With less than two weeks until Election Day, more than 52 million people have already voted, and elections experts predict historic rates of turnout this cycle.
It's possible that 85 million people could vote before Nov. 3, with 150 million voting in total. That would mean an eligible voter turnout rate of more than 62%.
So, how would that compare to eligible voter turnout rates for past presidential elections? The U.S. saw the highest eligible voter turnout rate, 82.6%, in 1876, when Republican Rutherford Hayes defeated Democrat Samuel Tilden. In 1860, when Abraham Lincoln defeated John Breckinridge, John Bell and Stephen Douglas, 81.8% of eligible voters turned out. The elections of 1868, 1880, 1888 and 1840 also saw rates above 80%.
Some context: Why such a high number? Experts say it's partly because only white, male property owners could vote. Get an in-depth history lesson from election experts here.
More news to keep in mind: USA TODAY is keeping track of what's happening as voters around the country cast ballots. Keep refreshing this page for updates.
Does election law require county boards to reject mail-in and absentee ballots based on variances of a voter's signature? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Friday said no.
Also in Pennsylvania, an appeals court upheld a decision denying President Trump's campaign access to satellite voter offices in Philadelphia.
New election rules in New Jersey related to COVID were upheld Thursday. President Trump’s campaign had sued, citing purported fears of voter fraud.
In the crucial state of North Carolina, Republicans have asked the Supreme Court to intervene over a rule that lets ballots come in up to 48 hours after Election Day.
Elsewhere, Russian hackers have been coming after various networks in the United States since September, the FBI has said.
This is a story you'll want to share: Mabel Cook was just a baby when the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was added to the U.S. Constitution. At her advanced age of 101 years old, Cook is living up to her maiden name – Duty – by doing her civic duty, voting and urging others to do the same.
Voters have already been casting ballots: Numbers compiled by @electproject show at least 52.6 million have voted. In other numbers, the Guardian reports that 17.3% of registered voters in swing states have had their mail-in ballots accepted.
At the polls in NY: Joe2020 hats are a no; BLM shirts and MAGA hats are OK
At polling places in New York this fall, you’re free to keep your favorite candidate’s name in your heart — but not on your T-shirt.
As in-person voting begins Saturday in an emotionally supercharged presidential contest, elections officials are reminding voters that clothing or other items that display the name of a candidate or political party are forbidden within 100 feet of a polling place.
Voters will be required to wear face masks to lessen risk of coronavirus infection, but they can't bear any candidate's name or visage. Verbally proselytizing on behalf of one candidate over another while voting also is considered electioneering, which is a misdemeanor under state law.
In an apparent reversal of past guidance, though, the state Board of Elections told local officials Thursday that the "Make America Great Again" caps that are a hallmark of President Donald Trump’s campaign are acceptable at polling places.
– Steve Orr and Joseph Spector, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Pa. Supreme Court: Mail-in and absentee ballots can't be rejected on signature comparisons
In a 30-page, unanimous opinion issued Friday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that counties cannot reject absentee or mail-in ballots based on signature comparisons.
Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar had asked the court to assume King's Bench jurisdiction to answer a question: Does the election law authorize or require county election boards to reject mail-in and absentee ballots based on variances of a voter's signature?
The state Supreme Court ruled that it holds "that county boards of elections are prohibited from rejecting absentee or mail-in ballots based on signature comparison conducted by county election officials or employees, or as the result of third-party challenges based on signature analysis and comparisons."
On Oct. 10, U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan threw out a lawsuit from President Donald Trump's campaign that had argued that guidance that election workers should not reject mail-in ballots when the signature didn't match the one that's on file was unconstitutional.
– Teresa Boeckel, York Daily Record
Trump campaign loses appeal over Philadelphia satellite election offices
A Pennsylvania appeals court has upheld a decision denying President Donald Trump's campaign access to satellite voter offices in the Philadelphia.
The Trump campaign had sued the Philadelphia Board of Elections earlier this month, claiming that it should be allowed to have poll watchers at the offices where voters were applying for and casting mail-in ballots.
