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. For information about what’s on it, visit our voter guide and The Seattle Times editorial board’s endorsements.
- You can return your ballot via mail or a drop box in your area. Here’s how to see whether it reached its destination, and here’s a peek inside the counting process in King County.
- 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.
- As of Wednesday evening, nearly 2.8 million ballots have been returned in Washington, representing 56.7% of the state’s registered voters.
- Washington voters should be on the lookout for misinformation, the secretary of state said Monday. Here’s how to report emails and social media posts that look hinky.
What to know across the U.S.:
- Here’s a comparison of where Donald Trump and Joe Biden stand on hot issues.
- 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 is not in serious doubt.
Oregon could become first US state to decriminalize hard drugs
SALEM, Ore. — In what would be a first in the U.S., possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other hard drugs could be decriminalized in Oregon under a ballot measure that voters are deciding on in Tuesday’s election.
Measure 110 is one of the most watched initiatives in Oregon because it would drastically change how the state’s justice system treats people caught with amounts for their personal use.
Instead of being arrested, going to trial and facing possible jail time, the users would have the option of paying $100 fines or attending new, free addiction recovery centers.
The centers would be funded by tax revenue from retail marijuana sales in the state that was the country’s first to decriminalize marijuana possession.
It may sound like a radical concept even in one of the most progressive U.S. states — but countries including Portugal, the Netherlands and Switzerland have already decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs, according to the United Nations.
Oregon’s measure is backed by the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon chapter of the American College of Physicians and the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians.
Opponents include two dozen district attorneys who urged a no vote, saying the measure “recklessly decriminalizes possession of the most dangerous types of drugs (and) will lead to an increase in acceptability of dangerous drugs.”
Who is voting? Who is winning? Early vote only offers clues
As early voting breaks records across the U.S., political analysts and campaigns are reviewing reams of data on the voters, looking for clues to key questions: Who is voting? And who is winning?
On one level, the answers can be simple. Registered Democrats are outpacing registered Republicans significantly — by 14 percentage points — in states that are reporting voters’ party affiliation, according to an Associated Press analysis of the early vote.
But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Many Americans’ choices don’t align with their party registration. Meanwhile, polls show Republicans have heeded President Donald Trump’s baseless warnings about mail voting, and large numbers intend to vote on Election Day. That means the early Democratic surge could give way to a Republican surge on Tuesday.
The picture is further clouded by the unprecedented nature of how Americans are voting. While Democrats are hungry for signs that key parts of their coalition — young voters, Black voters, new voters — are engaged, comparisons to 2016 are difficult.
Judge in Portland cites Trump tweets in restricting feds at protests
PORTLAND, Ore. — A federal judge found Friday that tweets by President Donald Trump helped incite improper conduct by federal officers responding to racial justice demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, and directed both sides in a lawsuit to determine “rules of engagement” for officers acting outside a U.S. courthouse.
U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman granted a preliminary injunction on a First Amendment claim in the case against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security filed by two state lawmakers, the Portland-based Western States Center, a church and a legal observer, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
However, Mosman rejected their claim that the federal officers violated the 10th Amendment’s separation of powers.
He directed the parties to agree on the “contours” of the injunction, asking them to provide him with their best proposals within hours Friday because he wants a deal reached before Election Day, when mass protests are expected.
Read the full story here.
With salsa, caravans, Cubans make last push to reelect Trump
MIAMI — On the spur of the moment, a singer in a Cuban salsa band had an idea for a lyric to please fellow Trump supporters at a Miami birthday party.
Tirso Luis Paez flicked his hand so his band mates would let him take over during a crowd favorite, “Cuba is Me,” and instead of singing the usual chorus, he belted out: “Yo voy a votar, por Donald Trump!”
The seemingly spontaneous moment with Los 3 de la Habana was live-streamed and soon viewed by tens of thousands. The Trump campaign quickly featured it in a national ad projecting Miami Cuban enthusiasm for the Republican leader to Latino markets across the country. An English language version, “Oh my God I will vote, I will vote for Donald Trump,” spread online as well.
