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Trump, Biden hit Arizona, Supreme Court makes battleground state rulings

Latest news, polls, analysis and more.
Image: President Donald Trump and Joe Biden on a background of concentric circles made up of blue and red stars.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The presidential race went west on Wednesday to court voters in the crucial state of Arizona, a swing state where Covid-19 woes could spell trouble for President Donald Trump.

Trump held afternoon rallies in Bullhead City and Goodyear after delivering remarks at his namesake hotel in Las Vegas. Joe Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is visiting Phoenix and Tucson.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news for Thursday, October 29, 2020.

Stories we're following today:

—'Anonymous' revealed

—Supreme Court makes Election Day rulings in two battleground states

—How polling this year is different from 2016

—Latest polls from battleground states and more

—Plan your vote here

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

Highlights below:

Supreme Court won't block mail ballots in North Carolina arriving up to six days after Election Day

The Supreme Court late Wednesday declined to block lower court rulings that allow six extra days for accepting ballots sent by mail in North Carolina. The justices left the later deadline in place, a victory for Democrats in a presidential battleground state.

Earlier in the day, in a defeat for Republicans, the court declined to take another look, on a fast track, at the issue of late arriving mail ballots in Pennsylvania, leaving intact a lower court ruling that said the state must count ballots that arrive up to three days after the election.

The vote was 5-3 and newly confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett didn’t take part in the North Carolina case, the court said, for the same reason cited in the Pennsylvania case, “because of the need for a prompt resolution and because she has not had time to fully review the parties’ filings."

Click here to read the full story.

Anxiety 2020: Voters worry about safety at the polls

With Election Day next week, voters can point to plenty of evidence behind the anxiety. More than 226,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States, and cases are spiking across the country. A summer of protests of racial injustice and sometimes violent confrontations has left many on edge. Gun sales have broken records. Trump has called on supporters to monitor voting and has refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power or to explicitly condemn a white supremacist group.

There was the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and another spate of violent protest this week over a police shooting of a Black man in Philadelphia.

“Human beings don’t do well with uncertainty, and there’s been a lot of uncertainty this year,” said Mara Suttmann-Lea, an assistant professor of government at Connecticut College conducting research on voting. ”Absolutely I’m seeing heightened levels of anxiety ... and it's a more general, existential anxiety — ‘What is the state of our democracy?’"

Those worries have shown up in polling. About 7 in 10 voters say they are anxious about the election, according to an AP-NORC poll this month. Biden supporters were more likely to say so than Trump supporters — 72 percent to 61 percent.

Click here for the full story. 

In Pennsylvania, Obama voters who switched to Trump could hold the key

Trump rips 'Anonymous' author Miles Taylor as a 'sleazebag'

President Trump tore into admitted "Anonymous" author Miles Taylor at a campaign event in Arizona, calling him a "sleazebag" and a "low-level lowlife" who "should be prosecuted."

Anonymous "turned out to be a low-level staffer — a sleazebag who has never worked in the White House," Trump told supporters at a campaign rally in Goodyear. He called Taylor "a disgruntled employee" who he was told was fired for "incompetence."

Taylor says he resigned from the Department of Homeland Security in 2019 out of frustration with the Trump administration's directives. 

Trump joked that he thought the person behind a harsh New York Times op-ed and a book called "The Warning" would be somebody higher up. "I thought it might have been Hope Hicks. I thought it might have been Jared," he quipped referring to son-in-law Jared Kushner. 

"The whole thing was just one more giant hoax from the Washington swamp," Trump said. Referring again to Taylor, Trump said, "in my opinion, he should be prosecuted." He didn't say for what.   

 

Supreme Court won't immediately consider whether PA can count ballots that arrive after Election Day

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Wednesday to take another look, on a lightning fast track, at the issue of late arriving mail ballots in the presidential battleground state of Pennsylvania, leaving intact a lower court ruling that said the state must count ballots that arrive up to three days after the election.

It was the second time Republicans asked the court to roll back the deadline. They lost Oct. 19 on a 4-4 vote, when the justices denied their request to put a hold on a lower court order extending the deadline.

Wednesday’s vote was 5-3, with Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch saying the court should have taken the case immediately.

In trying again, the Republicans apparently hoped that newly appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett's arrival would give them the fifth vote they need to prevail. But she sat this one out, taking no part in the consideration or disposition of the motion. A court spokeswoman said that was "because of the need for a prompt resolution of it and because she has not had time to fully review the parties’ filings."

Read more here.

Pot candidate upends Minnesota U.S. House race even after his death

MINNEAPOLIS — Adam Weeks was never going to win Minnesota’s 2nd District seat in Congress, but the deceased Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate has had an outsized effect on the race.

His death in September from an apparent accidental fentanyl overdose set off a legal battle over whether the contest should be delayed until February. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that it won't be. Now, according to a published report, Weeks left a voicemail for a friend in which he said he was recruited to the race by Republicans solely to siphon votes away from Democratic Rep. Angie Craig in a competitive suburban-to-rural district south of Minneapolis.

The Star Tribune obtained a voicemail that Weeks left for his friend, Joey Hudson, four weeks before Weeks died last month. In the recording, which the newspaper said Hudson gave them, Weeks said Republican operatives approached him in the hopes he’d “pull votes away” from Craig and give an advantage to the “other guy,” Tyler Kistner, the GOP-endorsed candidate.

A Minnesota GOP spokesman did not immediately return messages seeking comment Wednesday.

Read more here.

Former DHS official Miles Taylor reveals he is writer of scathing Trump op-ed

Miles Taylor, the former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff who stepped forward in August to blast President Trump's leadership, said Wednesday he's "Anonymous," the senior administration official who wrote a scathing op-ed and book about the Trump White House.

In a post on Medium entitled "Why I'm no longer Anonymous," Taylor said he wrote the op-ed as a way to get the White House to focus on what he was saying about the danger he thought Trump posed to the country, instead of focusing on him.

Read more here.

Face masks required in all Texas polling locations, federal judge rules

A federal court judge in San Antonio, Texas, mandated face masks at all state polling locations for all voters, poll workers and poll watchers. 

U.S. District Court Judge Jason Pulliam struck down Texas Gov. Abbott’s order that exempted polling locations from a statewide mask mandate Tuesday night. In his opinion, the judge called Abbott’s order a direct violation of the Voting Rights Act because it “creates a discriminatory action against Black and Latino voters.” 

Polling places were among 11 exemptions that Abbott’s July 2 executive order granted. 

Mi Familia Vota, a Latino voting outreach organization, the Texas NAACP and a Texas voter filed a voting rights suit against Abbott and Ruth Hughes, the Texas secretary of state on July 16, which included the mask exemption. Pulliam dismissed the case on Sept. 20 but an appellate court brought it back to court under a separate claim in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Tuesday's ruling comes after a plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. 

“This is a major victory for democracy,” Héctor Sánchez Barba, the executive director and CEO of Mi Familia Vota said in a news release. “Voters should not have to choose between protecting their health and exercising their fundamental right to vote.”

Trump jokes about not paying his microphone vendor

Trump has had some audio issues at his first campaign rally of the day in Bullhead, Arizona, partly to do the wind. 

"Whoever did this microphone, don't pay him. You know I have a reputation for not paying. And it's a false reputation," Trump said. 

"Its probably a RINO that's operating it," Trump joked. Earlier in the event he called RINOs the "lowest form of human life."

Trump will host a second rally in Arizona later this afternoon.