In his first update since the night of the election, Donald Trump today made a series of unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, emphasising to his supporters that he will emerge as the winner after a series of legal challenges. 

It was a bizarre, unprecedented speech which will go down in history for all the wrong reasons. Here’s what he said.

‘I won

Trump described in-person votes as “legal” and mail-in and absentee votes as “illegal”. Most states have always allowed mail-in ballots, but some relaxed restrictions on who could vote via mail due to the pandemic. 

“If you count the legal votes, I easily win. If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us,” Trump said.

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Lost leads

“We were winning in all the key locations by a lot, actually, and then our numbers started miraculously getting whittled away” Trump said. 

His lead in Georgia was “whittled down and now it is getting to a point where I go from winning by a lot to perhaps being even down a little bit”.

“It is amazing how one-sided the mail-in ballots are,” he added, seeming to forget he discouraged his own voters from using the postal service to vote

Fraud and binoculars

Trump then alleged that swing states were controlled by the Democrats, which is why his lead had changed.

“Pennsylvania … is part of a corrupt Democrat machine. I went to school there and I know a lot about it, it hasn’t changed … it has got worse,” he said, adding the Democrats have allowed ballots to be received three days after the election and accepted ballots without postmarks. 

The Supreme Court ruled Pennsylvania can accept ballots postmarked before election day. Those without a postmark will be counted unless there is evidence they were mailed after election day.

“They are trying obviously to commit fraud and there is no question about that. In Philadelphia, observers are being kept far away, very far away, so far that people are using binoculars to try and see,” Trump said, before turning to Michigan and Detroit. 

“Pollers in Michigan were duplicating ballots … Detroit is another place and I would not say it has the best reputation for election integrity,” he said, adding cardboard had been placed over windows to block observes, with “unexplained” ballots appearing late. 

There is no evidence of the fraud Trump alleges has taken place. Two cases of voter fraud have been found nationally — both were Republican votes, with one man in Pennsylvania trying to vote for his mother, and another in Nevada trying to vote twice. 

Online polls were part of the conspiracy, Trump added. 

“Everyone now recognises media polling was election interference in the truest sense of that word by powerful special interests. These really phony polls … were designed to keep out voters at home, create the illusion of momentum for Mr Biden and diminish Republican’s ability to raise funds,” he said.  

“It is not a question of who wins, Republican, Democrats, Joe, myself, we cannot let [voter fraud] happen to our country.”

More litigation

Trump flagged further lawsuits in the coming days. 

“[There have been] lots of litigations, it is a tremendous, tremendous amount of litigation generally because of how unfair this process was. I have been talking about mail-in voting for a long time and it has destroyed our system. It is a corrupt system and it makes people corrupt even if they are not by nature but they become corrupt,” he said. 

Following litigation, Trump claims “we will win the election very easily”. 

In stark comparison

Just over an hour earlier in his home state of Delaware, Democratic nominee Joe Biden gave an update urging calm.

Going from Biden’s speech to Trump’s is jolting. Biden stuck to his usual reserved and optimistic rhetoric, preaching about togetherness — and kept his update to two minutes. 

“Each ballot must be counted … Democracy is sometimes messy. It sometimes requires a little patience as well. But that patience has been rewarded now as it has been for 240 years with a system of governance that has been the envy of the world,” he said. 

“I ask all people to stay calm: the process is working, the count is being completed, and we’ll know very soon … We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Senator [Kamala] Harris and I will be winners.”

He gave the speech after he and Harris attended a virtual briefing on COVID-19 and the economic crisis

What else happened? 

Two of Trump’s lawsuits in Michigan and Georgia to stop ballot counting were dismissed. His campaign had a small win in Pennsylvania though, with Republican observers granted permission to observe from a distance of two meters as officials unpacked and scanned ballots.