Biden to spend $100m on educating US voters in bid to counter misinformation
Washington — Democratic nominee Joe Biden will spend at least $100m explaining to voters how to cast their ballots in 2020.
The Biden campaign plans to spend the funds on voter education efforts focused on encouraging supporters to cast their votes as early as possible.
The campaign will communicate how to vote by mail and in person, an official said.
The Democrats say it is an effort to help counter misinformation they fear could suppress the vote, including coming from the president and attorney-general William Barr.
The programme is an extension of the campaign’s field operation and will use mailings, digital communications and possibly TV advertising to reach voters.
The first round of the effort is set to begin soon in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Georgia and Virginia, the official said.
Biden himself has also been promoting IWillVote.com, a voter education website operated by the Democratic national committee, as he campaigns, including during a CNN town hall on Thursday night.
Biden is ahead in all six battleground states in recent polls, but his campaign is understating the lead in a fundraising pitch.
In a Facebook advert that began last week, the Biden campaign shows him with a one percentage point lead in Arizona and North Carolina, a two-point lead in Florida, a four-point lead in Pennsylvania and a five-point lead in Michigan.
“We need you to see recent polls,” the ad copy reads before asking for money to “keep up the momentum”.
The advert stretches the term “recent”, however. The most recent Arizona poll showing Biden with a one-point lead was from August 7-9, while polls since then have shown an average five-point lead, according to Real Clear Politics.
And while a poll from early September shows Biden with a five-point lead in Pennsylvania, more recent ones show him with a six- or eight-point lead. The new advert doesn’t mention Wisconsin, where recent polls have given him anywhere from a five- to 10-point lead.
There are 44 days to the election.
Meanwhile, a federal judge has overturned part of a Michigan election law that makes it a crime to hire drivers to take voters to the polls.
The ban had made Michigan one of the only states where drivers for Uber and Lyft weren’t allowed to bring voters to the polls for free.
Liberal voting rights group Priorities USA filed the lawsuit, arguing that the ban imposed a heavy burden on low-income and minority voters as well as students and senior citizens. State Republicans defended the measure as necessary to prevent voter fraud.
But US district court judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis, an appointee of President Donald Trump, found the ban did little to stop fraud or improper vote-influencing.
“It is unclear how paying for a taxi or Uber is any more likely to influence a voter than offering to transport them by way of a volunteer driver in a non-profit corporation’s minivan,” she said.
In other developments, a pro-Trump super political action committee will spend $25m on adverts in battleground states attacking Biden as “too weak to lead America”, according to a person familiar with the effort.
Led by the Republican strategist who orchestrated the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads against John Kerry in 2004, Preserve America will air three adverts featuring direct-to-camera testimonials from Americans criticising Biden’s record on national security.
The adverts feature the parents of Kayla Mueller, a humanitarian worker killed by Isis; a retired army sergeant who lost an arm in Afghanistan; and an army captain who lost his legs in Afghanistan and later ran for Congress.
They criticise Biden for opposing the raid that killed Osama bin Laden when he was vice-president, criticising Trump’s order to kill Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and being “too silent” on unrest in major US cities.
“Joe Biden is too weak to be our commander in chief,” says retired master Sgt Leroy Petry in one advert.
The adverts will air on TV and online in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Ballots were mailed out in 19 more states on Friday and Saturday, including the battleground state of Michigan.
With mail-in voting surging nationally, that means tens of thousands of ballots will be cast in the coming days — including in three battleground states — before the presidential debates or other news have the opportunity to change the race.
Mail-in voting is already under way in the battleground state of North Carolina, which already has processed more than 81,000 returned ballots. And a court decision on Thursday cleared the way for election officials in Pennsylvania to begin sending ballots.
On Friday, ballots were mailed out in Arkansas, Minnesota, South Dakota and West Virginia.
On Saturday, they went out in Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.
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