Latest midterm news with early voting underway

Biden to warn election-denying candidates are putting the U.S. on a ‘path to chaos’

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is expected to warn of the threat to U.S. democracy posed by those who spread false information about the validity of the 2020 election, according to excerpts of a planned Wednesday night speech released by the Democratic National Committee.

“As I stand here today, there are candidates running for every level of office in America: for governor, for Congress, for attorney general, for secretary of state who won’t commit to accepting the results of the elections they’re in,” Biden is expected to say. “That is the path to chaos in America. It’s unprecedented. It’s unlawful. And, it is un-American.”

Biden plans to make the case to voters that the stakes in the Nov. 8 midterm elections, where early voting is already underway in many states, will be crucial to preserving the nation’s democratic values.

“This is no ordinary year. So, I ask you to think long and hard about the moment we are in,” Biden is expected to say. “In a typical year, we are not often faced with the question of whether the vote we cast will preserve democracy or put it at risk. But we are this year.”

Founder of Arizona ballot-monitoring group complies with judge’s order to post election facts on Truth Social account

Melody Jennings, founder of Clean Elections USA, whose members have surveilled ballot drop boxes in Arizona, complied with a judge’s order and posted factual information about the election process to her Truth Social account Wednesday.

Jennings’ post to former President Donald Trump’s social media platform reads: “It is not always illegal to deposit multiple ballots in a ballot drop box. It is legal to deposit the ballot of a family member, household member, or person for whom you are the caregiver.” The message was also posted on Clean Elections USA’s website.

The post comes a day after a federal judge in Phoenix issued a restraining order against Jennings’ group following accusations that it was intimidating voters by photographing and recording people casting ballots at drop boxes.

U.S. District Judge Michael Liburdi prohibited Clean Elections USA from “openly” carrying weapons or “visibly wear body armor” within 250 feet of drop boxes. His order also bars the group’s members from taking photos, recording, following or yelling at voters within 75 feet of drop box locations, in accordance with Arizona law.

The judge directed Jennings to post the message, along with copies or links to statutory text on election laws and the restraining order itself, to both her Truth Social page and in “a conspicuous place” on Clean Election USA’s website within 24 hours and keep it visible through the close of voting on Election Day, Nov. 8. A link to the restraining order was not included in the Truth Social post addressing the judge’s order as of Wednesday afternoon, before the 24-hour deadline expired.

In plain sight: House party committees post oppo research online

The campaign arms of the House Democrats and Republicans are limited by law from privately coordinating messaging with the outside spending groups that pump big money into the nation’s most competitive races.

But there’s a workaround. The National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic Congressional Committee maintain web pages to share information with those independent-expenditure groups on a race-by-race basis.

These “red box” sites include negative messages about the other party’s candidate in each competitive district and potentially damaging footage about candidates. They even indicate which media markets are the best targets for ad spending.

For example, in Pennsylvania’s 17th District, where Rep. Matt Cartwright is at risk of losing to Republican Jim Bognet, the DCCC writes, “Voters in the Wilkes Barre/Scranton market need to watch TV ads, voters district-wide need to see digital ads, and voters district-wide who are OTT [Over the Top streaming video] subscribers need to see ads about” Bognet’s positions on Social Security and Medicare.

The sites give insight into what issues both parties are pressing in the final days of the campaign and which races they’re most focused on.

Some campaign-finance watchdogs say the parties are evading the law.

Biden to call out threats to democracy, political violence in Wed. night speech

President Joe Biden will use his Wednesday evening speech to draw attention to threats to “democratic integrity,” “public safety” and Republicans who “refuse to accept the results of free and fair elections,” according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

In a brief preview of Biden’s speech, Jean-Pierre told reporters that the president would call out the “alarming number” of Republican officials who say they will not accept the results of next week’s election and that Biden will forcefully condemn political violence and inflammatory rhetoric.

Since taking office, Biden has given multiple speeches about threats to democracy. But Wednesday’s speech is his first major public address on the issue since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, was violently attacked in his home on Friday.

