Can Biden eke it out today? Will Trump come back?: The latest updates

Live Updates: 2020 Election Week

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said that she hadn’t heard of any instances of election workers in Maricopa County being harmed by the protesters, some of them armed.

Arizona’s secretary of state on Thursday chided protesters who gathered outside of election offices in the state’s largest county, saying the armed demonstrators might be slowing down the vote tally they have been clamoring for.

In an interview with CNN, the Arizona official, Katie Hobbs, said that she hadn’t heard of any instances of election workers in Maricopa County being harmed by the protesters. But “their being there actually is causing delay and disruption and preventing employees from doing their jobs,” she noted.

The protesters who gathered outside the Maricopa elections department on Wednesday night appeared to be proponents of a baseless conspiracy theory known as “SharpieGate,” which falsely asserted that some voters in the county had been given Sharpie pens to mark their ballots, which were in turn unable to be scanned and counted.

Hobbs’ office and Hobbs herself had previously debunked the theory, assuring that ballots filled out with a Sharpie would still be able to be counted.

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Sean Spicer broke from his former boss President Donald Trump and disputed Thursday that there were signs of widespread voter fraud.

“I haven’t seen any evidence of it. And again, I don’t think it helps his case,” said Trump’s first White House press secretary on SiriusXM’s The Dan Abrams Show.

Spicer criticized Trump’s vague accusations of Democrats attempting to steal the election in close battlegrounds without providing any specific examples. He drew parallels to the president’s common blanket criticism of the news media as “fake news” without providing any specific instances of journalists acting unfairly.

“You can’t just throw a term out there without being specific,” Spicer told the show’s guest host, Brian Ross.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday urged calm and patience as election officials across nearly a half-dozen battleground states continue tallying votes to decide the presidency 48 hours after Election Day.

“Democracy sometimes is messy. It sometimes requires a little patience as well,” Biden said during brief remarks in Delaware, demanding that “each ballot must be counted,” but reiterating his confidence that the election would eventually be called in his favor.

He and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), continue to “feel very good about where things stand,” Biden said. “We have no doubt that when the count is finished, Senator Harris and I will be declared the winners.”

Biden has sat on the cusp of winning the requisite 270 Electoral College votes for more than a day now, but vote counting has been slow-going in Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina — any of which could hand the presidency to the Democratic nominee.

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Live Updates: 2020 elections

The president’s campaign is engaging in legal warfare as his chances of victory erode.

Updated

President Donald Trump’s barrage of lawsuits related to the 2020 presidential election got off to a mixed start on Thursday, with his campaign winning closer access to ballot counting in Philadelphia but losing bids to invalidate a few dozen mail-in ballots in Georgia and for better access to counting in Michigan.

The initial flurry of suits did not appear capable of delivering a reelection victory to the president or even satisfying his repeated demands to stop the count. Instead, they seemed intended to create a cloud of legal uncertainty around the election and preserve a sense of viability around the campaign while Trump lawyers scramble for a strategy that could actually help him win.

That approach was on display Thursday as the Trump campaign loudly touted its victory in Pennsylvania’s largest city, after a state appeals court judge said Trump’s poll-watchers must be permitted to get an up-close look at ballot processing.

Harrisburg-based Commonwealth Court Judge Christine Cannon issued an order mandating that “all candidates, watchers, or candidate representatives be permitted to be present for the canvassing process … and be permitted to observe all aspects of the canvassing process within 6 feet, while adhering to all COVID-19 protocols, including, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.”

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Mick Mulvaney, the former acting White House chief of staff, predicted Thursday that President Donald Trump would “absolutely” help facilitate a peaceful transition of power if Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is ultimately declared the winner of the 2020 election.

“I recommend that he accept a peaceful transition of power, which I think he would do absolutely anyway,” Mulvaney said of Trump in an interview on CNBC.

“Look, the president is a fighter, there’s no question about it, and you’ll see him fighting down to the very last,” Mulvaney added, mentioning Trump’s threat in the hours after Election Day to challenge the race’s results in the Supreme Court.

But “at the end of that process, [if] Joe Biden’s the president, you can absolutely guarantee a peaceful transition of power,” Mulvaney said. “I just hope the same is true on the other side.”

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Facebook and Twitter struggled Wednesday to contain a deluge of false claims from President Donald Trump and his supporters that Democrats were trying to steal the election — sparking criticism from the left that their labels and fact checks weren’t going nearly far enough.

Trump has continued to incorrectly insist that he is the winner of Tuesday’s vote, even though ballots are still being counted in four critical states and it is still unclear who will emerge the victor.

On Wednesday, Trump fired off a series of social media posts questioning the legitimacy of ballots for former Vice President Joe Biden, dubious or outright false claims that in several instances were labeled by Twitter and Facebook . But those messages were still amplified among the president’s stable of right-wing supporters and gained traction with conservative influencers and their followers online.

The intense challenge and scrutiny facing Facebook and Twitter over the president’s false claims illustrates the platforms’ role as indispensable forums for billions of people to express opinions and share information — and the power the companies wield as a result. The social media companies largely operate under rules they set themselves, but those rules have increasingly become divisive.

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Democratic Sen. Gary Peters won reelection in Michigan, defeating Republican challenger John James in one of the nation’s most competitive Senate races.

Despite Joe Biden’s polling lead in the presidential race through the summer and fall, Michigan developed into one of the most hotly contested Senate battlegrounds, with James running again after outperforming expectations and losing by 7 points in 2018 against Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow. James ran even closer in 2020, with the race taking a day to call after the polls closed.

Both parties spent big in the state, with Peters raising roughly $40 million and James raising about $33 million, in addition to tens of millions of dollars pumped in by super PACs and other outside groups.

James, a Black businessman and Iraq War veteran who graduated from West Point, gained ground in the final months heading into November and was a rare Republican Senate candidate who kept fundraising pace with his opponent.

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Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in Michigan, adding its 16 electoral votes to his general election tally four years after Trump painted it red in a narrow, shocking victory.

Michigan’s large population of white and blue-collar voters helped Trump narrowly defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016, by 11,000 votes, but Biden’s higher popularity made the state a heavier lift for Trump in 2020. Biden led in nearly every poll taken of Michigan since he won the Democratic primary there earlier this year, though his final results lagged behind his polling results.

Biden also poured in tens of millions of dollars in advertising, heavily outspending Trump. The Democratic nominee visited the state on Oct. 2, after spending much of the summer in quarantine to avoid the coronavirus, and returned again just before the election to appear alongside former President Barack Obama. Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, also stopped in the state on Oct. 25, when she spent much of her time boosting Sen. Gary Peters’ (D-Mich.) reelection bid.

The state was a top destination for both campaigns: Trump also visited Michigan in September and October, holding a two-hour rally just weeks after testing positive for Covid-19. Vice President Mike Pence, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. also made speeches in the state last month. But Trump dialed back his ad spending in Michigan in July and didn’t return to the airwaves until late October.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden broke the record for the most number of votes cast for any presidential candidate in history by early Wednesday afternoon.

The Democratic presidential nominee surpassed 70,330,000 votes as of 2:38 p.m., according to The Associated Press. Biden’s total shatters a previous record for the most votes cast for a president set by Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, with nearly 69,500,000 votes, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Votes for Biden represented 50.19 percent of the total number of votes counted so far, with many more expected.

At the same time, total votes for President Donald Trump were 67,538,973, while votes for others reached 2,268,633. Trump and Biden remained locked in close competition to win the Electoral College, with Biden netting 253 votes to Trump’s 214 around 3:15 p.m. A total of 270 are needed to win the presidency.

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Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday renewed calls for Twitter to suspend President Donald Trump’s personal account, which the social media company has taken steps to restrict for spreading a slew of misleading or unsubstantiated claims about the elections.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), chair of the House antitrust subcommittee, called for Twitter to step in against Trump for “posting lies and misinformation at a breathtaking clip.” He added, “It is a threat to our democracy and should be suspended until all the votes are counted.”

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) likewise urged the social media company to “Suspend his account.” Connolly took direct issue with a Trump tweet posted earlier Wednesday that suggested his lead in key states had begun to “magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted.”

