The latest on the 2020 election

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:07 p.m. ET, October 27, 2020
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9:22 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

Tips for staying safe at the polls during the pandemic 

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

With one week until Election Day, Erin Bromage, a biology professor specializing in immunology at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, has tips on how to stay safe while waiting to cast your ballot. 

“As long as we're lining up outdoors, we've got physical distance and they're wearing masks, it really is a low-risk activity just waiting there outside. While I don't like lines for five or six hours … the higher risk is when we get closer to the actual polling station and get indoors,” Bromage said on CNN’s “New Day.”

Bromage said voters should spend time at home looking at a sample ballot to prepare themselves on the issues and candidates.

“That way when you do come indoors, the time that you spend in there can be reduced just to the time that you need to be inside the actual polling station itself,” he said. 

If someone comes up to you without a mask on, do not engage with that person, he added. 

Visit CNN's voter guide to learn about important election deadlines and local voter resources.

9:12 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

Young voters explain why the 2020 election is critical for them

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Younger voters ages 18 to 29 are continuing to cast significantly more ballots and make up a greater share of the pre-Election Day vote than they did around the same time four years ago, data shows.

While students who spoke to CNN’s Dana Bash expressed some reservations about the candidates, they all agreed that the election is a main issue their friends are focused on. 

“I don’t know if I know any…of my personal friends who haven’t voted already,” one University of Virginia student told Bash. 

“People are really starting to recognize [with] just all of the different chaos within the political climate right now, that voting is the only real say that we can have,” said Kaylee Corvin, outreach coordinator for the UVA College Republicans, which is canvassing around neighborhoods. 

Meanwhile, UVA Democrats are driving people to the polls. Hunter Hess waited with a fellow student for an hour for her to cast an early vote.  

“We’ve been doing it a lot, especially with first-year students who don't know the voting process very well,” he said. 

Youth turnout broke records in 2018, and experts say protests over racial justice are keeping the surge going.

“We found that young people who were marching and demonstrating, not only more likely to be registering people to vote, but were much more likely to talking to other young people about the election and issues that they care about,” Abby Kiesa of Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life. 

Both campaigns have focused on digital efforts to reach younger voters, Bash reported. 

The Biden campaign launched designs for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris characters on the game “Animal Crossing,” while Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined gamers on Twitch and Biden’s granddaughters joined discussions with social influencers. The Trump campaign said their best influencers are young people reaching out to friends, such as participating in a March Madness-style competition called “#MAGAMadness.”

Watch more:

9:38 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

How early vote data is consistent with what pre-election polling has indicated

Analysis from CNN's Harry Enten

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

More folks are voting early than ever before. As of Monday afternoon, more than 60 million people have voted so far. That not only surpasses where we were at this point in 2016, it blows past the total number of people who voted early that year.

While early voting can't tell us the eventual outcome from this election, we can say that the data we're seeing so far in the early vote are consistent with what the pre-election polling has indicated.

In other words, nothing in the early vote data makes me doubt the pre-election polling data. This is a good sign for those hoping that the polling miscues of 2016 don't repeat themselves.

Let's just start with the simple fact that so many voters are turning out. For well over a year now, I've been arguing that we are going to see record turnout. The reason is that many more voters said they were enthusiastic and certain that they were going to vote in this election than usual.

Our most recent CNN/SSRS poll, for instance, found that 88% of registered voters said they were likely to vote. That's up from 83% from a similar CNN poll taken in October 2016.

model put together by FiveThirtyEight based primarily on how enthusiastic voters say they are forecasting the same thing. They have turnout reaching 154 million people. That's up from a little less than 140 million in 2016.

As a percentage of the voting eligible population, we could be looking at the highest turnout for a presidential election since 18 year olds got the vote in 1971.

A side effect of high turnout is that it has the potential for making the polls more accurate as well. A lot of problems in polling can come from trying to figure out which voters are more likely to actually turn out and vote. That's why polls are often less accurate in primaries and municipal elections, when turnout is lower.

