First lady Melania Trump votes in person in Palm Beach, Florida
Joe Biden talks about ‘restoring decency to the White House’ at campaign stop in Scranton
Chad Wolf: No evidence any ‘foreign actor’ has compromised votes in the 2020 US presidential election
Trump predicts he will get at least 306 electoral votes on Fox News
‘Mask up and find your polling place’ says Kamala Harris as voting begins to open across the US
Nick Fiorellini reports for us in Philadelphia
Republicans in the battleground state of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit this morning against Montgomery County election officials, alleging they illegally began to process mail ballots before Election Day and are giving voters a chance to fix deficient ballots. In Pennsylvania, mail ballots cannot be counted until the start of election day. Some counties don’t begin counting until the day after election day.
Filed by Kathy Barnette, a candidate for Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District, and Clay Breece, an elector in a portion of the same district, the lawsuit claims that not all counties in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania give the opportunity for voters to correct their mail ballots like Montgomery County, therefore “jeopardizing the integrity of the 2020 election”.
The lawsuit also claims that the Montgomery County Board of Elections is restricting the ability of candidates and their representatives, the parties and their representatives, and other legally constituted watchers to observe the counting of mail and absentee ballots. Some observers are permitted to be in a room where the votes are being scanned and others are in an “overflow room” that has a 40” television broadcasting the dozen ceilings cameras located in the two rooms.
Montgomery County is the third largest county in Pennsylvania, where 218,853 mail ballots have been returned since November 2. After the election, the US supreme court may consider a case to overturn a three-day extension of the absentee ballot deadline, which would likely invalidate thousands of late-arriving ballots.
This is just one of a series of legal challenges to the electoral process in the key battleground state.
Reuters report that wearing face masks – mostly – and standing spaced apart, Americans waited at polling stations on an Election Day marked so far by orderliness and short lines, even as major cities braced for potential unrest.
The masks and boarded-up stores in many city centers were reminders of two of the issues shaping 2020’s polarizing elections, with Covid-19 still raging after a summer of protests for racial justice which had occasionally led to violence.
One notable face mask exception was Melania Trump, who was the only person in the polling place without a mask when she cast her vote earlier at Palm Beach in Florida.
Poll workers guessed the short lines in many places were due to an unprecedented wave of early voting, with nearly 100 million ballots cast before Election Day.
In Atlanta, Georgia, about a dozen voters were lined up before sunrise at the Piedmont Park Conservancy. First in line was Ginnie House, shivering in the cold, waiting to cast a vote for Joe Biden
“I lost my absentee ballot and I’m not going to miss this vote,” said House, a 22-year-old actor and creative writing student, who had flown back to Atlanta from New York just for this purpose. Of Trump, she said: “He’s dividing our country.”
In Hialeah, a predominantly Cuban-American suburb of Miami, Marcos Antonio Valero, 62, was voting for Trump, as he had done in 2016. He said he took the day off from his job as a construction worker to cast his ballot in person because he did not trust voting by mail.
He made no prediction as to which way Florida, a closely fought battleground state, would tip.
“It’s a secret, a mystery,” he said. “No one knows how it’s going to end until we all know.”
Key events so far…
- With approaching 100m votes already cast early, Americans are going to the polls today to decide who will be the next president of the United States: Donald Trump or Joe Biden.
- Biden visited his home town of Scranton, vowing to “restore decency” to the White House if he wins, and writing a message on the wall of his childhood home.
- The Democratic nominee holds a strong national polling lead, but the race is much tighter in the battleground ‘swing states’ that will decide the all important Electoral College votes.
- Donald Trump appeared on Fox & Friends, again claiming the country was ‘rounding the corner’ on coronavirus, despite the record new case figures set at the weekend.
- Trump said in the interview it would be a terrible thing for the American people and for women if Kamala Harris became president, and boasted he would win at least 306 Electoral College votes.
- The president will be spending the day in Washington. He’s expected to host an election ‘watch party’ tonight at the White House, which has been protected by a ‘non-scalable’ barrier. Shops in DC have been boarded up in anticipation of unrest.
- Joe Biden started the day at church, where he visited the graves of his first wife and his son Beau. He’ll spend the evening in Delaware, and aides say he may address the nation.
- Here’s our guide to what time results are expected – and what to watch for
- And if you are in the UK, we’ve got this run-down of what you could watch on another screen and when, while obviously still scrolling through our coverage on this live blog.
- If you need a refresher on how the crucial ‘swing states’ are looking then this video explainer from Lauren Gambino will set you up.
- It’s not just the presidency at stake. Democrats are hoping to flip the Senate away from Republican control. Here’s a guide to the vital races in that contest.
- And in an election tradition we already have some early results – two tiny border villages in New Hampshire cast and counted their votes at midnight.
USA Today report that amid the heightened fear of violence around the election, police and experts are monitoring extremist groups.
President Donald Trump, who has falsely claimed voter fraud is widespread, has called for an army of poll watchers to ensure the election is fair. Right-wing extremist groups have signaled they plan to heed the call. Left-wing groups have vowed to confront people they believe are engaged in voter suppression.
