The latest on the 2020 election

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

Updated 5:43 AM ET, Wed October 14, 2020
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4:19 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

This Georgia county's election office is experiencing an 8-hour early voting wait time

From CNN’s Devon Sayers, Amara Walker, and Jason Morris 

People wait in line to vote on Tuesday, October 13 in Gwinnett, Georgia.
People wait in line to vote on Tuesday, October 13 in Gwinnett, Georgia. WSB

There is currently an eight-hour wait time at Gwinnett County's early voting location in their elections office headquarters, county spokesperson Joe Sorenson told CNN.

Yesterday, there were 8,703 votes cast in the county on the first day of early voting, compared with 1,490 votes cast in the county on the first day of early voting in 2016.  

Election staff at the elections office headquarters say they saw people already lined up to vote when they arrived at 6 a.m.  

Voting at the location started at 8 a.m., while other locations in the county started an hour earlier at 7 a.m.  Wait times at other locations in Gwinnett range between 45 minutes to three hours right now.   

On its first day of early voting, Georgia saw record in-person turnout.

In-person turnout for the November election surged more than 40% above the previous record set on the first day of in-person voting ahead of the 2016 November elections, according to a news release from Georgia’s Secretary of State.

3:41 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

Snapchat endorses youth vote ballot initiative in California

From CNN's Rachel Janfaza

Snapchat endorsed Proposition 18, a ballot initiative in California that would allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections in the state as long as they'll turn 18 by the general election. 

The endorsement, first reported Tuesday by Politico Playbook CA, came officially from Snap Inc, Snapchat's parent company. 

“I’m thrilled to lend Snap’s support to Proposition 18,” Snap CEO and cofounder Evan Spiegel wrote in a letter to the Yes on 18 campaign last week. 

“Given our own civic engagement work to empower the next generation of voters, we are grateful for the chance to support your efforts," Spiegel said. 

Snapchat has pushed youth voter engagement initiatives and helped register more than 1.2 million eligible voters so far this year with their in-app voter registration tool

The popular social media platform has maintained a commitment to helping young people learn about the role they can play in democracy since ahead of the 2016 election. 

"We want to do everything we can to help make voting more accessible for all groups who have been historically disenfranchised," Rachel Racusen, spokesperson for Snap told CNN in August, noting the platform's reach among 18-29-year-olds. 

According to Snapchat, between 300,000 and 500,000 Snapchatters turn 18 each month and its Prop 18 endorsement is the latest step in a string of civic-minded initiatives. 

“We believe deeply in the potential of young people to drive positive change,” Spiegel added in his letter to Prop 18. “The future we build today is the reality that we all will live with for decades to come.

Proposition 18 has been endorsed by California officials including Gov. Gavin Newsom, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and Assemblymembers Evan Low and Kevin Mullin. 

Supporters also include the California Democratic Party, California College Democrats, California High School Democrats, California Young Democrats, Generation Citizen, the California Labor Federation, the California League of Conservation Voters, Equality California, the League of Women Voters, Courage California and Power California. 

3:58 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

White House says Trump campaign ramping up to do "multiple rallies a day"

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

President Donald Trump holds a Make America Great Again rally at Orlando Sanford International Airport on October 12 in Sanford, Florida.
President Donald Trump holds a Make America Great Again rally at Orlando Sanford International Airport on October 12 in Sanford, Florida. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump is "having a blast, he's feeling great," as he returns to the campaign trail less than two weeks after being diagnosed with Covid-19, deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern claimed Tuesday. 

"He's well above the length of time that the CDC recommends, and his doctors have cleared him," Morgenstern told Fox Business. "He's certainly not a risk of transmission of the virus, and he's tested negative now, his doctors put that out as well." 

Morgenstern said the campaign is ramping up to do "multiple rallies a day." 

"As we saw from last night he's got his dance moves ready to go in every swing state from now until the election," he added with a laugh, referring to a moment during last night's rally in Florida when Trump started dancing. 

Despite the White House's positive spin on the messaging around Trump's health, the press office continues to ignore specific questions on his condition.

