Editor’s note: This is a live account of Election 2020 updates from Wednesday, Oct. 23, as the day unfolded. It is no longer being updated. Click here for full coverage of the 2020 Election.

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.

Got a hot date with your ballot this weekend? Find help in The Seattle Times’ voter guide and the editorial board’s endorsements.

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.
  • The last day to register to vote or update your information online or by mail is Monday. 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.
  • As of Thursday, nearly 1.6 million ballots have been returned in Washington – 33% of registered voters.
Jay Inslee, left, and Loren Culp, right.
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What to know across the U.S.:

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As Trump fights for his political future, the outcome could affect his company, which owes more than $400 million

At President Donald Trump’s hotel in Chicago, the most recent board meeting began with bad news. This year’s numbers were awful. Revenue had plunged. The hotel was just 24 percent occupied.

And worse: The hotel expected next year to be bad, too.

In fact, the hotel’s managing director, Gabriel Constantin, said the coronavirus pandemic had hurt the Trump hotel so deeply – reducing business travel and forcing the cancellation of Chicago conferences – that it might be nine years before their business returned to 2019 levels.

“The most optimistic [date] would be 2024,” Constantin said, according to an account of the meeting obtained by The Washington Post. He had a warning about the hotel’s future, if the pandemic’s economic effects didn’t ease: “It’s going to be very, very tough to keep the boat afloat.”

As Trump fights to save his political career, another key part of his life — his business — is also under growing stress.

In the next four years, Trump faces payment deadlines for more than $400 million in loans – just as the pandemic robs his businesses of customers and income, according to a Washington Post analysis of Trump’s finances. The bills coming due include loans on his Chicago hotel, his D.C. hotel and his Doral resort, all hit by a double whammy: Trump’s political career slowed their business, then the pandemic ground it down much further.

Read the full story here.

—The Washington Post
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The Trump dilemma for local Republicans meets its biggest test in Southwest Washington

Despite expressing disdain for President Donald Trump in the past, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said she’ll vote for him next month. It’s repeatedly been shown that Republicans can’t win without Trump — but in a blue state like Washington, can they win with him? (Al Drago / The Associated Press)
Despite expressing disdain for President Donald Trump in the past, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said she’ll vote for him next month. It’s repeatedly been shown that Republicans can’t win without Trump — but in a blue state like Washington, can they win with him? (Al Drago / The Associated Press)

Columnist Danny Westneat writes:

In normal times, which this definitely is not, a member of Congress saying she was going to vote for the presidential candidate from her own party would be no big deal.

But when Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Southwest Washington answered firmly “I am” to a newspaper’s question of “are you going to vote for Trump this year?” it was as if one of the final patches in a national crazy quilt was being laid into place.

Herrera Beutler became among the last of the anti-Trump GOP holdouts in the nation to fall in line. There are now no incumbent Republican U.S. House members who say they won’t vote for the president, and only a handful of U.S. senators, such as Utah’s Mitt Romney, who have been willing to go on record saying they just can’t do it.

Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party is pretty much complete. Political scientists may well look back on this era and wonder: How did it happen? And why did the party of conservatives so willingly go along?

But back to the present: For Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, coming around on Trump has touched off a unique sort of political storm. She is being pilloried now in ads for flipping to back the candidate who actually won her Vancouver-based district by a solid 7.4 percentage points, 49.9% to 42.5%, in 2016.

Read the full column here.

—Danny Westneat

As governor resists mask mandate, Iowans sour on the GOP

President Donald Trump appears at a campaign rally in Des Moines on Oct. 14, 2020. Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa is not on the ballot in November, but her refusal to issue mask mandates and flouting of guidance from infectious disease experts as her state sees a grim tide of new cases and deaths may be hurting the campaigns of fellow Republicans. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
President Donald Trump appears at a campaign rally in Des Moines on Oct. 14, 2020. Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa is not on the ballot in November, but her refusal to issue mask mandates and flouting of guidance from infectious disease experts as her state sees a grim tide of new cases and deaths may be hurting the campaigns of fellow Republicans. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

As Iowa set a record for patients hospitalized with COVID-19, Gov. Kim Reynolds appeared at an indoor fundraiser for the Republican Party this week, just days after joining President Donald Trump at one of his huge rallies in Des Moines, where she tossed hats to the clamorous crowd.

At neither event were social distancing or face masks high priorities. The rally last week defied guidelines by the White House’s own health experts that crowds in central Iowa be limited to 25.

