Democrat Joe Biden has been certified as the winner of the U.S. presidential election in Pennsylvania, culminating three weeks of vote counting and a string of failed legal challenges by President Donald Trump, state officials said Tuesday.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf first disclosed in a tweet that the Department of State had certified the vote count for president and vice-president.
Wolf sent a “certificate of ascertainment” to the national archivist in Washington with the slate of electors who support president-elect Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris.
Pennsylvania’s 20 electors, a mix of elected Democrats, party activists and other staunch Biden backers, will meet in the state capitol on Dec. 14.
One of them, state Democratic Party chair Nancy Patton Mills, said she will also lead the Electoral College’s meeting in Harrisburg next month.
Patton Mills said it was gratifying that Pennsylvania was “the state that made it possible” for Biden to win.
Biden’s win in the state gave him its haul of 20 electoral votes and put him over the 270 needed, leading The Associated Press to declare him the president-elect four days after the Nov. 3 election day. Biden has collected 306 overall electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
The Pennsylvania results show Biden and Harris with 3.46 million votes, Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence with 3.38 million, and Libertarian Jo Jorgensen with 79,000.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, in a news release, called the state’s election officials and poll workers “the true heroes of our democracy.”
“We are tremendously grateful to all 67 counties who have been working extremely long hours to ensure that every qualified voter’s vote is counted safely and securely,” Boockvar said.
Trump has made Pennsylvania a centrepiece of his unsuccessful legal attempts to invalidate the election results.
A federal judge on Saturday dealt a serious blow to the Trump campaign’s legal efforts by dismissing a lawsuit he said lacked evidence and offered “strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.”
On Monday, the U.S. federal agency that must sign off on the presidential transition told Biden that he can formally begin the transition process.
The U.S. federal agency that must sign off on the presidential transition told president-elect Joe Biden on Monday that he can formally begin the transition process.
“I take this role seriously and, because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, am transmitting this letter today to make those resources and services available to you,” General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has yet to concede the election, took to Twitter to say that he is “recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”
However, in a series of tweets, Trump also said “our case strongly continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!”
Biden transition preparations continue
Biden has been preparing for the presidency even as Trump attempts to subvert the election results in key states. He has frequent virtual meetings from his home in Wilmington, Del., and a music venue downtown.
Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, said Sunday the Trump administration’s refusal to clear the way for Biden’s team to have access to key information about agencies and federal dollars for the transition has taken its toll on planning, including the cabinet selection process.
“We’re not in a position to get background checks on cabinet nominees. And so there are definite impacts. Those impacts escalate every day,” Klain told ABC’s This Week.
In advance of this announcement, Biden has been building out his administration.
According to a person familiar with the transition plans, he has chosen former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen to serve as treasury secretary, a pivotal role in which she would help shape and direct his economic policies at a perilous time.
Biden also plans to nominate Antony Blinken as his secretary of state, longtime diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Avril Haines as director of national intelligence and Alejandro Mayorkas as the secretary for the Department of Homeland Security.
Those four nominees will all need to be confirmed by the Senate.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry will lead the incoming administration’s effort to combat climate change. Kerry does not require Senate confirmation — nor does Jake Sullivan, another Obama administration veteran tapped by Biden to serve as national security adviser.
Georgia election officials expect to release a report Thursday on a hand tally of the presidential race, and they have repeatedly said they expect it to affirm Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow lead over Republican President Donald Trump.
The hand tally of about 5 million votes stemmed from an audit required by a new state law and wasn’t in response to any suspected problems with the state’s results or an official recount request. The state has until Friday to certify results that have been certified and submitted by the counties.
The counties were supposed to finish the hand count by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state’s new voting system, said he expected the secretary of state’s office to put out a report on the results by midday Thursday.
Once the state certifies the election results, the losing campaign has two business days to request a recount if the margin remains within 0.5 per cent. That recount would be done using scanners that read and tally the votes and would be paid for by the counties, Sterling said.
