Editor’s note: This is a live account of COVID-19 updates from Thursday, Oct. 22, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here to see all the most recent news about the pandemic, and click here to find additional resources.
Every weekday until Election Day, 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:
- Washington’s lieutenant governor candidates will debate tonight, immediately after the presidential candidates. Here’s how to watch U.S. Rep. Denny Heck and state Sen. Marko Liias.
- Your ballot is due by Nov. 3. You can return it via mail or a drop box in your area, and then track it to ensure it reached its destination.
- Monday is the last day to register to vote or update your information online or by mail. You can register in person during business hours at your county elections office through Election Day; check with your local office for details and COVID-19 safety protocols.
What to know across the U.S.:
- The final presidential debate is tonight. After the utter chaos last time, a mute button is among the changes, but moderator Kristen Welker faces a steep challenge. Here’s a viewers’ guide and five key questions. Watch it live at 6 p.m. Pacific time at seattletimes.com.
- Can President Donald Trump win? Yes. But the path looks narrow and difficult.
- This election will also determine the makeup of Congress, with both parties needing a majority to control the House or Senate. Democrats seem to have a good chance at winning a Senate majority, and their control of the House is not in serious doubt.
Democratic contenders Denny Heck, Marko Liias discuss bipartisanship, state budget, coronavirus in lieutenant governor debate
U.S. Rep. Denny Heck and state Sen. Marko Liias, both Democrats, tackled bipartisanship, coronavirus, public education and the state budget in Washington’s lieutenant governor debate Thursday night, which followed the second and final presidential debate.
While both candidates generally agreed on most issues, Heck, a moderate Democrat who has represented the Olympia area in Congress for the last eight years, worked to remind voters of his “unique depth and breadth of experiences” at the state and federal level. Similarly, Liias, who represents the Lynnwood area in the state Senate, argued his recent work in Olympia makes him more qualified to bring “bold, transformational change” to our state.
Moderators dedicated the first part of the night to both Democrats’ plan to connect with Republican voters. In response, both drew attention to their belief in the importance of bipartisan work.
Both said they would not seek reelection as governor if the current governor left office. They also agreed the state needs to provide students with sufficient devices and technology during the pandemic, and that teachers and staff members must have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) before schools consider welcoming back in-person learning.
The candidates also discussed their willingness to work with the state’s tribes and represent farm operators on an international stage and denounced Boeing for its decision to move its 787 line to South Carolina.
Fact check: Denny Heck says he never said he was retiring altogether, when he announced his retirement from Congress last December.
That's true, but he did write in his 2015 memoir that "I am not running for another office as long as I live. Period.”
— David Gutman (@davidlgutman) October 23, 2020
Lieutenant governor debate begins
Now we're on to the debate between U.S. Rep Denny Heck and state Sen. Marko Liias, who are running to be the state's lieutenant governor.
The race for lieutenant governor in Washington features a Democratic congressman who’s at the end of an eight-year legislative stint against a Democratic state senator who’s in the middle of an eight-year legislative stint.
Both candidates have previously served in lower legislative bodies — both were first elected at age 24 — and both have worked in the private sector in between stints of government service.
While there are certainly differences between Heck and Liias, they’re not huge. And they’re a little bit like the duties of lieutenant governor, the office they both seek: kind of esoteric and not well understood.
Read more about the race here.
Climate change policy a stark divide as Biden and Trump battle for the White House
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in July released a clean-energy plan that sketches the outlines of one of the biggest policy divides of the 2020 election: How to respond to climate change — a complex, high-stakes challenge that will remain long after the coronavirus crisis subsides.
Biden seeks to put the United States on a kind of wartime footing to launch a massive effort — backed by $2 trillion in spending — to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury, which means whatever carbon pollution is emitted into the atmosphere is offset by other measures.
The Biden plan has an even more ambitious target for the elimination of carbon emissions from the generation of the nation’s electricity. That target is 2035, a breakneck pace that is a full decade earlier than the current Washington state deadline.
“Science tells us how we act — or fail to act — in the next 12 years will determine the very livability of our planet,” Biden said in a campaign video.
President Donald Trump has often scoffed at, questioned or downplayed climate science that forecasts average global temperatures by the end of the 21st century will rise from 2.5 degrees to more than 9 degrees Fahrenheit as greenhouse gases build up in the Earth’s atmosphere. During a September visit to a California stricken by massive wildfires, he predicted that, “It will start getting cooler, you just watch.”
Read the full story here.
AP FACT CHECK: Biden's comment on 'Obamacare'
JOE BIDEN: “Not one single person with private insurance would lose their insurance under my plan, nor did they under ‘Obamacare,’ they did not lose their insurance, unless they chose they wanted to go to something else.”
THE FACTS: He’s wrong about “Obamacare.”
