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8 People on How Voting Complications Changed Their Plans for the Election



9 People on How Voting Complications Changed Their Plans for the Election

Photos courtesy of Charlene Walker, Micha Crosson, and Maddie Rose


A series in which people across the U.S. offer firsthand perspectives about how social issues impact their real lives.

With 20 days until the U.S. general election, people all over the country are making plans to cast their votes in the presidential and down-ballot races. Unfortunately, for many people, voting is not as simple as it sounds. Many are systematically disenfranchised by laws barring formerly incarcerated people from voting, voter ID laws, and racist voter suppression. However, there are other problems with voting this year beyond these more obvious issues.

Here are just a few examples of how this is affecting eligible constituents throughout the country: In Texas, Republican Governor Greg Abbott ordered counties to close drop-off sites for absentee voters until each county only had one drop-off location. Wisconsin’s Supreme Court is still determining whether or not 130,000 voters should be purged from the voter rolls leading up to the election. SCOTUS made voting in South Carolina harder during COVID, requiring absentee voters to have another person sign their ballot as a witness, after a lower court deemed it an undue burden during the pandemic. Just yesterday in Virginia, registration was disabled statewide due to a cut cable on the last day constituents were able to sign up to vote before the election.

VICE spoke with eight people who’ve had trouble trying to vote this year for a variety of reasons. Here, they’ve offered their stories about the complications they faced and what they plan to do about their role in this year’s election as a result of those setbacks.

Interviews have been edited for length and clarity. Some names have been changed for privacy reasons.

jd quinitchette, 56, Durham, NC


Photo courtesy of jd quinitchette

After living in Durham for about a year, I ran into some financial issues at the end of 2019. I was working at a call center (raising funds for Democratic entities, who didn’t pay me a living wage in my role) and partially paying for my apartment as my youngest son’s fiduciary. When he and his father, with whom he was living with at the time, had a falling out, he needed money for himself. I was left without a choice. My $10.50 an hour couldn’t pay for my $1,000 monthly rent.

I moved in with my college-age son. He graduated from North Carolina A&T in May. When his lease ended in July, I became homeless. He had to move in with his dad, where he is now. It’s been pillar-to-post for me ever since. I haven’t known what to do in order to vote, as I haven’t been in one place long enough to register to vote there. I moved back to our hometown in August, but I lost what little I had left while there.

I’ve lived in four different places since the start of 2020. I’m currently on the other side of the city from where I’m registered to vote. Even now, back in Durham, I don’t know if I’ll be able to stay in the long-term hotel where I’ve been living for long enough to change my registration and vote from here. I’ve got about two days that I know I can pay for, then I’m out of pocket, for real.

Eviction is the simplest form of disenfranchisement. I truly believe that the eviction crisis is being exacerbated for precisely the reason of preventing people without stable housing from voting. I was evicted on primary voting day. I don’t have many options. I may not be living here by the time I change my address. My option is to try and make my way to my old voting precinct, but I don’t want to run the risk of not having my vote counted (or even being prosecuted).

Maddie Rose (they/them), 27, Philadelphia, PA


Photo courtesy of Maddie Rose

I applied for a mail-in ballot on September 10. On September 15, I got an email that my ballot was rejected due to a “duplicate application.” I was confused by this, as I hadn’t applied before and had not asked to be automatically enrolled in a ballot for the general election during the primaries. I’m not sure whether I was actually already enrolled, or if there was an error.

I called the number listed on the ballot for people who have questions about their ballot application, which didn’t and still doesn’t work. The number rings for several minutes, then offers a “your number cannot be completed as dialed” message that leads to an automatic hangup. I just checked the number and it’s still down.

I looked through some city websites to try to figure out if there was a different number I could call with election concerns and found nothing. I eventually took to Twitter asking if anyone else had the same problem. A few people suggested I may just have been automatically enrolled already after the primary election. I eventually decided to just give up and hope to receive a ballot in the mail, since there was no one I could contact to double-check the situation.