Iowa’s governor is not on the ballot next month. But her defiant attitude toward the advice of health experts on how to fight the coronavirus outbreak, as her state sees a grim tide of new cases and deaths, may be dragging down fellow Republicans who are running, including Trump and Sen. Joni Ernst.

Reynolds, the first woman to lead Iowa, is an avatar of the president’s approach to the pandemic, refusing to issue mandates and flouting the guidance of infectious disease experts, who say that universal masking and social distancing are essential to limiting the virus’ spread. Defying that advice has eroded support for both Trump and Reynolds in Iowa, especially among voters over 65, normally a solid Republican constituency, according to public and private polls.

Read the full story here.

—The New York Times

Trump, Biden lawyer up, brace for White House legal battle

President Donald Trump’s and Democratic rival Joe Biden’s campaigns are assembling armies of powerful lawyers for the possibility that the race for the White House is decided not at the ballot box but in court.

They have been engaging in a lawyer’s version of tabletop war games, churning out draft pleadings, briefs and memos to cover scenarios that read like the stuff of a law school hypothetical more than a real-life case in a democracy.

Attorneys for the Republicans and the Democrats are already clashing in courts across the U.S. over mailed-in ballot deadlines and other issues brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. And as Trump tries to sow doubt in the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election, both sides have built massive legal operations readying for a bitterly disputed race that lands at the Supreme Court.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press
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What we know and don’t about Hunter Biden and a laptop

President Donald Trump’s allies have long promoted claims of corruption about Joe Biden’s son Hunter in a bid to damage Biden’s presidential campaign. The accusations intensified in recent days when some of Trump’s associates, including his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, provided material for a New York Post article detailing some of the allegations. The Post reported that the FBI had seized a computer that purportedly belonged to Hunter Biden.

The Biden campaign has rejected the accusations. Many questions remain about the origins of the allegations themselves, the laptop and what, if anything, agents are investigating.

What are the allegations Trump and his allies are making?

The Post article relied on documents purportedly taken from the computer to try to buttress an unsubstantiated argument peddled by Giuliani and other Trump supporters: that as vice president, Biden had shaped U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine to benefit his son. The events are the latest chapter in a more than two-year effort by the president and his allies to uncover damning information about the Bidens, a pursuit that also helped prompt Trump’s impeachment.

Biden has long said he knew nothing about his son’s business activities in Ukraine. But the article suggested that the former vice president met with an adviser to a Ukrainian energy company whose board Hunter Biden sat on, Burisma Holdings. The article referred to an email that the adviser, Vadym Pozharskyi, sent to Hunter Biden, thanking him for “giving an opportunity to meet your father” and to spend “some time together.”

A Biden campaign spokesman said Biden’s official schedules did not show a meeting between the two men. A lawyer for Hunter Biden, George Mesires, told The Washington Post that “this purported meeting never happened.”

The New York Post reporter who wrote most of the article refused to put his name on it because of concerns about its credibility, two Post employees have said.

Read the full story here.

—New York Times

Seattle voter turnout increases to 45%

With more than a week to go before Election Day, 45% of Seattle’s 496,224 registered voters have returned their election ballots.

As of noon Friday, 39% of King County voters’ ballots had been mailed or turned in to drop boxes, according to King County Elections, which updates ballot return numbers twice a day.

The number of active registered voters increases each day as more people register to vote. Monday is the last day to register or update voter information.

—Paige Cornwell
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NBC’s Welker sharp in first turn as debate moderator

Moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News listens as President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (Jim Bourg/Pool via AP)
Moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News listens as President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (Jim Bourg/Pool via AP)

NEW YORK — Moderator Kristen Welker — with the help of an offstage mute button — helped give Americans the substantive, crackling debate over leadership that had been missing so far during the 2020 presidential campaign.

The NBC News White House correspondent worked hard Thursday to keep control of the second and final encounter between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, steering but not stifling exchanges.

Midway through the debate, she even received a compliment from the Republican president, who said, “So far, I respect very much the way you handled this.”

Welker also benefited from a different Trump, who resisted the interruptions that spoiled his first debate with Biden. The second was canceled when Trump objected to a virtual format after he caught COVID-19, replaced by dueling town hall meetings that satisfied no one.

“I’m jealous,” said Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace, moderator of the first debate. “I would have loved to have been able to moderate that debate and get a real exchange of views instead of hundreds of interruptions.”

