PHILADELPHIA — Down to the wire with the threat of court battles looming, supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden scrambled Monday to rally swing-state voters to drop off ballots, visit precincts in person and ensure their votes are counted.

As months of President Trump undercutting the legitimacy of mail-in votes gave way to promises he would challenge them in court, both sides made a final push to ensure their supporters turned out, even with the lingering threat of lawsuits aimed at invalidating ballots.

“Do not put ballots in the mail. Hand-deliver your mail ballot to your county election office, satellite election office or other designated drop box or drop-off location,” Pennsylvania’s top election official, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, said Monday. “Do it today. Do not wait.”

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A voters enters the Northwest Activities Center in Detroit on Monday to fill out a ballot on the last day of early absentee voting. Down to the wire with the threat of court battles looming, supporters of former Vice President Joe Biden scrambled Monday to rally swing-state voters to drop off ballots, visit precincts in person and ensure their votes are counted. David Goldman/Associated Press

With about 700,000 of some 3.1 million requested mail ballots in Pennsylvania still outstanding, some voters like 57-year-old Daniel Pigott took the warning to heart.

Pigott stood in a line of dozens of voters outside the Bucks County government building on a blustery Monday waiting to cast his vote after being alerted there was a problem with his mail-in ballot.

“In a normal election, would I do all this?” asked Pigott, who voted for Biden. “Nah, probably not.”

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George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, won’t reveal their votes for president

WASHINGTON — Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, will not make public how they voted in this year’s presidential race, four years after the couple revealed on Election Day that they had selected “none of the above” in the 2016 White House contest.

Bush spokesman Freddy Ford — who has stressed repeatedly over the 2020 campaign cycle that the former president is “retired from presidential politics” — on Monday confirmed that the Dallas residents are keeping their ballot box decisions to themselves this year.

That it’s even a question is remarkable, underscoring yet again how Trump has transformed the Republican Party from the party it was under Bush.

George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, endorsed U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, right, shown with them in Kennebunkport in August. When it comes to the presidential ticket, however, the Bushes won’t say how they voted. Mary Schwalm/Associated Press

Political pundits and others have debated for months whether the Bushes would cast a vote this election for President Trump, a Republican; former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat; or, as the they did four years ago, neither major-party candidate.

The actions of others in the Bush orbit have only further stirred the speculation.

Some notable Bush administration officials — Cabinet secretaries, in some instances — have voiced their support for Biden. But Bush’s nephew — George P. Bush, a Republican who serves as Texas land commissioner — has been a vocal Trump backer.

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Judge rejects Republican effort to throw out 127,000 Houston votes

HOUSTON — A federal judge on Monday rejected another last-ditch Republican effort to invalidate nearly 127,000 votes in Houston because the ballots were cast at drive-thru polling centers established during the pandemic.

Gina Duterhoft

Demonstrator Gina Dusterhoft holds up a sign as she walks to join others standing across the street from the federal courthouse in Houston on Monday before a hearing in federal court involving drive-thru ballots cast in Harris County. The lawsuit was brought by conservative Texas activists, who have railed against expanded voting access in Harris County, in an effort to invalidate nearly 127,000 votes in Houston because the ballots were cast at drive-thru polling centers established during the pandemic. David J. Phillip/Associated Press

The lawsuit was brought by conservative Texas activists who have railed against expanded voting access in Harris County, where a record 1.4 million early votes have already been cast. The county is the nation’s third-largest and a crucial battleground in Texas, where President  Trump and Republicans are bracing for the closest election in decades on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s decision to hear arguments on the brink of Election Day drew concern from voting rights activists, and came after the Texas Supreme Court rejected a nearly identical challenge over the weekend.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by conservative Republican activists who have filed a battery of court challenges over moves to expand voting options during the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenges have not involved Trump’s campaign.

Another 20,000 or more voters were expected to use drive-thru polling locations Tuesday, said Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, the county’s top elections official. Several voters who already used the drive-thru centers rushed to join mounting opposition to the lawsuit, including a Houston attorney whose wife was 35 weeks pregnant when she cast her ballot. She gave birth to twins Friday.

“My vote counts,” David Hobbs said. “My wife’s vote counts.”

Trump won Texas by nine points in 2016 but polls have shown Democrat Joe Biden still within reach in America’s biggest red state.

