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Election Day in the U.S. During a Pandemic; U.S. Citizens Are Making Their Voices Heard In All 50 States Right Now As Polls Are Open. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 3, 2020 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[12:00:00]

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: They've been doing it for days right, doing it for weeks but many of them have lined up today before dawn and even before the first polls opened this morning 100 million ballots had already been cast here in the United States. That is a jaw dropping number.

The president is about to visit the RNC offices, that's in Arlington, Virginia. He is then expected to return to the White House, Erin, for the night, so we'll see.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: We will see and a gorgeous day in Washington and across this country. No excuse for people to not be out there voting if they haven't already. Joe Biden meanwhile spending the morning in Pennsylvania, soon heading to Wilmington, Delaware where he'll spend the evening.

For the next four hours we're going to take you to the polling stations across this country, talk to voters as we countdown to history. It is an extraordinary moment in this country. This election taking place during a deadly pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 230,000 Americans and yet we are seeing turnout we have not seen in probably 120 years. And we have reporters spanned out across this country in crucial battleground states. I want to start with Randi Kaye in Lighthouse Point, Florida. Randi Florida, Florida, Florida, what is the scene where you are this afternoon?

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello there Erin. We are here in Lighthouse Point as you said, this is a very red pocket in a very blue county. We are in Broward County, Florida right near Fort Lauderdale. There was a line here at this voting precinct earlier, that line has gone down but we did get a chance to talk to some voters. But I can tell you that we don't expect a lot of really long lines today because about 850,000 people have already voted here in Broward County, that was in the early voting, in the vote by mail, and the in person early voting which ended on Sunday and about 9.1 million people have voted statewide. That is about 95 percent of the 2016 total.

So we don't expect to see long lines but I did get a chance to talk to some people here. One guy told me that he -- he didn't want to tell me who he voted for but he also told me that he didn't decide until he went inside, he was really full of angst for weeks he says maybe even months that he -- he's pro life but he also wants racial equality and he was really torn about who to vote for. He also said that the person he did vote for he wasn't still happy with his choice but felt that he should vote. I talked to another woman here who told me that she did vote, she voted for Donald Trump, she thinks that he's handled the pandemic well and that he's been honest with the American people. So we're certainly getting a mix of opinions here.

But here in Broward, Hillary Clinton really did well back in 2016, so it is a highly Democratic area, she had bout 66 percent of the vote here. So it is a very, very blue area of this state. The Supervisor of Elections here in Broward expected that we would see 100,000 maybe 125,000 people voting in person today on Election Day. We are already well into that of course with more than 54,000 just here in this county.

But we'll see where it goes I mean the question is who is voting today right. Because we have the independents about 1.9 million of them voted in the state already so far, we'll see if more of them turn out, we'll see if the Republicans turn out for Donald Trump he is expected to do well in the panhandle and certainly in Miami-Dade he's been pulling in some of that Cuban American support but Joe Biden expects to do really well in places like here in Broward County and elsewhere in the state.

The African American vote was lagging a bit and the Latino vote was lagging a bit in the Miami area but they were certainly hoping to boost that so that they sent Barack Obama in there earlier this week so we will see. But as we know Donald Trump won this state in 2016 by about 113,000 votes, about 1.2 percent. Joe Biden of course Erin would like to change that.

BURNETT: I mean it is amazing when you see what's happening and you know are people voting with their party and those all important independents so far out pacing the margin of the last victory Trump had so it all depends on where they go.

And let's go now to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. People have been lined up before the polls even opened, that's where Kate Bolduan is today and Kate what are you seeing right now where you are in Philly?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Hey there Erin. We are at the Museum of the American Revolution. A place that is rich with symbolism when you're talking about Election Day in America. This is the first time that this location has been a polling site in Philadelphia after the county really expanded the number of polling sites after the primary. We can show you some video from this morning when we arrived here just before seven o' clock, that's when doors opened. There were lines kind of around the block as people were waiting -- waiting they've been lining up since about six o' clock in the morning from folks that I spoke to.

Once the doors opened -- when there was the real kind of rush the morning was about an hour long wait, the line has completely died down now. You can see behind us, you can see those voting booths and the tables they were all set up for their electronic voting system. I spoke with several of the voters outside when we were waiting to get in and I asked them why they wanted to take part in voting in person today rather than take advantage of the mail in ballots that we've talked so much about since this is the first time that Pennsylvania has allowed no excuse mail-in voting.

