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. It can be returned via mail or a drop box in your area. If you mail your ballot, the U.S. Postal Service recommends doing so by today, although in Washington it just needs to be postmarked — not necessarily received — by Nov. 3. Here’s how to see 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 to get it done. Then find help in our voter guide and The Seattle Times editorial board’s endorsements.
- As of Monday, nearly 2.3 million ballots have been returned in Washington, representing 46% of the state’s registered voters.
- Washington voters should be on the lookout for misinformation, the secretary of state said Monday as she touted safeguards. 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 is not in serious doubt.
In final days of Washington’s elections, fear of misinformation and mail delays persist
OLYMPIA — U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene Tuesday called for an investigation into why five pieces of decommissioned mail-processing equipment in Redmond have not been reconnected despite a court order to make sure election ballots are delivered in a timely manner.
Meanwhile, state election officials warned residents against using an unauthorized website displaying some Washington voter data.
Tuesday’s twin developments highlight two fears percolating in the election’s final week: concerns over online disinformation and questions about the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) compliance with a court order halting Trump administration changes that have slowed some mail delivery.
Washingtonians are returning ballots early at massive rates ahead of the Nov. 3 elections, like voters around the nation after concerns that late-arriving votes might not be counted.
DelBene, a Democrat from Medina in the 1st Congressional District, called for state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to investigate after her office learned that some mail-processing equipment at a Redmond facility hasn’t been reconnected despite a court order halting some recent changes.
Read the full story here.
Washington state Democrats, teachers union inject last-minute money to boost Reykdal’s schools chief campaign
Fueled by concerns that it could be a close race, Washington State Democrats and their key funders, including the statewide teachers union, are staging a last-minute effort to push incumbent schools chief Chris Reykdal into the limelight, injecting more than $750,000 into the race to boost his campaign in the past month.
In the final stretch of a nonpartisan race that has turned bitterly ideological, Governor Jay Inslee and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal this week criticized Reykdal challenger Maia Espinoza, questioning her credibility and the accuracy of her statements on the campaign trail. They described her as a Trump Republican and likened her to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos because of her support for expanding school voucher programs — something a state schools chief does not have the legal power to enact alone.
Last week, the state’s Democratic Party donated $105,000 to Reykdal’s campaign, and a political action committee formed in September has spent three-quarters of a million dollars on digital and mail advertising in support of the campaign. The PAC, called Strong Public Schools, is mostly funded by the Washington Education Association union, which represents teachers unions in 300 school districts.
With nearly $352,000 in direct contributions and $702,000 in independent support, Reykdal’s campaign has attracted more money than any other campaign for state schools chief since at least 2008. So far, he has spent about $269,000, putting him in second place for spending since at least 2008. Terry Bergeson, an incumbent who ran unsuccessfully for a fourth term against Reykdal’s predecessor, Randy Dorn, spent $344,000 that year. Espinoza has raised about $199,000 and spent $195,000.
Read the full story here.
Early-voting surge scrambles Election Day expectations as some states gallop toward 2016 turnout levels
After weeks of early and mail voting, at least 69 million Americans have already cast their ballots for next week’s election, a historic figure that has upended expectations about Election Day and which states could decide the presidential contest.
The massive number, which includes voters who have cast ballots either in person or by mail, has stunned election officials and campaign operatives. It equals roughly half of the total turnout in 2016 — all but ensuring, with early voting continuing through the weekend, that the majority of ballots will be cast before Election Day for the first time in history.
The overwhelming demand to vote now — which has led to long lines nationwide — reflects a widespread sense of urgency to chart the country’s course over the next four years, despite the voting challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. And it puts this year’s election on pace for a historic rate of participation not seen since the early 1900s.
For now, the early numbers overwhelmingly favor Democrats in 16 of 19 states that provide such data. But the gap between Democratic and Republican voters has narrowed in recent days in several battleground states, and the campaigns of President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden noted that more Republicans are expected to vote on Nov. 3, Election Day, than Democrats, according to numerous polls.
The question is how many more.
Inslee waives COVID-19 restrictions for voters casting ballots
OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday waived some COVID-19 restrictions temporarily where they might apply to Washington voters casting ballots for the Nov. 3 election.
