Elections officials in several key states hurried to finish counting all outstanding votes as Americans could finally learn who won Tuesday's presidential election.
Joe Biden maintained his Electoral College lead over President Donald Trump, overtaking the president in Georgia and Pennsylvania. Trump, meanwhile, vowed to "pursue this process through every aspect of the law" Friday after offering a series of false claims about election integrity in defiant remarks from the White House the day before, and is mounting a legal blitz across several battleground states.
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White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tests positive for Covid-19
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tested positive for Covid-19, a source familiar with the diagnosis told NBC News on Friday.
The news comes as the U.S. has recorded for the third day in a row of more than 100,000 new cases, breaking previous records.
President Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19 after White House aide Hope Hicks was diagnosed last month, among other high-profile Republicans in the White House, Congress and the Trump campaign. Many, including the president, have since recovered.
Meadows, 61, was among those in attendance Wednesday morning hours after the polls closed for an election night party at the White House, where Trump falsely claimed that he had won the presidential election as millions of votes had yet to be counted and several battleground states were not called.
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Where is Mike Pence?
Vice President Mike Pence hasn’t been seen publicly for three days.
Pence, who heads the coronavirus task force and serves as president of the Senate, was not with the president in the briefing room Thursday night. Pence had nothing on his schedule for the last three days, and now, per his just-released schedule, has nothing for the weekend. He has not issued any official statements on Friday or posted on social media. His office has been silent when asked about his whereabouts. He has not chaired a task force meeting since October 20, while cases are breaking records across the country.
But a source familiar tells NBC News that Pence was pretty active at the White House today. Additionally, and separately, he was asked by campaign to talk with donors to raise money for the legal defense fund today which he did. NBC News previously reported that Pence was in the meetings over strategy and legal battles at President Trump's campaign headquarters in Virginia on Wednesday.
While Pence is making moves in his capacity as a loyalist to the president, there are also impressions that Pence is trying to stay out of the limelight. Politically, Pence appears to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. He may not want to say anything to override the president’s message as he goes on a full-out assault of the electoral system as it does not produce results in his favor, and simultaneously has to protect his own path forward with potential aspirations for a White House run of his own in 2024.
Speaking after Trump in the early hours of Wednesday morning, Pence said, “The right to vote has been at the center of our democracy since the founding of this nation. We are going to protect the integrity of the vote. But I really believe with all of my heart with the extraordinary margins, Mr. President, that you've inspired in the states that you just described and the way that you launched this movement across the country to Make America Great Again, I truly do believe, as you do, that we are on the road to victory and we will Make America Great Again, again.”
Sen. Coons on what to expect from Joe Biden tonight
Sen. Chris Coons outlined what Joe Biden is expected to say in remarks to the nation Friday night.
“I think you will likely hear an update on the race in which he’ll convey his confidence in the system, his optimism about the ultimate outcome, and his determination to lead a responsible path forward rather than some pronouncement that might make us feel all a little bit better and go to sleep sooner," Coons said.
"He is respecting the process and making sure it plays out thoroughly,” Coons said.
The Delaware senator, who holds Biden’s former seat, also said that he does not expect a call from Pennsylvania today after texting with Sen. Bob Casey. But he said Casey predicted Biden would double the margin between him and Trump after more votes are tallied tomorrow.
Federal judge denies Republicans' bid challenging Nevada vote-counting
A federal judge has denied a legal bid by two Republican congressional campaigns that could have ground vote-counting in Clark County, Nevada to a halt.
The action — which was supported by the Trump campaign — mirrored a similar bid in state court charging the technology being used to perform signature matching in the state is unreliable and should not be used. The state court bid was rejected earlier in the week.
The Nevada Secretary of State's office urged the federal court judge, Andrew Gordon, to do the same deny the "extraordinary" request. "Voting is at the heart of Nevada’s government and evidence, rather than unsupported assertions, should be required to stop the counting of valid Nevada ballots," the office argued.
