Every weekday through Nov. 3, we’ll be posting live updates on candidates, voting and other political news in Washington and across the U.S.
What to know in Washington:
- Your ballot is due by Nov. 3. Find help filling it out in our voter guide and The Seattle Times editorial board’s endorsements. When you’re done, find a drop box in your area and track whether your ballot reached its destination.
- It’s too late to register online or by mail, but would-be voters can still register in person until 8 p.m. Nov. 3. Here’s how.
- As of Tuesday evening, 52.6% of Washington’s registered voters had submitted ballots — nearly 2.6 million people.
- Be on the lookout for misinformation. Here’s how to report emails and social media posts that look hinky.
What to know across the U.S.:
- We might not know who the next president is until days or weeks after Election Day. Each state has different rules on when it can start counting ballots, meaning we could see wild shifts before the outcome is clear.
- This election will determine the makeup of Congress. Democrats seem to have a good chance at winning a Senate majority, and their control of the House isn’t in serious doubt.
Glenn Greenwald resigns from the Intercept following dispute over Biden story
Iconoclastic journalist Glenn Greenwald resigned from The Intercept on Thursday afternoon, signaling an abrupt and acrimonious end to his time at the publication he co-founded in 2014 with journalists Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras.
Greenwald, who shared the 2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Public Service for his reporting on National Security Agency domestic surveillance that was uncovered by contractor Edward Snowden, said his departure was related to a piece that he planned to write about former vice president Joe Biden.
In a lengthy note published on Substack, Greenwald said the publication refused to publish the piece, “in violation of my contractual right of editorial freedom,” unless he removed “all sections critical of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the candidate vehemently supported by all New-York-based Intercept editors involved in this effort at suppression.”
The Intercept strongly countered those claims, with editor-in-chief Betsy Reed telling The Washington Post in an email “it is absolutely not true that Glenn Greenwald was asked to remove all sections critical of Joe Biden from his article. He was asked to support his claims and innuendo about corrupt actions by Joe Biden with evidence.”
The Intercept, which is published by nonprofit First Look Media, called it “a preposterous charge that The Intercept’s editors and reporters, with the lone noble exception of Glenn Greenwald, have betrayed our mission to engage in fearless investigative journalism because we have been seduced by the lure of a Joe Biden presidency.”
“A brief glance at the stories The Intercept has published on Joe Biden will suffice to refute those claims,” the statement continued.
A website with Washington voter data clashes with the reality of fears over disinformation
OLYMPIA — The website votewashington.info, one of its developers said, was designed with the very modern concept of getting digital information out into a community to better inform people.
Using publicly available voter information, the page allows users to, among other things, type names into a search field and learn about a ballot’s status: whether it’s been submitted, if it’s been accepted or if its status is being questioned.
“We wanted to make it easier to get out the vote, we wanted more people to vote and we wanted more votes to be cured of that ballot change status,” said Jake Hartsoch, a 46-year-old software developer who lives in Bellingham.
Hartsoch’s vision met a darker 21st century reality this week, as elections officials worry about interference in the Nov. 3 elections. At the same time, voters are tasked with sorting through endless amounts of online information, some of it dubious or outright disinformation.
On Tuesday, the Washington Secretary of State’s Office warned voters against using the website for official information and said it had relayed the website to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and cybersecurity experts.
By Thursday, the Secretary of State’s Office and the website had held a meeting and sort of made up — or at least came to terms with each other. The developers agreed to make some changes, including adding a link to the state’s official voter-management site, votewa.gov.
Kavanaugh fixes error in election opinion after Vermont complaint
Though not unheard-of, such revisions are rare, experts said, adding that Kavanaugh’s change highlighted the court’s fast pace in handling recent challenges to voting rules.
In the opinion, which was issued Monday and alarmed Democrats worried about mail ballots being counted, Kavanaugh wrote that while some states had changed their rules around voting in response to the pandemic, others had not.
“States such as Vermont, by contrast, have decided not to make changes to their ordinary election rules, including to the election-day deadline for receipt of absentee ballots,” he wrote in his original concurring opinion, which was attached to the 5-3 ruling against the deadline extension in Wisconsin.
