Biden Wins

AP Calls Presidential Race

What Happens Next

Now that The Associated Press has called the race for Joe Biden, reaction is pouring in from all sides. Follow our latest updates here. Read below for highlights over the past week.

Major development

Joe Biden Elected President, Per AP Call

Former Vice President Joe Biden has been elected the 46th president of the United States, narrowly emerging victorious from a contentious campaign for the White House that stretched past election night as vote tallies in several swing states were slowed by an unprecedented surge in mail-in ballots. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will become vice president.

The Associated Press called the race for Biden on Saturday when it said that Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes put him over the 270-vote threshold needed to win the Electoral College.

Biden edged President Trump, who has been falsely claiming a premature victory early and baselessly calling the election "a fraud on the American public."

Despite the president’s rhetoric, Biden’s team projected confidence as ballots were tabulated, knowing that large chunks of the vote were still to be counted in diverse Democratic strongholds like Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Detroit.

Their victory is historic on multiple levels, ending the unprecedented and polarizing presidency of Donald Trump while achieving the first victory for a woman to national office. Harris is the first woman of color to ever run on a national ticket and will be the first Black and first Asian American vice president. Biden is the oldest American ever elected president, at the age of 77.

President-elect Biden, a native of Scranton, Pa., has won the White House on his third attempt, having launched failed bids for the Democratic nomination in 1988 and 2008, the year when he won the vice presidency as Barack Obama’s running mate after more than three decades in the Senate representing Delaware. Obama and Biden were reelected in 2012 and left office in 2017. The new first lady will be Jill Biden, an educator.

Vice President-elect Harris, 56, moves to the vice presidency from the Senate, to which she was elected in 2016 after serving as attorney general of California and as San Francisco district attorney before that. Harris is the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica and is herself a native of Oakland, Calif.

Read more.

— Asma Khalid and Scott Detrow
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‘It’s Been A Privilege’: Top African American Adviser Leaving White House

Ja’Ron Smith, one of the highest-ranking African American officials in the White House, has announced he’s leaving the administration. He said President Trump still has his support.

Smith had served in the White House since Trump came into office and worked closely with Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on policies ranging from reforming prisons to increasing funding for historically Black colleges and universities.

This is the first major departure since the election, but Smith stressed his decision to leave was made long before.

“It’s been a privilege to work with President Trump and enact real change for forgotten Americans — especially communities of color,” Smith said in a statement.

Smith was one of the speakers at the Republican National Convention, where the party made repeated outreach to Black voters.

PBS NewsHour reported that Smith will be heading up the Center for Advancing Opportunity, a Koch Industries-backed think tank that focuses on helping communities that face barriers to success.

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Atlanta Mayor Says She Expected Biden To ‘Do This Well’ In Georgia

As the nation watches the close vote count in Georgia with bated breath, Democratic Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says she is not surprised that a longtime Republican stronghold could flip to elect Joe Biden this year.

“I did expect us to do this well. I knew that our state was trending blue. I knew that this could be the year,” Bottoms told NPR’s All Things Considered, adding that she did not know that the “world would be waiting on us.”

Bottoms said part of the reason the state might flip is because of voter turnout; Georgians, particularly the state’s Black residents, voted early in droves.

“I knew that the numbers were there,” Bottoms told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly. “It was just a matter of people turning out to vote, and they did that in record numbers.”

As of Friday evening with votes still being counted, Biden leads President Trump by more than 4,000 votes in the state. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told reporters Friday that he predicts the state will conduct a recount because of how thin the margin is between the two candidates.

Bottoms said a recount would be “appropriate” if it will “give people confidence in the integrity of the election.”

“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with there being a recount, but I’m also confident that the numbers will stand,” she said.

Historically, recounts have rarely changed election winners.

Georgia hasn’t chosen a Democrat for president since Bill Clinton in 1992. In 2016, the state voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton by a margin of more than 5 percentage points.

Bottoms said some speculated that it wouldn’t be until 2022 that Georgia would elect a Democrat in a statewide election.

But she added, “I truly believe that this is the year that Georgia will have gone blue and that this is Joe Biden’s year in our state.”

— Christianna Silva, NPR Producer, Digital News Desk
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2 Men Arrested Near Philadelphia Vote Counting Site On Weapons Charges

Two Virginia men face charges of illegally possessing firearms after being arrested near the Philadelphia convention center where mail-in votes are being counted.

Philadelphia Police say Joshua Macias, 42, and Antonio Lamotta, 61, are from Chesapeake, Va. While reports indicate the men intended to stop the vote counting, investigators would not confirm that.

Philadelphia officials have openly worried about the possibility of armed people showing up in the city to disrupt the election, after President Trump repeatedly questioned the integrity of the city’s election system and vote counting.

District Attorney Larry Krasner said, “At this time we do not have indications that the story is bigger than these two individuals.” Krasner also said he doesn’t have information to indicate the men are known members of any extremist groups.

Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw says the FBI in Norfolk, Va., received a tip on Thursday that the men were headed to Philadelphia in a silver Hummer and were in possession of firearms and ammunition. Police spotted the Hummer just after 10 p.m. Thursday near the convention center. Outlaw says officers were given permission to search the truck and found an assault-style rifle inside and 160 rounds of ammunition.

The Hummer has stickers referring to the conspiracy group QAnon.

Outlaw says shortly after the truck was found, officers arrested the men nearby. She says that Lamotta was carrying an unlicensed Beretta 9 mm pistol in a holster and that Macias admitted he had a Beretta .40-caliber pistol hidden under his jacket. Police say Macias has a conceal-carry permit in Virginia. Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize Virginia permits, so both men were arrested on weapons charges.

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John Lewis’ Old District Helps Push Biden Ahead Of Trump In Georgia

Supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden are largely crediting his jump ahead of President Trump in Georgia to the voters of Clayton County, which finished counting several thousand ballots Friday morning.

Parts of Clayton County are in Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, which had been held for 33 years by Democratic Rep. John Lewis, who passed away in July.

The national civil rights leader was a supporter of Biden and consistently opposed Trump, notably choosing not to attend his inauguration in 2017.

Lewis was also a supporter of both Democratic Senate hopefuls in Georgia, the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who are campaigning to unseat current Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, respectively.

As of late Friday morning, around 4,000 ballots remained to be counted in Georgia, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office. With roughly 99% of the vote tallied, Biden was leading in the state by over 1,500 votes, according to The Associated Press.

On Thursday night, before the Clayton County votes were counted, Biden trailed Trump by 2,000 votes.

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Trump Says Not Giving Up, Pledges Legal Battles

Joe Biden may be on the cusp of a victory in the Electoral College, but President Trump is signaling that he has no intention of quickly conceding the election. On Friday, Trump said his campaign will pursue all legal avenues to ensure “full transparency” into vote counting and election certification.

“We will pursue this process through every aspect of the law to guarantee that the American people have confidence in our government,” Trump said in a statement, released by his campaign. “I will never give up fighting for you and our nation.”

The new statement comes after Trump’s defiant remarks on Thursday, when he prematurely claimed victory and baselessly said Democrats were trying to steal the election from him.

Republicans have already launched multiple legal challenges in swing states. But the campaign has not provided evidence documenting wrongdoing with counting and processing of mail-in ballots. Research has found no evidence of widespread fraud, and states with Republican and Democratic election officials at the helm have used the voting method for years without major issues.

Trump campaign general counsel Matt Morgan on Friday warned against a “false projection” that Biden was winning and noting that results were not final. He said the campaign believes Trump will prevail.

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Voters Weigh In On California Affirmative Action Ban, Other Education Ballot Measures

Three West Coast ballot measures asked voters to weigh in on high-stakes education policies this election season: affirmative action, school funding and universal preschool.

California voters have maintained the state’s ban on public colleges considering race in admissions. As of Friday morning, 56% of voters had rejected the ballot initiative known as Proposition 16, which sought to repeal the affirmative action ban.

Affirmative action has been a contentious issue across the U.S. In 2019, a federal judge upheld race-conscious admissions at Harvard University. In other parts of the country, legal challenges to affirmative action remain — including one brought by the U.S. Justice Department against Yale University in October.

The Proposition 16 outcome “reflects a lot of the misunderstanding around the practice of affirmative action,” says Liliana Garces, associate professor of education at the University of Texas at Austin. She says people “see it as granting preferential treatment to certain groups. But the reality is that it only allows admissions officers to consider all aspects of a student’s background.”

Mitchell Chang, a professor of higher education at the University of California, Los Angeles, says organizers of Prop 16 were anticipating support from Latino voters, which did not materialize. “Many Latinos, especially newer voters, do not understand who stands to benefit from affirmative action, particularly as a policy that extends beyond education.”

Chang believes there’s little hope of reviving this effort. “It’s time for us to move on and double down on the many other efforts and practices that already have proven to help improve educational access and opportunity.”

The University of California system is working on other ways to make college admissions more equitable and fair. Earlier this year, the system voted to remove standardized testing from the admissions equation.

Another ballot measure in California, Proposition 15, would effectively raise property taxes for commercial properties in order to increase funding for schools, community colleges and local governments. Since the approval of a 1978 ballot measure, California has severely limited property tax revenue and therefore public education funding. In 2018, the most recent year available, the state spent $12,498 per public school student, around the middle of the pack nationally but far below other big, wealthy, diverse states such as New York and Pennsylvania.

Proposition 15 pitted pro-business groups against unions, the state PTA and prominent Democrats — including Gov. Gavin Newsom, presidential candidate Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. EdSource reports the measure would deliver an estimated $4.6 billion to K-12 schools and community colleges in a time of pandemic-related budget challenges and new burdens placed on education.

As of Friday morning, the vote on Proposition 15 was still too close to call. The Associated Press reported “yes” trailing “no” with 76% of estimated ballots counted.

“We always knew it would be close, and there are millions of ballots left to be counted,” said Alex Stack of Schools & Communities First, the pro-Prop 15 coalition. “Nobody said it would be easy to close these corporate tax loopholes.”

Finally, in Oregon, voters in Multnomah County, where Portland is located, approved a universal preschool ballot measure that has been hailed as a national model. Funded through an income tax on high earners, the program offers free care and education to the city’s 3- and 4-year-olds, joining much bigger cities like Washington, D.C., and New York. It also includes a guaranteed $18 an hour wage for providers with cost-of-living increases. Child care has received more attention during the pandemic as both an economic and an education issue, and Joe Biden has highlighted it as part of his economic plan.

— Elissa Nadworny, Anya Kamenetz
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No Concessions From Michigan GOP Senate And House Candidates

Updated at 3:36 p.m. to reflect new ballot tallies and Paul Junge’s concession.

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., was in a tight race this year to keep the seat he’s had for six years. He was one of two Democrats up for reelection in a state President Trump carried in 2016.

John James, his Republican opponent, was cast as a charismatic, GOP rising star who was a prolific fundraiser. With final unofficial results in, Peters has roughly 84,000 more votes than James — roughly eight times the number of votes President Trump had when he won the state by just 10,704 votes — but James is refusing to concede.

It was a close race up until absentee votes from Michigan cities came in Wednesday night. Peters broke ahead by about 60,000 votes and claimed victory. By 9 p.m. The Associated Press called the race in his favor.

More than a day later, the James campaign has remained silent aside from tweeting a statement alleging unspecified irregularities and retweeting a premature declaration of victory by the Michigan Republican Party’s general counsel.

Down-ballot Republican candidates in congressional battlegrounds have also refused to concede. Eric Esshaki, who lost to Rep. Haley Stevens, refused to concede, saying he wanted to see the “full and fair counting of legal votes.” Paul Junge, who lost to Rep. Elissa Slotkin, did not concede until Friday afternoon.

Giving his victory speech from a cider mill, Peters scoffed at James’ lack of a concession. “It’s sad and it’s pathetic. They lost.”

“You know, I understand. Mr. James has been running for four years; he’s lost twice now,” said Peters, referring to James’ unsuccessful bid against the state’s other Democratic senator, Debbie Stabenow, in 2018. “But this is where you see someone’s character when they come up and realize they need to accept the vote of the people of Michigan.”

Later in the afternoon, after a state Court of Claims judge had tossed out a Trump campaign lawsuit claiming Republican poll challengers weren’t given meaningful access to absentee counting boards, James issued a press release not conceding or asking for a recount.

Instead, he alleged “millions of Michiganders may have been disenfranchised by a dishonest few who cheat” without offering any proof of “credible evidence to warrant an investigation” into the Michigan Senate vote totals.

A lawyer for the James campaign sent a letter to the Wayne County clerk alleging they had received “hundreds of reports of irregularities” during vote counting at TCF Center in Detroit, where hundreds of people mobilized by the state Republicans appeared and chanted “Stop the count” on Wednesday.

The letter requested that the clerk preserve absentee ballot requests, poll books, drop boxes and video surveillance of drop boxes — much of which is already done.

It appears part of a larger effort by the Republican National Committee, state Republican Party and the Trump campaign to discredit unofficial election results in Michigan that show Democrats won marquee races at the top of the ticket and in two of Michigan’s congressional battlegrounds.

Peters called the lawsuits “frivolous,” adding, “I would just say to Mr. James’ campaign: accept the opinion and the votes of the people of the state of Michigan. That’s the right thing to do.”

— Abigail Censky, WKAR
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Clark County Finishes Another Batch of Ballots In Nevada, Aims To Be Done By Sunday

Democratic nominee Joe Biden remains ahead in the Nevada tally, as the Democratic stronghold of Clark County finished counting another large batch of mail ballots.

Biden now leads President Trump in Nevada by 20,137 votes, according to data from The Associated Press.

Clark County is home to Las Vegas and is the most populous county in the state. Most of the remaining ballots in Nevada are from Clark County, though a handful of smaller Republican-leaning counties are continuing to finish reporting results as well.

The AP has not made a call in the Nevada race.

At a press conference in Las Vegas, Joe Gloria, the Clark County registrar of voters, said he was hoping to have a final count on the majority of mail ballots by Sunday.

“We’re going to continue to count and make sure we’re being accurate,” he said.

In addition to mail ballots, the county is also still working to process tens of thousands of provisional ballots that need to be checked. Voters have until Friday at 5 p.m. to present ID if they had to cast a provisional ballot because they did not bring one to the polls. Voters also have until Nov. 12 to fix or cure mistakes on mail ballots and have those votes count.

Clark County updated their vote tally with about 30,000 ballots Friday morning and says about 60,000 mail ballots remain to be counted.

The county will now update tallies twice per day — with the next batch being released at 7 p.m. ET.

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On The Cusp: Biden Inches Closer To 270

Democrat Joe Biden is on the cusp of winning the 270 electoral votes necessary to become president, but there are still a lot of votes to count, so patience continues to be the key word.

According to calls made by The Associated Press, which NPR relies on for race calls, Biden is ahead of President Trump 264 to 214. That means Biden needs just one more of the key states yet to be decided to cross the threshold, and he’s leading in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada, which haven’t been called yet.

The AP has called Arizona, but Biden’s lead there continues to decline, so we are watching that state closely. But even if Arizona was pulled out of Biden’s column, a win in Pennsylvania would clinch it for Biden. Without Arizona, Pennsylvania would put Biden to 273.

With Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Georgia, Biden would get to 306, the same number of electoral votes Trump won in 2016. (Trump technically only registered 304 electoral votes, because of two faithless electors.)

For Trump to win, he has to win four of five remaining uncalled states, including North Carolina, where he’s ahead. We are expecting to see new counts at some point today in North Carolina.

Here’s the latest, as of 1:40 p.m. ET

GA: Biden +1,558 (up slightly for Biden in past hour)

PA: Biden +13,478 (Biden’s lead continues to climb)

NV: Biden +20,137 (Biden increased lead from about 8,000 with new Clark County votes)

AZ: Biden +43,779 (slightly in Trump’s favor with new Maricopa votes last hour)

NC: Trump +76,701

In Georgia, there are about 8,200 mail-in votes left to count. if Biden wins 65% of the remaining mail-ins, which is likely given the percentage he’s been winning them by, then he would net another 2,500 votes. That would give Biden a 3,500 to 4,000 vote lead before overseas and provisional ballots are counted. There could be as many as 9,000 overseas ballots out and thousands of provisional ballots. But there won’t be a call in Georgia any time soon. The state will certify the vote by Nov. 20 and the state is headed for a recount, the state secretary of state said today.

In Nevada, Biden is expected to continue to expand his lead, given that the overwhelming majority of the vote left is from Clark County, where Las Vegas is. It’s a state to watch for whether the AP or the networks call it this afternoon, depending on how much of the remaining vote is counted and which direction it goes.

In Arizona, Trump won about 53% of the last batch out of Maricopa County. There are 220,000 ballots left to count statewide. If Trump were to win the remaining votes at that 53% margin, Biden would win Arizona by about 30,000, but let’s see what the margins are as more batches come in.

But all eyes are on Pennsylvania. If Biden wins 70% of the remaining mail-in ballots — and he’s been winning them by more — he would win the state by 59,000 votes or more. And that doesn’t include provisional ballots, which could push Biden’s margin even higher. If Biden starts to gain a comfortable margin in Pennsylvania, watch for a potential race call, but it depends on how fast the vote is counted and what the margin is.

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Major development

Georgia Secretary Of State Predicts: ‘There Will Be A Recount’

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told reporters that the state will conduct a recount given the razor-thin margin between former Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump.

“The focus for our office and for the county elections officials for now remains on making sure that every legal vote is counted and recorded accurately,” Raffensperger said.

“As we are closing in on a final count, we can begin to look toward our next steps. With a margin that small, there will be a recount in Georgia,” he added.

In Georgia, a recount can only be requested after the state has undergone a “risk limiting audit” and a state certification of the vote, according to Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling. As of now, the state certification process is set to be finalized by Nov. 20.

Recounts can be requested if the margin of victory is within .5%. Biden currently leads Trump by just over 1,500 votes after surpassing the president’s lead early Friday morning.

Sterling said in Friday’s press briefing that there were 4,169 ballots left to be counted in Georgia, with portions largely in Gwinnett County, as well some in Cobb, Floyd and Cherokee counties.

Sterling added that counts may be finalized by this weekend, though it remains unclear how long the count of incoming military ballots and cured or damaged absentee ballots could take.

“When you have a narrow margin, little small things can make a difference,” Sterling said. “We are literally looking at a margin of less than, you know, a large high school,” he added.

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New Results From Maricopa County Show Biden Clinging To Arizona Lead

Election officials in Maricopa County finished tabulating another batch of mail ballots Friday morning.

With 90% of the Arizona vote now counted, Democratic nominee Joe Biden is clinging to a statewide lead of just under 44,000 votes.

Maricopa County is Arizona’s most populous county, home to Phoenix. Biden has remained ahead in Arizona and in Maricopa County, but the margin has tightened as election officials work to finish counting mail ballots.

Unlike other key states, where Biden overtook Trump in the tally as mail ballots were counted, Arizona has long had widespread mail voting. Maricopa County has turned bluer in recent years but is a traditionally Republican area, and so Biden’s edge has shrunk somewhat as mail ballots were counted there.

The Associated Press, which NPR relies on for calls, and Fox News have both called Arizona for Biden, but other news organizations have not. The AP said Thursday it is sticking with that call but is watching the vote closely.

Another update from Maricopa is expected at 9 p.m. ET.

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Mitch McConnell: ‘Every Legal Vote Should Be Counted’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says “every legal vote should be counted” and “any illegal ballots must not,” as President Trump continues to make baseless claims alleging fraud in the election.

“Here’s how this must work in our great country: Every legal vote should be counted. Any illegally-submitted ballots must not. All sides must get to observe the process,” McConnell wrote in a tweet on Friday morning. “And the courts are here to apply the laws & resolve disputes. That’s how Americans’ votes decide the result.”

McConnell did not mention the president, who on Thursday night claimed without evidence that his campaign is the victim of election fraud. Trump has called for election officials to stop counting ballots in the states where his leads or margins are shrinking as mail ballots are tallied.

The majority leader was pressed further by reporters on Friday morning about Trump’s claims of widespread election fraud.

"I’ve already covered the subject," McConnell said, noting "I sent out a tweet this morning."

McConnell’s earlier tweet did not directly address the president’s comments.

While a handful of Republicans renounced Trump’s comments, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., boosted Trump’s claims, telling Fox News this week: “President Trump won this election, so everyone who’s listening, do not be quiet.”

The AP has called Michigan, Arizona and Wisconsin for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Nevada remain too early to call, according to the AP.

Correction: An earlier version of this post said Arizona was too close to call, but the AP has already called Arizona for Biden. Read more about that call here.

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Biden Pulls Ahead In Pennsylvania Vote Count

Democratic nominee Joe Biden now leads President Trump in Pennsylvania.

Biden pulled ahead of Trump on Friday morning. With 98% of votes counted, Biden leads Trump by 5,594 votes, according to AP data.

Pennsylvania is critical for Trump. If Biden wins the Keystone State, its 20 electoral votes will push him past the threshold 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. Biden has other paths to victory should he lose Pennsylvania, but the commonwealth is crucial for Trump’s path to reelection.

Vote tallies on Tuesday night, Wednesday and Thursday showed Trump leading in Pennsylvania, and the state has been furiously working to count the record number of absentee ballots cast this year.

As election workers counted those votes, Trump’s apparent edge faded away. Biden’s support has been bolstered by high Democratic turnout in Philadelphia, for example, as well as in the suburbs.

Shortly after Biden established a lead in the vote count, the Trump campaign released a statement saying, “This election is not over,” and pledged to push ahead with litigation in key states.

Both Trump and Biden spent significant time campaigning in Pennsylvania, underscoring its importance in this election. Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 by just over 44,000 votes.

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Both Candidates Top Obama’s Record For Most Votes Of All Time

Joe Biden and President Trump have now surpassed the most votes by any candidate to ever run for president.

So far, 73.5 million Americans have voted for Democrat Joe Biden, while 69.6 million cast ballots for President Trump.

Both candidates have now surpassed the previous record of 69.5 million for Barack Obama in 2008.

In total, more than 145 million votes have been cast in the 2020 presidential election, the most ever and climbing. California — where almost 13 million votes have been counted — has reported just 66% of its total so far. New Jersey has reported just 71%; New York, 78%; and Texas, 85%.

There are millions upon millions of votes still to be reported.

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Biden And Trump Campaigns Fundraising For Election Protection

The 2020 election was already on pace to be the most expensive election in history, and now it could get even pricier. As vote counting drags on in key states and President Trump continues to falsely allege voter fraud, both campaigns have begun pleading for money they say will go toward protecting the integrity of the election.

The Trump campaign has dubbed its effort the "election defense fund," and it’s counting on donor money to help fund a flurry of last-minute lawsuits.

Meanwhile, the Biden campaign has created a counter-fund that, it says, will be necessary to fight back against Trump and his efforts to stop vote counting.

"Donald Trump will not steal this election," read the subject line of one fundraising appeal sent out by Biden’s campaign manager Wednesday.

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Biden Takes The Lead In Georgia

With the margin still paper-thin, Democratic nominee Joe Biden has now taken the lead in Georgia as election officials there work to finish counting mail ballots.

With 99% of the total expected vote counted, Biden leads President Trump by 917 votes in Georgia, according to Associated Press data.

It still could still take days, however, to know which candidate will capture the state’s 16 electoral votes. Even after all the mail ballots are counted, active military and overseas ballots are accepted in Georgia until Friday.

Voters also have until Friday to cure or fix mistakes made on their absentee ballots and have them still count, so long as they were received by 7 p.m. Election Day.

“We can’t know how long the process will take,” said Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, during a press conference Thursday. “We hope to have clarity on the outcomes of these elections as soon as possible; however, when you have so many important elections in the state being so close, ‘done’ is a very relative term at this point.”

Georgia hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since 1992 when Bill Clinton was on the ballot.

Both Trump and Biden campaigned in Georgia, with the president defending ground from 2016 and Biden aiming to expand the Democrats’ map. In the last week of the race, Biden held an event in Atlanta and gave a speech in Warm Springs — near the Franklin D. Roosevelt historic site. Vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris campaigned in the state several times in the final days of the race.

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Watching Very Tight Races

Democrat Joe Biden continues to lead President Trump, 264 to 214 electoral votes, according to calls made by The Associated Press.

But we are watching vote margins in three states continue to tighten this evening, including in Arizona, which the AP has already called for Biden. The AP is sticking with its call but is watching the vote closely, as Trump continues to make up ground there.

Here’s a look at the latest in Arizona and the two states that have been steadily moving in Biden’s direction — Georgia and all-important Pennsylvania, as of 12:15 a.m. ET Thursday.


Biden: 1,528,319 (50.1%)

Trump: 1,482,062 (48.5%)

Margin: Biden +46,257

See updated results here.

There are still hundreds of thousands of ballots to be counted in Arizona. There are no more Election Day in-person ballots to be counted. The remaining ballots are all votes dropped off Monday or Tuesday, according to Arizona’s secretary of state.

Most of the votes are from Maricopa County, where Phoenix is and where two-thirds of the vote comes from. Biden has been winning a majority of votes in Maricopa, but it’s a county that Republicans have traditionally won and there are a lot of Republican votes there. If there was a late surge of Trump voters voting early, it could move the vote more in Trump’s direction. That’s what the Trump campaign is banking on.

There are also still tens of thousands of votes out in Pima County, where Tucson is and which has been going Biden’s way overwhelmingly; Pinal County, which has been going handily for Trump; and elsewhere.


Trump 2,447,223 (49.4%)

Biden 2,445,321 (49.4)

Margin: Trump +1,775

Trump’s margin continues to shrink. It’s now less than 2,000 votes in a state with about 5 million votes cast. That’s remarkable and will likely never be called by the AP or the networks. The state will officially certify the vote Nov. 20.

There are tens of thousands of outstanding ballots to be counted, mostly from Democratic areas, though some of the vote is from some GOP counties as well. There are also 9,000 overseas expat and military ballots out that are due Friday. So don’t expect any calls from Georgia anytime soon, given how tight it is.

But it’s very possible Biden could take the lead in the state if he pulls in similar percentages of the remaining mail-in ballots that he has been today.


Trump 3,285,239 (49.6%)

Biden 3,262,850 (49.3)

Margin: Trump +22,389

Trump continues to lead in Pennsylvania, but because of mail-in ballots, his lead is dissipating. Currently, Trump leads by just over 22,000 votes and declining. There are still roughly 175,000 votes to count.

Biden needs to win about 57% of the remaining vote in Pennsylvania to pull ahead. He has been winning about 78% of the mail-in votes. If that pace continues, Biden should win the state by more than 70,000 votes.

Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is, however, won’t count the rest of its ballots until Friday. Biden could net 20,000 votes just from that county. That by itself would cut Trump’s lead in half. Philadelphia still has about 58,000 mail-in ballots to count, as well.

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Some Republicans Refute Trump’s False Fraud Claims

When President Trump again made baseless claims about the integrity of the election on Thursday night, a handful of elected Republicans responded to renounce those accusations. Most members of Republican leadership have not weighed in on those comments.

“Counting every vote is at the heart of democracy,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, wrote on Twitter, without mentioning Trump directly. “That process is often long, and, for those running, frustrating. The votes will be counted.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who was one of three Republican governors who said they did not vote for Trump, called out the president by name.

“There is no defense for the President’s comments tonight undermining our Democratic process,” Hogan wrote on Twitter. “America is counting the votes, and we must respect the results as we always have before. No election or person is more important than our Democracy.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., called on the president and his allies to stop spreading false information about voting.

“We want every vote counted, yes every legal vote (of course),” he tweeted. “But, if you have legit concerns about fraud present EVIDENCE and take it to court. STOP Spreading debunked misinformation … This is getting insane.”

The Trump campaign has filed lawsuits in several states alleging Republican observers had not gained sufficient access to vote-counting locations. State courts quickly dismissed suits in Michigan and Nevada.

Another frequent Trump critic, former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, urged more Republicans to speak out.

Some Republicans in Congress this week have emphasized that continuing to count mail votes is not fraud and have urged patience, but few have condemned Trump’s comments Thursday night directly.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office declined NPR’s request for comment on Trump’s remarks and whether McConnell agreed with the president’s characterization of the election, NPR’s Kelsey Snell reported.