It was up to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to select the race to be audited, and he said the presidential race made the most sense because of its significance and the tight margin separating the candidates. Because of that small margin, Raffensperger said a full hand recount was necessary.
Going into the hand tally, Biden led Trump by a margin of about 14,000 votes. Previously uncounted ballots discovered in four counties during the hand count will reduce that margin to about 12,800, Sterling said.
Other counties found slight differences in results as they did their hand counts, and state election officials had consistently said that was to be expected.
The Associated Press has not declared a winner in Georgia, where Biden led Trump by about 0.3 percentage points. There is no mandatory recount law in Georgia, but state law provides that option to a trailing candidate if the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. It is AP’s practice not to call a race that is — or is likely to become — subject to a recount.
From presidential powers to voter fraud claims, we’re tackling what you want to know about the 2020 U.S. election. Email us your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll answer as many as we can here on CBCNews.ca, on CBC News Network and directly via email. (And keep your COVID-related questions coming to COVID@cbc.ca.)
Could Trump use his presidential powers to declare the results invalid somehow?
Bruno B. wrote to us asking if the president could leverage his official powers to influence the outcome, like with an executive order.
The answer is no.
“That’s not something that’s going to happen,” said Ryan Hurl, assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto.
“He would be immediately ignored.”
One of the main reasons why is that the current administration has no control over the election, explained John Fortier, director of governmental studies at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based think-tank that promotes bipartisanship.
Unlike Canada and many other countries, the U.S. doesn’t have a federal institution that oversees the election process. Elections are run at the state level.
“We don’t really have one election going on, we have 51 different elections between the states and D.C.,” said Fortier.
“Literally speaking, the president does not have a role in running the election, so the pretty simple answer is no.
Could he use the military?
As commander-in-chief, Trump is the head of all U.S. armed forces and he would retain this position until a new president is sworn in. Reader Frank F. wondered if there was a chance that the military might get involved.
The experts we spoke to said it would be unlikely because the military would only act on orders that were seen as legal.
“The president cannot issue an order that thwarted the peaceful transfer of power and expect it to be obeyed,” said Peter Feaver, civil-military scholar and professor of political science and public policy at Duke University.
“Military officers know that it’s their duty and the norm not to obey illegal orders,” said Richard Kohn, retired professor emeritus and military historian at the University of North Carolina.
And if Trump were to try to issue an illegal order anyway, Kohn said “there are plenty of military lawyers that are ready to answer a question from a commander, at whatever level, asking if an order is illegal.”
Kohn also noted that the highest-ranking and most senior military officer in the U.S. Armed Forces has already said he wouldn’t get involved.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told NPR that election disputes will be handled appropriately by the courts and by U.S. Congress.
“There’s no role for the U.S. military in determining the outcome of a U.S. election. Zero. There is no role there.”
But that doesn’t mean that the president isn’t able to indirectly affect the process in other ways, such as lawsuits.
That led a number of readers, including Lawrie B., to ask who’s on the hook for all those legal bills.
In most cases, campaigns and parties pay for legal challenges and state recounts with money raised by political donations, said a spokesperson with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). But there are exceptions around who can donate.
According to the FEC, corporations, labour organizations, national banks and foreign nationals are prohibited from contributing political donations to legal challenge funds.
When it comes to recounts specifically, Fortier said who pays depends on whether it’s an automatic recount, or one requested by the candidate and the rules can vary from state to state.
For example, in many states, if the margins are close enough, an automatic recount is triggered and that would be paid for by the state, he said.
However, that’s not the case across the board. In Nevada, for example, a candidate can request a recount no matter the margin, but it would fall on the candidate and their campaign to cover the costs.
Is there any evidence of voter fraud?
The president’s accusations of widespread voter fraud in key battleground states has some CBC readers wondering if there is any merit to them.
The experts say no.
The head of an international delegation monitoring the U.S. election said his team has no evidence to support Trump’s claims about alleged fraud involving mail-in ballots.
