Latest on 2020 election and SCOTUS battle

By Melissa Macaya and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020
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2:08 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Power the Polls recruits 500,000 poll workers

From CNN's Rachel Janfaza

Power the Polls, an effort to recruit poll workers, has hit 500,000 sign-ups, the initiative announced Friday, doubling its goal of recruiting 250,000 poll workers.

The initiative was launched in June by a number of organizations, including Civic Alliance, Comedy Central, Fair Election Center, MTV and Pizza to the Polls, to address the potential lack of poll workers in the 2020 election as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Poll workers are essential to ensuring our elections are fair and safe for everyone, so we’re very pleased to see so many people step up during this pandemic,” Bob Brandon, president of the Fair Elections Center, told CNN. 

Power the Polls is using a database run by the Fair Elections Center that will provide information about becoming a poll worker, with up-to-date information for more than 4,000 jurisdictions.

“For the past few years, we’ve spent a lot of time with our Work Elections program to gather the crucial data that is driving the Power The Polls effort. It’s gratifying to see it working so well at this crucial moment,” Brandon added. 

As the pandemic swept across the US earlier this year, organizers recognized the need to recruit poll workers after officials in Wisconsin had difficulty recruiting poll workers, and officials in Georgia and Kentucky reported poll worker shortages in their primaries.

Poll workers tend to be older, and fall into an age bracket more vulnerable to serious illness from coronavirus. The Pew Research Center reports 58% of poll workers were ages 61 and older in the 2018 midterms, a number similar to the 56% during the 2016 elections.

In part, the initiative seeks to mobilize member companies’ employees. It also aims to recruit Americans across the country.

Celebrities also are hopping on board. 

“Veep” star and activist Julia Louis-Dreyfus spoke to CNN’s Jake Tapper about the initiative Tuesday.

“I will say I think it’s a very patriotic act to sign up to work at a poll,” Louis-Dreyfus said.

1:54 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Bloomberg announces $40 Million in TV ads supporting Biden in Florida

From CNN’s Caroline Kenny

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Michael Bloomberg, a former New York mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, announced $40 million in TV ads supporting Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden statewide in Florida.

“This fall, the path to the presidency goes through Florida – and with mail-in ballots going out this week, voters will soon start deciding who gets its 29 electoral votes,” Bloomberg said in the news release. “That’s why we’re doing everything in our power to tell the story of Donald Trump’s failed presidency and why we need Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. The more that voters in Florida get engaged, the more likely Biden is to win – and we’re going to work to make sure that happens.”

According to the news release, the TV ads will focus on "key issues facing Floridians every day, including Trump's mismanagement of the pandemic, Trump's numerous attempts to repeal the ACA, and Biden's economic plan that will lift middle class families."

The ads will air daily for five weeks in all 10 Florida markets.

1:32 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Trump slams Biden and touts border wall at Latinos for Trump event in Florida

From CNN's Allie Malloy and DJ Judd

President Donald Trump speaks during a Latinos for Trump event at Trump National Doral Miami resort on September 25 in Doral, Florida.
President Donald Trump speaks during a Latinos for Trump event at Trump National Doral Miami resort on September 25 in Doral, Florida. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump spent most of his remarks at a Latinos for Trump event slamming presidential rival Joe Biden and touting the border wall to an enthusiastic crowd at his Trump Doral Resort.

Of his support from Latinos, Trump said, “They call them Latinos sometimes, Hispanics sometimes, and sometimes you can call them both... After five years I figured out they don’t really care just call them one of those two and they're OK."

“Many Latino and Hispanic Americans came here to pursue the American dream, having left countries that they just felt was very, very, unsafe and you know, it's a very similar ideology, okay, if you look at, Venezuela, you look at what's going on there and you'll see some interesting things. You look at that, and you're looking at what's going on in other countries, some of you are from those other countries, and you got lucky to get out, but it's the same kind of thing that you'd see happen here…” Trump said of Democrats. 

Trump then said he was “like a wall” adding: "You know we're building the wall on the southern border, it's almost like a war between the American Dream, I'll say this, because it sounds nicer, but it's true… between the American dream and World War II, with the American dream, and chaos, and a, a horror show, a horror show it would be very bad, it would be very bad."