The turnout from places like North Carolina and Florida look to be confirming another important trend in the polling: Republicans are much more likely to turn out in-person, while Democrats are more likely to vote by mail.

Democrats leaped out to a large lead in mail-in voting in Florida and North Carolina. The same has been true in other states such as Pennsylvania.

Read the full story analysis here.

Here's a look at 2020 pre-election votes cast by state so far:

9:40 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

A look at today's campaign schedule

From CNN's Jess Estepa

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

With only one week to go until Election Day, the candidates continue to visit key states in the final stretch of the campaign.

President Trump will have another trio of rallies today: one at 2 p.m. ET in Lansing, Michigan, another at 5 p.m. ET in West Salem, Wisconsin, and ending with one at 8:30 p.m. ET in Omaha, Nebraska. Vice President Mike Pence hosts rallies in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden heads to Georgia, where he will have one event at 1 p.m. ET in Warm Springs and another at 5 p.m. ET in Atlanta. Biden's running mate Sen. Kamala Harris meanwhile has two voter mobilization events in Nevada.

Former President Barack Obama also campaigns for the Democratic ticket today, with a drive-in rally at noon in Orlando, Florida.

Melania Trump will headline her first 2020 campaign event this afternoon in Atglen, Pennsylvania, moderated by Kellyanne Conway.

CNN's John Harwood and MJ Lee report:

8:47 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

What you need to know about the Electoral College

Analysis from CNN's Zachary B. Wolf 

Americans who go to the polls on Election Day don't actually select the President directly.

They are technically voting for 538 electors who, according to the system laid out by the Constitution, meet in their respective states and vote for President and Vice President. These people, the electors, comprise the Electoral College, and their votes are then counted by the President of the Senate in a joint session of Congress.

Why did the framers choose this system? There are a few reasons: First, they feared factions and worried that voters wouldn't make informed decisions. They didn't want to tell states how to conduct their elections. There were also many who feared that the states with the largest voting populations would essentially end up choosing the President. Others preferred the idea of Congress choosing the President, and there were proposals at the time for a national popular vote. The Electoral College was a compromise.

The stain of slavery is on the Electoral College as it is on all US history. The formula for apportioning congressmen, which is directly tied to the number of electors, relied at that time on the 3/5 Compromise, whereby each slave in a state counted as fraction of a person to apportion congressional seats. This gave states in the South with many slaves more power despite the fact that large portions of their populations could not vote and were not free.

How it works: There's an elector for every member of the House of Representatives (435) and Senate (100), plus an additional three for people who live in the District of Columbia.

Each state gets at least 3 electors. California, the most populous state, has 53 congressmen and two senators, so they get 55 electoral votes.

Texas, the largest reliably Republican-leaning state, has 36 congressmen and two senators, so they get 38 electoral votes.

Six states — Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming — are so small, population-wise, that they only have one congressperson apiece, and the lowest possible three electoral votes. The District of Columbia also gets three electoral votes. Voters in Puerto Rico and other non-state territories get no electoral votes, although they can take part in presidential primaries.

The states are in charge of selecting their own electors. And a number of states do not require their electors to honor the election results, which has led, occasionally, to the phenomenon known as a "faithless elector."

It takes 270 electoral votes to get a majority of the Electoral College. The total number of electors — 538 — cannot change unless there are more lawmakers added on Capitol Hill or a constitutional amendment. But the number of electors allocated to each state can change every 10 years, after the constitutionally-mandated Census.

Read the full story here.

8:57 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

A guide to deadlines from Election Day to inauguration

Analysis from CNN's Zachary B. Wolf and Will Mullery

There is a lot of anxiety about the presidential election and specifically about what will happen if the results are unclear.

President Trump and his allies have suggested that the system is only fair if a winner is declared on election night, but that's a horrible misreading of the US Constitution and US law, both of which make clear that the technical process of picking a president is only getting started on Election Day.

The system is especially confusing because voters only cast ballots to determine which candidate gets to send a handpicked group of allies known as electors to the Electoral College, where the actual presidential vote takes place. (Here's a refresher on that.)