WATCH | Trump makes unfounded allegations about ‘illegal’ votes:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Thursday that Democrats could ‘try to steal the election from us’ if ‘illegal votes’ cast after election day were counted. There is no evidence that ballots were cast after Nov. 3. 0:40
Michael Georg Link, a German lawmaker who heads an observer mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), told German public broadcaster rbb that “on the election day itself, we couldn’t see any violations” at U.S. polling places they visited.
Link said he was “very surprised” by Trump’s claims about postal ballot fraud because the United States has a long history of this method of voting going back to the 19th century. The Vienna-based OSCE, of which the U.S. is a member, conducts observer missions at major elections in all of its member countries.
“We looked into this,” Link told the German broadcaster. “We found no violations of the rules whatsoever.”
What about allegations in some states that more people voted than were registered?
Some readers were wondering about online claims that the number of votes in Wisconsin, for example, exceeded the number of registered voters.
Frieda W., asked us how this could happen.
The answer is it can’t. On the surface the numbers may seem irregular, but Fortier said it’s a matter of when someone registers to vote.
A number of states, including Wisconsin, have same-day voter registration. That means pre-election day voter registration lists become out-of-date when previously unregistered voters show up on election day.
“You’re comparing this older number where you say ‘well, before the election, we had this list of people,’ but then other people showed up,” Fortier said.
Elections Wisconsin even addressed the claims circulating on social media.
There are never more ballots than registered voters.
It’s been hard to miss the political drama centred around Pennsylvania.
That’s because the northeastern state’s 20 electoral college votes can make or break a presidential campaign.
Maureen O. wants to know why the state has so many.
The short answer is population.
States are allocated electors based on the number of congresspeople each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives, plus two for the number of senators each state has in the Senate.
With an estimated 12.8 million residents, Pennsylvania is the fifth largest U.S. state behind New York, Florida, Texas and California.
Nearly all states use a “winner-take-all” voting system. That means the winner of the popular vote in that state takes all of that state’s electoral votes.
What about Nebraska and Maine?
Observant readers will have noticed that Nebraska and Maine are highlighted on election result pages. Ian S. asked why these states are striped on our map.
The answer has to do with how they award their electoral college votes.
Nebraska and Maine award two electoral votes based on the winner of the state-wide popular vote, then the remaining electoral votes are awarded based on the winner of the popular vote within each individual congressional district — two in Maine and three in Nebraska.
This means those two states sometimes have a split electoral vote.
If you think that sounds complicated, you’re not alone. There’s a long history of wanting to abolish the electoral college.
Why is it so difficult to change the U.S. Constitution?
Because it was made to be, said Hurl.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution requires two-thirds majority of both Houses of Congress, or two-thirds of State legislatures to propose amendments and needs to be ratified by three-fourths of the States.
And as Hurl points out, it’s unlikely to happen in this deeply partisan time.
Fortier agrees. “It is a very high hurdle. It requires huge buy-in from both parties and it’s something we don’t do frequently because of that.”
U.S. President Donald Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden were supposed to face off in a second presidential debate Thursday night in Miami. Instead, the two candidates will be attending duelling town hall events hosted by two different networks.
Despite concerns about his health, Trump returned to the campaign trail 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19. Now, with less than three weeks to go until election day, the president is once again holding packed nightly rallies in an effort to mobilize his base. But is it enough to make up for lost time?
And given the debacle of the first presidential debate, will a town hall rather than another face-to-face showdown with Trump work for or against Biden’s campaign?
CBC’s The National assembled a panel of U.S. political commentators, hosted by Adrienne Arsenault, to talk about the state of the race, who Trump and Biden need to be reaching out to, and issues around voter turnout:
Daniel McCarthy is editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Review, editor-at-large of The American Conservative, a columnist for The Spectator, and says he will be voting for Trump on Nov. 3. During the panel discussion, he said he believes Trump’s speedy recovery from COVID-19 may benefit him in the race. But McCarthy added that the best news for the president’s campaign right now is coming out of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Danielle Moodie is the host of the political podcast Woke AF Daily and co-host of the podcast Democracy-ish, and is hoping for a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris win. Moodie said Trump getting COVID-19 didn’t change his attitude toward the virus, and that means Democrats need to continue to show how dangerous having him in the White House is for the country and the world.
