Trump says prolonged vote count a ‘terrible thing’

US President indicates he is gearing up for legal battle after election is over

PHILADELPHIA: President Donald Trump cast doubt on the integrity of the US election again on Sunday, saying a vote count that stretched past Election Day would be a "terrible thing" and suggesting his lawyers might get involved.

Trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden in opinion polls, Mr Trump raced through battleground states in a late hunt for support, while Mr Biden implored attendees at two rallies in the pivotal state of Pennsylvania to get out and vote today.

Americans have rushed to vote early, already casting nearly 60 million mail-in ballots that could take days or weeks to be counted in some states - meaning a winner might not be declared in the hours after polls close tonight (tomorrow morning, Singapore time).

"I don't think it's fair that we have to wait for a long period of time after the election," Mr Trump told reporters before a rally in North Carolina.

He has said repeatedly without evidence that mail-in votes are prone to fraud, with election experts saying that is rare in US elections.

"We're going in the night of - as soon as the election is over - we're going in with our lawyers," he said in North Carolina without any explanation.

He denied an Axios report that he has told confidants he will declare victory tonight if it looks like he is ahead, even if the Electoral College outcome is unclear.

At Opa-Locka airport in the Miami area, a "Fire Fauci" chant broke out when Mr Trump defended his handling of the pandemic. Dr Anthony Fauci, a highly respected member of his coronavirus task force, has been increasingly critical of Mr Trump's handling of the virus.

In response to the chant, Mr Trump said: "Don't tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election."

Mr Biden hit out at his rival for encouraging his supporters after they harassed a Biden campaign bus in Texas.

A caravan of vehicles bearing Trump campaign flags surrounded the bus on a highway on Friday, forcing the campaign to cancel two events.

Mr Trump on Saturday retweeted a video of the incident and wrote: "I LOVE TEXAS!"

The FBI said on Sunday it is investigating the Texas incident.

The President later criticised the investigation, tweeting: "In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong." - REUTERS