Then-President Barack Obama promised if you liked your health insurance, you could keep it under his Affordable Care Act, but that’s not what happened for some.
When “Obamacare” took effect in 2014, several million people lost individual health insurance plans that no longer met minimum standards established by the law. A backlash forced the White House to offer a work-around, but the political damage was done.
Health insurance is such a complicated area that almost any action has the potential for unintended consequences.
Read more fact checking here.
AP FACT CHECK: Examining claims from last Trump-Biden debate
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden sparred Thursday in their final presidential debate, hoping to sway undecided voters in the Nov. 3 election.
A look at how their statements from Nashville, Tennessee, stack up with the facts:
TRUMP on the toll of COVID-19 in the U.S.: “So as you know 2.2 million people, modeled out, were expected to die.”
THE FACTS: This was his first line in the debate, and it is false. The U.S. death toll from the pandemic was not expected to be that high.
Such an extreme projection was merely a baseline if nothing at all were done to fight the pandemic. Doing nothing was never an option and public-health authorities did not expect over 2 million deaths.
Trump often cites the number to put the reality of more than 200,000 deaths in a better light and to attempt to take credit for reducing projected mortality.
At an April 1 briefing, when Trump and his officials discussed an actual projection of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths, the president held out hope of keeping deaths under 100,000. “I think we’re doing better than that.” He has repeatedly moved the goal posts to make the massive mortality and infection numbers look better.
Read more fact checking here.
Trump and Biden talk about unemployment, federal funding for COVID-19 economic relief
President Donald Trump and Joe Biden are now speaking about unemployment. In Washington, even as fewer residents filed for unemployment last week, experts warned that preelection politics could hold up much needed federal funds for the hundreds of thousands of state residents already left jobless by COVID-19.
“Neither party wants the other to look good right now,” said economist Hart Hodges, a director of the Center for Economic and Business Research at Western Washington University, referring to the fraught negotiations between Congress and the White House over a new round of pandemic relief.
The delays come as the state Employment Security Department (ESD) reported a 24.3% decline in new, or “initial,” claims for regular unemployment insurance last week, to 16,890, compared to the prior week. Nationally, new jobless claims fell by 6.5%, to 787,000, for last week, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
Yet Washingtonians are still filing new claims at nearly three times the rate of a year ago, and the total number of people collecting benefits — 304,917, as of last week — remains at near-record highs.
Trump and Biden debate schools reopening, Trump calls NYC a "ghost town"
President Donald Trump and Joe Biden are debating how they would reopen schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. States are using vastly different metrics to gauge when and how to reopen schools, and Washington is among the most cautious.
Trump also described New York City as a "ghost town" that residents fled because of the economic shutdown. The city isn't empty, but far fewer Seattleites moved to New York during the early months of the pandemic compared with 2019.
The final presidential debate begins
The final presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden has started.
During the first two minutes each candidate speaks in each of the six 15-minute segments, his opponent’s microphone will be muted. It’s possible that viewers may still hear Trump or Biden if they shout to interrupt. After those initial statements in each segment, both mics will be on. They are not expected to be cut off during the rest of the segments, even if one candidate keeps interrupting the other or eats up time talking.
Read more about the rules and topics for the debate here.
Seattle, Portland, NYC sue Trump administration over threat to cut funds to ‘anarchist’ cities
Seattle, Portland and New York City are suing the Trump administration over the president’s threats to withhold federal funds from so-called “anarchist jurisdictions.”
The cities say the administration lacks the authority to unilaterally add conditions to congressionally appropriated funds. They also say U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s designation of the cities as anarchist last month, based on any factors he deemed appropriate, was arbitrary and capricious.
“The Trump administration’s political threats against Seattle and other Democratic cities are unlawful and an abuse of federal power,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement Thursday.
Filed Thursday in federal court in Seattle, the lawsuit brought by the three cities takes aim at a Trump memo in September directing federal agencies to withhold funds to “anarchist jurisdictions” and at Barr’s subsequent designation of certain cities as anarchist.
Mute buttons and plexiglass: Inside the final 2020 debate
While millions of people will be watching on television, only around 200 will be allowed inside the massive college arena in Nashville where President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, meet Thursday night for the final presidential debate of the 2020 election.
One of them will control a mute button.
A representative of the Commission on Presidential Debates — not the moderator — will ensure each candidate has two full minutes uninterrupted to deliver opening answers to six major topics, according to debate commission chair Frank Fahrenkopf. A member of the Trump and Biden campaigns is expected to monitor the person who controls the mute button backstage, Fahrenkopf said, noting that the button would not be used beyond the first four minutes of each topic.
The mute button is among a handful of changes implemented by the nonpartisan debate commission to help ensure a better sense of safety and order following the raucous opening debate 23 days ago. Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 two days after that first meeting.