Speaking to reporters very briefly after his appearance on Fox Business, CNN's Kaitlan Collins tried to ask Morgenstern about the President's testing schedule and why the medical team couldn't say the last time Trump tested negative for Covid before his diagnosis. 

"I'm not going to get into that," Morgenstern said, cutting off the question, "I gotta head in." He walked towards the West Wing, ignoring further questions. 

2:48 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

Early voting begins in Texas with long lines in some locations

From CNN’s Kay Jones and Rebekah Riess

Voters line up outside of the Southpark Meadows Mega-Center on the first day of early voting in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, October 13.
Voters line up outside of the Southpark Meadows Mega-Center on the first day of early voting in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, October 13. Mario Cantu/CSM/Shutterstock

Early voting began in Texas on Tuesday, with thousands of voters casting their ballots as some locations saw long wait times.

In Harris County, which includes Houston, 50,000 votes were cast by noon local time, according to a tweet from the county clerk, Chris Hollins.

Wait times exceeded 40 minutes in several locations in the county, including the Rice University Football Stadium located in Houston.

In total, 122 early voting locations are open in the Houston-metro area, according to the county clerk's website.  

In Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth and makes up a large part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, 22,803 votes have been cast as of 2:30 p.m. ET, according to the Tarrant County Elections Administration.

Wait times in the county are currently showing five locations with wait times of more than 60 minutes and two with wait times between 30 and 44 minutes. 

2:11 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

Here's a look at pre-Election Day voting data in Texas and Ohio

From CNN's Ethan Cohen and Liz Stark

A Harris County election worker prepares mail-in ballots to be sent out to voters September 29 in Houston, Texas.
A Harris County election worker prepares mail-in ballots to be sent out to voters September 29 in Houston, Texas. David J. Phillip/AP

As in-person early voting gets underway Tuesday in Texas, data from mail-in ballots already returned shows a similar demographic pattern as at this point in 2016.

Here's what the Lone Star State’s data shows:

  • About two-thirds of those who have already cast ballots in Texas are White – about the same as at this time in 2016.
  • Black voters make up a smaller share of the early voting population than they did at this point four years ago (11% this year, down from 17% in 2016).
  • Hispanic voters make up a slightly larger share (19% this year, up from 14%).
  • Voters 65 or older make up 90% of those Texans who have voted so far, which is on par with 2016 levels. Considering being 65 or older is a valid excuse to vote by mail in Texas, this is not a surprise.

Texas is one of five states that requires a non-Covid excuse to vote by mail, so this dataset only represents a small sample of the state's electorate.

This detailed pre-election voting information comes from Catalist, a company that provides data, analytics and other services to Democrats, academics and nonprofit issue-advocacy organizations and is giving new insights into who is voting before November.

The returns Catalist have analyzed so far represent a small fraction of the expected number of ballots to be cast in 2020, as President Trump and Hillary Clinton received about 130 million votes combined four years ago.   

An early voter casts a ballot at the Franklin County Board of Elections Office on October 6 in Columbus, Ohio.
An early voter casts a ballot at the Franklin County Board of Elections Office on October 6 in Columbus, Ohio. Ty Wright/Getty Images

Meanwhile, a week into early voting in Ohio, a critical battleground that Trump won by about eight percentage points in 2016, here's what the data shows:

  • Black voters currently account for a slightly larger share of early votes compared to four years ago – 15% now vs. 11% then.
  • White voters, meanwhile, make up a slightly smaller share of ballots already cast in the Buckeye State, comprising 82% of early votes so far compared to 86% at this point in 2016.
  • Voters 65 or older in Ohio comprise a smaller percentage of those who have returned ballots so far than they did at this point in 2016.
  • This age group’s share has dropped from 61% of the pre-Election Day ballots at this point in 2016 to 47% currently. All other age blocs have seen upticks in their shares of the early vote compared to 2016.

Note: This data is not predictive of the ultimate outcome of any race, and polling shows that Democrats strongly prefer voting early or by mail, while Republicans prefer to vote on Election Day.

