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. 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. Here’s how to get it done.
- As of Tuesday evening, nearly 2.6 million ballots have been returned in Washington, representing 52.6% 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.
- Find help in our voter guide and The Seattle Times editorial board’s endorsements.
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.
More than half of Oregon voters have cast ballots
SALEM, Ore. — With less than a week to go until Election Day, more than half of the registered voters in Oregon have already cast their ballots.
At this point during the last three presidential elections, fewer than 38% of Oregonians had returned their ballots. As of Wednesday, more than 52% of registered voters in the state had done so, according to the Elections Division of the Secretary of State.
As of Sunday, more than 58 million ballots have been cast across the country. Americans’ rush to vote is leading election experts to predict that a record 150 million votes may be cast and turnout rates could be higher than in any presidential election since 1908.
Nearly 3 million people are registered to vote in Oregon.
During the last two presidential elections, between 80% and 82% of registered voters in Oregon returned their ballots. During the last four presidential elections, about 40% of voters cast their ballots during Election Day and the two day days leading up to it.
Democrats in Pennsylvania, North Carolina claim key wins at Supreme Court ahead of election
WASHINGTON – Democrats won two major victories involving voting deadlines in key battleground states Wednesday at the Supreme Court, as the justices will allow extended periods for receiving mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
They declined to disturb decisions that allow Pennsylvania officials to receive ballots cast by Election Day and received within three days, while the grace period set by the elections board in North Carolina is nine days.
In both of the cases, Republican Party and GOP legislators had opposed the extensions, and President Trump has railed on the campaign trail about the mail-in vote.
Three conservative justices – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito Jr. and Neil Gorsuch – objected in both cases. The justices in the majority did not explain their votes, which is common in emergency petitions before the court.
New Justice Amy Coney Barrett decided not to participate in either vote. Her decisions did not signal a blanket recusal in election cases, as Democratic senators tried to get her to pledge during her confirmation process. Instead, the court said the cases at isssue needed prompt decisions and Barrett did not have time to fully review the legal arguments.
The decision in Pennsylvania, a state that proved vital to Trump’s election four years ago and is key to his reelection, might not be settled.
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wants voters to have the facts
Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer is no stranger to regulation.
Ballmer led the Washington state software giant from 2000 to 2014, steering the company through years of antitrust battles.
And now he still has a foot in the political world through his nonpartisan nonprofit group, USAFacts. The organization aims to make government data available so Americans can form their own positions on policy issues by accessing everything from the amount of COVID cases by county to the number of visas granted last year.
The group’s mission has taken on a new level of significance since the 2016 election, with fake news and “alternate facts” frequently in the headlines. The organization recently launched a $10 million campaign, which has been running ads during the presidential debates to encourage voters to “find the nonpartisan facts behind the real stories.”
We recently spoke about that work and some of the top regulatory issues facing the tech industry.
Read the full interview here.
White House could have traced and contained its COVID-19 outbreak; it didn’t
There are long-standing protocols for investigating the spread of a virus: contact tracing, or interviewing infected people about their recent interactions and advising those exposed that they should get tested. There’s also a more cutting-edge technology that can map the spread of a virus by tracking tiny changes in its genetic code.
The Trump administration did not effectively deploy either technique in response to what Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease specialist, has called a “superspreader event” at the White House, leaving not just the president and his staff at risk, but also the hundreds of people who were potentially exposed.
Officials say the White House called off early efforts to get to the bottom of the outbreak, including sequencing the genomes of virus samples from infected individuals. This genetic analysis could have revealed shared mutations that linked cases in Washington and other affected communities.
Had the administration done such an investigation, it would know whether infections among aides to Vice President Mike Pence that were reported this past weekend bore the same genetic signature as earlier cases at the White House. That could indicate whether the virus was circulating among administration officials for weeks or had slipped through infection-control measures a second time.
But the administration has shown little interest in investigating its outbreak, said Mark Fox, a county public health officer in South Bend, Indiana. To this day, Fox, the local official tasked with contact tracing for the outbreak, has not seen a full list of people from his county who attended the Rose Garden ceremony.
