GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — President Trump will end his 2020 campaign much of the same way he did in 2016 — at a late night rally here fighting to pull off another come-from-behind victory.
While the trip is strong on symbolism — Trump often retold the story of his 2016 midnight Michigan rally and how he believed it helped him eke out a win in the state — campaign aides are feeling pessimistic about their chances of winning Michigan this time around. More than 3 million ballots have already been cast, about 60 percent of total votes cast in 2016, and Trump has consistently trailed Democratic nominee Joe Biden in nearly every poll of the state for months.
There have been a series of logistical issues at the event, like there have been at a number of these rallies in the home stretch. Cars were lined up for at least three miles waiting for hours to park throughout the evening. When the parking lot at the airport where the rally is being held filled up, police started directing people to an overflow lot, but dozens of people instead left their cars along the side of the road and took off walking in the dark through a field towards the sound of the rally music in the distance.
At 10:30 p.m., when Trump was initially scheduled to start speaking, there was a long line of people waiting to be screened by Secret Service.
It’s a much different scene than Trump’s late night rally in Miami on Sunday. Not only is it about 50 degrees cooler, it’s a more muted crowd than in Miami, where there were two Spanish-speaking musical acts and the feel of a summer music festival.
Michigan did get a performance of the National Anthem by Ted Nugent, who referred to the crowd as the “real Michigan.This isn’t Gretchen Whitmer Michigan. This is freedom Michigan, God’s country, law and order and deer hunting Michigan.”
More than 2.500 ballots tossed in South Carolina because of reinstated witness requirement
Nearly 2,600 absentee mail in ballots have been thrown out in South Carolina because of a missing witness signature, state Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire told NBC News Monday evening.
South Carolina Democrats say the Supreme Court’s Oct. 5 decision after ballots had been mailed to reverse a lower court’s ruling that a witness signature was not required because of the coronavirus pandemic led to voter confusion.
The 2,592 ballots dismissed out of 427,000 absentee mail in ballots submitted is expected to rise as the state accepts ballots until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Every vote could matter in a close Senate race between Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison.
South Carolina does not allow curing, a process that allows a voter to correct issues with their ballot or vote an alternate way after the ballot was rejected.
South Carolina Democrats have a “litany of lawyers” watching the ballots, including the number of ballots that are rejected, said Trav Robertson, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick said that the lack of witness signature invited fraud.
“If someone walks into the polling booth today, they have to have photo id. There should be just s much proof as someone who turns in an absentee,” McKissick said.
A record 1.3 million people have already voted in South Carolina, which is 37 percent of registered voters and 60 percent of the number of those who voted in 2016.
Ohio shatters early voting record
A record 3.4 million Ohio voters cast their absentee ballot or voted early, Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Monday, about 60 percent of the state’s 2016 turnout.
Ohio had never surpassed 2 million votes during early voting, LaRose said. About 243,000 absentee ballots are still outstanding, though he said the return rate has drastically outpaced that of 2016.
“Ohioans have refused to listen to the fear mongers who have spent months trying to convince them that it’s hard to vote — they’re proving it’s easy with every record broken,” LaRose said in a statement. “As ballots mailed on time continue to come in over the next ten days, Ohioans should rest assured that each legally cast ballot will be counted and their voice will be heard.”
Outstanding ballots that are postmarked by Nov. 2 and received by the county board of elections within 10 days after the election will be counted, LaRose said.
Pence and Harris make closing arguments
Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris made their final pitches to voters on Monday, with Pence telling a crowd in Erie, Pennsylvania, that Joe Biden “is talking about shutting down the economy,” while Harris told a rally in Philadelphia “Your vote is your voice and your voice is your power.”
Nov. 2, 202001:32
Nov. 3, 202003:18
Twitter tags Trump tweet about Pennsylvania ballots as misleading
President Trump tweeted Monday the Supreme Court’s decision to allow mail-in ballots to be counted up to three days after the election will lead to “rampant” cheating and violence, which Twitter later flagged as misleading.
“The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one. It will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws. It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!” Trump tweeted.
This is the latest decision by the social media giant to limit the spread of misinformation on the site, particularly from the president’s official account. It has flagged previous tweets from Trump as misleading.
Lawyers for the president and the Republican Party have gone to court in recent weeks in places around the country, raising questions about how certain votes should be counted. The president has also repeatedly sowed doubt about the accuracy of the results and made baseless claims about voter fraud.
Recently, the Supreme Court refused to block a decision ordered by Pennsylvania’s top court that allowed a three-day extension for absentee ballots. Trump won the state in 2016 by just over 44,000 votes, a margin of less than 1 percentage point. Earlier Monday, he told reporters he’s “very concerned about Pennsylvania.”
“Philadelphia is known for bad things happening,” Trump said, without elaborating.
Photo: Sunset on the campaign trail in Wisconsin
A deep breath moment
On this election eve, Lester Holt reminds us that we have to let democracy work, “if not for ourselves, then for our children, who you know are watching us.”
Nov. 2, 202000:48
Wisconsin manufacturing workers divided on Trump, despite broken promises
President Donald Trump’s promises of a manufacturing comeback have fallen flat in the key battleground state of Wisconsin. Despite his pledge to boost manufacturing and prevent factories from closing or moving overseas, the opposite has occurred.
“He ran on bringing all these jobs back to America. None of it has materialized. Fewer jobs materialized. He’s proven he’s not a friend of labor. He’s not a friend of workers,” said Ross Winklbauer, a sub-district director for the United Steelworkers labor union in southeastern Wisconsin.
In 2016, Trump was able to narrowly win the Badger State on a promise to increase manufacturing jobs, keep plants from closing, and make factories return operations to U.S. shores. But since he took office — and even before the pandemic hit — manufacturing jobs were up by just 3.2 percent, trailing the national average by nearly one full percentage point.
“I don’t think he’s fulfilled it all. There have been plant closings: Telsmith, Briggs & Stratton, all the steelworks are closing or have been diminished,” said Chris Chappelle, a welder at the Komatsu mining equipment manufacturing plant in Milwaukee and president of the local chapter of United Steelworkers.
Read more here.
Pennsylvania voting issues: 5 things to watch on Election Day
BEAVER, Pa. — The pressure is on in the all-important battleground state of Pennsylvania where voters, as well as party and state officials, are anxiously preparing for what could turn into Election Week there.
“Pennsylvania is prepared. We’re protected for this election and voters can cast their ballots with confidence,” Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, told reporters at a news conference Friday. “Our state has made a lot of improvements to strengthen our election system since the last presidential election in 2016.”
The state last fall overhauled its election laws, the first major changes in about 80 years. But the new rules, combined with uncertainty over the Covid-19 pandemic and legal issues over mail-in voting, paint an uncertain picture of how the week could unfold.
Here are five things to keep an eye on.
Gulf storm damage causes polling place moves, power outages
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Elections officials in the Deep South spent election eve tending to lingering damage from Hurricane Zeta and other storms that damaged buildings or left polling places without power ahead of Tuesday’s election.
Storm damage caused polling places to be moved in Louisiana, and power companies and election officials scrambled to restore power, or make sure generators were available, at polling places in Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. Election officials expressed confidence that the sites would be operational Tuesday.
Thousands of voters in southwest Louisiana will be casting ballots in different locations Tuesday because Hurricane Laura wrecked their traditional polling sites in late August, and they have not yet been repaired. Across the state in the New Orleans area and in other southeastern parishes, several dozen voting locations will be running on generator power because outages caused by Hurricane Zeta last week have not been fixed.
Read more here.