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Election 2020

Kamala Harris Cancels Campaign Events, Staff Members Test Positive for COVID-19

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Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris. (Image via FOX13 Memphis)
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris. (Image via FOX13 Memphis)

Republicans came under fire after the President of the United States contracted COVID-19 and it now appears to be the Democrats turn. A statement from the Biden campaign details how U.S. Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris’ travel plans over the weekend were canceled following a positive case of the virus within her staff.

What We Know:

  • It was reported that Harris tested negative for COVID-19 on Wednesday and there are plans for her to get tested one more time on Thursday. Her previous travel schedule, which has been referred to as aggressive, is not on hold. This puts an early stop to her campaigning only two weeks away from the U.S general election between President Donald Trump and her running mate Joe Biden.
  • Her first stop was going to be an appearance on Thursday in a well-known battleground state, North Carolina, where early voting has recently commenced. President Trump, who has allegedly been recovering after contracting the virus himself, is set to campaign in that state that day as well.
  • The Biden campaign stated it became aware of the spreading infection late Wednesday. The communications director for Harris, Liz Allen, and another unnamed flight crew member tested positive for COVID-19. These are some of the same individuals who traveled with the vice-presidential nominee on a campaign trip to Arizona just the past week.

  • The Biden campaign also told reporters what they said in a statement, that Harris was not in direct contact with either of the two infected people during their travels, even days prior to their current diagnosis. Harris practiced proper health procedures and wore a mask during the flight she shared with Allen and the crew member. It’s worthy to note that they both tested negative before and after the flight, so spread didn’t seem likely in that scenario.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has thrashed the United States as it remains the country with the largest case and death count of any in the world. In regards to the 2020 presidential race, both parties, especially Democrats, have boosted efforts towards virtual campaigning, fundraising, and promoted methods of voting that will help stop the virus from infecting more people.
  • President Trump and the first lady Melania Trump contracted the virus earlier this month which ended up halting various campaign rallies, which despite the ongoing pandemic, has drawn considerably large crowds that more often than not ignored health safety guidelines. He has since then continued to travel after he was discharged from the hospital and arrived back at the White House.

As of late, the Biden campaign has also said that Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, canceled any events Thursday, but plan to continue moving forward on Friday. Emhoff and Harris have tested negative multiple times.

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Javier Garay is Media & News SVCS Intern at UnmutedCo. He is currently enrolled in the University of North Georgia seeking a bachelor's degree in Film/Digital Media with a concentration in Media Studies. Javier writes for Black News Alerts (BNA) along with social media management for both BNA and BossFM, and is a part of the BNA Daily Podcast Team.

Election 2020

Supreme Court Will Not Extend Wisconsin Mail-in Voting Deadline

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The Supreme Court reached a 5-3 decision Monday to reject an extension for mail-in ballots in Wisconsin.

What We Know:

  • Wisconsin Democrats pushed the court to allow for ballots received up to six days after Election Day to be counted, so long as they were postmarked by November 3rd. The court’s decision means that mail-in ballots in Wisconsin can only be counted if they are received by Election Day.
  • Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer dissented from the decision. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his concurring opinion that this case would have been “federal intrusion on state lawmaking processes”. This is the latest example of federal courts deciding not to change voting laws right before the election.
  • The Supreme Court also ruled in a similar case in Pennsylvania but allowed the deadline for mail-in ballots to be extended. This is because the decision to extend the deadline was originally made by a Pennsylvania state court, not a federal court, and they were just upholding the decision.

“Different bodies of law and different precedents govern these two situations and require, in these particular circumstances, that we allow the modification of election rules in Pennsylvania but not Wisconsin.” – Chief Justice John Roberts

  • Justice Kagan wrote in her dissent “As the COVID pandemic rages, the Court has failed to adequately protect the Nation’s voters . . . Tens of thousands of Wisconsinites, through no fault of their own, may receive their ballots too late to return them by Election Day.”

