Fate of climate crisis hangs on election as US exits Paris agreement
The United States on Wednesday officially became the only country in the world refusing to participate in global climate efforts, with the fate of the crisis hanging on the still uncalled presidential election.
Donald Trump as of Wednesday has withdrawn the US from the Paris climate agreement, an international pact to try to avert dangerous temperature increases that are already leading to more extreme weather and threaten to shrink world food supplies, force millions to flee their homes and deprive many of basic human rights. Trump’s administration set the US exit in motion a year ago, but it didn’t automatically take effect until 4 November.
The deal was meant to keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5C to 2C above the average before industrialization. Already, the Earth is more than 1C hotter than it was before industrialization, largely because of humans burning fossil fuels. This last year has demonstrated how the climate crisis will touch the lives of every American, with more heatwaves, intense wildfires, record hurricanes, rising seas, floods and droughts.
Trump’s challenger, Joe Biden, would immediately rejoin the agreement and push lawmakers to spend big on green infrastructure to try to reverse the economic downturn from the pandemic.
Lois Beckett reports from Detroit:
The Trump campaign had announced in the early afternoon that it was filing a lawsuit to stop the count in Michigan, alleging that campaign officials had not been given adequate access to observe the ballot-counting process, a claim the secretary of state called “meritless.”
While Stop the Count protesters outside the building claimed that there were insufficient numbers of Republican ballot challengers inside and that they were not being allowed to enter and replace them, the Associated Press reported from inside the building that “Poll watchers from both sides were plentiful Wednesday.” While protests outside the building, as well as within the building, were tense and volatile at times earlier in the afternoon, they did not stay that way.
By later in the afternoon, while more than 100 people stayed milling outside the building, the number of people actively chanting back and forth was small, and at times protesters started shouting about other issues, like abortion.
And by early evening, with the Associated Press, Fox News and the Detroit Free Press all calling Michigan for Biden, both inside and outside the ballot-counting room were quiet.
Lois Beckett reports from Detroit:
A Michigan anti-lockdown Facebook group helped coordinate a volatile pro-Trump “stop the count” protest today outside of the main ballot-counting location in Detroit, a protest that drew comparisons to the “Brooks Brothers riot” during the 2000 election in Florida.
Chris Steffes, 22, from Corunna, Michigan, told The Guardian he came to the ballot-counting center after he saw a call for more Republican ballot challengers on social media, including a Facebook post from Stand Up Michigan, a group that organized protests against some of Michigan’s public health restrictions.
The Stand Up Michigan Facebook post falsely claimed that Biden was leading Trump by 18 votes with 94% of precincts reporting. In fact, Associated Press data had showed Biden leading Trump by more than 30,000 votes throughout the morning. NBC News also reported the link between “Stand Up Michigan” group and the “Stop the count” protest, based on posts inside a private “Stand Up Michigan” Facebook group.
Steffes was one of a small group of people who loudly chanted “stop the count” outside Detroit’s TCF Center, in a milling crowd of more than 100 people. While ballot challengers from both parties were already inside observing the election count, Stefffes said he thought “normal people” should also be allowed to verify the election process and get answers on some of the questions swirling about the ballot process.
Other protesters outside the ballot-counting location said they had heard about the need for more ballot challengers through various channels, sometimes secondhand: an email one man’s wife received, a text another man’s sister received, a message from someone at a Trump campaign group in Macomb County.
While he did not mention Stand Up Michigan, Rob Phail, who said he had left work to attempt to become a ballot challenger, also mentioned his concerns about coronavirus and freedom in Michigan in explaining why he had come to protest outside the ballot counting location.
More on the Trump campaign’s effort to stop counting votes in Georgia:
The campaign is filing a lawsuit to alleges that “a Republican poll observer in Georgia witnessed 53 late absentee ballots illegally added to a stack of on-time absentee ballots in Chatham County”.
The Trump campaign is asking officials for an accounting of those 53 ballots – though they offer no evidence the ballots were invalid.
So far, mail-in or absentee ballots have broadly favored Democrats – driving the Trump campaign to seek to stop vote counting while the president is ahead. There are about 150,000 uncounted ballots in Georgia, and Joe Biden is trailing Trump by just 47,000. The exceedingly close race could propel Biden to victory if the uncounted votes break his way.
In Chicago, demonstrators marched past a building named for the president and shouted “count every vote” as the Trump campaign seeks to throwout legitimately cast ballots.
Protesters held their phones up to shine symbolic light on Republicans’ efforts to stop vote counts, reported Stacy St Clair of the Chicago Tribune.
Dozens of events are planned across the nation to demand a fair election, many organized by local groups affiliated with Protect the Results, a coalition of grassroots organizations and labor unions. Crowds gathered and marched in Detroit, Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore.
US tallies 100,000 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday – a new record
As the nation awaits election results, more than 100,000 have tested positive for Covid-19, per the COVID Tracking Project.