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And overwhelmingly the voters that I've spoken to, they say that they wanted to make sure that their vote counted, they wanted to leave no shadow of a doubt, and that's why they were going to show up. It's in the midst of a pandemic and they wanted to vote in person.

As far as the mail-in voting, we've got updates from the Secretary of State just a short time ago and the numbers are huge. More than 2.5 million mail-in ballots have been returned, it's an increase of about 100,000 from their report yesterday and that say that represents more than 81 percent of all of the mail-in -- mail-in ballots that are out there. So, they are getting a big return in terms of mail-in balloting.

The spokesman for the county, Erin, tells me that there have been that they think around the County of Philadelphia things are going well. There's been a slathering of reports of issues, but right now with -- among the 718 polling stations in the county, they are not concerned, there are no significant issues so far. Erin?

BURNETT: All right, well let's hope it stays that way. Obviously, all eyes on Pennsylvania, where Kate is. I want to go to another state everybody's focused on at this hour. Wisconsin, as of this morning nearly 2 million early votes had already been cast, which is 64 percent of the total ballots cast in 2016, so now it comes down to whether we're going to make another record there based on turnout today.

Ryan Young is live in Milwaukee. So Ryan, what are you seeing and what are voters telling you?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes absolutely, what a big number and a lot of energy that's been put behind this vote so far. We arrived here around 5:00 o'clock this morning. People slowly started rolling around 6:00.

We saw lines all the way down this hallway, but obviously right now you can see there's a little bit of a low right now, voters usually check in right there, then they go in through the process.

You see all the workers wearing PPE, and just right now you can actually see someone's cleaning the door, making sure that as folks walk in they're not exposed to the coronavirus. That's a big deal, because the numbers in this state have been pretty high.

Now, we're five miles south of downtown Milwaukee, which this area went red in 2016. Now, let's not forget that Donald Trump narrowly won this state, by less than 1 percent back in 2016. So, these voters really know that their votes count. If you look back in this direction you can see the active voting that's going on right now. This is the whole process. We have been talking to folks who have been telling us what they care

about. They wanted to make sure not only was their vote heard, but they wanted to be a part of history. In fact, take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A change for everyone to get back to living normal and being -- you know -- happy to live where we don't have to worry about dying or being sick or not being able to go outside, not being able to do things with our kids. So, it's very important for people to get out and vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YOUNG: And Don, she was a small business owner. It really meant something to her to be here to do that vote. We talked to another man who told us basically he didn't like both candidates, but he felt he had to vote, especially because he knows people are counting on Wisconsin.

And look, this whole idea, if you look inside there you saw all the workers wearing the PPE, everyone's wearing their mask and this is the place that you can show up on the last day, you can show up today and register to vote and cast your vote and walk on out. Right now, no lines, no waiting. People are interested to see how this turns out in this state. Don?

LEMON: Yes. Well Erin, and listen, this is what people have been -- we weren't sure about. We've seen so many people voting early, how will that affect -- how's that going to affect the numbers today on Election Day? Nobody knows.

BURNETT: Nobody knew.

LEMON: Nobody knows. Thank you Ryan -- well maybe Mark Preston knows. So, why don't we got to Mark Preston. Mark Preston is our Senior Political Analyst here at CNN. He's live at the magic wall for us. OK, I've been wondering Mark, that wall is so magic, why doesn't it just tell us who's going to win?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, in some ways it kind of does, Don. OK, how about this. Let's start off where we were, Don, back in -- four years ago, when the dust all settled. This was Donald Trump's victory right here. You have a sea of red, a few islands of blue, but basically Donald Trump really dominated, and dominated in states, by the way, that Democrats had traditionally won.

But let's just watch, where was Donald Trump yesterday, which kind of tells you the path that he's looking at. He was in Florida, he was in Georgia, he was in North Carolina, he was in Michigan, he was in Iowa as well.

Now if you look at where we are now, that drops his total down to 224 electoral votes. Well, you need 270 electoral votes, of course, so let's just look at where we're going right now. Let's assume that Donald Trump can win Florida, Republicans, even though there has been a huge Democratic turnout, Republicans are -- are pretty bullish on that.

