With eight days until Election Day, and President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden racing toward Nov. 3, early voters are turning out in record numbers.
The president has an aggressive campaign schedule as polls show him trailing nationally and in battleground states key to his reelection hopes, including Pennsylvania where he held three events Monday.
Biden, meanwhile, spoke briefly at a voter activation center in Pennsylvania Monday.
Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the coronavirus task force, held a Minnesota rally despite being exposed to COVID-19.
Why many Americans don’t vote and how for some this year could be different
The last time Richard Brown voted was in 2008. He had caught a couple of presidential debates on TV, and found himself liking what the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, had to say. And as a Black man, he was excited by the idea of voting for the country’s first Black president.
Then in 2012, he decided not to bother casting a second ballot for Obama. It wasn’t that he had soured on the president — he just didn’t think it was necessary. “He’s already in office … (so) I kinda figured he didn’t need my help,” Brown said. He was willing to take the time out of his day to cast his vote, but he didn’t think it would have an impact on the outcome. “I know it’s kind of a stupid thought, but I feel like one missed vote isn’t going to change anything.”
Twelve years later, though, he’s planning to vote again. It’s not because Brown, who is now 53 and lives in the Midwest, is newly hopeful that his vote will matter. In fact, he’s not at all confident that the candidate he’s supporting, Joe Biden, will win. But the stakes of this election feel personal. Over the past four years, some of his friends have changed the way they act and talk, saying hateful things about Obama or sharing racist memes on Facebook.
“I’m not even really keen on Biden,” Brown said. “It’s more so that Trump is bringing racist rhetoric out of a lot of people.” Those kinds of comments are “really hurtful to me, disrespectful to me,” he said. So he’s decided to vote again this year: “This way, if (Biden) does lose the election, I can’t say that it was my fault because I didn’t vote.”
Every election, millions of Americans go through a similar thought process and, it turns out, lots of people feel like Brown: They think voting doesn’t matter or isn’t worth their time.
In any given election, between 35 and 60 percent of eligible voters don’t cast a ballot. It’s not that hard to understand why. Our system doesn’t make it particularly easy to vote, and the decision to carve out a few hours to cast a ballot requires a sense of motivation that’s hard for some Americans to muster every two or four years — enthusiasm about the candidates, belief in the importance of voting itself, a sense that anything can change as the result of a single vote.
“I guess I just don’t think that one person’s vote can swing an election,” said Jon Anderson, who won’t be voting for president this year because of moral objections to both candidates.
-FiveThirtyEight’s Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, Jasmine Mithani and Laura Bronner
Supreme Court refuses to green light mail ballot deadline extension in Wisconsin
An effort to extend the deadline for counting absentee ballots in Wisconsin remains on hold Monday night after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to green light a six-day extension ordered by a lower court judge because of the pandemic.
It's a win for Republicans who have pushed back against efforts to expand voting access nationwide during the outbreak, with special focus on contesting voting changes in battleground states.
The move by the court, in a 5-3 vote, keeps in place a federal appellate court injunction against a District Court order that first authorized the extension in Wisconsin.
By law in that state, absentee ballots must be delivered to election clerks by 8 p.m. on Election Day if they are to be counted.
Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the conservative justices in keeping the status quo in Wisconsin -- explaining his position in contrast to last week's move when he sided with the liberals effectively keeping Pennsylvania's mail ballot deadline extension in place.
"In this case, as in several this Court has recently addressed, a District Court intervened in the thick of election season to enjoin enforcement of a State’s laws. Because I believe this intervention was improper, I agree with the decision of the Seventh Circuit to stay the injunction pending appeal," he wrote. "While the Pennsylvania applications implicated the authority of state courts to apply their own constitutions to election regulations, this case involves federal intrusion on state lawmaking processes. 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."
-ABC News Senior Washington reporter Devin Dwyer
Trump responds to Biden, crowd chants of 'We love you'
At his final rally in Pennsylvania for the day, Trump, appearing to have seen Biden’s earlier remarks outside a voter activation office in the state, countered Biden’s criticism of his rallies as "superspreader events."
"He said that he doesn't do these kinds of rallies because of COVID, you know, because of -- no, he doesn't do them because nobody shows up," Trump said to roaring applause.
When the crowd later chanted, "We love you," Trump jokingly said he was so touched he could cry.
"That is the chant they say they have never, ever heard in politics. I will not repeat the chant because I do not want to cry. I will start crying. Now they will say President Trump broke down in tears today," he said, smiling, after mockingly wiping his eyes.
Back in September, the president said the same thing to another crowd of supporters in Michigan.
Trump shifted between reading a speech off a teleprompter and improvised remarks, and then ended with his now trademark mechanical dance moves to "Y.M.C.A" -- the 1970s hit song he uses to close his rallies.
Pence holds rally in Minnesota despite COVID-19 exposure
Wearing a mask as he took the stage on an airport tarmac in Hibbing, Minnesota, Pence returned to the campaign trail Monday despite his chief of staff and four others in his close orbit testing positive for COVID-19 over the weekend.
"Thank you so much for coming out on this blustery day. And looking out at this crowd, it’s pretty obvious to me the Iron Range is Trump country," Pence said on an afternoon where it was 25 degrees and lightly snowing.
He made no mention of the coronavirus outbreak among his inner circle. Pence’s office said he tested negative this morning for COVID-19.
In his remarks, Pence nodded to the imminent confirmation vote of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, but unlike at his rally in Florida Saturday, he did not indicate he will be in the Senate chamber this evening but on standby in case his vote is needed.
"When we're done, I'm gonna head back to Washington D.C., just in case they need my vote. But even if they don't, I'll make a prediction: before the day is over, Judge Amy Coney Barrett is going to be Justice Amy Coney Barrett," Pence said to applause.
There was a strong focus on the Iron Range during Pence’s remarks, telling families across the area that "our bridges and skyscrapers soar because of iron that comes out of the Iron Range."
In 2016, Trump lost Minnesota by only 2 points and has been making a push to try to flip the state this year. Pence acknowledged how tight that race was and asked supporters to keep making a final push in these final days.
"I’ll always believe the greatest form of media in this country is not your TV networks, it's not your big newspapers, it's not even your social media. I think it’s word of mouth. I think you know we came so close in Minnesota, right? Last time around because people were talking to each other. I mean we made history in this country in 2016," Pence said. "And you got to go do it again, you got to deliver this time again."
Pence put his mask back on when he wrapped his remarks and ran back to his plane for Washington.
-ABC News' Justin Gomez