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Biden, Trump locked in tight races in battleground states

Election worker Kristen Mun from Portland empties ballots from a ballot box at the Multnomah County Elections Division, Tuesday, Nov. 3 in Portland, Ore. Oregon is the first state in the nation to institute voting by mail and automatic voter registration.
Photo by Paula Bronstein / AP

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden were locked in tight races in battleground states across the country Tuesday night as they concluded an epic campaign that will shape America’s response to the surging pandemic and foundational questions of economic fairness and racial justice.

From coast to coast, races were too early to call in the most fiercely contested states on the map, including Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Both candidate each picked up some predictable victories, with Trump taking states including Kansas and North Dakota and Biden’s haul including Colorado and Virginia, two former battlegrounds that have become Democratic strongholds.

Americans made their choices as the nation faced a confluence of historic crises with each candidate declaring the other fundamentally unfit to navigate the challenges. Daily life has been upended by the coronavirus, which has killed more than 232,000 Americans and cost millions of jobs.

Millions of voters put aside worries about the virus — and some long lines — to turn out in person, joining 102 million fellow Americans who voted days or weeks earlier, a record number that represented 73% of the total vote in the 2016 presidential election.

Early results in several key battleground states were in flux as election officials processed a historically large number of mail-in votes. Democrats typically outperform Republicans in mail voting, while the GOP looks to make up ground in Election Day turnout. That means the early margins between the candidates could be influenced by which type of votes — early or Election Day — were being reported by the states.

Biden entered Election Day with multiple paths to victory, while Trump, playing catchup in a number of battleground states, had a narrower but still feasible road to clinch 270 Electoral College votes.

Control of the Senate was at stake, too: Democrats needed to net three seats if Biden captured the White House to gain control of all of Washington for the first time in a decade. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky won reelection in an early victory for the Republicans, and GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close Trump ally, fought off a fierce challenge to hang onto his seat.

The parties traded a pair of seats in other early results: Democratic former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper defeated incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner, and in Alabama Republican Tommy Tuberville knocked off Sen. Doug Jones. The House was expected to remain under Democratic control.

As the results began to come in, the nation braced for what was to come — and an outcome that might not be known for days.

A new anti-scaling fence was erected around the White House, and in downtowns from New York to Denver to Minneapolis, workers boarded up businesses lest the vote lead to unrest.

With the worst public health crisis in a century still fiercely present, the pandemic — and Trump’s handling of it — was the inescapable focus for 2020.

For Trump, the election stood as a judgment on his four years in office, a term in which he bent Washington to his will, challenged faith in its institutions and changed how America was viewed across the globe. Rarely trying to unite a country divided along lines of race and class, he has often acted as an insurgent against the government he led while undermining the nation’s scientists, bureaucracy and media.

At the White House on Tuesday night, more than 100 family members, friends, donors and staff were set to watch returns from the East Room. Trump was watching votes come in upstairs in the residence with a few close aides. Most top campaign officials were monitoring returns from a “war room” set up in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Biden spent the day last-minute campaigning in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he was born, and in Philadelphia with a couple of local stops in Wilmington, Delaware, where he was spending Election Night.

The president began his day on an upbeat note, predicting that he’d do even better than in 2016. But during a midday visit to his campaign headquarters, he spoke in a gravelly, subdued tone.

“Winning is easy,” Trump told reporters. “Losing is never easy, not for me it’s not.”

Trump left open the possibility of addressing the nation Tuesday night, even if a winner hadn’t been determined. Biden was also scheduled to give a nighttime speech from Wilmington.

“I’m superstitious about predicting what an outcome’s gonna be until it happens … but I’m hopeful,” said Biden. “It’s just so uncertain … you can’t think of an election in the recent past where so many states were up for grabs.”

The momentum from early voting carried into Election Day, as an energized electorate produced long lines at polling sites throughout the country. Turnout was higher than in 2016 in numerous counties, including all of Florida, nearly every county in North Carolina and more than 100 counties in both Georgia and Texas. That tally seemed sure to increase as more counties reported their turnout figures.

