The knife-edge US presidential race tilted toward Democrat Joe Biden early Thursday, with wins in Michigan and Wisconsin bringing him close to a majority, but President Donald Trump claimed he was being cheated and went to court to try and stop vote counting.
Tallying of votes continued through a second night in the remaining battleground states where huge turnout and a mountain of mail-in ballots sent by voters trying to avoid exposure to the coronavirus made the job all the harder.
Both candidates still had paths to hit the magic number of 270 electoral votes representing a majority of states, thereby winning the White House.
But momentum moved to Biden, who made a televised speech from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, to say that "when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners."
By flipping the northern battlegrounds of Michigan and Wisconsin, and also winning formerly pro-Trump Arizona, Biden reached 264 electoral votes against 214 so far for Trump.
More than 100 million Americans cast their ballots in advance of Tuesday's Election Day, according to the US Elections Project watchdog, a record figure largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, reported news agency AFP.
Meanwhile Biden on Wednesday predicted victory over Trump after winning two critical US states, while the Republican incumbent alleged fraud, filed lawsuits and demanded recounts in a race yet to be decided a day after polls closed.
While stopping short of declaring victory, Biden launched a website for a transition to a Democratic-controlled White House. His team called it buildbackbetter.com and declared "the Biden-Harris Administration can hit the ground running on Day One."
As Trump spent part of the day airing grievances over Twitter, Biden pledged to govern as a unifier if triumphant.
"What brings us together as Americans is so much stronger than anything that can tear us apart," Biden, appearing with his running mate Kamala Harris, said in his home state of Delaware on Wednesday.