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Trump questions counting late ballots as Biden preaches unity

Sheer volume of mail ballots could mean a winner isn't declared when polls close

WASHINGTON Republican President Donald Trump questioned the integrity of the US election again on Tuesday, saying it would be "inappropriate" to take extra time to count the tens of millions of ballots cast by mail in his race against Democrat Joe Biden.

While Mr Trump, who trails in national opinion polls, cast doubt on mail-in votes, Mr Biden offered a message of unity in two rallies in the state of Georgia as part of a foray into traditional Republican territory with a week left to go before Election Day on Nov 3.

Early voting, both by mail and in person, topped 70 million on Tuesday, more than half of the 2016 election turnout, according to the US Elections Project at the University of Florida.

The huge volume of mail ballots - more than 46 million have already been cast - could take days or weeks to tally, experts say, meaning that a winner might not be declared when polls close.

"It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on Nov 3, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate and I don't believe that that's by our laws," Mr Trump said. "We'll see what happens."

Mr Trump has repeatedly and without evidence suggested that an increase in mail voting will lead to an increase in fraud.

Democrats and voters have voiced deep anxieties that Mr Trump will not accept the outcome if he loses. Mr Biden has called it his biggest fear.

Republicans in a series of court battles across the US are trying to limit the time and opportunities voters have to send in ballots.

In a court victory for Mr Trump, the Texas Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the state's Republican governor may limit drop-off sites for election ballots to one per county.

Mr Biden's visit to Georgia was a show of optimism that his campaign can end the presidency of Mr Trump.

Georgia has not supported a Democrat in a US presidential election since 1992.

Mr Biden said in Warm Springs: "I'm running as a proud Democrat, but I will govern as an American president. I'll work with Democrats and Republicans.

"I'll work as hard for those who don't support me as for those who do."

"Something's happening here in Georgia and across the country," Mr Biden said later in Atlanta. "We win Georgia, we win everything." - REUTERS

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