Yascha Mounk is the founder and editor-in-chief of Persuasion, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University, and contributing editor at The Atlantic. A centrist, Mounk is hoping for a Biden win. Mounk said the high early voting turnout suggests a similar trend on election day. But he added that the voting demographics are changing from those in 2016: Trump has gained some ground among younger voters and voters of colour, and Biden is attracting a lot of support among older voters. Mounk said if Biden wins in 2020, it will be because he will have won back people who voted for Trump four years ago.
WATCH | The U.S. election panel’s evaluation of the sole vice-presidential debate:
With less than three weeks to go until election day, The National’s U.S. political panel looks at what cancelling the second presidential debate means for the race, whether President Donald Trump getting COVID-19 changed anything and what voter groups both candidates are trying to reach. 7:52
More from The National’s U.S. election panel:
Vice-presidential debate dissected
U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and Democratic candidate Sen. Kamala Harris went toe-to-toe Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the sole vice-presidential debate of the 2020 U.S. election. All eyes were on the pair after the chaotic performance of President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden in their first presidential debate on Sept. 29. USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page moderated a much more measured debate, although at times the candidates did not directly address her questions. Pence and Harris debated topics ranging from the handling of the pandemic and relations with China, to racial justice and policies around job creation and climate change.
WATCH | The National’s panel of U.S. political experts analyzes the vice-presidential debate:
A panel of U.S. politics experts breaks down what happened during the vice-presidential debate between Vice-President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris and the impact it could have on November’s election. 9:56
First presidential debate
U.S. President Donald Trump and Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden squared off Sept. 29 in their first election debate from Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. The 90-minute exchange, punctuated by a regular stream of outbursts and interruptions, covered topics ranging from the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, to law enforcement and climate change, to the political records of both candidates. The debate also touched on more recent events, including the Supreme Court nomination to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the leak of Trump’s tax information.
WATCH | The National’s panel of U.S. political experts analyzes the first presidential debate and its likely impact on the U.S. election:
A panel of U.S. politics experts breaks down what happened during the first presidential debate between U.S. President Donald Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden and the impact it could have on November’s election. 10:16
The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates said Thursday a second debate between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden would take place virtually amid the fallout from Trump’s diagnosis of COVID-19 — a change denounced by the incumbent.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business.
The commission said the candidates were to “participate from separate remote locations” on Oct. 15 “in order to protect the health and safety of all involved with the second presidential debate.”
The moderator Steve Scully of C-SPAN would remain in Miami as well as the participants, as the second debate is to scheduled to be conducted in the town hall format, in which some selected voters ask the nominees questions.
Former “vice-president Biden looks forward to speaking directly to the American people,” deputy Biden campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.
For his part, Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo “that’s not what debating’s all about; you sit behind a computer and do a debate. That’s ridiculous, and then they cut you off whenever they want.”
Trump was criticized for a chaotic performance at the first debate in Cleveland on Sept. 29, in which he interrupted Biden numerous times.
Kennedy, Nixon in 3rd meeting from separate locations:
It is not unprecedented for candidates to appear from separate locations. John F. Kennedy participated from New York and Richard Nixon from Los Angeles in one of their four debates in 1960, with the moderator located in Chicago.
There is also precedent for a president skipping a debate. Jimmy Carter chose not to participate in a September 1980 debate in which independent candidate John Anderson was invited but took part the following month in a two-person debate with Republican Ronald Reagan.
“We’ll pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.”
Biden had said earlier in the week he and Trump “shouldn’t have a debate” as long as the president remains COVID-19 positive.
