Early voters smash records ahead of final fortnight

Josephine Tovey
·4-min read
<span>Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Welcome to today’s US election briefing for Australia.

There are now only two weeks left until election day (although what is time in 2020 anyway?)

In reality though, the presidential election is well underway. Early voting records are tumbling around the country. More than 37 million people have cast a ballot either in person or by mail, according to data from the US Election Project. That’s around 27% of the total number of people who voted in 2016.

This phenomenon is likely due to a range of factors – people feeling particularly enthusiastic (or terrified) about the election, (well founded) anxieties about voter suppression or intimidation, and the escalating Covid pandemic. Whether it will translate to record turnout in the election overall remains to be seen.

So far the trend appears good for Joe Biden – with a much higher number of returned ballots coming from registered Democrats (52%) than Republicans (25%) in states that record party affiliation. But as FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver points out, Donald Trump’s campaign shouldn’t panic at those figures, with Republicans indicating in polls far more of them plan to vote on 3 November.

Still, it means huge numbers of votes are being locked in and aren’t subject to change no matter what the final two weeks of the campaign has in store. And there’s a lot going on – a final debate on Thursday evening, US time, a stimulus bill still being haggled over in Congress, and surging rates of Covid (with more than 64,000 new infections recorded on Monday). For tens of millions of Americans, none of that will influence their vote.

The big stories

Trump called on his attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter before election day, following last week’s controversial New York Post story.

Melania Trump withdrew from a scheduled return to the campaign trail on Tuesday due to a “lingering cough”. She confirmed her Covid diagnosis at the same time as her husband.

In the midst of his attacks on the nation’s top virus expert this week, Trump trashed Dr Anthony Fauci’s baseball skills. But how do the president’s abilities stack up in that department? We investigated.

Quote of the day

I am pleased to inform you that, for the sake of accuracy in reporting, I am considering posting my interview with Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes, PRIOR TO AIRTIME! This will be done so that everybody can get a glimpse of what a FAKE and BIASED interview is all about...

Donald Trump, who reportedly abruptly ended the taping of an interview with the US version of 60 Minutes on Tuesday, later signalled he would try to get ahead of the show, which airs on Sunday, by posting parts of it himself.

Election views

A man displays his &#x00201c;I Voted&#x00201d; sticker on his face mask in Miami Beach, Florida.
A man displays his “I Voted” sticker on his face mask in Miami Beach, Florida. Photograph: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images

In the unlikely but not impossible event (given his foreshadowing) Trump refuses to accept an election loss, what should people do about it? Ashley Dawson looks at the tactics – like a general strike – that the public has at their disposal.

“I never really felt the need to vote … I feel like this is the time that everyone my age and even younger than me needs to vote and get their voices heard.” Five Texans – young people, new citizens and the formerly disengaged, share why they’ll be voting for the first time in 2020, and what issues matter to them.

Video of the day

Maybe it’s the mountain air but a very different political contest is taking place in Utah at the moment, with the rival candidates for the governor’s job recording this ad together stressing they will both accept the results of the election and a peaceful transfer of power.

Around the web

The NYT has this fascinating account today of how government officials, under pressure to speed up the emergency authorisation of Covid vaccines and treatments, stood up to the White House.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew an audience of nearly half a million viewers to watch her play Among Us on a Twitch livestream on Tuesday night in an effort to reach young voters. And yeah, I barely understand what that means too.

Oh Tiffany. Trump’s other daughter, the one he’s never expressed a desire to date, hosted a spectacularly awkward, low key Pride fundraiser for his campaign. This appropriately withering Jezebel piece points out how she forgot to mention his myriad anti-trans policies and appointment of rampantly anti-LGBTQ judges.

What the numbers say: $100m

The amount, in US dollars, a Democratic super pac backed by tech megadonors is spending in the final month of the campaign on TV and digital ads to try oust Trump.

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