What We're Reading: Top State Stories 10/30
LA: Louisiana races to assess hurricane damage to polls
Hurricane Zeta ripped through Louisiana days before the election, and officials surveyed the damage to polling places, warehouses full of voting machines and offices. Utilities pledged to restore power to polling places by Tuesday.
MI: Guns at polls OK'd by Michigan court
Firearms will be permitted at Michigan polls on Election Day. A three-member appeals court ruled against Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's directive banning guns at or around polls on Election Day.
TX: Texas COVID-19 patients stuck in rural areas
Rural hospitals in Texas say they’re in a bind as larger facilities fill with coronavirus patients and cannot accept gravely ill patients who need more advanced care. Some die in emergency rooms waiting for a life-saving transfer.
PA: Facing gap in Pennsylvania, Trump camp tries to make voting harder
Trailing in the polls, President Donald Trump and his campaign are pursuing a three-pronged strategy that would effectively suppress the mail-in vote in the critical state of Pennsylvania.
WI: Cyber criminals steal $2.3M from Wisconsin GOP
The top official of the Republican Party of Wisconsin said hackers stole $2.3 million during a crucial phase of the presidential campaign. Party Chairman Andrew Hitt said the loss was attributed to a phishing attack that has been reported to the FBI.
VA: Virginia Military Institute to remove statue of ‘Stonewall’ Jackson
The Virginia Military Institute Board of Visitors voted unanimously to move the statue of Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson from its central location on post. The vote comes just days after the superintendent of the state-supported military college resigned under pressure from the administration of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and top Virginia Democratic legislators.
NC: US Supreme Court allows extended deadline for North Carolina mailed ballots
The U.S. Supreme Court has settled North Carolina’s election rules with only five days left before the election. The justices ruled that they would not interfere with the settlement agreement decided in Wake County Superior Court that allows the North Carolina Board of Elections to collect mailed-in ballots through Nov. 12 as long as the ballot is postmarked by Nov. 3.
IA: Iowa governor ready to back anti-racial profiling legislation
Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said she will back a new Iowa law that would ban and track racial profiling after receiving recommendations from a state working group tasked with crafting a proposal for the legislation.
WI: Wisconsin Supreme Court won’t take case on misprinted ballots
The Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to take a case that would tell officials in northeastern Wisconsin how to deal with misprinted ballots, raising the prospect of lengthy counting delays as clerks fill out thousands of replacement ballots on Election Day. The court's decision not to accept the case fell along ideological lines, with the four conservatives declining to take it and the three liberals saying they should have.
CO: Colorado election officials work to make sure rejected ballots are counted
Colorado election officials are making an extra effort to address the fact that roughly 90% of all mail ballots that get rejected could have been fixed and counted. Ballot-return data shows more than 10,000 mail ballots had been rejected through mid-week, with voters under age 35 accounting for more than half of all rejected ballots.
MN: Late Minnesota absentee ballots must be separated, court rules
A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that Minnesota absentee ballots that arrive after Election Day should be separated from other ballots in case they are later invalidated by a court. The ruling doesn’t block Minnesota’s seven-day extension for counting absentee ballots.
AZ: 50K students are gone from Arizona schools
An estimated 50,000 students vanished from Arizona’s public district and charter schools over the summer, preliminary numbers for the 2020-2021 school year show. Education advocates fear some school-age students are not in school at all, and that the lag in kindergarten enrollment means that children are losing out on vital early lessons. The dramatic enrollment drops could also come with devastating and long-lasting financial repercussions for school districts.
NJ: New Jersey has stockpiled PPE but needs more as second COVID-19 wave hits
New Jersey has stockpiled tens of millions of masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment but needs millions more to meet its goals to combat the second wave of COVID-19, state officials said.
MO: Dozens of Missouri counties have bought pens for each voter because of COVID-19
The Missouri Association of County Clerks president said dozens of Missouri counties have purchased pens for their voters. Greene County Clerk Shane Schoelle said his office alone has bought 150,000 pens.
FL: Florida’s ballot count is already underway
This year, Florida has one advantage in the counting stage of the election over some other swing states: Election officials are permitted to sort, prep and tabulate absentee ballots weeks in advance.
MD, NC, VA: Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina join to advance offshore wind projects
Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia have joined together in hopes of attracting manufacturing business for offshore wind projects, reducing costs of projects through supply chain development, sharing information and synchronizing their regulations.
MD: Maryland state school superintendent says kids should be in school ‘right now’
Maryland State Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon called on school systems in suburban Maryland to begin bringing back at least some of their students for in-person instruction right away as learning losses accumulate. Only a handful of the state’s 24 school systems have not brought students back to campus in some form.
WA: Unemployment claims still falling in Washington
The number of Washingtonians filing new unemployment claims fell again last week amid mixed signals over the pace of economic recovery from the pandemic. The state received 14,198 new, or “initial,” claims for regular unemployment benefits, a 15.9% drop from the prior week.
OR: More than half of Oregon voters have cast ballots
With less than a week to go until Election Day, more than 57% of the registered voters in Oregon have already cast their ballots. At this point during the last three presidential elections, fewer than 44% of Oregonians had returned their ballots.
MS: Hurricane Zeta is Mississippi's 10th disaster of 2020. That's a record.
Hurricane Zeta is Mississippi's 10th federally declared disaster of the year. Over the past 50 years, the most federal disasters Mississippi ever had in one year was four.
ID: Plasma with COVID-19 antibodies is worth more. Are Idaho students catching it on purpose?
Spokespeople at two Idaho colleges say the schools have no indication that any students are intentionally trying to contract the coronavirus in order to cash in on plasma sales. That comes after word spread that some students at another school were trying to get sick so they could later sell their plasma, which would contain COVID-19 antibodies and therefore earn them more money.
IL: COVID-19 infections hit record high in Illinois
Public health officials in Illinois reported 6,363 new cases of COVID-19, setting yet another troubling record for the most infections ever confirmed statewide in a day. A stunning viral resurgence is sweeping the state, with more than 102,000 people testing positive for the virus so far this month alone.
OH: Ohio surpasses 3,000 new COVID-19 cases for first time
"The virus is raging throughout the state of Ohio," Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said. "There's no place to hide."
GA: Some federal pandemic aid ending, though Georgia job market still weak
The end is approaching for federal payments that helped Georgia gig and self-employed workers who lost incomes because of the pandemic, even as the economy continues to fling thousands of others into the pool of job seekers.
AL: Some Alabama absentee ballots could be invalidated by timing of court ruling
Rulings in a federal lawsuit over absentee voting laws in Alabama just weeks before the election could result in some absentee ballots not counting, depending on when voters sent them in.
NM: New Mexico warns of election results delay
In an election expected to have an unprecedented voter turnout, it's likely New Mexico county clerks won't be finished counting ballots for a day or two after polls close. Results for some close races could be delayed.
ME: With COVID-19 cases rising, Maine implements free rapid testing
As COVID-19 cases surge to ominous and record-setting levels, Maine health officials announced that free rapid antigen testing will be available at pharmacies across Maine beginning next month.