The decision, issued just over a week before the presidential election, drew intense scrutiny, and Kavanaugh’s opinion prompted a complaint from Vermont’s secretary of state, Jim Condos. He pointed out that the state had, in fact, changed its rules to accommodate voters worried about showing up to polling stations during the pandemic.
Minnesota SOS: Too late to mail ballots — but not to vote
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota’s secretary of state said Thursday it’s too late for voters to mail back their absentee ballots if they want to make sure their votes count, after an appeals court ruling indicated that mail-in ballots arriving after Election Day are at risk of being invalidated.
A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that Minnesota absentee ballots arriving after Election Day should be separated from other ballots in case they are later invalidated by a final court order. The ruling doesn’t block Minnesota’s seven-day extension for counting absentee ballots outright, but puts the grace period in danger.
“Voters should no longer place their absentee ballots in the mail,” Secretary of State Steve Simon said. “It is too late for you, practically speaking, to get it back. Don’t risk it.”
The ruling doesn’t impact ballots received by the time polls close on Election Day, but sets the stage for post-election litigation. The case was sent back to a lower court for more proceedings.
“What the court left unsettled was the question of whether, once and for all and finally, ballots will or won’t be counted if received after Tuesday, Nov. 3,” Simon said. “The decision, to be candid, is not a model of clarity and it leaves open a lot of unanswered questions.”
The decision is likely to create voter confusion, with people who haven’t returned their absentee ballots scrambling to make sure their votes count.
37th Legislative District candidates share background in community organizing
Two candidates — one with political experience and the other a political outsider — are vying for the 37th Legislative District seat being vacated by State Rep. Eric Pettigrew, who announced last January he would not seek reelection.
While their experience in politics varies, both Kirsten Harris-Talley and Chukundi Salisbury come together in their passion for community organizing: They each have spent decades advocating for underrepresented people in the district, which represents Rainer Valley, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Central District, Rainier Beach and Renton.
In the days leading up to the election, Harris-Talley, 41, sat in her Rainier Valley home as her young child sang faintly in the background. As she shared her social-justice based platform in impassioned tones over the phone, she momentarily paused to respond to her child’s question.
Harris-Talley’s identity as a queer, Black mother is so central to her campaign that when she decided to run, her husband and two small children weighed in on the decision.
“A wise person once told me when you run, your whole family runs,” said Harris-Talley.
Salisbury's vision for Washington is simple: “We have a legitimate pathway for young people from this district into high-quality jobs,” said Salisbury. “When I’m done in the legislature, our district will have a pathway with a robust K-12 experience for students who are furthest away from educational justice.”
Read the full story here.
Harris target of more misinformation than Pence, data shows
CHICAGO — Long before Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced her as his running mate, Kamala Harris was the target of widespread online misinformation.
Social media posts included racist claims that she was ineligible to serve in the White House or that she was lying about her Black and Indian heritage. Her mother is from India and her father from Jamaica.
Since being named to the presidential ticket, Harris has been at the center of online misinformation campaigns far more often — four times as much — than the white men who campaigned for the same job, according to a report from media intelligence firm Zignal Labs shared exclusively with The Associated Press.
The firm identified more than 1 million mentions since June on Twitter of Harris with hashtags or terms associated with misinformation about her. The mentions include fact checks that rebuffed the falsehoods, but those made up only a small portion of that conversation.
There’s been a huge uptick in social media conversation around the vice presidential candidates this year, compared to the 2016 campaign. From July to October, Harris and Republican Vice President Mike Pence have been mentioned almost 48 million times combined on Twitter, compared to only 12 million total mentions of Pence or Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee four years ago.
Walmart removes guns, ammunition on display at U.S. stores
NEW YORK — Walmart says it has removed ammunition and firearms from displays at its U.S. stores, citing “civil unrest” in some areas.
The nation’s largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, sells firearms in about half of its 4,700 stores.
“We have seen some isolated civil unrest and as we have done on several occasions over the last few years, we have moved our firearms and ammunition off the sales floor as a precaution for the safety of our associates and customers,” Walmart said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Thursday.
The discounter said the items remain available for purchase by customers.
The move comes after several days of protests, widespread vandalism and an overnight curfew in Philadelphia before Election Day after police fatally shot a Black man with a history of mental health problems.
