2020 Daily Trail Markers: On Election Eve, 97 million Americans have already voted
More than 97 million Americans voted early as of Monday, November 2, the day before Election Day. Despite the record number of early voters, there will still be tens of millions voting on Election Day, and knowing the poll information in your state is crucial. Poll closing times vary by state. In some states with multiple time zones, polls can close first in the earlier time zones. If you are waiting in line when the polls close, stay in line because you still have the right to vote. The American Civil Liberties Union has a full list of voting rights here.
Read HERE to find out when polls close in each state.
And CBSNews.com will be providing live updates throughout Election Night. To follow along, go to cbsnews.com/election.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
President Trump is planning to host an election night party inside the White House, CBS News White House correspondent Ben Tracy reports. Approximately 400 guests have been invited to the soiree, expected to take place on the State floor of the mansion, including the East Room. And while there will be other Trump-aligned parties around town - including at the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue - it remains to be seen if the president will drop in on election night. CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga reports Mr. Trump will have held 23 rallies in 10 states during his last week on the campaign trail, a marathon schedule that hits on a slew of battleground states, offering what many campaign aides and advisors refer to as "optionality" in their path to secure 270 Electoral Votes. During his second of five rallies Monday, the president appeared upbeat and energized before a crowd of thousands in his Democratic opponent's hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, but veered off message to sow doubts about the upcoming election results. "Count the votes honestly, Governor. Count them honestly," Mr. Trump remarked, in an apparent warning to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. At a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the president bemoaned his impeachment, vented about his recent poll numbers, and railed against members of the media. "You have the power to vote, so go out and vote unless you're going to vote for somebody other than me, in which case, sit it out," Mr. Trump remarked. The only mention of the coronavirus pandemic came in attacks on China and repeated calls for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to "open up." According to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, more than 9.2 million COVID-19 cases and 231,000 fatalities have been reported nationwide. At a late night rally at Miami's Opa-Locka Sunday, spanning into the wee hours of Monday morning, chants of "Fire Fauci" broke out after the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases volunteered a blunt assessment of the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic. "Don't tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election," Mr. Trump told jeering in an ominous forewarning to the nation's top doctor. But the president can only sideline or demote Fauci, a career government official who has served under six presidents. And while Trump campaign advisors boasted of a "quiet confidence" in previous days, GOP victories up and down the ticket will largely hinge on an influx of in-person voters, come Tuesday. Political operatives in Georgia and Arizona have expressed concerns to CBS News about changing tides in the traditionally red states, encumbered by tight Senate races and continued economic fallout amid a resurgence of coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence held two campaign events in Pennsylvania on Monday. In his last solo campaign event before Election Day, Pence gave the same speech he's been delivering for the last four months. CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar says Pence held at least 72 campaign events this year and 60 of those events took place between June 23, when the Trump campaign restarted rallies, and now. October was by far the busiest month of campaigning for Pence, who held 35 MAGA rallies. Monday afternoon's event in Erie, Pennsylvania, was the 11th campaign rally Pence has held in the Keystone State - the most of any battleground state he campaigned in this year. Outside of Pennsylvania, the vice president held nine events in Florida, eight in Wisconsin, seven in North Carolina, and six in Arizona. Pence also held five events in the states of Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio. He only held four campaign events in Michigan. While the vice president didn't hold any campaign events between late February and late June, he did travel extensively as the head of the Coronavirus Task Force during those months for official White House events. Many of those trips took him to important battleground states but the numbers included in this report only count campaign events. Pence's message has largely focused on the economy and under that umbrella he hits on manufacturing, tax cuts, and trade deals. Today, he said the choice for voters when it comes to the economy "couldn't be more dramatic." In Erie, Pennsylvania, Pence said, "Joe Biden spent eight years in the last administration trying to tax and spend and regulate and bail us back to a growing economy, presided over the slowest recovery in more than 80 years." He added, "President Donald Trump, he created the greatest economy in American history, and he's doing it all over again."
Pence claimed Biden will raise taxes and go back to a policy of "economic surrender" when it comes to trade negotiations with China. "This is a choice between a Trump boom and a Biden depression," Pence said. He urged supporters to pose one question to friends, family, and co-workers that are still undecided. "Look them right in the eye and say 'who do you really think can bring the American economy all the way back? Who do you really think can make 2021 a bigger year than ever in the history of this country?'" Pence also touched on energy, saying that Biden will abolish fracking and cost Pennsylvania jobs. On COVID, Pence said Biden is going to shut down the country and force schools, places of worship, and small businesses to close their doors. "Right at the moment that America is coming back, Joe Biden is talking about shutting it down. But we're not going to let it happen," Pence said. "Under President Donald Trump we are going to defeat the virus and the best is yet to come."