LISTEN l Analysis of the Pence-Harris VP debate:
Front Burner21:34Aging Presidential candidates loom over VP debate
Last night, Vice-Presidential candidates Mike Pence and Kamala Harris faced off in their one and only debate of the 2020 campaign. The debate comes less than a week after Donald Trump was diagnosed with coronavirus, and in a race between the two oldest presidential candidates in US history. Today, CBC Washington Correspondent Katie Simpson recaps the unusually significant VP debate. 21:34
After a rash of positive tests emanating from the White House and the administration’s unwillingness to reveal specifics of the timeline of Trump’s diagnosis, the Biden camp has wondered if the president was displaying symptoms at the first debate.
Trump was still contagious with the virus when he was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Monday, but his doctors have not provided any detailed update on his status.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 can be contagious for up to 10 days and should isolate accordingly.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine react:
As Democrats have been hoping & begging for, the Commission on Presidential Debates cancelled in-person debates for the rest of campaign. Now cancel the Commission. It’s a disgrace <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LetThemDebate?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#LetThemDebate</a>
Trump said in the Fox interview he’s feeling better and that he has stopped taking “most therapeutics” but is still taking steroids during his treatment.
“I don’t think I’m contagious at all,” he said.
It had been variously reported that Trump was being administered the steroid dexamethasone, the antiviral drug remdesivir and Regeneron’s REGN-COV2 drug cocktail.
Dr. Sean Conley, the White House physician, said in a memo Wednesday that Trump had been symptom-free for over 24 hours and that his oxygen saturation level and respiratory rate were normal. The memo also said a blood test Monday showed Trump had coronavirus antibodies, substances that fight infection, but he had been given an experimental drug on Friday containing these.
Regeneron said it’s not possible for this type of blood test to distinguish between antibodies Trump’s body may be making and those supplied by the company’s drug. Most likely, the ones detected in the Monday test are from the drug, the company said.
There is a third presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 22 in Nashville.
Herman Cain, a Republican candidate for president in 2012, has died after being hospitalized with the coronavirus, according to a statement on his website and social media pages.
He was 74.
“We’re heartbroken, and the world is poorer: Herman Cain has gone to be with the Lord,” posts on his social media accounts said.
It’s not clear when or where Cain was infected, but he was hospitalized less than two weeks after attending U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign rally on June 20 in Tulsa, Okla. Cain, not seen wearing a mask in available pictures of the event, did not meet with Trump there.
Cain had entered an Atlanta-area hospital for treatment on July 1.
“We knew when he was first hospitalized with COVID-19 that this was going to be a rough fight,” read an article posted on his Twitter account. “He had trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. We all prayed that the initial meds they gave him would get his breathing back to normal, but it became clear pretty quickly that he was in for a battle.”
You’re never ready for the kind of news we are grappling with this morning. But we have no choice but to seek and find God’s strength and comfort to deal… <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/HermanCain?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#HermanCain</a> <a href=”https://t.co/BtOgoLVqKz”>https://t.co/BtOgoLVqKz</a>
In a condolence tweet Thursday, Trump described Cain as “a Powerful Voice of Freedom and all that is good.”
“Herman had an incredible career and was adored by everyone that ever met him, especially me,” Trump wrote. “He was a very special man, an American Patriot, and great friend.”
Cain briefly rose to the top of polls during the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination despite never having held political office by stressing the need to simplify the tax code with what he called the 9-9-9 plan.
On the campaign trail, he spoke about being diagnosed in 2006 with Stage 4 liver cancer and his doctors giving him slim hope for long-term survival.
The Georgian eventually faded in the polls, with allegations of sexual harassment and an extramarital affair soon surfacing. He also stumbled on some debate answers when tested on his knowledge of U.S. foreign policy.
Mitt Romney, who emerged as the Republican nominee in that contest and now serves as Utah senator, helped lead the tributes to Cain on social media, calling him a “formidable champion of business, politics and policy.”
WATCH | Mitt Romney pays tribute to Herman Cain:
Cain ran against the Republican senator from Utah during the 2012 U.S. presidential race. 0:29
Democrat Ted Deutch of Florida said he was “shaken by Mr. Cain’s passing.”