Earlier Thursday, Trump’s sons called on Republicans to defend the president more vocally and his reelection bid. Several quickly weighed in on Twitter to offer their support.

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Major development

Trump Again Prematurely Claims Victory, Falsely Claims Fraud By Democrats

President Trump on Thursday evening made his first public remarks since the late-night hours following Election Day, falsely claiming that if only "legal votes" were counted he would "easily win." He baselessly charged fraud by Democrats and the media.

“If you look at the legal votes, I win very easily,” Trump told reporters from the White House briefing room.

“They’re trying very obviously to commit fraud,” he said, speaking particularly harshly about Philadelphia and Detroit.

Votes from the county that includes Philadelphia have helped the Democratic nominee Joe Biden close Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania. The Associated Press has called Michigan, and its 16 electoral votes, for Biden.

The president left after speaking for several minutes and did not take reporters’ questions.

In his remarks, Trump railed against the process of mail-in voting, which saw a significant uptick this election cycle as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. He baselessly claimed that the process of counting mailed-in ballots had been tainted and complained that many of the absentee votes had been cast for Biden.

“I’ve said very strongly that mail-in ballots are going to end up being a disaster,” he said. “It’s getting worse and worse every day.”

Trump complained repeatedly that Republican observers had not gained sufficient access to vote-counting locations, which the campaign has filed lawsuits over in Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

However, the suits in Michigan and Nevada were quickly dismissed by state courts. A state court judge in Pennsylvania affirmed on Wednesday that observers have a right to be within 6 feet of the ballot-counting operation, but a federal judge threw out a prospective lawsuit on Thursday in which Trump’s campaign asked for voting in Philadelphia to be halted.

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Pennsylvania Says Counties ‘Taking Their Time’ But Integrity Is ‘Unparalleled’

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said that although election workers have counted hundreds of thousands of ballots on Thursday, there’s still several hundred thousand votes remaining to be counted.

“I know everybody around the country, around the state is eagerly awaiting [the results],” she told reporters Thursday evening.

“And I can tell you, the counties are, too. They are really taking their time making sure that every single voter in the commonwealth who has cast their ballot is having those ballots accurately and securely counted.”

Boockvar called the integrity of the vote “unparalleled,” including for mail-in ballots.

“[It’s the] same as when you vote in person. You have to be registered. You go in, you sign in the poll book — all these things are tracked. Our voting systems and our databases make sure that no voter can cast more than one vote. It literally has a hard stop.”

She emphasized the complete results are not certified until 20 days after the election so any talk of “final” results is a bit of a misnomer. For example, Pennsylvania will continue counting military and overseas ballots through Tuesday.

“What’s happening now is having enough ballots counted to actually see who the winner is,” she said. “The farther apart that is, the easier it is to tell. So it’s very close in Pennsylvania, right? There’s no question. And so that means it’s going to take longer to actually see who the winner is.”

Boockvar said she still anticipates the overwhelming majority of ballots to be counted by Friday.

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8 Pennsylvania Counties Haven’t Counted Late-Arriving Ballots Yet

Several Pennsylvania counties are separating — but not counting — mail-in ballots postmarked on Election Day and arriving through Friday, contrary to guidance from the state election officials.

As of Thursday, most of the state’s mail-in ballots have arrived at county election offices and are being counted. The Pennsylvania Department of State said in guidance Sunday that any ballots postmarked by Election Day that arrive by 5 p.m. Friday must be counted and separated.

The commonwealth’s Supreme Court had previously ruled that mail-in ballots could still be counted if they arrived as late as this Friday, as long as they’re postmarked by Nov. 3. (Military and overseas ballots will be accepted through Tuesday.)

But eight counties say they are waiting to count them: Chester, Cumberland, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mercer, Montour, Northumberland and Snyder.

Snyder County Chairman Joseph Kantz told NPR he is following guidance he received from the Department of State last week, where he says he was told to segregate the late-arriving ballots and not to count them until after 5 p.m. the Friday after Election Day.

“It would appear to me that the Department of State really has no idea what they wanted to do in this whole thing, which I understand [because] a lot of things are changing,” he said. “But you cannot make changes every five minutes when you’re trying to process a historic turnout election. You need to know the rules going into it … so we are doing what we were told to do on [last] Friday.”

Northumberland County Elections Director Nathan Savidge said any ballot that has shown up since Tuesday night has been separated, but not counted, in the hopes of getting more guidance as to when to count them.

“All we have to do is get the go-ahead. We’re just waiting on the green light to scan them into the system," Savidge said. "I don’t want to sound like I’m disenfranchising people. I’m just waiting on what the state wants us to do."

Savidge said he thinks Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is doing a good job but that the nature of the changing guidance to counties has made it confusing.

Boockvar has previously said it is possible for counties to separate and count these ballots as soon as they arrive.

Lancaster County commissioners said outstanding mail ballots will be counted early next week. Chester County election leaders said they will begin counting them on Friday.

Some counties indicated they have not received many ballots since Election Day. In Snyder County, for example, Kantz said only 11 late-arriving ballots were received on Wednesday.

Boockvar told CNN on Thursday mail-in ballots received after Election Day are not likely to determine the outcome of the election.

"Unless it is super close, I don’t see them making this or breaking this one way or another," she said.

Gov. Tom Wolf has repeatedly said every vote cast in the election must be counted.

— Barbara Sprunt and Sam Dunklau, NPR Producer, Washington Desk and WITF
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‘Have Some Backbone’: Trump Sons Slam Silent Party

As President Trump’s path to reelection narrows, there has been a conspicuous absence of big-name Republican politicians and lawyers at campaign news conferences in swing states where the counting continues.

And on Thursday, Trump’s adult sons lashed out. “Where are Republicans! Have some backbone,” tweeted Eric Trump.

His older brother, Donald Trump Jr., complained that GOP stars expected to run for president in 2024 had been relatively quiet.

Within minutes, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas — two Republicans who have been spending a lot of time in early primary and caucus states — posted their own tweets, expressing support for Trump.

The Trump sons aren’t wrong. The people most visibly defending Trump since the election are longtime loyalists, people seen flying on Air Force One in the closing days of the campaign, members of the president’s impeachment defense and campaign advisers.

Many Republicans are urging patience and expressing confidence in the election process. Republican Sen. Roy Blunt from Missouri was asked at a Washington Post event whether he thought Trump would concede if he loses. “I am confident that he will,” said Blunt.

“I am confident that on Jan. 20, the winner of the presidential election will be sworn in … and once again we will have every former president that can possibly be there,” Blunt said. “This is how a democracy acts, and I am confident the president will do what he needs to do.”

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Judge Orders Postal Service To Continue Sweeping For Mail-In Ballots

As the counting of votes continues, so does the scrutiny of the U.S. Postal Service. In testimony Thursday before U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, it was revealed that as many as 68 ballots were not delivered in Atlanta in time to be counted on Election Day and that some 1,400 ballots mailed over the weekend didn’t arrive by Election Day in Pennsylvania. But officials in the state have until Friday to receive them, and postal officials were ordered by Sullivan to keep sweeping their facilities for ballots until then. The order also applies to North Carolina, where election officials will accept mail-in ballots until next week, as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.

Based on a court filing this week, it appeared that the Postal Service had lost track of some 300,000 mail-in ballots. The ballots had been scanned into the system, but there was no record that they had been scanned out. But the Postal Service said in a statement that there was a simple explanation: Under the extraordinary measures it was taking to get election mail delivered on time, postal workers removed the ballots from the system before they received a final scan and delivered them directly to election boards.

Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, says that’s exactly what happened. “They’re not missing,” Dimondstein told NPR. “They’re not disappeared. We have every reason to believe they made it to their final destination and were counted. They’re not accounted for in the same way that regular mail would have been.”

The Postal Service has been under extreme scrutiny during this election season. Because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, some 65 million Americans voted by mail nationwide. But there were deep suspicions after Louis DeJoy, a big-dollar donor to Republicans including President Trump, was named postmaster general. DeJoy, who ran a logistics company, immediately introduced cost-cutting measures that critics said slowed the mail. The Postal Service suspended those changes, spurred by a series of lawsuits from state officials and advocacy groups.

Dimondstein says he is “very proud” of the work done by his members, despite the scattered glitches. “Obviously, all the votes should be counted, but this was a real success for the American people.”

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Biden Urges Calm, Patience As Ballot Counting Continues

In brief remarks Thursday, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden reaffirmed his belief that he would ultimately be declared the winner of the presidency but urged patience as votes continue to be counted.

“In America, the vote is sacred,” he said. “It’s how the people of this nation express their will. And it is the will of the voters — no one, not anything else — that chooses the president of the United States of America. So each ballot must be counted.”

He added: “Democracy is sometimes messy. It sometimes requires a little patience as well. But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years.”

Biden’s comments come as local poll workers continue to tally votes and as the nation awaits an answer on who will be in the White House for the next four years.

Biden holds a lead in electoral votes over the incumbent, President Trump, but a handful of critical swing states remain to declare their respective winners.

Trump, who has for his entire political career fashioned himself as his own lead spokesman, has not addressed the nation since early Wednesday morning, when he falsely declared himself the winner in the still-competitive race.

Trump’s campaign is confident he can come back and win reelection.

Biden is confident as well.

“We continue to feel very good about where things stand,” the Democrat said. “We have no doubt that when the count is finished, [Sen. Kamala] Harris and I will be declared the winners. So, I ask everyone to stay calm — all the people to stay calm. The process is working,” he said.

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More Than 47,000 Ballots Still To Be Counted In Georgia

In Georgia, more than 47,000 outstanding mail ballots that have been returned still need to be counted as of 2:40 p.m. ET on Thursday, the state secretary of state’s office said.

That number, however, is very likely not the full number of ballots that remain to be counted. Military and overseas ballots have until Friday to come in. Nearly 9,000 of those ballots were sent out and not returned yet. It’s possible they could all come back or none will.

The 47, 277 figure also doesn’t include provisional ballots — which voters were asked to cast if they, for example, forgot their ID or went to the wrong polling place, WABE’s Emma Hurt reports.

Voters also have an opportunity to cure, or fix, mistakes like a missing signature on their absentee ballot until Friday.

With all those factors outstanding, Georgia officials say they will not have a final count Thursday.

President Trump leads Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the state by fewer than 13,000 votes, and many Democratic-leaning counties have yet to finish reporting their mail ballot counts.

Gabriel Sterling, the statewide voting system implementation manager, said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon that Georgia elections officials are down to counting the final 1% of ballots.

“We can’t know how long the process will take,” he said. “We hope to have clarity on the outcomes of these elections as soon as possible, however when you have so many important elections in the state being so close, ‘done’ is a very relative term at this point…The effort here is to make sure everyone’s legal vote is counted properly.”

Georgia has 159 counties and mail ballots remain to be counted in 10 of them — including many heavily Democratic counties. More than 17,000 ballots still need to be counted in Chatham County, home to Savannah. Over 7,000 remain in Fulton County, where Atlanta is.

“It’s going to take time,” Sterling said. “We anticipate having the count ‘done’ when the legal deadline for certification is, which is going to be, 10 days after the election, that’s when we’re done.”

Outstanding Mail Ballots In Georgia, By County

Chatham: 17,157

Clayton: 6,026

Cobb: 700

Floyd: 682

Forsyth: 4,713

Fulton: 7,305

Gwinnett: 4,800

Harris: 3,641

Laurens: 1,797

Taylor: 456

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Fox News Projections For Biden Expose Internal Tensions And Rile Up Trump Supporters

The tension that exists within Fox News on normal days is even more tangible as it covers the counting of the presidential vote. The “decision desk” for its political unit, which projects state-by-state winners, has acted much like its counterparts in other newsrooms, propelling the likelihood of a projected national win for former Vice President Joe Biden.

Yet Fox’s most popular figures are staging conversations with President Trump’s advocates as they make groundless claims of fraud.

Fox was the first to project that Biden would win Arizona. Numerous outside analysts say Nevada is likely to be next up, headed toward Biden, too.

“I know it’s only six electoral votes in Nevada, but both candidates have a path to the White House,” Fox host Harris Faulkner (seen above) told viewers at about 1:35 p.m. ET Thursday. “Those could get Joe Biden close” to winning the White House.

If Fox holds to its controversial Arizona call, and designates Nevada for Biden, that would automatically make Biden its projected winner. So Fox has been under tremendous pressure, especially because Trump considers its audience a key part of his base. The Trump campaign has demanded that Fox reverse its assessment of Arizona. Pro-Trump protesters in Maricopa County, Ariz., chanted “Fox sucks” during an MSNBC broadcast.

The network has devoted increasing time to claims of pro-Trump advocates, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, arguing - with no evidence - that the president has been the victim of fraud. In some cases, hosts and reporters have pushed back on those claims and Fox’s journalists have been respectful of the calls by the network’s famously independent “decision desk.”

Over the course of Trump’s presidency, Fox’s most famous stars have championed him on the air and advised him off it. The network’s conservative controlling owner, Rupert Murdoch, decided to ally himself with Trump as a way of ensuring constant access during his presidency.

Trump’s constant presence on its airwaves delivered stratospheric ratings for the network.

What to do with Nevada and Arizona may prove a tough test of the independence of the decision desk. Or it may offer Murdoch an easy way to move on from the Trump presidency and start strategizing for a post-Trump Fox News.

Which could always include Trump himself.

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Allegheny County, Pa., Will Resume Counting Votes Friday

Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County won’t start tabulating its last 35,000 ballots until Friday, including up to 29,000 from voters who originally got the wrong ballot. And although beginning that work Friday has been the plan for nearly a month now — a plan backed up by a federal court order — the brief hiatus in counting somehow managed to throw an already contentious election into even deeper chaos.

Any counting delay was bound to raise eyebrows: The vote in Pennsylvania is being scrutinized and may end up close when the count is finished. But Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said at a Thursday press conference that work is being done by a county Return Board, which, by state law, is not permitted to meet prior to the Friday after an election. The review, he said, “is a normal process that happens during every election, every year.”

The Return Board includes dozens of people who review the election night ballot-counting done by election workers — some of whom serve on the board itself – and handles any ballots for which there are problems. With the profusion of mail-in voting this year, that will include ballots that were torn in the mail and couldn’t be scanned or whose outer envelopes were undated, among other problems. The county has 6,800 such ballots awaiting review.

And this year, the Review Board process will also include ballots tied to a snafu by a mail vendor, Midwest Direct, which sent 29,000 voters ballots with the wrong races on them.

The county discovered the mistake in mid-October, and the correct ballots were sent out to replace the old ones. But those votes require extra scrutiny to prevent voters from casting both the old and the new ballot and to ensure that the county tallies the reissued ballot, not the misprinted ballot to vote in a race they aren’t eligible to participate in.

“These ballots can’t be scanned along with the others,” said Sam DeMarco, who is a member of the county Elections Board and chair of the county’s Republican Party.

The county’s approach was ratified in a subsequent court order after two Republican congressional candidates filed suit over how the erroneous ballots would be handled. The order affirmed the county’s plans, ordering that the process of verifying and counting the ballots could not begin until 5 p.m. Nov. 6. That deadline was set by a state Supreme Court ruling earlier this year when it required election officials to accept any ballots that arrived by that time — as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.

The settlement was the end of the controversy until Thursday morning, when a New York Times reporter tweeted that “elections staff is taking today off for ‘administrative work’ and will not resume count until Friday.” The reporter also quoted Allegheny County Council member Bethany Hallam, who like DeMarco serves on the Elections Board, saying, “I can’t get an answer as to why.”

The tweet circulated quickly in the hyperpartisan environment of social media, where it was seized on as a sign of potential tampering with the outcome. But Fitzgerald made the answer clear in a press conference arranged shortly afterward.

Fitzgerald did not address the controversy directly, but he emphasized that the board’s work “will be viewed by the public, by the poll watchers, by all parties who will be there to look at those ballots as the Return Board begins to process those ballots. … We want to make sure that every vote is counted.”

The ballots “have been ordered by federal courts to not be handled or processed until 5 o’clock on Friday,” he added. “So at 5 o’clock tomorrow, they will begin going through that process.”

— WESA Reporters Lucy Perkins and Chris Potter
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Pennsylvania Secretary Of State Says Winner Could Be Known Thursday

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar says that “overwhelmingly,” the majority of ballots in the commonwealth will be counted by Thursday.

“They’re coming in – we’re getting 10,000 here, 20,000 there,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper Thursday afternoon.

“Counties are furiously at work and it’s looking like we’re ahead of schedule,” she said.

When asked whether the winner of Pennsylvania could be known by the day’s end, Boockvar responded, “We definitely could.”

She said the remaining ballots are coming largely from the Philadelphia region, which Democrats argue will help boost Biden to a victory, and Allegheny County. (However, per court order, Alleghany County cannot begin to process almost 30,000 ballots until Friday.)

Boockvar echoed what she and Gov. Tom Wolf have been repeating to the public for days: What’s seen as a “delay” in the vote count is actually just democracy in action.

Unlike other states, Pennsylvania’s election workers cannot begin processing the record number of mail-in ballots received until Election Day itself.

“They got, you know, hundreds of thousands of ballots,” she said. “They’ve been doing this as quickly as they can but as you know, this takes time.”

As of Thursday afternoon, Pennsylvania and its highly-coveted 20 electoral votes, had 88% of the vote in, according to The Associated Press.

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Facebook Takes Down Pro-Trump Group Urging ‘Boots On The Ground’ And Pushing False Voter-Fraud Claims

Facebook removed a group page filled with false claims and conspiracy theories about voter fraud that had gained more than 360,000 members since it was created on Wednesday.

“The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group,” said Andy Stone, a spokesman for the social network. He said the decision was made “in line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension” because the group “was creating real-world events.”

The social network’s crackdown comes amid a push by President Trump and his allies to falsely accuse Democrats of trying to steal the election.

The group, Stop the Steal, said on its now-removed page it was created by Women for America First, a pro-Trump organization founded by a former Tea Party activist. Before Facebook took action, membership was growing rapidly. It swelled by more than 25,000 just between noon and 1 p.m. ET on Thursday.

The group’s description on Facebook echoed baseless claims that “Democrats are scheming to disenfranchise and nullify Republican votes.” It called for “boots on the ground to protect the integrity of the vote.”

Researchers who track online disinformation have been warning that a prolonged period without a clear outcome in the presidential race creates ripe opportunities for falsehoods, rumors and misleading narratives to spread and for the possible incitement of real-world violence.

“This is the most intense online disinformation event in U.S. history and the pace of what we have found has only accelerated since Election Day,” said Alex Stamos, director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and Facebook’s former chief security officer.

Read more about this Facebook group.

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TikTok Battles Spread Of Election Disinformation

TikTok is racing to remove disinformation about the election from its app after researchers highlighted numerous videos that have sought to spread baseless theories as votes continue to be counted.

Videos alleging, without evidence, mass voter fraud, including videos advancing the “SharpieGate” conspiracy theory, went viral on TikTok before the platform took action.

That video alleged that Arizona officials were providing Trump voters with markers so that poll workers could invalidate their vote. That allegation is untrue. The Arizona’s secretary of state has said Sharpies were given to voters so the ink does not smudge as ballots are counted on site. This does not invalidate a vote.

The Election Integrity Partnership, a coalition of researchers analyzing misinformation, has found that posts that go viral first on Twitter and Facebook will migrate to TikTok and can circulate widely before the content is removed.

“They’ve been very receptive to things we’re pointing out,” said Alex Stamos, the director of Stanford’s Internet Observatory. “TikTok is kind of a tale of two platforms: They have a team that is reactive to reports they get but they are continuing to have a problem with proactive.”

For instance, the hashtag #riggedelection accrued videos that together generated nearly 2 million views before TikTok blocked it for violating its community guidelines.

The left-leaning watchdog group Media Matters identified 11 examples of election-related misinformation on TikTok, including groundless allegations of voter fraud. TikTok has since removed nearly all of them.

Some of the videos have been attempting to prepare Trump supporters for the prospect of unrest in the wake of the election.

TikTok says it does not tolerate content that seeks to incite violence or intimidate voters.

“We remove such content and redirect associated searches and hashtags to our Community Guidelines,” said a TikTok spokeswoman.

Stamos said at a briefing Wednesday with other researchers with the Election Integrity Partnership that moderating video content is especially vexing, since the algorithms and machine learning required to catch troubling video content is harder to develop than automated tools used to detect content that is mostly text-based.

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Nearing 270, Biden Campaign Feels ‘Bullish,’ But Trump Sees A Comeback

Another day of tallying votes in key states brought another round of the major-party presidential campaigns projecting confidence that their side would ultimately prevail.

As election officials continue to count ballots in five swing states, Joe Biden’s campaign is also touting its lead in the popular vote and dismissing a flurry of last-minute legal challenges from President Trump’s campaign.

“What we’re seeing on these legal suits are that they are meritless and nothing more than an attempt to distract and delay what is now inevitable: Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States,” said Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon in a briefing with reporters Thursday morning.

She urged patience and insisted that counting every ballot will take time but reiterated that the campaign feels “bullish” about at least four of the five closely watched states: Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia. (The Associated Press has already called Arizona for Biden; the state she did not mention is North Carolina.)

“We are looking for that moment in Pennsylvania and Georgia today when we see that ticker overtake Donald Trump. We think it’s going to happen,” O’Malley Dillon told reporters.

In Georgia, she pointed out that a sizable share of the outstanding ballots are likely to come from Democratic-leaning areas of the state, allowing Biden to chip away at Trump’s slim lead.

“We believe that Georgia, while continuing to be a tossup … at this stage, leans to the vice president,” she said.

She suggested that the numbers in Nevada and Arizona might look fluid Thursday, implying that Trump could pull into temporary leads. But ultimately, the campaign feels it will win both states.

Meanwhile, Trump campaign officials are still disputing the Fox News Channel and AP race calls of Arizona for Biden, saying they expect the president will be able to catch up to Biden as ballots continue to be counted.

They also insist things look good for Trump in Pennsylvania, though campaign manager Bill Stepien, in a call with reporters Thursday, stopped short of declaring outright victory in the state — as he had done the day before.

"The media and the insiders in this city have been trying to count Donald Trump out for years," Stepien said. "Donald Trump is alive and well."

Trump’s campaign put out an all-caps statement from the president, baselessly claiming that illegal votes are being counted: “IF YOU COUNT THE LEGAL VOTES, I EASILY WIN THE ELECTION! IF YOU COUNT THE ILLEGAL AND LATE VOTES, THEY CAN STEAL THE ELECTION FROM US!”

There’s no evidence of tallying of illegal or late ballots.

Trump’s campaign has filed a flurry of lawsuits, which among other things seek to stop vote counts until legal observers can get better access to monitor the processes in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia. (The AP has already called Michigan for Biden.) In Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign celebrated a judge’s order allowing legal observers to get physically closer, while still maintaining social distance, wearing masks and taking other coronavirus protocols.

In the call with reporters, Trump’s campaign expressed confidence that they will ultimately come out ahead and that the small army of lawyers they’ve dispatched to key states will uncover or at least prevent "fraud" and "shenanigans."

The campaign is throwing around unfounded claims that bags of ballots are showing up at election counting facilities. Though they say they want “all legally cast” ballots to be counted, the Trump campaign appears to be laying the groundwork to argue that certain ballots were not legally cast. What isn’t clear is how many of these supposedly illegally cast ballots they think are out there and how such ballots would affect individual state results.

— NPR Correspondents Asma Khalid and Tamara Keith
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The State Of The Arizona Race And AP’s Call

Depending on which media outlet’s electoral map you’ve been following, Joe Biden has secured either 264 electoral votes or 253.

The difference comes down to Arizona’s 11 electoral votes.

The Associated Press called Arizona for Joe Biden early Wednesday morning, which is why organizations like NPR that rely on the AP for election calls show the Democratic nominee with a larger lead over President Trump. Fox News has also called Arizona for Biden, but other news organizations have not.

On Thursday, the AP explained its call this way: “The AP called the race in Arizona for Biden at 2:50 a.m. EST Wednesday after an analysis of ballots cast statewide concluded Trump could not catch up in the ballots left to be counted.”

The Trump campaign continues to question the call, though. With 88% of the expected vote now tallied in the state as of Thursday morning, Biden’s lead in the state has shrunk to just over 68,000. (The Trump campaign more broadly is launching a series of legal challenges to dispute results in various places, based on unsupported allegations of fraud and irregularities in the election.)

The AP has not said it will reverse the call. In a statement Thursday, executive editor Sally Buzbee said, “The Associated Press continues to watch and analyze vote count results from Arizona as they come in. We will follow the facts in all cases.”

The next update from elections officials in the state is expected around 9 p.m. ET, the AP reports.

Read more on how NPR reports election results.

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Trump Campaign’s Latest Lawsuit Claims Nonresidents Voted In Nevada

The Trump campaign and the Nevada Republican Party say they plan to file a lawsuit that claims some voters who no longer live in the state cast a ballot in Nevada in the election. At a press conference on Wednesday in Las Vegas, representatives from the state party and the campaign said they have evidence to back up their claim, but did not present any.

They refused to take questions from reporters.

The Trump campaign has moved to file litigation in several battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia — states where Democratic nominee Joe Biden is gaining or building a lead as mail ballots are counted. In Michigan’s case, The Associated Press has already called the state for Biden.

A judge on Thursday morning dismissed the Georgia lawsuit.

On Monday, a judge in Nevada tossed out a separate lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign and the state Republican Party that called for election workers to stop counting mail-in ballots in Clark County, a populous, Democratic stronghold home to Las Vegas.

The party and the Trump campaign alleged they were not being given sufficient access to monitor vote counting. In that earlier lawsuit, the judge ruled that they lacked legal standing to file the case and said they presented no evidence of improper vote counting.

On Thursday, Adam Laxalt, a former Nevada state attorney general, said, without offering evidence, “We believe that there are dead voters that have been counted and we are also confident that there are thousands of people whose votes have been counted who have moved out of Clark County during the pandemic.”

It’s not clear exactly what examples the campaign is pointing to in its most recent lawsuit, but Nevada allows overseas or military voters to cast a ballot by mail while not actively living in the state; college students going to school outside the state are also allowed to vote, the Nevada Independent reports.

In a briefing on Thursday, Bob Bauer, the top lawyer for the Biden campaign, called the Trump campaign lawsuits "meritless" and “political theater,” saying they "create an opportunity … to message falsely what is taking place in the election process."

On Wednesday night, supporters of the president gathered outside the Maricopa, Ariz.., vote counting center to chant “count the votes.” Biden’s lead has been tightening in the state.

In Detroit, a solidly Democratic city where Biden’s lead expanded as more ballots were counted, Trump’s supporters shouted “stop the count,” mirroring the campaign’s approach to litigation over the last day.

Election officials in every battleground state have pledged to count every vote cast by a registered voter before the state’s deadline.

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The NPR Politics Podcast: Race Recap

As the country continues to wait for a winner in the race for the White House, Joe Biden is clinging to a lead of 264 electoral votes to President Trump’s 214, according to calls by The Associated Press. While Biden appears to be only six electoral votes from securing the presidency, the race remains close and his win is not a sure thing. The key states of Nevada, Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania have yet to be called.

NPR’s Tamara Keith, Asma Khalid and Miles Parks discussed the race on Wednesday on the NPR Politics Podcast, just before the AP called Michigan for Biden. Listen here for more on the state of the two campaigns and some of the recent legal challenges mounted by the Trump campaign amidst baseless accusations of fraud.

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Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters Wins Reelection, Per AP Call

The Associated Press has called the Michigan Senate race for incumbent Democrat Gary Peters. He faced a strong challenge from Republican John James, who trails Peters by approximately 60,000 votes, with 98% of the estimated vote counted.

Peters’ win keeps Democrats from losing a second seat after Alabama Sen. Doug Jones was defeated Tuesday night. Democrats did pick up two GOP seats, defeating incumbents in Colorado and Arizona, according to the AP.