Biden shuns easy virus answers; Trump vows to ‘vanquish’ it
BULLHEAD CITY, Ariz. — Joe Biden vowed Wednesday not to campaign “on the false promises of being able to end this pandemic by flipping a switch,” pledging instead to prioritize science, even as President Donald Trump used the race’s final days to maintain a whirlwind schedule aimed at focusing on anything but the coronavirus.
The Democratic presidential nominee also argued that a Supreme Court conservative majority stretched to 6-3 by newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett could dismantle the Obama administration’s signature health law and leave millions without insurance coverage during the pandemic. He called Trump’s handling of the coronavirus an “insult” to its victims, especially as cases spike dramatically around the country.
His comments reflected an unwavering attempt to keep the political spotlight on the pandemic. That was a departure from the president, who downplayed the threat and spent his day in Arizona, where relaxed rules on social distancing made staging big rallies easier.
Trump, who frequently lauds rising markets, failed to mention the decline. But he promised that economic growth figures for the summer quarter, due Thursday, would be strong, declaring during a rally in Bullhead City, Arizona, “This election is a choice between a Trump super-recovery and a Biden depression.”
Read the full story here.
Seattle voter turnout reaches 64%
Nearly 60% of King County voters – including 64% of Seattle voters – have cast their ballots as of noon Wednesday.
Throughout King County, 830,329 people have returned their ballots out of 1,409,017 registered voters, according to King County Elections. Seattle voters account for slightly more than a third of the ballots cast.
Voters in Legislative District 36 in northwest Seattle had the highest turnout, at 67%, among King County districts with at least one local race.
Judge says Texas mask mandate must extend to polling places
AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge ruled that Texas’ statewide mask mandate must include polling places, but election officials Wednesday did not rush to enforce the order that was handed down after more than 8 million people have already voted.
U.S. District Judge Jason Pulliam, who was appointed last year by President Donald Trump, said not requiring face coverings in Texas polling places created a discriminatory burden on Black and Latino voters who are at higher risk of death and severe illness from the coronavirus.
Texas is three weeks into early voting, but Pulliam said enforcing a mask order would not be disruptive.
The ruling comes as COVID-19 cases are flaring again in Texas, which on Tuesday reported more than 5,500 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 — a more than 70% increase since the beginning of October. Along the U.S. border with Mexico, a record surge in coronavirus cases is pushing hospitals to the brink in the twin cities of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Read the full story here.
Former DHS official says he wrote ‘Anonymous’ Trump critique
WASHINGTON — A former Trump administration official who penned a scathing anti-Trump op-ed and book under the pen name “Anonymous” made his identify public Wednesday.
Miles Taylor, a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security says in a tweet: “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.”
Taylor has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s in recent months, and he has a contributor contract on CNN.
Taylor’s anonymous essay was published in 2018 by The New York Times, infuriating the president and setting off a frantic White House leak investigation to try to unmask the author.
Read more about Miles Taylor here.
Miles Taylor says he is 'Anonymous' who wrote op-ed and book critical of Trump
Miles Taylor was chief of staff to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Hundreds of Trump supporters stuck in the cold for hours when buses can’t reach Omaha rally
By the time President Donald Trump finished speaking to thousands of supporters at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield on Tuesday night and jetted away on Air Force One, the temperature had plunged to nearly freezing.
But as long lines of MAGA-clad attendees queued up for buses to take them to distant parking lots, it quickly became clear something was wrong.
The buses, the huge crowd soon learned, couldn’t navigate the jammed airport roads. For hours, attendees – including many elderly Trump supporters – stood in the cold, as police scrambled to help those most at-risk get to warmth.
Thirty people needed medical attention over the course of the rally, Omaha police spokesman Michael Pecha told The Washington Post on Wednesday. Seven were taken to local hospitals “with a variety of medical conditions.” It was not immediately clear how many of those those were related to the wait outside the venue.
Read the full story here.
Postal Service ordered to increase late trips for election mail
WASHINGTON — Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was ordered to immediately begin expanding mail delivery with extra trips and later deliveries after the U.S. Postal Service failed to improve performance less than a week before the election.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington late Tuesday granted an emergency request to enforce and monitor compliance with an earlier injunction he ordered. The ruling is a victory for civil rights groups and Democratic-led states that alleged in several lawsuits that the changes were undermining the election to the benefit of President Donald Trump.