Cases are surging in nearly every state, with major cities including Omaha, Nebraska pausing elective surgeries to free up staff and resources to treat coronavirus patients. Hospitals in Arkansas are facing shortages of healthcare workers and midwestern states including Minnesota and Indiana have set single-day records for new infections. South Dakota – where officials have not enacted a mask mandate – is seeing some fastest growth in the country for new cases, recording nearly 1000 new cases per day.
Trump’s lead in Georgia shrinks
With more votes in populous, Democratic counties left to be counted, Donald Trump’s lead in Georgia has shrunk to 47,000 votes.
Fulton county said they will be announcing the results of 36,000 votes by midnight tonight – so far, 72% of voters in that county have favored Biden. If the trends hold, Biden is expected to pick up more votes by tonight.
Rick Barron, the Fulton county elections director, said they are bringing in “more bodies” to help the counting efforts.
Hi there, it’s Maanvi Singh – reporting from the west coast.
The Trump campaign has filed a lawsuit seeking to pause the vote count in Georgia, the AP reports, as officials continue counting tens of thousands of ballots in the state.
“We’re trying to make sure every ballot is counted,” said Rick Barron, the Fulton County Elections Director. “We expect this to go probably around midnight or more.”
‘We’re going to finish tonight,” he added. “Whatever it takes.”
Many of the uncounted ballots are absentee votes cast in large counties including Fulton, Chatham, Cobb, and DeKalb. In Fulton, a burst pipe yesterday delayed the counting of 50,000 ballots.
Georgia’s 16 electoral votes are hanging in the balance as mail-in votes are processed. Joe Biden has been eating into Donald Trump’s lead as more absentee votes are counted. Fulton, which encompasses the state capital of Georgia, Atlanta, overwhelmingly favors Biden – so does DeKalb.
Overall, Biden is trailing Trump by about 1 point in Georgia.
Today so far
That’s it from me for now. I’m handing over the live blog to my west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, for the next few hours.
Here’s where the US presidential election stands:
- Joe Biden is just six electoral votes away from becoming the next president of the United States. With his wins in the pivotal swing states of Michigan and Wisconsin, Biden has secured 264 electoral votes to Donald Trump’s 214 votes. The Democratic nominee needs to win just one more state to capture the White House.
- The president’s reelection campaign launched a lawsuit against Pennsylvania, where Trump’s lead has steadily declined as more mail-in ballots are counted. The Trump campaign said it would sue to challenge an extension for counting Pennsylvania’s absentee ballots, which the supreme court previously upheld.
- A protest of Trump supporters emerged at a Detroit vote-counting site. With echoes of the 2000 “Brooks Brothers riot” in Florida, the crowd called upon Michigan election officials to “stop the vote.” The AP called Michigan for Biden this evening.
- Twitter flagged more of Trump’s tweets for pushing misinformation about the election results. The president shared a tweet thread this evening trying to “claim” multiple battleground states that he has not won. Obviously, those “claims” have no legal standing in a US election.
Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Donald Trump seems to be objecting to his legal team’s strategy for challenging his losses in Wisconsin and Michigan by demanding access to vote-counting sites.
“Our lawyers have asked for ‘meaningful access’, but what good does that do? The damage has already been done to the integrity of our system, and to the Presidential Election itself. This is what should be discussed!” Trump said in a new tweet.
The blog has gone over this many times, but there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the presidential election, and election officials in multiple battleground states have defended the integrity of their vote counts.
The president’s comment that “the damage has already been done” could signal Trump is starting to see the writing on the wall, as Joe Biden inches closer to 270 electoral votes.
The Guardian’s Kari Paul reports:
PayPal has apparently cut ties with MyMilitia, a social media platform connecting people who want to learn about and form armed militias around the US.
Someone posted on the site’s forum that PayPal “nuked” its donation account. The user said supporters can no longer donate to the group via the link on its website, which previously linked to its PayPal page and now leads to an empty error page.
The user who posted about the shut down said “we will be switching to a new method of donating soon.”
A spokesman told the Guardian an account banned on Paypal will also be banned from using Venmo, a money service owned by PayPal that has been floated by MyMilitia users as a possible donation alternative.
The removal marks the latest move in a battle to deplatform violent right wing groups. In another thread on the site, an alternative fundraising platform called “GiveSendGo” has raised more than $500,000 in legal defense funds for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17 year old who shot multiple protesters in Wisconsin earlier this year and killed two. Rittenhouse’s bail has been set at $2m.
Crowdfunding platform GoFundMe removed fundraisers for Rittenhouse earlier this year for violating its policies. GiveSendGo, a Christian crowdfunding site, confirmed to the Guardian that hosting a fundraiser for a mass shooter does comply with its policies “as an acceptable campaign”.
Joe Biden is not declaring victory in the presidential race … but he is displaying a very high level of confidence by launching his transition website.
“The American people will determine who will serve as the next President of the United States. Votes are still being counted in several states around the country,” the website’s homepage, at buildbackbetter.com, says.