Trump spent many minutes slamming Biden with familiar gripes —including "Sleepy Joe" and that he’s done more for the country in 40 some months than Biden has done in 45 years. He also threw in a few “Where’s Hunter."

10:28 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Michigan legislature passes bill to allow some absentee ballots be processed 1 day before Election Day

From CNN's Annie Grayer

An official ballot drop box is seen on September 24 in Detroit, Michigan.
An official ballot drop box is seen on September 24 in Detroit, Michigan. Paul Sancya/AP

The Michigan legislature just passed a bill that will allow clerks in certain cities to start processing absentee ballots one day before Election Day.

In Michigan cities with populations of 25,000 or more, clerks can request to start processing absentee ballots from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on November 2, giving clerks a 10 hour head start. Ballots cannot start to be counted in the state of Michigan until Election Day.

Michigan, a key battleground state, will be a big focus on election night, and if signed into law, this bill should help results to come in more quickly. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson called it “a step in the right direction to help ease the burden our clerks face in securely processing the significant number of absentee ballots.”

The final version of the bill, which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign, includes some other new provisions. 

Clerks will be required to get in touch with voters if there are issues matching their signature on the outside of their ballot with their application until 8 p.m. on the day before Election Day. While clerks were previously advised to follow up with voters if there were signature verification issues, it had not been codified in state law. Clerks are advised to notify voters by mail, telephone, or electronic mail. 

Clerks designated to count absentee ballots are also granted the opportunity to work in shifts. The shifts can change at any time on Election Day as provided but the city township or clerk. If election inspectors decide to let their clerks tallying absentee votes to work in shifts, there is not allowed to be a gap between shifts. 

In addition, video monitoring devices will be installed to monitor absentee ballot drop boxes for those installed after October 1. 

12:07 p.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Joe and Jill Biden to attend US Capitol ceremony for Justice Ginsburg

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden arrive at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, in Arlington Virginia, on September 25, before heading to a memorial ceremony for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden arrive at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, in Arlington Virginia, on September 25, before heading to a memorial ceremony for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Carolyn Kaster/AP

The Biden campaign said Jill and Joe Biden will travel to Washington, DC, Friday to pay their respects to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the US Capitol.

Biden's running mate Kamala Harris will also pay respects to Justice Ginsburg today on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, President Trump is set to campaign in three states today — Florida, Georgia and Virginia.

He paid his respects to Ginsburg yesterday as she lay in repose at the Supreme Court. The President was met with boos and chants from the crowd.

Watch the Bidens pay their respects:

9:35 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Trump targets Biden's lighter campaign schedule ahead of first debate

From CNN's Eric Bradner and Donald Judd

Joe Biden's campaign at 9:20 a.m. ET on Thursday called a "lid" — a term used to inform reporters that the Democratic presidential nominee wouldn't be making any public appearances for the rest of the day.

It was no surprise: Biden had told reporters the day before that he was devoting Thursday to preparing for his first debate with President Donald Trump next week.

But it meant Biden would be on the sidelines as the nation erupted in controversy, with a Supreme Court seat on the line, widespread protests over the police involved in the shooting of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, not facing charges related to her death, and Trump refusing to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses in November.

And it was a drastic contrast to Trump, who traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday afternoon to deliver a speech focused on health care and then to Jacksonville, Florida, for a rally.

In Jacksonville on Thursday night, Trump mocked Biden for calling an early lid.

"Supposing he never campaigns and he wins, you know how badly I'm going to feel? I'm working hard, and you've got to work hard," Trump said of Biden.

Trump and Republicans have sought to seize on Biden's relatively sparse schedule, accusing him of hiding in his basement -- where his campaign in the pandemic's early days set up a camera so he could livestream events and sit for interviews. Some swing-state Democratic candidates and officials have privately complained that the lack of Biden events and his campaign's decision to eschew the usual door-to-door canvassing have put the party at a disadvantage.

But Biden's aides argue that the former vice president is modeling the behavior public health officials advise in the pandemic -- and that voters will credit him for a responsible approach.

Read the full story here.