Read the full story here.

—Associated Press

A man with Seattle ties — and a van full of guns and explosives — plotted to assassinate Biden, feds say

As it was becoming clear in March that Joe Biden would be the Democratic presidential nominee, Alexander Hillel Treisman started to map out his plot to assassinate the former vice president, federal authorities say.

“Should I kill Joe Biden?” Treisman wrote in a caption to a meme he posted in April.

It didn’t appear to be an idle threat, the feds say.

The 19-year-old searched online for Biden’s home address and for night-vision goggles, and purchased an AR-15 in New Hampshire, according to federal court documents first reported Thursday by WBTV. And when he was arrested later that month in North Carolina, police searching his van found four rifles, a 9mm handgun, explosive materials, books on bomb making, and $509,000 in cash.

Those revelations all come in an order that a federal magistrate judge filed earlier this month outlining why Treisman, who was indicted by a federal grand jury in September on child pornography charges, should remain in custody.

It’s unclear whether Treisman will face additional charges related to the alleged plot.

Read the full story here.

—Washington Post

Yakima County's election office prepared for influx of new voter registration

Anna Flores, a clerk from the Auditor’s Office, left, provides drop-off ballot assistance as Eduardo Gutierrez, right, places a ballot in a Yakima County election drop box Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, at the Yakima County Courthouse in Yakima. (Amanda Ray / Yakima Herald-Republic)
Anna Flores, a clerk from the Auditor’s Office, left, provides drop-off ballot assistance as Eduardo Gutierrez, right, places a ballot in a Yakima County election drop box Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, at the Yakima County Courthouse in Yakima. (Amanda Ray / Yakima Herald-Republic)

As a presidential election with anticipated record voter turnout draws near, the Yakima County Auditor’s Office is getting ready for a rush of new voter registration.

The local election office is expecting an 80% ballot return rate. Already, the ballot return rate far outpaces that of the 2016 election.

Many people are registering to vote online, ahead of Election Day, Nov. 3 — something that is encouraged, said election manager Kathy Fisher.

She said the deadline for online or mail-in voter registration is Monday. It’s a process that takes two minutes, and there’s still time to get a ballot mailed out to new voters, she said. If voters don’t take advantage of that option now, she warned that they’ll have to mask up and wait in line to register in person at the Yakima County Auditor’s Office in the courthouse downtown.

Read the full story here.

—Yakima Herald-Republic
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Senate GOP marches ahead on Barrett over Democrats’ blockade

WASHINGTON — The Senate is gearing up for rare weekend session as Republicans race to put Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court and cement a conservative majority before Election Day despite Democratic efforts to stall President Donald Trump’s nominee.

Democrats used time-consuming procedural hurdles to delay the start of Friday’s Senate session until midday, but the party has no realistic chance of stopping Barrett’s advance in the Republican-controlled chamber. Barrett, a federal appeals court judge, is expected to be confirmed on Monday and quickly join the court.

“It’s hard to think of any nominee we’ve had in the past who is any better than this one,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told Fox News late Thursday.

Barrett, 48, presented herself in public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee as a neutral arbiter of cases on abortion, the Affordable Care Act and presidential power — issues soon confronting the court. At one point she suggested, “It’s not the law of Amy.”

But Barrett’s past writings against abortion and a ruling on the Obama-era health care law show a deeply conservative thinker.

Read the full story here.

—Associated Press

Sign ninjas busy at night as Election Day fast approaches

Georgia State Representative and Democratic candidate of District 44, Connie Di Cicco, center, looks on as her campaign manager, Katie Terry, left, hands out signs on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Marietta, Ga. Calling themselves sign ninjas, a group of people, including Di Cicco, routinely gather to trade and assemble campaign signs around their districts for local elections in Georgia and then venture out in the dark to install them along main thoroughfares. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Georgia State Representative and Democratic candidate of District 44, Connie Di Cicco, center, looks on as her campaign manager, Katie Terry, left, hands out signs on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Marietta, Ga. Calling themselves sign ninjas, a group of people, including Di Cicco, routinely gather to trade and assemble campaign signs around their districts for local elections in Georgia and then venture out in the dark to install them along main thoroughfares. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

MARIETTA — With Election Day fast approaching, the sign ninjas have only a few nights left to take action.