Florida’s Cuban American voters remain a bright spot in Trump’s effort to retain his winning coalition from 2016. Polls show his strong support from these key voters may even be growing to include the younger Cuban Americans that Democrats once considered their best hope of breaking the GOP’s hold. For Trump, that support could prove essential in a tight race in a state he must win to beat Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Read the full story here.
If 2020 is like 2000, Trump believes he’s got the votes
WASHINGTON — More than 81 million Americans have already voted in the presidential election, but President Donald Trump thinks he can count on one hand the votes that will determine the outcome.
“I think this will end up in the Supreme Court,” Trump said last month of the election.
The justices have already tackled issues involving voting in more than half a dozen states. On Friday, the president on Twitter sharply criticized their decision involving an extended deadline for receiving mailed-in ballots in North Carolina as “CRAZY and so bad for our Country.”
His disapproving comments highlight the tension between the law and politics that Chief Justice John Roberts has long said he would like to see the court avoid. Two years ago, Roberts issued a rare public rebuke of Trump for suggesting that judges are loyal to the presidents who appoint them.
Read the full story here.
Early turnout in Washington surpasses 60%
With four days to go until Election Day, 60.8% of Washington voters (nearly 3 million) have already returned their ballots.
In 2016 at the same point, roughly 41% of the votes were in, according to the latest update from the Secretary of State's office. The amount of ballots received as of Thursday evening has surpassed the number of ballots received by Election Day in 2016.
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, as of Thursday evening:
- King County: 67% (Seattle: 72%, as of noon Friday)
- Snohomish County: 60.4%
- Pierce County: 55.9%
- Spokane County: 62%
- Jefferson County (highest): 73.9%
- Adams County (lowest): 51.1%
Federal judge likely to require sweeps of Michigan and Wisconsin postal facilities for ballots
OLYMPIA — A federal judge said he’s likely to issue a court order later today requiring sweeps of some postal facilities in Michigan and Wisconsin to make sure ballots are being sent and delivered ahead of Tuesday’s elections.
The announcement by Judge Stanley Bastian of the U.S. District Court of Eastern Washington late Friday morning comes after the office of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson asked for a hearing on short notice to address concerns about slow mail delivery.
The hearing is part of a legal challenge brought this summer by Washington and 13 other states that sought to stop changes made by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) that slowed delivery, even as the practice of voting by mail explodes amid the coronavirus pandemic. Bastian in September ordered USPS to halt some of its changes until after the elections to make sure Americans aren’t deprived of their right to vote in what has been a tense and polarizing election year.
In Friday’s hearing, Washington state Solicitor General Noah Purcell said data showed improved mail delivery across the country since slowdowns this summer, when mail-processing machines were disconnected and other changes slowed delivery across the country.
Since then, at least 100 pieces of mail-processing equipment have been reconnected, Purcell said, and 95% of election mail has been delivered according to First Class standards. But Purcell said data showed delivery problems in Southeastern Michigan’s Detroit area and in the region around Lakeland, Wisconsin. Both presidential candidates are competing in the two states, which in 2016 helped deliver a surprise victory to Trump.
Purcell asked Bastian to take a number of steps, including sweeps of postal facilities to make sure ballots aren’t being stranded, having inspectors in the facilities to speak with workers, and a detailed election plan by USPS to avoid any problems in the two regions.
“These problems are unacceptably interfering in the public’s right to vote,” Purcell told Bastian in the hearing.
In response, U.S. Department of Justice attorney Joseph Borson said that the data released on delivery times don’t necessarily paint the full picture, and that in some cases, smaller numbers of mail volume meant a few slow ballots could be skewing percentages.
“These ballots are definitely getting delivered … in time for deadlines,” Borson said, adding that USPS already implemented an election plan to make sure ballots are delivered to and from election offices.
Bastian said he expected to grant the states’ request to perform regular sweeps of the postal facilities in the two regions of Michigan and Wisconsin through the election to make sure ballots weren’t being left behind. The judge said he expected to issue a written order by the end of Friday.
Seattle urges residents to 'Rock the Block' on Election Day; here's how
Knowing that many Seattle residents will get together on Election Day but concerned about people spreading COVID-19 indoors, the city is encouraging neighbors to gather outside on residential streets.
Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle Department of Transportation announced a “Rock the Block” program Friday to expedite street closures.
The program is for street closures between noon and 9 p.m. on Nov. 3 that are: one block long; outside city-designated urban centers; not within three blocks of a ballot drop box; not on an arterial street; and not on a street with buses.
In a news release, the city said residents who want to close their blocks should tell their neighbors, register online, make or print signs and procure barricades.
For intersections between non-arterial streets, garbage or recycling bins can be used as barricades. For intersections with arterial streets, actual traffic barricades should be used (these can be rented). Barricades in use past 5 p.m. should include retroreflective materials.
“We’re in the midst of a global public health crisis and an election cycle that has perpetuated fear, anxiety, and uncertainty for so many of us, both here in Seattle and across our country,” Durkan said in the news release.
“We wanted to facilitate ways for Seattle residents to be in community with their loved ones and neighbors in a way that’s safe, healthy, and respects the need for social distancing as (COVID-19) cases are rising in King County.”
Since last month, the city has been allowing neighbors to apply for “Stay Healthy Blocks,” street closures unrelated to Election Day. That program will continue until Nov. 30.
There’s also a “Trick or Street Blocks” street closures program for Halloween.
Biden marks Iowa rise from caucus collapse to fall contender
DES MOINES, Iowa — When Joe Biden was last in Iowa, his presidential campaign was on the verge of collapse and he was soundly trounced in the caucuses by a former Indiana mayor nearly 40 years his junior. He returns Friday as the Democratic nominee, believing he’s just days away from becoming president-elect.
Biden’s trip reflects the remarkable arc of his third presidential campaign. He entered the race as the most experienced candidate in a crowded primary, but was overshadowed by fresh faces who dazzled Democratic voters and nearly ran out of money.
But Democrats have rallied behind Biden as their best candidate to defeat President Donald Trump and unify a country facing health, economic and social crises. And the money woes that plagued Biden during the primary have vanished as he’s built a nearly two-to-one cash advantage over Trump that’s allowed him to flood the airwaves and make ambitious plays for states like Iowa, which flipped to Republican in 2016.
The dramatic nature of Biden’s rise is eclipsed only by the challenges faced by Trump — whose confidence in his reelection was dealt a devastating blow by the coronavirus pandemic this spring, with the public health and economic crises still rearing their heads in the days leading up to the close of polling.
Read the full story here.
What’s the line between legal poll watching and illegal voter intimidation?
Some voter intimidation is blatant, like the time when off-duty sheriff’s deputies and police officers in New Jersey patrolled predominantly Black and Latino polling places on Election Day while wearing armbands with a made-up name, the National Ballot Security Task Force.
Carrying revolvers and two-way radios on their belts, they questioned voters, ripped down campaign signs and harassed poll workers, all on behalf of the Republican Party, whose candidate for governor won by a razor-thin margin of 1,797 votes.
The New Jersey scheme, which took place in 1981 but is still remembered for its brashness by those who track transgressions at the polls, was clear-cut enough that the Republican National Committee agreed afterward to refrain from targeting minority voters in the name of preventing supposed voter fraud. But just what constitutes unlawful behavior on Election Day can be challenging to define, experts say, and can differ drastically from one jurisdiction to the next.
Is a visible weapon inherently intimidating? What about chanting “four more years” outside a polling place? Or accosting a man helping his disabled mother to vote?
Such questions may be crucial this Election Day as experts warn of potential unrest and increased activity by far-right extremists, and as President Donald Trump’s request that supporters “go into the polls” and “watch very closely” has resulted in confusion over what amounts to legal poll watching and what crosses the line into unlawful intimidation.
Read the full story here.
No big money deluge this time as Rep. Kim Schrier seeks reelection against GOP challenger Jesse Jensen
If either party believes Republican challenger Jesse Jensen has a good shot at unseating Democratic U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier in the Nov. 3 election, they’re not acting like it.
In contrast with two years ago, when Schrier flipped the historically Republican 8th Congressional District amid a $30 million torrent of ad spending, her reelection bid this year is proceeding quietly, drawing scant interest from outside groups.
