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
23 Posts
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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:

1:19 p.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Loretta Lynch calls out Barr for comments on racism and slavery

From CNN's Devan Cole

Loretta Lynch speaks at CNN’s Citizen virtual conference on September 22.
Loretta Lynch speaks at CNN’s Citizen virtual conference on September 22. CNN

Speaking during CNN’s Citizen Conference, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch called out current Attorney General William Barr for comments he made this summer about racism in the US and slavery.

Barr came under fire from Democrats in June after saying he didn’t think the country’s law enforcement system is systematically racist.

“It’s honestly, it’s tremendously sad and it’s a missed opportunity by the attorney general to truly understand the people whom he is supposed to and sworn to protect. So honestly I was quite disappointed to hear that statement coming from him,” Lynch told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour during the event.

Lynch, who served as the first African American woman attorney general during part of the Obama administration, also blasted Barr for comparing coronavirus lockdowns in the US to slavery earlier this month.

“Again, just a tremendous missed opportunity by the attorney general,” she said of the comments, adding: “I find it fascinating that the attorney general recognizes the detrimental nature of slavery but for some reason cannot see the badges and incidents that flow today in the form of systemic racism in our society.”

Watch:

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

Lindsey Graham says Judiciary committee plans to hold 3 days of hearings for a SCOTUS nominee in October

From CNN's Manu Raju and Ali Zaslav

Sen. Lindsey Graham walks in the Russell Senate Office Building on September 17.
Sen. Lindsey Graham walks in the Russell Senate Office Building on September 17. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday that the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to hold three days of hearings for the Supreme Court nominee in October.

“Yeah, trying to keep the process like we had before,” said Graham, chair of the committee, when asked if the committee will hold the traditional three days of hearings.

Graham, who is up for re-election in South Carolina, also touted Amy Coney Barrett, who has emerged as President Trump’s top choice to fill the late Justice Ginsburg’s seat.

“I think she’d be a great choice,” he told reporters. 

The South Carolina Republican also downplayed abortion as a key issue if Barrett is the nominee.

When CNN’s Manu Raju’s asked Graham if Barrett is chosen whether that would bring the issue of abortion front and center in the election, he replied: “I think every issue is gonna be thrown at the nominee.” 

11:33 a.m. ET, September 22, 2020

Biden campaign reacts to report that Putin is "probably directing" efforts aimed at undermining him

From CNN’s Zachary Cohen, Alex Marquardt and Sarah Mucha 

Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on September 2.
Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on September 2. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign is reacting to the Washington Post report of a CIA assessment that Putin and his top aides "are aware of and probably directing Russia's influence operations" aimed at undermining the Democratic nominee in the 2020 election, saying that it is clear who Putin wants to win the election because "Donald Trump's foreign policy has been a gift to the Kremlin." 

In the statement, Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates adds that it is "tragic" that certain members of Congress are "so overcome by the most corrosive form of partisanship imaginable that they have chosen to be accessories to foreign influence operations against the very sovereignty of the United States.”

Here's the full statement from the Biden campaign:

“Donald Trump is weakening our nation by directly exacerbating the most severe crises we have faced in generations - costing over 200,000 Americans their lives and crashing the strong economy he inherited. He is dividing the country for perceived political gain, and undermining our most critical alliances in the world. This president is even giving Russia impunity for offering bounties to terrorists for murdering American troops. As Joe Biden has said for months, it is absolutely clear who Vladimir Putin wants to win this election — because Donald Trump's foreign policy has been a gift to the Kremlin. And it is tragic that certain members of Congress are so overcome by the most corrosive form of partisanship imaginable that they have chosen to be accessories to foreign influence operations against the very sovereignty of the United States.”