Visit CNN's Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race

10:05 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

White House disputes FBI director on voter fraud

From CNN's Allie Malloy

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing titled Threats to the Homeland on September 24 in Washington, DC.
FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing titled Threats to the Homeland on September 24 in Washington, DC. Tom Williams/Pool/Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows spent the morning going after FBI Director Wray and his comments that there is no evidence of coordinated voter fraud, saying on CBS “perhaps he needs to get involved on the ground and he would change his testimony on Capitol Hill.’

To be clear: As CNN's teams have fact checked repeatedly, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U.S. 

Meadows then told reporters on the north lawn that he “couldn’t speak” as to whether Trump has confidence in Director Wray. 

“With all due respect to Director Wray, he has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI, let alone figuring out whether there’s any kind of voter fraud,” Meadows said on CBS.

9:19 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Voters say racial injustice and SCOTUS are some of the top issues driving them to the polls

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

A panel of six voters expressed their concerns about racial injustice and the “hypocrisy” over the Supreme Court vacancy after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death as some of the biggest issues motivating them to vote in November.

“I’m tired of turning on the news and watching people look like me being slaughtered for sport,” Felicia Rand, an Ohio voter who supports Joe Biden, said on CNN’s “New Day.”

“I don't want to have to keep explaining to my kids like why they have to move differently because of the color of their skin. … That should not be a reality in 2020, but here we are. I'm just ready for somebody to actually do what they say they'll do,” she added.

Rene Rodríguez, a Florida voter who supports Biden, said he wants to return to “some kind of status quo.”

“The chaos and racial division that we're living in today, I don't want it,” he said.

Dan Carter, a voter from Connecticut who supports President Trump, said that the economy is a top issue for him, and that Trump will do a better job than Biden. “I wish I could cut off his thumbs and he would stop tweeting … But the truth of the matter is, policy-wise, he's not done that bad.”

Four of six voters said they were motivated to vote because of the Supreme Court vacancy left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Thaddeus Jones, Jr., a South Carolina voter who supports Biden, said he “see[s] hypocrisy” in Republicans now. It spurred him to change his consideration of supporting Sen. Lindsey Graham in his state. “This fellow is just not a man of his word,” he said.

Carter, the Connecticut voter, said “there's a lot of hypocrisy on both sides right now, unfortunately.” He added that Obama nominee Merrick Garland should’ve gotten a hearing in 2016.

“I do hope they appoint somebody to the bench who is not an activist either way, and who believes in the precedent of law,” he said.

Watch more:

 

9:22 a.m. ET, September 25, 2020

Trump hasn't asked potential SCOTUS nominees how they would vote on an election challenge, Meadows says

From CNN's Joe Johns and Allie Malloy

President Trump has not asked potential Supreme Court nominees how they would vote in the event the Court is asked to decide a challenge to the 2020 presidential election, according to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. 

"No, he hasn’t,” Meadows said. "I’ve been in those interviews and I can tell you it’d be inappropriate for us to ask those kinds of questions."

The President has attracted criticism by claiming the ninth seat on the Court should be filled in the event a case tied to the election arrives on the Court’s docket.

Meadows indicated the President was concerned about the fact that currently there are eight justices on the court, raising the potential of the Court deadlocking in the event of a 4-4 tie. 

“I think his comments were more an indication that we need a full panel on the Supreme Court. You don’t want to ever provide a situation where there could be a tie," Meadows said. The Court has operated before with only eight justices, notably four years ago after the death of associate Justice Antonin Scalia.

 Questions have also been raised about whether the judicial impartiality of the President’s nominee could be sullied because of the President’s public focus on the possibility of an election challenge.

Asked if the President was creating an appearance of a conflict of interest for whoever he picks for the Court, Meadows said: “No more than any other judge that has been nominated by Donald Trump or Barack Obama or anybody else… I think we’ve seen from the court rulings already they’re an independent body.”

Meadows also said he doesn’t know whether the White House would be using a Sherpa to the extent they have in the past, telling Joe:  “I don’t know that we’ll be using a Sherpa as much.  We’ve been working with Leader McConnell in a very direct way.” 

“I’ve had daily conversations with leader McConnell and a number of senators because of Covid and the inability of Senators to actually engage more on an office by office basis. We’re looking at modifying that. If there’s a need for a Sherpa- we’ve actually have asked the leader for some recommendations there,” Meadows said.  

Meadows said to expect to see him and Pat Cipollone making the nominee available to a wide variety of Senators.