The Latest: Judge orders USPS to search centers for ballots
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the presidential campaign (all times local):
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ordered U.S. Postal Service inspectors to sweep more than two dozen mail processing facilities for lingering mail-in ballots and for those ballots to be sent out immediately.
The order, which includes centers in central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, south Florida and parts of Wisconsin, comes after national delivery delays leading up to the election and concerns the agency wouldn’t be able to deliver ballots on time.
The Postal Service’s ability to handle the surge of mail-in ballots became a concern after its new leader, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major GOP donor, implemented a series of policy changes that delayed mail nationwide this summer. Delivery times have since rebounded but have consistently remained below the agency’s internal goals of having more than 95% of first-class mail delivered within five days, with service in some battleground areas severely lagging, according to postal data.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE:
After a campaign marked by rancor and fear, Americans on Tuesday decide between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.
—Long lines, enthusiasm but no major problems as US votes
— It’s here: What to watch on Election Day in America
— Election Day shadowed by threats of legal challenges
— States to watch closely on election night
— Trump’s ‘army’ of poll watchers led by veteran of fraud claims
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON:
The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted Tuesday to keep four polling places open longer because they opened late, which is expected to delay statewide reporting of results.
The longest extension was 45 minutes for a site in Sampson County. That means the state can’t publicly report any statewide results until 8:15 p.m.
The state’s more than 2,600 polling places are otherwise scheduled to close at 7:30 p.m. But state elections officials said in a news release last week that if hours are extended at any polls, they wouldn’t publicly post any results until all polls are closed.
Board Chair Damon Circosta confirmed at the meeting Tuesday that the extended hours would delay public release of results.
The polling places that opened late include one site in Cabarrus County, one in Guilford County and two in Sampson County. The delays were at least partly due to issues with printers or other electronic equipment. The extensions, which only apply to the individual precincts and not other sites in those counties, range from 17 minutes to 45 minutes and match the extra time it took to get them open.
Board Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell said at a news conference in the morning before the vote was held that it’s not unusual to extend polling place hours on Election Day.
Long lines were reported across the country, which is not unusual, and there were sporadic reports of polling places opening late. There have also been voting equipment issues in counties in Georgia, Ohio and Texas.
But overall, things seemed to be going smoothly in most places, with enthusiastic voters waiting patiently to cast their ballots. Experts expected total votes to exceed the 139 million cast in 2016. About 101 million people voted ahead of Election Day, heeding warnings about the coronavirus pandemic.
Sen. Kamala Harris is in battleground Michigan to get out the vote on Election Day.
She touched down in Detroit, a majority Black city, about six hours before polls were to close. As Joe Biden’s running mate, Harris has focused heavily on motivating Black voters to turn out. She told reporters she’s in Michigan so Detroit voters know “that they are seen and heard by Joe and me.”
Trump won Michigan in 2016.
Asked how confident she was, Harris said, “Listen, the day ain’t over.”
“I’m just here to remind people to vote because the election is still happening right now. It’s not over,” she said.
Polls in Michigan close at 8 p.m.
The latest tally of early voting in the U.S. shows that almost 102 million Americans cast their votes before Election Day, an eye-popping total that represents 73% of the total turnout of the 2016 presidential election.
The Associated Press tally reveals that the early vote in several states, including hotly-contested Texas and Arizona, has already exceeded the total vote of four years ago.
Early voting — whether in-person or by mail-in or absentee ballot — has swelled during the COVID-19 pandemic as voters have sought the safety and convenience it offers. The greatest gains have been witnessed in Kentucky, where almost 13 times as many voters cast their ballots early as in 2016.
Supporters cheered and applauded President Donald Trump at his campaign headquarters, where he visited Tuesday to thank dozens of staffers working to get him reelected.
Trump predicted his victory, but acknowledged he could lose.
“I think we’re going to have a great night, but it’s politics and it’s elections and you never know,” Trump said.
He said his campaign was doing well in states like Florida, Arizona and Texas. He noted the importance of winning Pennsylvania.
“Winning is easy. Losing is never easy,” he said. “Not for me it’s not.”
The president went to the Republican National Committee’s annex in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington after days of grueling campaigning on the road.
“After doing that many rallies, the voice gets a little choppy,” Trump said with his now-gravely delivery.
Trump said success will bring unity. He listed what he believes are his accomplishments with the coronavirus and the economy.
More than 100 staffers, almost all wearing masks, lined up against the back wall of the operations center to hear from their candidate. Some masks were emblazoned with “Trump” and “MAGA” for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’s “absolutely certain” that Democrats will “solidly hold” onto their House majority.
On an Election Day conference call with reporters, the California Democrat said “this election is about nothing less than taking back the soul of America, whether our nation will follow the voices of fear or whether we will choose hope.”
Pelosi and Rep. Cheri Bustos say the party is reaching deep into Trump country to win seats. Bustos is chair of the campaign arm for House Democrats, who are well positioned to try to add longtime GOP seats in Long Island, Arkansas, Indiana and rural Virginia.
Bustos says Democrats “are going to see some wins in those deep red districts.”
Pelosi says she’s confident Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will win the White House from President Donald Trump.
Biden has spent the day visiting Pennsylvania. Trump had a phone interview on Fox News Channel.
First lady Melania Trump has cast her vote, stopping in at a voting center in Palm Beach, Florida, close to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
Trump switched his residence from New York to Palm Beach County last year and voted in person on Oct. 24 during early voting. Asked why she didn’t vote with the president, the first lady told reporters on Tuesday: “It’s Election Day so I wanted to come here to vote today for the election.”
The first lady waved and smiled to reporters. She was the only person not wearing a mask to guard against the coronavirus when she entered the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center to vote, presumably for her husband.
Mrs. Trump’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, says the first lady, who recovered from COVID-19, was the only person in the polling site, with the exception of a couple of poll workers and her own staffers, all of whom were tested.
Grisham says no one was near the first lady “because of social distancing and the privacy” people receive when they vote.
Mrs. Trump announced in a blog post last month that she had recovered from a bout with COVID-19 that included headaches, body aches and fatigue and said she had tested negative.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has returned to his roots on his final day of campaigning with a visit to his childhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Biden arrived at the small, white two-story house to a hero’s welcome of more than 100 people cheering across the street. Biden greeted the crowd and said, “It’s good to be home!”
Biden lived in the home until he was 10 years old. On Tuesday, he walked up the front steps and chatted with the current owners before going in with his granddaughters. When Biden came out, he said the current residents had him sign their wall.
Biden then walked across the street to greet the crush of supporters, who cheered his name and applauded.
Pennsylvania is key to Biden’s White House hopes. He plans to visit Philadelphia later.
Federal authorities are monitoring voting and any threats to the election across the country at an operations center just outside Washington, D.C., run by the cyber-security component of the Department of Homeland Security. Officials there said there were no major problems detected early Tuesday but urged the public to be wary and patient.
U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director Christopher Krebs said from the center there was “some early indication of system disruption,” but he did not elaborate. He says he has “confidence that the vote is secure, the count is secure and the results will be secure.”
Krebs says officials have seen attempts by foreign actors “to interfere in the 2020 election.” But he says officials “have addressed those threats quickly” and “comprehensively.”
Krebs says Election Day “in some sense is half-time.” He says, “There may be other events or activities or efforts to interfere and undermine confidence in the election.” He asks all Americans “to treat all sensational and unverified claims with skepticism and remember technology sometimes fails.”
For Joe Biden, it all comes down to Pennsylvania.
Biden is spending Election Day campaigning in his hometown of Scranton and in Philadelphia. He will meet with voters in each city.
Pennsylvania is key to Biden’s White House hopes. While his aides say he has multiple paths to nab 270 Electoral College votes, his easiest is by winning Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Biden has campaigned in the Keystone State more than any other.
The cities Biden is visiting Tuesday hold both strategic and symbolic significance: Biden has made his working-class upbringing in Scranton a centerpiece of his campaign, framing his economic pitch from the perspective of Scranton versus Wall Street, as he seeks to win back the blue-collar voters who helped deliver Donald Trump a win in 2016. Philadelphia has been the backdrop for some of Biden’s most significant speeches, and he’ll need strong turnout in the heavily democratic area, particularly among Black voters.
While boarding his flight on Tuesday morning, Biden tossed a thumbs up to the traveling press and said he was feeling “good.”
President Donald Trump says he believes his large rally crowds during his fast-paced weeks of campaigning are the “ultimate poll” and translate into a lot of votes for his reelection.
Trump told Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday he will spend Election Day making phone calls to people who have been loyal to him and will go to his campaign headquarters in suburban Virginia to thank the staff.
Trump said he would declare himself the winner of the election “Only when there’s victory.” There has been concern that Trump will declare victory early — before vote counts are definitive. But the Republican president told Fox there’s no reason to “play games.” He says he thinks he has a “very solid chance at winning.”
Trump also says he understands why businesses are boarding up their storefronts but thinks it’s very sad they feel the need to do it. He predicts that if there is violence and unrest, it will be in Democratically run cities like Chicago; New York; Portland, Oregon; Oakland, California; and Baltimore and blames “weak leadership.”
Joe Biden has started Election Day with a visit to church — and the grave of his late son, Beau.
Biden and his wife, Jill, made an early morning stop at St. Joseph’s on the Brandywine in Wilmington, Delaware, the church he typically visits on Sunday when home. Biden had granddaughters Finnegan and Natalie in tow Tuesday.
After a brief church visit, the four walked to Beau Biden’s grave in the church cemetery.
Beau died of brain cancer in 2015, and Biden often speaks on the campaign trail of his courage while deployed to Iraq as a major in the Delaware Army National Guard.
Biden’s late wife, Neilia, and infant daughter, Naomi, died in a car crash in 1972, shortly after Biden was elected senator. They are also buried in the cemetery.
Biden is spending the rest of his day in Pennsylvania as he makes a final push to get out the vote.
Find AP’s full election coverage at APNews.com/Election2020.