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Supreme Court blocks Alabama curbside voting, Obama debuts on campaign trail

Highlight from Wednesday's latest election news, voting results and polls.
Image: President Donald Trump and Joe Biden on a background of concentric circles made up of blue and red stars.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

All eyes are on the campaign trail as President Donald Trump and Joe Biden barrel through the remaining days of the 2020 presidential election.

The campaigns are in full preparation mode on Wednesday ahead of Thursday's final presidential debate.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news from October 22, 2020.

—Latest polls from battleground states and more.

—Plan your vote here.

—The road to 270: How Biden or Trump could win.

Share your election confessions.

Read the latest updates:

'Peaceful protester' fired up for Trump at North Carolina rally

Supporters of President Donald Trump attend a Make America Great Again rally Wednesday in Gastonia, North Carolina.Saul Loeb / AFP - Getty Images

Supreme Court blocks curbside voting in Alabama

The U.S. Supreme Court late Wednesday blocked a lower court order allowing voters in Alabama to cast their ballots curbside at polling places that provide that option.

Alabama law does not prohibit that practice, but it doesn't provide for it, either. Secretary of State John Merrill said it would not be feasible for the state to make it available for in this year's election. He said allowing curbside voting would "cause confusion and much harm," pose safety concerns, and could compromise ballot secrecy.

Three weeks after absentee voting began, a federal judge barred the state from enforcing laws that required voters to submit a copy of a photo ID and to confirm their identity by offering the signatures of two witnesses or a notarized statement. His ruling came in a lawsuit filed by voting rights groups seeking accommodations for people at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or who had a disability.

Supreme Court Justices Steven Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan said they would have left the judge's order in place. Writing for the three, Sotomayor said curbside voting is a commonsense measure.

Click here for the full story.

FBI says Iran behind threatening emails sent to Florida Democrats

Iranian intelligence was responsible for a recent campaign of emails sent to intimidate Florida voters, the FBI announced Wednesday night, adding that Russia was also working to influence the election.

The emails ominously instructed Democratic voters in Florida to switch to the Republican Party and purported to come from the Proud Boys, the right-wing group of Trump supporters that became a flashpoint during the first presidential debate.

 

But the emails were actually "spoofed" and designed "to incite social unrest and damage President Trump," announced John Ratcliffe, director of national intelligence.

Both Iran and Russia had obtained some Americans’ voter registration information, Ratcliffe said.

President Trump was in North Carolina still delivering a campaign speech when the FBI made the announcement. 

Click here for the full story.

There's plexiglass on the debate stage in Nashville

There is now plexiglas on the debate stage at Belmont University in Nashville, but it is not known if this will remain on the stage Thursday night.

Transparent plexiglass partitions separate the candidate lecterns used for the second presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville on Wednesday.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

TESTING & MASKS FOR AUDIENCE:

-Everyone in the debate hall must prove a negative test but does not mean it must come from HCA Healthcare

-Masks are required for everyone in the hall. You must have a mask to enter the hall.-If a guest sits down and removes their mask, they will first be approached by an HCA or Belmont staff person who will ask them to put their mask back on.

-If the guest refuses or puts their mask on and removes it again, they will be approached by a member of Law Enforcement.

-If the guest refuses again or removes their mask again, they will be approached by a member of Law Enforcement and their credential will be revoked or their ticket will be rescinded. 

Photos: Even in masks, Obama has a way with kids

Barack Obama speaks to a child outside a Democratic Voter Activation Center as he campaigns for Joe Biden in Philadelphia on Wednesday.Matt Slocum / AP
Children listen as Barack Obama speaks at a Philadelphia campaign event on Wednesday.Matt Slocum / AP

Obama, in Philadelphia campaign speech, rips Trump on China, pandemic, health care

Former President Obama slammed President Trump on Wednesday over recent reports that he had a secret bank account in China and that he owes money to unknown creditors.

“He has a secret Chinese bank account,” Obama said during a drive-in campaign rally in Philadelphia. 

