What to know with ballot harvesting

With more voters now expected to vote absentee than ever before, there has been a renewed focus on the voting process and on how ballots reach their final destination, CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar and CBSN political reporter Caitlin Huey-Burns report. Twenty six states allow a voter to designate someone else to return their ballot for them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A dozen of those states limit the number of ballots that the designee can collect and return on behalf of voters. And 10 states allow the ballot to be returned by the voter’s family member. In states where the practice is legal, volunteers or campaign workers can go directly to the homes of voters, collect the completed ballots, and drop them off en masse at polling places or election offices. In some states, ballot harvesters can be paid hourly for their work collecting ballots.

Critics fear that in states without restrictions on who can return a ballot on someone else’s behalf, a third party could take advantage of the system by tampering with or discarding the ballots. Supporters of ballot harvesting say it’s designed to expand access to voting, particularly for seniors and disabled citizens, as well as low-income and Native American communities, and that the program could help those concerned about Postal Service delays.

Since many will be casting their votes in ways that are new to them, lawmakers and campaign operatives stress the importance of voter education. “I would not give my ballot to a stranger no more than I would give my check to a stranger,” said Nevada Democratic Assembly Speaker Jason Fierson, a proponent of ballot collection. “We have to expect folks to take it seriously and be responsible.”

Read more about ballot harvesting here.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

BIDEN-HARRIS CAMPAIGN

Joe Biden’s campaign, along with joint fundraising committees, are expected to report surpassing $300 million raised in August, setting a new monthly record for presidential fundraising, according to two sources familiar with the former vice president’s fundraising efforts. Biden’s campaign did not return request for comment on their fundraising.

The massive cash haul flooded in last month as Biden announced his vice presidential pick, Senator Kamala Harris, and officially accepted the party nomination in the first ever virtual Democratic National Convention, report CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice and campaign reporter Bo Erickson. The New York Times was the first to report the $300 million fundraising figure on Tuesday.

Biden’s August fundraising more than doubles what the Biden campaign and entities raised in July when the campaign, Democratic National Committee and joint fundraising committees brought in $140 million. In comparison to previous campaign cycles, in August 2016, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and joint fundraising committees announced raising $143 million. In 2012, President Obama’s reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee announced raising $114 million that August and $181 million that September. In September 2008, Obama and the DNC together raised $193 million, which was the previous record.

Last month, Biden’s campaign revealed it raised $48 million in 48 hours after announcing Harris as Biden’s running mate. The Democratic National Convention also brought in $70 million over four days. At the same time, the Trump campaign, Republican National Committee and joint fundraising entities announced raising $76 million last month during their four-night convention. The Trump campaign has not yet announced its total fundraising for the month of August.

The presidential campaigns and political parties face a September 20 monthly filing deadline with the Federal Election Commission.

Biden and Kamala Harris talked about what’s wrong with President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, about voting rights, and about their long-term plans for the country beyond the virus in a 15-minute video released by the campaign and first obtained by CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry. On the president’s handling of the coronavirus, the Democratic presidential nominee said, “COVID, he [President Trump] didn’t cause. But, my God, the way it’s been responded to. And I don’t think he gets it.” He added, “I just don’t get how there’s not a more significant understanding of the incredible pain that is occurring in America and the economic chaos caused from that.” Harris echoed her running mate and accused Mr. Trump of “dismissing” the pandemic, treating it as something “he can just flick away.”

For more on their conversation click here.

The former VP held no other public events Tuesday, but at a nearby school, Jill Biden launched her “Back to School” tour in Wilmington, Delaware. This tour will be in-person and virtual in 10 cities in eight battleground states, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson was told. A teacher for 36 years, Biden visited with school staff and administrators at Shortlidge Academy to talk about their virtual learning system, which is set for at least the next six weeks. In prepared remarks outside in front of a closed-down playground wrapped with “CAUTION” tape, Biden said she recognized that the usual excitement of back-to-school time has turned to “anxiety” this year. She called for better rural broadband for virtual learning and additional mental health services for school kids. She also repeated her husband’s promise to appoint an education secretary with teaching experience. Biden did not answer any questions from reporters about the Trump administration’s stance on school reopening. “I don’t think we’re going to take questions now,” she replied as she left a classroom.

TRUMP-PENCE CAMPAIGN

“We are officially into September,” the Trump campaign manager declared on a call with reporters, Tuesday. “This is when voters start to tune in. And from our perspective, this is when a campaign wants to be on offense.” The president’s re-election bid has recast its September strategy as an “offensive” dead-set on overtaking 2016 battleground state near-misses like Minnesota, New Hampshire and Nevada. But while the campaign is competing for traditionally Democratic voters in the North Star state, it has also played defense in seemingly safe states with $18 million and $6 million reserved in television ad buys in Ohio and Iowa respectively.

“As long as we hold onto Florida and do well in states that we believe we are safe in like Arizona and North Carolina, Joe Biden has to shut us out and go four for four in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania,” Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller said, laying out the campaign’s path to the 270 electoral votes needed to secure victory in November, CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga reports.

Fresh off a GOP convention featuring a handful of Latino elected officials, Miller also predicted President Trump would earn “north of 40% of Hispanic voters” in 2020, which would be a 12-point spike from 2016. The last Republican candidate to attract that kind of coalition was President George W. Bush in 2004, who had 44% of Latino support.

Both Miller and Stepien flagged President Trump and Vice President Pence’s travel as big indicators of the Trump campaign’s November goal posts. The president traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin Tuesday, despite concern and criticism by some local leaders who worry his presence in the area could exacerbate the situation and fuel tensions following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. At a law enforcement roundtable in Kenosha, Mr. Trump made no mention of Blake or specific police reform, declaring only that “bad apples” in the law enforcement have to be held accountable. “They choke sometimes,” President Trump added.

Meanwhile, Pence made a campaign stop in Exeter, Pennsylvania on Tuesday, part of Luzerne County. “We’re not too far from our opponent’s boyhood home, but it’s Trump country now,” the vice president said. CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak reports Luzerne is one of three longtime Democratic counties in the state that flipped for President Trump in 2016. It also borders Lackawanna County, where Biden grew up.

Speaking at Kuharchik Construction in Luzerne County, Pence rebutted Biden’s speech in Pittsburgh the day before. He attacked Biden for being critical of law enforcement and not explicitly condemning Antifa yesterday, saying, “I think you all know: you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.” Pence also doubled down on Mr. Trump’s false claims that Biden wants to ban fracking, a drilling technique that’s boosted Pennsylvania’s economy. Although Biden again reaffirmed yesterday in Pittsburgh that he does not plan to ban fracking on private land, Pence cited Biden telling a potential voter in New Hampshire last fall that he’d end fossil fuels. “Joe, that includes fracking…I guarantee with four more years of President Donald Trump in the White House we’ll have more fracking,” Pence said.

CBS NEWS COVID CHRONICLES

NEVADA CASINO WORKERS

On Monday, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak moved to delay the end of the state’s eviction moratorium by 45 days. Such moratoriums have already lapsed in the majority of the 43 states that enacted them amid the outbreak, according to data compiled by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. President Trump recently floated executive action to stop states from throwing people out of their homes, telling reporters “a lot of people are going to be evicted.”

Elizabeth Renteria, who used to be a guest room attendant on the Strip, said, “I’m behind in my rent, my electricity, everything.” CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says Renteria is a member of the Culinary Union, which claims to represent 60,000 across the state’s hospitality and gaming industry. The labor group is among the union locals demanding a “right to return” measure by local lawmakers to guarantee laid-off workers can return to their previous positions following the pandemic in Nevada. A recent Census survey found 66% of Nevadans reported a loss of income in their household, greater than any other state in the country. “I’ve been looking for other resources,” Renteria said. “I already spoke with my landlord and she said she could work with me on that. But really, I’m so behind. I really need to go back to work.”