“Like so many of the 150,000+ COVID-19 deaths in America, Herman Cain’s death was preventable, heartbreaking, senseless, and enraging,” said Deutch.
White House press secretary Kaleigh McEnany expressed her condolences, saying Cain “embodied the American Dream and represented the very best of the American spirit.”
Trump posited putting up Cain for a spot on the Federal Reserve Board in 2019 but after opposition arose, he was not put forth as a nominee. He had served as chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City decades earlier.
Trump faced criticism for holding the big-arena event despite warnings from public health experts that it is not yet safe to hold mass gatherings.
More than 6,000 people attended the rally at the BOK Center. At least six campaign staffers and two members of the Secret Service working in advance of the Tulsa rally tested positive for coronavirus.
Cain kept involved in conservative politics recently as a commentator on Newsmax, which was the first media outlet to report his death on Thursday.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Gloria Etchison, and their children and grandchildren.
Democrats will hold an almost entirely virtual U.S. presidential nominating convention Aug. 17-20 in Milwaukee using live broadcasts and online streaming, party officials said Wednesday.
Joe Biden plans to accept the presidential nomination in person, but it remains to be seen whether there will be a significant in-person audience there to see it. The Democratic National Committee said in a statement that official business, including the official vote to nominate Biden, will take place virtually, with delegates being asked not to travel to Milwaukee.
It’s the latest signal of how much the COVID-19 pandemic has upended American life and the 2020 presidential election, leading Biden and the party to abandon the usual trappings of an event that draws tens of thousands of people to the host city to mark the start of the general election campaign.
Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said the drastically altered convention won’t be an impediment.
“Vice-President Biden intends to proudly accept his party’s nomination in Milwaukee and take the next step forward towards making Donald Trump a one-term president,” she said, adding that Biden’s campaign will continue to highlight Wisconsin as a key battleground state.
The convention details were released the same day that Biden’s team announced its leadership team in Wisconsin, one of three key states that helped propel Trump to an electoral college victory four years ago. He won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes — less than one percentage point.
Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi will serve as convention chair, party officials said.
Party Chairman Tom Perez said scaling back Democrats’ festivities is a matter of public health. He sought to draw a contrast with Trump’s push for a traditional convention in North Carolina, clashing with the state’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, and public health officials over the details amid the pandemic.
The Republican National Committee has confirmed its official business will be conducted in Charlotte. But Trump has said he plans to accept his nomination in Jacksonville, Fla., because Cooper wouldn’t guarantee Republicans the ability to host a large-scale event in Charlotte’s NBA arena.
“Unlike this president, Joe Biden and Democrats are committed to protecting the health and safety of the American people,” Perez said.
Besides events in Wisconsin, Democrats plan other events in satellite locations around the country to broadcast as part of the convention.
Veteran producer Ricky Kirshner, who has worked on every Democratic National Convention since 1992, will lead production of the convention, including the satellite broadcasts. Kirshner has served as executive producer of the Tony Awards since 2004 and the Super Bowl halftime show since 2007; he’s won nine Emmy awards.
Voters endured heat, pouring rain and waits as long as five hours on Tuesday to cast ballots in Georgia, demonstrating a fierce desire to participate in the democratic process while raising questions about the emerging battleground state’s ability to manage elections in November when the White House is at stake.
A confluence of events disrupted primary elections for president, U.S. Senate and dozens of other contests.
The polls were staffed by fewer workers because of concerns about the coronavirus. A reduced workforce contributed to officials consolidating polling places, which disproportionately affected neighbourhoods with high concentrations of people of colour. Long lines were also reported in whiter suburban areas.
Some voters said they requested mail-in ballots that never arrived, forcing them to go to polling places and adding to the lines. Turnout, meanwhile, may be higher than expected as voters said they were determined to vote following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., and the ensuing demonstrations that swept cities including Atlanta.
Former U.S. vice-president Joe Biden easily won the state’s Democratic presidential primary. He was facing no real opposition but hoped to post a strong showing among Georgia’s diverse electorate to show his strength heading into the general election.
