Voters line up as some U.S. states open early voting; Trump, Biden head to Minnesota
By Julio-Cesar Chavez MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Voters lined up in Minnesota to cast ballots on Friday ahead of campaign trips to the state by President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, as early voting began there and in three other states ahead of the Nov.
By Julio-Cesar Chavez
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Voters lined up in Minnesota to cast ballots on Friday ahead of campaign trips to the state by President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, as early voting began there and in three other states ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Some 44 people cast ballots in the first 30 minutes that the city of Minneapolis' lone polling center was open, in a state Trump narrowly lost in 2016 but has targeted as a possible pickup this time.
Voters in Virginia, South Dakota and Wyoming also began casting in-person ballots on Friday. In Virginia, elections officials in Fairfax and Arlington counties in the Washington suburbs reported heavy turnout, with lines out the door.
Some voters in Minnesota said they were anxious to get an early jump on the process, or to avoid potential crowds on Election Day.
The coronavirus pandemic has upended U.S. election traditions. It has sharply curtailed both candidates' campaign travel and is expected to bring a surge of early and mail voting as Americans seek to reduce their exposure to crowds that can spread the disease.
"I just wanted to come get it done," said Jason Miller, 33, a painter who was in line before the site opened to cast a vote for Biden. He said he could not wait to cast a vote against Trump.
"I was a little inspired to come here the first day," he said. "In fact, probably 3-1/2 years ago I thought I would be here the first day I could."
Steve O'Rourke, 65, who came with a son who has to leave the country on a work trip, said he decided to vote early in person rather than by mail partly out of concern whether a mail-in vote would be counted.
"I like to make sure my vote is counted the day of the election," said O'Rourke, who also supported Biden. "I just wanted to make sure I get my vote in."
All of the voters lined up in Minneapolis wore masks to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus.
Margie Rukavina, 72, said she was "revved up" to vote for Biden but also was concerned about voting on Election Day given health concerns.
"We want to come early to avoid a super-spreader event, like our president is so happy to do," she said. Trump has been criticized for holding crowded campaign rallies, often with people not wearing masks.
The Republican president trails Biden in national opinion polls but is trying to make up ground in Minnesota, which he lost by about 1.5 percentage points to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, while winning neighboring Wisconsin.
Recent opinion polls have given Biden a comfortable lead in Minnesota. The poll-tracking website RealClearPolitics showed Biden up by an average of 10.2 points as of Friday.
Biden's polling advantage underscores the extent to which the current electoral map favors the former vice president. He leads in all three former industrial "Rust Belt" states that Trump flipped from the Democratic column on his way to victory in 2016: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign rally at an airport in Bemidji, Minnesota, in the evening. In the afternoon, Biden will tour a union training center in Duluth before delivering a speech.
The state was the flashpoint for a national reckoning on race relations, when George Floyd, a Black man, died after a white Minneapolis policeman kneeled on his neck for minutes even after he appeared to lose consciousness.
The killing sparked widespread civil unrest that has lasted for months and further rattled a nation already besieged by the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed nearly 196,000 Americans and thrown millions out of work.
Trump has responded to the demonstrations by vowing to maintain "law and order" while portraying many of the protesters as far-left radicals who would be further empowered by a Biden victory.
Biden has denounced the violence at some protests while expressing support for the protesters' objections to racism and police brutality. He has blamed Trump's divisive rhetoric for inflaming the situation.
(Reporting by Julio-Cesar Chavez in Minneapolis and Joseph Ax in Princeton, New Jersey, writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Scott Malone, Peter Cooney and Jonathan Oatis)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.