Harris County offered 10 drive-thru locations as an option for its nearly 5 million residents amid worries of spreading the coronavirus. Jared Woodfill, a former chairman of the Harris County Republican, argued that Texas election law makes no explicit allowances for drive-thru voting and framed it is as an unlawful expansion of curbside voting, which is legal in Texas but limited to people who are unable to enter polling places because of their health.

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Votes are always being counted for days after election night. That’s how it works.

President Donald Trump’s latest attacks undermining Tuesday’s election are particularly egregious, because they call into question not just how U.S. elections work in a pandemic but also standard practice for counting votes in all elections.

Trump has been saying that all votes should be counted on election night. “It would be very, very proper and very nice if a winner were declared on November 3rd, instead of counting ballots for two weeks, which is totally inappropriate, and I don’t believe that that’s by our laws,” he told reporters last week. By that standard, any ballots not counted by, say, an arbitrary deadline of midnight Wednesday just wouldn’t count.

But vote tallying has never been completed in a modern U.S. presidential election on election night. It just doesn’t work that way.

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People bundled against the cold stand in a slowly moving line to cast early votes at the Franklin County Board of Elections in Columbus, Ohio on Friday, Oct. 30. AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins

While some states have enough results reported election night to declare the winner, because one candidate is too far behind to make up for the gap, that doesn’t mean all the votes are counted. If states were to suddenly do what Trump wants, the election would be decided on unofficial results rather than official results, which is inherently unconstitutional and arguably undemocratic. “The close of the polls is not the end of an election,” says the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Counting and making those results official takes a while in each state, so much so that federal election law gives states more than a month after the election to count and certify their results. That’s why the electoral college doesn’t meet until mid-December to officially vote.

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Biden defends Fauci after Trump threatens to fire his top infectious disease expert

Joe Biden is defending Dr. Anthony Fauci after President Trump suggested he’d dismiss the nation’s top infectious disease expert after Election Day.

The Democratic presidential nominee tweeted Monday: “We need a president who actually listens to experts like Dr. Fauci.”

Donald Trump

President Trump listens as Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the coronavirus in  April. Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Biden has sought to keep the presidential campaign focused on the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 231,000 people in the U.S. Trump has used the race’s final hours to accuse Biden of wanting to force the country back into a lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.

During a rally that started late Sunday in Opa-locka, Florida, the Republican president expressed frustration that the surging virus cases remain prominent in the news, sparking chants of “Fire Fauci” from his supporters.

Trump replied, “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.”

Biden is traveling to Ohio and Pennsylvania on Monday, trying to keep open multiple pathways to an Electoral College victory. Trump plans a whirlwind five rallies, from the battlegrounds of North Carolina to Wisconsin.

Trump campaign, Republicans lose bid to stop Las Vegas-area counting

LAS VEGAS — A Nevada judge on Monday denied a legal bid by the Trump campaign and state Republicans to stop the count of mail-in ballots in Las Vegas, the state’s most populous and Democratic-leaning county.

An immediate appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court is being considered, said Adam Laxalt, co-chairman of the Trump campaign in Nevada.

Judge James Wilson Jr. acknowledged that state election law was reshaped last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it allows in-person votes and mailed-in ballots to be physically handled differently.

But, “nothing the state or Clark County has done values one voter’s vote over another’s,” he said.

Wilson heard a full day of arguments last Wednesday in Carson City during which attorney Jesse Binnall, representing the Trump campaign and state party, asked to stop the count until election officials in Las Vegas allowed “meaningful” oversight of ballot processing and let observers challenge ballots.

Binnall did not challenge ballot processing in other Nevada counties, which lean Republican.

He lost his bid for a court order to stop use of the optical scanning machine to validate voter signatures and to let the Republican Party install cameras to monitor counting.

Binnall’s argument pleaded for transparency and cited testimony from count-watchers recruited by the campaign who said some ballots were processed outside the view of observers.

Trump says that as soon as Election Day ends, ‘we’re going in with our lawyers’

In swing states around the country, Republicans are already gearing up legal challenges to the election results. Speaking on Sunday in one tightly contested battleground, President Trump made it clear that he is also planning to quickly push the presidential contest into the courts.

“We’re going to go in the night of, as soon as that election is over, we’re going in with our lawyers,” Trump told reporters in Charlotte.

The president’s comments are among his most unambiguous yet that he is embracing an aggressive legal strategy in an election that has already been beset with a multitude of lawsuits.

Republicans have been mostly unsuccessful in their efforts to limit expanded voting options during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post reported, including in a Supreme Court decision last week allowing Pennsylvania and North Carolina to count ballots cast before Election Day but received days later.