Voters braved worries of the coronavirus, threats of polling place intimidation and expectations of long lines caused by changes to voting systems, but appeared undeterred as turnout appeared it would easily surpass the 139 million ballots cast four years ago.

No major problems arose on Tuesday, outside the typical glitches of a presidential election: Some polling places opened late, robocalls provided false information to voters in Iowa and Michigan, and machines or software malfunctioned in some counties in the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Texas.

The cybersecurity agency at the Department of Homeland Security said there were no outward signs by midday of any malicious activity.

The record-setting early vote — and legal skirmishing over how it would be counted — drew unsupported allegations of fraud from Trump, who had repeatedly refused to guarantee he would honor the election’s result.

With the coronavirus now surging anew, voters ranked the pandemic and the economy as top concerns in the race between Trump and Biden, according to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate.

Voters were especially likely to call the public health crisis the nation’s most important issue, with the economy following close behind. Fewer named health care, racism, law enforcement, immigration or climate change

The survey found that Trump’s leadership loomed large in voters’ decision-making. Nearly two-thirds of voters said their vote was about Trump — either for him or against him.


8:31 p.m.

President Donald Trump has won the state of Missouri.

The Republican nominee on Tuesday was awarded its 10 electoral votes.

In 2016, Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton in the state by 18 percentage points.


8:15 p.m.

Republicans and President Donald Trump’s campaign got no quick decision from the Nevada Supreme Court on an appeal aimed at stopping the count of mail-in ballots in the Las Vegas area.

The state high court did not stop election night counting, calling instead for written filings to be completed Monday, Nov. 9, in a case that could affect the vote tally in Clark County, a Democratic stronghold in an otherwise red GOP state.

Trump campaign officials say they want transparency.

State Democrats say Republicans are trying to undermine the election.

Nevada is a presidential battleground state with six electoral votes at stake. Democrat Hillary Clinton won the state in 2016.


7:59 p.m.

President Donald Trump has won the state of Kansas.

The Republican nominee on Tuesday was awarded its six electoral votes.

In 2016, Trump coasted to victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton by 20 percentage points in the state.


7:37 p.m.

Democrat Joe Biden has won the state of Colorado.

He was awarded its nine electoral votes on Tuesday.

The state, which went for Democrat Hillary Clinton four years ago, has trended sharply to the left since President Donald Trump’s 2016 election.

The state also has a competitive Senate race between Republican incumbent Cory Gardner and the state’s former governor John Hickenlooper. Gardner is considered one of the nation’s most vulnerable senators.


7:27 p.m.

Democrat Joe Biden has won the District of Columbia.

He was awarded its three electoral votes on Tuesday.

District voters have been allowed to cast presidential ballots since 1964 and have always voted overwhelmingly Democratic. Hillary Clinton’s win in the District over Republican Donald Trump in 2016 was the widest margin ever.


7 p.m.

President Donald Trump has won Louisiana, Nebraska, Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, while Democrat Joe Biden has won New Mexico and New York.

Nebraska, one of two states that divides its electoral votes, has five total electoral votes up for grabs. Trump won the statewide vote, which is good for two electoral votes. He also won the 3rd Congressional District, which nets him a third vote.

Nebraska’s 1st and 2nd congressional districts haven’t yet been called.

Trump nets 20 electoral votes from his wins in Louisiana, Nebraska, Nebraska’s 3rd, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, while Biden takes 34 electoral votes for winning New Mexico and New York.


6:52 p.m.

President Donald Trump has won the state of Indiana.

The Republican nominee on Tuesday was awarded its 11 electoral votes.

Indiana is the home state of Trump’s running mate, Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump won Indiana by 19 percentage points in 2016 over Democrat Hillary Clinton.


6:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump has won the state of Arkansas.