Control of the new Senate remains undecided, with four seats outstanding, all currently held by Republicans. One of those races, a special election in Georgia, will go to a runoff on Jan. 5, 2021.

— NPR Staff
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Californians Approve Parolee Voting Rights, Bring Back Cash Bail

A ballot measure to abolish cash bail in America’s most populous state failed Tuesday as California voters rejected Proposition 25 by a wide margin, according to results by the secretary of state’s office.

The vote is a big win for the bail bond industry and its backers, which spent some $3 million to defeat Proposition 25.

“The bail agents and licensed insurance corporations who funded this effort always knew that the issue was far greater than just the future of their industry,” said Jeffrey Clayton, executive director of the American Bail Coalition. “It was about the fundamental principles behind every citizen’s rights. Voters have declared that they will not tolerate any effort to deny them the fundamental constitutional right to bail.”

The defeat is a loss for criminal justice reformers who’ve long argued that basing pretrial freedom on access to money blatantly discriminates against the poor and disproportionately impacts people of color.

The win overturns a state law signed in 2018 that made California the first state in the U.S. to eliminate money bail. California’s legislation would have given judges the discretion, aided by a computer algorithm, to decide if a defendant should be let go before trial.

If Proposition 25 had passed, people arrested for nonviolent misdemeanors would have been released within 12 hours and remained free until trial. Current law allows defendants to be held for at least two days if a judge believes the person to be potentially dangerous. Those charged with murder or domestic violence, as well as violent felons who’d repeatedly failed to appear in court, would have been ineligible.

A major factor in the measure’s defeat was a sharp split on the issue among progressives. Some argued that such pretrial algorithms, computer tools that look at factors like a person’s work history, past crimes and drug use, have racial disparities baked into them. The ACLU of Southern California, for example, opposed the measure, saying it would replace money bail with risk-assessment tools “that are racially and socioeconomically biased.”

That was a main argument of the bail industry too. As the No on Prop 25 website put it, “Imagine trying to help a loved one accused of a crime secure their release in order to answer the charges against them – and having their freedom depend on computer algorithms and predictive models that have been shown to be racially biased.”

The algorithm tool “was a major contributor to the left’s hesitancy to embrace Prop. 25,” says Max Szabo, a former assistant district attorney in San Francisco who’s now a consultant and adviser on criminal justice and political campaigns. “There were a lot of folks on the left who thought that the initiative would actually lead to more people being detained pretrial.”

This loss now largely puts the issue back in the hands of local district attorneys. Szabo and others call the current money bail system unjust and unsafe: “We have to figure out, where do we go from here? What is the better solution?”

On the winning side for progressive justice reformers in the state, California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 17, which automatically restores voting rights to people on parole. The vote means California joins similar efforts in Colorado, Nevada, New York and New Jersey to restore voting rights to the formerly incarcerated.

“Expanding the franchise to persons on parole strengthens democracy,” said Nicole Porter of the Sentencing Project, which supported Proposition 17. “No one should lose their voting rights because of justice involvement. Many citizens with felony conviction histories pay taxes and participate in their communities. They should never lose their voting rights,” she said.

Like money bail, reformists say the data overwhelmingly show that felony disenfranchisement policies disproportionately affect people of color.

— Eric Westervelt
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‘The Eyes Of The World Are On Pennsylvania’ As Ballots Are Counted

Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes remain among the states front and center in the minds of both the Trump and Biden campaigns as ballots there continue to be counted.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told reporters Wednesday evening that election workers have made excellent progress and that she expects hundreds of thousands of more ballots to be counted Wednesday night.

“At this point, I think we’re actually a little bit ahead of where I thought it would be, which is great,” she said, noting that it’s still a “matter of days” before the overwhelming majority of ballots will be counted.

“The eyes of the world are on Pennsylvania,” Gov. Tom Wolf added.

He reiterated that it’s not surprising that returns in Pennsylvania are taking longer than in other states.

“That’s actually a good sign,” he said. “And part of the reason for that is because so many more people have voted and it does mean that votes in Pennsylvania are actually being counted.”

Pennsylvania, like many states, had surges in ballots cast by mail this year, in large part because of the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike in other states, Pennsylvania’s election workers are barred from processing ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day, which doesn’t give them any kind of head start in the counting process.

Wolf acknowledged the Trump campaign’s press conference in Philadelphia earlier Wednesday afternoon, in which Rudy Giuliani alleged, without proof, rampant election fraud in the city.

The Trump campaign has said it will take legal action in Pennsylvania, including suing to stop counting the vote over allegations that Republican canvassing monitors weren’t able to watch the vote count closely enough.

Wolf called the lawsuit “simply wrong.”

“It goes against the most basic principles of our democracy. It takes away the right of every American citizen to cast their vote and to choose our leaders,” he said, adding, “We need to make sure that the voters are choosing the leaders, not the other way around.”

Wolf said Giuliani’s claims that there isn’t enough transparency in the Pennsylvania election system are baseless.

Boockvar also rebuked Giuliani’s allegations that over 100,000 ballots could appear and be counted while being illegitimate.

“You couldn’t find a box of ballots somewhere,” she said, adding that in Pennsylvania, ballots aren’t automatically sent to all eligible voters. Voters must apply for them and election officials must verify that all applicants are qualified voters.

“[It’s] all public record,” she said. “If you found a box of ballots in a room, they would have to match up with a list of people who actually were qualified voters who got approved, so it literally could not happen in Pennsylvania.”

Legal experts are doubtful that the rush of lawsuits, including the new ones in Michigan and Pennsylvania, will end up swinging the race.

For lawsuits to affect the outcome, said Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt, they would need to affect more ballots in swing states than the margin between the two candidates. He called the scenario “increasingly unlikely.”

“Before [the election], I thought voters would decide this election, not the courts,” Levitt said. “And with every passing day, I think that’s more true.“

NPR’s Miles Parks contributed to this report.

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International Election Observers Say Trump Harms Public Trust In Vote

International observers monitoring the U.S. presidential race said America’s election system has passed “an extreme stress test” but warned that President Trump is trying to undermine trust in it.

“Baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies, notably by the incumbent President, including on election night, harm public trust in democratic institutions,” said Michael Georg Link, a German politician monitoring the U.S. elections with the 57-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Link called on U.S. officials to make sure that every vote is counted.

The OSCE monitors were invited by the State Department and have tracked U.S. elections for nearly two decades. The group’s interim report recounts numerous challenges facing U.S. poll workers this year.

Urszula Gacek, a former Polish diplomat who heads the OSCE mission, said monitors found “no solid ground” to the allegations of systematic wrongdoing. “The system has held up well,” she said at a news conference in Washington on Wednesday.

“Given the extreme stress test the system was exposed to … the American electoral process appears to have passed that test,” Gacek said.

The group had monitors in 30 states. They also visited post offices but found “nothing untoward” in the handling of mail-in ballots.

“The enormous effort made by election workers, supported by many engaged citizens, ensured that voters could cast their votes despite legal and technical challenges and deliberate attempts by the incumbent president to weaken confidence in the election process,” said Gacek.

She plans to stay in the U.S. to track over 400 legal challenges and offer a final report early next year.

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Judge Threatens To Call Postmaster General DeJoy To Testify

District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, angered that the U.S. Postal Service ignored an order requiring it to sweep facilities for mail-in ballots Tuesday afternoon, is threatening to call Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to testify before him.

Sullivan told the Postal Service to complete the sweeps by 3 p.m. Tuesday, but postal inspectors didn’t begin until an hour later. Sullivan told a government attorney at a hearing Wednesday that “someone may have to pay a price for the delay” and said DeJoy is “either going to have to be deposed or appear before me.” He stopped short of ordering DeJoy to do so.

Sullivan is overseeing the Postal Service’s performance on mail-in ballots, after groups, including the NAACP, sued the agency over actions taken by DeJoy that they said had delayed mail deliveries. The Postal Service says it suspended those changes until after the election.

In a court filing, a Postal Service official said 13 ballots were recovered during sweeps of postal distribution facilities in Pennsylvania. Sweeps were also ordered in several other states.

Data showed that many ballots have entered the Postal Service system but did not receive exit scans.

In a statement to NPR, the Postal Service said there are no “unaccounted ballots” in itse system. It said that “by design, these ballots bypass certain processing operations and do not receive a final scan. Instead, they are expedited directly to the boards of elections. We remain in close contact with state and local boards of elections and we do not currently have any open issues. Additionally, the Postal Inspection Service has physically inspected all plants that process ballots.”

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Major development

Biden Wins Michigan, Per AP Call

The Associated Press has called Michigan for Joe Biden, adding 16 electoral votes to the Democratic nominee’s column. The state marks his second success in rebuilding the “blue wall” around the Great Lakes. Wisconsin was called for Biden earlier Wednesday.

This gives Biden 264 electoral votes. If the AP calls any remaining state for Biden, he would reach 270 electoral votes, and by the AP’s count, he would be president-elect.

President Trump’s campaign has contested the vote-count process in Michigan and some other states.

In one of the biggest upsets of the 2016 election, Trump won Michigan by just under 11,000 votes. The Great Lakes State had not voted for a Republican in a presidential election since 1988.

The Democratic ticket spent significant time in Michigan, including during the last stretch of the race, signaling the state’s key role in Biden’s potential path to victory. On Saturday, Biden joined his former running mate, Barack Obama, for the first time this campaign for drive-in rallies in Detroit and Flint. On Tuesday, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris made a final campaign stop in Detroit.

Trump, too, staked a lot on Michigan. He campaigned in the state throughout the race, including late Monday night, when he held a big rally in Grand Rapids to close out the 2020 campaign. Grand Rapids is where Trump finished his 2016 campaign, and that late-night rally four years ago has taken on somewhat of a central role in Trump’s telling of his path to winning Michigan — and the presidency.

Trump had been looking to replicate the energy of that first campaign in Michigan, but those efforts have fallen short.

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Mississippi Votes To Replace Confederate-Themed State Flag

Mississippians have voted overwhelmingly for a new state flag design (pictured above), with The Associated Press reporting nearly 70% of voters casting ballots in support of the referendum.

The flag on the ballot was approved by the Mississippi Flag Commission after reviewing nearly 3,000 submissions in July and August, according to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

The new red, navy blue and gold flag has a magnolia in the center that’s encircled with “In God We Trust.” The commission was part of the resolution passed in June by the Mississippi legislature.

Some lawmakers began informally discussing taking down the previous Confederate-themed state flag in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis in May. Protests erupted across the U.S., including in Mississippi. The state’s Legislative Black Caucus called on all lawmakers to support removing the flag, saying it represents the state’s past of slavery and Jim Crow. Legislators argued that the state is changing and that Mississippi should retire the flag and select one that everyone can embrace. Some also expressed concern about the state’s economic outlook, saying the state has lost bids to bring companies to Mississippi because of the emotions evoked by the state flag.

Some Republican legislators said their constituents wanted the issue to be on the November ballot so Mississippians could vote on the issue. Influential business and interfaith leaders, as well as religious, educational and sports organizations, called on the legislature to drop the Confederate symbol. Still, supporters of the flag said the banner represents their heritage and shouldn’t be changed.

In 2001, a referendum to remove the Mississippi state flag was placed on the ballot. The majority of Mississippians voted to keep the flag flying. Over the years, cities and towns in the state, such as Tupelo, Columbus and Hattiesburg, stopped flying the state flag with the Confederate emblem. All the state’s public universities stopped flying the flag as well.

Supporters of a new flag say it’s time to put Mississippi’s past behind so everyone can move forward.

— Desare Frazier
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Many French Are Glued To U.S. Election Coverage

As the United States continues to count the final presidential votes, many in France are watching with great interest. French news networks invested heavily in covering the race.

Jean-Claude Beaujour, an international lawyer and vice president of the France-Amériques association, says the French widely favor Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

“We know how to deal with and accommodate Donald Trump’s personality by now,” he says, “but there’s still a sort of wound from the last four years.”

But even if Trump loses the election, says Hubert Védrine, a former foreign minister, Europe will not go back to its old relationship with the U.S.

“I think it’s now the time for Europe to affirm itself, though not in an aggressive way,” he says. “If it’s Biden, we will certainly work more closely with the Americans. But we have our own ideas.”

In Europe, Védrine says, “feelings are more mixed than people like to admit. The Poles love Trump. The Baltic states, too. There are people who think that on the personal side, Trump is vulgar and horrible, but he says some true things, and stopping China in its tracks was a good thing.”

Mixed feelings or not, far-right leader Marine Le Pen is perhaps the only French politician to say publicly that a reelection of Trump would be good for France.

“Trump ran on the return of patriotism and borders and sovereignty for nations,“ she told newspaper Le Figaro. “I believe that’s going in the right sense of history.”

Martin Congelosi, a 29-year-old Parisian riding his bike along the Seine, says it’s hard to understand how some Americans voted for Trump a second time.

“If our president managed the pandemic the way he did,” says Congelosi, “he wouldn’t get a second chance.”

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Stocks Soar Again As Investors Search For Clues On Election

Stocks soared for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, even as the unresolved election left the likelihood of another economic stimulus bill less certain than ever.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up nearly 700 points, or 2.5%, in the late morning, but pared its gains and finished 1.3% higher. It climbed 1.6% on Tuesday.

The S&P 500 finished up 2.2%. Meanwhile, a surge in technology stocks including Apple and Microsoft sent the Nasdaq composite index up nearly 4%.

Investors are hoping that Congress and the White House can agree on another stimulus bill to cushion the impact of ongoing coronavirus lockdowns, which have led to mass layoffs and business closures.

A Democratic sweep would make passing a bill easier, but a better-than-expected performance by Republicans on Tuesday means divided government may be here to stay.

“The blue wave didn’t materialize, and a status quo policy environment looks increasingly likely,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

The next few days could see considerable volatility in the markets as vote counting continues and the race for president gets decided.

"We expect markets to be especially sensitive to headlines over the next few days as investors search for clues on who could win the presidency," says Lindsey Bell, chief investment strategist at Ally Invest.

Election weeks tend to be especially volatile, Bell noted. The S&P 500 index has moved more than 2% in every presidential election week since 1992.

— Jim Zarroli
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Remaining Votes To Be Counted Dwarf Trump’s 2016 Winning Margins

While the vote count is nearing completion in most states, more than 2 million votes scattered around five key states — Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — remain uncounted as of late Wednesday afternoon.

This is a substantial number when compared with Donald Trump’s narrow margin of victory in 2016. Four years ago, he won the White House by defeating Hillary Clinton in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by a combined 77,744 votes.

In Pennsylvania alone, more than 1.1 million ballots still need to be counted as of 2:30 p.m. ET. Most of those votes are mail-in ballots, according to the state’s election dashboard. In 2016, Trump won the state by just over 44,000 votes. As of 3:27 p.m. ET, his lead there stood at 383,483, but 36% of the vote remains to be counted.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, The Associated Press has called the race for Biden, while in Michigan, he is clinging to a narrow lead over the president.

Get up to date info on how many ballots remain to be counted here.

— Daniel Wood and Connie Hanzhang Jin
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Feds: Continue To Be Wary About Claims And Reports

Americans must continue to be skeptical and selective about election claims and reports as vote counting proceeds in key states, federal officials repeated on Wednesday.

Chris Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, cited what he called “reports” ostensibly resolving a winner in some states — but said that people must rely on trustworthy sources if not official statements from governments.

Krebs’ announcement took place amid cautious satisfaction about security officials’ handling of the election through Tuesday. The day featured a number of victory-lap statements from his agency and others, including the National Security Agency.

All along, U.S. officials have said the information ecosystem in the United States remains ripe for false or misleading information, especially while the result of the election remains an open question.

Krebs’ announcement proved awkwardly timed because it preceded by a few minutes a claim by President Trump’s campaign that it has won Pennsylvania, even though around 1 million votes remain to be counted there.

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Major development

Biden: ‘We Believe We Will Be The Winners’

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Wednesday said he was confident that his campaign would secure the votes necessary to capture the White House from his Republican rival President Trump. In his remarks, the former vice president vowed to be a statesman for all Americans and said he would work to bridge the divide struck in the hyper-partisan election cycle.

“My fellow Americans, yesterday once again proved that democracy is the heartbeat of this nation. Just as it has been the heartbeat of this nation for two centuries,” Biden said.

Biden stopped short of declaring himself the victor outright, but he made clear that he felt Democrats would secure the White House once all the ballots had been counted.

“I’m not here to declare that we’ve won. But I am here to report when the count is finished, we believe we will be the winners,” he said.

Biden’s remarks come after Trump in the early hours of Wednesday morning falsely declared himself victorious in the race and baselessly accused Democrats of trying to rig the election’s outcome.

In the hours since, as more states have been called — particularly in competitive states like Wisconsin and Arizona — the Trump campaign has filed lawsuits, vowed to seek recounts and sought to declare invalid legal votes that were being counted after the polls had closed.

“Every vote must be counted. Nobody’s going to take our democracy away from us, not now, not ever,” Biden said on Wednesday.

“We the people will not be silenced. We the people will not be bullied. We the people will not surrender,” he continued.

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Trump Campaign Asks Supreme Court To Intervene In Mail-In Ballots Case

The Trump campaign says it is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in a case over counting ballots in Pennsylvania that were postmarked by Nov. 3, Election Day, but received later.

“As the President has rightly said, the Supreme Court must resolve this crucial contested legal question, so President Trump’s Campaign is moving to intervene in the existing Supreme Court litigation over the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s unlawful extension of the mail-in ballot receipt deadline,” Justin Clark, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, said in a statement. “The law is on President Trump’s side: as the Eighth Circuit just said, to change the ballot receipt deadline is in fact a change of the time, place, and manner of the election — and only a state legislature or the United States Congress can do that under the Constitution.”

Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, remains a pivotal state for both the Trump and Biden campaigns in their quest for the White House. With 85% of the vote counted, according to The Associated Press, Trump was leading with 52.4% of the vote to Joe Biden’s 46.5%. Democrats say they believe that much of the remaining vote will break in Biden’s favor.

The Trump campaign’s move comes weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that election officials in Pennsylvania can count absentee ballots received as late as the Friday after Election Day so long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3.

Pennsylvania Republicans had sought to block the counting of late-arriving ballots, which the state’s Supreme Court had approved last month. Republicans argued that it is up to the state’s Legislature — not the court — to set rules for how elections are conducted. They also said the court’s ruling could allow ballots cast after Election Day to be counted. The court declined to expedite the case so close to the election but left room to revisit it.

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Trump Campaign Says It Has Filed Michigan Lawsuit

The Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit to stop vote counting in Michigan until its observers get more access.

The campaign did not say which locations it did not have access to. The suit has been assigned to Michigan Court of Claims Judge Judge Cynthia Stephens, an appointee of former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson tweeted shortly after that, “We are not going to let any campaign, candidate, or political party stop our work to ensure every voice is heard.”

The lawsuit claims that a poll challenger from a rural county in northern Michigan was denied access to view the counting of absentee ballots. The suit did not specify the counting location, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Not long after the campaign made its announcement, a group of people tried to push their way into the TCF Center, the vote counting center in downtown Detroit, chanting, “Stop the count,” according to WDET reporter Laura Herberg.

Under Michigan law, observers from both parties are allowed to monitor the vote counting process. The Detroit Free Press reports that under election rules, each group contesting the vote was allowed to have 134 vote challengers inside the TCF Center.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Free Press reported that earlier in the day, 570 challengers were “freely roaming” the room as poll workers counted ballots — 227 Republican challengers, 268 Democrat challengers and 75 Nonpartisan challengers. Republicans argued they did not have fair representation inside the counting center.

It’s unclear whether the disruption at the TCF Center is directly tied to the lawsuit the Trump campaign filed.

A spokesperson for Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said earlier Wednesday afternoon that her office had not been notified about a lawsuit by the Michigan Court of Claims and will review it when they are served.

“Michigan’s elections have been conducted transparently, with access provided for both political parties and the public, and using a robust system of checks and balances to ensure that all ballots are counted fairly and accurately.”

Donald Trump won Michigan by just under 11,000 votes in 2016. The Great Lakes State, along with Wisconsin and Nevada, would give Democrat Joe Biden the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

The Trump campaign says it has not gotten enough access to counting in at least four states — Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Some of those challenges have been rejected in lower courts but have been appealed.

Separately, the campaign says it’s asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in Pennsylvania over counting ballots postmarked by Nov. 3, but arriving later. The court previously allowed the commonwealth to count those ballots as long as they arrive within three days of the election.

The Trump campaign also says it intends to pursue a recount in Wisconsin, where the margin between Trump and Biden appears to be within the 1% threshold required by state law for a recount. The Associated Press called Wisconsin for Biden on Wednesday afternoon.

Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania are still finishing up counting mail ballots, and the AP has yet to call those races.

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Georgia Secretary Of State: ‘Every Legal Vote Will Count’

President Trump claimed overnight that he had won Georgia, but counting is still underway there and the race remains too close to call.

Election officials say that by the end of the day, they hope to have results that could determine who gets the state’s 16 electoral votes.

By Wednesday afternoon, Trump had a narrow lead over Democrat Joe Biden in Georgia – by less than 100,000 votes.

During a midday update, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said there were about 200,000 absentee votes still to be counted.

“My team has sent reminders to counties to get all — let me repeat — all of our results counted today,” Raffensperger said. “Every legal vote will count.”

The majority of the votes yet to be tallied are in the metro Atlanta area, where Biden has performed well.

In Fulton County, the state’s most populated and home to Atlanta, election director Richard Barron said he expects results from roughly 63,000 outstanding absentee ballots to be in between 9 p.m. and midnight. Part of the delay in counting there was due to a burst water pipe in a room where ballots were kept.

Both presidential campaigns treated Georgia as a battleground, a rarity in a state where Republicans have long dominated federal races. The last Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia was Bill Clinton in 1992.

The deadline for counties to certify official results is 5 p.m. on Nov. 13. Georgia law does not trigger an automatic recount, but candidates can request one if the margin is within 0.5%.

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Hispanics’ Support For Trump Tied To Faith

As Democratic leaders consider why Joe Biden failed to attract more Hispanic support in this election, they might consider a key datapoint: Hispanic Christians, especially Catholics and evangelical Protestants, have drifted increasingly toward the Republican Party in recent years.

Between 2018 and 2020, the share of Hispanic Catholics who approved of President Trump’s performance jumped from about 16% to 27%, according to data compiled by the Pew Research Center.

Among those Hispanic Catholics who rallied behind Trump in this election is Brenda Perez, 73, a retired Spanish teacher in Murrysville, Pa., who immigrated to the United States from Ecuador as a teenager. In an interview this fall, she cited Trump’s views on gun rights, abortion and immigration policy as reasons for her support.

“I know what it takes to become a citizen,” she said. “Every country should have rules for immigration. I don’t agree at all with having open borders and people coming in from all over.”

The growth in Republican support among Hispanic Catholics continues a trend: While 75% of Hispanic Catholics supported Barack Obama in 2012, the share supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016 dropped to 67%.

Among Hispanic Christians as a whole, support for Trump jumped from 15% in 2016 to 32% this year, according to a new survey by Claremont McKenna College. That survey found that Hispanic evangelicals this year favored Trump by 2 points, 48% to 46%.

Among Hispanic Catholics, Biden was favored by 42 points, 67% to 25%, in the survey, but the Catholic share of the U.S. Hispanic population is declining while the Protestant share is holding steady.

Other data suggest that Hispanics are fairly religious and holding firmly to their faith. A 2014 Pew survey found that 74% of Hispanics said they attended church services at least occasionally, the same share as in 2007.

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After Wild Election Night Ride, Gambling Markets Are Now Betting On Biden Win

After wild swings throughout election night, betting markets are now strongly favoring a victory for former Vice President Joe Biden in the razor-thin 2020 election.

Although the odds have fluctuated sharply over the past 24 hours, Biden stood at a more than 80% chance of winning the presidency in betting markets at about 11 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to the Action Network, an industry publication.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have poured into presidential election betting markets, with the bulk of it coming in the past week. Even U.K. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has gotten in on the action.

Biden’s odds fell sharply as the election returns came in on Tuesday night. By 10 p.m. ET, he was given about a 25% chance of winning, but his standing increased through the night, especially after he took the lead in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Betting on the presidential race has been extraordinarily heavy, with one betting industry official telling The Guardian he expected a billion pounds will be wagered globally on the race.

The European site Betfair saw more than $587 million in bets. That was more than twice as much as came in during the 2016 election.

Three out of four bets that have come in during the final week of the campaign have been for Trump.

That includes a $5 million wager by a former British banker, purportedly a record for political gambling, according to the British tabloid The Sun. Should Trump win, the mysterious gambler would receive a check for nearly $15 million.

Farage, a Trump ally who appeared at one of the president’s rallies in Arizona, bet 10,000 pounds (about $13,000) on a Trump victory, after speaking with a campaign insider. If Trump wins, that will grow to more than 28,000 pounds.

"The first polls are closing and I am absolutely optimistic," Farage said.

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The Man Behind Florida’s New Minimum Wage Did It Without Either Party

The architect of a Florida referendum approved on Tuesday that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2026 said that critics of the measure are making excuses.

“What we did yesterday was immediately improve the lives of 2.5 million households,” John Morgan said Wednesday afternoon.

The powerful trial lawyer adopted a populist mantle in Florida in recent years, backing successful amendments allowing medical marijuana and restoring the right to vote to felons. He wrote and bankrolled the wage measure, spending $6 million of his own money securing the signatures and fighting efforts to keep the minimum wage initiative off the ballot.

The referendum passed with just over the 60% threshold needed for passage. Florida is now the eighth state — and the first in the South — to adopt a $15 per hour minimum wage. Under the amendment to the state constitution, the minimum wage will go from $8.56 to $10 an hour next year and increase by $1 annually until 2026.

But the measure was approved without the support of either the Democratic or Republican parties in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke out against it, calling it a measure that would “close small businesses, kill jobs and reduce wages.”

Bill Herrle, director of the National Federation of Independent Business in Florida, said passage of the amendment “comes at the worst possible time,” during a pandemic when one-fifth of small businesses aren’t sure they’ll survive.

Morgan notes the minimum wage won’t go up until September 2021 and then in stages over five years.

“It’s an excuse,” he said. “Why don’t you try to live on $8.56 and then you come back and tell me how your life is going.”

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Massachusetts Voters Reject Ranked-Choice Voting

The ballot initiative to institute ranked-choice voting in Massachusetts has failed. Supporters of the measure conceded defeat early Wednesday morning after 55% of voters opposed the measure, with 80% of precincts reporting.

Had the measure passed, ranked-choice voting would have been implemented in state and federal elections beginning in 2022. The practice allows voters to rank their favorite candidates in a multi-candidate race instead of selecting only one option.

Under this system, if a candidate were to receive more than 50% of the vote, then that candidate would win. However, if no candidate received more than than 50% of the vote, then the candidate with the least amount of support would be removed from the ranking and their supporters’ next choice counted. The process would continue until one candidate emerged with the majority of the vote.

Supporters of ranked-choice voting said that it would help avoid races where a candidate wins in a crowded field by a small margin. That’s exactly what happened in the state’s 4th Congressional District primary earlier this year, in which Democrat Jake Auchincloss won with less than 25% of the vote. The initiative was backed by many prominent Massachusetts Democrats, including former Gov. Deval Patrick. It was opposed by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican.

This year, Maine became the first state to use ranked-choice voting in a presidential contest after voters approved the change in 2016.

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Major development

Biden Wins Wisconsin, Per AP Call

The Associated Press has called Wisconsin, with its 10 electoral votes, for Democrat Joe Biden.

Wisconsin is part of the so-called “blue wall” of Rust Belt states that Republican Donald Trump flipped four years ago. The win helps bring Biden closer to the 270 electoral votes needed to secure the White House.

Earlier Wednesday, the Trump campaign said it intended to request a recount of the state, which can be done if the margin of victory is within 1% of the total number of votes.

According to the current AP count, Biden leads by less than 21,000 votes or roughly 0.6 percentage points.

However, a recount can’t begin until the state certifies the results. The state has until Dec. 1 to do so.

Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, on Wednesday cast doubt that a recount challenge could reverse the outcome.