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Voters wait in line to cast their ballot in the 2020 presidential election during early voting in Noblesville, Ind., this month. Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Trump has repeatedly taken the Supreme Court to task for those decisions, a grievance he aired again Sunday evening amid a whirlwind trip of five rallies in five swing states.

“I happen to think it was a terrible decision for our country made by the Supreme Court,” Trump told reporters before his rally in Hickory, N.C. “And I think it’s a very dangerous decision.”

GOP strategists have now turned their attention to preparing to challenge the validity of individual ballots, an effort that Trump suggested Sunday would begin immediately after voting ends.

It’s not clear precisely where the president was promising a quick legal challenge. But his comments came amid a discussion of voting in the key swing state of Pennsylvania, where Trump alleged without evidence that extended deadlines to count mail-in ballots would lead to fraud.

“I think it’s terrible when we can’t know the results of an election the night of an election in a modern-day age of computers,” said Trump, before alleging that the Democratic governors of Pennsylvania and Nevada would somehow interfere with accurate counting.

He also suggested that voters were to blame by waiting too long to mail in ballots, although delivery delays by the U.S. Postal Service under a Trump-backed postmaster general have emerged as the biggest factor for most late arrivals.

“I don’t think it’s fair that we have to wait a long period of time after the election,” Trump said. “If people wanted to get their ballots in, they should have gotten their ballots long before. They could have put their ballots in a month ago.”

Asked about Trump’s comments, his campaign said he wants to see an accurate vote count.

“Everyone – including Joe Biden, the Democrat Party, the mainstream media, and the American public – should want election results they can trust and for every valid ballot to count,” Thea McDonald, a Trump campaign spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Biden leads Trump by double digits nationally, USC poll finds

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump heads into the final, frenetic 48 hours of campaign 2020 having lost ground among key groups that powered his drive to the presidency four years ago, the final USC Dornsife poll of the election shows.

Former Vice President Joe Biden leads Trump by double digits nationally — 54% to 43% in the poll’s daily tracking, a margin that has remained almost unchanging since summer. Biden’s support has ticked down just slightly from the high it reached after the first debate between the two candidates in late September; but overall, the poll has barely budged since USC began its daily tracking of the race in August.

That’s consistent with most other major surveys. The final NBC-Wall St. Journal poll of the campaign, for example, shows Biden leading 52% to 42%, a result nearly identical to what that survey found in January.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump.  Associated Press, Files

“So much has happened in the past 10 months of this year — impeachment, George Floyd’s murder, Black Lives Matter, fires and floods, RBG’s death, and yet the presidential trial heat has not changed,” veteran Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who oversees that poll with Republican pollster Bill McInturff, wrote in an email. “The voters know the stakes, they care and they have been very consistent and constant in their vote since January.”

Another key measure has also remained extremely stable — the images of the candidates. Just over half of voters, 51%, have a favorable view of Biden, compared with 47% who view him unfavorably, the poll found. Trump’s image remains deep underwater: 59% see him unfavorably, including 48% who have an extremely unfavorable view, compared with 39% who see him favorably.

Biden’s relative popularity stands in sharp contrast to 2016, when majorities had unfavorable impressions of both Trump and Hillary Clinton.

The poll’s main measure of support for the candidates asks voters to use a 0-100 scale to give the probability that they’ll vote for either candidate as well as the probability that they’ll vote at all. A separate experimental question asks voters how they think their friends, neighbors and other members of their social circles will vote. That question yields a smaller Biden lead, 51% to 46%.

The difference between the results could reflect a reservoir of hidden Trump support that the regular poll question doesn’t pick up. The result also could reflect voters overestimating how much people they know support Trump, perhaps as a result of his unexpected victory in 2016.

Read the full story here.

Trump expects to spend election night at White House

President Trump’s press secretary says Trump expects to spend election night at the White House watching results roll in.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” on Monday where the president planned to celebrate. She said Trump and some aides “will be together … at the White House” for election night.

Trump’s campaign had planned a traditional campaign party at his Washington, D.C., hotel. But Trump said last week that he was considering other options, including staying at the White House, because the District of Columbia’s coronavirus protocols would restrict the size of the gathering.

The Trump campaign last month pushed out fundraising emails in the Republican president’s name offering donors the chance to enter a drawing “to join Team Trump at the Election Night Party” in his “favorite hotel,” in Washington, suggesting he would use his hotel as the backdrop for reacting to election results.


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