As Tuesday bled into Wednesday, President Donald Trump and Joe Biden were running a tight race. Trump was projected to win some key battleground states such as Florida, Ohio and Texas, while Biden was projected to win New Hampshire and Minnesota. Meanwhile, election officials in three other key states, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Arizona, still have millions of ballots to count.
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Vote Watch: No signs of foreign interference affecting votes, U.S. officials say
There have been no signs of foreign interference with voting as Election Day opens, senior U.S. officials said Tuesday morning.
Chad Wolf, the acting director of the Department of Homeland Security, said in a news conference that the agency has seen "no indications that a foreign actor has succeeded in compromising or affecting the votes cast in this election."
The U.S. has in recent weeks accused Iran of sending voter intimidation emails to Florida voters and Russia of hacking into two local government networks, but actual voting machines are rarely connected to the internet.
In a press call, a senior official at the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency pointed to those accusations as evidence that the U.S. has quickly identified and addressed foreign election interference efforts.
Biden hits key swing states in fight for final votes, Trump sticks to lower-key Election Day schedule
Polls were opening across the country Tuesday morning after a highly contentious presidential campaign, with voters deciding whether to re-elect President Donald Trump to another four years or elect Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The final day of the election cycle comes amid a deeply divided nation and after a record-breaking nearly 100 million votes already cast either through early voting at polls or through mail-in ballots. As millions more Americans cast their ballots Tuesday, the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen with 40 states seeing a 25 percent rise in cases in the last two weeks. In total, the U.S. has had 9.3 million coronavirus cases and more than 232,000 have died. According to the NBC News Polling Average, Biden leads Trump nationally 51.5 percent to 44.4 percent.
Trump will spend part of Election Day visiting the Republican National Committee annex office in Arlington, Virginia, which also houses campaign staff. He’s scheduled to arrive around 10 a.m. ET and is expected to stay for about an hour, according to the official White House schedule. He’ll then return to the White House where he’s planning to spend election night as the results start rolling in.
In a phone interview with Fox News' "Fox and Friends" on Tuesday morning, Trump said he also plans to make a series of calls to "very loyal" and "very important" people. He suggested that Biden's last-minute campaign stops Tuesday indicate that his campaign is nervous about losing the election.
Wall Street rises as investors bet on clear election winner and swift passing of stimulus bill
Wall Street opened on a high note Tuesday as investors expressed confidence that a clear winner would be declared in the U.S. election and that a fiscal stimulus deal would be swiftly passed.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by just over 320 points after the opening bell rang on Election Day, with the S&P 500 gaining 1 percent and the Nasdaq composite rising by around 0.75 percent.
While Wall Street is typically lukewarm toward the prospect a Democratic government, the pandemic has changed that. A "blue wave," wherein Democrats gain control of the White House and both chambers, is seen as far more likely to implement a large stimulus plan and provide relief to the millions of workers displaced by coronavirus shutdowns.
Beware the 'blue mirage' and the 'red mirage' on election night
But it could also make drawing conclusions from the initial results reported Tuesday night particularly hazardous.
It's likely that in Sun Belt battlegrounds such as Florida, North Carolina and Texas, the first totals to be reported will be huge tranches of mail and early in-person ballots that break heavily for Joe Biden, creating a "blue mirage" in the early tallies that could be erased once Trump-friendly in-person Election Day votes are tabulated.
But the opposite could be true in northern battlegrounds such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where officials are not permitted to begin processing mail ballots until the day of the election (or, in Michigan's case, the day before). In those states, a "red mirage" of Trump-heavy Election Day votes could linger until larger metro counties report huge tranches of early ballots later in the evening.
The lesson: it will be easier than ever for initial vote tallies to lead untrained eyes astray.
Trump calls into 'Fox and Friends,' says he has a 'solid chance of winning'
Trump called into Fox News' "Fox and Friends" on Tuesday morning for a wide-ranging interview in which he touched on his Election Day plans, the coronavirus and his message to undecided voters.