Connolly called the post “pure disinformation,” adding “This is America, not Russia.”

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Wisconsin presidential results

Joe Biden has defeated President Donald Trump in Wisconsin, flipping the crucial battleground state and its 10 electoral votes back into the Democratic column.

Trump’s victory in the state four years ago was perhaps the most surprising outcome of the 2016 election. No Republican had carried Wisconsin since 1984, and Hillary Clinton didn’t visit the state once during the general election.

Democrats turned their focus to winning it back soon after Trump took office. They awarded their national party convention to Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest city. The party also mounted an all-out effort to turn the tide in the 2018 midterms, ousting its longtime nemesis, GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

But 2020 got off to a rocky start. As the coronavirus crisis hit, the convention was first postponed and then largely moved out of Milwaukee, with much of the program emanating from a Los Angeles TV studio or from Wilmington, Del., where Biden and running mate Kamala Harris delivered their acceptance speeches.

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Maine Senate results

In a stunning comeback, Republican Sen. Susan Collins has held onto her seat in Maine, defying relentless efforts by Democrat Sara Gideon to tie the career moderate to President Donald Trump and Washington Republicans.

Though Collins had mostly trailed in the polls for months, her race tightened down the stretch as late money poured into the state. The win preserves a small bloc of moderate GOP votes in the Senate — and it could potentially preserve the GOP’s Senate majority, too, as Maine was one of the Democratic Party’s top target states this year.

“I just received a gracious call from Sara Gideon conceding the race,” Collins told a crowd of raucous supporters in Maine.

Collins had won reelection easily since first taking her seat in 1996, even winning big during former President Barack Obama’s wave election in 2008. Born in the state’s rural Aroostook County and making her home in Bangor, Collins stayed popular for years regardless of who was in charge of D.C.

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Maine presidential election results

President Donald Trump held Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, snagging an electoral vote from the blue state for the second time after out-running Joe Biden in the heavily white, working-class northern half of Maine.

Maine is one of two states, along with Nebraska, that allocate an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district, along with two to the statewide popular vote winner. Trump easily won the 2nd District in 2016, beating Hillary Clinton by 10 percentage points in the vast region known for its thick woodlands, rugged coastlines and smaller towns.

It was the first time Maine had ever split its electoral votes, with the state and the more liberal 1st District going for Clinton. Until then, Democratic presidential candidates had carried the 2nd District for a quarter-century. Former President Barack Obama won it by 9 percentage points in 2012.

Leading up to this year’s election, Biden looked poised to once again carry the 1st District and the entire state for the Democrats, but the 2nd District was up for grabs, with Trump’s ratings among white voters deteriorating throughout his presidency. Democratic Rep. Jared Golden won the House seat in the 2nd District in the 2018 midterm elections.

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President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign announced Wednesday that it would request a recount in Wisconsin “immediately,” as vote totals showed him narrowly trailing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with 95 percent of ballots reported.

“Despite ridiculous public polling used as a voter suppression tactic, Wisconsin has been a razor thin race as we always knew that it would be,” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement.

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

Trump won Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes by 1 percentage point in 2016. Along with Michigan and Pennsylvania, the state was one of three Great Lakes-area battlegrounds he flipped to secure his Electoral College victory over then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

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Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Tuesday’s election results demonstrated support for President Donald Trump’s economic agenda, citing Republican performance in the Senate as well as limited gains for Democrats in the House.

“President Trump’s agenda did very well yesterday. And I still think he’s going to carry this thing through once everything is counted,” Kudlow said in an interview on CNBC late Wednesday morning.

Kudlow predicted the Senate outcome — though returns were not yet conclusive at the time he made his remarks — telling CNBC that Republicans “may lose one seat, maybe not” in the chamber.

“But they are going to maintain the majority in the Senate. So that right away says, guess what, no Socialism, no major tax hikes to destroy the economy and the stock market,” Kudlow said.

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Live Updates: 2020 Elections

The Postal Service did not comply with a last-minute court order to deploy postal inspectors to sweep facilities for undelivered ballots.

Updated

A federal judge thrashed the U.S. Postal Service Wednesday, and suggested he might seek testimony from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for declining to comply with a last-minute court order to deploy postal inspectors to sweep facilities for undelivered ballots.