Look, Georgia, Democrats feel good about Georgia, they feel like there's a possibility they could get it, but it's still a Republican state. It has really only voted for Democrats three times since 1976, I think two of those times were for Jimmy Carter, so let's just give that, as well, to Donald Trump. Look how close he is there right now. 269 votes, 232 votes.

Well, North Carolina might be a little bit of a reach for him, so we're going to give that to Joe Biden at this point, brings Joe Biden up. Well, where do we go then? We go right here, Don. This is what we've been talking about, over and over and over again. These three states in the Midwest, let's add this, let's take that away. Let's take that away here. And what do we see here?

We see Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. Now, I will tell you this, there is a good chance, there is a good chance, that Donald Trump could pick up Iowa. And if that's the case, look where he is now, 245. But the bottom line is, Don, he needs to win right through here. This is where Donald Trump needs to win.

And that is what is going to take him to victory. At the same time, though, Don, let us look at where is Joe Biden going to be? Well, that all depends. But the bottom line is here, let's go back through these states again. If you look at all these states right here, we'll even throw Maine in because it is an Arizona out here.

Look where Joe Biden can go now. There are so many more paths. Even if he loses Florida, even if he loses Georgia, even if he loses North Carolina, Joe Biden can win Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and it gets him to 270, Don. And by the way, we're not even talking about Arizona.

LEMON: Yes, and speaking of Joe Biden, he's making stops today Mark in Pennsylvania, and we know Pennsylvania was key, obviously, in 2016. It's going to be key to this year's election to the road to 270, getting to 270 electoral votes. So give us -- you said that he has so many more paths.

PRESTON: Right.

LEMON: I'm sure you can't do all the scenarios here today. Is there a likely path for -- that is going to happen?

PRESTON: Well, Don, I think it's worthwhile to say that when you look at Pennsylvania and in particular right here, this is a state that we saw them flood the zone yesterday. Joe Biden sent everybody into Pennsylvania yesterday. Joe Biden was in Pennsylvania today. Philadelphia, he was in Scranton today as well.

We saw the lines in Philadelphia. People are still voting. So, that's really important. Also, you hear Donald Trump talking over and over and over again about what's going to happen in Pennsylvania. Well, Donald Trump does really well here and he did really well here. Now, we want to see Joe Biden do well in -- is in here. He wants to do well out here in Pittsburgh. And also down here in the middle. LEMON: Yes. And he's got to do well in the big metro areas, right,

because the -- what the Trump people are trying to do is make it up in the rural areas, trying to get as many -- harvest as many -- get as many votes, excuse me, there as possible. All right, Mark, thank you very much. So Erin, here we are on Election Day

BURNETT: I know. I know. And it's amazing when you talk about where they're each trying to run up the votes and you see that, right, Trump's strategy, right, run it up everywhere he knows he can in those more rural counties. It worked last time, right, and that's his hope today. So we're going to keep going around, checking everywhere over these next few hours here.

Don and I checking in with every single reporter and how confident the campaigns actually feel as they're looking at these turnout lines, right, Don.

LEMON: Yes.

BURNETT: And no lines right now in Milwaukee, what does that actually mean? And we'll go to the battlegrounds, latest from Georgia and Florida as well, and Ohio and the Ohio Governor Mike Dewine is going to be with us. You're watching our special coverage, Election Day in America.

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BURNETT: Welcome back to CNN special coverage of Election Day in America. Voters making their voices heard in all 50 states right now, polls are open. Both candidates traveling today. Close to home but they are out and about, Don, right? I mean they are not stopping, not leaving anything on the table at this point.

And so you've got the first lady casting her in-person ballot in Florida this morning. The president meanwhile traveling in Virginia, so as I said near to home. And joining us with more on the president's schedule our Senior White House Correspondent, Joe Johns. So, Joe, this is an odd day for the candidates, right? They've got to fill the time. They don't want to stop. But they're sort of just waiting. So what's the schedule look like for the president and the first lady?

JOE JOHNS, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, I can tell you one thing, the president's schedule's just a little bit slow today. Quite frankly the president has been behind schedule all day. He started out about 45 minutes I think behind schedule for a television interview, that he did this morning on "Fox". And now he is headed over to the republican national committee annex in Arlington, Virginia, just across the river. And he's behind schedule in that in fact, as well.

He is going to meet there with some campaign staffers who also have offices there and that is the only thing on his schedule except for the election party which is expected tonight. That's here at the White House.