Inslee’s emergency order “temporarily suspends any COVID-related orders that could be interpreted to restrict access to voting centers and student engagement HUBS by persons intending to register to vote, obtain a ballot, receive assistance with a ballot, deposit a ballot or use other voting-related services,” according to a news statement.
The proclamation deems essential both elections personnel and volunteers, as well as county elections offices, voting centers and student engagement sites.
"The right to vote is one of the cornerstones of our democracy," Inslee said in prepared remarks. "Even in the middle of a pandemic, it's vital that everyone’s voices are heard. We are dedicated to ensuring that anyone can cast their ballot in a safe manner and we are protecting the crucial election personnel and volunteers that make this democratic process possible."
Read more about the proclamation here.
Obama’s new gig: gleefully needling Trump
Former President Barack Obama bounded off the stage in Philadelphia last week after his debut as Joe Biden’s 2020 battering ram and pronounced himself pumped — and even a bit delighted at the chance to troll his troll, President Donald Trump.
“Oh man, that felt good,” Obama told a friend in a phone call, and he let Biden’s staff know that the ungainly format of the event — a “drive-in rally” where he addressed hundreds of supporters in cars in a stadium’s parking lot — had worked surprisingly well, according to several people close to the former president who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
In 2016, Obama took his whacks at Trump on behalf of Hillary Clinton. Then he stepped up his criticism of his successor during the 2018 midterm elections. This summer, during the virtual Democratic convention, he offered a damning jeremiad against the president, warning that Trump’s reelection would “tear our democracy down.”
Read the full story here.
Biden faces challenges in quickly combating the pandemic
WILIMINGTON, Del. — If Joe Biden wins next week’s election, he says he’ll immediately call Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert. He’ll work with governors and local officials to institute a nationwide mask-wearing mandate and instruct Congress to pass a sweeping spending bill by the end of January to address the coronavirus and its fallout.
That alone would mark a significant shift from President Donald Trump, who has feuded with scientists, struggled to broker a new stimulus deal and reacted to the recent surge in U.S. virus cases by insisting the country is “rounding the turn.”
But Biden would still face significant political challenges in combating the worst public health crisis in a century. He will encounter the limits of federal powers when it comes to mask requirements and is sure to face resistance from Republicans who may buck additional spending.
“There are no magic wands,” said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, vice dean for public health practice at Johns Hopkins University and former Maryland state health department chief who recently briefed Biden on reopening schools during the pandemic. “It’s not like there’s an election, and then the virus beats a hasty retreat.”
Read the full story here.
Washington secretary of state warns against unauthorized voter site
OLYMPIA – The Washington Secretary of State’s Office has reported a website posting state election data to a federal government cybersecurity agency, saying it shouldn’t be trusted as valid election information.
The office warned state residents about a website called votewashington.info, according to a statement Tuesday via Twitter.
“It is not an official site of the Office of Secretary of State, nor is it a verifiable source of election information,” according to the Secretary of State’s Office. “Voters should not rely on this website as a source of election information.”
The website, which doesn’t state who owns it and doesn’t provide any contact information, was displaying voter turnout statistics so far per county.
State officials have reported the website to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, as well as the Center for Internet Security, according to Tuesday’s statement.
Melania Trump slams Biden, Dems in first solo campaign stop
ATGLEN, Pa. — Melania Trump lined up squarely with her husband Tuesday on her first solo trip of the 2020 campaign, slamming Joe Biden, Democrats and the media as she pushed the president’s reelection message in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.
The first lady defended Donald Trump’s record on COVID-19 even as he continues to play down the threat of a virus that has killed more than 226,000 Americans. She sought to shift the blame to Democrats, who she said tried to “put their own agendas ahead of the American people’s well-being” and focused on a “sham impeachment” instead of the coronavirus.
Mrs. Trump also denounced what she called Biden’s “socialist agenda” and criticized media coverage of “idle gossip and palace intrigue” in the White House.
Biden’s “policies and socialist agenda will only serve to destroy America and all that has been built in the past four years,” she said. “We must keep Donald in the White House so he can finish what he’s started and our country can continue to flourish.”