Walmart made a a similar move in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd that set off sometimes violent demonstrations against police brutality and injustice against African Americans.
Last year, Walmart stopped selling handgun and short-barrel rifle ammunition while requesting that customers not openly carry firearms in its stores, even where state laws allow it. The company also ended the sale of handguns in Alaska, the only state where the discounter sold them.
As virus surges, Trump rallies keep packing in thousands
WASHINGTON — There are no crowds at Disneyland, still shut down by the coronavirus. Fewer fans attended the World Series this year than at any time in the past century. Big concerts are canceled.
But it’s a different story in Trumpland. Thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters regularly cram together at campaign rallies around the country — masks optional and social distancing frowned upon.
Trump rallies are among the nation’s biggest events being held in defiance of crowd restrictions designed to stop the virus from spreading. This at a time when public health experts are advising people to think twice even about inviting many guests for Thanksgiving dinner.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, when you have congregate settings where people are crowded together and virtually no one is wearing a mask, that’s a perfect setup to have an outbreak of acquisition and transmissibility,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, recently told Yahoo News. “It’s a public health and scientific fact.”
The Trump campaign, which distributes masks and hand sanitizer at its rallies, says those who attend are peaceful protesters who, just like Black Lives Matter demonstrators, have a right to assemble. The president says he wants to get the country back to normal.
Read the full story here.
Rep. Dent said he's back at home after he was treated for COVID-19 in ICU
State Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, says he’s back at home recovering from COVID-19 after he was admitted to the intensive care unit last week.
In a news release on Thursday, he said he was admitted on Oct. 21 to the ICU and treated at Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake. The release does not say when he was discharged.
“I cannot say enough about the quality of care and the dedication of the staff at Samaritan. We are truly fortunate to have such a high quality facility in the 13th district,” he said in the release. “I am on the road to recovery and continue with ongoing treatments as a precautionary measure; I feel stronger each day.
“Washington State is facing many serious challenges. More than ever we need to roll up our sleeves and identify solutions to get through these tough times. Becoming infected with COVID-19 was a reminder to me that there is a lot of work to do out there and I am ready to get started” he said.
Dent talked about having the illness during an election interview with KIT radio on Oct. 19.
Dent, 70, is facing a challenge from Quincy Democrat Eduardo Castañeda Diaz. District 13 includes Kittitas, Grant, Lincoln and part of Yakima counties.
Trump’s $250 million coronavirus ad campaign had ‘partisan’ edge, down to the celebrities chosen to participate
A top Trump administration official inserted “partisan political interests” into a $250 million advertising contract awarded just weeks before the election to “defeat despair and inspire hope” amid the coronavirus pandemic — going so far as to exclude celebrities seen as critical of President Donald Trump or his policies, according to documents obtained by Democratic House lawmakers.
In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, three high-ranking Democrats wrote that documents showed that HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Michael Caputo sought to use a taxpayer-funded campaign to boost the president only weeks ahead of his reelection bid. During a September meeting, for instance, he proposed that one of the themes be “Helping the President will Help the Country,” according to one document they obtained from a contractor.
The documents show that Trump political appointees and the contractors they hired also vetted celebrities for the public health campaign based on whether they had ever criticized the president, or supported former President Barack Obama, gay rights or same-sex marriage. Of at least 274 celebrities under consideration, only 10 appear to have been approved, according to a document the lawmakers obtained.
Read the full story here.
Reminder: Six voting centers will be open in King County this weekend
King County is planning to open six new voting centers Saturday to try to serve all voters before and on Election Day, the county elections office announced Wednesday.
The new centers will be in Seattle, Bellevue, Kenmore, Kent and Federal Way — in addition to the in-person service offered at the county election headquarters in Renton. The elections office is encouraging voters to come in Saturday or Monday to avoid long lines on Tuesday, the final day to vote.
Voters who need to register to vote or get a replacement ballot can do so at any of the new sites, the county said.
Here’s where the new centers will be:
Bellevue College Gym, 3000 Landerholm Circle S.E. G, Bellevue
Federal Way Performing Arts and Event Center, 31510 Pete von Reichbauer Way S., Federal Way
Kenmore City Hall, 18120 68th Ave. N.E., Kenmore
ShoWare Center, 625 W. James St., Kent
King County Elections Headquarters, 919 S.W. Grady Way, Renton
CenturyLink Field Event Center, 800 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle
University of Washington-Seattle campus at Dempsey Indoor Center, 3833 Walla Walla Road N.E., Seattle.