“Someone may have a price to pay for that,” said Judge Emmet Sulliivan of the U.S. District Court of Washington D.C.

Sullivan expressed frustration that the Postal Service’s decision to ignore his order — meant to ensure that undelivered ballots reached state officials on Election Day — and not to inform him about it until after the fact. USPS contended that the order would have required a substantial reconfiguration of its Election Day operations that proved unfeasible amid other responsibilities.

But Sullivan said he would’ve gladly considered alternative options if he had been informed that his order was too onerous. He told a Justice Department attorney, arguing on behalf of USPS, that he believes the leadership of the Postal Service is to blame.

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Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday tempered his enthusiasm about his upcoming life in the Senate after Democrats’ chances of taking the majority fade.

“I was hoping we would sweep to victory with a number of Senate wins and we’re still cautiously optimistic, but it’s not the level of excitement I was hoping to wake up to.” Hickenlooper said on MSNBC Wednesday morning.

Hickenlooper’s downbeat tone came even as Democrats held onto control of the House and as the party’s presidential nominee, Joe Biden, has an edge on winning the White House.

Democrats needed a net gain of three Senate seats to take back the majority if Joe Biden won the presidential race. They notched two victories in Hickenlooper and Arizona’s Mark Kelly — both of whom won handily — but Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) lost early on and Democratic nominees in Iowa, North Carolina and Montana also appeared to fall short on election night.

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Live Updates: 2020 Election Week

The suit zeroes in on the practice of election officials in suburban Montgomery County to allow voters to fix so-called “naked ballots.”

Updated

PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge gave a skeptical reception Wednesday to a Republican lawsuit seeking to throw out votes in a Pennsylvania county that contacted some voters to give them an opportunity to fix — or “cure” — problems with their absentee ballots.

During a morning hearing in Philadelphia, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Savage said he was dubious of arguments from a lawyer for GOP congressional candidate Kathy Barnette, who argued that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had concluded that the law prohibits counties from allowing voters who erred in completing or packaging their mail-in ballots to correct those mistakes.

“I’m not sure about that,” said Savage, an appointee of President George W. Bush. “Is that exactly what was said or is what was said was that there is no mandatory requirement that the election board do that?….Wasn’t the legislative intent of the statute we are talking about to franchise, not disenfranchise, voters?”

“This isn’t disenfranchising voters,” insisted Thomas Breth, an attorney for Barnette. “They can’t do this unless the election code provides them the authority to do this.”

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Live Updates: 2020 Elections

The company called the posts ‘disputed’ and said they could mislead the public about the election.

Updated

Twitter slapped warning labels Wednesday on a pair of tweets by prominent Democrats that prematurely claimed Joe Biden had won a key battleground state and the general election, the first enforcement actions of its policy against such declarations leveled against high profile liberal leaders.

Ben Wikler, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, claimed in a tweet Wednesday morning that “there’s no realistic path for Trump to pull ahead” in the state, citing freshly reported absentee ballots. “Folks: Joe Biden just won Wisconsin,” he added.

Twitter pinned a notice on the tweet that read, “Some votes may still need to be counted.” The social media platform also added an overlay to the post on Wikler’s timeline that said the information in the tweet was “disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.” Twitter said ahead of the election that it would label premature claims of victory.

Twitter added the same warning labels later Wednesday to a separate tweet by Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, that falsely claimed Biden was “already at 270” Electoral College votes, the threshold needed to secure the White House. Tanden later deleted the post sooner after Twitter tagged it.

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Michigan’s top election official said on Wednesday morning the state’s presidential results could be known by the end of the day.

“We’ll know much more in the hours to come, and we’ll have a much more complete picture of Michigan by the end of today,” Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said on CNN.

Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots have yet to be counted in the state, most of which is concentrated in Michigan’s largest counties and population centers. That counting is ongoing, she said, declining to give a more precise estimate of how many ballots remain other than to say the number is “certainly larger than any margin between the candidates right now.”

“We’re on track to have a much more complete picture, if not the vast majority of jurisdictions reporting out by the end of today,” she said.

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