“As I said, 20,000 is a high hurdle,” Walker tweeted.

Wisconsin, which has conducted several recounts in recent years, last did one after the 2016 presidential election when two third-party candidates, Independent Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, filed a pair of petitions.

Both the Biden and Trump campaigns viewed Wisconsin as a big prize critical to winning the White House as evidenced by the multiple stops each made in the campaign’s closing days.

Biden was in Milwaukee on Friday, where he blasted Trump for his handling of the coronavirus.

Trump made five trips there in recent weeks, including an evening rally in Kenosha on Monday, where he underscored his “law and order” message.

— NPR Staff
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Slovenian Prime Minister Cheers Trump ‘Triumph’ Despite Untallied Votes

When President Trump falsely declared victory before millions of votes had been counted, at least one foreign political leader publicly cheered: Janez Jansa, the prime minister of Slovenia.

Slovenia is the native country of first lady Melania Trump (born Melanija Knavs), who grew up in the mountain hamlet of Sevnica when this alpine nation of roughly 2 million people was part of Yugoslavia.

“It’s pretty clear that American people have elected @realDonaldTrump @Mike_Pence for #4moreyears," Jansa tweeted, complaining that “facts denying” media were delaying the “final triumph.” He offered congratulations to the GOP “for strong results."

Jansa, who has led the conservative Slovenian Democratic Party since 1993, is one of a handful of European leaders who endorsed Trump during the election. “Go, win,” he tweeted last month.

The others were Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

All are nationalists who crush dissent and portray their critics as part of a liberal elite that is destroying national identity. Igniting culture wars, they oppose LGBTQ rights and abortion and accuse the media of spreading fake news.

Political scientist Ivan Krastev, who leads the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia, Bulgaria, says these populists gained strength during Trump’s presidency.

“They basically allied themselves with the president,” Krastev says.

The European Union, which sees MAGA-style populism as a threat to the bloc’s liberal democratic values, has refused to comment on the U.S. election until all votes are tallied.

Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, told reporters Wednesday that the Hungarian government is pessimistic about Trump’s prospects.

Jansa may also be backtracking. He told Politico Europe on Wednesday that he was congratulating the Republican Party, not Trump. But on Twitter, he also hinted at voter fraud, comparing Democrats to the former strongman of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic.

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Trump Campaign Requests A Recount In Wisconsin

President Trump’s campaign is requesting a recount in Wisconsin after unofficial returns show Joe Biden narrowly leading the state by less than 21,000 votes. The Associated Press, which NPR uses for race calls, has not declared a winner in Wisconsin.

The request came as Wisconsin Election Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe updated the public about the state’s count, saying on Wednesday that all but one small township had submitted unofficial election results, although the commission did not declare a winner.

“Yesterday’s voting process and election night counting went very well in Wisconsin,” Wolfe said. “Our election was executed with precision.”

The margin separating Trump and Biden in the swing state is within the 1% threshold needed for a recount, but it can’t begin until the state certifies the results. The state has until Dec. 1 to do so.

In a statement, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said there were voting irregularities in the states.

“There have been reports of irregularities in several Wisconsin counties which raise serious doubts about the validity of the results. The President is well within the threshold to request a recount and we will immediately do so.”

The campaign pointed to reports that some misprinted ballots had to be transcribed by National Guard members.

Further, the campaign said that some ballots in Milwaukee County — where many of the state’s Democrats live — had information that had been “cured” in red pen, where poll workers – rather than voters – “corrected or added information to the ballot itself,” spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.

“We estimate that 15 to 20 percent of absentee ballots in Milwaukee County were tainted in this manner. This is also only an estimate because our legal volunteers were prevented from having meaningful access all of the time,” Murtaugh said.

Still, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, cast doubt that a recount challenge would reverse what is looking like a victory for Biden.

“After recount in 2011 race for WI Supreme Court, there was a swing of 300 votes,” Walker tweeted. “After recount in 2016 Presidential race in WI, @realDonaldTrump numbers went up by 131. As I said, 20,000 is a high hurdle.”

Wisconsin’s 2016 recount was triggered after two third-party presidential candidates, Independent Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, filed petitions. Stein said at the time it was not an effort to help then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton but to “ensure the integrity of our elections.”

Wisconsin, with its 10 electoral votes, is critical to both Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who each are short of 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House as election night vote-counting stretched into a second day.

Voters set a record with 2 million requests for absentee ballots, member station WUWM reports.

Wisconsin, is part of the “blue wall” that Trump shattered four years ago that helped propel him to the White House. He narrowly won the state by less than 23,000 votes in 2016.

In recent days, both Trump and Biden campaigned heavily in Wisconsin.

Biden was in Milwaukee on Friday, where he hit the president on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump made five trips there in recent weeks, including a late night rally in Kenosha on Monday, at which he underscored his “law and order” message.

Protests and violence erupted in the city in August following the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake by a Kenosha police officer. Blake was shot several times at close range; the shooting was captured on cellphone video, posted on social media and went viral.

Blake survived the shooting but is paralyzed.

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Twitter, Facebook Flag Trump Posts As Possible Election Misinformation

Twitter and Facebook slapped warning labels on several of President Trump’s posts that make false claims about vote counting.

The social media companies have been on high alert for misleading posts about voting. Now they are shifting their focus to attempts to delegitimize the vote-counting process or prematurely declare victory.

Twitter hid two of Trump’s tweets behind a screen saying that they “might be misleading about an election or other civic process.” That made it harder for the tweets to spread.

In one post, Trump questioned vote tallies in some battleground states and falsely claimed there were “surprise ballot dumps.” In the other, the president baselessly accused Democrats of “trying to steal the election.”

“As votes are still being counted across the country, our teams continue to take enforcement action on Tweets that prematurely declare victory or contain misleading information about the election broadly,” a Twitter spokesperson said.

Facebook flagged several similar posts the president made on its platform, adding labels that said it will take longer to count mail-in ballots and that “final results may be different from initial vote counts.” The platform also labeled a video of Trump’s speech in which he falsely claimed he had won the election.

But unlike Twitter, Facebook did not take any steps to slow the posts from spreading. Three of Trump’s posts prematurely claiming victory or alleging fraud were among the Top 4 posts on the platform based on the number of reactions, replies and shares on Wednesday, according to data from CrowdTangle, a research tool owned by the social network.

Several conservative accounts with large followings, as well as the right-wing media outlet The Gateway Pundit, also made false claims Wednesday that changes in vote totals during the counting process were evidence of fraud.

The Election Integrity Partnership, a coalition of researchers, said there was an “uptick in more generalized voter fraud conversation, with verified Twitter users and supporters using the phrase ‘stop the steal’,” after the president called the election a fraud and threatened legal challenges during a speech Wednesday morning at the White House.

“There is this effort to delegitimize those votes, by a small portion of Trump’s supporters,” said Kate Starbird, a University of Washington associate professor and member of the coalition.

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Sen. Susan Collins Reelected To 5th Term

Sen. Susan Collins, the four-term Republican senator from Maine who was widely expected to lose her reelection bid to Democratic rival Sara Gideon, declared victory Wednesday.

“Just now I spoke with Sen. Collins,” Gideon said. “I congratulated her on winning the election.” Collins called the conversation a “good talk.”

The Associated Press has also called the race for Collins.

The development is a remarkable turn in the political fortunes of the Republican moderate who was excoriated by liberals for voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Collins voted against President Trump’s most recent nominee to the court, Amy Coney Barrett — a decision that drew condemnation from conservatives.

In the days and weeks running up to the election, polls showed Gideon, the Maine House speaker, to have a clear lead over Collins. But that didn’t translate into votes. Collins led throughout the night — and on Wednesday claimed victory.

The race, the most expensive in Maine’s history, was seen as key for the Democrats to flip in order to achieve their goal of capturing the Senate. But after weeks of voting, that goal remains elusive. Democrats flipped Senate seats in Colorado and Arizona, but failed in most of their other targets.

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Major development

Trump Wins Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, Per AP call

The Associated Press has called the one electoral vote in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District for President Trump. Maine’s other three votes went to Biden.

Here are the overall results for the state:

— NPR Staff
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Turnout Surges Past 140 Million, The Most Ever

The total vote in the 2020 presidential election has climbed past 140 million. That’s the highest count ever, blowing past the 2016 record of 137.1 million votes.

And Democrat Joe Biden has now gotten more than 70 million votes, more than any other presidential candidate in U.S. history.

The total vote and Biden’s share are only going to increase. That’s because California, for example, has still reported only 64% of its vote. More than 11 million people are accounted for in that 64%, so there are millions more votes to count there.

That’s in addition to the vote-count going on in the swing states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And there are votes still to be counted in a lot of other states, including populous ones like New York ( where just 67% of votes have been tallied), Illinois (80%) and Texas (84%).

We won’t know the turnout rate for some time. Turnout experts, though, predicted that the total vote could get to over 155 million to 160 million, which would be 65% of the eligible voter population or higher.

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National Guard Remains Ready, Though Feared Unrest Has Not Materialized

Governors in more than a dozen states have their National Guard ready to deal with possible unrest, but so far, protests have been small, officials say.

Guard officials say they have been coordinating with city police departments for weeks before Nov. 3 to determine what support might be needed.

In addition, Guard troops across the country worked with state and local officials on cybersecurity at the polls, and some were dressed in civilian clothes and taking part in polling activities, such as handing out ballots.

Small protests were held near the White House and there was some protest activity in the following cities: Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., Raleigh, N.C., and Seattle.

Pentagon officials say no active Army units have been mobilized and stress that any unrest at the state level can be handled by local police or Guard troops.

Both Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Mark Milley, have said that because Guard troops live in the communities they serve, they are better positioned to deal with protests.

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The Electoral College, Explained

For many Americans, the Electoral College is a political institution that is confusing at best and frustrating at worst. But as NPR’s Ron Elving explains in the below video from 2017, understanding the Electoral College and its origins is crucial to any real understanding of how the presidency is ultimately decided.

The Electoral College has remained virtually unchanged since 1800, in part due to racist policies following the passage of the 13th Amendment. Throughline’s Ramtin Arablouei and Rund Abdelfatah trace the history of the Electoral College from its founding ties to slavery to the near electoral crisis caused by segregationist third-party candidate George Wallace in 1968.

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Russia Is Shrugging So Far At The U.S. Election

Nov. 4 is the Day of National Unity — in Russia. Russian state television covered the U.S. elections, but the top story was how President Vladimir Putin marked the holiday: laying a wreath at a monument, meeting with religious leaders and visiting a new archaeological museum in the Kremlin.

Given the blowback to Russian efforts to influence America’s 2016 election, Putin made no remarks after Tuesday’s vote. On Election Day, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Kommersant newspaper that Russia would respect “whatever choice” the American people make for president, regardless of his party affiliation.

Konstantin Kosachyov, the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Russia’s upper house, was less diplomatic. On Wednesday, he told the Ekho Moskvy radio station that the election results are “not very important” for Russians because there is little chance for an improvement in U.S.-Russian relations, whoever wins.

“The American system is supposedly great because it is so competitive and lifts up the best of the best,” Kosachyov said. Referring to President Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, he continued: “So these two men are the embodiment of the American nation. Apparently everybody else is even worse. Honestly, I fear for such a nation and for those who are under the influence of the United States.”

Opposition politician Alexei Navalny was more sanguine about the state of American democracy, given how carefully stage-managed elections are in Russia.

“Woke up, checked Twitter to find out who won. Nothing clear yet. That’s what I call elections,” Navalny tweeted.

Ivan Kurilla, a political scientist at the European University at St. Petersburg, tells NPR that “no big celebrations” are expected in Russia if Trump wins reelection.

Yet a Biden presidency could be better for U.S.-Russian ties, Kurilla says, because Biden will be able to reach agreements with Putin without being accused of being a “Russian pawn.”

For now though, the division the election has exposed will keep the U.S. distracted from the outside world — just the way the Kremlin wants it.

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Michigan: Where The Race Stands

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said today that about 100,000 ballots remain to be counted in Michigan.

“I’m optimistic that by the end of the day the majority of our ballots will be tabulated and we’ll be much closer to having a full, if not a full and complete, unofficial result to announce at that point,” Benson said.

Benson said ballots are still being counted in the state’s largest cities, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Flint — all Democratic strongholds.

Biden is currently leading Trump in the vote count, and that lead could grow as election officials continue to finish counting mail ballots in Democratic-heavy cities. With some 96% of the vote in, Biden has 2,613,025 votes to Trump’s 2,566,923.

Trump flipped historically blue Michigan in 2016 by fewer than 11,000 votes. The state hadn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988.

“Our goal is to ensure, again, we’re being transparent, but also fully accurate, and that the public, you all, can trust the results as an accurate reflection of the will of the people,” Benson said early Wednesday afternoon.

The vote tally is taking a while because of when state law allowed election officials to start processing and then counting mail ballots. Unlike some other states, where election workers could begin the processing and, in a few cases, the counting days or weeks in advance, Michigan could not.

“For 18 months, the election clerks throughout the state of Michigan and I called on our state Legislature to update our laws to provide time for preprocessing of ballots,” Benson said. “Our state Legislature chose not to make that change to laws and here we are in Michigan, where our counting process is continuing long until after the polls have closed.”

Benson originally estimated to have an unofficial account by Friday, but as of Wednesday, she said election officials are on track to deliver that tally sooner.

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House Democrats On Track To Keep Majority, But GOP Makes Gains

Democrats are expected to keep control of the House of Representatives, but Republicans will make gains, according to analysis by NPR. At this hour, the GOP has picked up five seats, according to The Associated Press. Several other news outlets have also projected that Democrats will remain in the majority.

The results are a major setback to Democrats, who boasted a massive cash advantage and opportunities to flip seats in places like Texas. Instead, they failed to defend several seats they picked up in the 2018 midterms, and many remain too close to call. Contrary to preelection projections that Democrats would expand their majority, it has narrowed, which will mean governing will be much more difficult for the party. Several Democratic incumbents have lost, in races in Florida, Minnesota, New Mexico, Iowa and South Carolina. So far no House Republican incumbents have lost their race.

Democrats, who won control of the House in 2018 by picking up suburban districts, hoped to expand their majority with seats around Houston, St. Louis, Mo., and Little Rock, Ark., but they fell short, and polls showing they had the edge in many of these races were significantly off.

Republicans touted their recruiting efforts and added several more women to the GOP conference. Michelle Fischbach defeated moderate Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, a 15-term Democrat who has been a top GOP target for decades. Nancy Mace beat freshman Democrat Joe Cunningham in the district around Charleston, S.C., and Maria Elvira Salazar, the GOP candidate in a South Florida district, defeated Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala in a rematch of their 2018 contest.

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‘Florida Is Trump Country.’ Democrats Reeling In The Sunshine State

A series of Republican victories on Election Day have left Democrats in Florida in shock. In Miami-Dade County, long a Democratic stronghold, the party lost two congressional seats.

In the 26th Congressional District, Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell lost to Carlos Gimenez, the outgoing mayor of Miami-Dade County. In the adjoining 27th District, Democratic Congresswoman Donna Shalala, a former Clinton administration official and president of the University of Miami, was defeated by former TV journalist Maria Elvira Salazar.

In both races, Republican challengers benefited from the strong level of support President Trump received from Latino voters. Trump lost in Miami-Dade County by just over 7 percentage points, a significant improvement from his 30 percentage point loss four years ago.

For Democrats, it’s a signal that they have major problems with Latinos, especially Cuban Americans. Exit polls show around 55% of the Cuban American vote went for Trump.

Without a reliable Democratic base of support in the state’s most populous county, political analysts are now asking whether Florida remains a true swing state, or has moved into the red column. As Trump rolled to victory in Florida Tuesday night, the state’s former GOP chairman Blaise Ingoglia sent a triumphant tweet, “Florida is Trump Country. Don’t let anyone tell you different.”

The losses for Democrats didn’t stop there. The party lost several seats in the state Legislature, a further setback in a body that’s been dominated by Republicans for decades. It ensures that Republicans will once again control the once-a-decade redistricting process that begins after the census is complete.

One bright spot for Democrats: In a nonpartisan race, Democrat Daniella Levine Cava was elected Miami-Dade County mayor. She’s the first woman to be elected to the powerful position, and she’ll play a key role in determining how Democrats try to rebuild in Florida’s most populous area.

— Greg Allen
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In Britain, Concern Over U.S. Election – But No Official Comment

People in London expressed deep disappointment and concern over the tight U.S. presidential race, while the government of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a Trump ally, refused to comment on President Trump’s false claims of victory and fraud.

On the BBC, anchor Katty Kay pressed Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to comment on Trump’s claims.

“This is the president of the United States subverting democracy,” she said.

“What’s really important now is that we wait and see how this uncertainty unfolds,” Raab responded.

Polls show Trump is deeply unpopular in the U.K.

Jessica Crooles, a U.S. tech firm employee in London who is from New Zealand, says only a Biden landslide could have restored her faith in American democracy.

“Irrespective of the results at this point, I think the fact that 65 million or more Americans voted for someone that personally I feel like is a bit morally reprehensible is just incredibly disappointing and very, very sad,” Crooles says.

“It was shocking when [Trump] got in the first time, and now it just feels a bit scary,” says Tania Park, a massage therapist.

Ian Bond, director of foreign policy at the Center for European Reform, a London think tank, says the election’s big winners are actually Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Even if Biden squeaks out a narrow victory, Xi and Putin will have a divided, introspective and dysfunctional U.S. to deal with,” Bond tweeted.

A former British diplomat, Bond also said on Twitter that the results so far are “like discovering that your beloved family member is in reality a deranged psychopath.”

Ben Helme, a student at the London School of Economics, believes attitudes in Britain toward the U.S. have already changed: “I really don’t think that people look to the States as a beacon of democracy anymore.”

NPR London producer Jessica Beck contributed to this report.

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Biden Passes Obama For Most Votes Of All Time

Democrat Joe Biden has gotten more votes than anyone who has ever run for president.

Biden is up to 69.9 million votes as of 12:10 p.m. ET Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. That is about 300,000 more votes than Barack Obama got in 2008, which was the previous record.

Biden, who is locked in a tight electoral vote fight, is 2.7 million votes ahead of President Trump in the popular vote — and counting.

Millions of votes are still being tabulated across the country, including in California, which has about 64% reporting. So Biden’s popular vote lead is very likely to grow, as there are millions of votes still out in California and Biden is winning two-thirds of the vote there currently.

Biden has also taken the lead in Wisconsin and Michigan after Trump was leading early this morning, giving Biden a clearer path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

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Pennsylvania: Where The Race Stands

Election officials are cautioning that Pennsylvania — and its highly sought-after 20 electoral votes — may not be ready to deliver complete voting results on Wednesday.

“Make no mistake, our democracy is being tested in this election,” said Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, at a press conference Wednesday morning.

“This is a stress test of the ideals upon which this country was founded and the basic rule of one person, one vote – that still carries and it has to carry here,” Wolf said, adding, “I have full faith that we will similarly meet this moment and I will do everything within my power to make sure that the results are fair and that every vote is counted.”

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told reporters the vote counting process was one of the “smoothest” she had dealt with as an election lawyer.

“We are exactly where we said we would be. We said it would take some time to count the mail ballots and we are approaching 50% of the mail ballots counted, which is great,” Boockvar said.

“But there are still millions of ballots left to be counted,” she said.

At a separate press conference, Philadelphia City Commissioner Lisa Deeley said the city has counted about 141,000 ballots, although that total has since risen to 186,000, with more results expected today.

“We’ll be done as soon as we’re done,” said Deeley. “We want to make sure that every vote that is legitimately cast gets counted. That’s what normally happens in elections. People vote, we count the votes and then there’s a winner and there’s a loser.”

Two hearings were scheduled Wednesday for lawsuits filed by Republicans.

A federal judge in Philadelphia heard arguments in a case brought Tuesday by Republicans over the handling of some mail-in ballots in suburban Montgomery County.

The lawsuit is seeking the court to block the counting of a small number of ballots that contained flaws that voters were allowed to fix – or “cure.” A county election official testified it has been standard practice for years to notify voters of problems with their ballots and give them an opportunity to fix them.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Savage, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, appeared skeptical of the Republicans’ arguments, but he did not issue a ruling on Wednesday.

Instead, he gave the sides time to file more briefs.

The case was filed by Republican congressional candidate Kathy Barnette, who the AP says lost her race. With ballots still being counted, Barnette trails by more than 50,000 votes.

Additionally, Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Penn., along with five other plaintiffs, has asked a state court to block counties from allowing voters whose mail-in ballots were disqualified to be able to cast a vote by provisional ballot.

Suzanne Almeida, the interim executive director of the nonpartisan voter advocacy group Common Cause PA, told reporters that a number of voters who had received mail-in ballots but then decided to vote in-person instead, were required to vote provisionally, when they should have been allowed to vote with a regular ballot. Provisional ballots take a longer to count.

At the Wednesday morning press conference, both Gov. Wolf and Sec. Boockvar declined to speak about legal challenges filed, NPR’s Jeff Brady reports.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had previously ordered counties to count mail-in ballots received as many as three days after Election Day, as long as they were postmarked on Nov. 3.

The U.S. Supreme Court has twice declined to take up the issue but could revisit the counting of late-arriving mail-in votes at another time.

Roughly 64% of the vote has come into the state, according to the AP. Trump currently commands a lead in the state, but Democrats point to the suburbs of Philadelphia as a place where the eventual vote count could boost Biden to victory.

Philadelphia represents a Democratic stronghold with more than 1.1 million registered voters — more than 10% of all the voters in the Keystone State. Low turnout in the city and its suburbs, along with increased turnout in the more rural parts of the state, helped catapult Trump to win the state in 2016.

Unlike some other states, Pennsylvania by law could not begin sorting and counting its massive early and mail-in ballots until Election Day.

NPR’s Ryan Lucas and Pam Fessler contributed to this report

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Trump Campaign Call Projects Confidence

While President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden remain locked in a race that’s too close to call in a handful of swing states, the Trump campaign is expressing optimism that the president will emerge victorious.

“We feel like the president is in a very, very, very good position this morning,” Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, said in a Wednesday morning call to reporters.

“If we count all legally cast ballots, we believe the president will win,” he added, without expanding on what he meant by “legally cast ballots.” The president has suggested that ballots should not be counted past Election Day itself – but that is not the way the system works.

Stepien said the president’s campaign has run the math and sees Trump with advantages in Michigan, citing outlying Republican counties that remain to be counted.

“We are confident in a pathway that includes Michigan,” he said.

He touted the president’s chances in Nevada, forecasting that Trump will win the state by a margin of 5,500 votes, and projected confidence in moving Nevada and Georgia to Trump’s column.

As for the hotly contested state of Pennsylvania, Stepien said the campaign is taking a “conservative estimate” and still projects that Trump will win the Keystone State.

“We know there are a number of pro-Trump, Trump country counties with a lot of ballots still to be counted,” he said.

Senior adviser Jason Miller added that the campaign feels confident about Arizona.

“We think that anyone who’s called this race is just plain wrong, that they don’t understand how the state works with the ballots coming in and they don’t understand the dynamic that our people were voting on Election Day,” he said.

While his campaign advisers briefed the press, Trump took to Twitter to repeat his baseless accusations that Democratic-governed states were inflating votes for Biden as they continue to count mail-in ballots.

“Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key States, in almost all instances Democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the “pollsters” got it completely & historically wrong!” he wrote in a tweet that was flagged by the platform for having content that is “disputed” and “misleading” about the election process.

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‘A Very Explosive Situation’: In Germany, Worries Grow Over U.S. Election Uncertainty

Minutes after President Trump prematurely declared victory and baselessly labeled routine vote counting “a fraud,” German parliamentarian Norbert Röttgen had had enough.

“This shows, in my eyes, a total lack of respect for the law,” Röttgen tells NPR, “because it can be no doubt that the counting process is ongoing, that nobody has a basis or a right to declare victory.”

Röttgen, a potential candidate to replace Angela Merkel as Germany’s chancellor next year, is one of several prominent German politicians to voice concern over President Trump’s comments — as well as the tight election race that shows the polarized state of the U.S. Merkel has not commented on the election.

“This is a very explosive situation,” German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told German public broadcaster ZDF, “one that experts rightly say could lead to a constitutional crisis in the United States, and it is something that ought to worry us.”

Some other German politicians, like Peter Beyer, the government’s trans-Atlantic coordinator, sounded more sanguine.

“I still have great confidence in the functioning of American institutions, including its justice system,” he told ARD, another public broadcaster. “And I have a lot more trust in the Americans themselves, in the population, despite all the social divisions that exist.”

Still, Röttgen, who chairs the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, worries about the possibility of another four years of Trump.

“If Donald Trump were to be reelected, it would pose a fundamental challenge to German foreign policy as a nation-state and within the European Union,” he says. He notes that Trump has tried to drive a wedge between European countries at a time when the EU needs to unite.

Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the U.S., says much work lies ahead for the U.S. to resolve its divisions, no matter who the next U.S. president is.

“Even if Joe Biden wins the election,” he told ZDF, “the problems that exist across the Atlantic will not simply disappear overnight.”

NPR Berlin bureau producer Esme Nicholson contributed to this post.

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Biden Edges Past Trump In Some Key States

Things are looking brighter for Democrats on Wednesday morning than they did late Tuesday night.

Former Vice President Joe Biden edged past President Trump in Wisconsin just before 5 a.m. ET, when Milwaukee finished counting its mail-in ballots and posted more than 170,000 votes for Biden. As more mail-in tallies arrive from other cities, Biden has inched out to a lead that’s less than a percentage point. Still, the Biden campaign and state Democratic officials feel confident the lead will sustain, with most of the state now reporting preliminary totals. (Follow Wisconsin results here.)

Biden has also now caught and surpassed Trump in another Blue Wall state: Michigan. Like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Michigan did not begin sorting and counting its massive early and mail-in ballots until Election Day itself, so Trump built up what looked to be large leads in all three of the states that put him in the White House four years ago — but it was in fact an incomplete, Republican-leaning early tally. (Follow Michigan results here).

The president pointed to that incomplete result when he falsely claimed victory Wednesday morning.

Now, however, it’s Biden who has established a lead in states that total the 270 electoral votes. In addition to Michigan and Wisconsin, he’s holding a slim lead in Nevada, where most observers expect to see more Democratic votes come in as mail-in ballots that arrived on Election Day are tallied and added to the total.

“This is moving to a conclusion — and moving to a conclusion in our favor,” a Biden campaign official texted NPR. Biden’s campaign is especially optimistic about Michigan, where they frame the still-to-be-counted early ballots as leading to an “insurmountable” lead for the Democratic nominee. The Associated Press has not called the presidential race.

Campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon also projected confidence in a morning call with reporters. “Joe Biden is on track to win this election, and he will be the next president of the United States,” she said.

Pennsylvania will report more early vote results today but is tallying its more than 1 million outstanding ballots at a much slower rate than Michigan or Wisconsin. Like the early vote in many other states, those ballots are expected to break hard for Biden — though as of mid-morning Wednesday, Biden has much more ground — more than 500,000 votes — to make up in Pennsylvania than elsewhere.

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NPR Politics Podcast: The Counting Continues, Key States Outstanding

As many predicted, the 2020 presidential election has been — and continues to be — a nail-biter, with neither President Trump nor Joe Biden having secured the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. That is despite the president prematurely declaring victory and baselessly accusing Democrats of trying to steal the election.

Both candidates continue to have a path to victory, but until the votes are counted, patience will be important. The latest episode of the NPR Politics Podcast breaks down which states and districts remain in play. Listen here.

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As The U.S. Voted, Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Climbed

Voters across the U.S. turned out to the polls on Election Day as confirmed coronavirus cases continued to climb throughout the country.

The U.S. reported 84,089 new cases and 557 deaths on Tuesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The pandemic has shaped much of the process and substance of this election season. Millions of voters cast their ballots well before Tuesday, shattering early turnout records. And according to early data from AP VoteCast, 42% of voters say COVID-19 is their top issue and 53% believe it is not under control.

