The latest on the 2020 election

By Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:03 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020
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7:51 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Supreme Court allows for mail-in ballot extension in North Carolina

From CNN's Ariane de Vogue

The Supreme Court has allowed the counting of ballots in North Carolina received nine days after the election as long as the ballots are postmarked by Election Day, dealing a victory to Democrats.

The court’s order is a loss for Republicans and the Trump campaign that had asked the court to reinstate a three-day extension that had been set by the legislature last June. 

Newly sworn in Justice Amy Coney Barrett took no part in the decision because she did not have time to fully review the briefs.  

A federal appeals court had allowed the nine day extension that was set by the State Board of Elections amid the pandemic, as part of a legal settlement.   

“The extension simply makes it easier for more people to vote absentee in the middle of a global pandemic that has killed over 200,000 Americans,” the appeals court ruled. 
7:31 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

First-class mail processing score craters in key battleground states ahead of the election

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

A USPS mail collection box is seen on a corner near Boston Edison and Woodward Village in Detroit, Michigan on September 4.
A USPS mail collection box is seen on a corner near Boston Edison and Woodward Village in Detroit, Michigan on September 4. Elaine Cromie/The Washington Post/Getty Images

United States Postal Service districts in the battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida all saw major declines in the on-time processing of first-class mail, according to court filings made by the USPS on Wednesday. 

Election mail, like ballots, are treated like, and often mailed at, first-class. 

The lower the score, the lower the percentage that is traveling through the system on time. 

Tuesday's on-time processing of all first class mail in the Philadelphia Metro District sank to 43%, down from the weekly average of  77% two weeks earlier. USPS’ Detroit District’s score isn’t much better, down to 53% from the weekly average of 72% on Oct. 10. While these scores include more than just election mail, it’s a troubling statistic in the final full week before Election Day.   

The Ohio Valley, Central Pennsylvania, Greensboro, North Carolina and Lakeland, Wisconsin, districts all saw first-class mail processing scores drop into the low 60s ​on Tuesday.   

USPS’ Baltimore District, which has never recovered from the July deluge of delayed mail, sank to a dismal 39% ​on Tuesday.  

But despite the poor numbers for first-class processing, a more targeted measure of on-time ballot processing showed significantly better numbers.  

Processing scores for ballots heading to voters, according to the data, is at 89%, down from 95% on Monday and 94% on Friday. Completed ballots heading to election officials is at 95%, according to the data, up from 93% on Monday and 95% from Friday. 

CNN has reached out to the USPS for comment on the low numbers for first-class processing.

First-class mail rates have yet to recover from their July and August lows. Typically, first-class mail rates are well above 90%. 

USPS argues that the data is not an indicative of its on-time delivery performance, saying it "does not produce accurate, reliable information, as it is incomplete (and) subject to change.” In the court filing, their lawyers argued that specific days of the week tend to have lower or higher scores; scores on Monday tend to be lower because there's a bigger volume of mail to process from the weekend, since mail isn't delivered on Sunday. 

An Oct. 19 Inspector General report found that changes implemented in July by USPS and new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy were largely responsible for a significant slide in mail delivery. 

The report said DeJoy oversaw 57 “Do It Now FY strategies” in addition to three policies he directly implemented: no late or extra trips, a complete reorganization and restructuring of USPS; and that he attempted to eliminate overtime for mail carriers.  

Democrats are pointing the finger squarely at DeJoy.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement, “Despite his assurances, the Postmaster General has failed to fix the problems he created and cannot be relied on for the on-time delivery of Election Mail. At this point, Americans should either vote in person or drop their ballot in an official drop box to avoid their ballots not being delivered on time.”

6:43 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Trump announces "American Dream Plan" for Hispanic Americans

From CNN's Maegan Vazquez

President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Goodyear, Arizona on October 28.
President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Goodyear, Arizona on October 28. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump announced a new plan aimed at the Hispanic community, called the "American Dream Plan," at a campaign rally in Goodyear, Arizona, on Wednesday — six days before Election Day.

“Today I am announcing the American Dream Plan. Over the next four years, the American Dream Plan will bring more than 2 million new jobs to Hispanic communities, create over a half a million new Hispanic owned small businesses — which will end up being large businesses if I know you and I know you well,” Trump said. 

Remarking on the expansion of Hispanic-owned businesses, Trump called them “great, natural businesspeople.”

The President also said the plan would “expand opportunities for federal contracting” and would “increase access to capital by hundreds of billions of dollars.”

CNN has reached out to the White House for more information about the plan.

The American Dream Plan appears to be similar to the President’s “Platinum Plan” — an outline of how the Trump administration plans to establish and enhance goals set for the Black community if Trump is elected to a second term. 