Initially we have been told this party was going to have about 400 people in attendance but now we're told that number has been scaled back to 250. It's going to be hold in the state floor of the White House, which is essentially the first floor of the White House where they hold state receptions. Seven rooms there including the East Room which is cavernous if you will. And there was some question about what they're going to do about coronavirus and social distancing.

And what we do know from "CNN" Jamie Gangel is that the testing for individuals who are coming to this location will be done at - off-site apparently. Also we're being told that those people are going to get rapid tests. And they're going to be given bracelets when they come into the facility. So those are the things we know about tonight.

The big question is whether it's going to be a victory party or not. Just not clear that it is going to be a victory party. But the president was asked about it, he said "I think we'll have victory but only when there is victory." Don, back to you.

LEMON: All right. Looks like they're preparing (inaudible). Erin, it looks like they're preparing for something behind Joe Johns.

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LEMON: Because there's a lot of activity going on. I don't know if it's stages or banquets or -

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Something, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: -- or something that -

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Yes.

LEMON: -- they're - that they're doing. Joe, what is that behind you?

JOHNS: Yes. You know, I'm trying to figure. Well it looks like gardening quite frankly, and you know there's the garden variety media core if you will here certainly on Election Day to see what happens.

LEMON: Yes. All right, we'll see what happens. They're trying to get it all ready just in case, you know, there is a victory party or -

(CROSSTALK)

BURNETT: Yes.

LEMON: -- whatever kind of celebration or not celebration there is tonight. So why don't we get to CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He is our Senior Washington Correspondent tracking the former vice president's schedule today. Jeff is in Wilmington, Delaware. A beautiful place. Jeff, good afternoon to you. So what are you seeing there? Tell us about the former vice president's movement, how did he spend his morning, what's going on?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well John, Joe Biden started his day here at his home in Wilmington, Delaware. He started it by attending mass at his Catholic church here, and then he spent a brief visit to his son's grave site, Beau Biden, of course. Such a central force and light in his life. Also visiting the graves of his late wife and baby daughter, of course, which started at the very beginning of Joe Biden's political career, really some four decades ago.

So this has been a poignant day for him, but he's also moving forward to Scranton, Pennsylvania. Earlier today he stopped by his boyhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Of course, Pennsylvania is critical to his chances in this election. These 20 electoral votes could not be more important either to him or the Trump campaign as well. But in visiting his boyhood home, I think we have a picture of this. Let's take a look if we do. He signed the wall of his boyhood home and he said this. He said, "From this house to the White House with the grace of God. Joe Biden, November 3, 2020."

So we will see if that comes through or comes true later today, but as for the former vice president, now he's just landed a few moments ago in Philadelphia. He's making a few stops there, of course, trying to get out the vote, urge all of those Pennsylvania voters who have not yet voted early to cast their ballots in person. Then he's going to return here to Wilmington. He'll be watching the returns from his home and then move to an election center. And we just spoke to some top Biden advisors just a short time ago, and campaign manager, Jennifer O'Malley Dillon had this to say. She said, "We are going to know what the outcome is tonight or what it is shaping up to be." Not necessarily the result, but they believe the early voting results coming in from Florida, from Georgia, from North Carolina will give them a shape of what this electorate is looking like.

She also says that the former vice president plans to address America this evening not necessarily declaiming a victory or concession but addressing America on the election night, so they are feeling positive about that. So we will see Joe Biden as the day goes on and apparently tonight here in Wilmington as well.

LEMON: All right, that's why we'll be checking back with you, Jeff Zeleny, in Wilmington, Delaware where it appears to be a beautiful day there. So there's lots of talk about - thank you, Jeff. Appreciate it. There's lots of talk about now with a lot of folks that we have here. So we have Jamie Gangel. We have David Gergen with us, and also Mayor Mitch Landrieu. So good to see all of you. I know everyone's excited. Everyone's nervous, and we're going to have - try to walk them through it right now. So hello, David. Let's start with you. Trump and Biden have made the case, and it all comes down to turnout at this point. What are you watching for, David?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm watching for how long those lines appear to be as they go - as the day goes on. So far, Don, I must say I'm optimistic about what's happening. I think it's good for the country. You know, there was all this talk about the country and our democracy entering a dark chapter, and now we've seen two things in the last two days. First, the avalanche of voters, people insisting that know the voters want - are insisting that they control our politics, they select people. The voters are in charge. I think that's a - I think it's a wonderful sign for our democracy, and today secondly we have these lines that have developed at the various polling booths, and very, very importantly everything's been peaceful. You know, we've gone through all sorts of cities in America today are boarded up awaiting possible violence, and now this is going on peacefully. I think those are good signs for America.