The U.S. has topped its record for daily new confirmed case count multiple times in recent weeks. And according to the COVID Tracking Project, more than 50,000 people were hospitalized with the virus in the U.S. as of Nov. 3.

Cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in much of the country, particularly in the Midwest and Great Plains, fueling fears of a third peak.

Experts have warned that the numbers are likely to worsen as colder weather sets in, and they are urging people to continue taking public health precautions: wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash their hands for at least 20 seconds.

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5 States Approve Ballot Measures Expanding Access To Marijuana

When it came to ballot initiatives, many Americans voted green: The Associated Press says voters in five states have approved measures to legalize medical or recreational marijuana, or both, in Tuesday’s election.

Voters in Arizona, New Jersey, Montana and South Dakota voted to legalize recreational marijuana for people ages 21 or older, joining 11 other states and Washington, D.C.

South Dakotans also approved a measure to establish a medical marijuana program in the state for “individuals with a debilitating medical condition.”

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, that makes South Dakota the first state to legalize medical and adult-use marijuana on the same day.

In Mississippi, two versions of a medical marijuana amendment were on the ballot. One proposed allowing doctors in the state to prescribe medical marijuana to people with certain conditions, while the other restricted the program to terminally ill patients. Voters were required to weigh in on both, and the first option won out.

Medical marijuana was previously legal in 33 states and Washington, D.C., and several states have declared dispensaries “essential” businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

Other states also made strides toward relaxing drug laws. Voters in Oregon supported a measure decriminalizing drug possession, including cocaine and heroin, and another legalizing the therapeutic use of psilocybin mushrooms. Washington, D.C., also approved measures to reduce the enforcement of laws against psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelic plants.

According to Market Watch, Tuesday’s sweep means that one-third of Americans now live in states that have approved the sale of recreational cannabis.

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Uber And Lyft Drivers Stay Independent Contractors As California Voters Pass Proposition 22

Voters in California delivered Uber and Lyft a major victory and a big setback to labor unions on Tuesday by passing Proposition 22, keeping drivers for the ride-hailing companies classified as independent contractors.

The measure carves out a loophole for transportation and food delivery apps from a new state law that would have forced the companies to reclassify its thousands of gig workers in the state as employees eligible for unemployment benefits, health insurance and paid sick leave.

With about 70% of ballots tallied, The Associated Press projected the measure would pass.

Supporters of the measure such as Uber, Lyft, Postmates and Instacart spent more than $200 million to push for Proposition 22. Uber and Lyft threatened to leave the state if the initiative did not pass, arguing that converting its drivers into employees would be a financial burden.

The result is a blow to California government officials, who launched a high-stakes legal battle with the ride-hailing companies to force them to comply with a California law passed last year known as AB5.

Courts have sided with state officials, most recently when a California appeals court found that Uber and Lyft must reclassify its drivers as employees.

Now that the companies have won an exemption to the state labor law, the future of that legal battle looks dicey.

Backers of the proposition celebrated the win.

“With the passage of Prop 22, app-based rideshare and delivery drivers across the state will be able to maintain their independence,” said Geoff Vetter, a spokesman for Yes on 22. “Prop 22 represents the future of work in an increasingly technologically-driven economy.”

California labor leaders said they were let down by the outcome.

“The obscene amount of money these multibillion-dollar corporations spent misleading the public doesn’t absolve them of their duty to pay drivers a living wage,” said Art Pulaski with the California Labor Federation.

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How Did News Networks Handle Trump’s False Victory Claims?

Newsrooms have been buzzing about the scenario for weeks: How would they handle covering a president in real time who makes false claims about his own reelection? The answer proved to be fact-checking, in some cases during his remarks from the White House, and tough criticism after he finished.

A bit before 2:30 a.m. ET Wednesday morning, that scenario became reality. President Trump baselessly alleged Democrats were committing fraud. Trump also claimed he “did win the election,” even though some pivotal swing states have not yet been projected for him by the AP or any of the major television networks.

NBC and MSNBC broke into his remarks, as did NPR, to correct the record. “There have been several statements that are just not true,” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie said, noting his false claims of taking Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

MSNBC’s Brian Williams said, “Our presidents don’t select our victors. … We always allow a lot on election night, hyperbole. But when it veers into falsehood — we have not called the states he claimed for victories.”

MSNBC did not return to Trump’s remarks live.

CBS and ABC returned to their studios once Vice President Pence stepped forward. “The president of the United States [is] castrating the facts of the election results that have been reported tonight,” said Norah O’Donnell of CBS.

“We’ve never had a situation like this in the country,” said John Dickerson of CBS. “The president is a steward of the American electoral system. … And he is trying to undermine it while the count is still going on.”

“If we were watching this in another country, we would be shocked,” said CNN’s Abby Phillip. “It’s a sign our democracy is in peril.”

Fox News anchor Bret Baier told viewers most of the president’s claims were accurate. Then Fox’s Chris Wallace weighed in: “This is an extremely flammable situation; the president just threw a match into it. He hasn’t won the states [he claimed]. Nobody is saying he won the states. The states haven’t said that he’s won.”

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2 Historic Wins In Wisconsin’s State Legislature

While the results of the presidential election remain uncertain, two history-making wins have already occurred in Wisconsin’s Legislature, according to unofficial results from the Dane County Clerk. Francesca Hong, chef and restaurateur, won Wisconsin’s 76th Assembly District race and became Wisconsin’s first Asian American state representative. Hong defeated Republican Patrick Hull, as well as six other Democrats in the primary. “The time for incrementalism is over,” Hong said in her victory statement. “I believe in change, but more importantly I believe in transformation.”

Ald. Samba Baldeh joined Hong in making history on election night when he defeated Republican Samuel Anderson in the 48th Assembly and became Wisconsin’s first Muslim man elected to the Legislature. Baldeh moved to Madison from Gambia two decades ago and joined Madison’s City Council in 2015.

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Fox News Call On Arizona Draws Questions From Fox Reporters, Ire From Trump Camp

The Fox News channel promised it would follow the lead of its nonpartisan, non-ideological “decision desk” in its coverage on Election Night. At 11:20 p.m. ET, it followed the desk right into the ire of President Trump’s campaign by projecting that Democratic nominee Joe Biden would win Arizona.

No other major news outlet joined Fox in the call at that time. The Associated Press called the race for Biden shortly before 3 a.m. ET. “The Trump campaign is — how shall I put this — livid about the fact that Arizona was called,” Fox News chief White House correspondent John Roberts (pictured above) said on air.

The moment revived the confrontation between Republican strategist Karl Rove and then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly back on Election Night in 2012. Rove couldn’t believe GOP nominee Mitt Romney had lost Ohio. Kelly marched down the hall to allow Decision Desk Chief Arnon Mishkin to explain. His call held.

The 2020 version felt less triumphant. Early Wednesday, political anchor Bret Baier gingerly introduced Mishkin once more: “We’re getting a lot of incoming here and we need you to answer some questions. Arizona, are you 100% sure of that call?”

Mishkin said the Trump camp was being unrealistic: “I’m sorry, the president is not going to be able to take over and win enough votes to eliminate that seven-point lead.” His colleague Daron Shaw later said there was only a 1 in 1,200 chance of a mistake. (The New York Times numbers guru Nate Cohn cautioned: “the Fox call there is too fast for me.”)

While awaiting Trump’s public remarks, two lawyers appeared on the channel to preview possible court fights to come: law professor Jonathan Turley, who has frequently argued in favor of Trump’s legal arguments, and former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, a contributing editor for the conservative National Review.

As Fox’s Chris Wallace pointed out, the Trump-Pence ticket was already raising money to fight Biden in court.

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Trump Falsely Tries To Claim Victory Despite Key States Still Counting

In an early morning speech at the White House, President Trump made premature claims of victory in a number of key battleground states where millions of legitimate votes remain to be counted. At one point, Trump falsely stated that he had won the election.

“We were getting ready to win this election,” Trump said. “Frankly, we did win the election.”

Some pivotal swing states including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada remain too early to call, and neither President Trump nor Democractic nominee Joe Biden has secured the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to win the presidency.

The Associated Press, which NPR follows, has not called the race yet.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign manager condemned Trump’s remarks as “outrageous, unprecedented and incorrect,” saying the comments are “a naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens.”

Trump said “a very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise” the people who voted for him. “We won’t stand for it,” he said, without backing up his claim. Earlier, he baselessly tweeted that Democrats were trying to “steal” the election.

Trump said he plans on taking the election battle to the U.S. Supreme Court, but he did not elaborate.

“We want all voting to stop. We don’t want them to find any ballots at 4 o’clock in the morning and add them to the list,” Trump said.

Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said the campaign is prepared for a legal battle over the vote count.

“If the president makes good on his threat to go to court to try to prevent the proper tabulation of votes, we have legal teams standing by ready to deploy to resist that effort. And they will prevail,” O’Malley Dillon said.

There is nothing suspicious or unusual about vote counting dragging on well after Election Day. In fact, given the deluge of mail-in voting this year, election experts have long predicted that a winner would not emerge on Tuesday.

Some states, including Pennsylvania, allow ballots to be counted that arrive days after Election Day, as long as the mail was postmarked by Tuesday.

In his Wednesday address, Trump sounded disappointed that he could not celebrate a victory on election night.

“We were winning everything, and all of a sudden, it was called off,” Trump said. “We were just all set to get outside and just celebrate something.”

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Major development

Former Astronaut Mark Kelly Wins Arizona Senate Seat

Democrat Mark Kelly defeated GOP incumbent Sen. Martha McSally in one of the top races in Democrats’ efforts to win a Senate majority. It was a special election for the seat previously held by GOP Sen. John McCain, and McSally was appointed to fill the seat following his death.

McSally was appointed just weeks after she lost the 2018 Senate race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. Kelly entered the race with national name recognition, not just as a former astronaut, but as the husband of former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in 2011 at a constituent event that resulted in a severe brain injury. The couple has since become two of the most prominent activists for stricter gun laws.

Kelly outraised McSally and led in nearly all public polling throughout the course of the campaign.

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Major development

Biden Wins Arizona, Per AP Call

The Associated Press has called Arizona for Joe Biden, with 11 electoral votes. The state was heavily contested this year, though Bill Clinton was the last Democratic presidential candidate to win Arizona, in 1996. Donald Trump won the state by 4 points in 2016, when it was contested by Hillary Clinton. Democrats had been hopeful to make gains since they flipped a Senate seat there in 2018, with a growing suburban advantage and a diversifying population in the state.

— NPR Staff
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Louisiana, Colorado Voters Take Different Stances On Abortion Measures

The outcomes of abortion-related ballot initiatives in Louisiana and Colorado reveal where voters in those states stand on specific abortion restrictions, a particularly hot-button issue as Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court has raised questions about the future of Roe v. Wade.

Voters in Louisiana approved Amendment 1, which proposes adding language to the state’s constitution stating it does not protect abortion as a right and is not required to fund it except in cases of life endangerment. More than 60% of voters supported the measure, which member station WWNO reports is similar to a West Virginia amendment that was voted into law in 2018.

Colorado voters moved by a similar margin to reject Proposition 115, which would have outlawed abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for life-threatening situations. The move could have had nationwide implications for abortion access, as NPR has reported. Colorado voters had previously rejected ballot initiatives to limit abortion three times in 12 years.

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One Of The Biggest Obama-Trump Swing Counties Just Swung Further Toward Trump

In 2016, Howard County in north-central Iowa had the distinction of being the biggest Obama-Trump pivot county in a state full of pivot counties. That is, it swung by more than 40 points from 2012, when Howard County’s voters chose Barack Obama by more than 20 points, to 2016, when its voters chose Donald Trump by more than 20 points.

This year, according to Associated Press data, Trump won that county by 27 percentage points — substantially more than even in 2016.

It’s not a large county — fewer than 9,300 people live there — so it would be a mistake to extrapolate too much from it. But it’s one data point in a pool of data we will be watching in the days to come: how those swing counties voted this year.

Iowa had more of those Obama-Trump swing counties than any other state in 2016. Seeing what happened in those counties this year, both in Iowa and in other states, will help us understand how voter trends are unfolding over time — where persuadable voters are (or aren’t) and how turnout helped drive this year’s outcomes.

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Trump Teases Late-Night Speech

President Trump said he would be making “a statement” early on Wednesday morning, while he baselessly claimed that Democrats “are trying to STEAL the Election.”

The president’s tweets follow a series of unfounded claims he has made questioning the sanctity of the U.S. elections process.

“We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed!” he followed up minutes later in a tweet that was flagged by Twitter for promoting misinformation.

Voters can still legally cast their ballots if they are in line before the polls close. And some states have said it could take days to count votes because of the high volume of mail-in ballots this year. Trump’s tweets came shortly after Democratic nominee Joe Biden delivered his own remarks, calling on his supporters to remain optimistic while votes are counted.

As of 1:30 a.m. ET, heavyweight swing states Texas, Florida and Ohio had been called for Trump, but many others remained to be called.

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Major development

Trump Wins Texas, Per AP Call

The Associated Press has called Texas for President Trump, with 38 electoral votes that have been firmly in the Republican column for decades. Jimmy Carter was the last Democratic presidential candidate to win the state, in 1976.

Trump retained a small polling edge in the state throughout the campaign, though Democrats invested there late, with vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris visiting last Friday. They were encouraged by the record early turnout, which had exceeded the total number of ballots cast there in 2016 by the end of last week. There was strong turnout in heavily Democratic cities, as well as in suburbs that have shifted to the left in recent years. But Republicans have retained an overall edge in the state and had been banking on heavy turnout on Tuesday.

— NPR Staff
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Major development

‘Keep The Faith, Guys’: Biden Addresses Supporters From Delaware

With a slate of key states still undecided, Democratic nominee Joe Biden took to an outdoor stage in Wilmington, Del., to ask for patience as ballots continue to be counted.

“Your patience is commendable,” Biden told supporters. “We knew this was going to go long, but who knew we were going to go into maybe tomorrow morning, maybe even longer. But look, we feel good about where we are. We really do. I’m here to tell you tonight we believe we’re on track to win this election.”

Biden emphasized that it may take time before a winner is declared and that this is not unexpected.

“We knew because of the unprecedented early vote and the mail-in vote that it’s gonna take a while. We’re going to have to be patient until the hard work of tallying the votes is finished. And it ain’t over until every vote is counted, every ballot is counted.”

President Trump fired off a tweet just after Biden concluded talking, alleging without evidence that the Democrats are “trying to STEAL the election.”

Biden seemed to anticipate that rhetoric from Trump. The president for weeks has baselessly sown doubts about mail-in voting.

“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who’s won this election,” Biden said. “That’s the decision of the American people.”

Supporters had gathered in downtown Wilmington for a drive-in election night gathering at the same venue where the former vice president spoke during the Democratic National Convention this summer. Blasts of honking horns greeted Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, as they appeared onstage for the drive-in event, a hallmark of the Biden campaign in the age of the coronavirus.

Shortly before Biden appeared, The Associated Press called Florida, Iowa and Ohio for President Trump. Democrats had hoped to bring Florida back into the Democratic fold after Barack Obama won it twice and Trump carried it in 2016. Iowa and Ohio were seen as more of a reach, but Biden campaigned in both states in recent weeks, amid promising poll numbers.

Biden said he’s feeling confident about Arizona and said the campaign is still “in the game for Georgia” and is feeling good about Wisconsin and Michigan.

It remains too early to call races in North Carolina and Georgia.

Three Great Lakes states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — also remain undecided. Those states have been signaling that it may take a day or more for results to be released, given that election officials there could mostly not begin processing mail ballots until Election Day.

“Keep the faith, guys. We’re going to win this,” Biden said, channeling a saying from his grandparents and exiting to a barrage of honking horns and the song “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.”

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GOP Sen. Joni Ernst Wins Iowa Senate Race

Sen. Joni Ernst has won the Iowa Senate race, defeating businesswoman Theresa Greenfield, the Democratic candidate.

At the beginning of the 2020 election, Ernst appeared to be safe from any real election threat, but an unpopular president and tariff and trade policies that upset many in the farm state put that into question. A wave of Democratic enthusiasm and money propelled Greenfield into a race that became surprisingly competitive in the home stretch. Greenfield outraised Ernst by a nearly 2-to-1 margin.

Ernst also stumbled in an October debate when she did not answer correctly a question about soybean prices, while Greenfield answered correctly a question about corn prices.

Ernst was first elected to the Senate in 2014 in a wave GOP year that delivered the majority to the Republican Party. She is currently a member of the Senate GOP leadership team.

Greenfield tried and failed to run for a 2018 House seat when she didn’t get the signatures required to make it on the primary ballot. Greenfield, 57, worked in real estate development before running for office.

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Major development

Trump Wins Florida, Per AP Call

The Associated Press has called the crucial state of Florida for President Trump, with 29 electoral votes. The state has been considered a virtual must-win state for his reelection bid.

In 2016, President Trump won the state by just over 1 percentage point, bolstered by broad support among voters ages 65 and older. Florida is historically one of the closest states in the U.S. in any election, and is also one of the most expensive states in the country to campaign in. Polling showed a slight Joe Biden lead for much of the year, though it remained very close in the final weeks, with Democrats concerned about turnout among nonwhite voters in South Florida. While Democrats had been hopeful that gains among seniors would see Biden over the line, Trump appeared to be making inroads with Latino voters in the state this year.

Florida has supported the winner of the presidential election since 1996.

— NPR Staff
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Major development

Trump Wins Iowa, Per AP call

The Associated Press has called Iowa, and its six electoral votes, for President Trump. Iowa went for Donald Trump in 2016 by about 10 points, after voting twice for Barack Obama. It had long been considered a state that would lean heavily toward Trump, but both candidates visited in the final days of the campaign. Joe Biden’s apparent overperformance in polls with white voters and seniors, compared with past Democrats, made it more competitive than it was thought to be earlier in the year.

— NPR Staff
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Major development

Trump Wins Ohio, Per AP Call

The Associated Press has called President Trump as the winner of Ohio, a state with 18 electoral votes and one that many Democrats wrote off after Donald Trump won it by about 8 points in 2016, but that Joe Biden contested after polls showed a competitive race in recent months. The Democrats advertised heavily on TV in Ohio late in the race, and the Trump campaign pulled its ads, expressing confidence that it had the state locked down. Ohio voted twice for Barack Obama before flipping to Trump four years ago.

— NPR Staff
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Major development

Biden Wins Minnesota, Per AP Call

The Associated Press has called Minnesota and its 10 electoral votes for Joe Biden. The state has been reliable for Democrats, though Donald Trump came close to flipping it in 2016 when he trailed Hillary Clinton by just 1.5 percentage points. The Trump campaign had long targeted Minnesota as a state to expand its possible paths to victory, though Joe Biden maintained a sizable lead, polling at or above 50% for most of the year.

— NPR Staff
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Georgia Special Election For Senate Heads To A Runoff

The special election to fill one of Georgia’s two Senate seats is headed to a runoff, according to The Associated Press.

The runoff election will be held Jan. 5 after none of the candidates in the race reached 50% of the vote, the AP said. The two candidates with the top vote percentages — Democrat Raphael Warnock, a pastor from Atlanta, and Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a businesswoman who was appointed to the seat and took office in early 2020 — will be on the ballot.

The election to fill the seat of retired Sen. Johnny Isakson featured a brutal, high-stakes intraparty battle for Republicans. Loeffler — appointed by GOP Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019 — faced off against Rep. Doug Collins. Both are allies of President Trump, with Collins leading his defense during the House impeachment probe and Loeffler building up her Trump credentials more recently.

“I just called @kloeffler and congratulated her on making the runoff,” Collins said on Twitter late Tuesday. “She has my support and endorsement. I look forward to all Republicans coming together.”

Loeffler has seen controversy in her short political career. She wasn’t Trump’s first choice to fill the seat — he had urged for Collins’ appointment instead. Loeffler, who is married to the CEO of the company that owns the New York Stock Exchange, was accused of dumping $20 million in stocks after a closed-door Senate briefing on the coronavirus in January. She has held a stake in an WNBA team, the Atlanta Dream, and previously headed up a subsidiary under the NYSE’s owner, Intercontinental Exchange.

Warnock, meanwhile, gained ground among a long list of Democratic challengers. He is a senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the former congregation of Martin Luther King Jr. Several high-profile Democrats have endorsed Warnock, including former President Barack Obama, who visited the state on Monday to urge voter turnout.

Georgia’s other Senate race — featuring sitting Sen. David Perdue against Democrat and documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff — remained undecided late Tuesday.

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Why The Economy May Be Losing Its Effect On Presidential Elections

This election may provide another datapoint in what some experts see as an important ongoing trend: Economic conditions may be playing less of a role in elections than they did in the past.

The unemployment rate is still elevated, at 7.9% — which might seem like bad news for President Trump, as an incumbent. But then, that is almost exactly where the jobless rate was in 2012, just before President Barack Obama won reelection. At that point, it was 7.8%.

Clearly, there are many other economic indicators that might affect people’s votes. But the point is that an economy that is far from healthy doesn’t necessarily keep incumbents from being reelected. And a big reason is polarization.

As people get more mired in their partisan identities, it becomes harder for some to see a good economy when the other party is leading — or to see a bad economy when their own party is.

This is evident in the fact that consumer confidence, one popular measure of economic optimism (or lack thereof), has grown increasingly partisan.

What it means is that how many people view the economy, as COVID-19 cases again spike this fall and winter and potentially further threaten growth, may depend heavily on who has won the White House.

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Feels Like 2016, Say Republicans. Democrats Say: Not So Fast

Joe Biden may have the early lead in electoral votes over President Trump, but with swing states still uncalled, people close to the White House told NPR late Tuesday they were bullish on Trump’s chances.

Trump invited guests to a party in the East Room that featured large televisions tuned to Fox News.

Kellyanne Conway, who helped Trump win his first campaign, said in a tweet that “it feels like 2016,” and two former Trump White House officials also invoked the night the president shocked the world and won. “It feels like déjà vu,” one official said.

Trump adviser Jason Miller said, “We will win Florida,” and said he still feels good about Ohio. Barry Bennett, another Trump associate, noted that “GOP turnout is very big.”

One particular source of cheer for Republicans: Florida, where Trump was doing well with Latino voters, particularly in the Miami area. And there was frustration that most media organizations had not yet called that race for Trump.

The Associated Press, which NPR relies on for race calls, says it is waiting on more vote counts in Florida because the race appears tight.

In Wilmington, Del., cars were beginning to turn in to the drive-in party planned by Biden’s campaign. One get-out-the-vote volunteer invited to the party said she had been working in Philadelphia and thinks the former vice president will carry the state once absentee ballots are eventually counted.

A former Biden campaign official told NPR that “Florida is complicated” and said it was “very difficult to overcome the strong infrastructure Republicans have there.” But she said the state should not be seen as a bellwether for Arizona or Nevada, where young Latino voters who lean progressive were driving turnout.

— Tamara Keith, Franco Ordoñez, Asma Khalid
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GOP Rep. Roger Marshall Wins Kansas Senate Seat

Republican U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall has defeated Dr. Barbara Bollier in Kansas’ Senate race to retain his party’s hold on the seat, according to The Associated Press.

The win allows Republicans to breathe a sigh of relief after having to put resources into a state that was once considered a relatively safe bet for the GOP. It became an open seat following the announced retirement of sitting Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.

Hopes grew for Democrats as Bollier, a state senator, rode a wave of her party’s robust fundraising for U.S. Senate races, drawing national attention. Bollier is a former Republican who left the GOP in 2018 after a dispute about its direction.

Kansas had been a long shot, but Democrats saw an opportunity as Republicans struggled in national polls — and before Marshall, several names were floated, including President Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. Still, Republicans remained poised to win the seat as Trump won the state by 21 points in 2016, and the Senate competition was rated by the Cook Political Report as “lean Republican.”

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Major development

Florida Boosts Minimum Wage

Florida’s role in the presidential contest isn’t the only reason the state is in the spotlight this year. Florida voters are also on track to increase their state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Amendment 2 boosts the minimum wage in Florida from its current $8.56 an hour to $10 next fall, then raises the hourly minimum by a dollar each year through 2026. While the federal minimum wage hasn’t budged from $7.25 an hour in over a decade, many cities and states have already passed higher minimums. In addition to Florida, the city of Portland, Maine, has a $15 minimum wage on the ballot. Maine’s current minimum of $12 an hour was passed by voters in 2016.

With nearly all precincts reporting, 61% of Florida’s voters have approved the wage hike. The measure needed 60% to pass.

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‘Take A Deep Breath’: Vote Counting In Philadelphia And Detroit To Take Time

Election officials in Pennsylvania and Michigan — two states that could be crucial in determining the next president — have said the ballot counts in some areas of the states won’t be finished until Wednesday.

Philadelphia election officials have counted about 76,000 ballots and won’t report any additional mail-in ballots until 9 a.m. Wednesday, City Commissioner Lisa Deeley told reporters.

Local officials have said they expect up to 400,000 mail-in ballots from the county, NPR’s Jeff Brady reports. Officials can only process around 10,000 per hour, so it will likely take at least two days to finish counting.

Philadelphia represents a critical area for the Joe Biden campaign. It’s a Democratic stronghold with more than 1.1 million registered voters — more than 10% of all the voters in the Keystone State. In 2016, turnout was relatively low in the area. That, combined with the increase in turnout in the more rural parts of the state, helped pave the way for a Donald Trump victory.

Pennsylvania saw a large increase in mail-in ballots this cycle — about 2.5 million of the 9 million registered voters in the state requested absentee ballots. As of Tuesday morning, the state said 81% of them had been returned. Unlike some other states, Pennsylvania does not allow for mail-in ballots to be processed and counted before Election Day itself, which can lead to delays in the counting process.

Gov. Tom Wolf cautioned Pennsylvanians that the full results may take several days. “We may not know the results today, but I encourage all of us to take a deep breath and be patient. What is most important is that we have accurate results even if it takes a little longer.”

Meanwhile, in Detroit, officials expect to finish counting the backlog of absentee ballots by Wednesday evening. Voter turnout in the city is expected to hit a 20-year high, NPR’s Don Gonyea reports.

Michigan and Pennsylvania represent part of the “blue wall” states that had previously gone for Democrats but flipped for Trump in 2016. Pennsylvania is particularly central to President Trump’s reelection, and his campaign has sought, without evidence, to claim that Phiadelphia’s election practices contribute to fraud.

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Texas Sen. Cornyn Fends Off Democratic Challenger

Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn has defeated Democratic challenger MJ Hegar to win reelection to another term, according to The Associated Press.

Cornyn, the former Texas attorney general, gained a confident lead against Hegar, an Air Force combat veteran, early Tuesday evening. A record early-voter turnout in the state had raised Democrats’ hopes to potentially see a blue wave overtake Cornyn’s seat.

“As I always like to remind people, it boils down to something pretty simple: It’s the candidate who gets the most votes — wins,” Cornyn told NPR last week.

Cornyn has said he was facing “very aggressive” opposition, with major donations pouring into Hegar’s campaign. Still, Cornyn, who has represented the Lone Star State as its senator since 2002, remained confident in his chances in recent days.

“While money is important, it’s not the only thing,” Cornyn said. “Obviously, it’s the message. It’s policy. It’s the candidate. And in my case, my opponent has essentially embraced some of the national Democratic talking points, which I think makes her pretty dramatically out of step with Texas.”

Hegar was a relative unknown at the beginning of the election cycle but said in a statement Tuesday that her race’s results will have an impact on the state in the years to come. A Democratic win would have been considered a major upset — Texas hasn’t had a Democratic senator since the early 1990s.

“Together, we stood up and got to work, building a powerful grassroots campaign from the ground up, shattering voter turnout records, and most importantly sending a message to a previously safe senator that he answers to us,” Hegar said.

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State Of The Race At 11 p.m. ET

Polls have just closed along much of the West Coast — and it remains too early to call the important swing states in the Sun Belt and the Upper Midwest.

The Associated Press has now called more than 30 states — no big surprises.

The AP says Democratic nominee Joe Biden will carry California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington as well as the District of Columbia.

Trump has won the traditionally red states of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina, South Dakota, Wyoming and West Virginia.