Trump, Biden fight for Florida, appeal for Tuesday turnout
TAMPA, Fla. — President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden are encouraging voters to turn out in person on Election Day next Tuesday, both campaigning in Florida, a state all but essential to the Republican’s pathway to another term.
More than 73 million Americans have already voted, absentee or by mail, and Trump and Biden are trying to energize the millions more who will vote on Tuesday. While the Election Day vote traditionally favors Republicans and early votes tend toward Democrats, the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 227,000 people in the United States, has injected new uncertainty.
Trump and Biden were appearing in Tampa hours apart on Thursday. They’re visiting the western end of the state’s Interstate 4 corridor, an area known for rapid residential growth, sprawling suburbs and its status as an ever-changing, hard-fought battleground during presidential elections.
Read the full story here.
Trump officials tout progress on border wall before election
HOUSTON — Top Trump administration officials visited Texas five days before Election Day to announce they have nearly completed 400 miles of U.S.-Mexico border wall, trying to show progress on perhaps the president’s best-known campaign promise four years ago.
While most of the wall went up in areas that had smaller barriers, the government built hundreds of miles of fencing as high as 30 feet (9 meters) in a short amount of time — most of it this year. But crews blasted hills and bulldozed sensitive habitats in national wildlife refuges and on American Indian land to do it, prioritizing areas where they could build more quickly.
The Department of Homeland Security waived environmental and other reviews to expedite construction. And despite President Donald Trump’s repeated promises that Mexico would pay for the wall, the construction has been funded by U.S. taxpayers for at least $15 billion, two-thirds coming from military funding.
In Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, where Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and other officials spoke Thursday, authorities have added just 7 miles (11 kilometers) to sections of stop-and-start fencing. That’s despite the region long being the busiest corridor for unauthorized crossings.
Read the full story here.
Early turnout in Washington nears 57%
With five days to go until Election Day, 56.7% of Washington voters (nearly 2.8 million) have already returned their ballots.
In 2016 at the same point, roughly 32% of the votes were in, according to the Wednesday evening update from the Secretary of State's office.
After an early surge, the reported daily turnout pace has slowed somewhat; about 1.6 million ballots came in during the first three days of last week, compared with 740,000 in the first three days of this week.
Voters have until 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 to get ballots postmarked or deliver them to drop boxes or voting centers.
Some turnout highlights by county:
- King County: 58.5% (Seattle: 64.7%)
- Snohomish County: 56.2%
- Pierce County: 52.4%
- Spokane County: 58.8%
- Jefferson County (highest): 71.3%
- Klickitat County (lowest): 43.9%
Options dwindling for U.S. voters diagnosed with COVID-19 as Election Day nears
Hundreds of thousands of Americans will be diagnosed with COVID-19 between now and Election Day, leaving many scrambling for alternatives to in-person voting and injecting another dimension of uncertainty into an election already shadowed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Those voters will need to navigate an unfamiliar and varied landscape to cast their ballots. Some will be required to get doctor’s notes or enlist family members to help. Others, in isolation, will need to have a witness present while they vote. Planned accommodations — such as officials hand-delivering ballots — may prove inadequate or could be strained beyond limits.
Sudden illness is an impediment to voting every election year, typically for a small number of Americans. Many provisions to help those voters apply exclusively to people who are hospitalized.
But with some 70,000 new cases of COVID-19 recorded each day, a swath of Americans larger than the population of Wyoming or Vermont will probably contract the disease in the 10 days leading up to Nov. 3, which is now five days away. The number of people affected is greater still when accounting for those who quarantine not because they are diagnosed but because they had contact with an infected person.
Many of these people will already have voted or will not be eligible to vote. But for those who intended to vote in person, the options are dwindling.
Read the full story here.
Florida, butt of election jokes, believes system is ready
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Even if the presidential election hinges on a Florida recount like 20 years ago, hanging chads and butterfly ballots won’t be around to trip up voters and officials — changes to ballots, equipment and laws have made the Bush-Gore circus a relic never to be revisited, state elections officials believe.