Democratic Party poll shows Carolyn Long narrowly trailing GOP U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler
Conducted by DCCC Analytics Department, Long trailed Herrera Beutler 47% to 49%, according to a news statement by Long’s campaign. The poll of 425 likely voters was conducted Oct. 19-20 and has a margin of error +/- 4.9%.
The poll also showed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump in the district, 45% to 43%.
Democrats are targeting Herrera Beutler again after a close race in 2018, and this year represents a rematch.
That year, Long — a political-science professor with Washington State University’s Vancouver campus — made her first challenge against the five-term congresswoman. But Herrera Beutler prevailed that year, winning with 52.7%.
Nearly 40% of Seattle voters have now returned their election ballots
The flood of early voting in Washington continues apace ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
In Seattle, 38.5% of registered voters had returned their ballots by noon Thursday, according to the King County Elections Department. The city has 496,224 registered voters, with 191,295 ballots now returned.
That number outpaced the return rate for voters across all of King County – but not by much. As of noon Thursday, one-third of King County’s 1,409,017 registered voters had returned their ballots.
Voters across the state have been returning ballots faster than they usually do this early, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a heated presidential election that has included attacks by Presidential Donald Trump on mail voting.
Some Washington counties this year sent ballots to voters early after changes at the U.S. Postal Service led to a temporary slow-down in some mail delivery this summer. A federal judge in September ordered a halt to Postal Service changes that led to the slow down. And election officials in Washington have said they're confident election mail will be delivered in a timely manner.
Still, between that and the possibility of high turnout, elections officials have urged voters to get their ballots in early, if possible.
As of Wednesday night, 1.2 million ballots across Washington state had already received by county election offices, according to a tally by the Secretary of State's office.
High stakes for Trump, Biden heading into final debate tonight
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden hurtled toward Thursday night’s final debate, which may be the trailing incumbent’s best chance to change the race’s trajectory with just 12 days left until the election.
The two men headed for Nashville before the debate, which offers their final national stage to outline starkly different visions for a country in the grips of a surging pandemic that has killed more than 225,000 Americans and cost millions of jobs. Despite historic tumult, the race has remained largely unchanged with Biden holding advantages in many battleground states while Trump faces a shortage of campaign cash and, crucially, time.
Final debates often play an outsized role in electoral outcomes. But Thursday night’s showdown will be different from those past.
More than 42 million people have already cast their ballots as part of a pandemic-era rise in early voting. In an election dominated by a polarizing president, far fewer undecided voters remain than at this point in 2016. And, in a visual reminder of the pandemic that has rewritten the norms of American society and fundamentally changed the campaign, sheets of plexiglass have been installed onstage between the two men.
Read the full story here.
As Washington’s two Democratic lieutenant governor candidates debate tonight, GOP write-In candidate Joshua Freed will hold a Facebook Live event
Tonight’s Washington lieutenant governor debate will feature the two Democrats — U.S. Rep. Denny Heck and state Sen. Marko Liias — who are appearing on the Nov. 3 election ballot.
In response, Joshua Freed, a GOP write-in candidate for lieutenant governor, will hold a Facebook Live event tonight around the same time, at 8 p.m.
Freed, a former Bothell mayor and developer, ran for governor as a Republican this year, but placed third in the August primary.
According to a news statement from his campaign, Freed, who is not on the ballot for lieutenant governor, sought to be included in tonight’s debate but was denied.
Freed’s event will stream at: www.facebook.com/FreedForLtGovernor.
The debate between Heck and Liias will stream at 8 p.m., after tonight’s presidential debate. Here’s how to watch the Heck-Liias event.
Ex-Washington House Speaker Frank Chopp faces challenger Sherae Lascelles in Seattle’s 43rd District
Former Washington Democratic House Speaker Frank Chopp is considered by some to be one of the most powerful elected officials in a generation.
He is the longest-serving House leader in state history, and his announcement in 2018 to step down and become a rank-and-file lawmaker made major waves in Olympia.
Now, Chopp faces a serious challenge for his 43rd District House seat.
It’s not the first time the veteran lawmaker has faced a challenge. For example, when Socialist Alternative challenger Jessica Spear tried to unseat him in 2014. That year, Chopp drew 80% of the primary vote, and won that year’s general election with 82%.
But in this year’s Aug. 4 primary, the numbers told a different story. Chopp drew a shade under 50%, against two other candidates.
Advancing in the top-two primary to face off against Chopp on Nov. 3 is Sherae Lascelles of the Seattle People’s Party. Lascelles, an entrepreneur who has organized for sex workers’ rights, received 31% in the primary.
Lascelles has put out a 20-point platform that includes planks like progressive revenues, such as a tax on capital gains; making housing a human right; free mass transit; and a state-level green new deal. Lascelles has been endorsed by, among others, The Stranger, the Transit Riders Union, Seattle DSA and the Green Party of Seattle.
First elected to the House in 1994, Chopp held or shared the speaker position between 1999 and 2019.
That plan would implement a new tax on some capital gains to pay for affordable housing, workforce education and tax credits for low-income families. It would also create a payroll-style tax similar to the state’s family-and-medical-leave law to pay for early-learning and child-care programs.
And it would impose a tax on corporations by assessing them for each worker they have who earns more than $500,000 per year. That money would go toward public health programs and Washington’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chopp has been endorsed by the Washington State Labor Council, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, Planned Parenthood Votes NW & Hawaii, among others, as well as host of Democratic lawmakers in Seattle, including Rep. Nicole Macri and Sen. Jamie Pedersen, and House Speaker Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma.
Voting centers in King and Snohomish counties to open for residents needing election assistance
The King County Elections Department in Renton is open during weekdays to help residents needing assistance ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
But as the election draws nearer, six other voting centers will open around the county to help voters in person.
The centers come after Washington state lawmakers passed a same-day voter registration law in 2018.
In that legislation, they also required larger cities to open voting centers in presidential election years. That law also requires would-be voters to register in person in the last eight days of the voting period, which this year ends Nov. 3. (Before that point, they can register online or via mail.)
At the centers, residents can also update their records, among other things, according to King County Elections Department. The centers also have election staff and special equipment to help voters with disabilities cast a ballot.
In addition to the Elections Department, one voting center each will open in Federal Way, Kent, Kenmore and Bellevue.
Seattle will have two: at CenturyLink Field Event Center and the University of Washington’s Dempsey Indoor Center.
Days of operation and hours vary at each voting center, so check the details here. But every site will be open Sat., Oct. 31 and on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, facial coverings are required to enter the voting centers.
Meanwhile, Snohomish County will have voting centers open in Arlington, Lynnwood and Everett around and on election day.
For details, check out the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office website.
If you live in any of Washington's 37 other counties and have questions about where and when elections offices will be open, you can find county-by-county contact information here.
Trump posts video from '60 Minutes' interview
President Donald Trump posted a video this morning from his "60 Minutes" interview, which he ended by accusing anchor Lesley Stahl of asking "tough questions."
The "60 Minutes" segment is scheduled for Sunday's broadcast.
A quarter of Washington voters - 1.2 million - have already sent in ballots
Washington's early voting surge continues, with 1.2 million ballots already received by county elections offices as of Wednesday night's count by the Secretary of State's office. (The number are updated daily.)
The 25% statewide turnout compares with just under 10% at this point four years ago. Some counties mailed ballots earlier this year. Here's a breakdown of some key counties:
- King County: 26%
- Snohomish County: 20.2%
- Pierce County: 15%
- Highest turnout - Ferry County: 50.7%
Grays Harbor County has yet to report any ballots received.
GOP-led Senate panel advances Barrett despite Dems’ boycott
WASHINGTON — Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans powered past a Democratic boycott Thursday to advance Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate, keeping President Donald Trump’s pick on track for confirmation before Election Day.
Democratic senators refused to show up in protest of the GOP’s rush to install Trump’s nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Never has the Senate confirmed a Supreme Court nominee so close to a presidential election.
The Republicans, who hold the majority, voted unanimously in favor of Barrett, a conservative judge. Instead of attending, the Democrats displayed posters at their desks of Americans they say have benefited from the Affordable Care Act now being challenged in court. Senators plan to convene a rare weekend session ahead of a final confirmation vote expected Monday.
“This is a groundbreaking, historic moment,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the committee chairman. “We did it.”
The 48-year-old federal judge’s ascent to the high court would lock a 6-3 conservative majority on the court for the foreseeable future. That could open a new era of rulings on the Affordable Care Act, abortion access and even the results of the presidential election.
Read the full story here.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Iran and Russia have obtained American voter registration data, top national security officials said last night, providing concrete evidence that the countries are trying to influence the presidential election. Other world leaders, meanwhile, have a big personal stake in the outcome.
Negotiations on a COVID-19 relief bill are inching forward, but it’s clear the window for action before the Nov. 3 election is closing and the issue will be tossed to a post-election lame-duck session of Congress. The only thing that seems certain beyond that is uncertainty, with Capitol Hill veterans cautioning against expecting a quick and smooth resolution for an aid package that has tied Washington in knots for months.
Former President Barack Obama made his first in-person campaign pitch Wednesday for his former vice president, Joe Biden, urging voters in Philadelphia — especially Black men — not to sit out the election and risk reelecting President Donald Trump.
King County residents can vote with pink sparkly pen if they’d like, thanks to new counting machines. But if you live elsewhere, steer clear of the zesty colors. Nearly a quarter of King County's active registered voters have already turned in their ballots. Did yours make it in? Here's how to check.
In a move rarely seen by professional sports teams, the Seattle Storm voiced its support for the 2020 Democratic ticket, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, on Wednesday.
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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