The latest on the 2020 election

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Fernando Alfonso III and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 11:08 PM ET, Thu October 29, 2020
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6:41 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

More than 80 million general election ballots cast

From CNN's Adam Levy, Ethan Cohen and Liz Stark 

Voters wait in line outside Philadelphia City Hall to cast their early voting ballots at the satellite polling station on October 27 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Voters wait in line outside Philadelphia City Hall to cast their early voting ballots at the satellite polling station on October 27 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mark Makela/Getty Images

More than 80 million people have voted in the US so far with five days left until Election Day, according to a survey of election officials in all 50 states and Washington, DC, by CNN, Edison Research, and Catalist.    

These votes currently account for about 38% of registered voters nationwide, as pre-Election Day voting is surging nationwide amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  

States are also reporting record turnout compared to last cycle. The 80.1 million ballots cast so far represents about 59% of the more than 136.5 million ballots cast in the 2016  presidential election.  

So far, 28 states and Washington, DC, have also crossed their halfway marks for total 2016 ballots cast, including 10 of CNN’s 16 most competitively-ranked states: Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Maine, and Nevada.  

About half of the votes already cast this cycle comes from those 16 key states, which will play a crucial role in determining who wins the presidency this year.  

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

Watch:

5:08 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Actor Paul Rudd hands out cookies to voters waiting in the rain to cast ballots

From CNN's Kelsie Smith

Actor Paul Rudd was seen on Thursday morning handing out cookies to early voters in Brooklyn, New York, waiting in the rain cast their vote.

Brian Rosenworcel, drummer for the band Guster, told CNN he was in line to vote at the Barclays Center when Rudd began to hand out blueberry and cream cookies to people in line.

“I was standing in line and I thought Paul was just there to vote, but then he starts handing out cookies to people in line, and he waited to greet people as they exited to say thanks for voting in the rain,” Rosenworcel said.

The drummer took this video of the moment:

4:51 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Tom Steyer on organizing young voters: "I think that I was right"

From CNN's Rachel Janfaza

Tom Steyer speaks to guests during a campaign stop at Nacho Hippo on February 26 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Tom Steyer speaks to guests during a campaign stop at Nacho Hippo on February 26 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Seven years ago, businessman Tom Steyer took a bet on the youth vote.

At the time, critics told him that organizing young voters was too expensive, he said. His response: “It was too expensive not to."

With five days until the 2020 election, the former Democratic candidate and current Biden surrogate said, “If you think about where we are in 2020, I think that I was right.”

In 2013, Steyer founded NextGen America, the youth-oriented, progressive nonprofit. According to the organization, they have deployed over 17,000 volunteers in 11 battleground states to engage with, register, and mobilize young people ahead of the 2020 election. (Steyer stepped away from NextGen last year as he prepared for his own bid for the presidency.)

Steyer could not have predicted the wave of crises afflicting young voters in 2020, he said: the Covid-19 pandemic, job losses, climate change and a national reckoning with race.

“The stakes are the highest they’ve ever been and the difference between the candidates is the greatest it's ever been. And just to put in context of one crisis, which is the climate crisis, we have never been living the climate crisis so obviously as we are in 2020. There has never been such strong indications of how urgent the situation is as it is now,” Steyer said.

“The fact that young people do get this [urgency] and are turning out in such numbers is a critical element in terms of achieving what they want,” he said.

Steyer believes the difference maker leading to high youth voter turnout in 2020 could be the stark differences between the two presidential candidates and young people’s ability to imagine a future under a Biden presidency, he told CNN.

Steyer, a longtime climate activist, believes that in part, that the climate crisis is motivating young voters to get behind Biden.

“I think a big reason that the Biden-Harris ticket is so compelling for young people and why there’s such high turnout and why there's such a huge Democratic to Republican spread is the climate plan,” Steyer said.

Biden and Harris are “running on climate,” he told CNN. “They are appealing to young people on an issue that is at the core of their future and at the core of their present.”

Across the board, young voters on the left and right both recognize the need to address the climate crisis. Among likely voters from both parties, 76% of likely voters ages 18-29 believe the government should do more to deal with the environment, also according to Harvard’s youth poll.

5:10 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

2 people who attended Trump's rally in North Carolina have tested positive for coronavirus

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Gastonia Municipal Airport in Gastonia, North Carolina, on October 21.
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Gastonia Municipal Airport in Gastonia, North Carolina, on October 21. Nell Redmond/AP

There have been two positive Covid-19 cases “involving individuals attending the recent campaign rally in Gastonia,” the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement released Thursday.