The Republican nominee on Tuesday was awarded its six electoral votes.

Arkansas is a reliably Republican state that hasn’t gone for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1996.


6:20 p.m.

A judge in Nevada has ordered 30 Las Vegas-area voting sites to remain open for an extra hour after President Donald Trump’s campaign and Nevada Republicans cited reports that some locations did not open on time.

Clark County District Court Judge Joe Hardy Jr. in Las Vegas heard immediate arguments in an Election Day lawsuit filed to extend voting times to 8 p.m. for 22 specified sites, which had been scheduled to close at 7 p.m.

Hardy added eight additional sites at the request of attorneys for Democrats.

Clark County has 125 voting centers in and around Las Vegas. The judge ordered that anyone in line at the 30 sites at 8 p.m. will be allowed to cast a ballot.


6 p.m.

President Donald Trump has won Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee, while Democrat Joe Biden has won Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

The results were not a surprise. Biden is very strong in the states that went for him, just as Trump is strong in the states he won.

Trump takes 33 electoral votes for winning those four states, while Biden adds 69 electoral votes to his total for winning seven states.


5:56 p.m.

President Donald Trump has won the state of South Carolina.

The Republican nominee on Tuesday was awarded its nine electoral votes.

Trump handily won the state in 2016 over Democrat Hillary Clinton. South Carolina hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Joe Biden’s victory in the South Carolina primary in February started a wave of wins that helped cement his status as Democrats’ presidential nominee. South Carolina Republicans didn’t hold a primary, an early sign of their support for Trump’s reelection.


5:36 p.m.

Democrat Joe Biden has won the state of Virginia.

He was awarded its 13 electoral votes on Tuesday.

Democrat Hillary Clinton won Virginia over Republican Donald Trump in 2016, helped in part by her choice of running mate: Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine.

Virginia has grown increasingly liberal over the last four years, and as a result of the 2019 elections, Democrats now control every branch of government in the state.


5:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump has coasted to victory in West Virginia, taking its five electoral votes.

The Republican nominee defeated Democrat Joe Biden on Tuesday in a reliably conservative state.

The last Democrat to win a presidential race in West Virginia was Bill Clinton in 1996.

Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in West Virginia four years ago by 42 percentage points, one of his highest margins of victory in the nation. Many in the state credit him for his conservative populism and promises to help the declining coal industry, even as few expected he could bring back jobs in a dying field.


5:20 p.m.

The Trump campaign and Nevada Republicans are asking a state court judge to extend voting by one hour at 22 Las Vegas-area locations, citing reports that those sites did not open on time Tuesday morning.

An Election Day lawsuit filed in Clark County District Court was getting an immediate hearing before Judge Joe Hardy.

Polls are scheduled to close at 7 p.m. Pacific time, but election officials keep sites open until the last person in line at that time can vote.

Clark County has 1,150 precincts bunched into 125 voting centers in and around Las Vegas.

The lawsuit filed against Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria points to a Twitter message posted by the Nevada Secretary of State elections division at 7:22 a.m. referring to several polling locations having technical problems that delayed opening.

The message urged people in line to be patient, saying the sites would open soon.

The Trump campaign and Nevada GOP have been involved in several legal fights in Nevada, including an appeal on Tuesday to the Nevada Supreme Court, seeking to stop the mail-in ballot count in Democratic-leaning Las Vegas.


5 p.m.

President Donald Trump has won Kentucky, and Democrat Joe Biden has carried Vermont.

They are the first two states called in the 2020 presidential election.

Kentucky is reliably conservative, while Vermont is considered one of the most liberal states.

Trump wins eight electoral votes from Kentucky, while Biden takes three for winning Vermont.


4:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump called into talk radio shows in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin just hours before polls closed.

Trump projected confidence Tuesday that he will win key states like North Carolina and Florida and said he’s expecting a “great” evening.

