The latest on the 2020 election

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 5:54 AM ET, Thu October 15, 2020
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10:22 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

Judge reopens voter registration in Virginia until Thursday following yesterday's outage

From CNN's Ross Levitt

A voter fills out her ballot on the first day of early voting in Leesburg, Virginia, on September 18.
A voter fills out her ballot on the first day of early voting in Leesburg, Virginia, on September 18. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

A federal judge in Virginia said Wednesday morning he will reopen voter registration there until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday after a computer outage took down the system on Tuesday, the deadline to register.   

Judge John Gibney Jr. said the order would extend both online registration and in-person registration. 

"You can't go back in time and register people," Gibney said. Absent his intervention, "Almost an entire day of voter registration will be lost."

The state board of elections and department of elections supported the petition filed by the New Virginia Majority Education Fund and other groups. 

 “If we have problems with local registrars who decide that this order does not require them to allow additional registration, you have my phone,” he told the parties. “I will give them a suggestion.” 

The computer outage was caused when a construction crew hit a fiber data line during their work.  For much of the day Tuesday, visitors to the state portal were met with this message: "Due to a network outage the Citizen Portal is temporarily unavailable."

One of the takeaways from this lawsuit, Gibney said, is that crews ought to call ahead to utility companies before digging. 

Are you having difficulty registering or voting, whether in person or by mail? Tell us more about it here.

9:17 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

"Huge mistake" to cancel presidential debate, White House official says

From CNN's Betsy Klein

from Fox News
from Fox News

White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah reacted to news that the President will participate in an NBC town hall and cast blame on the Commission on Presidential Debates, calling it a “huge mistake” to cancel the second debate.

“This was a huge mistake by the debate commission and I mean I think it raises some real questions about if they're trying to weigh the scales one way or the other in this race. But listen, by the time that the President does the town hall tomorrow, he’ll have already done three rallies," she said during an appearance on Fox News.

"He is back, he is highly energized, he is eager to get on the road and it's really a mistake that he's not able to appear side-by-side with Joe Biden and show the American people the difference between these two candidates,” she continued.

Interestingly, and perhaps a window into concerns the President is hearing, the hosts pressed Farah on the campaign’s surrogate operation, which Farah defended by saying Trump’s children are out on the trail.

Earlier this morning, the network announced Trump will participate in an NBC town hall tomorrow night.

The event, scheduled for 8 p.m. ET in Miami, will compete with an ABC town hall featuring Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, which is set to begin at the same time.

9:14 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

Trump's SCOTUS nominee was asked if she would recuse herself from an election case. This is what she said.

From CNN's Joan Biskupic

Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images
Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Tuesday eluded efforts by Democratic lawmakers to commit to recusing herself from any Supreme Court election dispute between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

With controversies over state ballot practices escalating and the possibility of a replay of the 2000 Bush v. Gore ordeal in the air, the topic has featured heavily in her Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearing.

In an exchange with Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, Barrett said: "I commit to you to fully and faithfully applying the law of recusal. And part of the law is to consider any appearance questions. And I will apply the factors that other justices have before me in determining whether the circumstances require my recusal or not. But I can't offer a legal conclusion right now about the outcome of the decision I would reach."

Trump has pointed to the Nov. 3 election as a reason for seeking swift Senate confirmation of Barrett, a federal appeals court judge who would be his third appointee to the nine-member bench.

The Republican incumbent has said he believes the Supreme Court could ultimately decide whether he is the victor over Biden.

"I think this will end up at the Supreme Court," Trump said about the possibility of an intractable ballot controversy. "And I think it's very important that we have nine justices."

In a recent CNN poll, more than half (56%) of the Americans surveyed said they think Barrett should recuse herself from cases on the presidential election; 34% said the opposite. Opinions divided largely by party: 82% of Democrats; 53% of independents and 32% of Republicans said Barrett should promise to recuse herself from cases about the election.

Supreme Court practice leaves it to individual justices to decide when to recuse themselves from cases. In her recent questionnaire to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Barrett noted that federal ethics law covering lower court judges is not binding on the Supreme Court but said she would look to it, as other justices have.

The law requires judges to disqualify themselves when their "impartiality might reasonably be questioned." Rarely do Supreme Court justices sit out cases and typically only when they have a financial stake or family connection to the dispute.

Read more here.

9:23 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

Obama will hit the campaign trail for Biden soon. Here's where he could travel.

From CNN's Arlette Saenz and Jeff Zeleny

Former President Barack Obama speaks in Munich, Germany, in 2019.
Former President Barack Obama speaks in Munich, Germany, in 2019. Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama is expected to hit the campaign trail next week, Democratic officials tell CNN, as he looks to step up his work in support of his one-time partner — former vice president Joe Biden — in the final stretch of the election.

Obama intends to focus his efforts on early voting states in the final two weeks of the race, the officials tell CNN.

The former President will not aggressively barnstorm swing states, but rather intends to visit a handful of critical battlegrounds where voting is underway.

His schedule has not been finalized, officials said, but states under consideration for his solo appearances include Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and more.

"He's doing enough for our campaign," Biden told reporters before boarding a flight in New Castle, Delaware, Tuesday. "He'll be out on the trail and he's doing well."

Obama's expected return to the campaign trail could energize Democratic voters in the final weeks before the election as the former president remains among the Democratic Party's most popular figures. The Biden campaign believes Obama can help in three particular areas, officials say, including: Black men, Latinos and young voters.

The events will be socially distant — similar to the tactics adopted by the Biden campaign during the coronavirus pandemic — but are designed to garner local media coverage in key areas.

President Trump's campaign has dispatched far more surrogates ahead of the election — along with the President's rallies — and the Obama visits are designed to help Biden draw more attention in places where voting is happening.

Read more here.

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

9:23 a.m. ET, October 14, 2020

Trump and Biden will participate in competing town halls tomorrow. Here's what we know about the events.

From CNN's Betsy Klein and Arlette Saenz

Julio Cortez/Patrick Semansky/AP
Julio Cortez/Patrick Semansky/AP

President Trump will participate in a town hall with NBC News on Thursday night, the network announced. The event, scheduled for 8 p.m. ET in Miami, will compete with an ABC town hall featuring Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, which is set to begin at the same time.

Biden's town hall will be held in Philadelphia and moderated by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. Stephanopoulos moderated a town hall with President Trump at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia last month.

Trump and Biden were originally scheduled to participate in the second presidential debate Thursday night, but the event was eventually canceled after Trump objected to the virtual format announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates in light of Trump's positive coronavirus diagnosis.

"The event is set to take place outdoors and in accordance with the guidelines set forth by health officials, also consistent with all government regulations," Hoda Kotb said on NBC's "Today" show Wednesday of Trump's town hall tomorrow.

National Institutes of Health Clinical Director Clifford Lane said in a statement to NBC News that they have concluded, via PCR test analysis, "with a high degree of confidence" that Trump is "not shedding infectious virus."

The event will be moderated by Savannah Guthrie, who will sit 12 feet from the President. Attendees will be required to wear face masks.