The department stressed that the two cases are "not thought to be an indication of spread from the rally at this time, but rather two independent cases among individuals who were in attendance.”

President Trump rallied there last Wednesday. 

“Because of the large number of potential contacts from the rally, and the inability to alert them directly, the community is being notified so they can assess their own risk and take appropriate actions. Anyone who was in attendance at the rally is encouraged to monitor their symptoms and seek testing if needed,” the health department statement said.

One of the two people who attended the rally and later tested positive was a member of staff from local outlet WCNC Charlotte, according to a statement released by station management on Thursday. 

"WCNC has done its own contract tracing and notified all known parties who interacted with the employee. The employee is not experiencing any symptoms and will continue to quarantine at home per the Gaston County health guidelines," the statement reads. 

It continues: "Because of the large gathering and lack of mask wearing by many of the participants at the event, WCNC requested the COVID-19 test out of an abundance of caution. WCNC asked all four staff members who attended the event to be tested. We had 1 positive, 2 negative, awaiting results for 1 more. A fifth staff member, who did not attend the rally but was in close contact with the staff member who has tested positive, is also awaiting test results."

CNN has reached out to the Trump campaign for comment. 

CNN's Brian Ries contributed to this report.

Watch:

4:10 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Biden for President Michigan released two new digital ads featuring Lizzo

From CNN's Rachel Janfaza

Lizzo speaks onstage during a campaign event for Democratic Presidential Candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at Focus Hope Detroit on October 23 in Detroit, Michigan.
Lizzo speaks onstage during a campaign event for Democratic Presidential Candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at Focus Hope Detroit on October 23 in Detroit, Michigan. Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Joe Biden campaign's Michigan arm released two new digital ads of Lizzo encouraging young voters in the state to vote early for Democratic nominee and his running mate, Kamala Harris. 

In the first ad, Lizzo tells young people to make their voices heard by voting for Biden, Harris and Sen. Gary Peters. Lizzo, a Detroit native, says, “It’s good to be back home in the city that I’m from. I’m here because this is the most important election of our lifetime and this year, Michigan is going to decide the future of our country.”

Lizzo encourages her “fellow young people” to vote early, pushing viewers to Iwillvote.com.

The second ad is geared toward students at the University of Michigan. All University of Michigan undergraduate students are currently under an emergency stay-in-place-order, after data showed that Covid-19 cases among Michigan students represented more than 60% of all local cases. 

Lizzo references the stay-at-home-order on the University of Michigan’s campus, explaining that students can still go out to register and vote early. She reminds students that there is an open polling center on campus.

3:39 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Trump postpones North Carolina rally due to wind

From CNN's Brian Rokus

President Donald Trump gestures during a campaign rally outside Raymond James Stadium on October 29 in Tampa.
President Donald Trump gestures during a campaign rally outside Raymond James Stadium on October 29 in Tampa. Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump’s campaign has announced that it is postponing tonight’s rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, due to wind.

In a statement, the campaign said “Because of a wind advisory issued with gusts reaching 50 miles per hour and other weather conditions, the outdoor Fayetteville, NC rally has been postponed until Monday.”

The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory in effect until 7 p.m. for winds of 20 to 30 mph, gusting to 50 mph. Trump’s rally was scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET. 

The CNN team on the ground reports that there are no perceptible wind issues at the moment.

4:16 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Biden kicks off Florida swing in Broward County: "If Florida goes blue, it's over"

From CNN's Sarah Mucha 

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers remarks at a Drive-in event in Coconut Creek, Florida, on October 29.
Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers remarks at a Drive-in event in Coconut Creek, Florida, on October 29. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic nominee Joe Biden kicked off his swing through Florida Thursday in Coconut Creek in Broward County, where he implored Floridians to get out and vote.

“You hold the key,” Biden told Floridians. “The heart and soul of this country’s at stake right in Florida. If Florida goes blue, it’s over.” 

Wearing his signature aviators as he delivered remarks in the Sunshine State, Biden told the voters, “I believe you’re going to change the course of this country for generations to come. This election is the most important one you’ve ever voted in.”  

The Democratic nominee slammed President Trump, who’s also campaigning in Florida today, for holding “super spreader events.”  

“President Trump's super spreader events – and he's spreading more virus around the country, and here in Florida today,” Biden said. “He's spreading division in addition to the virus," Biden added. "Division and discord. We need a president to bring us together, not pull us apart.”

