The latest on the 2020 election

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 10:42 PM ET, Tue October 20, 2020
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12:40 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Texas voters cast more than 4.6 million votes in first week of early voting

From CNN's Ashley Killough

Voters wait to cast a ballot at the American Airlines Center during early voting on October 15 in Dallas.
Voters wait to cast a ballot at the American Airlines Center during early voting on October 15 in Dallas. LM Otero/AP

More than 4.6 million people cast their vote in Texas during the first seven days of early voting, according to data posted on the Texas Secretary of State website Tuesday morning. That represents a little more than 27% of registered voters.

On Monday, about 502,042 people voted in person, bringing the total in-person votes to just under 4 million. Meanwhile, approximately 36,772 mail-in ballots were added to the count, bringing the total ballots-by-mail to 619,017.

These numbers do not include Harris County – the largest county in Texas – which still hasn't reported its data for Monday to the state website.

How this stacks up: Comparing early voting data from 2016 can be complicated for multiple reasons, in addition to the pandemic.

First, Texas has three weeks of in-person early voting this cycle compared to two weeks in 2016. Second, the state is tracking early voting data from all 254 counties this cycle, but it only collected data from the top 15 most populous counties in 2016.

Still, when looking at the data from the first seven days of early voting in the top five most populous counties in both cycles, turnout has increased by 228,937 in those counties – an increase of about 13.5%. It's worth noting that those counties represent 42% of all registered voters. 

11:58 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

NYC mayor and NYPD in talks on how to prepare for potential unrest post-election

From CNN's Kristina Sgueglia

NYC Media
NYC Media

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and and the New York Police Department have been in talks about how to prepare for potential unrest following Election Day and in the likelihood of a lingering final count, the mayor said. 

“We are going to have a very clear approach, because I’m not going to be surprised if there’s a prolonged count, recount, whatever it may be in this election and extremely strong views and a lot of people out expressing themselves and we have to protect the right to protest and we expect and should be ready for a lot of peaceful protest," he said.

If anyone attempts violence “we have to stop that violence,” de Blasio added. 

He also said it's “bluntly false” that anything the leader of the Police Benevolence Association says reflects the tenor of the NYPD. He was responding to a question remarking that the PBA have endorsed the President. 

“They hold a broad broad range of views,” he said of the police force reminding that they are a majority “people of color” police force that is “very substantially city residents,” and should not be “stereotyped.” 

He believes what has been seen “overwhelmingly” is that officers “leave their politics at home and they go and do what has to be done to keep people safe and respect peaceful protest.”

He added that peaceful protest is a long respected tradition in NYC. He was pressed repeatedly on the notion that some in the police force may not be on the side of potential demonstrators. 

De Blasio countered that saying that that “it’s a very professional police force.”

While there are individuals in the force that he acknowledged have “done some things absolutely wrong,” with the regard to the police force on the whole it’s not the “reality.”

He continually touted the NYPD and upper ranks as a very “professional” group of people with “diverse views” who "believe deeply that their job is to protect the democratic process and protect peaceful protest," he said.

The NYPD has a briefing later this afternoon on post-election preparedness

12:50 p.m. ET, October 20, 2020

In-person voting started in Wisconsin today. Here's what voters are telling us about the experience so far.

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

The key swing state of Wisconsin kicked off early in-person voting today.

Here's what voters on the ground are telling CNN about the experience so far:

Early voting line in Milwaukee.
Early voting line in Milwaukee. Source: Milwaukee

"It took about an hour for me to get in and out, I was out there pretty early," Ken Hughes told CNN.  

He voted at the Midtown Center in Milwaukee.

"I voted early because I wanted to get It out of the way to avoid a lot of the longer lines on election day," he said.

A drive thru voting line in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
A drive thru voting line in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Source: Michael Koehn

Michael Koehn is in the drive thru voting line in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, today because he doesn't "want to risk a trip to the poll and I want to make certain an actual poll worker takes my ballot. It's that important."

Early voting line in Greenfield, Wisconsin.
Early voting line in Greenfield, Wisconsin. Source: Jesus Hernandez

"I believe waiting times are just going to get longer," Jesus Hernandez told CNN, explaining why he's in line today.

He voted at City Hall in Greenfield, Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Zach Byrne, who is in the Village of Caledonia, Wisconsin, told CNN he has "always voted early as I traditionally travel for work."

"I kept the tradition going as I figured that I should take advantage of decent weather in Wisconsin as it isn’t getting any warmer (and lines will be outside). I wanted to make sure I didn’t take a chance in not getting it done so that is why I went first day," he added.

HEAR FROM WISCONSIN VOTERS:

11:23 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Nearly double the number of absentee ballots returned in New Hampshire than all of 2016

From CNN's Sarah Jorgensen

Two weeks before Election Day, New Hampshire has received nearly double the amount of absentee ballots than it received in total during the 2016 general election. 

New data from the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office show that 136,137 have already been returned to county clerks out of 200,834 absentee ballots have been requested as of the morning of Oct. 20. 

In 2016, 75,305 absentee ballots were cast total during the general election cycle, according to Election Day tallies from the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office.

Absentee ballots accounted for about 10% of the total votes cast in New Hampshire during the 2016 general election. 

Absentee ballot rules have been expanded in the Granite State to accommodate those with concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to those who may be out of state during Election Day and in other categories.

11:12 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Wisconsin opens in-person voting today as Covid-19 cases hit record-breaking spike

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Casey Tolan, Caroline Kenny and Ellie Kaufman

Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP/Getty Images
Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP/Getty Images

The key presidential battleground of Wisconsin kicks off early voting today — just as the state is grappling with a record number of Covid-19 cases, a stark echo of the state's chaotic April primary in the midst of shelter-in-place restrictions.

