Election 2020 Today: Sparring over pandemic, ballot mix-ups

Here’s what’s happening Thursday in Election 2020, 26 days until Election Day:

HOW TO VOTE: AP’s state-by-state interactive has details on how to vote in this election.

TODAY’S TOP STORIES:

VP DEBATE: Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic challenger Kamala Harris traded barbs through plexiglass shields in a debate dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. Harris said President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 210,000 Americans is “the greatest failure of any presidential administration.” Pence said Trump has constantly put the American people first.

FACT CHECK: Pence echoed many of Trump’s falsehoods from the presidential debate as he muddied the reality on the pandemic and misrepresented Joe Biden’s agenda. Pence also stated that Trump respects the science on climate change, when in fact the president mocks the science. Harris got tangled in tax policy at one point and misleadingly suggested that Trump branded the coronavirus a hoax. Trump actually said Democratic criticism of his virus response was a hoax.

CIVILITY RETURNS: The debate had sharp moments, some modest interruptions and violations of the debate clock. But the dynamics between Pence and Harris represented a rare 2020 return to some semblance of normal presidential politics.

BALLOT MIX-UP: Several high-profile cases of voters getting incorrect blank absentee ballots in the mail are raising questions about how often such mix-ups occur and whether they could affect the presidential election. Experts say snafus happen during every election but say there should be adequate time between now and the close of polls on Nov. 3 to resolve them. Elections officials, ballot suppliers and security researchers say such problems do occur with some regularity. They don’t indicate fraud, they say, but rather human error.

WHAT’S BUZZING: As a fly took up residence on Pence’s white hair during the debate, the social media firestorm was immediate — and intense. It easily created more, well, buzz than nearly anything else that occurred. The fly hung around for about two minutes as the vice president answered questions about racial injustice.

VISION 2020: What are the rules around poll watching on Election Day? Trump has been urging his supporters to go the polls and “watch very carefully,” raising concerns about possible voter intimidation. Monitoring the votes at polling places is allowed in most states, but rules vary and it’s not a free-for-all. Read more in Vision 2020, a new series of stories answering questions from our audience about the election.

ICYMI:

Republicans see ‘grim’ Senate map and edge away from Trump

Pelosi out to block Trump if disputed election ends in House

Wall Street cheerleader Trump has little invested himself

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