 

6:03 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Trump campaign files action against Minnesota's secretary of state over mail-in ballots

From CNN's Taylor Romine

The Trump campaign, and several other groups, filed an action against Minnesota's secretary of state on Wednesday asking that mail-in ballots received after Election Day be separated.

The action comes amid an appeal against a federal court decision keeping the seven-day acceptance period for mail-in ballots as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3. 

The action asks for the ballots to be separated so "post-election remedies will be available for violation of the federal-law requirements at issue in this appeal." 

The suit goes on to repeat claims already being made in current litigation, saying that allowing ballots after Nov. 3 violates a federal mandate that federal elections occur on Election Day and violates the "time, place and manner" statute. 

Plaintiffs requested that all "late-arriving" mail-in ballots be separated so that they can "preserve the petitioners’ ability to challenge the legality of the secretary’s actions" and ensure fairness in the election. Without this, the plaintiffs would have no effective remedy, the action said. 

The action is also joined by the Senate Victory Fund, the House Republican Campaign Committee, and Ryan J. Beam, a Minnesota resident who is unaffiliated with any party, the lawsuit read. 

CNN has reached out to the secretary of state's office for comment.

5:32 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Voting by mail? USPS says it needs 7 days to safely deliver ballots

From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf

A voter deposits their ballot into an official ballot drop box in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 27.
A voter deposits their ballot into an official ballot drop box in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 27. Mark Makela/Getty Images

We're six days to the election.

Bottom line: If you've got a mail-in ballot, you probably shouldn't mail it.

Similarly, while some states still allow voters to request mail-in ballots, it might be too late to receive it in the mail.

Kathy Boockvar, the secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, told CNN's Jake Tapper Tuesday that even though Pennsylvania can count mail-in ballots received up until Nov. 6 (three days after Election Day), she'd rather people just drop their ballots off.

"At this point, we're a week out, right? We've all heard of stories of ballots being delayed in the mail. I don't want anybody to lose their opportunity to vote, so I want every voter who has the ability to drop it off in person," Boockvar said.

Voters in most places can also deliver their ballots directly to their election offices to sidestep any potential mail delays. There's usually also the option to vote early or on Election Day. But the mail-in window is about closed.

In states that allow the counting of ballots received after Election Day — including the battleground states of Ohio, Iowa and Nevada — it's still possible too use the postal system and be outside that seven-day recommended time period. But the mail-in window is just about closed. There are other options. (Read about them here.)CNN's voter guide is here

Still, the US Postal Service is dealing with a lot of ballots. CNN's Paul Murphy has been keeping track of their efforts to get them delivered on time.

  • USPS created a national election task force and local election task forces that are comprised of local managers and union officials. 
  • These local task forces meet daily; the national election mail task force meets every Thursday.
  • USPS has told local managers they are "authorized and expected" to use extraordinary measure to "accelerate the delivery of ballots" until Nov. 24.
  • Local managers are expected to take ballots that arrive at post offices (from mail carriers picking them up or ones that are being dropped off in letter collection boxes) and having them postmark, and then deliver them directly to election offices. 
  •  In some instances, they're doing this multiple times a day.

Note: The Wall Street Journal tracked average delivery times for first class mail in key states and found delivery times at six days in nearly every state that requires ballots to be received by Election Day.

New data: The postal service submitted data to a federal court Tuesday as part of a case related to election mail and reported mixed results — a lower score for election mail headed to voters and an improved score for mail headed from voters to election offices.

Verify receipt: It is essential, if you mailed your ballot, to make sure it was received, either by tracking it online or calling your local election office.

Read CNN's voter guide here

5:24 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Harris pushes back on socialist claims: "I am a proud patriotic American"

From CNN's Jasmine Wright

Kamala Harris speaks during a voter mobilization event on October 27 in Las Vegas.
Kamala Harris speaks during a voter mobilization event on October 27 in Las Vegas. Ronda Churchill/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris appeared to push back at allegations made by her detractors that she’s a socialist at a drive-in mobilization event in Tucson, Arizona, today.

��In the spirit of the late great John McCain I think it'll start with a little straight talk,” Harris said.

“Now you know there has been some talk about my values. Let me just tell you Tucson, I am a proud patriotic American. I love my country,” she said to the crowd. Pool reported Secret Service officers confirmed about 80 cars were at the event.

“And our values, reflect the values of America. Our values, tell us we have witnessed the worst, the biggest disaster of any presidential administration in the history of this country. Our values tell us that,” said Harris who then recited the death and infection toll of the pandemic. 

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband and Senate candidate Capt. Mark Kelly also delivered remarks before Harris' speech as well as Rep. Raul Grijalva and Tucson Mayor Regina Romero.

4:26 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Author of 2018 "Anonymous" op-ed critical of Trump revealed

From CNN's Jake Tapper and Jeremy Herb

Miles Taylor
Miles Taylor CNN

The anonymous senior Trump administration official who wrote a 2018 New York Times op-ed and a subsequent book critical of President Donald Trump is Miles Taylor, he revealed in a statement to CNN on Thursday. 

