Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Mail-in Ballots Alter Late-Night Election Results; Live Coverage of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) Press Conference; Joe Biden to Address the Nation Today. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired November 4, 2020 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:31:31]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, welcome back. This is CNN's special live coverage, 10:31 a.m. on the East Coast. Why am I giving you the time? Well, if you managed to sleep last night, things changed. You may have gone to bed thinking this election was headed one way, and then you woke up and you saw things were different, and maybe trending -- trending increasingly in another direction.

Phil Mattingly at the magic wall, you've got a neat tool to show this.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, so this is the map right now, right? We've been talking about this for the last several hours. It shifted in the last several hours, but what was happening beforehand? You could talk to a lot of people who, if they were big Trump fans, big Trump supporters, went to bed probably pretty happy. Big Biden supporters? Not super happy.

So let's kind of track through this. I want to walk through how things have changed. This is at 1:00 a.m. in the morning. Look at Nevada, look at Wisconsin, look at Michigan, look at Pennsylvania. Now, just keep Pennsylvania where it is.

Flip to two. All of a sudden, Nevada flips, all of a sudden Wisconsin starts to flip -- sorry, this is 5:00 a.m., this is 5:00 a.m. One more. Michigan as well. So I'll take all these off, and I want to watch it again. Because just the progression throughout the night as we were live on television talking about this as it happened.

As -- things looked very, very good for the Trump campaign particularly in the Midwest, Pennsylvania into the Midwest, Nevada as well. So we're waiting for votes to come in. One a.m., 2:00 a.m., 9:05 a.m., and you just watched it.

We talked about the progression over the last several hours, the progression in Wisconsin, the progression in Michigan, progression that may be happening in Pennsylvania --

BERMAN: There's a reason for it, explain.

MATTINGLY: Yes. So look, the best way to do this -- let me turn this off for a second -- is I want to open the state of Ohio. We've done this a couple times, and I think this is just the best demonstration. Because for a lot of people who were paying attention early in the

night, they were looking at Ohio and they were looking at turnout in Ohio, they were looking at the suburbs of Ohio and they were saying -- think back to 2016, Ohio, Donald Trump looked like he took it off the swing state map --

BERMAN: Yes.

MATTINGLY: I'm an Ohioan, I was stunned by the margin in the state of Ohio.

And early in the night, as the early vote was counted and released by Ohio, it looked like this was going to turn blue, maybe had a chance to turn blue but at least narrow, narrow tremendously.

This is what happened. Looks pretty familiar --

BERMAN: Same thing as last time.

MATTINGLY: -- right? Happened in North Carolina as well to some degree, saw it a little bit in Georgia, somewhat in Florida. Basically, it was what kind of vote you were counting when dictated what this was going to look like.

So that was Ohio. We have seen the inverse over the course of the last several hours with these states: with Wisconsin, with Michigan. Right now, Pennsylvania's still red but starting to shift as well. Why is that? They counted Election Day vote first, in-person vote first.

That, throughout the course of the night, throughout the course of the country, east to west, skewed heavily Republican. And that was by design. President Trump worked on that in-person, they blew out their in-person goals almost across the country.

What was left? Well, the opposite of what was happening in Ohio. What was left was early vote. How did early vote skew? Very heavily Democratic. Where did it come from? Largely urban population centers, largely suburbs. In other words, Democratic strongholds in these two states, and we're still watching as it happens in Pennsylvania. Just a couple of hours ago, Pennsylvania was about 630,000 votes -- 630,000 votes, 550,000 is still a huge mountain to climb for Joe Biden --

BERMAN: But it's 80,000 less.

MATTINGLY: But it's 80,000 less and that has happened in the course of an hour and why is that happening? Because mail-in ballots are coming in, more than a million mail-in ballots outstanding in large part from southeastern Pennsylvania -- Democratic stronghold -- Allegheny County, Democratic stronghold.

[10:35:05]

So that's the progression, that's why it happened. That's why you had sometimes it looked red and then all of a sudden it flipped blue, sometimes vice-versa. Nothing's wrong, nothing's different. What's different about this election is when things are bring counted. BERMAN: All right, Pennsylvania election officials, that's the

governor, Tom Wolf, briefing now. Let's listen.