Though there are other scenarios that make elections officials nervous, the computer punch-card ballots that fueled 2000’s chaos are buried in history’s landfill. Casting valid ballots and processing them is now easier, even before Election Day, and the Legislature has enacted clearer laws governing recounts.
The Associated Press spoke with most of Florida’s 67 county elections supervisors or top aides in recent weeks along with voting rights groups, and they expect the system to run smoothly in the nation’s largest swing state, even with the pandemic. And if the winner’s victory margin is razor thin, recounts in 2018 for governor and U.S. Senate, while not perfect, showed the system works even when candidates, elected officials and their supporters apply pressure.
Read the full story here.
Wisconsin Republican Party says hackers stole $2.3 million
MADISON, Wis. — Hackers stole $2.3 million from the Wisconsin Republican Party’s account that was being used to help reelect President Donald Trump in the key battleground state, the party’s chairman told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The party noticed the suspicious activity on Oct. 22 and contacted the FBI on Friday, said Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt.
Hitt said the FBI is investigating. FBI spokesman Leonard Peace did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The attack was discovered less than two weeks before Election Day as both Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden made their final push to win Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes. Trump won the state by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016 and planned his third visit in seven days on Friday. Biden also planned to campaign in Wisconsin on Friday. Polls have consistently shown a tight race in the state, usually with Biden ahead by single digits and within the margin of error.
Read the full story here.
The candidates vying to represent Washington's 36th Legislative District are really similar. Here's where they differ.
Voters in Seattle’s Queen Anne, Magnolia and Ballard neighborhoods are going to elect a Democrat to replace Washington state Rep. Gael Tarleton, who vacated her 36th Legislative District seat to run for secretary of state. They’re going to pick a working parent who supports a tax on capital gains, a clean fuel standard, an assault weapons ban and affordable child care.
The question is: Which one?
Liz Berry and Sarah Reyneveld agree on most issues and even once belonged to the same book club. But there are some differences in experience, priorities and policies.
Read more on what sets each candidate apart, and how a negative mailer shook up the race.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
King County will open six new voting centers Saturday to try to serve voters before and on Election Day. You can register, drop off your ballot or get a replacement ballot there.
Democrats won two big Supreme Court victories involving voting deadlines in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and North Carolina yesterday. With hundreds of lawsuits flying, this is already the most litigious presidential election in memory.
The fatal shooting of another Black man by police has brought the fraught issues of policing and racism back to the fore of the presidential election. After Walter Wallace Jr.'s shooting in the key election state of Pennsylvania, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden are both talking about some of the same issues that roiled cities earlier this year.
After a video of voters dancing for joy went viral, its very energetic star is talking about how "they can't break us down." In Seattle, too, musicians are lifting their voices and instruments to boost voter turnout in the "most important election of our lifetime" — no surprise, as activism and civic engagement are deeply ingrained in Seattle music culture.
The Spokesman-Review, the daily newspaper in Spokane, will no longer publish endorsements or unsigned editorials. The decision from one of Washington’s largest papers comes after an editorial published over the weekend calling President Donald Trump a "wretched human being" but endorsing him for re-election anyway. The endorsement was attributed to the newspaper’s editorial board, which is one person: publisher Stacey Cowles.
“Unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices” by tech giants Google and Facebook have suffocated local news outlets, contributing to a critical deficit of trustworthy local journalism. That's according to a new minority report from the Senate Commerce Committee released by ranking member Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
A former Trump administration official who penned a scathing anti-Trump op-ed and book under the pen name “Anonymous” made his identity public Wednesday, tweeting: “Donald Trump is a man without character. It’s why I wrote ‘A Warning’ … and it’s why me & my colleagues have spoken out against him (in our own names) for months. It’s time for everyone to step out of the shadows.”
2020 Election Resources
For more information about voting, ballot drop boxes, accessible voting and online ballots, contact your county elections office. Ballots are due by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.
- King County: 206-296-8683 or st.news/vote-kingcounty
- Snohomish County: 425-388-3444 or st.news/vote-snocounty
- Kitsap County: 360-337-7128 or st.news/vote-kitsapcounty
- Pierce County: 253-798-8683 or st.news/vote-piercecounty
For more information on your ballot, in any county, go to: myvote.wa.gov
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