The campaign said access was needed to insure "transparency and accountability" in the hotly contested election, and said by not allowing poll watchers, "the actions of Philadelphia election officials to date have undermined election integrity by shrouding the casting of ballots in secrecy."
Yet a Philadelphia judge agreed with city and state elections officials, who argued the offices were not polling places, where watchers are allowed, but extensions of Election Board offices, where they are not.
– Crissa Shoemaker DeBree, Bucks County Courier Time
Federal case over where Ohio drop boxes could be installed dismissed
After two lawsuits and months of legal arguments, Ohio's battle over multiple drop boxes is officially over.
Ohio Democrats and voting rights groups can claim one victory: Multiple courts found Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, could install multiple drop boxes for voters to deposit their ballots.
But he was not required to do so and in the end, LaRose didn't allow off-site drop boxes this election. On Friday, the federal case disputing where drop boxes could be installed was dismissed, ending a several-month legal fight.
Earlier in the month, a three-judge panel from the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked a ruling that would have allowed multiple collection sites for Ohioans' ballots.
– Jessie Balmert, Cincinnati Enquirer
Trump to vote early in Florida, Pence votes in Indianapolis
President Donald Trump "plans to early vote on Saturday in West Palm Beach," White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said Thursday. It's the first time an incumbent president will cast his vote in Florida. That is a departure for Trump, who cast absentee ballots in the March presidential primary and then in the Aug. 18 primary election.
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, cast their ballots Friday morning in Indianapolis. They used the absentee ballots they had requested in early September.
Trump casting a vote in Palm Beach County will be part of a historic, blockbuster political weekend in Florida. Trump is scheduled to speak Friday in The Villages, a conservative community north of Orlando, and in Pensacola. Vice President Mike Pence will also stump in Florida. Then, on Saturday, former President Barack Obama will rally the Democratic faithful in Miami.
Voting machines help vision-impaired voters in several Florida counties
Advocates have long fought for better vote-by-mail accessibility for blind and vision-impaired Florida voters. Orange, Miami-Dade, Pinellas, Nassau and Volusia counties are among the five jurisdictions to try an Accessible Vote-By-Mail Pilot Program. By 2022, all counties will be required to implement the technology.
To help voters with diminished sight cast their ballots, special equipment to improve ballot visibility will be placed at polling places.
The equipment, attached to a traditional electronic voting machine, works like this: Voters feed their ballot into the machine, which magnifies the text to the viewer’s liking. By using a video game-like controller, voters can adjust the screen’s color and contrast. Headphones are also available to plug in and hear the ballot be read.
– Sarah Nelson, Gainesville Sun
In Ohio, Democrats dominate early vote as GOP plans to pounce on Election Day
Ohioans can vote by mail up to the day before the election. Because absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 can count if received up to 10 days after the polls close, the final results could take a final twist in the vital state of Ohio, with the tallying of provisional and late-arriving absentee ballots nearly two weeks after some try to call the race.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has given local election offices tighter deadlines to begin the official canvass, which includes votes that could not be counted on election night. Boards are to begin the process Nov. 14 and have everything reported to the state by 2 p.m. Nov. 18.
– Doug Livingston, Akron Beacon Journal
In North Carolina, Republicans want court to change long absentee deadline
President Donald Trump’s campaign and North Carolina’s Republican legislative leaders asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to return the state to a shorter deadline for accepting late-arriving absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day.
The legislative leaders argue in their appeal that the longer deadline, which was extended after early voting had begun, will result in unequal treatment of voters and dilute the value of ballots cast before the rule was changed.
They also say the board usurped legislators’ authority to set election rules by altering a deadline specified in state law. The Trump campaign’s separate but similar appeal also asks the high court to force the key battleground state to revert to stricter rules for fixing absentee ballot errors.
The high court is giving the other parties in the case until Saturday afternoon to file responses.
How to vote in 2020? This is the best way, according to experts and activists
With the election less than two weeks away, voting rights advocates, conservatives and community activists are urging the millions of voters who haven't voted yet to cast their ballots in person at the polls or at absentee ballot drop boxes.