Taylor, who was chief of staff to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, wrote a lengthy statement explaining why he penned the 2018 op-ed declaring he was part of the "resistance" inside the Trump administration working to thwart Trump's worst inclinations. Taylor said that he wanted to force Trump to respond to the charges he was leveling without the ability to attack the messenger specifically. Trump called the op-ed treasonous.

"Much has been made of the fact that these writings were published anonymously. The decision wasn't easy, I wrestled with it, and I understand why some people consider it questionable to levy such serious charges against a sitting President under the cover of anonymity. But my reasoning was straightforward, and I stand by it," Taylor wrote.

"Issuing my critiques without attribution forced the President to answer them directly on their merits or not at all, rather than creating distractions through petty insults and name-calling," Taylor added. "I wanted the attention to be on the arguments themselves."

Taylor joined CNN as a contributor in September 2020.

Taylor's statement answers one of the biggest mysteries of Trump's presidency. Trump responded furiously to the op-ed when it was written in 2018, and urged then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the matter. There was an internal hunt at the White House to uncover the identity of the author, and it spawned months of parlor games in Washington guessing at who was behind the op-ed through the speech patterns and phrases used.

A year later, Taylor released the anonymously authored book titled, "A Warning," which included new details critical of the President from inside the Trump administration. He wrote that members of Trump's team considered sabotaging him to prompt Trump to resign, and that many administration officials kept their own letters of resignation in their desks or on their laptops.

Since leaving the Trump administration in 2019, Taylor endorsed Democrat Joe Biden in August and co-founded a Republican group that is opposed to Trump.

"I am a Republican, and I wanted this president to succeed," Taylor said in his statement Wednesday. "But too often in times of crisis, Donald Trump has proven he is a man without character, and his personal defects have resulted in leadership failures so significant that they can be measured in lost American lives."

The White House has criticized Taylor since his endorsement of Biden, and Trump called him a "disgruntled employee."

Taylor said he was hopeful that more people inside the government would speak out against Trump, noting that several senior officials have done so in different ways since leaving the administration.

"I witnessed Trump's inability to do his job over the course of two-and-a-half years inside the administration. Everyone saw it, though most were hesitant to speak up for fear of reprisals," Taylor wrote.

In the 2018 op-ed, which was titled, "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration," Taylor anonymously wrote that "many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations."

But Taylor said that original assertion was incorrect.

"The country cannot rely on well-intentioned, unelected bureaucrats around the President to steer him toward what's right," Taylor said Wednesday. "He has purged most of them anyway."

Watch here:

3:06 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Pennsylvania officials say they will "securely segregate" mail-in ballots that arrive after election

From CNN's Ariane de Vogue

Pennsylvania officials have notified the Supreme Court that the Office of the Secretary of State of the Commonwealth has issued guidance to all county boards directing them to “securely segregate” all main-in and civilian ballots received between Nov. 3 and Nov. 6.

This was done because of an ongoing legal challenge brought by Republicans in Pennsylvania.

They have asked the Supreme Court to block a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that allowed the counting of ballots received three days after the election, even if there is no legible postmark.

The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the petition.

1:33 p.m. ET, October 28, 2020

Biden on Covid-19 pandemic: I know "all too well how it feels to lose a loved one"

From CNN’s Sarah Mucha

Following a briefing delivered by the public health experts who advise him on Covid-19, Joe Biden delivered remarks on the pandemic, sharing that the group had discussed the upward slope of confirmed infections and talked about the actions that will be needed to turn it around. He said that it was made worse by the “administration’s declaration of surrender.”   

Biden once again urged Americans to wear masks, arguing that it is not political, but that it’s patriotic.  

“We discussed again the vital importance of wearing masks, protecting yourself, protecting your neighbor and to save around 100,000 lives in the months ahead,” he said. “...This is not political. It’s patriotic, wearing a mask. Wear one, period.”  

He argued that the refusal of the Trump administration to recognize the reality of the pandemic “is an insult to every single person suffering from Covid-19.” Biden went on to say that he knows “all too well how it feels to lose a loved one.”  

Continuing to criticize the current administration for its handling of the pandemic, Biden said that the attendees at Trump’s rally who were stranded in a parking lot in Nebraska last night represent "an image that captures President Trump's whole approach to this crisis."  

The Democratic nominee said that even if he wins, he won’t be able to end the pandemic just by “flipping a switch.”  

"Even if I win, it's going to take a lot of hard work to end this pandemic. I'm not running on the false promise of being able to end this pandemic by flipping a switch," Biden said. He added that he’ll start on his first day “doing the right things. We'll let science drive our decisions." 

Biden just voted early "by appointment" at Delaware's Carvel State Office Building.  

WATCH: