Ohio election blog: Postal Service, judge at odds over ballot search

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November 3, 2020

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – America’s longest election season is coming to a close.

11:10 p.m. headlines

(AP) — The U.S. Postal Service says it can’t meet a federal judge’s order to sweep processing centers for undelivered mail-in ballots. It is arguing that doing so would disrupt its Election Day operations and that it had “physical and operational limitations.” Disputes about mail ballots, particularly those received after Election Day, could be the fuel for court fights over election results in some states.

10:55 p.m. headlines

(WJW) — FOX 8 is taking you behind the scenes at Cuyahoga County Board of Elections as ballots continue to be tabulated. As of 10:55 p.m., the BOE was reporting that 603,327 ballots had been cast, which is 67.85% of the vote. With 68% of precincts reporting, Joe Biden is currently up by 39 points.

Here’s a look at what’s going on at the BOE:

10:33 p.m. headlines

(WJW) — FOX 8 has learned that polling locations in Brook Park and Broadview Heights, which were still working through a line of voters well past 9 p.m., are wrapping up voting.

10 p.m. headlines

(AP) — The voter turnout for the 2020 presidential election was massive by recent standards. But it didn’t come close to surpassing the record set in 1876. That year, 81.8 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. The winner was Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, though he received fewer votes than his Democratic opponent, Samuel Tilden.  During the last two-thirds of the 19th century, voter turnout of more than 70 percent of those eligible was common — often reflecting sharp discord. The second highest turnout — 81.2 percent — was in 1860, when Abraham Lincoln defeated Stephen Douglas. Even before Lincoln took office, seven Southern states seceded.

9:30 p.m. headlines

(WJW) — Voters are still in line at precincts in Brook Park and Broadview Heights, FOX 8 has learned. Although the last person in line arrived by 7:30 p.m., when Ohio polls closed, the lines are so long that polls are still open for those in line.

8:20 p.m. headlines

(AP) — Voters in Ohio made their pick for president while holding negative views about the country’s direction. That’s according to AP VoteCast, a survey of the American electorate from The Associated Press. The poll found the coronavirus pandemic was top of mind for voters, with 41% calling it the most important issue facing the nation.

7:30 p.m. headlines

WASHINGTON (AP) — An unprecedented 103.2 million people cast their ballots early in this year’s presidential election. The early birds represent 74.3 percent of the total turnout in the 2016 election. A tally by The Associated Press shows the early vote in several states, including hotly contested Texas and Arizona, exceeded the total vote of four years ago. In Kentucky, nearly 13 times as many voters cast their ballots early this year than in 2016.

7:12 p.m. headlines

(AP) — The Associated Press is reporting that Joe Biden has won Vermont and President Trump has won Kentucky.

7 p.m. headlines

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are keeping their legal options open to challenge absentee ballots in Pennsylvania, if the battleground state proves critical to President Donald Trump’s reelection. A top Democratic lawyer says the suits are meant to sow doubt about the results and lack merit. Two federal lawsuits aim to prevent absentee votes from being counted. The GOP already has laid the groundwork at the Supreme Court for an effort to exclude ballots that arrive after polls close Tuesday. Trump has railed over several days about the high court’s pre-election refusal to rule out those ballots. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Republicans and a local voter accused county officials in suburban Philadelphia of improperly sorting deficient ballots before Tuesday to give voters a chance to fix problems.

6:25 p.m. headlines

(AP) — The cybersecurity agency at the Department of Homeland Security says the U.S. election so far has featured the usual technical glitches and routine issues but no apparent signs of any malicious cyber activity — at least not yet.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency also says it’s too early to declare victory as polls near closing time around the nation Tuesday and with days of vote counting and certification ahead.

A senior agency official says, “It has been quiet and we take some confidence in that but we are not out of the woods yet.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to brief reporters about ongoing nationwide election monitoring efforts ahead of the release of any kind of official evaluation.

The official warned that local and state election systems could experience problems as results are reported, but the most likely cause would be from high demand put on the system as people overwhelm websites to check results.

6 p.m. headlines

(WJW) — Voters continue to exercise their rights at the polls today in Cuyahoga County, and with less than two hours to go, the Board of Elections is saying that, as of about 30 minutes ago, 65% of registered voters have voted.

Take a look at the Cuyahoga County voter totals from the last three presidential elections:

  • 2016 total: 617,356
  • 2012 total: 650,437
  • 2008 total: 672,750

Find an up-to-date Cuyahoga County voter tally right here.

5:20 p.m. headlines

(AP) — The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted Tuesday to keep four polling places open longer because they opened late, which is expected to delay statewide reporting of results.

The longest extension was 45 minutes for a site in Sampson County. That means the state can’t publicly report any statewide results until 8:15 p.m.

The state’s more than 2,600 polling places are otherwise scheduled to close at 7:30 p.m. But state elections officials said in a news release last week that if hours are extended at any polls, they wouldn’t publicly post any results until all polls are closed.

Board Chair Damon Circosta confirmed at the meeting Tuesday that the extended hours would delay public release of results.

The polling places that opened late include one site in Cabarrus County, one in Guilford County and two in Sampson County. The delays were at least partly due to issues with printers or other electronic equipment. The extensions, which only apply to the individual precincts and not other sites in those counties, range from 17 minutes to 45 minutes and match the extra time it took to get them open.

Board Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell said at a news conference in the morning before the vote was held that it’s not unusual to extend polling place hours on Election Day.

4:40 headlines

(AP) — A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ordered U.S. Postal Service inspectors to sweep more than two dozen mail processing facilities for lingering mail-in ballots and for those ballots to be sent out immediately.

The order, which includes centers in central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, south Florida and parts of Wisconsin, comes after national delivery delays leading up to the election and concerns the agency wouldn’t be able to deliver ballots on time.

The Postal Service’s ability to handle the surge of mail-in ballots became a concern after its new leader, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major GOP donor, implemented a series of policy changes that delayed mail nationwide this summer. Delivery times have since rebounded but have consistently remained below the agency’s internal goals of having more than 95% of first-class mail delivered within five days, with service in some battleground areas severely lagging, according to postal data.

4:20 p.m. headlines

(WJW) — SkyFOX went live at the Broadview Heights Recreation Center, Olmsted Falls Lenox Primary School and also Seven Hills’ Hillside Middle School, where long lines awaited voters.

3:30 p.m. headlines

(WJW) — The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections gave an update midway through Election Day, saying that things are running as smoothly as possible.

Director Anthony Perlatti ran the Zoom press conference, explaining that while they’re already halfway through the day, the board of elections expects many more voters to show up through 7:30 p.m.

Perlatti made clear that anyone in line by 7:30 p.m. would be able to vote.

2 p.m. headlines:

(WJW) — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose gave an update on how things are going at the polls halfway through Election Day.

He pointed out that after an issue with the electronic check-in system in Franklin County, and other issues with other counties, things are going smoothly at all 4,000 polling places across the state.

“Tonight, we’re going to report an accurate, but incomplete number,” LaRose said of what to expect when ballots begin to be counted after 7:30 p.m. “It will be a snapchat in time.”

He said his office would also be pointing out the number of outstanding absentee ballots tonight.

Already with 3.4 million Ohioans have voted early, he said he thinks “there’s a chance we’re going to have record-breaking day in the state of Ohio … for the number of voters participating.” He also mentioned that no one will be turned away at the polls if they are in line by 7:30 p.m.

1 p.m. headlines:

(WJW) — President Trump spoke to the media at the RNC Annex in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday afternoon. He said he thinks “we’re going to have a great night.”

12:30 p.m. headlines

(WJW) – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine says he and his wife Fran voted this morning in Cedarville.

12:15 p.m. headlines

(WJW) – Former President Bill Clinton and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton say they voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.  

Bill was elected president on this day in 1992.

(WJW) – FOX 8’s Stacey Fry says the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections estimates 250,000 people will cast their vote in the county today.

About 125,000 people had voted by noon.

11:30 a.m. headlines

(WJW) – The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections reports as of 11:00 a.m., 74% of registered voters in Orange and Pepper Pike had already cast their ballot.

(WJW) – First lady Melania Trump cast her vote Tuesday in Palm Beach, near the Trump Mar-a-Lago resort.

She was the only person not wearing a mask when she entered the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center to vote, according to the Associated Press.

First lady Melania Trump arrives to vote at the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Jim Rassol)

(WJW) – Joe Biden was met with cheers while visiting his childhood home in Scranton.

11 a.m. headlines

(WJW) – Secretary of State Frank LaRose says there have been isolated issues across the state of Ohio’s nearly 4,000 voting locations.

He addressed the issue with an electronic check-in system in Franklin County in a video update.

He says they were prepared for any problems and used a backup system.

If you didn’t return your absentee ballot, you can take it to the drop off box at your board of elections.

10:30 a.m. headlines

(AP) – No one has been elected president without carrying Ohio since 1960, and no Republican has ever been elected without Ohio.

Democrats hope to cut into a 12-4 Republican advantage in the U.S. House delegation, which has held steady since GOP-controlled redistricting took hold in 2012.

Public health professional Kate Schroder was in a tight race with 12-term Republican Rep. Steve Chabot in the Cincinnati area’s House District 1, with Democratic challengers within range in a handful of other House races with GOP incumbents.

9 a.m. headlines

(WJW) – FOX 8’s Adrienne DiPiazza reports the wait at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse was about 45 minutes to an hour early this morning but the lines have since died down as people headed to work.

(AP) – Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, who refused to step aside from his reelection bid despite facing charges in a $60 million bribery scheme, is squaring off against four write-in candidates.

The Associated Press reports his victory appears likely in District 72, given his strong ties in his native Perry County and an endorsement by the local Republican Party.

8:00 a.m. headlines

(WJW) – As the polls began opening across the country, both Presidential candidates took to their Twitter accounts to encourage their supporters to get out and vote today.

7 a.m. headlines

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) – FOX 8 sister station WCMH reports the electronic registration system is down in Franklin County.

Poll works are being checked in with backup paper poll books. The Secretary of State hasn’t said what the issue is but says it happens occasionally.

The Secretary of State’s office says it affects the check-in process only.

6 a.m. headlines

(WJW) – President Donald Trump didn’t get back to the White House until about 1:30 a.m. this morning.

He had 10 rallies in battleground states over the last two days.

Today, he’s traveling to Arlington, Virginia where he’ll visit the “RNC Annex.”

That’s where people have been working on his re-election campaign.

He’ll be back at the White House before lunchtime.

He is expected to watch the returns there with his family tonight.

Vice President Joe Biden will spend Election Night in Wilmington, Delaware with Dr. Jill Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, and Doug Emhoff.

Vice President Biden will travel to Scranton and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Biden will travel to Tampa and St. Petersburg, Florida, and Wake County, North Carolina.

Sen. Harris will hold an event in Detroit.

Her husband, Doug Emhoff, will be in Columbus this afternoon.

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