He was set to call into conservative host Mark Levin’s show minutes after the first two interviews, but Levin abruptly said Trump would not be appearing. Levin said he was told the president couldn’t come on the show but gave no further details.

Trump told Wisconsin host Vicki McKenna that he is expecting a strong night based on lines of people waiting to vote. Trump has sown doubts about mail voting, without evidence, and is expecting most of his supporters to turn out on Election Day.

At the same time, his campaign was hosting a call with reporters in which they projected confidence but predicted a tight race that would come down to turnout.


4:25 p.m.

In North Carolina, an armed man loitering at a polling site on Election Day has been arrested and charged with trespassing.

Thirty-six-year-old Justin Dunn was legally carrying a firearm but loitered at the Charlotte site after voting Tuesday morning, which prompted a precinct official to call police over fears of voter intimidation. A precinct official accompanied by a police officer asked him to leave the site and banned him from the location.

Police say Dunn left the precinct but returned about two hours later. He was taken into custody and charged with second-degree trespassing.

Publicly listed numbers for Dunn were disconnected when a reporter tried to reach him Tuesday.


3:45 p.m.

More than 13,000 votes in one South Carolina county will have to wait a while to be counted because of a printing error.

Dorchester County Election Commissioner Todd Billman said at a news conference Tuesday that the mail-in ballots did not have the proper bars printed at the top so the scanner used to count the votes won’t register them. He says the error does not affect anyone’s vote.

The votes will have to be counted by hand and will not be counted Tuesday. Billman says Dorchester County’s full results will be finished by the Friday deadline to certify returns.

The county went for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The Senate race between Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and his Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison, as well as the U.S. House race between Rep. Joe Cunningham and Republican challenger Nancy Mace, will be affected by the unscanned ballots.



3:25 p.m.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott says he voted for Joe Biden for president, making him the first Republican governor in the nation to acknowledge voting for the Democratic presidential candidate.

The Republican governor told reporters Tuesday after casting his ballot in his hometown of Berlin, Vermont, that he had never voted for a Democrat in his life.

“As many of you knew, I didn’t support President Trump. I wasn’t going to vote for him,” Scott said. “But then I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t enough for me to just not vote. I had to vote against.”

He says he “put country over party, which again wasn’t an easy thing to do in some respects.”

A couple of other current Republican governors have said they aren’t voting for Trump, but they said they weren’t voting for Biden, either.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker says he left his ballot blank for president. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan says he voted for President Ronald Reagan, who died 16 years ago.


3 p.m.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden isn’t making any predictions about the outcome of the election as the final hours of voting tick down.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday outside a Delaware community center, Biden said he’s “superstitious” about offering predictions for election night but remains “hopeful.” He said he’s heard from aides that there’s “overwhelming turnout” among young people, women and older Black adults in places like Georgia and Florida.

“The things that are happening bode well for the base that has been supporting me — but we’ll see,” he said. Still, he admitted, “It’s just so uncertain” because of how many states are in play.

Biden also wouldn’t commit to commenting on any results on election night, even if President Donald Trump weighs in on the vote. “If there’s something to talk about tonight, I’ll talk about it,” Biden said. “If not, I’ll wait till the votes are counted the next day.”

Biden capped off a day of last-minute campaigning in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and in Philadelphia with a couple of local stops in Wilmington, Delaware. He spoke to the CEO of a community center for teens and visited a pool where he worked as a teenager, closing out a day that began before the sun rose.



2:45 p.m.

The cybersecurity agency at the Department of Homeland Security says the U.S. election so far has featured the usual technical glitches and routine issues but no apparent signs of any malicious cyber activity — at least not yet.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency also says it’s too early to declare victory as polls near closing time around the nation Tuesday and with days of vote counting and certification ahead.

A senior agency official says, “It has been quiet and we take some confidence in that but we are not out of the woods yet.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity to brief reporters about ongoing nationwide election monitoring efforts ahead of the release of any kind of official evaluation.

