

Voters, many wearing masks and maintaining social-distancing to guard against the spread of the coronavirus, experienced long lines in a few locales and short waits in many other places. There were no signs of disruptions or violence at polling sites, as some officials had feared.

The winner – who may not be determined for days – will lead a nation strained by a pandemic that has killed more than 231 000 people and left millions more jobless, racial tensions and political polarisation that has only worsened during a vitriolic campaign.  (Reuters)