The first lady, who recently recovered from what she has described as a mild case of COVID-19, appeared on a day when Pennsylvania health authorities reported a recording-shattering 2,751 new virus infections statewide. COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations in Pennsylvania have more than doubled since the beginning of October.
Read the full story here.
Pfizer CEO all but rules out vaccine before Election Day
After weeks of dangling the possibility of coronavirus vaccine results by October, Pfizer’s chief executive said Tuesday that would now be nearly impossible.
The announcement, by Dr. Albert Bourla, came on the same day that Pfizer announced third-quarter earnings, and all but ruled out the possibility of early results before the presidential election next Tuesday. President Donald Trump had long sought to tie the possibility of positive vaccine news to his own prospects for reelection.
In a call with investors Tuesday, Wall Street analysts pushed Bourla to be more specific about when the company would have early results that could show the effectiveness of its vaccine, and how much detail the company would provide. Pfizer is one of four companies with large, late-stage clinical trials underway in the United States.
In his remarks, Bourla acknowledged the urgency of developing a vaccine amid a global resurgence in infections. In the United States over the past week, there have been an average of more than 71,000 coronavirus cases per day, and hospitalizations are increasing, too.
“Let’s be very patient — I know how much the stress levels are growing,” Bourla said. “I know how much the vaccine is needed for the world.” He also pushed back against any suggestion that politics were motivating the speed of development, saying “this is not a Republican vaccine, or a Democrat vaccine.”
Read the full story here.
During Trump’s term, millions of government and GOP dollars have flowed to his properties
President Donald Trump welcomed the Japanese prime minister at Mar-a-Lago, in front of a towering arrangement of roses. The two could have met in Washington, but Trump said his private club was a more comfortable alternative.
“It is, indeed, the Southern White House,” Trump said, greeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in front of the press.
For Trump, there was another, hidden benefit. Money.
At Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s company would get paid to host his summit.
In the next two days, as Trump and Abe talked about trade and North Korea, Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., club billed the U.S. government $13,700 for guest rooms, $16,500 for food and wine and $6,000 for the roses and other floral arrangements.
Trump’s club even charged for the smallest of services. When Trump and Abe met alone, with no food served, the government still got a bill for what they drank.
“Bilateral meeting,” the bill said. “Water.” $3 each.
Those payments from April 2018, revealed here for the first time, are part of a long-running pattern whose scope has become clear only in recent months.
Read the full story.
AP fact check: Trump sees voting chaos that does not exist
WASHINGTON — Seeing chaos where others don’t, President Donald Trump is falsely asserting that voting by mail is proving to be rife with problems across the country. For the most part, the surge in early votes has been managed smoothly.
Trump also made the impossible demand that all votes be counted election night. That is guaranteed not to happen. Some states will be counting mailed votes for days and many may not have final results that night. It’s all part of Trump’s effort to sow distrust in the integrity of the election if he loses.
He introduced a new twist in his case Tuesday, encouraging people who have already cast ballots for Democrat Joe Biden to change their vote to him. Some states allow people who voted early to change their ballot if they show up Election Day and nullify their initial vote; many do not.
TRUMP: “Big problems and discrepancies with Mail In Ballots all over the USA. Must have final total on November 3rd.” — tweet Monday.
THE FACTS: No, the catastrophe Trump has warned darkly about for months in mail-in voting has not materialized.
There have been sporadic reports of voters receiving mail ballots that were incorrectly formatted and other localized hitches in the record early turnout, but the large-scale disenfranchisement that election experts worried might happen has not been seen.
Read the fact check here.
Push for pre-election stimulus checks fails as lawmakers head for the exits
WASHINGTON — Congress has left town until after the election without passing any new economic or health care relief measures even as the coronavirus pandemic surges and the economy sputters.
Negotiations faltered in part because the bipartisan urgency that the White House and Congress shared earlier this year evaporated over the summer as the November elections neared.
After days of bitterly partisan debate and a vote late Monday confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, senators are headed back home to campaign for reelection. The House has been out of session for weeks, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have continued to negotiate around a new $2 trillion relief bill.
Their talks have shown scant evidence of progress, but neither Pelosi nor Mnuchin seems to want to be the one to say it’s over. Pelosi continues to insist she wants a deal before the election that would include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, among other things. But at the same time, her rhetoric has shifted in recent days to emphasize the possibility of a bigger and better relief bill passing in future, with retroactive benefits — a scenario that would seem possible only under a Biden administration.