The official warned that local and state election systems could experience problems as results are reported, but the most likely cause would be from high demand put on the system as people overwhelm websites to check results.

— By AP writer Ben Fox


2:30 p.m.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris is heading to Wilmington, Delaware, after spending the afternoon campaigning in battleground Michigan.

She reminded voters at a Detroit church on Tuesday how slim Donald Trump’s margin of victory was in the state in 2016. She urged them to try to get two other people to vote as well.

She also urged people to remember why they are voting if they are stuck in long lines.

Earlier Tuesday, she campaigned alongside Democratic Sen. Gary Peters, who is up for reelection, Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Brenda Lawrence in Southfield. Peters is in a competitive race against Republican John James.
She will join Joe Biden in Delaware on Tuesday night.


2:25 p.m.

A spokesperson for the Iowa secretary of state says hand sanitizer on voters’ hands caused a ballot scanner to jam at a polling place in Des Moines.

Spokesperson Kevin Hall says some voters’ hands were moist when they handled the ballots and the buildup of sanitizer eventually caused the scanner to stop working.

The machine was fixed in about an hour.

To prevent another breakdown, poll workers moved the sanitizing station farther back in the line so voters’ hands would be dry when they first touched the ballots.

It was a problem unique to the coronavirus era. Iowa is considered one of the tossup states in Tuesday’s election between President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.


12:30 p.m.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has ordered U.S. Postal Service inspectors to sweep more than two dozen mail processing facilities for lingering mail-in ballots and for those ballots to be sent out immediately.

The order, which includes centers in central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, south Florida and parts of Wisconsin, comes after national delivery delays leading up to the election and concerns the agency wouldn’t be able to deliver ballots on time.

The Postal Service’s ability to handle the surge of mail-in ballots became a concern after its new leader, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major GOP donor, implemented a series of policy changes that delayed mail nationwide this summer. Delivery times have since rebounded but have consistently remained below the agency’s internal goals of having more than 95% of first-class mail delivered within five days, with service in some battleground areas severely lagging, according to postal data.



12:25 p.m.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted Tuesday to keep four polling places open longer because they opened late, which is expected to delay statewide reporting of results.

The longest extension was 45 minutes for a site in Sampson County. That means the state can’t publicly report any statewide results until 8:15 p.m.

The state’s more than 2,600 polling places are otherwise scheduled to close at 7:30 p.m. But state elections officials said in a news release last week that if hours are extended at any polls, they wouldn’t publicly post any results until all polls are closed.

Board Chair Damon Circosta confirmed at the meeting Tuesday that the extended hours would delay public release of results.

The polling places that opened late include one site in Cabarrus County, one in Guilford County and two in Sampson County. The delays were at least partly due to issues with printers or other electronic equipment. The extensions, which only apply to the individual precincts and not other sites in those counties, range from 17 minutes to 45 minutes and match the extra time it took to get them open.

Board Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell said at a news conference in the morning before the vote was held that it’s not unusual to extend polling place hours on Election Day.


12:05 p.m.

Long lines were reported across the country, which is not unusual, and there were sporadic reports of polling places opening late. There have also been voting equipment issues in counties in Georgia, Ohio and Texas.

But overall, things seemed to be going smoothly in most places, with enthusiastic voters waiting patiently to cast their ballots. Experts expected total votes to exceed the 139 million cast in 2016. About 101 million people voted ahead of Election Day, heeding warnings about the coronavirus pandemic.


12:00 p.m.

Sen. Kamala Harris is in battleground Michigan to get out the vote on Election Day.

She touched down in Detroit, a majority Black city, about six hours before polls were to close. As Joe Biden’s running mate, Harris has focused heavily on motivating Black voters to turn out. She told reporters she’s in Michigan so Detroit voters know “that they are seen and heard by Joe and me.”
Trump won Michigan in 2016.

Asked how confident she was, Harris said, “Listen, the day ain’t over.”
“I’m just here to remind people to vote because the election is still happening right now. It’s not over,” she said.