They work best after the sun sets, gathering to trade and assemble campaign signs and then venturing out in the dark to install them along main thoroughfares. For weeks now leading up to Nov. 3, they’ve been planting signs across their districts, and then returning to do it again each time they get stolen.

Connie Di Cicco has been putting up election signs for three years in Cobb County, Georgia, first helping with Democrat Jon Ossoff’s campaign for Congress in the 2017 special election.

This time, it’s her name on the signs. Di Cicco, who’s running to represent Georgia’s 44th House District, says she likes the idea of residents waking up to see signs blanketing their neighborhoods.

“When you see a sign, I think that that’s almost like a little nametag,” she said. “It’s a great introduction to a candidate.”

Read the full story here.

—Associated Press

Battleground postal delays persist with mail voting underway

U.S. Postal Service records show delivery delays have persisted across the country as millions of Americans are voting by mail, raising the possibility of ballots being rejected because they arrive too late.

Postal data through Oct. 9, the latest numbers available, show nearly all the agency’s delivery regions missing its target of having at least 95% of first-class mail arrive within five days. Parts of the presidential battleground states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio fell short of delivery goals by wide margins as the agency struggles to regain its footing after a tumultuous summer.

The districts that included the major urban areas and their suburbs in each of those states all performed below the national average for on-time delivery, with the area around Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania the lone exception.

The delays are a worrisome sign for voters who still have not returned their absentee ballots. That is especially true in states such as Michigan, where ballots must be received by Election Day. Other states require a postmark by Nov. 3.

Read the full story here.

Related: Here’s how King, Snohomish and Thurston counties plan to keep voting secure in the November election

—Associated Press
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Nebraska, Maine could play pivotal role in presidential race

OMAHA, Neb. — Nebraska will never be mistaken for a swing state given that it hasn’t supported a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964, but if the race is close this fall, the state could have a key role in choosing the next president.

It’s all thanks to a law approved decades ago that was intended to attract presidential candidates to a state they usually ignore because it’s so reliably conservative. While the statewide vote will clearly go to President Donald Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden has a good chance of winning in the state’s 2nd Congressional District, meaning one of Nebraska’s five Electoral College votes could go to the Democrat.

But there’s a problem with that scenario: Maine.

Maine is the only other state that awards Electoral College votes by congressional district, and it could go the opposite way and award a vote to Donald Trump even as the state as a whole likely will go to Biden.

“I wasn’t aware of that,” Shirl Mora James, a leader in the Nebraska Democratic Party, said with a sigh. “I’ve been working the phones in Pennsylvania. Maybe I need to be making calls in Maine.”

Read the full story here.

—Associated Press

One third of Washington voters have already returned their ballots

The surge in early voting continues in Washington, as one third of the state’s registered voters already have returned their ballots.

As of Thursday night, nearly 1.6 million ballots had been received by county elections offices, marking early turnout of 33%, according to the latest update from the Secretary of State’s office.

That compares with 13.5% at the same point in 2016.

Here are the turnout rates so far in some notable counties:

  • King: 35.8%
  • Snohomish: 31.5%
  • Pierce: 23.8%
  • Spokane: 43.6%
  • Yakima: 31.4%
  • Thurston: 47%

Note: some counties, including Thurston, mailed ballots earlier than usual this year.

To check your ballot status, visit votewa.gov.

—Jim Brunner

Catch up on the past 24 hours

Final debate differs sharply from Interruptageddon 2020: The first debate was wild. The second was canceled after President Donald Trump got COVID-19. Finally, with the help of a mute button and other changes, voters got a heated but relatively substantive matchup between Trump and Joe Biden last night. Who won? Perhaps moderator Kristen Welker. Here are seven key take-aways and a look at where the candidates mangled the facts.

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (Chip Somodevilla / Pool via AP)
President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden participate in the final presidential debate at Belmont University on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, in Nashville, Tenn. (Chip Somodevilla / Pool via AP)

The debate closer to home: U.S. Rep. Denny Heck and state Sen. Marko Liias, both Democrats, emphasized bipartisanship as they tackled the COVID-19 crisis, education and more last night. Read about it and watch it here.

Trump yesterday posted unfiltered footage from the "60 Minutes" interview that he abruptly and angrily cut short earlier this week.

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.

A Democratic poll of Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District shows challenger Carolyn Long within striking distance of U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Vancouver. 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%.

—Seattle Times staff
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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.

For more information on your ballot, in any county, go to: myvote.wa.gov