There was also trouble with Georgia’s new voting system that combines touch screens with scanned paper ballots.
The developments were troubling heading into the fall presidential campaign, which will attract even more voters. President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden are expected to fiercely compete in this rapidly changing state. That leaves officials, who have already been criticized for attempting to suppress the vote, with less than five months to turn things around.
The state’s chief elections officer, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, announced plans to investigate voting problems that plagued Fulton and DeKalb counties, where roughly half the population is black.
Republican House Speaker David Ralston directed leaders of the House Governmental Affairs Committee to investigate the “unacceptable deficiencies” across the state, particularly in Fulton County.
Benaiah Shaw, who joined the protests against police brutality after Floyd’s death, said he votes in every election but had never waited as long as he did on Tuesday — five hours.
“It’s really disheartening to see a line like this in an area with predominantly black residents,” said Shaw, a 25-year-old African American. He said he was appalled by how few voting machines were available.
Americans were also voting in primaries in West Virginia, Nevada and South Carolina. But the tumult in Georgia garnered much of the attention, reinforcing concerns about managing elections amid the coronavirus.
The Biden campaign called the voting problems in Georgia “completely unacceptable,” and a threat to American values of free and fair elections.
“We only have a few months left until voters around the nation head to the polls again, and efforts should begin immediately to ensure that every Georgian — and every American — is able to safely exercise their right to vote,” said Rachana Desai Martin, the campaign’s national director for voter protection and senior counsel.
Long waits in Wisconsin, Washington
Voters were also forced to wait hours to cast ballots in recent primary contests across Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. While there were no reports of machine malfunctions in other states on Tuesday, the number of voting places was dramatically reduced in virtually every state that has held in-person voting in recent weeks to accommodate a drop in poll workers.
Even before Georgia voters ran into problems, Raffensperger warned that results may be slow to come in because of poll closures and virus restrictions.
Outside a recreation centre being used as a polling site in Atlanta, some voters said they had been waiting for nearly four hours in a line that wrapped around the block. At another site off Atlanta’s Piedmont Park, several people walked up, looked at the line wrapped around the parking lot and then left, shaking their heads in frustration.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said voters in line at one of Atlanta’s largest precincts reported all the machines were down. She encouraged voters not to give up.
“If you are in line, PLEASE do not allow your vote to be suppressed,” the mayor tweeted.
Georgia being closely watched
The problems weren’t just limited to the Atlanta area. In Savannah, Mayor Van Johnson said he was “inundated” with phone calls Tuesday morning from voters reporting “extensive delays.” Election officials in surrounding Chatham County said voting hours at 35 precincts were being extended by two hours.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said he wasn’t surprised that Georgia had voting problems given that the state’s elections chief is a Republican. He noted that Republican Gov. Brian Kemp faced allegations of suppressing votes when he oversaw the 2018 elections as secretary of state.
“Republicans want to ensure that it is as hard as possible for people to vote,” Perez said in an interview.
Kemp was largely silent about the voting problems on Tuesday, aside from retweeting a message from his wife urging people to vote.
Georgia hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992, but the state is being closely watched by Trump and Biden. The former vice president, in particular, hopes to emerge as the prime beneficiary of energy from the African American community and its white allies, who have held massive protests for more than a week.
His path to the presidency was already focused on maximizing black turnout and expanding his alliance with white suburbanites and city dwellers, young voters, Asian Americans and Latinos. Trump, meanwhile, hoped to demonstrate strength among his base of white voters in small towns while holding his own in metro areas.
Joe Biden formally clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Friday, setting him up for a bruising challenge to U.S. President Donald Trump that will play out against the unprecedented backdrop of a pandemic, economic collapse and civil unrest.
The former vice-president has effectively been his party’s leader since his last challenger in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders, ended his campaign in April. But Biden pulled together the 1,991 delegates needed to become the nominee after seven states and the District of Columbia held presidential primaries Tuesday.