KEY CONSTITUENCIES

YOUNG VOTERS

The Biden campaign appeals to Gen Z voters in a recent campaign ad featuring Tallahassee native Adrianna Williams, 21, who discusses the protests that have rocked the nation in recent months, reports CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell. In 30-second and 60-second ads, Williams, a student at Duke University and a national co-chair of Black Students for Biden, talks about the importance of activism and democracy while unpacking why “Black lives should more than just matter.”

In the ad, Williams says, “These protests are not just about police brutality anymore. They’re about addressing systemic racism and economic disparities across our country.” She adds, “I think electing Joe Biden is essential to addressing these issues and getting meaningful change. We have to continue the activism, we have to continue protesting, but we also have to go out and vote.” According to Kantar/CMAG data, the 30-second version of the ad is now airing in Spokane, Washington. Williams is the daughter of former Florida House Representative Alan Williams and Leon County School Board attorney Opal McKinney Williams.

LISTEN TO THIS

“THE DEBRIEF”

In a new episode of “The Debrief with Major Garrett,” CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett explores how the civil rights movement of the of the 1960s led to the renewed push for equality today. Fifty-seven years after Martin Luther King, Jr. led the March on Washington for civil and voting rights legislation, protesters returned to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial this past Friday to demand justice for African Americans killed by police, and several of them spoke to the team behind “The Debrief with Major Garrett.”

Ondine Woods Foster from Mobile, Alabama, attended last week’s March on Washington and told CBS News she grew up during the civil rights movement. She said, “We had to push our way through to be successful” and “we have to instill those same things into our children to let them know that there’s nothing impossible that they can reach for the skies, that they can reach for the stars.” Between a global pandemic, outcry over the police-involved deaths of George Floyd and Jacob Blake and the political fallout, the summer of 2020 won’t soon be forgotten. Listen to the episode for interviews with Martin Luther King III, historian John Whittington Franklin, Black Lives Matter Greater New York Chairperson Hawk Newsome and more.

MONEY MATTERS

DOWN BALLOT DOLLARS

It’s another month in the books for fundraising ahead of the 2020 election, and while focus might be at the top of the ticket, down ballot efforts are breaking new records, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice. According to the president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the DLCC had the best online fundraising day in committee history on August 31, in an election year where state legislatures will play a major role in redistricting following the 2020 census. The cash haul comes after the committee also announced surpassing its $36 million fundraising record set during the 2018 cycle with more than two months still to go before the 2020 election.

“State legislative elections this November are enormously consequential, which is why we’re not taking anything for granted,” said DLCC President Jessica Post in a statement. “Our unprecedented fundraising demonstrates that Democrats are more focused on down ballot races than ever before, and we’re just getting started. We’re going to keep breaking records and we’re going to flip legislative chambers and seats across the country from red to blue in just a couple months.” The DLCC credits its record cash haul this cycle thanks largely in part due to its grassroots digital fundraising efforts, which has raised a record online with nearly 400% growth compared to 2016. In January, the DLCC announced a $50 million “Flip Everything” effort targeting more than a dozen state legislative chambers across the country.

STATE-BY-STATE

GEORGIA

In a decision that the Georgia Secretary of State’s office is planning to immediately appeal, U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross of the Northern District of Georgia ruled Monday that absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day and that arrive at county election offices by 7 p.m. on November 6 — three days later — can be counted in the November election. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell notes that this decision comes just two months before the general election. Georgia’s Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs called the extension a “bad idea” in a statement. “Extending the absentee ballot receipt deadline is a bad idea that will make it nearly impossible for election officials to complete their required post-election tasks in the timeline that is required by law,” said Fuchs. However, Nse Ufot, CEO of the voter advocacy group The New Georgia Project, said in a statement that Judge Ross’ ruling confirms that our democracy responds to changing societal needs. “Tens of thousands of Georgia voters will now have the opportunity to have their ballots counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day and delivered up to three days afterward,” said Ufot in a statement. “This is a great day for democracy but the fight to ensure that ALL Georgians have access to the ballot box continues.”

OHIO

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced that the first round of absentee ballot request forms will be arriving in the mailboxes of registered Ohio voters this week, reports CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. In order for Ohioans to vote absentee, they need to fill out the request forms and then mail the form to their county board of elections. Absentee ballots will then be sent to voters beginning on October 6.