Here's which states offer early, in-person voting:

 

12:49 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

White House Halloween will happen "as usual" despite pandemic, source says

From CNN's Kate Bennett

The annual White House Halloween festivities are going ahead “as usual,“ despite the pandemic, a source familiar with the planning tells CNN.

“It is full-steam-ahead,” says the source.

The event draws several dozen families to the White House South Lawn each year for games and trick-or-treating with the President and first lady, who pass out candy. The guests invited to attend are in large part White House staff and military families, as well as local schoolchildren. 

Trump and Melania Trump announced on Oct. 2 they had tested positive for Covid-19. White House physician Sean Conley said yesterday that Trump has tested negative for Covid-19 on consecutive days.

A White House official confirms the Halloween event will be taking place, adding it will be “modified” to follow CDC guidelines. The official said those guidelines will include face masks and other protective elements, but did not expand on specifics at this time.

1:45 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

Obama will hit campaign trail soon for Biden, aide says

From CNN’s Arlette Saenz

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

President Barack Obama plans to hit the campaign trail soon, an aide to the former president said.

This comes after Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told reporters earlier today that his former boss would be “out on the trail."

The aide would not detail how soon Obama would appear on the campaign trail or where he might travel.

Since endorsing his former partner in April, Obama’s work for the former vice president has largely been conducted on digital platforms, participating in virtual grassroots fundraisers with Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris and taping campaign videos with each of the candidates in recent months.

Earlier today, the Democratic National Committee released new digital videos featuring Obama urging Americans in 24 key states to make plans to vote.

In August, Obama traveled to Philadelphia where he delivered his speech to the Democratic National Convention remotely.

1:08 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

Army chief says there has been no planning for military police to handle election security

From CNN's Michael Conte

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville attends the Indo-Pacific Army Chiefs Conference meeting in Bangkok on September 9, 2019.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville attends the Indo-Pacific Army Chiefs Conference meeting in Bangkok on September 9, 2019. Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/Getty Images

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said the Army has not directed any specific guidance for active duty military police units to begin training for handling election security.

“There’s been no planning guidance given out from the Department of the Army directing any military police units to begin training for any situation, but our soldiers and our units are always prepared in training to conduct the missions,” McConville responded to questions from reporters at the Pentagon. “But if the question is, has there been specific guidance given from us – there has not been.”

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy further said here had not been any requests for the Washington DC National Guard to support other federal agencies in DC to prepare for potential civil unrest. 

“But we’re always available to support, whether it’s Metro PD or other federal agencies,” said McCarthy.

12:21 p.m. ET, October 13, 2020

A contested election could cost America its AAA credit rating, Fitch says

From CNN’s Matt Egan

Fitch Ratings will closely monitor the US presidential election for “any departure” from America’s history of orderly transitions of power, the ratings firm said in a report published Monday. 

The United States has a perfect AAA credit rating from Fitch in part because of its track record for strong governance, including “well-understood rules and processes for the transfer of power,” the report said.

“Fitch would view a departure from this principle negatively in considering the US rating,” the credit ratings firm said. 

Why this matters: A credit rating downgrade could cause an erosion of confidence among investors, potentially setting off turbulence in financial markets. It could also make it more expensive for the United States to finance its mountain of debt.  

For months, investors have been bracing for post-election chaos that could rattle financial markets. Those worries have been amplified by President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the election is “rigged” because of unfounded concerns about mail-in ballots. 

How we got here: The popularity of mail-in voting due to the Covid-19 pandemic means that uncertainty over the winner of the election “could conceivably last for weeks” after the November 3 election, Fitch said.

“The challenges surrounding the voting process increase the likelihood that results at a state or national level will be disputed by one or both of the candidates or party organizations,” the report said. 

In July, Fitch lowered its outlook on the United States to negative in part because of the “ongoing deterioration” in the nation’s public finances – and the lack of a plan to address it. 

“The potential for a disputed election result reflects deepening political polarization, which could affect the next administration’s policymaking scope and how it approaches public policy decision making on key issues,” Fitch said.