The 2020 election is on track for record voter turnout as the nation battles the COVID-19 pandemic, a fight for racial equality and an economic recession. More than 35 million people have already voted. But voters, particularly people of color and the elderly, are concerned about the health risk of voting in person and their vote being fairly counted.
People of color are dying of COVID-19 at higher rates than white people. Voting rights groups have accused Republican lawmakers of suppressing Black and Latino voters with long lines in urban communities and restrictive voter laws while President Donald Trump maintains that mail-in voting is susceptible to fraud. Read more.
– Nicquel Terry Ellis
FBI: Russian hackers on the attack
The FBI has posted an advisory saying state-sponsored Russian hackers have "conducted a campaign against a wide variety of U.S. targets'' at least since September. The targets include government networks at various levels as well as aviation networks.
The FBI said hackers compromised some of the networks and extracted files from at least two servers, but had not disrupted elections or government operations.
"There may be some risk to elections information housed on ... government networks,'' the advisory said, adding that there was "no evidence to date that integrity of elections data has been compromised.''
Judge dismisses Trump lawsuit over New Jersey election rules
The new election rules instituted by New Jersey in response to the pandemic were upheld Thursday by a federal judge, who said President Trump’s campaign had no standing to sue and that its purported fears of voter fraud are speculative.
The campaign said New Jersey’s new rules, which allow local election officials to begin counting ballots 10 days before Election Day and permit them to count non-postmarked ballots received up to 48 hours after polls close, would lead to voter fraud.
U.S. District Judge Michael Schipp dismissed the lawsuit and refused to bar New Jersey from implementing the rules put in place by Gov. Phil Murphy and the state Legislature.
-- Terrence T. McDonald, The Bergen Record
Election problems: What to keep in mind
This cheat sheet from Columbia Journalism Review offers tips for media organizations reporting on election 2020. There's a lot of good stuff to keep in mind:
Voting problems aren't failures. They happen every year and, as CJR notes, hiccups such as voting machines not working or polling places opening late don't mean anything is "rigged."
Some problems, however, are significant. CJR recommends the media scrutinize areas that have a history of voter suppression or obstructing minority voters, calling out Georgia as a place to monitor.
Don't expect a winner on Election Night. This year is different because mail-in ballots could be as high as 30%. Previously, that number was 3%-5%. It will take a while to tally.
Seriously, expect to wait. State vote certification deadlines differ and don't have to be reported to the federal level until Dec. 8. Additionally, the Electoral College doesn’t meet until Dec. 14.
Iowa Supreme Court upholds new law complicating absentee ballot requests
The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld a new law making it harder for county auditors to process absentee ballot requests with missing or incomplete information, days before Iowa's deadline to request a ballot for the 2020 election. The court issued a decision Wednesday evening upholding a Republican-supported law that prevents auditors from using the state's voter registration database to fill in any missing information or correct errors when a voter requests an absentee ballot. The law instead requires the auditor's office to contact the voter by telephone, email or physical mail.
"The overwhelming majority of Iowans have repeatedly said they support voter ID," Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said. "It’s legal, constitutional and fair."
– Stephen Gruber-Miller, Des Moines Register
Headlines from elsewhere and resources on voting
From ProPublica: Their Electionland project goes deep on issues that can affect eligible voters' ability to cast a ballot.
From Pew/Stateline: The Barriers to the Ballot Box project takes on how changes to polling places impact communities.
Ballotopedia: Resources and guides to not just the election, but also voting.
Associated Press: More voting headlines that should be on your radar.
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Advocacy group: Trumpers intimidated New Mexico voters in some areas
New Mexico Common Cause says caravans of flag-waving supporters of President Donald Trump appeared to obstruct and intimidate voters at two polling sites in predominantly Latino neighborhoods in the Albuquerque area last weekend. Executive Director Heather Ferguson said the incidents took place on the first day of balloting at voter convenience centers in the South Valley and western reaches of Albuquerque on Central Avenue. Ferguson estimated that dozens of potential voters in each location left without voting immediately as a result of the incidents before authorities interceded.
Contributing: Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Voting 2020 problems, news: How to vote; Ohio ballot drop boxes ruling