That election went forward over Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' objections after the state Supreme Court rejected his effort to delay the primary due to coronavirus, and the US Supreme Court reversed a lower court allowing extra days for voters to return ballots by mail.

The resulting election was marred by widespread reports of problems with absentee ballots, a dire shortage of poll workers, lines that stretched for hours at some polling places and warnings that voting may have ended up spreading coronavirus.

State and local election officials said they've learned from the problems that hampered the primary and are better prepared for the November election. But the two-week early voting period begins Tuesday as the state's coronavirus case rates are setting records. Johns Hopkins University reported a record of 3,861 new cases on Friday, which beat the previous record of 3,743 set just a day earlier.

Even the deadline for the state's absentee ballots remains up in the air. A federal judge ruled last month that Wisconsin could tally mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day if they arrived up to six days later. But an appeals court panel blocked that decision this month, ruling in favor of the Republican-led Legislature, and Democratic groups have appealed to the Supreme Court.

Wisconsin was one of three Rust Belt states that gave Presiden Trump the White House in 2016, and he and Democratic nominee Joe Biden have made the state a frequent campaign stop, including Trump's Saturday visit to Janesville.

Like other states, Wisconsin has seen a major influx of absentee ballots returned: As of Monday morning, Wisconsin voters had returned more than 863,000 absentee ballots, according to data from the state Elections Commission.

State and local election officials say they believe the steps they've taken will make for a smoother election this time around, including ramping up the number of poll workers in each county, keeping voters outside if possible and giving poll workers protective equipment and plexiglass barriers.

The Wisconsin Election Commission has focused on hiring poll workers for Election Day, and Meagan Wolfe, the commission's chief official, said last week the state was only about 180 workers short out of 30,000 needed.

Madison, the state's capital, has doubled the number of people to work the polls, signing up 6,000, compared with 3,000 in the last three presidential elections, said Maribeth Witzel-Behl, the city clerk.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is on the ground in Wisconsin speaking to voters:

10:37 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Over 3 million have requested to vote early in Michigan, state official says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

More than 3 million voters have requested to vote early in Michigan, according to the Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

“This is extraordinary if you consider the fact that in November 2016, 4.7 million voters participated total in that entire election,” Benson told CNN. “We are on track to see record turnout in Michigan just like so many states around the country, and that’s a great thing for democracy.”

Benson also issued a directive to ban openly carrying guns at polling places on Election Day. This has been met with criticism and in response, she cited the federal law and state law that deems it illegal to intimidate or harass voters at the polls.

“Open carrying a firearm into a polling place or in a voting area is something that very clearly can be intimidating to voters,” she said.

“My job as the state’s chief election officer is simply to ensure that every voter is protected. That's exactly what we're doing here, issuing a very narrowly-tailored regulation to ensure that the open carry of firearms to polling places, which can be intimidating or potentially threatening or harassing for voters, is simply not appropriate and not allowed,” she added.

Watch:

11:18 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

White House claims muted mics at debate will lead to "disasters" for Biden

From CNN's Allie Malloy 

Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not stop to gaggle with reporters at the White House but did appear on Fox Business moments ago where she discussed the upcoming debate, and the Supreme Court decision on Pennsylvania mail-in-ballots. 

McEnany struck a similar line to the President this morning on the debate commission announcing they will be muting mics: “He’s going to go with it but the President wants a chance to hold Joe Biden accountable. The one upside of the muted mics is Joe Biden will be forced to speak more than 30 seconds and he will inevitably walk himself into a few disasters.”

McEnany also said Trump will still be discussing foreign policy — regardless of the debate topics and claimed Trump “ensured that foreign policy would be a topic in the debate when he made Middle East peace not just once, but twice.” 

The press secretary did not make extensive comments on the Supreme Court decision other than calling it chaotic and falsely tying it to universal mail-in voting. 

Finally, she remained optimistic of Trump’s reelection chances and attacked Joe Biden for staying off the campaign trail this week until Thursday’s debate.

10:33 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

More than 339,000 Floridians cast their ballots on first day of in-person voting

From CNN's Curt Devine

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More than 339,000 Floridians cast their ballots in-person on Monday, the first day of early-in person voting in the state, according to data from the Florida Department of State, contributing to a record number of overall ballots cast.

The data show about 3,800 more registered Republicans than Democrats voted in-person, though about 50,000 voters with no party affiliation also cast their ballots in-person Monday. 

Fifty-two of the Florida’s 67 counties began in-person voting Monday. 

Some context: At this point in the 2016 cycle, 1,602,419 total ballots had been cast. As of Tuesday morning, the state was just shy of 3 million ballots cast. 

There have been more than 32 million ballots cast in the 46 states and DC that are reporting data, according to information from CNN, Edison and Catalist.

10:37 a.m. ET, October 20, 2020

Trump's last in-person meeting with Fauci was in August

From CNN's Jim Acosta

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

President Trump’s last in-person meeting with Dr. Anthony Fauci was more than two months ago on Aug. 11 for an Oval Office session on vaccine development, a source familiar with the matter said.

The meeting delved into a range of other topics besides the vaccine as Trump repeatedly changed the subject to bring up other topics on his mind, the source added. Moncef Slaoui and Dr. Deborah Birx were among the top officials also at the meeting.

Trump has not spent much time speaking with the entire coronavirus task force in recent months, the source continued, as the President now prefers to receive updates from Dr. Scott Atlas.

Sources familiar with task force business have told CNN that Trump’s preference to receive information from Atlas, who espouses widely discredited views on Covid-19, has alarmed other members of the task force, including Birx.