“With the convenience of voting from home comes a responsibility – don’t wait to make your voice heard,” LaRose said in a statement. “Get your ballot request form in the mail as soon as you can.” According to a press release, LaRose’s office said there will be two more rounds of forms that will be mailed to Ohioans who register to vote through the registration deadline, which is October 5.

PENNSYLVANIA

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is taking over another election issue case, it announced today, according to CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak. This suit, filed by the state Democratic Party in July, asked the Commonwealth Court to explicitly allow counties to use drop boxes and satellite election offices to collect ballots and to count ballots they receive up to a week after Election Day, so long as they’re postmarked by it. The secretary of state, who has been supportive of drop boxes and some late counting, asked the Supreme Court to exercise extraordinary jurisdiction in the case. The court decided to take the case Tuesday, with its two Republican justices dissenting. The original suit was filed as a counter to the Trump campaign’s federal court lawsuit in the western district, which asked largely for the reverse and is now stayed so state courts can interpret the law. It’s the second election lawsuit at the state’s highest court.

VOTING INTEGRITY

WOMEN’S RIGHTS

The centennial anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment just passed in August. The crowning achievement of the women’s suffrage movement, the amendment reads, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” In reality, though, CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte reports not all women were granted the right to vote in 1920. That milestone wouldn’t come until the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

And even now, Congresswoman Deb Haaland, Democrat of New Mexico, considers the anniversary to be representative of obstacles that remain. “We are still in a battle for access to voting, especially for communities of color, and working people,” she said in an interview. In the same way that many Americans, especially White Americans, have come to recognize that holidays like the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving are more complicated than fireworks and turkeys, the 19th Amendment centennial also merits another look –at both its triumphs and its shortfalls.

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE SENATE

Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Joe Kennedy III are crossing Massachusetts Tuesday to deliver the last pitch to voters in the Democratic Senate primary ahead of polls closing at 8pm, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson.

A Kennedy has never lost in Massachusetts, but recent polling has Markey slightly ahead of Robert F. Kennedy’s grandson. “This race is not over.,” Markey told reporters Tuesday morning. “We don’t know how this is going to turn out today, and that’s why we’re working hard to get every vote out.” Just a year ago, Markey was facing two other challengers in the primary race and was behind in polling by double digits to Congressman Kennedy who hadn’t even entered the race. Since then, Markey has made the race more competitive than many thought it would be, in part because of his partnership with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in authoring the Green New Deal. Seventeen-year-old Abigail Mack of Bridgewater, Massachusetts told CBS News she will be voting for Ed Markey in the general election because of his progressive proposals.

“I think Joe Kennedy – the fact that Ed Markey was the person he was challenging is what turned me away from him because trying to challenge an incumbent that is a progressive kind of defeats the purpose of trying to put someone new in,” Mack said, adding, “Like when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ran against Joe Crowley, I think that was a race that needed to happen to get someone more progressive in a seat that was held by someone who was just a sitting duck.”

Daniela Finlay, who goes to Wellesley College in Massachusetts, told CBS News, “I’m supporting Ed Markey because he’s been fighting for our futures since before I was even alive, and I’m not supporting Joe Kennedy because I don’t think now is the time to be primarying the author of the Green New Deal. “

Kennedy’s campaign is hoping a coalition of voters will show up to vote in-person on Election Day to take him over the finish line. Nick Clemons, Kennedy’s campaign manager, told CBS News this past weekend, “We know our voters are more likely to vote on Election Day. They’re not early voters, they’re not vote by mail folks, so we’re pushing our coalition out the door, phone banking, texting, everything we can do to get them out to vote.” There are still plenty of Massachusetts voters who value the congressman and the whole Kennedy family.

Rigoperto Quinonez, who is volunteering with his wife to get out the vote for Kennedy in Boston, told CBS News, “Every time a new Kennedy comes to office, something happens. For some reason, something happens. Something changes, and there’s a dynamic in Washington when they come to office that they have no choice but to listen to them when they speak.”