“They fanned the flames of political violence through what they praise and what they refuse to condemn,” Jean-Pierre said, speaking of “MAGA Republicans.”

“It remains important for the president to state strongly and unequivocally that violence has no place in our democracy,” she added.

Biden will speak at 7 p.m. ET.

Asked about his remarks ahead of the speech Wednesday, Biden told a reporter, “Listen to them, man. You’ll be impressed.”

Lofgren demands answers from Capitol Police following attack on Paul Pelosi

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who chairs the House committee overseeing the U.S. Capitol Police, is looking into the agency’s plan to protect members of Congress as well as some family members, according to a letter she sent Tuesday to USCP chief Thomas Manger.

“This incident and related circumstances, including the manner in which the Speaker and her family were targeted, raise significant questions about security protections for Members of Congress, particularly those in the presidential line of succession,” the California Democrat wrote in the letter.

Lofgren, chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, listed a series of questions surrounding the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband at their San Francisco home on Friday. Lofgren asked, for example, whether Capitol Police had a strategic plan that officers followed with respect to the assault.

She also asked if there was an agreement between San Francisco police and Capitol Police regarding whether a police vehicle would be stationed outside the Pelosi residence. “Was a SFPD vehicle positioned outside of the Speaker’s residence on October 28? If not, why not?” she wrote.

Lofgren asked whether Capitol Police has a plan of action to “to extend coverage to the spouses and/or other family members of the congressional leaders in the presidential line of succession.” Another question focused on whether Capitol Police has sought input from the U.S. Secret Service in light of the attack.

Capitol Police said in a statement Wednesday that the agency has begun “an internal security review and will be gathering input and questions from our Congressional stakeholders.”

“Now we will fast-track the work we have already been doing to enhance the protection of Members outside of Washington, D.C., while also providing new protective options that will address concerns following Friday’s targeted attack,” the statement said.

New law protects Washington state election workers

Fed announces another rate hike as GOP makes inflation a key issue

Battling inflation that remains at four-decade highs, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday it hiked its key interest rate by another 0.75%.

“Inflation remains elevated, reflecting supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic, higher food and energy prices, and broader price pressures,” the Fed said in its statement Wednesday. It added it is “strongly committed to returning inflation to its 2% objective.”

The announcement comes as Republicans have made inflation and rising prices a key issue on the campaign trail and less than a week out from Election Day.

The rate hikes this year have unfolded against the backdrop of a consumer price index that has remained elevated. In September, it clocked in at 8.2% on an annual basis. Food and energy price increases were higher. Even stripped of those two items, whose price swings tend to be more volatile, the index saw its largest increase since 1982.

In a press conference following the release of the central bank’s statement, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said Americans can expect more rate increases, though perhaps not of the same magnitude as the most recent ones.

Read more here.

‘First of its kind’ database tracks threats against local officials

Researchers at Princeton University and the Anti-Defamation League are building what they say is the first-ever national database tracking threats and harassment against local officials.

The initiative has so far tracked 400 cases across 43 states from January 2020 to Sept. 23 of this year, using more than 10,000 news stories, 3,000 incidents and thousands of public protests tracked in public datasets. The ongoing study’s first report was released Oct. 20 in the week before a man allegedly broke into the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and attacked her 82-year-old husband with a hammer.

The first report found that 40% of the 400 cases tracked were related to elections, 30% related to education — more than half of which involved Covid-19-related education concerns and 14% of which related to critical race theory and LGBTQ-related issues — and 29% related to health issues, most of which had to do with Covid-19, according to the report. Threats of death and gun violence were more than twice as common as any other kind of threat, making up 13% of threats, and intimidation was the most common form of harassment, present in 29% of cases.

About half of the recorded cases targeted someone who had received multiple threats, according to the report. Women officials were targeted by threats and harassment 3.4 times more often than men, making up 42.5% of the targets in the tracked cases. Men were the subject of 28% of threats or harassment, and the rest were threats or harassment made against multiple people — such as an office or polling place — or people whose gender was unknown.

Election officials or poll workers were threatened or harassed across 21 of the 43 tracked states, making up about 34% of all incidents, with the highest rates in the likely battleground states of Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan.

‘Vet the Vote’ signs veterans up to be election workers

White House press secretary says misleading tweet on Social Security was ‘incomplete’

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the White House deleted a tweet touting Social Security increases — after Twitter had marked it with a “context” note — because it was an “incomplete tweet.”

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Jean-Pierre said the tweet should have included information about how Medicare premiums will decrease for the first time in over a decade. She also said the tweet should have drawn a clear contrast between Biden’s position on Social Security and that of Republicans, who she accused of supporting cuts to the social safety net program.

“Those are the types of contexts that would normally be with a tweet like that and it did not have that context. It was an incomplete tweet, as I just mentioned. And so that’s why you saw the digital team take that action,” she said.

The now-deleted tweet read: “Seniors are getting the biggest increase in their Social Security checks in 10 years through President Biden’s leadership.”

Under a 1972 law, Social Security increases are adjusted based on the Consumer Price Index, not presidential action.

New Wisconsin poll shows Barnes and Sen. Johnson in dead heat

A new Wisconsin survey has incumbent GOP Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in a statistical dead heat with less than a week to Election Day.

The latest poll from Marquette Law School, the most prominent survey regularly conducted in the battleground state, showed Barnes within striking distance after the same poll last month had him trailing by 6 points.

The poll released Wednesday showed 50% of likely voters support Johnson and 48% support Barnes. Among all registered voters, Johnson notched 48 % and Barnes had 45%.

The survey likewise showed a dead heat in the governor’s race with both Gov. Tony Evers and Republican challenger Tim Michels at 48% with likely voters.

The poll of 802 registered voters — 679 who identified as likely voters — was conducted from Oct. 24 to Nov. 1. The margin of error stood at +/- 4.6 percentage points for all voters and +/- 4.8 % for questions of likely voters.

More than 100 election jurisdictions waiting on federal cyber help, sources say

More than 100 state and local election jurisdictions that reached out to the federal government for help ensuring the digital security of their election-related systems have instead found themselves on a waitlist ahead of next week’s midterm elections, according to two people familiar with the backlog.

The tests in demand from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency — the Department of Homeland Security department responsible for providing tools to protect state-run election systems — include risk and vulnerability assessments as well as penetration tests, both of which determine how vulnerable computer networks are to hackers, including foreign state actors.

States are not required to undergo such tests. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, known as CISA, offers the services on a voluntary basis. 

The vast majority of voting machines are not connected to the internet, meaning a credible threat from foreign hackers on the election system as a whole is practically impossible. But some election information does run through the internet, like voting registration, official information about how and where to vote, and election officials’ email systems. So it could be possible to delete voters from rolls or change the way a website projects an election winner, creating chaos and confusion.

Read the story.

Elon Musk suggests banned people won’t be allowed back on Twitter for weeks

New Twitter leader Elon Musk suggested that people “de-platformed” will not be allowed back for at least weeks, appearing to rule out the return of figures like former President Donald Trump before the midterm elections.

Musk tweeted about the process in response to a post from Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, regarding attempts to manipulate conversations about the 2022 midterms, which will be held next week.

“Twitter will not allow anyone who was de-platformed for violating Twitter rules back on platform until we have a clear process for doing so, which will take at least a few more weeks,” Musk tweeted early Wednesday.

He also said a content moderation council would include people with divergent views “which will certainly include the civil rights community and groups who face hate-fueled violence.”

Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter in January 2021 following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters.

Read the story.

Voting issues erupt in Wisconsin city

Issues around early voting have already erupted in the city of Green Bay, Wis., as Republicans contend poll watchers aren’t gaining proper access to the early voting site. At the same time, complaints have emerged of aggressive third-party tactics inside and outside the polling site.