LEMON: Yes, it is. It is quite - it's unnerving. I won't say it's shocking, Jamie, to be here. You live in New York City. I live in New York City. To see Macy's boarded up, Madison Avenue, 5th Avenue, all of these stores, all these businesses boarded up all around the county, I have never seen anything like this as it comes to an election.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, and right now I'm in D.C. The same thing is going on in D.C. You know, just to David's point, I can't believe this. This is my tenth presidential election that I have covered, and I've been covered by the turnout, which I think is just extraordinary and something we should celebrate, but I think we can't forget this is a referendum on Donald Trump, which is typical when you have an incumbent. What's not typical is it's also a referendum on how he's handled the coronavirus. And the Republicans I've been talking to the last couple of weeks have been concerned that obviously the polls have looked a certain way for a long time, now we're going to see what the voters have to say.

But, they are concerned that whatever happens today that Trump, if it's not going his way, will fight it. Remember the other day we saw former President Obama take that 3-point shot and he said that's what I do. Well, Donald Trump, he fights. That's what he does. And they're really concerned about the future of the Republican party; and one said to me just this morning, more chaos and disruption is not good for the future of the republican party.

LEMON: Yes.

GANGEL: Don?

LEMON: Mayor listen, it's not unprecedented but it's pretty hard when you have an incumbent, to get an incumbent president out of office. As you are -- you have seen what's happened around the country with these long lines, you see the lines, we have Philadelphia up -- and other polling places, other cities up just moments ago as Jamie was speaking. What do you see? How you reading today?

MITCH LANDRIEU, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, a couple of things. It was interesting and wonderful see the vice president went to mass this morning. There's a great line in the catholic service.

LEMON: A lot of people praying there today. LANDRIEU: (inaudible) all anxiety as I wait in joyful hope. That's

what the line is. It's a really nice statement about people being anxious and yet being hopeful for the future of the country. I have mixed feelings. I got up this morning at 6:00 to go stand in line.

There was a long line at the polling place I go to. But as I got in there, it reminding me immediately -- and this will ring true for David -- how many thousands of American citizens are poll watchers who just contribute their time to do this peacefully and safely, to do the most sacred thing we do in America, which is to have elections and give everybody a chance to vote.

And their secretaries of states and clerks of courts and thousands of American citizens making the day go well. It was a very peaceful voting process. I went back a couple hours later just to see how the lines were going to go. By the time I went (ph) back there, the line was gone. The other thing to remember, 100 million people have already voted. That is an extraordinary number. In the last highest number I think was 136 million.

LEMON: You can't expect election day this time to look like in previous -- considering the number of people --

LANDRIEU: No.

LEMON: ...who voted early. It's not going to look the same. It would be unrealistic to think so.

LANDRIEU: It's going to be different. This is going to create a number of different problems throughout the day. There are a number of states that vote early and count early. And if those states come back and they're in favor of Joe Biden, we're going to have a very early night. If they don't come back early, or they don't go in favor of Biden and we move into Pennsylvania and we're waiting on Wisconsin, et cetera, et cetera, it could be a late night.

And then the voting issues will come into play about when they counted, how they counted and how soon we'll know. I just don't think we're going to know the answer to that obviously until later this afternoon. But, I'm with David. I have a lot of hope that today is going to go better than people expected it to, just from a process point of view and that we're going to know more than we thought we would know tonight rather than tomorrow or the next day.

LEMON: All right, we've still have a long ways to go until the polls close. People can still vote until we start making projections and you guys are going to be on TV a long time. So thank you very much.

Erin, there are a lot of people hoping and there are a lot of people who are praying today whether you support Donald Trump or Joe Biden Going to church might not be a bad idea.

BURNETT: That's right. All right Don, so here we are just hours away from the first returns. As Don and I sit here now, in a few hours, we're going to be getting these exit polls and the first states are going to start closing. It's incredible. Ohio and Georgia could go either way. Governor Mike DeWine from Ohio is here and the growing coronavirus threat. Task force member Deborah Birx speaking out, saying the United States is entering its most deadly phase. So is anyone in the White House listening?

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