The Wisconsin Democratic Party continues to educate voters and is urging people to hand-deliver their ballots so they are submitted in time.

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Election 2020

Final Presidential Debate: Takeaways and Analysis

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President Donald Trump and Joe Biden faced off in the final presidential debate of the 2020 election on Thursday October 22nd at 9 pm EST. (Graphic via Chelsea Stahl / NBC News)
President Donald Trump and Joe Biden faced off in the final presidential debate of the 2020 election on Thursday October 22nd at 9 pm EST. (Graphic via Chelsea Stahl / NBC News)

After a chaotic first debate where President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sparred aggressively, this final debate saw a huge turnaround compared to what voter’s received last time. With White House correspondent Kristin Welker as moderator, who was praised for her performance, the debate proceeded accordingly. Both candidates allowed each other to talk and had more respectful tones, even when on the offensive.

What We Know:

The moderator was able to roll through all the topics in the allotted time for last night’s debate, much of which was never clearly answered in the previous one due to its disastrous outcome. Biden once again held his own while under fire and greatly avoided any slip-ups that would have caused Republicans to question his age and mental acuity. Trump, in a much more collective manner, stood his own as well. As the incumbent, he didn’t bring anything else new to the table but reiterated his attacks on the Biden’s family and questioned the Democrat’s responses on key issues.

Covid-19 finally hits the stage

  • The Trump campaign reportedly complained that this debate was supposed to be on foreign policy, most likely for the president to speak on what he sees as accomplishments in trading, the Middle East, and Syria and target Biden’s son’s business ties to China.
  • Instead, the debate began with the COVID-19 pandemic, a topic which polls suggest is of greater interest to the American public currently. Trump didn’t seem to offer any new insight, only reiterated a vaccine is in the works and expects distribution in a few weeks. After his diagnosis of COVID-19 earlier this month, he used it as a way to promote new drugs that are being used as treatment and saying he’s probably “immune” now.
  • During Biden’s turn, he went on the attack pointing out how Trump has repeatedly downplayed the virus and how it would just disappear. He quoted the over 220,000 American deaths to the virus and stated 200,000 more could perish by the end of 2020.
  • The rest of this topic saw back and forth from both candidates. Trump continued to give reassurance on how everything is getting better, without evidence, and how lockdowns are not the solution. Biden countered by insisting he will “shut down the virus” not the U.S when addressing the pandemic. He also frequently advocated for mask usage and social distancing throughout the event.

Seemingly inevitable Hunter Biden topic

  • Ever since the last debate, when Trump brought up Hunter Biden, it was set in stone that his son would once again come up during debate night. It didn’t take long for the president to bring up the former vice-president’s family. Trump claimed that Biden profited from his son’s overseas deals in Ukraine and China. He cited recent stories about information acquired from Hunter’s laptop.
  • Biden’s response was a simple denial of those claims. He followed the financial dispute by turning it over to Trump’s taxes and business ties to China. The shift forced the president to spend time explaining how he “pre-paid” millions in taxes and vaguely describing when he’d release his tax returns. Biden confidently asserted how he and his running mate have already released theirs and asked Trump “what are you hiding?”
  • The exchange, being analyzed from various different angles, was one of the few parts that would have left a voter confused. Trump was clearly seeking to draw blood for personal attacks on Biden’s family. In the end, those attempts to make his rival lose his cool failed, which resulted in a cleaner debate.

A focus on immigration in the U.S

  • During Trump’s first run for the White House, he hammered onto the issues of immigration as one of the main issues he wanted to tackle. Now after four years, Trump tried to downplay some of the more extreme steps he’s taken while in office. His famous Mexico border wall did not come up.
  • A question the president received about immigration was the separation of children from undocumented migrants under his current administration’s policies. He quickly turned the conversation over to detention facilities near the border and brought up what his term “cages,” created by the Obama administration before him to temporary house undocumented minors.
  • Biden, with some visible annoyance, implied that all the children of undocumented migrants came over with their parents and it was these unfair separations that make the U.S a “laughing stock”.
  • The handling of immigration has been heavily criticized under Trump’s administration these past four years ranging from I.C.E. raids, the border wall, and children cry for their parents which still may be fresh in voters’ minds. Trump’s only rebuttal to that was the children were “well taken care of” and that the facilities were “so clean”. It probably didn’t help his case at that point.