Still, Jensen, a decorated combat veteran and former Amazon manager, insists an upset could be in the making, and Schrier, a longtime pediatrician, says she’s taking nothing for granted.
Schrier, 52, defeated former Republican state Sen. Dino Rossi in 2018, taking 52% of the vote in one of the most expensive congressional races in U.S. history. A Sammamish resident who had run a pediatrics practice in Issaquah, Schrier’s 2018 win was a major victory for Democrats and helped the party take a majority in the U.S. House.
The 8th District remains a potential swing-voter territory, running from eastern King and Pierce counties’ suburbs across the Cascade Mountains to include the more conservative Kittitas and Chelan counties.
Read more about the 8th Congressional District race here.
Judge grants Ferguson's request for hearing on postal delays
In August, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued President Donald Trump and his administration over changes to mail service that could potentially delay the delivery of ballots during the November election.
In his lawsuit, Ferguson alleged that the changes — like removing mail-processing equipment, shutting down postal distribution centers in Washington and limiting overtime for mail carriers — ran afoul of federal laws requiring the U.S. Postal Service to follow a specific process for making changes.
37th Legislative District candidates in Washington 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: Each has spent decades advocating for underrepresented people in the district, which takes in Rainer Valley, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, the Central District, Rainier Beach and Renton.
Harris-Talley’s decision to run for Position 2 in the 37th Legislative District came at her neighbors’ request. She said her Rainier Valley neighbors were disheartened by the voting patterns of incumbent Pettigrew, who had voted against eviction protections.
Always swimming on the periphery of politics and never diving in, Salisbury, 50, didn’t think he would run this year. But that changed after getting into a car accident last January that made him reflect on how he wants to spend the remainder of his life. A few days before Pettigrew announced his retirement, Kobe Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash rattled Salisbury. That weekend as he grieved Bryant’s death, he was struck by a famous quote from the film “The Shawshank Redemption”: “Get busy living or get busy dying.” In that moment, Salisbury thought: “You know, I’m going to run for office.”
Read more about the 37th Legislative District race here.
Texas early voting exceeds total of all 2016 ballots
AUSTIN, Texas — Texans have already cast more ballots in the presidential election than they did during all of 2016, an unprecedented surge of early voting in a state that was once the country’s most reliably Republican, but may now be drifting toward battleground status.
More than 9 million ballots have been cast as of Friday morning in the nation’s second most-populous state, exceeding the 8,969,226 cast in 2016, according to an Associated Press tally of early votes from data provided by Texas officials.
Texas is the first state to hit the milestone. This year’s numbers were aided by Democratic activists challenging in court for, and winning, the right to extend early voting by one week amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Texas also offers only limited vote-by-mail options when compared to the rest of the country, meaning casting in-person, early ballots is the primary way to vote for people who don’t want to line up and do so on Election Day.
Read the full story here.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
For many, this Election Day feels like a pivotal point in U.S. history. How does it stack up with the tumultuous times in our past, and what might lie ahead? We asked seven historians to provide perspective, and the result is a compelling and sometimes chilling read.
The new website was supposed to "make it easier to get out the vote," a Bellingham software developer says, but it met a darker reality when the Washington Secretary of State's Office warned voters against it and alerted Homeland Security. Now the two sides have held a meeting and sort of made up — or at least came to terms with each other.
State Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, says he’s back at home recovering from COVID-19 after being admitted to an intensive care unit Oct. 21. Dent, 70, is facing a challenge from Quincy Democrat Eduardo Castañeda Diaz.
Joe Biden's call for a national mask mandate is gaining traction among public health experts, although it would be far from simple. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is widening his split with top U.S. health officials as he talks about Californians' spaghetti, meat sauce and masks.
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 said. The chairman said that the FBI is investigating.
As worries about post-election unrest grow, Walmart has removed guns and ammo from displays at U.S. stores. The nation’s largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, sells firearms in about half of its 4,700 stores.
On a happy note: A pregnant woman didn’t let labor stop her from casting her vote in a scene that left everyone grinning. And here's the heartening tale of how a teen went to great lengths to be first in line with his ballot, because he was determined to "make my voice heard."
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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