Biden, who has been attacked repeatedly and without evidence by Republicans and Trump for being a socialist, spent a considerable amount of time in his speech appealing directly to Cuban and Venezuelan communities.  

“We have to vote for new Cuba policy as well,” Biden said. “This administration’s approach isn't working. Cuba is no closer to freedom and democracy today than it was four years ago.”  

He argued that he is the best president to fight for democracy in countries like Cuba and Venezuela, slamming Trump as being the “worst standard bearer” for democracy after he has so long embraced dictators like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un.   

“President Trump can’t advance democracy and human rights for the Cuban people, or the Venezuelan people, for that matter, when he has embraced so many autocrats around the world, starting with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un of North Korea,” Biden said. “Trump is the worst possible standard bearer for democracy in places like Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea. For my entire career, I stood for democracy, human rights for freedom of the press, assembly, freedom of religion and against dictators whether they're left or right.”

Watch the moment:

2:50 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Melania Trump touts the President's first-term record in first joint campaign appearance of 2020

From CNN's Jason Hoffman

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for a campaign rally outside Raymond James Stadium on October 29 in Tampa.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for a campaign rally outside Raymond James Stadium on October 29 in Tampa. Evan Vucci/AP

First lady Melania Trump gave remarks at her husband’s campaign rally in Tampa, Florida, today, touting some of the President’s accomplishments from his first term and echoing some of her husband's campaign themes. 

“For those of you still deciding who to vote for on Tuesday, I hope what I have to say will prove to you that a vote for President Trump is a vote for a better America,” the first lady said in her first campaign event with the President in 2020.

“In a time when hate, negativity, and fear are the messages the media streams into our homes and the large tech companies are protecting political censorship, we need to remember what’s really important. My husband’s administration is focused on the future,” she added, not noting the irony that her husband’s Twitter account is often filled with messages of hate, negativity and fear mongering. 

She praised her husband’s ability to “black out the noise and focus on you, the American people.” 

The first lady discussed border security, peace deals in the Middle East, moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and what she described as Trump's support for the men and women in uniform, all topics Trump routinely mentions in his campaign remarks. 

She also claimed, “health care for every citizen remains a priority for him, and as you have seen over these past years, he won’t stop until he gets it done."

However, the administration is currently fighting to strike down the Affordable Care Act in court and they have yet to release a comprehensive health care plan to replace it.

The first lady also criticized those who are playing politics with a coronavirus vaccine.

“A vaccine is not a partisan issue. If you are not supporting the safe production of a vaccine, you’re not supporting the health and safety of the American people,” she said. “There is no room to play politics on this topic in the midst of [a] pandemic.”

Her remarks come at a political rally with no social distancing and few masks, going against all guidelines on how best to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, in the name of politics.

“On Tuesday, the direction of our country will take is in your own hands. I ask that you join us in continuing to put America first,” she concluded. “Together we will overcome this pandemic and continue building the brightest future for generations to come.”

4:46 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020

More than 56,000 poll workers have been trained in Ohio

From CNN’s Devon M. Sayers

Election official Scott Hagara checks in a voter at the board of elections headquarters during early voting on October 16 in Painesville, Ohio.
Election official Scott Hagara checks in a voter at the board of elections headquarters during early voting on October 16 in Painesville, Ohio. Dustin Franz/AFP/Getty Images

More than 56,000 poll workers have been trained in Ohio ahead of the election — a record for the state, Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in a news release today.

His office set a goal of 150% of the minimum numbers of workers needed for each county due to the pandemic The over-recruiting of workers will give counties flexibility with the workforce. 

Five counties, all that President Trump carried, have not reached the recruitment targets. The largest to fall short is Ashtabula County, near Cleveland with a population near 100,000. The other counties include slightly smaller Greene County near Dayton, and three small rural counties — Jackson, Pike and Vinton — in southeastern Ohio, near the West Virginia state line.  

Ohio has taken a number of measures to help protect voters and poll workers during the pandemic, including social distancing and higher cleaning standards. In a guidance note put out earlier this year, the secretary also prohibited communal eating by poll workers including the use of crockpots — a popular tradition for poll workers in some parts of the state. 

“Ohioans are stepping up to serve as poll workers this election season at a pace never seen before, showing the world the civic engagement and can-do sense of public service our state has always exemplified,” LaRose said in a news release. 

Learn more about poll watchers and what they do here.