“USPS personnel are instructed to perform late and extra trips to the maximum extent necessary to increase on-time mail deliveries, particularly for election mail,” Sullivan said. “To be clear, late and extra trips should be performed to the same or greater degree than they were performed prior to July 2020 when doing so would increase on-time mail deliveries.”
On-time delivery of First Class mail dropped to 69.8% on Tuesday, down more than 6 percentage points from previous days, the USPS said in a court filing Wednesday.
Read the full story here.
Report released by Sen. Maria Cantwell slams Google and Facebook for decimating local news outlets
“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, according to a new minority report from the Senate Commerce Committee released by ranking member Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
The report, echoing a landmark antitrust suit filed last week against Google by the Justice Department, concludes that Google and Facebook have used their sheer heft to dominate the digital advertising market, to the detriment of local media outlets and an informed public.
“These trillion-dollar companies scrape local news content and data for their own sites and leverage their market dominance to force local news to accept little to nothing for their intellectual property,” the report claims. “There is a clear need for Congress to address the market failures created by the search and social-media platforms.”
Lawmakers are set to grill Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Wednesday about topics including the spread of disinformation on their platforms in the run-up to a presidential election.
Watch the hearing here.
Justice Thomas’ wife boosts unsupported claims against Biden
WASHINGTON — The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is using her Facebook page to amplify unsubstantiated claims of corruption by Joe Biden.
Ginni Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, asked her more than 10,000 followers Monday to consider sharing a link focused on alleged corruption by the Democratic nominee for president and his son, Hunter, as well as claims that social media companies are censoring reports about the Bidens.
Other spouses of justices also have their own professional identities, but Thomas is the only one whose work involves partisan politics that sometimes butts up against her husband’s job. Clarence Thomas is the longest-serving current justice, having joined the court in 1991, and he administered the oath at the swearing in of new Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Monday evening. Barrett’s confirmation following a rushed process to install her on the court before the election gives conservatives a 6-3 court majority.
Justice Thomas has never considered his wife’s political activism disqualifying. He has not stepped aside from any case involving Trump or current disputes over absentee-ballot extensions and other voting issues. A court spokeswoman did not respond to requests for Thomas to comment on this story.
Read the full story here.
Spokesman-Review will drop endorsements, unsigned editorials
The Spokesman-Review, the daily newspaper in Spokane, will no longer publish endorsements or unsigned editorials or endorsements.
The decision from one of Washington’s largest papers comes after an editorial published over the weekend endorsing President Donald Trump for reelection. The endorsement was attributed to the newspaper’s editorial board, which is one person: publisher Stacey Cowles.
The endorsement describes Trump as a “wretched human being” but said voters should still choose him over Joe Biden, whom it described as a “doddering, doting uncle who would hand out gifts the nation can’t afford in order to win people’s love.”
Spokesman-Review editor Rob Curley, who wasn't involved with the Trump endorsement, wrote Tuesday that he received a few hundred emails about it, telling him he was a horrible human being.
“With those words simply attributed to The Spokesman-Review, it became clear things should be different from here on out,” he wrote. “There are some newspaper traditions we shouldn’t just be OK dumping, we should openly embrace throwing them out as outdated relics.”
From now on, if the newspaper publishes a traditional editorial, it will be signed by the publisher and editor, Curley wrote. The opinion page will emphasize columns and letters written by members of the Spokane community, he wrote, and local news columnists’ pieces will often run on the opinion pages.
More than half of all Washington voters have returned ballots
With six days to go before Election Day, more than half of Washington voters have returned ballots.
As of Tuesday evening, 52.6% of registered voters had submitted ballots — nearly 2.6 million people. At the same point in 2016, about 29% of votes had been received, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
Elections officials say this year's surge could beat Washington's previous turnout record of 84.6%, set in 2008.