Trump can also count three of Nebraska’s five electoral votes. Two votes awarded by congressional district remain up for grabs.

A hefty proportion of votes has come in for Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio, but results are still coming in.

Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the so-called “blue wall” in the Rust Belt, are at an earlier stage in the counting process, as they continue to count millions of absentee ballots. That counting could continue through Wednesday morning or even Friday.

The last U.S. polls close at 1 a.m. ET when voting wraps up in Alaska.

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Researchers Find A Top YouTube Video Of Election Results To Be A Fake

Thousands of people may have been duped into streaming a fake YouTube video purporting to show election night results, according to a coalition of independent researchers.

Researchers at the Election Integrity Partnership revealed that a video titled “LIVE 2020 Presidential Election Results” on a public YouTube channel with more than 650,000 followers was one of Google’s Top 5 results for vote tallies in swing states.

One problem: It was a total fake.

After realizing this, YouTube removed the video, which was being hosted on a page dedicated to hip-hop music.

According to Insider, before YouTube removed the misleading stream, it had numerous imitators popping up in search results.

At one point, eight out of the top 20 YouTube videos claiming to be election livestreams were fake, offering up spam in an apparent attempt to generate revenue from advertisements that play ahead of a stream, the publication reported.

Capitalizing on high interest, such fraudulent videos can quickly find viewers while avoiding detection by the platform, the researchers noted.

“Before the video was taken down, it rose to become one of Google’s most widely circulated videos in swing states,” researchers with the Election Integrity Partnership tweeted Tuesday night.

“This underscores how platforms have continued to struggle with misinformation despite the development of new policies,” the group of researchers said.

YouTube said the video was “quickly removed” for violating its community guidelines.

“We have established policies prohibiting spam, deceptive practices & scams, and we continue to be vigilant with regards to election-related content in the lead-up and post-election period,” a YouTube spokesperson tweeted.

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Polls Are Closing On The West Coast: What To Watch For

The polls in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho will close at the top of the hour, bringing the total number of reporting states to 48.

California, Washington and Oregon are all expected to vote Democrat in the presidential race, while Idaho is expected to vote Republican. Here are their electoral breakdowns.

California (55 electoral votes)

Washington (12 electoral votes)

Oregon (seven electoral votes)

Idaho (four electoral votes)

After these states close their polls, Hawaii is set to close polls at 12 a.m. ET and Alaska will follow at 1 a.m. ET.

It’s also important to note that returns may be skewed initially as states continue to count early ballots in addition to in-person ballots cast on Election Day.

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Florida Adds Voter Citizenship Requirement To State Constitution

Voters in Florida have elected to amend the state’s constitution to mandate that only citizens can cast votes within the state, with 79% of the electorate approving the measure. Early results show similar ballot measures also have majority support in Colorado and Alabama.

The ballot measures do not change current voting requirements in any way. Noncitizens are already prohibited from voting in federal elections under U.S. law and are not allowed to vote in statewide elections anywhere in the country. Neither can noncitizens vote in local elections in any of the three states.

Instead, the amendment is designed to block any future attempt by a local government to extend voting rights to immigrants who do not have citizenship, though that practice is rare.

Several towns and cities in Maryland allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections. In 2016, San Francisco decided to allow parents and guardians, regardless of immigration status, to vote in school board elections if they have children enrolled in city schools, but very few noncitizen parents registered for the 2018 election. Chicago also allows noncitizen parents and guardians to vote for local school councils, which are managed separately from municipal elections.

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Young People Voted In Droves And Are Backing Biden

Young-voter turnout surged in the lead-up to Election Day, leading researchers and experts to suggest that eligible voters under age 30 could exceed their historic 2008 turnout when Barack Obama was elected president. And now, an analysis by CIRCLE, a research center at Tufts University that focuses on young voters’ civic engagement, says that surge is to the benefit of Joe Biden’s campaign.

Based on the researchers’ analysis at this point in the night, 62% of voters under age 30 voted for Biden and 33% voted for President Trump. While it’s tough to draw direct comparisons between these figures and those from four years ago, the experts at CIRCLE say that’s higher than the portion of young people who supported Hillary Clinton four years ago.

This analysis also points to some differences among young voters by race. CIRCLE’s analysis finds that young Black, Latino and Asian American voters favor Biden by wide margins, but he holds a slimmer lead among young white voters.

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Major development

Trump Wins Missouri, Per AP call

President Trump has been called as the winner of Missouri and its 10 electoral votes by The Associated Press. Missouri was historically a swing state but has voted for the Republican presidential nominee in each election going back to George W. Bush in 2000.

— NPR Staff
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Sen. Lindsey Graham Wins Reelection In South Carolina

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has defeated Democrat Jaime Harrison to win reelection, according to The Associated Press. Perhaps no other U.S. Senate race drew more national attention during this election cycle as both candidates set fundraising records.

Harrison, the former chair of South Carolina’s Democratic Party and former staffer to House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, raised $57 million in the final quarter, the most by any U.S. Senate candidate in history. In all, Harrison raised a total of $108 million.

Graham, by comparison, raised $28 million in the third quarter, about half of Harrison’s haul but a quarterly record for Senate Republicans. In all, Graham raised $74 million.

Harrison tightened the race in recent months, making Graham’s fluctuating positions an issue. In the closing weeks of the election, the Cook Political Report rated the race a “toss-up” after once being considered a safe bet for Republicans.

Graham was a fierce critic of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election. However, Graham grew to become one of the president’s ’s biggest allies on Capitol Hill. He serves as the Senate Judiciary Committee’s chairman and presided over the push to get Amy Coney Barrett, the president’s most recent nominee to the Supreme Court, confirmed. Graham was also a vocal defender of Trump during his Senate impeachment trial and during other controversial moments of Trump’s presidency.

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Major development

Tuberville Wins: Republicans Pick Up Senate Seat In Alabama

Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones lost his bid to serve out a full-term in the Senate, losing handily to former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, according to The Associated Press. Jones won a 2017 special election against controversial former Republican Judge Roy Moore to fill the seat of GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions, who left the Senate to serve as President Trump’s attorney general. Sessions ran in the Senate Republican primary this year, but his soured relationship with the president made it all but impossible for him to win.

Jones’ reelection was always an uphill battle in a conservative state where Trump still enjoys considerable popularity. His loss heightens the hurdle for Democrats to win control of the Senate. Republicans currently control it 53 to 47. The Democratic Party will, at a minimum, need to net-gain four seats and win the White House. So far Democrats have picked up one seat in Colorado, where GOP Sen. Cory Gardner was defeated by John Hickenlooper.

Jones, a former U.S. attorney, has been mentioned as a possible contender to serve in a Biden administration if Democrats win the White House.

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AP Data Temporarily Misrepresent Nebraska Results

A bug in The Associated Press’ system incorrectly caused all five of Nebraska’s electoral votes to appear for President Trump. This glitch affected some customer displays, including NPR’s. As of 10 p.m., Trump had won three of the state’s five electoral votes and the change has been corrected on NPR’s site.

Nebraska awards two of its electoral votes to the statewide winner and the others to the winner in each of the state’s three congressional districts. The AP had called the state and NE-3 for Trump, but there are no calls for the 1st and 2nd districts yet.

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Major development

Democrats Pick Up Senate Seat With Hickenlooper Win In Colorado

Democrats secured a key, but unsurprising, victory in Colorado that was a must-win on their path to winning a possible Senate majority.

Former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper defeated incumbent GOP Sen. Cory Gardner in a race that polls consistently showed Hickenlooper ahead. The win is Democrats’ first pick-up of the night.

Once a more competitive swing state, Colorado has increasingly leaned toward Democrats. Gardner was able to overcome that lean in 2014, when he ousted incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in a bad midterm election year for Democrats.

However, Gardner found himself in a familiar bind for many Republicans in 2020: hesitant to criticize President Trump too much for fear of alienating the GOP base and never getting credit from Democrats and independent voters when he did. Gardner, 46, has been described as a young star in the GOP and it is possible that this is not his last bid for elected office.

Hickenlooper initially ruled out a 2020 Senate run but changed his mind after his presidential bid fizzled out. Like most Democratic candidates, he also outraised his opponent this year. Hickenlooper campaigned as an independent-minded Democrat, who will be able to reach across the aisle in the Senate.

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Major development

McConnell: Kentucky Keeps ‘Front-Row’ Seat In The Senate

Mitch McConnell will keep his seat in the Senate, defeating former Marine Corps fighter pilot Amy McGrath in one of this year’s most expensive contests. It’s too soon to know if he’ll still be majority leader next year.

“Tonight, Kentucky said we’re keeping our front-row seat in the Senate,” McConnell told supporters. “We don’t yet know which presidential candidate will begin a new term in January. We don’t know which party will control the Senate. But some things are certain already. We know grave challenges will remain before us — challenges that could not care less about our political polarization.”

After a fiercely contested election season, McConnell said it will be important for whoever is in power next year to unite the country, as it continues to wrestle with the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our fellow citizens are not our enemies,” he said. “There is no challenge that we cannot overcome together.”

McConnell recalled his own childhood battle with polio, a decade before scientists developed a vaccine, and expressed confidence that this new scourge will also be overcome.

“We have everything we need to defeat this virus and come back stronger,” he said.

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Texas: Biden Improves On Clinton’s 2016 Margins In Major Cities

Former Vice President Joe Biden is seeing big margins in some of Texas’ largest cities — places that will be critical for him if he has a fighting chance in the Lone Star State.

In Travis County, home to the state capital of Austin, Biden is up by 48 points with just over 70% of precincts there reporting. Four years ago, Hillary Clinton won that county by 39 points.

A similar proportion of precincts are reporting in Bexar County — home to San Antonio — and Tarrant County — home to Fort Worth. In Bexar, Biden’s up by 20 points, compared with Clinton’s 14-point win last cycle. In Tarrant County, which went for Donald Trump by 9 points during his 2016 win, Biden is running even with the president.

Even in Collin County, where the president is leading with about 70% of precincts reporting, Biden has cut significantly into Trump’s 2016 lead. Biden has so far shrunk Trump’s margin from 17 points then to just 4 points Tuesday night.

In Harris County, which is home to Houston and the most populous county in the state, Biden’s running on par with Clinton: He has a 13-point lead compared with her 12-point win.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene, Who Endorsed QAnon, Wins House Seat In Georgia

Marjorie Taylor Greene, a controversial Republican who has expressed support for the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, has won her campaign in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District.

Her victory had been expected ever since Greene won her party’s nomination; the district is heavily Republican, and her long-shot Democratic rival dropped out of the race in September. He still won 21% of the vote, according to The Associated Press.

The QAnon conspiracy theory that Greene once embraced posits that a mysterious figure named “Q” is dropping crumbs of information to reveal a vast conspiracy, perpetually on the cusp of being brought down in dramatic fashion. The details of the conspiracy vary widely but often include bizarre, unfounded accusations of satanic activity and child trafficking. The conspiracy theory has been linked to multiple incidents of violence.

In 2017, Greene posted a video in which she called Q a “patriot” and said Trump’s presidency offered a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out.” She also spread other conspiracy theories on a blog and expressed anti-Muslim sentiment, including stating that “anyone that is a Muslim, that believes in sharia law, does not belong in our government.”

Greene has since distanced herself from her pro-QAnon statements, saying she has shifted her position over time. “This wasn’t part of my campaign,” Greene told Fox News. “It hasn’t been anything I’ve talked about for quite a long time now.”

Some high-profile Republicans initially denounced Greene’s statements, but she was embraced by Trump and a number of other powerful figures within the Republican Party. Next year she will be heading to Congress. As NPR’s Sue Davis has noted, her election and the president’s vocal support for her reflect a shift within the GOP where once-fringe beliefs are now rising in prominence within the corridors of power.

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Why AP Called Virginia Early For Joe Biden

Not long after the polls closed Tuesday, Virginia turned blue on NPR’s electoral map. Only 10% of the vote had been counted, and those votes showed President Trump ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden. So how did NPR report Virginia for Biden?

NPR follows The Associated Press race calls. The AP uses a variety of information to call a race. Unlike projections used by some television networks, an AP race call is only made when the candidate running behind has no possible path to victory.

The AP pulls from early returns and data from something called VoteCast, a massive preelection survey that the AP is using this year instead of exit polls. The AP also couples all that with historical trends and demographic data to make the call.

In this case, the AP also said it looked at a representative selection of precincts that showed Biden “comfortably” ahead of Trump and that data matched up with VoteCast and early voting statistics.

Hillary Clinton won Virginia by over 5 points in 2016. The state also has a Democratic governor and the Democrats took control of both chambers of the legislature in 2019. While Virgnia used to be much more competitive, the growth of Washington, D.C., suburbs has turned the state bluer in recent years.

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Delaware’s Sarah McBride Becomes Nation’s First Openly Transgender State Senator

Transgender activist Sarah McBride has defeated Republican Steve Washington in Delaware to become the nation’s first openly transgender state senator. McBride previously made history in 2016 when she spoke at the Democratic National Convention, becoming the first transgender person to do so at a major-party convention.

McBride interned at the White House during the Obama administration and served as the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign. She celebrated her win tonight, saying on Twitter, “I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too.”

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What To Watch For At 10 p.m. ET: Iowa And Nevada

Polls in Iowa, Nevada, Montana and Utah are set to close at 10 p.m. ET. Here’s what we’re watching for as precinct results come in and early votes continue to be counted.

Iowa: Iowa is rated as a toss-up race, according to NPR’s latest electoral analysis, a notable shift given that Donald Trump won the state in 2016 by over 9 points. The state has a total of six electoral votes.

Iowa is also the site of a close Senate race. Incumbent Republican Sen. Joni Ernst attempts to hold on to her seat as she faces a challenge from Democratic candidate Theresa Greenfield. The two candidates remain virtually tied, each securing just slight polling leads at times over the past several months.

Montana: In the presidential race, NPR classifies Montana as a lean-Republican contest rather than a likely Republican contest, pointing to Trump’s considerably lower lead there compared with the 2016 race. There are a total of three electoral votes in play.

Also, former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is going up against current Republican Sen. Steve Daines for U.S. Senate. While Daines held a polling lead in September, the two are now neck and neck. The race is considered a toss-up by the Cook Political Report.

Nevada: Nevada is rated as lean Democrat for the presidency. The state has six delegates. Joe Biden has consistently led against Trump in state polls since March.

U.S. House races to watch: Competitive congressional races are also expected in Iowa and Utah.

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Florida: Republicans Have A Good Feeling, So Far

Republicans are feeling good about Florida tonight, and with good reason.

President Trump has cut significantly into Hillary Clinton’s 2016 margin in Miami-Dade County so far. Clinton won 63% of Miami-Dade. Joe Biden is underperforming there by 9 points, only at 54%, but still with only about half the county in. We’ll see how or if things move.

Trump made a significant push with South Florida Latinos. The campaign sold that Trump was the only thing standing between America and socialism, a message that so far looks like it resonated with Cuban Americans and Venezuelan Americans.

Biden is cutting into margins in traditionally redder counties and places Trump won in 2016, but with votes coming in from the Panhandle, a Trump stronghold, the president is ahead now by more than 200,000 votes.

Democrats, however, got a good early sign out of Virginia. Different from 2016, the state was called just about half an hour after polls closed. That’s a sign that Biden’s win there will likely keep pace with his double-digit lead in the polls coming into Election Day.

If Trump were to win Florida, it would be a blow to Democrats, but Biden has plenty of other pathways. They are crossing their fingers for good news out of North Carolina, where Biden has an early lead with two-thirds of the vote in, and possibly out of Georgia, Pennsylvania and maybe even Ohio, where Biden is currently up with about half the vote in.

Stay tuned. This could be a very strange map.

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What To Watch At 9 p.m. ET: Polls Close In Arizona And Texas

At the top of the hour, polls will close in 14 more states. Here’s the full list paired with NPR electoral ratings.

  • Arizona (toss-up)

  • Texas (toss-up)

  • Michigan (lean Dem.)

  • Minnesota (lean Dem.)

  • Wisconsin (lean Dem.)

  • Nebraska (NE-1 lean Rep., NE-2 toss-up, NE-3 likely Rep.)

  • Kansas (likely Rep.)

  • Louisiana (likely Rep.)

  • North Dakota (likely Rep.)

  • Nebraska (likely Rep.)

  • South Dakota (likely Rep.)

  • Wyoming (likely Rep.)

  • Colorado (likely Dem.)

  • New Mexico (likely Dem.)

  • New York (likely Dem.)

Though reports are subject to change as early votes are counted along with in-person ballots, all eyes will be on the returns coming out of key states including Texas and Arizona, both considered toss-up races by NPR in the presidential election.

Arizona: Former Vice President Joe Biden has led in Arizona polls for months, though his lead has never been substantial. President Trump currently trails Biden in the state by an average of just over 3 points, according to FiveThirtyEight. There are 11 electoral votes in play for Arizona.

The state is also home to a fairly competitive special election Senate race. Incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally is being challenged by Democratic candidate Mark Kelly. Kelly, who is the husband of former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, holds a solid lead, according to recent national polling.

Texas: Texas hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 44 years, and though it remains a toss-up race, the fact that it isn’t clearly in Trump’s camp is historic. The state holds a whopping 38 electoral votes, which, if Biden wins, could seriously hurt Trump’s chances. Trump currently holds an extremely slim polling lead, according to state polling averages.

Nebraska: Similarly to Maine, Nebraska’s electoral college votes are assigned based on congressional district vote as well as state vote. Nebraska’s first and third congressional districts are likely to vote for Trump but its second district is labeled a toss-up. If NE-2 goes for Biden, that’s an extra electoral vote for the Democrats.

Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin: All three of these states are rated as lean Democratic, though they’ll be closely watched. In 2016, Trump won in Wisconsin and Michigan, and narrowly lost in Minnesota.

Colorado: While Biden is likely to carry Colorado, what may gain more attention is the state’s U.S. Senate race. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper is attempting to oust Republican Sen. Cory Gardner. Hickenlooper has held a consistent polling lead in the state since May and the Cook Political Report classifies the race as leans Democrat.

U.S. House races to watch: Competitive congressional races are also expected in Arizona, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico and New York.

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As Polls Close, AP Calls Several States For Biden Or Trump

As polls begin to close on the East Coast and the Midwest, the Associated Press has called a number of states in the heated presidential race between the Republican incumbent President Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

As of 8 p.m. ET, the AP has reported Trump has won the reliably red states: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Biden has so far clinched victories in the Democratic strongholds of: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Though the polls have closed in a handful of additional states and the District of Columbia, the AP reports that races in states including Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, and swing state heavy-hitters Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Florida, remain too close to call.

Over the last several days, campaigns across key battleground states have reached a fever pitch, with both candidates hoping to secure these states’ coveted electoral votes and secure their party’s control in Washington.

The last U.S. polls close at 1 a.m. ET.

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Major development

McConnell Wins Kentucky Senate Seat

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell handily won reelection Tuesday, beating retired Marine Corps fighter pilot Amy McGrath in one of the year’s most expensive Senate races. McGrath outraised and outspent McConnell, pouring more than $73 million into the contest by mid-October. But it wasn’t enough to deny McConnell a seventh term. Whether the Republican lawmaker retains his title as majority leader will depend on the outcome of other Senate races. Republicans came into the election with a 53-seat majority in the Senate. Democrats need a net pickup of four seats to take control of the chamber or three seats if Joe Biden wins the White House (which would give Kamala Harris a tie-breaking vote in the Senate as vice president).

McConnell’s time as majority leader has already left a lasting impression. By preventing then-President Barack Obama from filling judicial vacancies — including the Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia — and prioritizing the confirmation of judges under President Trump, McConnell has engineered a considerable rightward shift in the federal courts.

“A lot of what we’ve done over the last four years will be undone sooner or later by the next election,” McConnell said last month, referring to the Senate’s legislative record. But McConnell sees the judicial effort as a more lasting legacy. Last month, he warned that Democrats “won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.”

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After Epic Early Voting, Some States See Lighter In-Person Turnout On Election Day

Long lines have become an iconic image of this election, as some voters waited for hours to cast their ballots early. And on Tuesday that pattern continued in places like New York City and Las Vegas.

But in many polling places across the U.S., voters encountered little to no wait on Tuesday. Some polling places reported lower-than-usual turnout. But it wasn’t because of a lack of enthusiasm but because of the phenomenal number of citizens who voted early.

In hotly contested North Carolina, between early voting and absentee voting, more than 62% of the state’s eligible voters had cast their ballots before Election Day, according to the State Board of Elections.

The result, as member station WUNC observed, was lighter-than-usual turnout on Tuesday at many polling places across the state.

In Georgia, a primary this June and early voting this fall were both marred by massive lines and long waits. But Election Day was different — Georgia Public Broadcasting described “more of a constant trickle than the anticipated fire hose.”

More than 4 million Georgia residents had already cast their ballots before Tuesday. An hour after voting opened, the average wait across the state was just 12 minutes, The Associated Press reported.

A number of polling places in Virginia were quiet on Tuesday:

In Texas, KUT’s Mose Buchele was monitoring wait times at Austin polling stations and summed it up on Twitter: “Pretty much a consistent sea of green since this morning.” That meant polling stations across the city were reporting wait times of less than 20 minutes.

In San Antonio, Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen had been hoping for 175,000 in-person votes cast, Texas Public Radio reported. Later in the evening, she told reporters that she no longer expected the county to hit 100,000.

Meanwhile in Michigan, some polling places experienced long lines, thanks in part to a record number of same-day voter registrations, MLive reported. And lines in Las Vegas were the result of technical difficulties.

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Polls Close In A Handful Of Key Battleground States: Here’s What To Watch

Over a dozen states will close their polls at 8 p.m. ET, including Florida and Pennsylvania — two of the most competitive states in the presidential race. Final polls are also set to close in North Carolina at 8:15 p.m. ET. Here’s the full list of the states paired with NPR electoral ratings.

  • Florida (toss-up)

  • North Carolina (toss-up)

  • Pennsylvania (lean Dem.)

  • Maine (ME-1, likely Dem.; ME-2, toss-up)

  • Missouri (lean Rep.)

  • Alabama (likely Rep.)

  • Mississippi (likely Rep.)

  • Oklahoma (likely Rep.)

  • Tennessee (likely Rep.)

  • New Hampshire (likely Dem.)

  • Connecticut (likely Dem.)

  • Washington, D.C. (likely Dem.)

  • Delaware (likely Dem.)

  • Illinois (likely Dem.)

  • Massachusetts (likely Dem.)

  • Maryland (likely Dem.)

  • New Jersey (likely Dem.)

  • Rhode Island (likely Dem.)

Of this group of states, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Maine are some of the tightest races. Again, it’s important to still note that vote counts will continue to change as states count early ballots at different speeds.

Florida: Florida may be one of the most crucial wins for President Trump tonight. The state holds 29 electoral votes and played a significant role in securing Trump the election in 2016. And though Joe Biden has led in average state polling throughout the past seven months, his once-large polling lead has diminished, and Trump now trails by just over 2 points, according to FiveThirtyEight’s average.

Pennsylvania: While Pennsylvania is rated as a lean-Democratic state, it’s still in play tonight. As NPR’s Domenico Montanaro points out, the state could end up playing a deciding role, especially if Trump wins a slew of battleground states and Biden holds on to all other lean-Democratic states. The state has 20 electoral votes.

And remember: Pennsylvania can’t start counting early votes until Election Day, so the results coming in from polling locations will differ from the final tally, which could take longer to compile than in many other states (like Florida), which began counting votes before Election Day.

North Carolina: Biden currently holds a slim but consistent polling lead over Trump in North Carolina. That said, the state has historically voted Republican in presidential races, except for Barack Obama’s win in 2008. North Carolina has 15 electoral votes.

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis also faces a tough challenge from Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham. Tillis currently trails in average state polling, according to FiveThirtyEight. The Republican senator was one of several politicians and members of the Trump administration and campaign who tested positive for the coronavirus in early October.

Maine: Maine’s electoral votes are won by congressional district vote as well as by state vote, making both of the state’s congressional districts individually important. One district is likely to go to Biden, while the other remains a toss-up. In addition to the presidential race, incumbent Republican Sen. Susan Collins faces a challenge from Democratic candidate Sara Gideon. Collins has narrowly trailed Gideon for weeks, according to recent state polling,

Alabama: Alabama is a safe Republican state in the presidential contest, but its Senate race is closer. Current Democratic Sen. Doug Jones is facing off against Republican challenger Tommy Tuberville. Jones’ seat is the most vulnerable Democratic-held seat in the Senate. The race is currently labeled as lean Republican by the Cook Political Report.

U.S. House races to watch: Competitive congressional races are also expected in Texas, Oklahoma, New Jersey, Missouri, Michigan and Illinois.

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Trump Approval Is Underwater In Multiple Swing States

As we wait for results from swing states, AP VoteCast data show that President Trump has a negative approval rating in six of the states NPR will be closely watching throughout the night.

In Florida, for example, Trump has a net approval of -16 points — 42% of voters approve of the job he is doing as president, and 58% disapprove.

Likewise, in Arizona, he’s at -14, with 43% who approve and 57% who disapprove.

He’s more narrowly underwater in Georgia (-7 points), North Carolina (-4), Pennsylvania (-6) and Wisconsin (-8).

Those feelings of disapproval are polarized. In all six states, the overwhelming majority of those who disapprove say they “disapprove strongly” of Trump’s handling of the presidency (as opposed to those who “disapprove somewhat”). Similarly, a majority of those who approve of him in each state “approve strongly,” though in all six states, approve responses are split less extremely than disapprove responses.

None of this necessarily means Trump will lose these states; it is of course possible for a voter to disapprove of Trump but still think he’s the best option (or to approve of Trump but think Joe Biden is the best option).

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Key States To Watch: Polls Close Shortly In Ohio

Polls will close in Ohio and West Virginia at 7:30 p.m. ET. North Carolina was originally slated to close all polls at that time as well but won’t start releasing results until 8:15 p.m. ET, citing delays.

Initial reports may change as additional results continue to come in and early votes are counted. That said, all eyes will be on Ohio at 7:30 p.m. ET, which remains a key toss-up race, according to NPR’s electoral analysis.

Ohio: While President Trump currently holds a slim polling edge in the state, he and former Vice President Joe Biden have alternated in securing small leads since the spring. The state — and its 18 electoral votes — have crossed party lines in recent elections, siding with Trump in 2016 and Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012.

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COVID-19 Is Easily The Biggest Issue Of This Election

A solid plurality of voters — 42% — said the coronavirus pandemic is their No. 1 issue in this election, according to the first wave of data from AP VoteCast, a large-scale poll of voters conducted over the last few days. The only other issue that even comes close is the economy and jobs, at 27%. Everything else — health care, immigration, abortion and climate change, for example — comes in below 10%.

Of course, COVID-19 and the economy are tied inextricably together; controlling the pandemic would allow the economy to heal.

When asked which of the two they want the federal government to prioritize, a solid majority — 61% — said it wanted the government to focus on limiting COVID-19’s spread, “even if it damages the economy.” Thirty-seven percent prioritized boosting the economy, “even if it increases the spread of coronavirus.”

The early VoteCast data do not yet say how these responses correlate to whether people voted for Joe Biden or President Trump. However, some questions show the degree to which COVID-19 is a liability for Trump in this election. Fifty-eight percent of voters disapprove of his handling of the pandemic, and just 35% said he is better able than Biden to handle the pandemic. Meanwhile, 49% of voters said Biden would be better able to handle the pandemic.

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Pennsylvania Officials Debunk ‘Deliberately Deceptive’ Misinformation Spread By Trump Allies

Officials in Pennsylvania are debunking misleading claims of voting irregularities and other problems in the battleground state that researchers say are being spread online by Republican political operatives and right-wing influencers.

“We are seeing significant amplification and discussion of unfounded allegations that there have been instances of voter fraud or attempts to ‘steal the election,’ many of which have already been disproved,” said Lisa Kaplan, founder of the Alethea Group, which helps campaigns fight misinformation.