Read the full story here.
How rare is voter fraud in Washington? New study finds 0.0003%
As President Donald Trump continues to spread baseless accusations of widespread voter fraud connected to mail-in ballots, a new study of voting in Washington shows just how rare such fraud is.
The study, from political scientists at Stanford University, analyzed Washington elections from 2011 to 2018.
It found that out of about 4.5 million voters in Washington, 14 suspicious ballots may have come from voters who had died. That works out to a fraud rate of 0.0003%, at the most.
"Even these few cases may reflect two individuals with the same name and birth date, or clerical errors, rather than fraud," the authors wrote.
To do their study, the authors matched counted ballots from those seven years of elections with administrative death records. They caution that their study does not address other types of alleged fraud, such as ballot tampering. In 2018, a congressional race in North Carolina was overturned and conducted again after a Republican operative was found to have improperly collected and potentially tampered with ballots.
Still, Republicans have made unsupported claims that ballots sent to dead people could be improperly mailed back and counted as valid votes.
In August, Donald Trump Jr. claimed that 8% of ballots cast in the Michigan primary were cast by dead people. The conservative Heritage Foundation has claimed that voter rolls are "notoriously inaccurate," rife with the names of dead people.
The new study shows that, in Washington, these concerns are unfounded.
"It seems extraordinarily rare for dead people’s ballots to be counted as votes in Washington’s universal vote-by-mail system," the study concluded.
Voting by mail isn’t so easy on Native American reservations
MISSION, S.D. — The small, brick post office in Mission, South Dakota, sees steady business most days as people wait outside to allow one family at a time to check for mail at one of just four such depots scattered across the Rosebud Indian Reservation.
With limited polling places on a reservation that’s roughly 2,000 square miles and officials pushing people to vote by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic, cramped post offices such as this one are a lifeline to preserving Native Americans’ right to vote.
But voting rights advocates fear it’s not enough.
The slow-moving nature of mail on large reservations puts the people who live there at a disadvantage to getting their votes counted, advocates say. They have launched a series of legal challenges in several states to gain accommodations for reservation voters while also pressing people to figure out how to get their ballot counted as the coronavirus upends life in Native American communities.
“Using the mail is less effective, and it’s devastating in Indian Country,” said OJ Semans, co-founder of an advocacy group called Four Directions.
Read the full story here.
Early ballots in Washington coming in at double the pace of 2016
Washington voters continue to send in their ballots at a rapid clip.
As of Monday evening, nearly 2.3 million ballots had been sent in -- 46% of registered voters.
That's double the pace of this point in 2016, when about 23% of votes had been returned, according to the latest update from the Secretary of State's office.
It remains to be seen whether the early surge will push turnout toward a record, or whether it's just front-loading by people impatient to have their say. Some counties mailed ballots earlier this year, skewing comparisons with past years.
Here's a snapshot of turnout rates so far in some notable counties:
▪️ King: 48.8%
▪️ Snohomish: 46%
▪️ Spokane: 51.1%
▪️ Pierce: 37.7%
▪️ Ferry (highest): 61.4%
▪️ Klickitat (lowest): 26.6%
Bill Nye the Science Guy, on the 2020 election: 'Everybody vote'
Before he was “The Science Guy,” Bill Nye came to Seattle in the 1970s to work as a Boeing engineer. Beyond serving as CEO of The Planetary Society and on the board of the Mount St. Helens Institute, Nye has appeared on countless TV programs and he has written more than a dozen books for kids and adults. His latest, “Bill Nye’s Great Big World of Science,” is out today.
Here's what Nye had to say about the 2020 election:
Q: I know that getting folks to the polls is important to you. What makes it such a personal mission?
A: I spent my adult life trying to get people excited about science. We have these two enormous problems: the short-term problem of the coronavirus epidemic, and the much more serious long-term problem of climate change. And we have to address those with science — hope is not a plan. So yes, science is on the ballot. As a Republican, you can do whatever you feel is right. But if you are a Trump supporter, which is not the same in my view, I encourage you all to vote on Wednesday, the fourth of November. … I’m supposed to be political but not partisan. But this year, it’s just out of hand. You cannot have the world’s most influential culture and government ignoring science. We cannot have this. Everybody vote.
Read Nye's full interview with The Seattle Times here.
Google says it will ban political ads after election
SAN FRANCISCO – Google said Tuesday it will ban all ads related to the U.S. election after polls close Nov. 3, adding it expects the ban to last at least a week.
The company cited its “sensitive events” policy, which seeks to stop brands from profiting off fast-moving, critical events. Election results will probably take longer to confirm this year as more people vote by mail, and Google said in a blog post Tuesday that the ban is necessary “to limit the potential for ads to increase confusion post-election.”
The ban will cover any ad that mentions a candidate, a political party, or an election, among other election-related content. Google used to same policy to halt political ads when protests broke out following the election in Belarus in August.
Google, which owns YouTube, is one of several social media companies outlining plans to try to slow the spread of misinformation on their sites in the lead-up to the election.
Read the full story here.
Worst place, worst time: Trump faces virus spike in Midwest
OSHKOSH, Wis. — The coronavirus is spreading more in states that President Donald Trump can ill afford to lose. New infections are raging in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the upper Midwest. In Iowa, polls suggest Trump is in a toss-up race with former Vice President Joe Biden after carrying the state by 9.4 percentage points four years ago.
Trump’s pandemic response threatens his hold on Wisconsin, where he won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016, said Marquette University Law School poll director Charles Franklin.
“Approval of his handling of COVID is the next-strongest predictor of vote choice,” behind voters’ party affiliation and their overall approval of Trump’s performance as president, Franklin said. “And it’s not just a fluke of a single survey.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sunday that among U.S. states, Wisconsin had the third-highest rate of new cases for the previous seven days. Iowa was 10th.
How politicians target you
The campaign messages are coming fast and furious now. Perhaps your email inbox, text messages, Facebook feed or mailbox have exploded with eerily personal political ads.
Ever wonder: How’d they find me?
One party says it has more than 3,000 data points on every voter, while another taps into unique identifiers from your phone.
Five major sources of personal data are fueling their political machines.
Election stress disorder is a real thing — and lots of us have it
More than two-thirds, approximately 68%, of American adults say the 2020 U.S. presidential election is a significant source of stress in their lives, according to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association. In comparison, only 52% said the same before the 2016 election. The proportion of Black adults reporting the election as a source of stress jumped from 46% in 2016 to 71% in 2020.
And it’s affecting people on both sides of the political aisle, with 76% of Democrats, 67% of Republicans and 64% of independents saying the election is a source of significant stress.
Election stress disorder isn’t a scientific diagnosis, but the concept is real, according to Dr. Robert Bright, a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist. It’s an experience of overwhelming anxiety that can manifest in a number of ways.
Race for state lands commissioner centered on forests, wildfire, smoke
The race for the state’s commissioner of public lands is centered on wildfires and smoke, as Washington emerges from a brutal fire season. Incumbent Hilary Franz had raised $980,115 for her reelection campaign as of Monday against challenger Sue Kuehl Pederson, who has raised $73,674.
The candidates have different visions for how to protect Washingtonians and our forests as we emerge from a brutal fire season. Learn more about them here.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
The Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court yesterday, handing President Donald Trump a victory that promises to tip the court to the right for years to come. It was the first time in 151 years that a justice was confirmed without a single vote from the minority party. Barrett's impact could be felt right away, as major election disputes in battleground states await the court. It all had Washington state's U.S. senators ripping Republicans yesterday. The court has already waded into the election, siding with the GOP yesterday to prevent Wisconsin from counting mailed ballots that are received after Election Day.
The claim you see in the voter guide about Washington's schools chief — the one that says he championed a policy that teaches “sexual positions to fourth graders” — is not defamation, the state Supreme Court ruled in August, and now justices have explained why. With ballots due just a week from today, arguments over the veracity of the statement have become a rallying cry for both candidates. (At issue is Referendum 90, on sex ed in schools.)
A group of law enforcement unions is pushing a statewide ballot initiative that would require Washington cities and counties to create and enforce detailed plans for regulating free-speech demonstrations.
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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