Latest on 2020 election and SCOTUS battle

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:20 PM ET, Tue September 22, 2020
26 Posts
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2:52 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Doctors' group marks 200,000th Covid death with billboards outside Mar-a-Lago

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Committee to Protect Medicare PAC
Committee to Protect Medicare PAC

The political arm of a physicians’ group that advocates for health care access and affordability is circling President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort with mobile billboards calling attention the nation’s 200,000th coronavirus death.

“Trump lied. 200,000 Americans died. Trump failed to protect America from COVID-19,” is the message on the side of the black vans, which began their circuit at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday and will continue until 6 p.m. ET.

The Committee to Protect Medicare PAC has also announced plans to spend more than $1 million on digital ads targeting Trump’s handling of the pandemic. A new one will run between now and Election Day, in eight swing states: Arizona, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Georgia and Florida.

The group hopes to reach 1.2 million viewers over Comcast VOD, streaming TV, on Facebook and Instagram, and in pre-roll ads online. It is also targeting voters in Georgia and Florida exclusively on Facebook and Instagram.

“It simply didn’t have to be this way,” the group’s executive director, Dr. Rob Davidson, says in the 30-second version of the spot, which features real doctors speaking directly to camera and condemning the administration’s pandemic response.

“Two hundred thousand Americans are dead because of incompetence,” another doctor says. “Some of them,” another adds, “were my patients.”

2:01 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Biden and Harris tweet about 200,000 US coronavirus deaths

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris tweeted after the US surpassed 200,000 coronavirus deaths.

"There’s a devastating human toll to this pandemic — and we can’t forget that," Biden said in his tweet.

Harris called it a "tragic milestone."

Read their tweets:

2:03 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

These are the topics for the first presidential debate

From CNN’s Dan Merica

Reuters, Gabriella Demczuk for CNN
Reuters, Gabriella Demczuk for CNN

Journalist Chris Wallace, moderator of the first 2020 presidential debate, has announced the topics of the event.

According to a news release from the Commission on Presidential Debates, they include:

  • The Trump and Biden records
  • The Supreme Court
  • Covid-19
  • The economy
  • Race and violence
  • Integrity of the election

The first presidential debate will be held next Tuesday in Cleveland, Ohio. The debate is set to begin at 9:00 p.m. ET.

"The format for the first debate calls for six 15-minute time segments dedicated to topics announced in advance in order to encourage deep discussion of the leading issues facing the country," according to the news release.

The topics are subject to possible changes due to news developments.

1:41 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

CNN takes your questions about voter registration and the voting process

From CNN's Melissa Mahtani

CNN headed to a pop-up voter registration event in DC as part of National Voter Registration Day, a nonpartisan holiday designed to encourage and empower citizens across the country to register to vote.

CNN’s Kristen Holmes spoke to voters and organizers of the event about the importance of this year’s election and is answering any questions you may have about the voting process.

You can find important election deadlines and local voter resources in CNN's Voter Guide here.

Watch:

1:16 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

14 NFL teams will host election-related activities

From CNN's David Close

SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images/FILE

The two Los Angeles-based NFL teams have joined 12 other franchises committed to serve as polling sites for the upcoming November elections.

To commemorate National Voter Registration Day, the Chargers and Rams announced on Tuesday that their new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, will become a vote center location. 

There are now 14 clubs who have committed to provide election support. Along with the Chargers and Rams, the others include: the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Washington Football Team.

The NFL announced on Tuesday several other initiatives to encourage civic engagement, including closing team offices to encourage NFL employees to serve as poll workers on Election Day and launching their “Latinos Vote” campaign. 

1:54 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Michigan absentee ballot requests 4 times higher than 2016

From CNN's Annie Grayer

A man drops off his absentee ballot outside of the City of Detroit Department of Elections during the Michigan Primary Election on August 4,  in Detroit, Michigan.
A man drops off his absentee ballot outside of the City of Detroit Department of Elections during the Michigan Primary Election on August 4, in Detroit, Michigan. Brittany Greeson/Getty Images/FILE

In Michigan, 2.39 million absentee ballots have been requested as of this morning, according to the Secretary of State’s communications director, Jake Rollow, roughly four times the number at this point in 2016. 

Early voting starts in-person at clerks offices and absentee ballots will be mailed out Thursday. Rollow said that 270,000 ballots have already been issued to various groups including military and overseas residents. Those ballots started going out on Sept. 19.

More context: In 2016, 43 days out from the election, the absentee ballot request number was 587,618. The increase in absentee ballot requests follows a nationwide trend that is being attributed to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Visit CNN's guide to understanding mail-in voting.