Given the tight presidential race in Pennsylvania, its residents have been flooded by disputed claims on Twitter and other Internet platforms. In September and October, Pennsylvania saw the most misinformation about voting of any state, according to Zignal Labs, which tracks social media.

On Tuesday, these misleading posts were amplified by those on the right with large social media followings, such as Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, and former White House aide Steve Bannon, as well as conservative media including Breitbart and the Gateway Pundit, according to the Election Integrity Partnership, a coalition of researchers tracking online misinformation.

Mike Roman, the Trump campaign’s director of Election Day operations, shared a tweet claiming that signs supporting Democratic nominee Joe Biden outside polling places in Philadelphia violated election rules. “Bad things are happening in Philly,” Roman wrote.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office said its election task force had investigated and found no problems with the signs. It called Roman’s tweet “deliberately deceptive.”

Twitter cracked down on some of the claims, hiding some posts, including some from Roman, the conservative group FreedomWorks and the Philadelphia Republican Party, behind warning labels and reducing their distribution. The company said it is monitoring the hashtag #StopTheSteal, which appears on many of the posts.

But the allegations of voting issues have taken root beyond Twitter. Alethea’s Kaplan said the claims were also being promoted among proponents of the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory on the fringe message board 8kun.

The intention, she said, was “to share localized disinformation in order to sow mistrust in the election.”

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Texas GOP Looks To Rural Conservatives To Stanch Blue Wave

In this extraordinary election year, Texas has moved into the toss-up column. Democrats believe the explosive growth of the state’s megacities will mean more young, Latino and Asian American voters will vote for change. Republicans are counting on rural conservatives to be a firewall against any blue wave.

In Dripping Springs, a down-home community in the Hill Country west of Austin, voters are considered pragmatic and conservative.

“None of these candidates are perfect. And I wasn’t voting for who I was gonna marry or who I want to be my best friend,” said Danielle Guinn, a 49-year-old teacher who describes herself as a Republican. “I’m voting for who I think will run the country and the state and the county better.”

Recent polling has shown Joe Biden and President Trump in a dead heat in once reliably red Texas, but Ben Broughton wasn’t buying it.

“I feel more confident [of a Trump victory] than I did in ’16,” he said, standing outside a Dripping Springs polling place in a cap with the message “All Aboard the Trump Train.” The 62-year-old retired Exxon Mobil contractor now keeps honeybees.

“I don’t have faith in the polls. They oversample the Democrats. For every Biden sign, you see 100 Trump signs.”

Thirty minutes down the highway in liberal Austin — where most voters are as blue as a Texas bluebonnet — it’s easy to find never-Trumpers.

“He’s a racist, bigot and homophobe,” said Jonathan Henderson, a 38-year-old writer. “I guess those are the top three.”

Debora Taylor, a 46-year-old Uber driver, said she was born in Argentina and has lived in the United States for 21 years.

“I’ve always been so proud of the U.S., the presidents and the government in general,” she said, walking to her car after voting. “But not this time. Not with Trump. He’s such an embarrassment. Everything is just so wrong with him in office.”

— John Burnett
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In Swing State Florida, Voters Are Engaged

Both major-party presidential candidates are fighting hard for Florida and its 29 electoral votes. Polls predict a tight race in the swing state, and voters are engaged.

“I did proudly vote for Donald Trump,” said Emma Gray after casting a ballot at the Freedom Church in Tallahassee, Fla.

Gray said she’s an independent voter who doesn’t identify with either party. President Trump’s tenure hasn’t been perfect, she said, but she thinks her family is better off.

“I may not always agree with everything he says,” Gray said. “But his view of America and the economic success he brought to America really speaks to me.”

But other voters said they are ready for a change.

“It’s been a crazy four years of constant chaos and fear just in general,” said Benton Sanderson of Tallahassee, a 33-year-old restaurant worker who suffered an economic blow because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sanderson voted “straight blue,” he said.

So did Mentonia Hutchinson, a mental health case worker and supporter of Democrat Joe Biden. She said there has been too much racial conflict under Trump.

“I don’t particularly care for the character that I’ve seen,” said Hutchinson.

Here in Leon County, as elsewhere in Florida, voting was steady. There were no widespread reports of long lines or disruptions around polling places. Election officials are expecting record turnout. Nearly 9 million Floridians have already cast a ballot either by mail or through early voting.

“When the turnout is high, Democrats win,” says John Hedrick, chairman of the Leon County Democratic Executive Committee.

But Republicans say their voters are more likely to show up on Election Day, and they’re counting on a red wave to once again deliver Florida for Trump. He won in 2016 by a narrow margin of about 113,000 votes.

— Debbie Elliott
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Trump Campaign Manager Says It Is A ‘Tight Race’

President Trump’s campaign manager and other top campaign officials expressed confidence tonight in Trump’s chances based on reports they’ve gotten from key swing states.

“We feel better and more confident about our position now in 2020 than we did at this exact moment in 2016,” Jason Miller told reporters. Miller, a senior adviser, was in the campaign’s war room four years ago when Trump pulled off an improbable Electoral College victory.

The Trump campaign took a risky bet that it could turn out the vast majority of Republican voters on Election Day, while Joe Biden’s campaign and Democrats encouraged early and absentee voting. “The Biden campaign cannibalized their votes,” said Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager.

What he means is that the Biden campaign got voters who otherwise would have voted on Election Day to turn out early — but the Biden campaign doesn’t have enough Election Day votes to ensure a win. That’s based on Trump campaign data and voter modeling.

“With the lack of a ground game on the Biden campaign side, they left a ton of votes on the table,” Stepien said. Meanwhile, Republicans have been “driving turnout” on Election Day, he said.

But the true strength of both campaigns’ Election Day operations will be known only when the votes are counted.

“We believe this to be a tight race,” said Stepien. “We believe every vote’s going to matter. It’s going to come down to turnout. We think we are better positioned in that type of campaign. We are executing the plan we have been building and organizing for the past three years.”

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Key States To Watch At Top Of The Hour: Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky

The presidential election enters its final stage at 7 p.m. ET, as polls close across six states. Here’s the list of states paired with NPR’s electoral ratings.

  • Georgia (toss-up)

  • South Carolina (likely Rep.)

  • Kentucky (likely Rep.)

  • Indiana (likely Rep.)

  • Virginia (likely Dem.)

  • Vermont (likely Dem.)

Note that reports from precincts may change as early votes continue to be counted along with votes cast in person today. That said, here’s what we’ll be watching for at the top of the hour.

Georgia: Georgia hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992, but former Vice President Joe Biden holds a narrow lead over President Trump in average state polling. A total of 16 electoral votes are at stake. Georgia is also the only state in the U.S. with two Senate seats up for grabs tonight. Both races are considered toss-ups by the Cook Political Report. Republican Sen. David Perdue is fighting for reelection against Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff. And Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler faces off against Republican Rep. Doug Collins and Democrat Raphael Warnock in a special election.

It’s also important to note that both Senate races are subject to runoff elections, meaning a candidate must receive over 50% to win. If no candidate gets over 50%, the top two contenders in the race will face off again on Jan. 5.

South Carolina: While Trump is expected to win South Carolina, its Senate race is highly contested. Incumbent Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham faces a challenge from Democrat Jaime Harrison. While Graham is considered one of the most senior members of the U.S. Senate, Harrison has risen in prominence over the past several months. The two candidates remain neck and neck in recent state polling.

Kentucky: Though Kentucky is also expected to vote for Trump, eyes are on the state’s U.S. Senate race. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection and faces Democratic opponent Amy McGrath. While McConnell is favored to win, the race will remain closely watched, considering he is the leader of the Senate.

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30 Things To Read, Watch Or Listen To … Instead Of Refreshing That Results Page

Election night has just begun, and you know perfectly well the results won’t be in for a long time. Maybe hours. Maybe longer.

But if you’re having trouble thinking about anything else, you’re not alone.

Instead of staring at that map and waiting for the colors to fill in, or endlessly scrolling through Twitter (it doesn’t make time go any faster!), why not spend this waiting period digging into a political profile, podcast episode or video that can actually shed some light on what’s happening? Here are some ideas to get you started 

Ponder the candidates

How did Joe Biden get the nomination?

A personal reflection on Kamala Harris and mass incarceration

How Trump has weaponized masculinity and why it matters

Mike Pence and the religious right

What’s the future of the Republican Party?

Bone up on the election process

Civics 101: a podcast that’s exactly what it sounds like

How have election workers handled the disruptions of the pandemic?

A long wait for results is not a sign of a problem

Learn about election polling from Pew Research

Meet some voters

Beyond “soccer moms” — the voting blocs of 2020

The Latinx vote comes of age

Black Democrats are not a monolith

Hop on a golf cart with the Trump-voting boomers of Florida’s The Villages

A story about the hard-earned right to vote

Ever wondered …

What’s up with political ads?

What’s up with political texts?

Why do we say “gubernatorial”?

What if … there are no swing voters?

What do foreign journalists make of this election?

Dig into some history:

So why do we have an Electoral College?

Descendents of suffragists reflect on the fight for women’s right to vote

Black Americans were the perfecters of democracy

Hanging chads, anyone? Revisiting Bush v. Gore

How reporting election results has changed over time

Concession speeches of elections past

Whatever happens, we’re making history right now

Or, alternatively …

Bake an election cake

Scribble a democracy doodle

Read some political poetry

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Trump Will Leave Office ‘When His Tenure Is Done,’ Campaign Adviser Says

With just hours of voting left, a top official on President Trump’s reelection campaign said it’s possible the president can pull off a victory. But when asked whether the president would concede and commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose, the aide was noncommittal.

“When the president leaves office, when his tenure is done, and I believe that’s going to be in four years, of course he will leave office,” Steve Cortes, a senior adviser for strategy on the Trump campaign, said on Tuesday afternoon on NPR’s All Things Considered.

“I don’t think that’s going to be in a few months. I think that’s going to be in four years,” he added.

NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly pushed Cortes on a hypothetical, asking whether the president would — if the vote appeared to be going his way — wait until all the ballots were counted before declaring victory.

“Once it is clear that we are winning, he will declare victory,” Cortes said.

Kelly interjected quickly: “What’s your benchmark for ‘clear’?”

“We’ll know once we get to it,” Cortes said, without providing specifics.

Cortes said the Trump campaign is confident the president will prevail in his reelection bid, in part because Democrats “have exhausted practically all of their high-propensity voters.”

He surmised that if Republicans have a massive turnout, it could push Trump to victory.

NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez noted earlier Tuesday that the president told reporters at his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va., that he didn’t have a concession speech or a victory speech prepared.

“You know, winning is easy. Losing is never easy. Not for me, it’s not,” Trump said.

Kelly asked Cortes whether Trump was managing expectations or if he was worried about the outcome.

“Listen, I don’t think he’s doing either, quite frankly,” Cortes replied. “The president thinks he’s going to win.”

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Trump Campaign Sets Up War Room At White House

The Trump campaign has established a “war room” on the White House grounds, in a move that further blurs the line between the executive branch and the campaign.

The campaign is using space in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building — the large complex adjacent to the West Wing — for election night, campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said.

Past presidents have generally tried to keep the official trappings of the presidency separate from the operations of their campaigns. But President Trump has resisted adhering to those norms. For example, he delivered his acceptance speech for the Republican National Convention at the White House.

Murtaugh defended the move, which was first reported by The New York Times.

“The war room needed to be in close proximity to the president and there is no expense whatsoever to American taxpayers for the use of a room in the EEOB, where events like prayer services and receptions for outside groups frequently occur,” Murtaugh said in a statement.

“Every piece of equipment, including WiFi and computers, was paid for by the campaign, and no White House staff is involved. The arrangement has been approved by White House counsel,” he said.

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Largely Peaceful Election Day So Far

Despite worries about organized voter intimidation, Election Day around the U.S. has been largely peaceful so far.

There have been reports of isolated incidents of unruly voters and disputes with poll workers. Others involve voters resisting mask requirements.

Some voters have expressed discomfort about the presence of civilians with holstered firearms in states that allow open carry. Rules on firearms in polling places vary, often depending on whether the polling place is located in a building with special protections, such as a school. Ten states ban weapons from voting sites outright.

Police in Charlotte, N.C., say they arrested an armed man who was asked to leave a precinct location but then returned. He was arrested for trespassing.

The relative absence of reported intimidation and threats so far has been a relief, but police departments aren’t ready to relax yet. In the last few weeks, several big-city chiefs have said they’re more worried about what might happen after the polls close, especially if celebrations or protests turn violent.

In a news conference marking the midway point of a peaceful Election Day, the New York Police Department’s chief of department, Terence Monahan, said that the department’s intelligence bureau would continue to monitor events and that thousands of additional officers would be “at the ready.”

“My message to anyone who wants to cause violence and destruction is, ‘Don’t even try it. We know who you are, and you will be arrested,’ ” Monahan said.

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Biden Campaign Sounds Bullish On Election Day

The Biden campaign is sounding more confident on this, the final day of the 2020 campaign season than it has in months about its election odds, based on early vote data estimates.

Until Tuesday, Joe Biden and his aides have been very cautious when talking about their big polling leads — wary of projecting the same kind of confidence Democrats had in 2016, when Trump won.

"We start Election Day with a clear path to 270. We think that we have a big lead," campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon told reporters during a briefing Tuesday.

O’Malley Dillon said the campaign’s early vote data projections show Democrats have an 8-point advantage in battleground states (though, obviously, that’s much tighter in states like Florida). And she expressed optimism that the campaign will have a sense of "where the race is" by the end of the night. She insisted Democrats do not need the critical states of Florida and Pennsylvania to build a path to victory.

Part of her confidence comes from the early vote lead Democrats have built in key states, such as North Carolina, Wisconsin and Michigan.

In Michigan, for example, the Biden campaign estimates President Trump would need to win 62% of the vote tonight in order to win the state. O’Malley Dillon said that would mean Trump would have to beat his own 2016 Election Day result by more than 10 points — a difficult but possible scenario.

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Biden In Wilmington: ‘I Feel Hopeful’

Joe Biden plans to watch election night returns at home with his family in Wilmington, Del., and the longtime senator and former vice president told reporters he sees multiple paths to victory.

“Toward the end, I never feel confident. I feel hopeful,” Biden said. He said he was feeling good about voter turnout among key groups in his coalition — women, young people and older African Americans.

“If Florida came in and I won, it’s over. Done,” Biden said. “I think we’re going to do well, we’re going to reestablish that ‘blue wall,’ I feel good about that, but it’s just so uncertain. You can’t think of an election in the recent past where so many states are up for grabs. The idea that I’m in play in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida …”

Biden was also asked how he would respond if President Trump tried to prematurely declare victory before a clear winner is determined — something that Trump said on Tuesday he didn’t plan on doing.

“Presidents can’t determine what votes are counted or not counted and voters determine who’s president,” Biden said. “No matter what he does or says, votes are going to be counted.”

Like Trump, Biden also hedged on whether he would speak publicly later on Tuesday. “If there’s something to talk about tonight, I’ll talk about it,” he said. “If not, I’ll wait till the votes are counted the next day.”

Biden’s final day on the campaign trail was punctuated by personal and nostalgic stops — including the family plot where his son Beau is buried and his childhood home in Scranton, Pa. He even visited the pool where he was a lifeguard as a young man.

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Republicans File More Mail Voting Lawsuits In Swing States

Republicans and Trump campaign allies continued to file last-minute lawsuits related to voting and vote-counting on Tuesday.

In Pennsylvania, a Republican House candidate filed suit, accusing election officials of illegally handling more than a thousand mail-in ballots before they were supposed to.

Officials in Montgomery County allowed some voters to fix issues with their absentee ballots before Election Day, the lawsuit alleges, which meant that officials would have had to have started the processing of those ballots earlier than Nov. 3, breaking state law and giving some voters in the state more voting opportunities than others.

A federal judge has granted a motion to temporarily hold off counting the votes of those people who fixed issues with their ballots until the matter is resolved, according to The Bucks County Courier Times.

“We believe our process is sound and permissible under the election code,” said Kelly Cofrancisco, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Board of Elections, to the Courier Times.

In Nevada, the Trump campaign has filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court after a judge on Monday rejected a lawsuit aimed at halting the processing of some mail-in ballots. The suit focuses on issues Republicans have with how the Clark County registrar was verifying signatures and with the amount of access that observers have for parts of the vote-counting process.

“There is no evidence that any vote that should lawfully be counted has or will not be counted. There is no evidence that any vote that lawfully should not be counted has or will be counted. There is no evidence that any election worker did anything outside of the law, policy, or procedures," Carson City District Court Judge James Wilson wrote in his decision Monday.

In Minnesota, the state Supreme Court rejected an effort by the Trump campaign and state legislators to challenge late-arriving ballots. A federal appeals court ruling last week already requires election officials to segregate ballots that arrive after polls close Tuesday night.

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State Officials Urge Voters To Ignore Robocalls

State officials are warning voters about suspicious robocalls discouraging people from voting or misleading them about when they can cast their ballots.

People in Kansas and Nebraska reported calls telling them to stay home, while some Michigan voters received calls telling them to vote on Wednesday — the day after the election.

“Obviously this is FALSE and an effort to suppress the vote,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel tweeted on Tuesday.

“Disregard these calls. If you have not already voted, today is the day!” the Kansas secretary of state’s office wrote.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the calls. Federal officials said Tuesday that the FBI was investigating them, and the FBI said it was aware of the reports.

“As a reminder, the FBI encourages the American public to verify any election and voting information they may receive through their local election officials,” it said in a statement.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office was also investigating robocalls encouraging people to stay home on Election Day.

While robocalls are not a new phenomenon in elections, voters across the country received 10 million suspicious calls in October urging them to “stay safe and stay home,” according to YouMail, a company that blocks robocalls on smartphones.

The calls, first reported by The Washington Post, do not directly mention the election or voting. They began in June. But they have accelerated in the final weeks of the election campaign, reaching all but one of the country’s 317 area codes, YouMail CEO Alex Quilici told NPR.

Quilici said it was unusual for a robocall not to have some kind of “call to action,” such as urging people to hand over personal information or money. He said the calls raised concerns about how the phone system could be misused.

“It feels like a somewhat sophisticated actor trying to understand how they could do something more interesting with what they’re learning,” he said.

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Security Update: Election Proceeds But Some Threats Likely Persist

Election Day continued to run as expected, federal officials said in an afternoon update, but they also observed that the game doesn’t conclude at midnight or on Wednesday morning or anytime so soon.

A senior official with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who briefed reporters on the condition of not being identified, said the “attack surface” for possible cyber-mischief extends through counting and certifying results and then states’ process for officially making their votes through the Electoral College, in mid-December.

“There is no spiking the football here. We are acutely focused on the mission at hand,” the senior official said.

CISA officials also acknowledged the possibility for disruptions or failures in service of websites that report election results as such tallies begin in the coming hours. If that happens, there could be malicious activity — or it could simply be the result of intense traffic, officials say. In any event, websites that report tallies don’t affect the actual count and votes themselves are likely outside the reach of any attacker, authorities say.

There was no new information about robocalls received in several states on Tuesday that urged people to “stay safe and stay home,” even though this is the last day polls are open. The FBI has acknowledged them and New York Attorney General Letitia James said her office was investigating who was behind them.

“Attempts to hinder voters from exercising their right to cast their ballots are disheartening, disturbing, and wrong. What’s more is that it is illegal, and it will not be tolerated. Every voter must be able to exercise their fundamental right to vote without being harassed, coerced, or intimidated,” James said.

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Hand Sanitizer And Ballots Don’t Mix

At least two polling places in Des Moines, Iowa, had ballot scanners briefly stop working, because, the top county election official says, poll workers and voters were using too much hand sanitizer.

Iowans fill out paper ballots and then put them in a machine that tallies the votes.

Des Moines resident Renee Cramer said she filled out her ballot and waited for about half an hour Tuesday morning for the counting machine to start working. She said dozens of voters waited to place their own ballot in the machine, while some handed their completed ballot to poll workers and left.

Voting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says voters and poll workers should ensure their hands are dry before handling ballots and voting equipment because hand sanitizers can damage paper ballots.

— Katarina Sostaric, Iowa Public Radio
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Vermont’s Republican Governor Votes For Biden

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, told reporters outside his polling place that he’d just voted for Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Scott is the first Republican governor to endorse the Democratic presidential nominee, though at the eleventh hour. Other Republican governors have been critical of President Trump, namely Maryland’s Larry Hogan and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts.

Hogan said last month that he wrote in Ronald Reagan for president instead of Trump, but did not vote for Biden. Baker said Tuesday he left the presidential bubbles blank on his ballot.

Sen. Mitt Romney, another prominent critic of the president within the Republican Party, said last month that he did not vote for Trump, but would not say who he did vote for.

Scott is up for reelection himself in Vermont.

Vermont lieutenant governor candidate, Scott Milne, said he wrote in former Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas for president, as he and Scott both did in 2016.

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What It’s Like To Get Past The Fence Around The White House

The National Park Service built an 8-foot-tall metal fence perimeter — billed as “nonscalable” — overnight for several blocks around the White House. The concern: potential unrest on election night and afterward.

By Tuesday afternoon, protest signs had been put up on the fence along Black Lives Matter Plaza just north of the White House. The fence is similar to the barrier erected earlier this year during protests after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

The perimeter surrounds the president’s residence, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Lafayette Square and the Ellipse — the field between the White House and the National Mall.

U.S. Secret Service agents are patrolling the area, funneling White House staff, guests and journalists to a few specific security spots around the perimeter. There is an opening in the fence to allow people to reach the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery.

The extra barriers punctuate expectations of unrest in the nation’s capital. The windows of many downtown businesses and storefronts near the White House have been boarded up for days in anticipation of protests after the election.

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In Las Vegas, Technical Difficulties Lead To Long Lines But Don’t Deter Voters

In Las Vegas, voters such as Denise Spencer said they waited 2 1/2 hours to cast their ballots at a voting center struggling with technical difficulties in Clark County, Nevada’s most populous county.

“We got her done,” Spencer said after finally voting in North Las Vegas.

The 61-year-old said she has lost three very close friends to COVID-19 and blames President Trump for dealing with the pandemic so “nonchalantly.”

“I was going to make sure come hell or high water, I was going to vote against him,” Spencer said.

Michelle Stockton waited in that same line but was voting for a different candidate.

“I voted for Trump. I’m not in for all this socialism, free education and free medical care and all of that,” Stockton said, speaking maskless outside the polling station.

Before the polls even opened, early voting in Nevada had overtaken the total turnout in the 2016 election. The state has shaded blue in recent elections, a Republican presidential candidate hasn’t won Nevada since 2004. Still, the race was close between President Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Trump’s reelection campaign is making a push for the state’s six electoral votes and that includes legal challenges.

The GOP and the campaign filed a lawsuit less than two weeks ago in Clark County aimed at halting early ballot counting. A Nevada judge blocked it on Monday, writing that no evidence was provided of wrongdoing at the polls or the “debasement or dilution” of a citizen’s vote.

On Tuesday, the Nevada Republican Party and the reelection campaign filed an expedited appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.

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International Election Observers Are Visiting Polling Stations In 30 States

International monitors are visiting polling stations in 30 states today, including most battleground states. The State Department invites these observers to see U.S. democracy in action.

Former Polish diplomat Urszula Gacek (pictured above speaking with a poll worker in Washington, D.C.) says this year’s election is “one for the memoirs.” She’s leading the election observer team from the 57-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has been monitoring U.S. elections since 2002. Another 50 European parliamentarians are also in the U.S. as observers.

“We are here very much for the American voter, especially this year, where a lot of confidence in the system has been challenged,” Gacek told reporters outside a polling station in Washington, D.C. “We hope that we also have a calm voice, well-researched facts and that will present people with as true a picture as possible to get.”

Gacek’s 45-person team — smaller than usual because of COVID-19 – has been in the U.S. for six weeks and is spread out across the country, though some states do not allow international monitors to enter polling stations. Gacek says the OSCE has raised concerns about that in the past and will do so again this year.

The team also raised concerns about the potential for voter intimidation and voter suppression in an interim report. They are tracking 400 legal cases across the country, such as the Republican attempt in Texas to throw out drive-through ballots.

"It’s like 50 different elections in a way, in terms of the rules, which vary so much from state to state," she tells NPR. "There’s nowhere as complicated as the United States. It is absolutely the most complex system.”

She says the OSCE gets invited back because it focuses on election procedures rather than politics.

“Sometimes people say, ‘Well, you know, you must be rooting for somebody in this election.’ I said, ‘Well, yeah, of course I am.’ And then they think they’re going to get the scoop. And you know who I’m rooting for, don’t you? The voter. That’s it.”

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Biden Will Speak Tonight, Even If Race Too Close To Call

Democratic nominee Joe Biden will address the country tonight, even if the race remains too close to call, his campaign told NPR.

“I think we’ll have enough data in from the core states to have a sense of which direction this race is going,” deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly. “But if we don’t, if it is close and we don’t, voters should still expect to hear from Biden tonight.”

While earlier results may be possible tonight in Sun Belt states like Florida and North Carolina that began counting their absentee ballots a while ago, states such as Pennsylvania could take up to several days to finish counting all the mail ballots that have been returned.

Speaking with reporters in Philadelphia tonight, Biden left a little more wiggle room about whether he will address the country tonight.

“If there’s something to talk about tonight, I’ll talk about it,” Biden said. “If not, I’ll wait til the votes are counted the next day.”

Biden traveled to Pennsylvania today, beginning with stops in Scranton — the city where he spent his early childhood — before heading to Philadelphia. Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes are important to both campaigns.

“I wouldn’t actually say it’s make or break,” Bedingfield said. “We’re fortunate to be in a position where we don’t have to win Pennsylvania, we don’t have to win Florida. We have a lot of different ways to get to 270 electoral votes.”

As Biden wrapped up his final day of campaigning, Bedingfield also said that she felt like the campaign struck the right balance between safety precautions and engaging voters in their communities.

He has campaigned incredibly hard and he has campaigned safely and creatively,” she said. “I think, you know, we made a decision — when the pandemic really shut the country down back in March, we made a decision that we were not going to do anything that put the communities that we would be visiting in jeopardy … He wanted to model responsible leadership. And I think that that’s what people are looking for.”

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Here’s The Smoke On Drug-Related Ballot Measures Around The U.S.

Voters around the country are deciding ballot measures on Tuesday that could reshape state drug laws covering marijuana as well as harder drugs including cocaine and psychedelic mushrooms.

Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota will decide whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use, while Mississippians are considering allowing the medical use of marijuana. They’re following a trend that’s rapidly reshaped the way marijuana is viewed by state officials around the U.S. Already more than 30 states have moved to decriminalize marijuana.

Oregon voters, meanwhile, are considering a first-in-the-nation measure that would effectively decriminalize possession of small quantities of harder drugs, including cocaine and heroin. If approved, the measure would make “personal non-commercial possession” of any controlled substance a violation, with a maximum fine of $100. Supporters also hope to create a more extensive system of drug addiction treatment and recovery programs funded with revenue from tax revenues on marijuana sales and with money saved from shrinking the state’s prison system.

Voters in Oregon and Washington, D.C., will decide whether the use of psychedelic mushrooms should be decriminalized. Whatever happens in today’s voting, possession of all these drugs remains illegal under federal law.

— Brian Mann
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North Carolina Will Delay Election Results After Extending Voting Times In 4 Precincts

Election officials in North Carolina voted on Tuesday to extend voting in some of its precincts after four locations opened late.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections said in a statement that four of the state’s 2,660 polling places did not open on time, and as a result will remain open up to 45 minutes past their scheduled closing time of 7:30 p.m. ET.

This means statewide results will be delayed as election officials will hold back tallies until all polling places have closed after 8:15 p.m. ET.

The impacted counties include Cabarrus County, where a polling center’s hours will be extended by 17 minutes to 7:47 p.m. A voting place in Guilford County will now close 34 minutes later than originally planned.

Additionally, two precincts in Sampson County will close late. One in Clinton, N.C., will close at 7:54 p.m. Another, in the city of Dunn, will close at 8:15 p.m.

North Carolina with its 15 electoral votes is a pivotal state that President Trump narrowly won in 2016 and is considered a “toss-up” in NPR’s final electoral map forecast.

Voting in the state could also determine which party controls the Senate, with a tight race between incumbent Thom Tillis, a Republican, and his Democratic opponent, Cal Cunningham.

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In Arizona, Early And Mail-In Ballots Boost Voter Turnout

It was already 90 degrees and the line a few dozen people deep by the time Elana Mendelson got to her local polling place in Tempe, Ariz. But she didn’t mind one bit. She insisted on voting in person on Election Day because she doesn’t trust the ballot drop boxes and worries they are vulnerable to tampering.

“Basically the whole country is at stake,” she said, while walking back to her car to get her water bottle.

Mendelson declined to say who she’s voting for, saying only: “We need somebody that’s competent in running our country in office.”

Already, thanks to early and mail-in voting, voter turnout in Maricopa County is higher than it was in 2016. Maricopa, which includes Phoenix, has tilted purple in recent years as more Latinos have come of voting age and demographics more broadly have shifted thanks to an influx of younger newcomers from states such as California.

Democrats and Latino voting groups aligned with the party see an opportunity with large turnout in 2020, as polls have shown the presidential race to be a toss-up.

But just like in other battleground states, it’s unclear which party will benefit the most from early voting in 2020 amid a pandemic, protests for racial equality and disasters from climate change among other crises, such as high unemployment.

Registered Republicans still outnumber Democrats in Arizona, as do independents.

Conservative voters like Kathleen Winn say President Trump is the best person to be in charge of the country’s economic recovery.

“I believe this president doesn’t get any of the credit that he deserves for a lot of things he’s done,” says Winn, who lives in Mesa.

Still, the coronavirus and Trump’s handling of it are still very much a factor on voters’ minds, especially as cases in Arizona are increasing after a deadly summer.

Linda Brown, who takes care of her 93-year-old mother in Tempe and voted in October, says she doesn’t appreciate the president’s “cavalier attitude” about the virus.

“I had hoped that when he contracted it himself it would have made a little difference but apparently not,” Brown says.

— Kirk Siegler
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Pennsylvania Secretary Of State: Votes Will Be Counted ‘Accurately And Securely’

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar says President Trump’s attempts to undermine voters’ faith in elections — especially when it comes to voting by mail — haven’t worked in the crucial swing state.

More than 2.5 million people had already voted by mail in Pennsylvania before polls opened Tuesday, Boockvar said. That’s about 40% of the total turnout from four years ago and 10 times the number who voted by mail in 2016.

“No matter how you vote, there’s really intense processes in place to make sure every vote is eligible and that every eligible vote is counted accurately and securely,” Boockvar told NPR’s Rachel Martin on Morning Edition. State and local officials have worked to inform voters of their options and the message has been heard “loud and clear,” Boockvar says.

With its 20 electoral votes, Pennsylvania will be one of the most closely watched states in the nation on election night. Republicans in the state had sought to block counting ballots arriving after Election Day. But the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn a decision by the state Supreme Court allowing absentee ballots received as late as this Friday to be counted so long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3.

Boockvar, a Democrat, says the “overwhelming majority of ballots,” both mailed and in person, will be counted “within a couple of days.”

“The counties are counting 24/7,” she says. “They are just completely dedicated to counting every vote accurately as quickly as humanly possible.”

Pennsylvania narrowly went for Trump in 2016 after going Democratic in the previous six general elections. Biden and Trump have both campaigned heavily in the state, which could be the final arbiter of the presidency.

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Federal Judge Orders Sweep Of Postal Facilities For Mail-In Ballots

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ordered the U.S. Postal Service to conduct an Election Day "sweep" of facilities in more than 10 states to make sure no mail-in ballots have been held up.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan issued the order for certain postal districts in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Wyoming and parts of northern New England. The order affects several major cities in those states, including Atlanta, Detroit and Philadelphia.

He told the Postal Service to send "postal inspectors or their designees" to sweep the facilities "to ensure that no ballots have been held up and that any identified ballots are immediately sent out for delivery."

Election officials in several states, along with the NAACP and voting rights groups, have sued the Postal Service, charging that actions by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy had slowed the mail and risked delaying the delivery of mail-in ballots.

The Postal Service says it has suspended those actions and that it is taking extraordinary steps to ensure that mail-in ballots are processed on time. It says it has processed and delivered some 122 million mail-in ballots.

However, data submitted to the court indicates that the Postal Service is not meeting its on-time delivery goals for first-class mail in some key swing states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Postal Service issued a statement saying that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service has been conducting daily reviews at all 220 facilities that process ballots, since October 29th, and that “Ballots will continue to be accepted and processed as they are presented to us and we will deliver them to their intended destination.”

However, attorneys for the Postal Service said they were unable to accelerate the daily review process this afternoon, as called for in Sullivan’s order, “without significantly disrupting preexisting conditions on the day of the election.”

The attorney’s say that inspectors will be in the identified postal facilities throughout the evening.

Some 27.5 million mail ballots are outstanding, according to the U.S. Elections Project.

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Melania Trump Casts Ballot In Palm Beach, Without Mask

First lady Melania Trump, who campaigned for her husband near the end of his reelection race in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Wisconsin, voted in person on Tuesday morning in Palm Beach, Fla.

“It’s Election Day, so I wanted to come here to vote today for the election,” she told reporters there for the photo-op.

The first lady, who contracted the coronavirus in September during an outbreak at the White House that briefly hospitalized the president, often is photographed in a face mask. But on Tuesday, she did not wear one as she voted. She was the only person at the polling center without one.

According to an emergency order in Palm Beach County, facial coverings are to be worn in businesses and establishments, in public places and county and municipal government facilities.

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Trump: Winning Is Easy. Losing – Not So Much

President Trump says he has a “big night” planned at the White House to watch election results roll in, but he was circumspect on Tuesday afternoon about whether he intends to deliver remarks at the end of the night.

“You know, winning is easy. Losing is never easy. Not for me, it’s not,” Trump told reporters during a visit to his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va., saying he didn’t have a concession nor acceptance speech ready.

Trump, who has trailed Democratic opponent Joe Biden in the polls, worked to project confidence about his chances as he raced across swing states in the past two weeks. “I think we’re going to have a great night,” he said on Tuesday. “But it’s politics and it’s elections and you never know.”

Flanked by top aides such as Bill Stepien, Mark Meadows, Jared Kushner and Kayleigh McEnany — some of whom joined him for a grueling, two-day, 10-rally push that wrapped up in the wee hours of Election Day, Trump said he felt “very good,” though his voice was raspier than usual.

“After doing that many rallies, the voice gets a little bit choppy I think,” he said.

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Israel, With Much At Stake, Waits To See If Trump Stays Or Goes

“Fateful Elections.” “The Moment of Truth.” “Superpower At A Crossroads.”

The front-page headlines of Israeli newspapers on Tuesday reflect the intense interest of a country breathlessly waiting to see whether President Trump stays or goes.

Correspondents dispatched to the U.S. by Israeli newspapers, radio and television outlets have filed reports from battleground states. TV channels are hosting live coverage overnight Israel time, as elections results roll in.

“A lot of politicians aren’t going to sleep tonight,” wrote columnist Sima Kadmon in the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot. “It’s been a long time since Israel was last in a position in which a political election in the United States might immediately impact domestic politics.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is one of Trump’s closest foreign allies. Trump’s fate could affect his own grip on power.

Trump endeared himself to many Israelis by siding with Israel against the Palestinians on policies like moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, where Palestinians also live and stake claims.

Many Palestinians reviled Trump for those same reasons, though some see all U.S. presidents as biased toward Israel.

“Biden and Trump are two sides of the same coin,” writes columnist Hani al-Masri in the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds.

Israeli public opinion is as divided as it is in the U.S., and leading Israeli newspapers reflect that.

“Trump is bad for Israel, too,” says an editorial in the liberal Haaretz daily. “He provided a tailwind for social Darwinism and Jewish hooliganism, which was expressed in contempt for the Palestinians and for the law, the justice system, state institutions and the media, as well as in alliances with anti-liberal regimes and the flourishing of populism.”

“Freedom versus tyranny,” says the Hebrew headline of an op-ed Tuesday in the right-wing Israel Hayom, arguing that Trump represents freedom. The paper is owned by Trump backer Sheldon Adelson.

The newspaper also interviewed five local fortunetellers. All predicted a Trump win.

— Daniel Estrin
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Security Update: So Far, ‘Just Another Tuesday,’ Feds Say

Election Day appeared to be “just another Tuesday” from a cybersecurity perspective at the time of a lunch hour update from U.S. officials in Washington.

A senior official with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who briefed reporters on a teleconference on the condition that he not be identified, sounded a note of cautious optimism about the threat environment. Mostly, things are proceeding as expected, the official said.

Authorities acknowledged individual problems with electronic pollbook systems in Ohio, Texas and Nevada but said officials had been able to fall back on paper systems or restore service or both. The authorities also acknowledged robocalls urging some recipients to “stay safe and stay home” on this Election Day; the FBI is investigating, the officials said, but not much more was known about those calls.

Federal, state and local authorities have been preparing since the 2016 election to work better together and operate a more “resilient” infrastructure for elections, CISA officials said; and they sounded pleased as to what they called the success of that effort.

The senior officials also gave credit to the U.S. cyber-troopers of the Defense Department’s Cyber Command, who have been able to “hunt forward” and observe hostile cyber-miscreants in their own networks or in other venues.

The American operators were able to see their opponents’ prospective targets, monitor how they operate and extract samples of the malware they use, which officials within the United States then can use to help defend networks at home.

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Early Voting Surpasses 100 Million People

If your polling site seemed relatively uncrowded today, it may be because more than 100 million Americans have voted early this year, according to the U.S. Elections Project.

Make that 100,298,938 as of Election Day morning, to be precise.

Nearly 36 million of those early votes were in person, while 64.5 million votes were cast by mail. Some 27.5 million mail ballots are outstanding, and not all states differentiate between in-person voting and voting by mail.

Of the states that report early voting by party registration, 22 million, or 45%, of the early votes were cast by Democrats; 14.9 million, or 30.5%, were Republicans; and 11.6 million, or 23.8%, had no party affiliation.

Michael McDonald, the University of Florida professor who runs the project, estimates that based on the early vote totals, a record 160.2 million Americans will vote this year, a turnout rate of 67% of eligible voters.

By comparison, some 138 million voted in the 2016 election.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many elections officials have actively encouraged early voting, including by mail, while President Trump has inaccurately claimed mail-in ballots are rigged.

At least two states — Hawaii and Texas — have had more early votes this year than in the entirety of 2016, and several other states approached their levels from four years ago.

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What Makes Pennsylvania So Crucial

In the final sprint of the presidential campaign, both the Biden and Trump camps set their eyes on Pennsylvania, aptly referred to as the Keystone State, a crucial contest that may determine the next president of the United States.

President Trump rallied supporters Monday in Wilkes-Barre two days after holding four separate events across Pennsylvania. Vice President Pence campaigned Monday in Latrobe and in Erie, a county that swung from Obama to Trump in 2016.

The Biden campaign also carpeted the state Monday in a series of stops that reflect its diversity: in Beaver County with union members, in Pittsburgh with African American community leaders and at an event for Latino voters in Lehigh Valley. Jill Biden appeared in Erie as well and attended a rural get-out-the-vote event in Lawrence County.

Both campaigns have emphasized how crucial Pennsylvania is to their electoral prospects. In 2016, Trump flipped the state, winning by less than 1 percentage point. Before that year, Pennsylvania had voted for Democratic candidates in six consecutive presidential elections.

Pennsylvania, which NPR regards as a "lean Democratic" state in the election, is one of the most hotly contested states this cycle.

Trump appears to be more competitive in Pennsylvania than in two other swing states that he won in 2016 — Michigan and Wisconsin.

By NPR’s count, if Trump wins Georgia, Iowa, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, and Biden retains the support in states that are now leaning his way, the race could become a 259-259 electoral showdown with Pennsylvania as the deciding state. The state’s 20 electoral votes would put either candidate over the 270 threshold needed to secure the White House.

This time, the fight for Pennsylvania and the presidency may hinge on who wins the suburbs and by how much.

Read more about what makes Pennsylvania so pivotal here.

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Where Trump And Biden Are Spending Election Day

After a breakneck schedule in the days leading up to Election Day, President Trump will not venture far from the nation’s capital on Tuesday. He spoke with Fox and Friends this morning and was then scheduled to make a short drive to visit Republican National Committee offices in Arlington, Va.

Other than that, no other travel is on his schedule.

This evening, Trump is scheduled to host an election night party at the White House inside the East Room.

Initially it was expected that Trump would hold a viewing party at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. However, those plans were reportedly scrapped due to coronavirus regulations in D.C. that prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people.

Nothing other than the White House event is on Vice President Pence’s schedule.

Joe Biden is in Pennsylvania today, where he made a stop in Scranton to tour his childhood home, where he signed a message on the living room wall that read, “From this house to the White House with the grace of God.”

NPR’s Scott Detrow was there to capture some of it, even asking the former vice president what he was thinking about. Biden responded: “My mom.”

Biden will also stop in Philadelphia later in the day.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., the Democratic vice presidential nominee, is scheduled to travel to Michigan, which Trump won by less than 11,000 votes in 2016.

Biden and Harris are expected to speak in Wilmington, Del., this evening.

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Why Patience Is Needed This Election Night

Election Day is finally here. And while many of you may be understandably anxious to find out how a particular state voted, we can’t emphasize enough that patience is key for tonight, and perhaps beyond.

First, let’s point out that state results will not be final on election night; instead, organizations like The Associated Press — which NPR relies on for race calls — determine most winners well before local officials tabulate all votes.

Election results are expected to be even slower this year for a variety of reasons.

For starters, the coronavirus has introduced new complexities in getting a final tally counted. Because of the ongoing pandemic, many states have modified their voting rules, with expanded access to mail-in voting.

That has made things easier for voters. But as Deputy Political Editor Benjamin Swasey points out, with envelopes to open and signatures to check, this process just takes more time than tabulating in-person votes.

Another factor to consider — rules on when election officials can begin counting mail-in ballots vary state to state.

Take two states that will be closely watched today: Florida and Pennsylvania.

Florida, with its 29 electoral votes, allows counties to process ballots ahead of Election Day. Contrast that to Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes, which only allows officials to begin counting votes the morning of Election Day.

That prompted Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) to proclaim: “We’re sure it will take more time than it used to. We probably won’t know results on election night.”

Read more from our viewer’s guide to election night.

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U.S. Officials Say No Foreign Intrusions, But The Full Story Is More Complicated

Early indications from the Defense Department were positive for Election Day: “There is no evidence a foreign adversary has gained access to election infrastructure,” one senior defense official said. “Given the size, complexity and diversity of America’s electoral system, no country has the ability to change the outcome of the election.”

This applies to the actual casting and counting of votes themselves — in other words, it’s nearly impossible, officials say, for a foreign adversary to change results, once votes have been submitted, from Candidate X to Candidate Y.

The polyglot nature of U.S. elections infrastructure, however, means that some places have practices more secure than others, as NPR’s Miles Parks has been reporting this year. And much of the effort expended by foreign adversaries attempting to influence the 2020 election likely hasn’t been on elections systems, according to officials, who say there haven’t been indications about the same degree of cyberactivity as in 2016.

In 2020, election interference has been about false or misleading information and potential threats to systems adjacent to voting — websites that report tallies, without necessarily being related to the tallying, or sites that give information about polling places, say, without affecting their operations. U.S. officials warn about the prospect of “perception hacks,” in which a bad actor defaces a county’s outward-facing systems and then claims to have done much worse. News coverage and subsequent commentary could inflate into a problem more serious than it merits, as NPR’s Greg Myre reported.

NPR correspondents are watching elections operations and U.S. officialdom closely as Americans conclude this year’s unusual voting season on Tuesday. You can read more about election security here in this voters’ guide.

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Trump Says He Will Declare Victory ‘When There’s Victory’

President Trump said on Tuesday that he will declare victory on election night “when there’s victory” and said “there’s no reason to play games.”

Trump made his comments during an interview on Fox and Friends. He was asked at what point he would declare victory. “When there’s victory. If there’s victory. I think we will have victory,” Trump said.

“But only when there’s victory. There’s no reason to play games,” he said.

The comment comes after an Axios report that Trump had told confidants he would declare victory prematurely if it looked like he was ahead, and as the president has complained about a Supreme Court decision that will allow mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania to be counted for three days after the election, as long as they are postmarked before the election.

In his Tuesday morning interview, Trump said he believes he has a “very solid chance of winning.”

Trump is stopping at his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va., and then heading back to the White House where he will spend Election Day, and night.

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Homeless Ohioans Vote In Person, Though Their Requested Ballots Never Came

Some absentee ballots requested in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, by members of the local homeless community have not been received despite being listed as sent out, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless said.

About 150 people registered through NEOCH’s September voter drives, spokeswoman Molly Martin said. The organization has tried to track who on the list requested an absentee ballot, as well as whether they received it.

Some of those ballots haven’t yet made it to the voters, she said.

“It’s hard to say how many specifically,” Martin said. “There’s always a chance the [motel] mailroom got the ballot and the person picked it up.”

Martin has spoken with about 10 people whose ballots never arrived, she said. One of those voters is James Harrison, who registered to vote for the first time through a NEOCH event.

Harrison’s ballot was mailed out Oct. 12, he said, but he never received it.

“I never got it,” Harrison said. “I don’t know if it came through the mail here or what.”

Instead, Harrison said he made it to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections to vote in person last Friday, with NEOCH’s help. Harrison uses a walker and has a disability that makes it difficult to write, he said, but his in-person voting process was smooth.

Since they found out I was a first-time voter, they just went to hollering and yelling and that kind of thing,” Harrison said.

Harrison’s roommate in the temporary housing motel, Robert Hatchett, rode with him to the BOE to vote. Hatchett had requested an absentee ballot to be delivered to his former address but is not sure if it arrived after he entered the shelter.

“I didn’t think I was going to be able to vote, but we had some good friends that helped us to do it,” Hatchett said.

Hatchett said he has voted in every election for years, and was relieved to find there was still a method to participate after becoming homeless.

“I was so pleased that I was actually able to vote,” he said.

With Ohio mail-in ballots required to be postmarked Nov. 2 to be counted, NEOCH is shifting its messaging to encourage voters to get to the polls in person if at all possible, Martin said, including partnering with initiatives like Voter Drive Cleveland to connect homeless voters with transportation.

“Because there’s obviously been some uncertainty in anticipating the ballot in the mail and whether or not they could return it in time,” she said. “Even beyond those folks who had registered or requested absentee ballots, we have really advertised the fact that early voting transportation is available for anyone there who wanted to go and vote.

— Taylor Haggerty
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In The Indian Village Of Kamala Harris’ Ancestors, Prayers For Election Success

Faithful clanged bells and chanted prayers Tuesday for Kamala Harris at a temple in her maternal ancestors’ Indian village, surrounded by lush green rice paddies.

A bare-chested priest in a south Indian sarong poured milk over an idol of a Hindu god in Thulasendrapuram, a village of a few hundred residents, where Harris’ maternal grandfather spent his boyhood.

Harris is the first person of South Asian descent to be nominated for U.S. vice president. So folks from Thulasendrapuram — mostly farmers with no previous penchant for U.S. politics — are suddenly paying attention to an American election.

“We treat her as our own. Her roots are here,” said S.V. Ramanan, the 70-year-old caretaker of the local temple.

He acknowledges few locals actually knew any of Harris’ relatives personally. Harris’ late grandfather left Thulasendrapuram for the state capital Chennai several decades ago, and it was in Chennai where she has written about visiting him when she was a child. Harris herself was born in California, to an Indian mother and Jamaican father.

Nevertheless, Ramanan says TV crews showed up on his doorstep just hours after Democratic nominee Joe Biden chose Harris as his running mate. He says they haven’t left since. The village is now plastered with Harris billboards, and everyone is celebrating their own connection — however tenuous — to their native daughter.

Meanwhile, Harris’ uncle in New Delhi says his phone has been ringing off the hook since his niece was nominated.

“I think she’ll do a damn good job!” says Gopalan Balachandran.

He says he wishes his sister, Harris’ mother, Shyamala Gopalan, who died in 2009, had lived to see her daughter run for the White House.

“She would probably explode with happiness and emotion!” the uncle says. “She brought up her daughters to do something good for the public.”

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Throughout The Campaign, Biden Has Kept To A Consistent Message

Joe Biden launched his presidential campaign last year with a simple message focused on unity and morality.

“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” he said in his launch video.

“If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation,” he added.

It’s a simple message and essentially the same one he’s delivering Tuesday as he closes his campaign.

Strategists say one sign of a winning campaign is a consistent message. Think Barack Obama in 2008 with “hope” and “change we can believe in.” Or Donald Trump in 2016 with “make America great again” and “build the wall.”

“We often tell our clients, you should be able to air your launch video at the end of the campaign,” said longtime Democratic strategist Doug Thornell, a managing director with the Democratic consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker.

Despite purity tests from his fellow Democrats during the primaries and then accusations from Republicans that he was too old and too corrupt, Biden has largely stuck to the same message.

And with the uncertainty of COVID-19, Biden’s message of a return to normalcy has found a new resonance. He spoke about trusting scientists as the president downplayed the coronavirus.

Biden is known as a loquacious politician with a tendency for gaffes, but he and his campaign have been disciplined about staying on message.

Of course, the real test in elections isn’t message consistency; it’s whether that message wins votes. And tonight Biden will see whether voters actually wanted the message he was delivering.

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Major Companies Offering Time Off To Hit The Polls

For millions of Americans, voting on Election Day means carefully rearranging busy work schedules. Despite the inconvenience, the Tuesday after the first Monday in November has been reserved for elections since 1845. While that rule is unlikely to change anytime soon, some major companies have been shifting their policies to make voting easier for their employees.

This year, employees at Twitter, PayPal, Coca-Cola, Cisco, Uber and hundreds of other companies will have the day off to vote. They are joined by companies like Walmart, Starbucks and Apple that are offering extended flexibility and multiple hours off to vote. According to a 2017 report from the Pew Research Center, 14% of registered voters who didn’t vote in 2016 chose not to because of a busy or conflicting schedule. The companies hope the paid time off will help increase voter turnout on Tuesday.

Many corporations have recently turned their attention to increasing voter engagement. Power the Polls, launched by Civic Alliance, a nonpartisan coalition of businesses, partnered with Patagonia, Levi Strauss & Co. and Uber to recruit poll workers at low risk for COVID-19 complications. Time to Vote, aimed at increasing voter participation, is now backed by more than 1,800 companies. More than 200 companies joined in the last two months, the organization says. “No American should have to choose between earning a paycheck and voting,” Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal, one of the three companies that founded Time to Vote in 2018, said in a recent statement.

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Pelosi: ‘We’re Ready’ If A Disputed Election Goes To Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells NPR that she’s ready for the House of Representatives to decide the winner of the presidential election — if it comes to that.

In a rarely seen scenario that the election outcome is unclear by Jan. 6, the House decides, with one vote for each state.

“We understand what the law is and the preeminence of the role of Congress and specifically the House of Representatives when it comes to counting the votes,” Pelosi told NPR’s Ari Shapiro in an interview Monday. “But let’s not worry about that right now. We’re ready. We’re prepared. We’ve been ready for a while because we see this irresponsibility of the president, his disrespect for the Constitution, for our democracy and for the integrity of our elections. So we’re ready for him.”

She’s hoping a clear victory for Joe Biden on Tuesday will “dispel any thought” that Biden won’t be inaugurated come Jan. 20.

And if Democrats take the presidency and the Senate and maintain the House, Pelosi says top of their agenda in the new year will involve health care.

“We will lower the cost of health care by lowering the cost of prescription drugs, saving the preexisting condition benefit, et cetera,” Pelosi said. “We will increase paychecks by building infrastructure of America in a green way, and we will have cleaner government by passing HR 1 legislation to reduce the role of big, dark special interest money.”

Pelosi says the Democrats’ agenda will also prioritize coronavirus relief money. Talks between Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over another round of relief funding have not made progress in recent months.

In the Senate, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday that he didn’t anticipate any more relief passing until January.

Pelosi says she wants to pass something in between the election and next year. The “American people need us to act now,” she told NPR.

“Mitch McConnell said, ‘I want to pause.’ He wanted a pause, and now he wants to pause two or three months longer? The virus is not taking a pause,” she said.

President Trump indicated support for more relief “immediately after the election,” though his support could change depending on the outcome.

Meanwhile, some benefits have expired, and more are set to expire at the end of the year as more than 12 million Americans remain unemployed.

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Large Fences, Boarded-Up Windows Punctuate Washington, D.C.

As the sun set on the final afternoon before Election Day, a tense atmosphere descended on Washington, D.C.

Large fences meant to discourage protesters from entering have been erected in Lafayette Square, directly north of the White House. The fences mirror the security posture in the area after protests broke out in the city following the death of George Floyd.

The Hay-Adams, a well-known hotel across the street from Lafayette Square, also has large fences in front of it, along with St. John’s Church, where protesters were tear-gassed by law enforcement in June.

Black Lives Matter Plaza, so named after the death of Floyd, was largely empty Monday afternoon except for a small police presence and some drummers playing in front of a sparse crowd of protesters.

The hustle and bustle of downtown D.C., normal in the pre-pandemic era, was absent. Instead, boarded-up windows punctuated the city’s landscape, with plywood coverings on storefronts spotted as far as 1.5 miles north of the White House.

Protesters are expected to congregate in front of the White House as the nation awaits election results Tuesday evening, with numerous events planned.

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Here’s Where Trump And Biden Are Today

It’s Election Day eve, and as you’d expect, the major-party presidential nominees have packed itineraries.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden is focused on Pennsylvania, underscoring the significance of the state and its 20 electoral votes. Forecasters consider Pennsylvania the most likely tipping point state — that is, the state that would put either candidate over the 270-vote Electoral College-winning threshold.

Additionally, Pennsylvania has seen a smaller share of its electorate cast advance votes than some other swing states, meaning it could see a relatively large share of voters head to the polls on Tuesday.

Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, and their spouses are holding a slew of events in Pennsylvania, ending this evening with dual drive-in rallies in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

Biden also added a Cleveland stop early today, and while Ohio is a toss-up state as well, it’s thought to be a longer shot for the Democrat.

President Trump, meanwhile, is holding five rallies in four states. He’s headed to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and then Michigan again.

Trump is ending the day in Grand Rapids, Mich., which is where he held his last rally in 2016 before ekeing out a win in the state by fewer than 11,000 votes.

Another notable stop: His Wisconsin event is in Kenosha, which saw unrest after the police shooting of a Black man, and then a 17-year-old vigilante was charged with shooting protesters, killing two of them. Trump has defended the teen shooting suspect.

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The Significance Of Trump’s Return To Grand Rapids

In 2016, Donald Trump won Michigan by 10,704 votes, the first Republican presidential candidate to carry the state since 1988.

Now, lagging in the polls and looking to rekindle the magic of 2016, President Trump may conclude his final campaign for the White House with an Election Day eve rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Monday night.

Michigan is again an important state for Trump, but repeating 2016 may prove challenging. Democratic nominee Joe Biden has held a clear advantage in the state’s polling average — by wider consistent margins than surveys gave Hillary Clinton in 2016.

And in 2018, Michigan voters flipped the three highest statewide offices blue, including the governor’s mansion — part of a blue wave that swept the United States.

Read more about Michigan’s role in this election and Trump’s candidacy.

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Likely The Most Consequential Election In A Lifetime

Almost every election cycle, someone on one side or the other is claiming that this is the most important election in their lifetime.

Well, this one actually probably is — and it appears voters think so too.

The election is already setting records for turnout, and perhaps no two candidates are more at odds over the future of the U.S. and the direction they want to take it in. This election is fundamentally about what it means to be an American.

One thing is clear: Whoever wins could shape what America means for generations to come through social policy, the courts and their own example.

Read more about what’s at stake.

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