With one day to go until the election, Joe Biden began by barnstorming Ohio -- his third general election trip to the state -- and then made his 18th trip to Pennsylvania to campaign all day. CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports Ohio is a late-breaking opportunity for the Biden campaign, a state not regularly seen within reach of Democratic candidates. Biden is ending his Monday evening where his campaign began last year: Pittsburgh, where he'll stump alongside Lady Gaga. Biden's campaign announced Monday that as polls open on Tuesday, Biden will continue campaigning in Scranton, and then Philadelphia, before finally heading to his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, where he is expected to address the nation late in the evening. Meanwhile, the top of the Biden campaign held a public briefing offering some of their behind-the-scenes thinking on early voting. This briefing was meant to pre-emptively combat any early claims of victory or fraud by Mr. Trump, according to campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon. She also made a notable prediction: "We want to be fundamentally clear of what we believe to be true: under no scenario will Donald Trump be declared a victor on election night." Dillon added, "When Donald Trump says ballots being counted after midnight should be invalidated - he's just making that up." Senator Kamala Harris spent Election Day eve making her final push to voters in Pennsylvania according to CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry. "This is Biden Country isn't it?" Harris asked the crowd coming in 88 cars during a Latino Get Out The Vote drive in rally in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. "In about 24 hours, Pennsylvania will determine who will be the next president of the United States." Other stops Harris stops included a canvass kick-off event at a local labor office in Pittston and stops at local businesses in North and West Philadelphia. Harris will end the day joined by her husband Doug Emhoff and musician John Legend for their election night eve drive-in rally outside of Citizens Bank Park. Earlier in the day, Harris was asked by Perry about any potential contingency plans the Biden-Harris campaign might have if the president challenges the results in Pennsylvania. "The plan is, for the next I don't know how many hours we have left, to remind everyone of what's at stake and to make sure that everyone votes." Harris said. "That's why I am here in Pennsylvania."
BATTLEGROUNDS IN THE BATTLEGROUNDS
NEVADA - *ASIAN AMERICANS*
As a share of eligible voters in each of the battleground states, nowhere do Asian Americans make up a larger slice than in Nevada. And in the state, few places will these voters exercise greater influence over the Election Day outcome than in the state's 3rd congressional district, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. Spanning an area encompassing much of Southern Nevada, from some of the Las Vegas Valley's priciest subdivisions on down to rural desert towns bordering California and Arizona, Nevada's 3rd Congressional District has played host to one of the state's fiercest House battles this year. Voters in Nevada's 3rd backed Mr. Trump in 2016 by only a single point even as they also narrowly sent a Democrat to represent them in the U.S. House. And the partisan makeup of this district this year remains nearly identical to 2016: 36% of registered voters are Democrats as of the latest figures from Nevada's 3rd, 3 points ahead of the GOP. Now Democratic incumbent Congresswoman Susie Lee faces a stiff challenge from former wrestler Dan Rodimer, who has painted himself as a key ally of Mr. Trump and the election as a referendum on control of the House by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The outcome in this race could hinge in large part on Democrats shoring up turnout among a unique constituency in this slice of Southern Nevada: the Asian American community, which makes up 14% of the district's population. State Democrats this year have touted everything from phone banking in Tagalog, spoken by the area's booming Filipino American population, to incorporating the language into their "voter protection hotline" as part of their efforts to court these voters. "We know the power and the growth the AAPI community has here. Since 2000, the Nevada AAPI community has grown 167%," the Democrat said at a Biden campaign event last month.
ISSUES THAT MATTER
STATE LEGISLATURE PREVIEW
More than 86 state chambers have elections on Tuesday, though results in just a handful states could be crucial for the next decade of Congressional and State Legislature district lines, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. Republicans cleaned up shop in the 2010 elections ahead of redistricting in 2011, flipping 19 legislative chambers. In response, there's been an influx in Democrat groups getting involved with the down ballot races to avoid the same mistake. "This moment is a decade in the making for us," Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee president Jessica Post said in an October press call. "I witnessed firsthand how Republicans outworked Democrats in the fight for state legislatures." Democrats and Republicans are funneling money into the fight for control over the Texas State House, which Democrats are 9 seats away from flipping. The Republican State Leadership Committee say the Texas State House is a priority, putting $10 million into the state and raising close to $70 million overall. Democratic groups like the DLCC (which raised over $50 million this cycle) and Everytown for Gun Safety have also been active in the state, with the Democrat Forward Majority super PAC spending $12 million there.