Biden reached the threshold three days after the primaries because several states, overwhelmed by huge increases in mail ballots, took days to tabulate results.Teams of analysts at The Associated Press then parsed the votes into individual congressional districts. Democrats award most delegates to the party’s national convention based on results in individual congressional districts.
Biden now has 1,993 delegates, with contests still to come in eight states and three U.S. territories.
The moment was met with little of the traditional fanfare as the nation confronts overlapping crises. While Biden has started to venture out more this week, the coronavirus pandemic has largely confined him to his Wilmington, Del., home for much of the past three months.
The country faces the worst rate of unemployment since the Great Depression. And civil unrest that harkens back to the 1960s has erupted in dozens of cities following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died when a white Minneapolis, Minn., police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.
It’s a confluence of events that no U.S. leader has faced in modern times, made all the more complicated by a president who has at times antagonized the protesters and is eager to take the fight to Biden.
Biden spent 36 years in the Senate before becoming Barack Obama’s vice-president. This is 77-year-old Biden’s third bid for the presidency and his success in capturing the Democratic nomination was driven by strong support from black voters.
He finished an embarrassing fourth place in the overwhelmingly white Iowa caucuses that kicked off the nomination process in February. Biden fared little better in New Hampshire, where his standing was so low that he left the state before polls closed on election night to instead rally black voters in South Carolina.
His rebound began in the more diverse caucuses in Nevada but solidified in South Carolina, where Biden stomped Sanders, his nearest rival, by nearly 29 points. He followed that with a dominant showing three days later during the Super Tuesday contests, taking nine of the 13 states.
Biden’s strong showing in states such as North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Texas reinforced his status as the preferred Democratic candidate of black American voters — but the relationship has not been without its strained moments.
After a tense exchange with an influential black radio host, Biden took sharp criticism for suggesting that African American voters still deciding between him and Trump “ain’t black.”
That comment, and protests that have spread nationwide, have increased pressure on Biden to pick an African American running mate. He has already committed to picking a woman as a vice-presidential candidate.
WATCH | Biden apologizes for comment on black voters:
Joe Biden is apologizing for saying voters “ain’t black” if they are considering voting for Trump. Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright says while he would phrase it differently, he understood what Biden was trying to say. 6:43
Black voters are unlikely to back Trump over Biden by a wide margin.
A recent Fox News poll shows just 14 per cent of African Americans who are registered to vote have a favourable opinion of the president compared with 75 per cent who favourably view Biden.
But Biden must ensure that black voters are motivated to show up to the polls in November, especially in critical swing states that narrowly went for Trump in 2016.
Embrace of party’s left flank
At one point, the Democratic primary included dozens of candidates of different races, genders and generations and an openly gay man. The contest was dominated by debate over unapologetically progressive ideas, including fully government-funded health care under “Medicare for All” and a sweeping proposal to combat climate change known as the “Green New Deal.”
Biden prevailed by mostly offering more moderate approaches that he argued would make him more electable against Trump.
He refused to budge on his rejection of universal health care and some of the Green New Deal’s most ambitious provisions to combat climate change.
Since clinching the nomination, however, Biden has worked to build his appeal among progressives, forming joint task forces with Sanders’ campaign to find common ground on key issues like health care, the economy and the environment.
Biden has also embraced a plan to forgive millions of Americans’ student debt, meaning that he clinches the nomination as easily the most liberal standard bearer the Democratic Party has ever had.
Biden’s embrace of his party’s left flank could help him consolidate a Democratic base that remained deeply divided after the 2016 primary and ultimately hurt Hillary Clinton in her defeat to Trump.
But it could also undermine Biden’s attempts to rebuild the Obama coalition, which is often loosely defined as minorities and young people, as well as educated Americans and some working-class voters.
The former vice-president has sought, since announcing his candidacy, to cast the election as a battle “for the soul of the nation,” and promised to restore order and dignity to the White House while rehabilitating the U.S. image on the world stage.
Such an approach, though, necessarily focuses on being more of an alternative to Trump than offering radically new political ideas. And that further underscores Biden’s difficult task of trying to unite his party’s base while appealing to voters from far beyond it.