Extremist groups are planning actions in key states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, which has been tracking extremists on social media. Those states, along with Georgia and Oregon, face the highest risk of election-related activity by armed vigilante groups, according to a report by MilitiaWatch and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
The leader of a right-wing extremist group in Georgia said he has “troops” ready to descend on polling places if he hears reports of voter fraud. “We’re going in undercover to start with,” Justin Thayer said. “We don’t want to intimidate anyone, and we’re not aligned with any political party, but if we do discover fraud, we have guys on standby, and if we need to shut down a precinct, we will.”
Joe Biden left a message on the wall of his childhood home in Scranton this morning: “From this house to the White House with the Grace of God”.
One of the things you’ll keep hearing is that results may be very delayed in this US election – here’s our guide to when we expect them and what to watch for, by the way – so why not try and pass some of the time before then trying to build your own election outcome?
Our interactive gives both Donald Trump and Joe Biden a solid base of Electoral College votes from the states that are so solidly Republican or Democratic that you can pretty much call them right now.
Then you can start deciding – will Michigan will back Biden? Can Trump hold Arizona? Who will get the prize of Florida?
It’s great fun if you are an election nerd – and let’s face it, you are reading this live blog, so there’s a good chance there.
Isaac Lozano, a high school senior from Chula Vista, California writes for us today. He says “I’m a working-class teenage Latino, and I can’t vote this year. But I hope you do”
Chills ran down my neck when I watched Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s recent Instagram story. “Turn your fear into fuel,” her words reverberated off my phone’s screen. “Let this moment radicalize you.”
I knew then that she was right: “November is about survival.” And if young Latinos like me – a key voter base in swing states – make the right choice on Tuesday, I can go to sleep knowing my president isn’t a fascist.
But hearing Ocasio-Cortez’s words of wisdom and courage, I felt a sinking sadness. As a working class 17-year-old Mexican-American, I can’t vote – not until next year. And throughout this election cycle, I’ve felt a deep sense of powerlessness, a reminder of my position in society.
Since the onset of the pandemic, I’ve been cramped in a two-bedroom apartment with two brothers and my parents, who are essential workers in one of San Diego’s coronavirus hotspots – where Hispanics comprise 45% of Covid-19 deaths. And earlier this summer, I was horrified to find my uncle died from the virus.
My struggles mirror those of millions of Latinos like me, which makes our solidarity ever so important. No matter our differences, our communities share a devotion to our families and to each other.
Jonathan Swan is claiming this scoop over at Axios:
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley held an off-the-record video call with top generals and network anchors this weekend to tamp down speculation about potential military involvement in the presidential election, two people familiar with the call tell Axios.
The nation’s top military official set up Saturday’s highly unusual call to make clear that the military’s role is apolitical, one of the sources said — and to dispel any notion of a role for the military in adjudicating a disputed election or making any decision around removing a president from the White House.
It does seem highly unusual that a call like that would even need to be placed before a US election, but then, it is a highly unusual election, as the already boarded up streets in New York and Washington DC will attest.
Stephanie McNeal at Buzzfeed News brings this round-up of what Donald Trump said on his final Fox & Friends appearance before the election. She says he spent his time criticizing Everyone – including Fox News.
Trump launched into his usual hits against Biden, his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, who Trump said would be a “terrible” first woman president if she ascended to the office, and “the plague from China.” He also attacked Fox News itself, leaving the hosts stumbling to defend their network’s own coverage of his campaign.
Trump complained that Fox was giving Biden too much airtime, saying “in the old days they wouldn’t put on Sleepy Joe every time he had opened his mouth. They had other networks for that, frankly.” Host Brian Kilmeade responded, saying that the network tries to “show both sides.”
After ten rallies in seven states in the space of forty-eight hours, Trump sounded uncharacteristically lowkey on the show.
I mentioned earlier that the tiny New Hampshire village of Dixville Notch had voted at midnight, and given Joe Biden a clean sweep of all five votes. This victory has not escaped the attention of the Democratic nominee, who spoke about it while visiting his home town of Scranton this morning.
Biden joked that “based on Trump’s notion” he was going to declare victory right now. Dixville Notch neighbors Millsfield might have something to say about that. They also voted in the early hours, and have declared for the president.
The Indian village of Thulasendrapuram held a special prayer service this morning in honor of Kamala Harris, hoping for a Joe Biden victory, and that the woman with family connection to the village will be elevated to become the first female vice president on the US.
Harris’s maternal grandfather, P.V. Gopalan, was born in the village around 100 years ago. It is just about an eight-hour drive from the southern city of Chennai, and her name is carved onto the local temple.
“She is the daughter of the village’s soil,” Lalitha, a housewife, said of Harris. “The position she has attained is unbelievable.”
“My grandfather was really one of my favorite people in my world,” Harris once said in a 2019 interview.
The road into the village is marked with a sign bearing her image and wishing for her victory.
It remains unclear whether the prayer service will be deemed a “foreign intervention” into the US election process.