THE US presidential election is on a knife edge, with Republican President Trump and his Democrat rival Joe Biden both claiming to have won.
Trump has vowed to launch a Supreme Court challenge to prevent electoral fraud while Biden insists he is on a track to victory.
More than 100 million people cast their ballots in early voting before election day, setting the scene for the highest turnout in a century.
Trump has defied the pre-election polls to do much better than predicted, while Biden is still in the race and the overall result is not yet clear.
To be elected president, a candidate must win at least 270 votes in the electoral college. Each US state gets a certain number of votes partly based on its population and there are a total of 538 electoral college seats.
Trump has spent millions on his campaign and has shaken the Democrats by winning Florida and Texas.
The Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin – which propelled Trump to the White House four years ago – are expected to have voted for Trump. Other key states such as Georgia and North Carolina are expected to do the same.
Trump is now expected to hold of Ohio and Missouri, and to win Nebraska.
He hosted an election night gathering inside the White House with about 100 guests.
In a speech, Trump said: ‘We were getting ready to win this election. Frankly, we did win this election.’
He went on to allege ‘major fraud on our nation’ adding: ‘We’ll be going to the US Supreme Court,’ which has a Republican majority.
‘We want all voting to stop,’ the president said, meaning that he wants to block the counting of postal ballots, which can be legally accepted by some state election boards after Tuesday’s election.
Millions of such ballots have still to be counted.
The Biden campaign condemned the president’s statement as ‘outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect’, calling it a ‘naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens’.
Biden predicted in a speech to supporters in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, that he would be victorious.
He said: ‘We feel good about where we are, we really do. I am here to tell you tonight we believe we’re on track to win this election.’
He continued: ‘We’re going to have to be patient until the hard work of tallying votes is finished and it ain’t over until every vote, every ballot is counted.’
As Biden spoke, Trump tweeted from the White House: ‘We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election.’
A new ‘non-scalable’ fence was put up around the White House ahead of election day. Businesses in the nation’s capital and also in New York City boarded up their premises due to fears of unrest.
After Trump’s remarks, Vice-President Mike Pence declined to declare premature victory and insisted that all the legally cast votes will be counted.
Officials have warned that we may have to wait weeks for the presidential result this year because of the expected surge in postal ballots.
Different states have different rules for how, and when, to count postal ballots – meaning there are large gaps between them in terms of reporting results. In some states it will take weeks to get complete results.
The last time the result was not clear within a few hours was in 2000, when the winner, George W Bush, was not confirmed until a Supreme Court ruling was made a month later.