Americans have been refining the process since the election of 1800, which originally resulted in an Electoral College tie. The House of Representatives gave Thomas Jefferson the presidency and that first disputed election resulted in the 12th amendment, which modified the Electoral College process.

Later, in 1824, John Quincy Adams got to the White House despite not winning either the popular vote or a majority in the Electoral College.

In 1876, the results in several Southern states were disputed, and the lack of clear Electoral College results led to a deal in the House that gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency even though he won neither the Electoral College nor the popular vote.

That ultimately begat the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which is still in effect today.

See the whole timeline here.

10:02 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

Democrats make cautious return to in-person organizing in the final stretch of 2020

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

CNN
CNN

Carolyn Eberly still has an urgent task on her mind a week before Election Day: finding the people who have yet to respond to calls or messages about their plans to vote.

"People have been calling and texting and writing and everything they can do and have not heard from these voters," Eberly said, holding her clipboard as she delivered marching orders to fellow volunteers for Joe Biden's presidential campaign in a state where more than 3 million early ballots already have been cast. "This conversation and this contact is really important."

With that pep talk and a friendly reminder to wear gloves and a mask, more than a dozen women hit the streets here this weekend for the first time in eight months, after being grounded by the pandemic as the Biden campaign made its organizing efforts entirely virtual.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to see full-bodied people," Eberly said. "You aren't just heads on Zoom."

The morning gathering in a driveway on Wedgewood Drive would have been entirely unremarkable during any other election season. But this year, it speaks to an anxiety-producing question being quietly raised by some veteran Democratic organizers: Can a virtual strategy replace an on-the-ground operation, typically the backbone of a winning Democratic campaign?

These waning days of the presidential race are framed by the starkly different approach that President Trump and Biden are taking to the coronavirus. Their differences extend far beyond policy and directly into the nuts and bolts of campaign mechanics. Until recently, Biden's team has done most all of its work virtually. Some organizers are doing their jobs remotely, from different states.

Trump has gone full speed ahead, with multiple rallies a day at the center of his game plan. Trump Victory, a joint operation of the campaign and the Republican National Committee, boasts of knocking on millions of doors, but it declined repeated CNN requests to observe its neighborhood efforts.

Advisers to Biden have embraced the contrast in their approach to campaigning during a pandemic, yet they ultimately gave the green light to socially distanced canvassing. They approved face-to-face, get-out-the-vote efforts for the final weeks of the race in more than a half-dozen key battleground states, including North Carolina, even as cases and hospitalizations rise.

Read the full story here.

10:15 a.m. ET, October 27, 2020

GOP places bet on strong Election Day turnout as Democrats bank millions of mail-in votes

From CNN's Marshall Cohen

Democrats have amassed significant leads over Republicans in pre-Election Day voting in key states, raising the stakes for President Trump, who will need blockbuster Election Day turnout to close the gap.

Yet as early voting enters its last week across the country, the lopsided Democratic advantage is already starting to narrow, according to voting data analyzed by CNN.

It appears that massive leads for Democrats from mail-in voting have been tempered by more balanced turnout at in-person early voting sites in battlegrounds like Florida, Nevada and North Carolina.

For example, in Florida, Democrats were leading Republicans last week by 18 percentage points in terms of ballots already cast. But the Democratic edge had narrowed to just 12 points by Monday, according to data from Catalist, a company that provides data to Democrats, academics and nonprofit organizations.

Party registration doesn't predict how individuals will vote. But the data shows that Democrats are following through on their strong preference for mail-in voting, while many Republicans still plan to vote in person on November 3.

That dynamic means Democrats are putting more votes in the bank right now, and the GOP is essentially betting all of its chips on a strong Election Day — just as the pandemic is spiking.

"As coronavirus cases spike across the country, the Trump 'strategy' of relying on in-person vote, especially Election Day, looks all the more risky," tweeted Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who tracks voter turnout. "What if at least some of his voters decide not to vote? What if a polling place becomes unavailable or an election office shuts down?"

Read the full story here