LAS VEGAS — Joe Biden’s lead over President Donald Trump in Nevada grew Friday, putting the former vice president ahead by 22,657 votes in a battleground state.
The new vote tally was from mailed ballots received in Democrat-heavy Clark County, which includes Las Vegas and three-quarters of Nevada’s population. Biden had 632,558 votes, and Trump had 609,901.
Biden’s lead doubled since Thursday, when he was ahead of Trump by about 11,000 votes.
Nevada has six Electoral College votes and could be decisive as Biden closes in on the 270 needed to win the White House. It’s too early to call the contest, with votes still being counted.
As mail ballots continued to be processed Friday afternoon, a federal judge rejected a Republican Party bid to stop the use of a machine to speed signature verifications of mail-in ballots in Clark County.
No Republican presidential candidate has carried Nevada since 2004, but it has remained a battleground. Trump narrowly lost the state in 2016.
The fresh batch of results Friday afternoon were among 63,000 mail ballots that Clark County Registrar Joe Gloria said he expects to finish counting by Sunday.
Gloria has said an additional 60,000 provisional ballots being processed separately. Not all of those may be counted, depending on voter identification verification.
The Nevada Secretary of State’s Office said Friday night that statewide about 124,500 ballots remained to be processed, with 90% of them in Clark County. Just under half of those were mail ballots and the rest were provisional ballots cast by people who registered or updated their registration at the polls.
Gloria has said the focus is on accuracy over speed and that the large number of mail-in ballots is new and making the counting process take longer than normal.
The state mailed ballots to all active registered voters this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, a move that the Trump campaign previously challenged, claiming it would lead to fraud.
The Trump campaign and GOP have mounted legal challenges in several states, including a new one filed Thursday night in federal court in Nevada seeking a court order to stop Clark County from using a machine that can optically scan signatures on mailed ballots to match against database signatures and process tens of thousands of ballots per day.
The Republicans questioned the use of the technology to catch a mismatched signature and said voters were unfairly at risk “of having their legal votes diluted by votes with mismatched signatures.”
Nevada Democrats accused Republicans of trying to suppress the voice of voters in the state’s most populous and diverse area.
“Historic turnout in Nevada is Republicans’ worst nightmare and they continue to prove they will stop at nothing to prevent those voices from being heard,” Democratic Party state Chairman William McCurdy II said in a statement.
In a statement, state Attorney General Aaron Ford, a Democrat, characterized the lawsuit as an effort to circulate misinformation “to undermine the public’s trust in our election.”
“Courts have already found no evidence of fraud,” he said. “Nevada’s election officials will count all legal votes, as is the normal course of action in every election.”
U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon declined after a two-hour hearing to issue an order, suggesting the matter involved state laws and should be handled by state courts.
“The public interest is not in favor of disrupting the completion of the processing and counting of the ballots,” Gordon said.
Gordon was confirmed to the federal bench in 2013 after being nominated by Democratic President Barack Obama.
Associated Press writer Ken Ritter contributed to this report.