The latest on the 2020 election

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 0938 GMT (1738 HKT) October 27, 2020
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10:04 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Pre-election voting has surpassed all 2016 early ballots cast 

From CNN's Adam Levy, Ethan Cohen and Liz Stark

Pre-election voting for the November election has surpassed all 2016 early ballots cast with more than a week still left until Election Day.

More than 58.7 million Americans have voted so far, according to a survey of election officials in all 50 states and Washington, DC, by CNN, Edison Research and Catalist.

In 2016, around 58.3 million pre-election ballots were cast, including ballots in the three vote-by-mail states that year, according to a CNN analysis. That early vote accounted for about 42% of all ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election.

Pre-Election Day voting is skyrocketing nationwide during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and states are reporting record-breaking turnout as voters are energized to vote by mail or early in person before November.

Detailed voter information comes from Catalist, a company that provides data, analytics and other services to Democrats, academics and nonprofit issue-advocacy organizations and is giving insights into who is voting before November.

Fifty-four percent of those 58.7 million votes already cast this cycle comes from CNN's 16 most competitively ranked states, which will play a crucial role in determining who wins the presidency this year.

Among those states, Minnesota has currently seen the largest percentage increase in early voting turnout compared to last cycle, according to Catalist data from both years in 14 key states.

By age, younger voters (age 18-29) are also casting significantly more ballots and make up a greater share of the pre-Election Day vote than they did around the same time four years ago in all of the key states with information available.

Read more here.

CNN's Kristen Holmes reports:

9:58 a.m. ET, October 26, 2020

Why election night results might look different this year compared to 2016

From CNN's Alexis Benveniste

President Donald Trump, right, and Democratic candidate Joe Biden debate each other in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22. At center is moderator Kristen Welker.
President Donald Trump, right, and Democratic candidate Joe Biden debate each other in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22. At center is moderator Kristen Welker. Jim Bourg/Pool/Getty Images

Election night can be synonymous with unpredictability — just look at 2016 — but this year might be even murkier than usual.

The pandemic has changed the way millions of Americans vote for president. Voters have already cast an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots, for example. In many locations — some of them potential battleground states — mail-in ballots will not be counted until after the election, potentially leading to long delays in the news media's ability to call the election on election night.

That's why many news outlets are already going into rehearsal mode behind the scenes as they continue to cover ongoing election and voting news. The Associated Press, for instance, performs drills to prepare.

"We obviously do an enormous amount of preparation. We work through various scenarios," Sally Buzbee, senior vice president and executive editor of The Associated Press, told CNN's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter on "Reliable Sources" on Sunday.

"We are very much prepared for the fact that it could go longer than election night," Buzbee said. "It also could last until the next morning or until the next afternoon or even later. So we are very much prepared for both scenarios."

Many news organizations rely on the Associated Press to make calls on Election Day, waiting until the AP announces a winner before declaring it on air on or online.

President Trump has said he wants immediate results on election night, but that's not necessarily realistic. Senior Department of Homeland Security officials have urged voters to be patient, warning that the results may not be known on Election Day this year.

Americans around the country will be tuning in to their network of choice, but Buzbee made it clear that news outlets aren't in competition with each other on election night. She added that the data and the facts are driving decisions on election night.

"This is not magic," she said. "This is actually math and facts and science. That's how races are called."