“The crises facing the country are severe — from a pandemic to an economic recession, climate change to racial injustice — and the transition team will continue preparing at full speed so that the Biden‑Harris Administration can hit the ground running on Day One.”
Although the Democratic nominee has emphasized every valid vote needs to be counted, his decision to launch a transition website is clearly meant to signal he views his declaration of victory as all but a formality at this point.
As a reminder, the Guardian is not yet declaring a winner in the presidential race. Biden still needs six more electoral votes to hit 270 and win the White House.
With Michigan in Joe Biden’s column, the Democratic nominee needs only one more state to hit 270 electoral votes and win the presidency.
Nevada seems like the most likely state to seal the race, given Biden currently holds a narrow lead there. Nevada is expected to provide an updated vote count tomorrow morning.
However, Biden has also been chipping away at Donald Trump’s lead in Georgia, and most of the votes left to be counted in the state come from Democratic-leaning counties. Stay tuned.
Biden flips Michigan
It’s official: the AP has declared Joe Biden to be the winner of Michigan and its 16 electoral votes, flipping another “blue wall” state away from Donald Trump.
The Democratic nominee’s electoral vote count now stands at 264, leaving him just six votes short of winning the presidency.
If Biden can maintain his lead in Nevada, he will hit 270 exactly, defeating Trump and becoming the 46th president of the United States.
Shortly after speaking in Wilmington this afternoon, Biden also expressed confidence about his chances of winning Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes, as the counting continues there.
Ellen Weintraub, a commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, weighed in on Donald Trump’s attempt to “claim” battleground states that remain too close to call.
And Weintraub confirmed that, no, he cannot do that. “That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works,” she said in a tweet.
Much to the president’s apparent chagrin, election officials in key swing states have pledged to count every valid vote cast by election day before finalizing their official results.
The Guardian’s Kari Paul reports from Oakland:
Twitter has quickly flagged several misleading tweets in which Donald Trump lies about his standing in states that have not yet declared a winner.
Trump said that he has “claimed, for Electoral Vote purposes”, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina and Michigan. In case you need clarification, a candidate is not allowed to “claim” a state arbitrarily. A state is awarded to him or her based which candidate gets more votes. See also: how democracy works.
Michigan has been called by some outlets for Joe Biden, not Trump. While it appears Trump is ahead in the other states he mentioned – Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina – none of them have officially declared a winner.
Twitter placed its warning stating “official sources may not have called the race when this was tweeted” on the tweets almost immediately and prevented them from being retweeted without context.
After initially stating it would not stop candidates from declaring victory in individual states, but only if nationwide victory is prematurely declared, Facebook has apparently reversed its stance. It has begun to add labels to such posts stating that “the winner of the 2020 US presidential election has not yet been projected”.
It did so with Trump on Wednesday, placing labels on posts that that use the same language, claiming victory in four states where the winner has not yet been called, including one in which Biden is expected to win.
The White House has called a lid for the evening, meaning the president will not be making any public appearances for the rest of the day.
But Donald Trump has continued to tweet his baseless gripes about the election results, as Joe Biden inches toward the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
Meanwhile, the counting of valid ballots continues in several key battleground states that will determine the winner of the presidential race.
The Guardian’s tech reporter Kari Paul reports from Oakland:
Twitter placed a misinformation warning on a tweet from Donald Trump’s son declaring the president had won reelection in Pennsylvania — but not until after at least 14,000 people had retweeted it.
Eric Trump tweeted at 12:28 pm PST “We have won Pennsylvania!” despite the state’s presidential race having not been called yet.
Similarly the “Team Trump” account for Trump’s reelection campaign did not get a citation for tweeting “President Donald Trump wins Pennsylvania” before the race was called. That post was retweeted more than 13,000 times before it was labeled.
Twitter added a warning to both tweets saying “official sources may not have called the race when this was tweeted.” Twitter’s flagging of such tweets makes it so that users cannot share them without adding context, to slow the spread of misinformation.
Facebook has also been labeling posts from the president’s team declaring victory in Pennsylvania, where results still have not been finalized as the state continues to count ballots.
No, he can’t do that. After multiple networks called Michigan for Joe Biden, Donald Trump shared a tweet thread saying he was establishing a “claim” on the battleground state, as well as Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina, all of which remain too close to call.
“We have claimed, for Electoral Vote purposes, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (which won’t allow legal observers) the State of Georgia, and the State of North Carolina, each one of which has a BIG Trump lead,” Trump said in the thread.
“Additionally, we hereby claim the State of Michigan if, in fact … there was a large number of secretly dumped ballots as has been widely reported!”
Fact-check: the president cannot unilaterally declare himself the winner of multiple battleground states with many votes still left to be counted. Also, the ballots being counted are valid votes cast by election day.
The vote-counting continues in all these battleground states, and the results of those counts will determine the winner of the presidential race – no “claims” necessary.