“Can you imagine if I had had a secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election?” Obama said. “They would have called me ‘Beijing Barry,’" he added. The remarks were in reference to a New York Times report on Trump’s previously undisclosed bank account in China. NBC News has not confirmed the report.

Speaking at a Citizens Bank Park, where the Philadelphia Phillies play, Obama delivered a wide-ranging campaign speech in which he also attacked Trump over his pandemic response, his failure to secure additional stimulus for families suffering during the outbreak, his attempted dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, and the general daily chaos he said Americans have experienced during his presidency.

"With Joe and Kamala at the helm, you’re not going to have to worry about the crazy things they say every day," Obama said, adding, "You’ll be able to go about your lives knowing the president isn’t tweeting about conspiracy theories."

And he reprised his attack line from his speech during the virtual Democratic National Convention in August, saying that he "did hope for the sake of the country that [Trump] might show some interest in taking the job seriously."

“But it hasn’t happened. He hasn’t shown any interest in doing the work or helping anybody but himself or his friends,” Obama said. 

Rudy Giuliani caught in compromising position in new 'Borat' film

Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer, fell for an embarrassing Sacha Baron Cohen prank in the soon-to-be-released movie sequel to "Borat."

In the film, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, Giuliani and a fictional young female reporter, who was part of Cohen's sting, can be seen going into a hotel bedroom for drinks — at the woman's invitation — after completing what the former mayor apparently believed to be a real interview about the coronavirus pandemic and Trump's response to the crisis.

Giuliani responded in a pair of tweets on Wednesday.

Read more here.

Mail-in ballot requests up 221 percent compared to 2016

Early voting across the country is drastically higher than in 2016, according to data being tracked by NBC.

Voters requesting mail-in ballots across the country have drastically increased, a rise that is being attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. 

There have been more than 65 million mail-in ballots requested already, a 221 percent increase over the number requested in 2016, according to data collected by TargetSmart. 

See more details and an interactive graphic from NBC News here.

Welcome to Pennsylvania's 'Trump House'

Supporters of President Donald Trump chat and browse free campaign souvenirs at the self-proclaimed "Trump House" in Youngstown, Pa., on Wednesday.Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Romney says he did not vote for Trump

Sen. Mitt Romney, one of the president's most prominent Republican critics, told NBC News he did not vote for Trump in this year's election.

Romney, the junior senator from Utah and the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, has long clashed with Trump. He was the sole Republican senator to vote for Trump's impeachment earlier this year and, earlier this month, he blamed the president for the "vile, vituperative" state of U.S. politics

Romney didn't vote for Trump in 2016 either; he wrote in the name of his wife, Ann Romney, instead.

Obama makes first in-person stump for Biden, rips Trump's pandemic response

Former President Barack Obama, in his first in-person campaign event of the 2020 cycle for Joe Biden, ripped President Donald Trump's response to the Covid-19 pandemic as being full of "incompetence and misinformation."

"The pandemic would have been hard for any president," Obama said during a socially distanced roundtable discussion in Philadelphia with Black community leaders. 

"But the degree of incompetence and misinformation, the number of people who might not have died, had we just done the basics," suggested that Trump did not rise to the occasion in responding to the outbreak, Obama added. He did not mention the president by name in his remarks.

Obama also urged young Black people to vote in the upcoming election, explaining that doing so can help give them a voice and "make things better."

Responding to a question about how he might talk to young Black people in Philadelphia about voting, he said that his message "is not that voting makes everything perfect, but that it makes things better."

"Anyone who says things haven't gotten better in the history of this country ... is somebody who didn't live through ’50s or the ’40s or the ’30s," the former president said. "And the reason things changed is because people voted," he added.

"And that is going to continue how we bring about changes," Obama said.

Obama, sporting a black face mask, later told the audience that he was "confident that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris" would "deliver on some of their promises" because "they know how to build coalitions."

The roundtable marked the first time in the 2020 election that Obama stumped in person for his former vice president. 

The event was the first of two campaign events of the day for Obama. Later, he will lead a drive-in rally for Biden in Philadelphia.