On Wednesday, the Republican National Committee filed a lawsuit claiming poll watchers weren’t granted proper access during early voting in Green Bay.

“The RNC is suing Green Bay alongside concerned Wisconsin voters because the city’s Democrat election officials are refusing to follow Wisconsin’s election law,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. “This is unacceptable: Republicans are going to court to deliver Wisconsinites the ballot box transparency to which they are legally entitled.” 

An official with knowledge of the voting issues in Green Bay told NBC News that since last week, there have been tensions with third-party observers who are engaging in tactics that include following poll workers and trying to film or photograph voters. “They’re trying to push the boundaries of where they can sit, who they can view and what they can say to voters,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.     

The city of Green Bay is a fiercely fought political terrain in Wisconsin, a state where both the Senate and governor’s races are up for grabs. In a contest that could decide the balance of the U.S. Senate, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is seeking his third term in office and is in a close race against Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is facing a tough challenge from Republican Tim Michels.

The Green Bay Clerk’s office did not have an immediate comment.

VP Harris to speak at NYC campaign event for Gov. Kathy Hochul

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to New York City on Thursday for a get-out-the vote event for Gov. Kathy Hochul, the White House announced Wednesday.

Hochul’s re-election race against her GOP challenger, Lee Zeldin, has been tightening in recent weeks.

Details of the campaign event weren’t immediately provided.

Sen. Hassan swipes at opponent Bolduc’s promotion of litter box conspiracy theory


Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., once again criticized Republican nominee Don Bolduc, following his interview with NBC News Tuesday night in which he vowed to “not back down” from his outlandish claim that a New Hampshire school was allowing children to use a litter box — a claim that the school has forcefully denied.

“Don Bolduc needs to stop repeating a truly harmful and outrageous conspiracy theory. And unfortunately, it is not the only conspiracy theory that he has been peddling election denial is another one,” Hassan said. “He really needs to stop these under these conspiracy theories for people — they hurt our state and they undermine our democracy.”

The urban legend, which suggests schools across the country are providing litter boxes for children who identify as cats, has been promoted by a number of Republican candidates in recent weeks. Read more from NBC News on the origins of the myth.

Mother of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick says in new ad that he died because of ‘people like Kari Lake’

The mother of Brian Sicknick, a Capitol Police officer who died a day after the Jan. 6 riot, says in a new TV ad that Arizona GOP nominee for governor Kari Lake is indirectly responsible for her son’s death.

“She saw what happened on Jan. 6 and continues to spread the big lie,” Gladys Sicknick says in the 30-second spot. “And we’re going to have more violence because, people, they believe whatever she says. It’s very dire for our democracy, for our country with the candidates like Kari Lake. My son died because of people like Kari Lake.”

An adviser to the Republican Accountability PAC told NBC News that the ad is airing in the Tucson media market.

New Pennsylvania Senate poll shows not much has changed since Oz-Fetterman debate

A new Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday finds a stable race between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz after their debate a week ago.  

Forty-eight percent of Pennsylvania voters say they definitely or probably will vote for Fetterman, while 49% say they definitely or probably won’t — not substantially different than the 48% will/47% won’t from its poll earlier this month. 

That’s compared with 44% who say they definitely or probably will vote for Republican Mehmet Oz, versus 54% who say they definitely or probably won’t — again little change from 43% will/54% won’t from earlier this month. 

But a different poll released on Tuesday — conducted mostly after the debate — shows a different result. Muhlenberg College’s survey has Fetterman and Oz now tied at 47%-47%, a change from its September poll when Fetterman was ahead by 5 points, 49%-44%. 

That movement, however, is well within the poll’s margin of error. It also was partially conducted before the Oct. 25 debate. (The Monmouth poll was conducted after the debate, Oct. 27-31.)

Read more on NBC’s Meet The Press blog.

Milwaukee increases security at central ballot counting location


The executive of Milwaukee’s elections commission, Claire Woodall-Vogg, told NBC News that security at the downtown Wisconsin Center, which the city is using as a central counting facility for absentee ballots, has been increased in obvious and covert ways.

Milwaukee police officers are scheduled to be on site, and metal detectors and bag checks will be implemented for the first time, she said. There will also be live video surveillance (some likely streamed) for the ballot count, along with contingency plans in case there are threats to the facility.

Woodall-Vogg said election workers completed de-escalation training through the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security in the summer ahead of the midterm elections.

DeSantis looks to shore up Utah Sen. Mike Lee in new TV ad

As he eyes a possible White House bid, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has stepped up his national endorsements and just cut a new TV advertisement for an out-of-state Republican, Utah Sen. Mike Lee.

Polling in Utah is scarce because it’s a Republican state and few expect Lee to lose to his independent challenger, Evan McMullin. But the conservative Club for Growth Action political committee has spent as much as $8 million on the race just in case, and it’s financing this DeSantis ad that begins airing Wednesday in Utah.

The club had a breakup with former President Donald Trump, who is considering announcing his bid for president as early as this month, and it turned to DeSantis to vouch for Lee, who distanced himself somewhat from Trump at a debate two weeks ago.

The 30-second spot is designed to impart one message: Republicans and conservatives need to stick with Lee. “His opponent endorsed Biden for President,” DeSantis says in the ad. “He’s no independent, he’s a donkey in sheep’s clothing. He’ll be a vote for Biden not for Utah.” 

Read more from the Meet the Press blog.

Biden to give speech on threats to democracy

President Joe Biden will give a speech at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday on threats to democracy, the White House said.

Biden will deliver the speech at Union Station, just steps from the U.S. Capitol.

Speaking at an event hosted by Axios on Wednesday morning, White House senior advisor Anita Dunn said the president chose the setting because of the Jan. 6 attack when “we saw violence geared towards subverting democratic processes there. So it is an appropriate place to make these remarks tonight.”

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O’Malley Dillon, who also participated in the Axios event, said that Biden will argue “that there is a lot at stake” in the midterm elections, “including democracy and that everyone has a role in that.”

Dunn also said that Biden will speak “to people who don’t agree with him on any issues” and will stress that “we really can unite behind this idea, this fundamental value of democracies.”

Judge rejects Giuliani’s request to dismiss election workers’ lawsuit

A federal judge has rejected Rudy Giuliani’s request to dismiss a lawsuit from Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, who accused the former Trump lawyer and others of defamation.

Giuliani pushed baseless claims that the two Fulton County election workers committed voter fraud based on a video of ballot counting on election night in 2020 — allegations rejected by state and federal officials.

Judge Beryl A. Howell, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, noted in her Monday ruling that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said of the video on a January 2021 call discussing the false allegations with then-President Donald Trump, “I think it’s extremely unfortunate that Rudy Giuliani or his people, they sliced and diced that video and took it out of context.”

In rejecting Giuliani’s request, Howell rebuked the “increasingly outlandish paranoia from those claiming the election was being ‘stolen,’” noting that Giuliani “propagated and pushed that false narrative.”

Earlier this year, Freeman and Moss gave emotional testimony during a House Jan. 6 Committee public hearing. They detailed months of threats and harassment as a result of the false claims spread by Trump, Giuliani and other Trump allies. Freeman testified that the FBI urged her to leave her home out of concern for her safety.

Obama rallies for Sen. Cortez Masto, warns of ‘dangerous climate’ after Paul Pelosi attack

Barack Obama brought his Democratic midterm revival show to Las Vegas on Tuesday, packing a high school gym to rally the party faithful while paying special attention to highlight a dead-heat Senate race in the state.

The former president also took a moment to mention Paul Pelosi, who was attacked with a hammer during a home invasion last week, saying the two had spoken and “thankfully … he’s gonna be OK.” The demonization of political opponents “creates a dangerous climate” he said, adding that if elected officials don’t explicitly reject violence and over-the-top rhetoric, “more people are going to get hurt.”

Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is defending her seat, which Republicans have identified as a top pick-up opportunity. Obama, who decisively won Nevada in his two White House runs, took aim at Republican candidate Adam Laxalt for filing specious lawsuits in the weeks after the 2020 election in hopes of overturning the state’s results. At another, Obama ribbed Laxalt, a former attorney general in the state, after 14 members of Laxalt’s family endorsed Cortez Masto.

“We all might have a crazy uncle that kind of goes off the rails,” Obama said. “But if you got a full Thanksgiving dinner table and they’re all saying you don’t belong in the U.S. Senate — when the people who know you best think your opponent would do a better job — that says something about you. That says something about Catherine.”

Earlier Tuesday, Laxalt posted a clip of himself on Twitter talking about Obama on Fox News. “I cannot believe this is the best they have,” Laxalt said in the segment. 

Democrats go after Tudor Dixon in Michigan for conspiracy theories

CLAWSON, Mich. — A new ad from a group affiliated with the Democratic Governors Association casts Tudor Dixon, the Republican candidate for governor in Michigan, as a conspiracy theorist who denies election results and sympathizes with the Jan. 6 rioters.

The 30-second spot from Put Michigan First — shared first with NBC News — will air across the state as part of nearly $3 million in ad spending that the group has budgeted for Michigan through Election Day.

Dixon, a former right-wing commentator, faces Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in next week’s general election. Several recent polls have shown Whitmer leading outside the margin of error, while others have indicated a much closer race.

Read the full story on the “Meet the Press” blog here.

Most candidates for top election posts say no to hand counts 

The vast majority of candidates running to become their states’ chief election officers oppose hand counting ballots, a laborious and error-prone process that has gained favor among some Republicans embracing conspiracy theories about voting machines.

An Associated Press survey of major-party secretary of state candidates in the 24 states found broad skepticism about hand counting among election professionals of all ideological stripes. Of 23 Republicans who responded to the survey, 13 clearly said they opposed implementing a statewide hand count of ballots instead of a machine count.

GOP candidates in Arizona and New Mexico have previously endorsed the idea of a hand count. But others cautioned it was a dangerous road to follow.

The desire to hand count ballots stems from conspiracy theories spread by former President Donald Trump and his allies that the electronic machines that tabulated the results of the 2020 presidential election were rigged. Now some Republicans inspired by his election lies seek to expand or require hand counting of all ballots.

Read the full story.

Nevada GOP chair says he was interviewed by the Jan. 6 committee

RENO, Nev. —  The chairman of Nevada’s Republican Party says he testified before the House committee investigating the events leading up to the assault on the nation’s Capitol in 2021. 

“Yes, I was called before them. I answered the subpoena,” Michael McDonald said in an interview.

The subpoena requesting documents and testimony, which the Jan. 6 committee issued in January, noted the panel’s interest in the so-called fake elector scheme, which it contends was part of a larger effort by then-President Donald Trump and his allies to subvert the 2020 election results and deny Joe Biden’s victory.

Read more here.

Split ticket voters could determine winner in state elections

Highlights from Tuesday

Just catching up? Here’s what you missed on Tuesday:

  • A federal judge in Phoenix issued a temporary restraining order against Clean Elections USA, a right wing group that has been photographing and recording people casting ballots at drop boxes in Arizona. The order prohibits people from carrying weapons or wearing body armor within 250 feet of a drop box.
  • Josh Shapiro, the Democratic nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, told supporters on a statewide bus tour that Republican opponent Doug Mastriano was “uniquely dangerous” and posed threats to “fundamental freedoms.”
  • Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said that if she were an Ohio resident, she would vote for Democrat Tim Ryan over Republican J.D. Vance in the state’s Senate race.
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered county election boards to refrain from counting any absentee or mail-in ballots with undated or incorrectly dated outer envelopes. Justices wrote that the court was “evenly divided” over whether failing to count such ballots would violate federal law.

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