Polls in Michigan close at 8 p.m. local time.


11:45 a.m.

The latest tally of early voting in the U.S. shows that almost 102 million Americans cast their votes before Election Day, an eye-popping total that represents 73% of the total turnout of the 2016 presidential election.

The Associated Press tally reveals that the early vote in several states, including hotly-contested Texas and Arizona, has already exceeded the total vote of four years ago.

Early voting — whether in-person or by mail-in or absentee ballot — has swelled during the COVID-19 pandemic as voters have sought the safety and convenience it offers. The greatest gains have been witnessed in Kentucky, where almost 13 times as many voters cast their ballots early as in 2016.



11:20 a.m.

Supporters cheered and applauded President Donald Trump at his campaign headquarters, where he visited Tuesday to thank dozens of staffers working to get him reelected.

Trump predicted his victory, but acknowledged he could lose.

“I think we’re going to have a great night, but it’s politics and it’s elections and you never know,” Trump said.

He said his campaign was doing well in states like Florida, Arizona and Texas. He noted the importance of winning Pennsylvania.

“Winning is easy. Losing is never easy,” he said. “Not for me it’s not.”
The president went to the Republican National Committee’s annex in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington after days of grueling campaigning on the road.

“After doing that many rallies, the voice gets a little choppy,” Trump said with his now-gravely delivery.

Trump said success will bring unity. He listed what he believes are his accomplishments with the coronavirus and the economy.

More than 100 staffers, almost all wearing masks, lined up against the back wall of the operations center to hear from their candidate. Some masks were emblazoned with “Trump” and “MAGA” for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.


10:20 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she’s “absolutely certain” that Democrats will “solidly hold” onto their House majority.

On an Election Day conference call with reporters, the California Democrat said “this election is about nothing less than taking back the soul of America, whether our nation will follow the voices of fear or whether we will choose hope.”

Pelosi and Rep. Cheri Bustos say the party is reaching deep into Trump country to win seats. Bustos is chair of the campaign arm for House Democrats, who are well positioned to try to add longtime GOP seats in Long Island, Arkansas, Indiana and rural Virginia.

Bustos says Democrats “are going to see some wins in those deep red districts.”

Pelosi says she’s confident Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will win the White House from President Donald Trump.

Biden has spent the day visiting Pennsylvania. Trump had a phone interview on Fox News Channel.


9 a.m.

First lady Melania Trump has cast her vote, stopping in at a voting center in Palm Beach, Florida, close to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

Trump switched his residence from New York to Palm Beach County last year and voted in person on Oct. 24 during early voting. Asked why she didn’t vote with the president, the first lady told reporters on Tuesday: “It’s Election Day so I wanted to come here to vote today for the election.”

The first lady waved and smiled to reporters. She was the only person not wearing a mask to guard against the coronavirus when she entered the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center to vote, presumably for her husband.

Mrs. Trump’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, says the first lady, who recovered from COVID-19, was the only person in the polling site, with the exception of a couple of poll workers and her own staffers, all of whom were tested.

Grisham says no one was near the first lady “because of social distancing and the privacy” people receive when they vote.

Mrs. Trump announced in a blog post last month that she had recovered from a bout with COVID-19 that included headaches, body aches and fatigue and said she had tested negative.



8:40 a.m.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has returned to his roots on his final day of campaigning with a visit to his childhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Biden arrived at the small, white two-story house to a hero’s welcome of more than 100 people cheering across the street. Biden greeted the crowd and said, “It’s good to be home!”

Biden lived in the home until he was 10 years old. On Tuesday, he walked up the front steps and chatted with the current owners before going in with his granddaughters. When Biden came out, he said the current residents had him sign their wall.

Biden then walked across the street to greet the crush of supporters, who cheered his name and applauded.

Pennsylvania is key to Biden’s White House hopes. He plans to visit Philadelphia later.


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