Due to its population increase in the past decade, Texas is expected to add congressional districts with redistricting in 2021. Democrat control of a state chamber would put them at the negotiating table for drawing district lines. Redistricting congressional seats is in the purview of state legislatures in 35 states. Like the top of the ticket, North Carolina and Florida are also battlegrounds for state legislatures. Democrats are six seats away from flipping the House in North Carolina, while their gap in Florida is a bit steeper, as they need to flip 14 seats to get the majority. In a memo released Tuesday, Forward Majority wrote that they've targeted 23 seats, including 15 Republican incumbents in districts where top-ticket Democrats won. Republicans are defending their majority in Pennsylvania's state chambers as well, with the House nine seats away from Democratic control and the Senate four seats away. Democrats controlling either chamber would be big for Democrat Governor Tom Wolf, who has often butted heads with the GOP led legislature in his first two years. The Cook Political Report has the Pennsylvania Statehouse and North Carolina's state Senate rated as a "Toss Up." Other state legislative races to watch include Missouri's gubernatorial race, Michigan's Statehouse, Iowa's Statehouse, Minnesota's state Senate and Georgia's Statehouse. Committees from both parties are anticipating drawn out counts and potential recounts for tight state legislative races. The National Redistricting Foundation funded a-last minute federal lawsuit against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, in which a judge decided Sunday that the postal service must continue following "extraordinary measures" to make sure mail ballots are delivered in time.
During one of his final pitches to Florida voters, Mr. Trump held his 5th rally of the day in Opa Locka in Miami-Dade County at midnight Monday morning. Thousands gathered at the Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport and waited hours, jamming to tunes from a live band, before the president arrived. The president spoke for nearly an hour and even though Miami-Dade County has a curfew that goes into effect at midnight until 6 a.m. -- and despite Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez saying in a tweet earlier that the county confirmed the event would end before midnight -- the president didn't wrap his remarks until 12:48 a.m. Still, as the event continued into the night, CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that the energy from the throngs of supporters was matched only by the excitement of the supporters that started to gather as early as 5:30 p.m. -- hours before the program began. Demetrius Stroud, 39, said he's voting for Mr. Trump after supporting Barack Obama in 2008. Stroud said he doesn't feel like Obama fulfilled his promises to Black communities and was certain that Biden wouldn't either. "Police brutality, Obama said he was going to handle it and he never did," said Stroud. "He skipped around the subject and Biden say he's gonna handle it -- y'all were in office for eight years. It's still going on." Elsa Salvador, 67, lives in South Miami and was standing in line with family and friends when she spoke with CBS News. When asked whether she was concerned about the president's support among key voting blocs in the state, Salvador -- a self-described suburban Latina senior confidently said "it's going to be a landslide." She continued, "check back in with me on Tuesday night."
In a press call, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon announced that 2,055,519 Minnesotans have requested an absentee or mail only ballot, reports CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. Of those ballots that have been requested, Simon said 1,716,575 ballots have been accepted, meaning that there are 338,944 outstanding absentee ballots. The secretary also weighed in the recent court ruling that required absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day and received within a week after Election Day to be segregated. For those segregated ballots to be invalidated, Simon said, "For anyone to invalidate a ballot, they are going to be have to step up and pull the trigger. They are going to have to step up and ask the court to specifically invalidate certain ballots that are in that pile." Simon added that his office does not know if there will be post-election litigation, but he assumed that "the wider the margin in the presidential race, either way, the less likelihood of litigation." In terms of reporting results, Simon said that his office does not plan to hold separate counts, but instead, have a "rolling totally of validly cast votes." Simon added, "The physical ballots will be segregated and the vote counts, but we are not going to be weighing, you know, separate vote tallies. It will be a running total through Tuesday, November 10."
Nevada Republicans say they are "evaluating an expedited appeal" to the battleground state's highest court after a lower court judge on Monday filed an opinion denying their joint plea with Mr. Trump's campaign to pause the counting of early ballots in Clark County, the state's most populous, according to CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. Democrats in the state have repeatedly decried the GOP's complaints around the county's handling of election observers and mail ballots, and Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford in a statement Monday denounced the case as part of "the president's deliberate attempts to undermine Nevada's elections." In his order denying the Republicans' petition, Nevada District Judge James Wilson said "the above-cited statutes created observers not counters, validators, or auditors. Allowing such access creates a host of problems."