In addition to visiting his campaign's headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, Trump said he also plans to make a series of calls to "very loyal" and "very important" people. He suggested that Biden's last-minute campaign stops Tuesday indicate that the Democrats are nervous about losing the election.
"I noticed that Biden went out, and I think he's campaigning a little because he's worried," Trump said. "We've seen tremendous swing changes, we've seen, actually the last three days. This reminds me, I hope it reminds me, of four years ago, tremendous changes have taken place over the last week."
When asked when he might declare victory, Trump said, "I think we'll have victory, but only when there's victory and there's no reason to play games." He added he has a "very solid chance of winning."
Asked about what he thinks the Electoral College outcome will be, Trump said he thinks he will "top" the tally in 2016, which was 306 to 232.
NBC News Decision Desk: How we call races on election night 2020
Here's how NBC News calls races on election night, the steps NBC News takes to verify results, and the answers to some frequently asked questions.
Early on election night, the NBC News Decision Desk uses exit poll data to determine whether uncompetitive races can be called. Most races are called based on analyses of precinct- and county-level vote returns.
The analyses also examine differences between early and Election Day votes. In close contests, a careful analysis of how much of the vote has not been counted is a crucial part of the process. No race is projected until the Decision Desk is at a minimum 99.5 percent confident of the winner.
How are votes counted? Data reporters across the country talk to local election officials and report raw vote results on a county-by-county basis from the time polls open until they close and long afterward. The data is supplemented with state and county vote computer feeds and websites, when available.
Weather in swing states looking mostly clear and sunny
Voters in swing states and throughout much of the country should expect mostly clear and sunny weather as they head to the polls Tuesday.
Forecasts show mild temperatures and clear weather for the Midwest, where voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio will see highs between 50 and 68 degrees.
In North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, any voters waiting in lines are not forecast to be rained on; instead they should expect sun and moderate temperatures. But voters in Southern Arizona might want to bring a hat to the polls, with a high in Tucson of 91 degrees.
Americans head to the polls
Biden visits son Beau's grave before Election Day events
Ohio's most populous county switches to paper poll books for voter check-ins
Ohio’s most populous county will be switching to paper poll books after experiencing technical difficulties, Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office said early Tuesday.
In Franklin County, home to Columbus, the Board of Elections was unable to upload all early in-person voting data into their electronic check-in system, forcing them to turn to paper poll books to check in voters.
“It's important to note that this does NOT impact voting machines in any way, and only modifies how voters are checked in,” the secretary’s office wrote on Twitter. “Secretary LaRose directed every board of elections to have paper pollbooks as a contingency plan to ensure the integrity of the system.”
Why election results in Michigan might not take as long to arrive as some have feared
DETROIT — Election workers are pouring into the basement of a convention center downtown this morning to start counting a record-shattering deluge of absentee ballots.
Concerns about the coronavirus and new laws that make it easier to vote absentee have flooded cities across the state with far more absentee ballots than they've ever seen before, fueling fears that the laborious process of counting them will delay election results in this crucial battleground state. But faster ballot-counting technology — plus a boost from a new law that allowed cities to begin some of the steps involved with processing ballots yesterday — has at least one veteran election official predicting results will arrive in a relatively timely fashion.
"I think people may be surprised about how quickly it gets done," said Christopher Thomas, who retired in 2017 after 36 years leading the Michigan election bureau but was brought on this fall to help the city of Detroit with its vote-counting operation.
Michigan's largest city has a long history of botched elections. A primary election in August triggered alarms after exhausted, overwhelmed election workers made significant errors processing an unprecedented volume of absentee ballots.
But city and state election officials have since hired and trained thousands of election workers including 900 people who worked yesterday in the basement of the TCF Center, verifying ballots and getting them ready to be scanned today.
By midday Monday, workers had processed around 100,000 absentee ballots and were ready to start sliding them into high-speed vote tabulators — new equipment the city acquired this year — shortly after polls opened 7 a.m. today. "It's a big head start. It really is," Thomas said. "The more laborious steps are out of the way."
He predicted that news about who won Michigan won't be too far behind.
"My guess is within a couple hours," he said.