Markey invoked the Kennedy name in his speech Monday night to supporters when he said, “I think it’s right at this time to ask what your country can do for you,” playing off of the famous John F. Kennedy inaugural address in which he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” Markey and his campaign have played off of the Kennedy name and have alleged that Kennedy’s father, Joe P. Kennedy, is giving money to a political action committee supporting Congressman Kennedy’s bid. Despite the tension, Congressman Kennedy told reporters Monday night that he would support Markey as the nominee if he were to win. “Look, it’s been a spirited campaign,” Kennedy said. “I still respect Senator Markey, but yes, I look forward to supporting a Democratic nominee, I think that’s going to be me, and I would hope he’d say the same thing.”

IN THE HOUSE

ADVERTISEMENTS

The Democrat and Republican House Committees launched a flurry of ads across the battlefield Tuesday, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. In total, 17 attack ads came out. Seven of them were from the National Republican Congressional Committee, hitting five incumbents and two Democrat challengers on a variety of issues. Its ad in New York’s 24th District splices sound from Joe Biden criticizing Medicare for All with sound from House candidate Dana Balter supporting it. Two ads dealt with the topic of police and protests, with one criticizing Congressman Anthony Brindisi’s support for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. “Brindisi even backed Pelosi’s anti-police bill to help accused criminals, and prevent police from protecting us, because Anthony Brindisi backs criminals over cops and Pelosi over us,” the ad concludes.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released 10 ads in eight districts, with at least five of them running in incumbent districts. Healthcare and prescription drug prices were a common message in each of the ads. “While we’re waiting for Ann Wagner to answer our calls, she’s busy calling the corporate drug and insurance industries, who’ve given her more than $1.3 million in campaign cash,” one ad running in Missouri’s 2nd says about GOP Congresswoman Ann Wagner. The Democrat-backed House Majority PAC also launched two ads Tuesday, in Oklahoma’s 5th District and New York’s 22nd District.

ENDORSEMENTS

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce pulled a surprise move Tuesday, moving forward with endorsing a slate of 23 freshmen House Democrats. A source familiar with the matter confirmed to Navarro a list of endorsed Democrats, including Representatives Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico and Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, three freshmen House members sitting in districts Trump won by double digits.

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber because it means I’ve delivered on my promise to bring both parties together in support of Oklahoma’s businesses and economic opportunity in our state,” Horn said in a statement. The Chamber will also be endorsing 29 freshmen Republicans. The Chamber of Commerce is a lobbying group that has historically supported Republican candidates. The group endorsed and supported a Democrat challenger to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in June, but roughly 73% of their contributions to candidates this cycle have been to Republicans.

This gap is flipped when it comes to just House recipients though, as the Center for Responsive Politics finds that $104,833 has gone to Democrats while $74,650 has gone to Republicans. The endorsements come after reports of internal disagreement over whether these Democrats are pro-business enough to warrant the chamber’s support. The Hill reported the committee voted for the endorsements, with five to one in support of it. A spokesman for the Chamber said they could not comment on internal processes.

MASSACHUSETTS

While the Democratic primary in Massachusetts’ 1st District is the most high-profile race tonight, two other primaries are worth keeping an eye on, according to Navarro. In the state’s 4th District, a crowded field of seven is competing to fill Congressman Kennedy’s old seat. The latest poll shows city councilor Jake Auchincloss and town board member Jesse Mermell in a dead heat as the primary’s front runners. Like Congressman Richard Neal, Congressman Stephen Lynch is facing a progressive challenge from Robbie Goldstein in the state’s 8th District. Lynch has held the seat since 2001. Former Massachusetts Representative Michael Capuano said in a call with former members of Congress if Neal or Lynch gets defeated Tuesday, “it’s not definitive, but it certainly will raise my hackles a little bit.” Capuano, who called himself more of a “traditional progressive” on Tuesday, was beaten in his 2018 Democratic primary against Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley. “Do I worry about a few on the extreme left wing? No, not all,” he said. “If you’re making me make a choice between free healthcare and QAnon, that’s really not a choice to make. But I hope the moderate middle is the long-term successor.”