More than 50 million Americans have already voted: report

How to make sure you’re ready to vote in the 2020 election

With the Nov. 3 general election still more than one week away, a new analysis shows more than 50 million Americans have already cast their ballots.

That number, according to a survey of election officials by CNN, Edison Research, and Catalist, represents more than 36% of the more than 136 million total ballots cast in the 2016 election.

CNN has disclosed Catalist is a company providing data, analytics and other services to Democrats, academics and nonprofit issue-advocacy organizations.

On Thursday night, President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden met in their second and final debate, a forum that allowed both men to make their case directly to the American people on why they should be in the Oval Office.

For the first time, the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates installed mute buttons on the presidential candidates microphones to keep Biden and Trump from interrupting each other. In their first meeting, Trump continually interrupted Biden and Fox News moderator Chris Wallace.

Thursday night’s meeting was intense and full of solid, spirited discourse between the two men, but far more focused.

At the same time, both men’s campaigns are assembling armies of lawyers for the possibility the race for the White House is decided not at the ballot box but in court.

Dozens of attorneys for Republicans and Democrats are already clashing in courts across the U.S. over mailed-in ballot deadlines and other issues brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. Both sides have built massive legal operations readying for a bitterly disputed race that lands at the Supreme Court .

Credit: AJC

“We’ve been preparing for this for well over a year,” Republican National Committee Chief Counsel Justin Riemer told The Associated Press. “We’ve been working with the campaign on our strategy for recount preparation, for Election Day operations and our litigation strategy.”

On the Democratic side, the Biden campaign’s election protection program includes a special national litigation team involving hundreds of lawyers led by Walter Dellinger, acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration, and Donald Verrilli, a solicitor general under President Barack Obama, among others.

Bob Bauer, a former White House counsel to Obama, and Biden campaign general counsel Dana Remus are focused on protecting the rights of voters, who have been enduring long lines at polling places around the country on the belief that the presidential election will be decided by their ballots.

Both sides are informed by the experience of the 2000 election, which was ultimately decided by the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore. But this year, as Trump has pushed claims about the potential for voter fraud with increased voting by mail, lawyers are preparing for a return trip before the high court.

And, in an extraordinary twist, the president has pushed for his nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, to be seated as soon as possible if she is confirmed as expected on Monday, saying it’s important to have a ninth justice to decide any election disputes.

The race is already thought to be the most litigated in American history, with some 260 lawsuits arising from the coronavirus by one tally.

Behind the scenes, Trump and Republicans have been putting together a legal team that includes Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s lead attorneys during the impeachment trial and the special counsel’s Russia investigation, who is an experienced litigator before the Supreme Court.

Republicans have hired dozens of attorneys and retained prominent national firms to challenge Democratic efforts to expand ballot access in key battleground states.

Thousands of volunteer lawyers have signed up to assist with Election Day operations and poll watching and other issues, Riemer said. A group called Lawyers for Trump, whose advisory board includes Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, is recruiting retired lawyers and law students. Jones Day is among the prominent global law firms expected to play a role. Attorney Will Consovoy, who has represented Trump in such cases as his long-running fight to prevent a top New York prosecutor from getting his tax returns, is also likely to be a key player in any election legal fights.

Biden has also created a legal war room that his campaign says is focused on combatting voter suppression at the polls and ensuring votes are correctly counted.

Credit: AJC

Another team that’s fighting voter access issues in courts across the country is headed by well-known election lawyer Marc Elias of the law firm Perkins Coie, who is prominent in Democratic circles.

“When Democrats want to tilt elections in their favor outside the ballot box, who do they call? Marc Elias and Perkins Coie,” an RNC website says.

Republicans accuse Elias and Democrats of trying to use the coronavirus pandemic to rig the election by doing away with safeguards against fraud.

Elias and his team at have filed lawsuits seeking to force states to extend mailed-in ballot collection deadlines and other things. In one of those cases, the Supreme Court this week allowed Pennsylvania to count mailed-in ballots received up to three days after the Nov. 3 election, rejecting a Republican bid to block the extension.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.