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Trump, Biden make final vote push

By AI HEPING in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-11-04 00:00

US President Donald Trump (left) and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. [Photo/Agencies]

As voters in the United States on Tuesday conclude their balloting to re-elect President Donald Trump or elect Democratic rival Joe Biden, hundreds of lawyers were ready to challenge and defend record-high voting, while cities throughout the country took steps in case of post-election night violence.

Crews began erecting extra security fencing around the White House on Monday evening. Store owners in New York City and elsewhere were boarding up windows with plywood.

On the final day before Election Day, both candidates campaigned in key battleground states, where the novel coronavirus is resurging. Wisconsin is facing one of the biggest outbreaks in the country. Nearly a third of test results now coming back are positive and hospitalizations are up almost 40 percent in just two weeks.

Trump, who is trailing in national polls, spent Monday in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and was to end the day in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he ended his successful 2016 race.

Biden focused on Pennsylvania, his home state, ending his campaign in Pittsburgh with a rally featuring Lady Gaga.

Balloting in many states already faces a wave of litigation over the adjusting of voting rules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, a federal judge in Texas rejected another Republican effort to invalidate nearly 127,000 votes in the Democratic-leaning area of Houston because the ballots were cast at drive-through polling centers established during the pandemic.

Trump has continued his attacks on mail-in ballots, saying he would deploy lawyers if states are still counting votes after Election Day.

In the key battleground state of Pennsylvania, Trump's campaign signaled it will seek to prevent counting mailed ballots that are received in the three days after the election.

Pennsylvania's top court allowed the extension, and the US Supreme Court subsequently in a 4-4 vote did not block it, but several of the court's conservative justices have indicated they could revisit the issue after the election.

"I think it's a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election," Trump told reporters on Sunday evening, referring to the Supreme Court decision. "The night of — as soon as that election is over — we are going in with our lawyers."

With the swearing-in of Amy Coney Barrett to the court last week, conservatives are in a 6-3 majority. Trump has said that one reason he pushed for Barrett's quick confirmation as a justice was to have her on the court for any post-election disputes.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, has told local elections officials to count the late-arriving ballots but to keep them separate.

Biden campaign manager Jennifer O'Malley Dillon said Monday that in past US presidential elections, states routinely needed time after election night to finish counting votes.

"Under no scenario will Donald Trump be declared a victor on election night," she said.

In South Florida at an airport rally, Trump spoke well past midnight on Monday and at one point he suggested he might fire Dr Anthony Fauci, the country's leading infectious diseases expert.

The crowd erupted into a chant: "Fire Fauci! Fire Fauci!"

Trump responded: "Don't tell anybody but let me wait until a little bit after the election. I appreciate the advice."

Fauci last Friday suggested that the United States needs an "abrupt change" in its approach to the virus.

White House spokesman Judd Deere accused Fauci of playing politics.

By Monday, 35 million people had voted in person and 61 million had cast ballots by mail, according to the US Elections Project, a nonpartisan website run by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who tracks county-level data. That is about two-thirds of the total turnout in 2016.

In the 20 states that report the party registration of early voters, the Elections Project found that 45 percent of those who have voted early are registered Democrats, 30 percent are Republicans and 24 percent list no party affiliation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the major campaign issue, with Trump defending his administration's actions and Biden dismissing them.

The current surge has seen 18 states break daily records for new cases in the past week, and hospitalizations are up in 43 states. More than 231,000 Americans have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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