GOV. TOM WOLF (D-PA): -- the night, and we still have work to do.

So I want to start by saying thank you to all the staff, the volunteers who worked so hard to count those votes and are still working hard to count them. You know, the promise of democracy is that every vote counts and that has been the promise of democracy since 1787. And it's still the promise of democracy. And I intend, here in Pennsylvania, to make sure we keep that promise.

So as I said, counties continue to report results and again, these results are coming in more slowly than they have in the past. So we have to be patient, but confident that these votes are going to be counted, they're going to be counted accurately and they will be counted fully.

The delay that we're seeing is a sign that the system is working. This is a new system. It went into effect with Act 77 last year, and there are 3 million -- millions -- of mail-in ballots that are being counted, and that takes longer than the -- the way we used to do it with the stand-in, in-person voting.

So we may not know the results even today, but the most important thing is that we have accurate results. Again, even if that takes a little longer than we're used to.

Make no mistake, our democracy is being tested in this election. This is a stress test of the ideals upon which this country was founded, and the basic rule of one person, one vote? That still carries, and it has to carry here.

Our democracy has withstood challenges before and for over 200 years, we have upheld and strengthened our commitment to basic fairness and due process. And I have full faith that we will similarly meet this moment and I will do everything within my power to ensure that the results are fair, and that every vote is counted.

Pennsylvania will have a fair election, and that election will be free of outside influences. I will vigorously -- and we all -- will vigorously defend against any attempt to attack that vote in Pennsylvania. And every Pennsylvanian -- every Pennsylvanian -- can have confidence in the outcome of this election due to the diligence of the county election officials and the hard work of Secretary Boockvar and her folks at the Pennsylvania Department of States.

So thank you again to all Pennsylvanians who voted. Rest assured your vote will be counted if it hasn't already been counted. Your vote will make a difference in this election. This is the way we elect our officials, this is the way we hire the people who are our public servants. It's the promise that we give to all Pennsylvanians, all Americans that their vote counts and I intend to keep that promise here in Pennsylvania.

Now I'm proud to turn this over to Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar. Kathy?

KATHY BOOCKVAR (D-PA), SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you.

Good morning. So I want to echo some of what Governor Wolf said about, once again, thanking all the -- you know, tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of election workers that were and are still involved in the process of enabling this great democracy in Pennsylvania and across the nation. The work they have done and continue to do is just tremendous.

And you know, I still -- we've been talking, the Department of State folks were, you know, at our operations center, I don't know, 4:00, 4:30 in the morning to take a shower or -- were back within a couple hours of that. So been working around the clock, as are many of the counties.

And we've been talking about, yesterday, again, and how incredibly smooth -- it's one of the smoothest, least issues election -- presidential elections than I've seen in any time that I could possibly remember, and I've been in and around elections for a long time as a voting rights lawyer and a poll worker. This was incredibly smooth, and that's a huge credit to all the election workers, both at the state level and at the local level.

As well as our state partners like PEMA and Office of Homeland Security, Department of Homeland Security, who made sure that all those things we were -- that people were worried about, whether it was voter intimidation or issues at the polls, really could not have gone more smoothly in the middle of a global pandemic, with all the voting reform changes that we saw from Act 77 and Act 12. So that's -- huge kudos to everybody involved.

[10:40:19]

Also, we are exactly where we said we would be. So we said it was going to take some time to count the mail ballots, and we are approaching 50 percent of the mail ballots counted, which is great. As you know, you can go to our Election Night returns website and the supplemental dashboard to get the greater details on that.

But there are still millions of ballots left to be counted. So the counties are working incredibly hard. You're going to see a lot of updates in the next couple of hours and throughout the day.

We have been you know, a lot -- there were a number of counties that made some major additions in the wee hours in the morning, so if you checked kind of early on this morning, you may want to check again because there's already been more ballots accounted for on our dashboard.

Again, this is a process. We've got, you know, somewhere -- I don't know what the totals are going to end up at, but somewhere between 2.5 and 3 million ballots. And as I've said many times, we had 260,000 ballots cast by mail in 2016, so we are -- we will be at 10 times the number of mail ballots and the counties are already approaching 50 percent done.

So I urge everybody to remain patient. As Governor Wolf said, we are going to accurately count every single ballot.

The vote count, as I've said many times, is never done on the day of Election Night and the counties are doing this accurately and then accurately as quickly as they possibly can.

And again, I'll also just remind everyone, military and overseas ballots are not due until a week after Election Day. So next Tuesday is the deadline for military and overseas voters to cast their ballots, and we want to make sure that not only every civilian absentee, mail-in valid voter is counted, but also that every man and woman who are serving our country, that their votes are counted.

So thank you and we are happy to take questions.

Should I stay for -- I'll just stay here.

WOLF: Sure. I'm sure you want to talk too, Kathy.

Any questions? Dennis?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us where we stand right now and what you know of challenges, legal challenges from the Trump administration? And how are you preparing to deal with those?

BOOCKVAR: So I think, you know, basically what you know that's been publicly reported, that's really all we have at this point, so. And I can't talk about active litigation unfortunately. So I -- you know, you could. But as things are filed, of course, those will be publicly accessible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And do you have attorneys that are going to handle that? Are you bringing in somebody from the outside and who would that be?

BOOCKVAR: We have a mix of -- I mean, what we've been doing all along with all the litigation that's been flying this year, is we have a mix of in-house and outside counsel.

WOLF: Plus the attorney general.

BOOCKVAR: Plus the attorney general, is also representing us in a number of these things. So there's been a great team, I have to say. The attorneys -- just going to give a shoutout to the legal team in the Department of State who have been really put to work this year and they are amazing. So Tim and Kat and team, thank you.

But we also have tremendous teams of outside counsel who have been involved in all of this. And as the governor said, we will make sure that every vote is counted, every eligible voter has the right to cast their vote.

WOLF: Did you want (INAUDIBLE)? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So how many counties are handling ballots that

coming (ph) in Tuesday, Thursday, Friday? How are they handling that and is each county setting them aside? How is each county doing it?

BOOCKVAR: So you can go online to see our guidance. And then last night, we also gave sort of more technical guidance to the counties, which we can forward to you. It basically -- it lays out the process.

You're talking about the late-arriving ballots? So everything's going to be segregated -- I'm not sure if you were here yesterday, but -- the -- all those ballots will be segregated but they will be counted. And the counties have been given detailed instructions, which again, you could find in those guidances, to walk them through how to segregate those races, those ballots.

Sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you talk about the order in which those things will be counted? I mean, are they -- is that a county-by-county decision? Can we expect to see those numbers being already reflected or is that something they would get to later in the process?

BOOCKVAR: Yes, they'll get to -- I mean, so basically it's going to depend, right? There are some counties that are already done counting their mail-in ballots received before 8:00 p.m., so those are going to start sooner. But they won't be reflected on the website, they won't be like intermingled in the website as you see it now, they will be segregated. So -- but it is going to vary from county to county when they start, because they're working on the other ones first.

[10:45:05]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once they count it, it will be reflected on the website though? I'm unclear on that.

BOOCKVAR: Well, I think stay tuned on that.

Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So on those segregated ballots, there were 500,000 ballots issued that hadn't been cast as of yesterday. Is there --

BOOCKVAR: I'm sorry, can you repeat the question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry. There were 500,000 mail ballots issued that hadn't been cast as of yesterday. Is there a way for the state to determine how many of those 500,000 people chose to vote in person instead? Or do we need to operate under the assumption that all 500,000 could come in before Friday?

BOOCKVAR: So all that will be trackable, but we won't have it today. So basically between provisional ballots and the poll books and then of course the mail-in ballots, you know, as you all know, like, only one vote can be counted for any voter, so you'll be able to see all of that but it will take some time for that data to be quantified.

Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night, I think your comment was that you didn't know how many mail-in ballots had arrived yesterday, right? Do we know yet how many ballots arrived yesterday? What is the number of mail-in ballots that...

BOOCKVAR: I -- I don't have that with me this morning, but check on -- check on the dashboard and that will be updated throughout the day. Yes, sorry.

Jan (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Representative Benninghoff keeps raising this point about how ballots that arrived yesterday, that can still be counted, may not have, you know, a legible postmark on them, and raising questions about whether or not they should be counted or not. Now, he said that because of the prepaid envelopes that the state provided. I was wondering if you could speak to that?

BOOCKVAR: Sure. So I'm not sure, he may be confusing -- so anything that arrived yesterday, it doesn't matter whether it's postmarked or not. Anything that arrived yesterday is a valid vote, that's what Pennsylvania law has always been, right? It needs.

So talking about the late arriving ballots? So the postmark, first of all, the way we did prepaid postage in Pennsylvania is we went to the counties where they are. So if they wanted it to be through their business reply mail, USPS permit, we did it that way. If they wanted to literally have us reimburse them for stamps or metered postage, we did it however they want.

So some of them are not even -- and I don't remember how many, but we could get you that information, how many counties are using business reply mail. But those are still postmarked. They have timing marks, they are date-stamped, they are still trackable by date.

So it's a tiny fraction of any of those things, whether it's business reply mail or regular mail. I mean, we've all had that situation where you get a letter and it's not postmarked? It's rare, right? Same for business reply mail. They do what's called a timing mark so that's just -- it's not accurate. They're all stamped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So if there is no mark on it, if it is one of those rare occasions, would it be counted?

BOOCKVAR: So under the current Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, which is currently the law, yes. As long as it's -- there's no affirmative evidence that it was postmarked after November 3rd, as long as it's received by November 6th at 5:00 p.m., it will be counted.

Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's my understanding that the state's website is showing 18 counties with zero percent mail-in ballots counted. Is that accurate, is -- do you have any insight into that?

BOOCKVAR: So you know, what I would suggest -- sometimes counties are uploading on their own websites and haven't transmitted the file to the Department of State because, you know, they have their own local races. So I urge you, if you see any -- and this is what we're going to be doing throughout the day -- go to the county website. You should always do that, it's a great way to double-check.

But we're going to be following up with all those counties to say, hey, you know, make sure you get us the files. Some of them, you know, this year, because we had for the first time, we had a website that was going to itemize the mail-in ballots from the in-person ballots from the provisional, some of the counties when they uploaded the results, it merged the two types into one. And that was just they formatted it wrong. So we're working through that to make sure that the actual attribution of those ballots are right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've noticed that there's a larger than expected number of counties that have reported none?

BOOCKVAR: Yes, it doesn't mean that they haven't counted, it may just mean that it's just not uploaded to the Department of State website yet, so I do urge you to check the county websites and see if that's available on their website.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last thing -- I'm sorry -- if I can just double back. If I heard you correctly in your introductory remarks, it was between 2.5 and 3 million mail-in ballots, is that -- and you're roughly 50 percent? If you could speak with as much specificity as possible regarding that, that would be helpful.

(CROSSTALK)

BOOCKVAR: Well I think -- yes, the numbers that I gave yesterday, it was just under 2.6 million as I recall. But again, I'm not sure what has additionally come in. But so as of, you know, yesterday at some point, it was just under 2.6 million that had been cast, and that's when I think I said it was 83 --

[10:50:08]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, you have been listening to, first, the governor there of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, and now the secretary of State Kathy Boockvar describe where they are in terms of their counting. It is ongoing. There are many votes left to be counted, more than a million, she was just saying.

We want to bring in now David Axelrod, Abby Phillip and election law analyst Rick Pildes. Guys, I know you were just listening to that. Axe (ph), I was just doing a little back-of-the-envelope math. Maybe you can help check mine.

So one million --

(CROSSTALK) CAMEROTA: Yes. That's what I mean, back of the envelope. So one million-plus votes still to be counted. Trump is ahead of Biden by 543,000. Biden has been getting about 70 percent of the mail-in ballots. So Biden still has a good chance in Pennsylvania?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well yes, that's -- I think everybody recognizes that and that's why you know, the Trump campaign has been so active in trying to question some of the ballots, and how some of the ballots are being handled. Because they know that these numbers may not pencil out for them. And yes, I think Pennsylvania's very much in play this morning.

CAMEROTA: OK, so Rick --

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And Alisyn, can I just --

CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead, Abby.

PHILLIP: -- just to add to that, just because what we should really parse carefully what we're hearing from both of the campaigns. What the Trump campaign is saying about Pennsylvania is that they think that out of those outstanding votes, the margins are going to be tighter for Donald Trump.

They're not saying necessarily that they think that if things remain the way that they are, they can over -- that they can maintain their lead. So they're hoping that the margins narrow. But if they don't, I think you're right and David's right, that this is why the Biden campaign is more confident that they will pull out in Pennsylvania. It's also why, for the Trump campaign, Arizona becomes so critically important. They need it if they're going to lose Pennsylvania, to keep their hope alive.

CAMEROTA: And maybe --

AXELROD: Can --

CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead, Axe.

AXELROD: -- Alison, let me just respond to something Abby said. You know, they had a press briefing this morning and they insisted that they will win Arizona and Nevada. And they had to do that because if you concede Arizona and Nevada -- which I think you know, will clarify themselves in the next many hours -- then Pennsylvania becomes irrelevant. You know, as important as it is with its 20 electoral votes, it becomes irrelevant because it's clear that Michigan and Wisconsin are drifting in the other direction.

So I think that they are trying to hold their place and tell everyone this is still doable. And they're insisting on that. We'll see, when the cards are turned over in Vegas and elsewhere later today.

CAMEROTA: In the meantime, Rick, you're already seeing legal challenges cropping up in Pennsylvania? RICHARD PILDES, CNN ELECTION LAW ANALYST: Yes. There are already at

least three lawsuits in Pennsylvania. One has gotten a lot of attention because it's been pending for quite a while now, and that's the one that went to the Supreme Court once already, which is this three-day extension for the receipt deadline for the absentees, which the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered.

So we are going to have to see how many ballots come in in that three- day window. Could they affect the outcome if the margin is so tight in Pennsylvania? That case is absolutely going back to the Supreme Court if that margin is close enough to possibly make a difference.

Now, the court has twice had a chance to stop that extension. It declined to do it both times, it didn't issue a stay, it didn't expedite this case. So voters in Pennsylvania have good reason to believe it's valid for them to have cast those ballots and returned them within that three-day window after Election Day. But that obviously is a big issue.

And the second thing is, there have been inconsistencies in how state officials are handling some of these absentee ballots. The secretary of state has issued unclear guidance in my view. That opens up further challenges. There are challenges like that in the court. I don't know that they'll affect as many ballots potentially as the ballots that come in that three-day window.

But you know, Pennsylvania, I have to say, Pennsylvania has done an incredibly sloppy job in this election. It's been clear for a long time, the a massive failure of political leadership in that state on both the Democratic governor side and the Republican legislature side.

And the country is now put in this position where we have 50 percent of the absentee ballots still to count in Pennsylvania --

CAMEROTA: Yes.

PILDES: -- that we -- we do have to wait, we have to be patient. But we shouldn't be here in the first place.

CAMEROTA: So we're just getting a report that the Biden campaign says that Joe Biden will address Americans today, Axe. What do you think he should say?

[10:55:06]

AXELROD: Well I mean, I think you're going to hear him talk about where the state of play is, and I'm sure a very strong rebuke of the president for what he did last night. You know, essentially, claiming victory knowing that these numbers were going to turn, claiming victory and alleging that anything that changes the result would be fraud. And -- and declaring that he wanted to stop the voting, as he said. You know, as if we are in some authoritarian state.

So I think that Biden has -- he's probably going to reassure the country that the process is going forward, that we're going -- we're going to have an answer and that he expects that answer's going to be him.

CAMEROTA: Guys, stick around. We're going to need your analysis throughout the day, really appreciate talking to you.

More votes are coming in as we speak. Stand by for CNN's special live coverage.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:00]