12:22 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Election systems are being targeted, but no evidence of direct targeting by nation states, official says

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

Matt Masterson, a senior adviser for election security for the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said Tuesday that “election systems like IT systems generally are being scanned, are being targeted, are being researched for vulnerabilities.”

“While we have no evidence of direct targeting of election infrastructure by nation states, we know and continue to see reports of scanning. And it's coming straight from state and local officials who are sharing a lot of information with us,” Masterson said at an event from the McCrary Institute.

“We also know and see state local governments in general being impacted by things like ransomware and vulnerabilities being exploited in order to impact state and local governments generally and having an impact on election offices,” he said.

Masterson said that they are “in an enhanced readiness posture” ahead of the election.

“It means that every day we have a cadence with our federal partners, is there anything we need to be sharing, anything we need to be pushing. We're checking in regularly with the ISAC on reporting and doing regular unclassified threat briefings to the election officials so that they have everything they need to manage risk to their systems,” he said.

He said they will be rolling out an operations center, which will be largely virtual until Election Day, “to ensure timely sharing of information across all those channels, and to make sure we have full visibility on what's going on out there, so we could spot trends or issues and quickly push it out.”

On Election Day, they will also implement a “cyber situational awareness room where literally thousands of state and local officials are together in a virtual chat room sharing information in real time.”

“And the real key on that is the ability to sort fact from fiction on the ground quickly,” Masterson said.

The comments about officials seeing scanning activities but no evidence of intrusions echoes what other top officials have said about the current election cybersecurity situation.

Masterson's comments come after a new report in The Washington Post said the CIA assessed in August that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his top aides "are aware of and probably directing Russia's influence operations" aimed at undermining Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Read more here.

1:09 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Sen. Graham will make announcement on confirmation hearings after SCOTUS nominee is picked

From CNN's Lauren Fox and Ted Barrett

Sen. Lindsey Graham attends a press conference in Washington, DC, on July 1.
Sen. Lindsey Graham attends a press conference in Washington, DC, on July 1. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee gathered briefly Tuesday morning in what appeared to be a meeting to discuss the next steps on the President’s Supreme Court nominee.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, emerged from the meeting saying that while he does not have an announcement to make today on when confirmation hearings will take place, he will have more to say after Trump names a nominee this weekend.

“When we get a nominee, I’ll tell you about the hearings,” Graham said.

Asked about the prospects of a nomination vote happening on the floor before election day, Graham said “I’ll leave it up to Mitch.”

“I am confident we can have a hearing that will allow a nominee to be submitted to the floor before Election Day,” Graham said.

Graham dismissed the idea of not holding a hearing. He said “I think it is important to the country.”

Sen. John Cornyn, another Republican on the committee, said that there are still a lot of discussions and “nothing has been decided” on when a vote will ultimately take place.

“We are not going to extend it longer than necessary, but we aren’t going to shorten it.”

1:09 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Julia Louis-Dreyfus urges Americans to register to vote and sign up to work polls 

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Julia Louis-Dreyfus speaks at CNN’s Citizen virtual conference on September 22.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus speaks at CNN’s Citizen virtual conference on September 22. CNN

Actress and activist Julia Louis-Dreyfus encouraged Americans to register to vote and sign up to be poll workers on Tuesday during CNN’s Citizen virtual conference. 

“It's very fundamental but it's important because, particularly during this pandemic, if you do not have enough people working the polls, polls closed down. And of course, a lot of people who work the polls are older people, and they may be less inclined to sign up to work, given the Covid outbreak, understandably so. So the idea was to keep polls open for everybody. And to do that we need workers,” Louis-Dreyfus told CNN’s Jake Tapper. 

The Emmy-award winning star of the HBO show “Veep” directed viewers to go to the website of Power The Polls, an initiative to recruit poll workers. She also spoke about “vote tripling,” a mobilization tactic to increase voter turnout which involves encouraging three people in one’s personal orbit to vote. 

The former "Seinfeld" star, who has endorsed Joe Biden for president, has been vocal about her activism and recently hosted the final night of the Democratic National Convention.  

“I’ve known Joe Biden for a really long time now actually, and I believe in what he's doing and his message and his leadership, and I don't believe in the — what the other side is doing is democratic right now. So I thought, well, I have to sort of rise up, this is my patriotic duty to help out,” Louis-Dreyfus said. 

Louis-Dreyfus spoke about when Biden called her when she was diagnosed with cancer. 

She also spoke about her admiration and the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday. 

“We've got to carry on her legacy which is to say, getting people to vote, getting people to vote, getting people to vote,” Louis-Dreyfus said. 

Watch: