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November 2 highlights: Trump and Biden rally supporters

Get the latest presidential election news and campaign updates.
Image: President Donald Trump and Joe Biden on a background of concentric circles made up of blue and red stars.
Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

President Donald Trump and Joe Biden made last-ditch efforts to energize their bases and win over undecided voters on the final day of campaigning before Election Day.

Trump was in four states key to his 2016 victory but where recent polls have shown him trailing Biden — Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Biden visited Cleveland before kicking off a flurry of events in Pennsylvania. His running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., also visited the Northeast battleground state.

Former President Barack Obama held campaign stops for Biden in Atlanta and Miami.

This live coverage has ended. Continue reading election news from November 3, 2020.

Stories we're following today:

—Latest polls from battleground states

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

—Biden leads Trump by 10 points in final pre-election NBC News/WSJ poll

The first votes are in

Obama's homestretch itinerary: On the campaign trail — and inside Trump's head

ATLANTA — As the campaign clock ticked down to Election Day on Monday, former President Barack Obama was just warming up.

"What's Trump's closing argument right now?" Obama said at a drive-in campaign rally here for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Georgia's Democratic Senate candidates. "Last night on his Covid spreader tour, he's going around spreading Covid. He's like a carrier. He cares more about having big crowds than keeping people safe."

For nearly four years, Obama refrained from attacking his successor, respecting a time-honored tradition even as President Donald Trump launched hundreds of Twitter attacks against him. He kept largely silent as Trump falsely claimed that Obama had spied on his campaign, baselessly accused him of treason, demanded that he be prosecuted and characterized him as the most corrupt president in history.

His relative public silence about Trump's presidential performance drew criticism from some Democrats who had hoped to see him get off the sidelines during some of the most tumultuous years in recent American politics. While Obama campaigned for some Democrats during the 2018 midterm elections, his criticism of Trump was reserved, as he mostly avoided direct personal attacks against the president.

Last month, as the 44th president took to the trail to make his closing argument in behalf of his former vice president, the gloves came off. And in the campaign's final days, the hits have come hard and fast.

Read more here.

Texas Republicans appeal after judge rejects bid to toss 127,000 drive-through ballots

Texas Republicans again appealed a court order allowing drive-through voting to continue in Harris County, Texas, with a late filing Monday evening.

Earlier in the day, a federal judge ruled against Texas Republicans who sued to toss out more than 127,000 ballots cast in drive-thru voting booths in Harris County, declaring that the plaintiffs didn't have standing to sue.

Judge Andrew Hanen, nominated to the court by President George W. Bush, wrote in an order that Texas Election Code permits drive-thru early voting, but said that the law does not authorize movable structures — like the tents used for drive-thru voting — as polling places for Election Day.

“If the plaintiffs had standing, the Court would have found that the contention of drive-thru voting on Election Day violates the Texas Election Code,” Hanen wrote.

State Republicans appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals late Monday, amending their petition to ask solely for drive-thru voting to be blocked on Election Day while leaving the already-cast ballots alone.

Read more here.

Trump ends 2020 campaign like he did in 2016

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — President Trump will end his 2020 campaign much of the same way he did in 2016 — at a late night rally here fighting to pull off another come-from-behind victory.  

While the trip is strong on symbolism — Trump often retold the story of his 2016 midnight Michigan rally and how he believed it helped him eke out a win in the state — campaign aides are feeling pessimistic about their chances of winning Michigan this time around. More than 3 million ballots have already been cast, about 60 percent of total votes cast in 2016, and Trump has consistently trailed Democratic nominee Joe Biden in nearly every poll of the state for months.

There have been a series of logistical issues at the event, like there have been at a number of these rallies in the home stretch. Cars were lined up for at least three miles waiting for hours to park throughout the evening. When the parking lot at the airport where the rally is being held filled up, police started directing people to an overflow lot, but dozens of people instead left their cars along the side of the road and took off walking in the dark through a field towards the sound of the rally music in the distance.

At 10:30 p.m., when Trump was initially scheduled to start speaking, there was a long line of people waiting to be screened by Secret Service. 

It’s a much different scene than Trump’s late night rally in Miami on Sunday. Not only is it about 50 degrees cooler, it’s a more muted crowd than in Miami, where there were two Spanish-speaking musical acts and the feel of a summer music festival.

Michigan did get a performance of the National Anthem by Ted Nugent, who referred to the crowd as the “real Michigan.This isn’t Gretchen Whitmer Michigan. This is freedom Michigan, God’s country, law and order and deer hunting Michigan.”

 

More than 2.500 ballots tossed in South Carolina because of reinstated witness requirement

Nearly 2,600 absentee mail in ballots have been thrown out in South Carolina because of a missing witness signature, state Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire told NBC News Monday evening. 

South Carolina Democrats say the Supreme Court’s Oct. 5 decision after ballots had been mailed to reverse a lower court’s ruling that a witness signature was not required because of the coronavirus pandemic led to voter confusion.

The 2,592 ballots dismissed out of 427,000 absentee mail in ballots submitted is expected to rise as the state accepts ballots until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Every vote could matter in a close Senate race between Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. 

South Carolina does not allow curing, a process that allows a voter to correct issues with their ballot or vote an alternate way after the ballot was rejected. 

South Carolina Democrats have a “litany of lawyers” watching the ballots, including the number of ballots that are rejected, said Trav Robertson, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party. South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick said that the lack of witness signature invited fraud. 

“If someone walks into the polling booth today, they have to have photo id. There should be just s much proof as someone who turns in an absentee,” McKissick said.

A record 1.3 million people have already voted in South Carolina, which is 37 percent of registered voters and 60 percent of the number of those who voted in 2016.

Ohio shatters early voting record

A record 3.4 million Ohio voters cast their absentee ballot or voted early, Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Monday, about 60 percent of the state’s 2016 turnout.

Ohio had never surpassed 2 million votes during early voting, LaRose said. About 243,000 absentee ballots are still outstanding, though he said the return rate has drastically outpaced that of 2016.

“Ohioans have refused to listen to the fear mongers who have spent months trying to convince them that it’s hard to vote — they’re proving it’s easy with every record broken,” LaRose said in a statement. “As ballots mailed on time continue to come in over the next ten days, Ohioans should rest assured that each legally cast ballot will be counted and their voice will be heard.”

Outstanding ballots that are postmarked by Nov. 2 and received by the county board of elections within 10 days after the election will be counted, LaRose said.

Pence and Harris make closing arguments

Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris made their final pitches to voters on Monday, with Pence telling a crowd in Erie, Pennsylvania, that Joe Biden “is talking about shutting down the economy,” while Harris told a rally in Philadelphia “Your vote is your voice and your voice is your power.”

Twitter tags Trump tweet about Pennsylvania ballots as misleading

President Trump tweeted Monday the Supreme Court’s decision to allow mail-in ballots to be counted up to three days after the election will lead to “rampant” cheating and violence, which Twitter later flagged as misleading.

"The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one. It will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws. It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!" Trump tweeted

This is the latest decision by the social media giant to limit the spread of misinformation on the site, particularly from the president's official account. It has flagged previous tweets from Trump as misleading.

Lawyers for the president and the Republican Party have gone to court in recent weeks in places around the country, raising questions about how certain votes should be counted. The president has also repeatedly sowed doubt about the accuracy of the results and made baseless claims about voter fraud. 

Recently, the Supreme Court refused to block a decision ordered by Pennsylvania’s top court that allowed a three-day extension for absentee ballots. Trump won the state in 2016 by just over 44,000 votes, a margin of less than 1 percentage point. Earlier Monday, he told reporters he's "very concerned about Pennsylvania." 

"Philadelphia is known for bad things happening,” Trump said, without elaborating. 

Photo: Sunset on the campaign trail in Wisconsin

Supporters of President Donald Trump walk along Highway 158 to his campaign rally at Kenosha Regional Airport in Wisconsin on Monday.Bing Guan / Reuters

A deep breath moment

On this election eve, Lester Holt reminds us that we have to let democracy work, “if not for ourselves, then for our children, who you know are watching us.”

Wisconsin manufacturing workers divided on Trump, despite broken promises

President Donald Trump’s promises of a manufacturing comeback have fallen flat in the key battleground state of Wisconsin. Despite his pledge to boost manufacturing and prevent factories from closing or moving overseas, the opposite has occurred.

“He ran on bringing all these jobs back to America. None of it has materialized. Fewer jobs materialized. He’s proven he’s not a friend of labor. He’s not a friend of workers,” said Ross Winklbauer, a sub-district director for the United Steelworkers labor union in southeastern Wisconsin.

In 2016, Trump was able to narrowly win the Badger State on a promise to increase manufacturing jobs, keep plants from closing, and make factories return operations to U.S. shores. But since he took office — and even before the pandemic hit — manufacturing jobs were up by just 3.2 percent, trailing the national average by nearly one full percentage point.

“I don’t think he’s fulfilled it all. There have been plant closings: Telsmith, Briggs & Stratton, all the steelworks are closing or have been diminished,” said Chris Chappelle, a welder at the Komatsu mining equipment manufacturing plant in Milwaukee and president of the local chapter of United Steelworkers.

Read more here.