Some turnout snapshots by county:
▪️ King: 56.3%
▪️ Snohomish: 51.3%
▪️ Pierce: 46.8%
▪️ Spokane: 55.1%
▪️ Jefferson (highest): 67.7%
▪️ Klickitat (lowest): 35.4%
Voting history of Detroit woman, 103, dates back to FDR
DETROIT — Talu Massey is among the millions of Americans who voted before Nov. 3, resulting in record-breaking early turnout.
But it’s far from the Detroit resident’s first election. Very far. She voted for FDR, after all.
The 103-year-old is proud of her lengthy voting record, saying it’s every citizen’s “civic duty” to take part in the process.
“As an American citizen, you have a right to cast your vote for who you want in office, who you want to be running the government,” Massey said during an interview at her home.
Massey voted absentee in September, eight decades after she cast her first presidential ballot — for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“I don’t remember whether I made each election, but I have been constantly voting,” said Massey, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1917.
Read the full story here.
Amid ‘most important election of our lifetime,’ Seattle musician-activists turn up the volume
Ahamefule Oluo doesn’t make it into the city much these days. The veteran Seattle jazzman and multidisciplinary artist has spent much of the pandemic at a family cabin in Hood Canal where he’s built a studio and recorded albums with his modern jazz troupe Industrial Revelation. With his social and gig calendars wiped out by the persistent coronavirus, there’s little reason to stay in the city. So on the rare occasion he treks back into town, it’s typically for good reason.
Oluo was recently back in the Central District for one such worthy occasion, lending his trumpet chops to a “March to the Ballot Box” event. The voter march also served as a memorial for his late friend Rahwa Habte, an organizer and former owner of Hidmo — an Eritrean restaurant that became a community hub for artists and activists during the late 2000s. So for Oluo, the mass display of democratic participation amid “the most important election of our lifetime” was both personal and political.
“The things for me that justify the inherent social irresponsibility of getting together with other people right now have often centered around the change that is definitely needed,” he said. “Doing whatever you can to increase voting right at this moment, I don’t think there’s a better way to honor what [Habte] stood for as a person.”
Oluo is among a legion of Seattle musicians this year who are using their voices (and instruments) to advocate for social justice and, as Election Day approaches, boost voter turnout. It’s no surprise, as activism and civic engagement are deeply ingrained in Seattle music culture, perhaps more than in most cities, with a spirit intensified by forces pulling at the fabric of its communities.
Read the full story here.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
The historic number of Americans who have already cast ballots is upending expectations about which states could decide the presidential contest. For election officials in key states, a new statistic may become crucial despite its wonky name. When will we know the outcome? Brace for the possibility of wild shifts for days or weeks.
Worries about online misinformation and mail delays are shadowing our state's final sprint to the election. U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene has asked the state attorney general to investigate why five pieces of mail-processing equipment in Redmond still aren't being used, while other officials are warning voters about a fraudulent website to watch out for.
Democrats and the state teachers union are boosting incumbent schools chief Chris Reykdal in a last-minute campaign push. In the final stretch of a nonpartisan race that has turned bitterly ideological, Gov. Jay Inslee and U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal this week criticized Reykdal challenger Maia Espinoza, questioning her credibility and the accuracy of her statements on the campaign trail. Espinoza told media outlets on Monday that she has “no support” from President Donald Trump or Education Secretary Betsy DeVos but is a firm supporter of school choice.
Other campaign trails in Washington state: Money is also being pouring into the race between U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and Carolyn Long in Washington's 3rd Congressional District, where much of the talk is about health care and Trump. And the 5th District used to be "quite red," but now a Senate race there is pitting Democrat against Democrat as Ingrid Anderson challenges Mark Mullet.
Trump is cracking down on NOAA as he makes a final campaign push against climate science. The White House has removed the chief scientist at the nation's premier scientific agency and installed new political staff who have questioned accepted facts about climate change.
As Trump continues to spread baseless claims 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.
He's “a wretched human being” but “we recommend voting for him anyway,” an editorial in Spokane's daily newspaper reads. The bizarre plug for Trump reveals a hard truth, columnist Danny Westneat writes.
Many U.S. voters agree on one thing: They’d feel better owning a gun. Sales have nearly doubled during the pandemic.
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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