Trump and Biden on criminal justice/racism

  • One of Trump’s biggest fluke’s last debate was when he turned the conversation into race relations. He skipped around the topic and notably refused to directly condemn white supremacy and in fact told the Proud Boy’s to “stand back and stand by”. This time, it appeared that Trump did his homework and remained calmer.
  • He went ahead and bragged about his cross-party criminal justice reform and aid to historically black colleges. He attacked Biden’s involvement in a draconian crime bill in the mid-90s which consequently lead Black Americans to prisons. The moment Biden had a chance to speak on new reforms to correct that, the president questioned Biden on why he didn’t accomplish more under former President Barack Obama.
  • “It’s all talk but no action with these politicians,” Trump stated. “Why didn’t you get it done? You had eight years to get it done.”
  • For older viewers who watched this portion of the debate closely, it would have been interesting considering the crime in the 1990s. Both candidates spoke on the number of felons to whom they gave clemency and their efforts for reforms in the justice system. In a year plagued with social injustice, this is more important than ever.

In the grand scheme of things, the final presidential debate was more along the lines of what voters expect to see of a future leader. The dumbfounding first debate will certainly be one marked in history and talked about for generations. As of this point in the election, polls have demonstrated most Americans have made their choice with more than 50 million people already have cast their votes. There is a small chance this debate turned the tide to favor either party.

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Election 2020

US Supreme Court Rules Pennsylvania Mail-In Ballots WILL Count Up to Three Days Post-Election Day

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An official mail-in ballot for the 2020 General Election in the United States is shown, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Marple Township, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
An official mail-in ballot for the 2020 General Election in the United States is shown, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, in Marple Township, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

This unusual election year has left many split on deciding how to vote. For those mail-in voters, a Supreme Court ruling has permitted Pennsylvania to count ballots that are mailed in up to three days following the Nov. 3 election.

What We Know:

  • Although the outcome showed justices divided 4-4 on Monday, it wasn’t enough to overturn the decision. The state Supreme Court ruling will stand and it requires all county election officials to receive all mail-in ballot received up until Nov. 6 regardless of the postmark is unclear and long as it meets the time constraint.
  • In this scenario, Republicans have been the main opposition, including President Donald Trump’s campaign. The pushback from conservatives has been over the deadline extension for counted votes. They argue that it violates a federal law that sets Election Day as the first Tuesday of November, typical after the first Monday, and the constitutionality of this choice is reserved for lawmakers, not the courts.
  • Lawrence Tabas, the state Republican Party chairman, has stated that the party disagrees with the decision and, citing the tight 4-4 decision, “it only underscores the importance of having a full Supreme Court as soon as possible”.

“To be clear, the Supreme Court decided not to grant a stay — which does not mean the actions of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would withstand a legal challenge to their judicial overreach should the court hear the case,” Tabas said.

  • On the other side of things, Nancy Patton Mills, chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, blamed Republicans for attempting to invoke confusion among voters who have yet to pick a side this election. She said in a statement that the outcome of this ruling is “a significant victory for Pennsylvania voters”.
  • The state’s high court has considered that postal service delays may end up invalidating a large portion of mail-in ballots. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has hindered the regular election process, the state’s courts acted upon the power they have to extend election deadlines during a disaster emergency, of which this health crisis can be considered one.

Since the decision, Chief Justice John Roberts along with liberal Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas banded together to reject Pennsylvania Republicans’ attempt to block the state court ruling, which would have halted absentee ballots by Election Day.

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