Gordon agreed and rejected the campaigns' motion for a temporary restraining order blocking the system from being used and demanding all the mail ballots in the county be rechecked manually, as well as changes to the state's vote-watching system.
Gordon found there was "little to no evidence" that the technology being used is a problem, and said, “I should not usurp that proper law of state legislatures and re-write state election laws.”
What are 'provisional ballots' and why it takes time to count them
Provisional ballots — used by voters if there's a question about their eligibility when they show up at the polls — are slowing the count of the presidential election three days after polls closed. And there could be enough provisional ballots to affect the race in some key states.
Such ballots are used only when a voter has an issue that needs to be resolved before their vote can be counted, so they take longer to process than regular ballots and can be subject to legal action and challenges.
They are a fallback when a voter can't immediately prove they're eligible to vote when they show up at the polls or their information doesn't match what's listed on voter rolls.
The voter may have moved, but their new address is not reflected on the voter roll in their new precinct. They may have forgotten to bring an ID in a state that requires one to vote. They may have changed their name or their name may be misspelled on the rolls. Or they may have been removed from the rolls by a glitch or regular purge of voters who haven't cast a ballot in a long time.
And especially relevant this year, in some states, if a voter requested an absentee ballot but decided for whatever reason to vote in person, they may have been required to bring their absentee ballot to the voting place, where they would then hand it over in exchange for a new in-person ballot. That's done to ensure they don't vote twice.
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Supreme Court Justice Alito weighs in on Pennsylvania mail-in ballot case
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito late Friday granted part of a request from Pennsylvania's state Republicans, who wanted an order regarding mail ballots that came in during the extended deadline.
He ordered county election officials to comply with a previous directive issued by the secretary of state to keep separate the mail ballots that arrived after Election Day but before Friday at 5 p.m. But he did not order the state to stop counting them.
He also ordered the state to file a response to the Republican request by 2 p.m. Saturday.
The state GOP told the court midday Friday that even though the secretary of state directed counties to separate out the ballots that arrived after Election Day but before Friday at 5 p.m., it was unclear whether all the counties were obeying that directive.
"The vote in Pennsylvania may well determine the next President of the United States, and it is currently unclear whether all 67 county boards of elections are segregating late-arriving ballots," they told the justices.
They asked the Supreme Court to order the secretary to repeat her directive to keep the late ballots separate — and this time to add that they should not even be counted. Otherwise, the Republicans said, it might not be possible to remove those ballots from the count if the party later prevails on its argument that the deadline extension was illegal.
They argued that the state Supreme Court had no authority to extend the mail ballot deadline, and therefore any votes cast during the extended period should not be counted.
In Florida, Spanish-language misinformation embraces misleading Election Day claims
MIAMI — As Joe Biden inches closer to winning in Pennsylvania and Georgia, Spanish-language disinformation is intensifying among Florida Latinos claiming fraud and rigged elections.
A well-known former candidate for state office in Florida posted an impassioned video in Spanish on Facebook boosting the baseless claim that the election is being stolen from President Donald Trump. The video has since been reposted to Twitter, where it’s been viewed more than 116,000 times over the past two days.
“You have the historical authority to destroy the communists that are in the department of elections,” the man said, adding that it’s time to take to the streets to defend Trump.
The new wave of false claims comes after Democrats raised alarms in the run-up to the election about Spanish-language misinformation that had circulated among Latino voters in Florida. And while researchers said Election Day passed without evidence of major English-language misinformation campaigns on social media, they cautioned that the coming days and weeks would be challenging.
On Friday morning, a doctored photo was being passed around in WhatsApp groups, a popular app among Latinos in Florida, showing Biden leaning uncomfortably close behind the former president of the National Electoral Council of Venezuela, who herself was accused of electoral fraud in the South American country. Her image has been used in various Spanish-language misinformation memes about the outcome of the U.S. election on WhatsApp.
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