A federal judge in Houston ruled on Monday that nearly 127,000 votes cast at drive-thru voting sites in Harris County, home to Houston, remain valid. According to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster and CBS News digital journalist Justin Hayter, Judge Andrew Hanen threw out the case, saying the plaintiffs didn't have standing to bring the challenge. Judge Hanen also recommended people not cast votes at drive-thru voting facilities on Tuesday, saying the votes may not count because of Texas election laws regarding how polling places are set up. The Republican plaintiffs have filed an appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and Reuters reports the GOP plans to appeal the Texas Supreme Court's decision on Sunday not to hear a challenge to the drive-thru votes. Republican activists and candidates have filed multiple challenges to Harris County's drive-thru voting in recent weeks. They argue that it's not explicitly allowed under Texas law and only certain people with accessibility issues can use curbside voting. The challengers said it's up to the Legislature to change the election code. The Harris County Clerk announced plans for drive-thru voting in the summer and it was used in a limited capacity during the July primary run-off elections. In a statement, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said "Texans who lawfully voted at drive through locations should have never had to fear that their votes wouldn't be counted and their voices wouldn't be heard. This lawsuit was shameful and it should have never seen the light of day." More than 1.4 million people have already voted in Harris County ahead of Election Day, which tops the county's total turnout from 2016.
IN THE HOUSE
More Latino and Asian American & Pacific Islander voters have already turned out in competitive House districts, according to data from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The Latino voting bloc is crucial in California's 21st, where freshman Democrat T.J. Cox beat Republican David Valadao by less than a thousand votes in 2018. More than 51.1% of the vote so far in the district is from the Latino community and 13,847 Latino voters there didn't vote in 2012, 2016 and 2018. In 2016, only 5,939 voted. Cox and Valadao had to wait weeks for a clear winner in 2018, with Valadao conceding on December 6 after all absentee and mail ballots were counted. California's 25th district (Los Angeles and Ventura County) has also seen a notable uptick in new Latino voters, as 11,485 of the committee's recorded voters there didn't vote in 2012, 2016 or 2018. In Georgia's 7th, which was decided by 433 votes in 2018, there are three-times more AAPI early voters than 2016 (over 30,000 compared to 9,500). Close to half of them, 43%, didn't vote in 2012, 2016 or 2018. In two Texas districts near Houston and Dallas, the AAPI early vote is already double the 2016 numbers. Like any other demographic, AAPI voters vary in their party affiliation. A survey by Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote found that 44% of respondents identify as Democrat, 28.5% as Republicans and 33% didn't know. Vietnamese respondents leaned the most Republican, with over 38% identifying with the GOP, 27% with Democrats and 34% as independent. This is a voting bloc to watch in California's Orange County seats in the 39th and the 48th district, which have heavy Vietnamese population centers such as Little Saigon. Those two districts are also seeing a huge influx of AAPI voters, with more than 57,000 combined early voters than 2016. CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro says the DCCC has been outpacing their Republican colleagues on non-English ads and outreach, spending seven-figures on direct mail and paid media in recent weeks. They've also been airing spots in Vietnamese, Korean, Hindi and multiple Chinese dialects this cycle, several firsts for the committee. APIA Vote director Christine Chen said while the uptick in new voters continues a trend of interest from the community in 2018, the pandemic has also shown a direct connection of politics to everyday life. "In the past, we'd always have to put a lot of time and energy in convincing voters in our community that elected officials can impact their lives," she said. "Everyone's tuning in every day to see, 'What is the COVID rate? Can my kids go to school? Can we open up our small businesses?' So they're making the connection that decisions being made, whether it's the federal level or local level, it impacts their lives."
Political handicappers at the Cook Political Report are anticipating Democrats will not only retain their majority but could see a net gain of 10 to 15 seats. CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro reports that's a sentiment shared by House strategists with both parties, though the specific number of seats added is still up in the air. Republican groups involved with House races started the cycle on offense, but as the political environment has shifted to favor Democrats, they are left having to play defense on more districts than anticipated. "Our goal is single-digit losses," said one Senior House Republican strategist. The Cook Political Report moved Republican held districts like Arkansas' 2nd and Texas' 10th to the "Toss Up" category, and overall have 18 Republican seats in the category (including Republican-turned-Libertarian Justin Amash's seat in Michigan's 3rd) compared to 9 Democrat seats. Republicans are still within striking distance for several incumbent freshmen Democrats, such as Kendra Horn in Oklahoma's 5th, Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico 2nd, Max Rose in New York's 11th and Ben McAdams in Utah's 4th. Democrat Collin Peterson has represented Minnesota's 7th district since 1991, but is sitting in a district Mr. Trump won by more than 30 points and is among the likeliest Democrats to lose their seat. He is facing Republican Michelle Fischbach, the state's former Lieutenant Governor.
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