I did eventually get an email in early October telling me my ballot was on its way in the mail, though I haven’t gotten it yet. I’m really concerned that other people might also be experiencing mail-in ballot rejections without a way to contact anyone to resolve it.

Honestly, I’m already repulsed at the idea of having to vote for Joe Biden, so it’s hard to make myself sink my energy into hunting down city officials just to confirm that I am able to vote. I don’t see any way this will be a fair or democratic election—on top of the voter suppression that is now pretty normal, people are experiencing all kinds of errors with mail-in ballots. If I do receive my mail-in ballot, I will vote.

Micha Crosson, 18, Miami, FL


I’ve filled out my voter registration form and sent it in four times now. Each time I’ve sent it in, I haven’t gotten my voter registration card back. The first time I sent it in, I called the registration office and heard nothing back. The second time, no response. After the third time, I called and was told they never received the registration form in the first place. On my fourth and final time trying, I still didn’t hear anything back. I was advised by the registration office on the third call not to drop it off in person because of the pandemic; they’re running on very limited staff, so I used USPS every time I sent in my voter registration.

The deadline for my state was October 5, but was extended to October 6. I still wasn’t able to solve it by that point. I can’t vote in person because my state doesn’t have same-day voter registration. I’m going to have to miss this election and try registering for future elections later on.

Nathalie Gedeon, 25, Charlotte, NC


Photo courtesy of Nathalie Gedeon

​When I checked my voter registration on my state’s Board of Election website on September 29, nothing came up. I was confused, because I’d registered to vote months ago and had voted in the primary elections this spring. I checked an outside site, vote.org, and it confirmed that I was registered. I called the state board back, and they told me, “Oh, yes, it looks like we changed your name to ‘Nat’ for you on your file. We can change it back to Nathalie if you’d like.” I was really surprised that they’d taken it upon themselves to simply change my name on my official voter registration file, and that they’d be so bold as to admit they had changed it on their own, unprompted.

The person I spoke to changed my name on the file back, but I guess my ballot with the incorrect name had already been sent out in the mail, as I received it a few days later. I called them again and explained the issue, and they told me that they would send me a new ballot in the mail with my correct name. Fingers crossed it arrives correctly and I can vote!

Charlene Walker, 41, Rahway, NJ

Charlene Walker

Photo courtesy of Charlene Walker

New Jersey has rightfully implemented vote by mail for all New Jerseyans. This is an issue I fought for by helping to write letters to the governor, holding a press conference, and advocating for moving drop boxes from police stations.

All of the tenants in my building received their absentee ballots on the same day, yet mine did not come. I contacted the Board of Elections on the phone, but didn’t receive a reply. I finally received a postcard from the BOE stating that if I didn’t return the postcard by October 13, “…then at any election held subsequent to that date on or before 11/9/2022 you may be required at the polls to affirm or confirm your address before you are permitted to vote. If you do not vote in an election during that period, your name will be removed from the registry of eligible voters. If you have changed residences from Union County to a different county in the state you must register with that county in order to retain your right to vote. If you have been automatically receiving mail in ballots, such mailings are now suspended.”

After receiving this notice, I decided to check my voter registration status, and found that I am listed inactive. In the primary, I voted via a provisional ballot, as I did not receive my mail-in ballot, but assumed it was due to the delays in the mail system.

I’m taking my postcard directly to the BOE in the hopes that that will rectify the situation, and if not, I’ll register online. My plan is to educate my community about looking for the postcards and checking their own voter statuses if they did not receive a ballot in the mail. I’ll risk going to the polls if I have to. I just survived COVID, and people around me are dying every day because of systems we are fighting to change. This election is all about setting the stage to organize for the changes our communities deserve.

Martha Wetzel, 32, Atlanta, GA


I moved apartments over the summer and tried to get a new driver’s license with my updated address  around June 17, and the state deactivated my voter registration after I requested my updated license. The DMV confirmed it  was mailing the new license on June 20. It never arrived. I called The Department of Driver Services four times about my missing license, and, every time, got a message that there were too many calls, and to try again later. It’s supposed to be free to update your address on your license, but I gave up and paid the $5 for them to mail a replacement license. That arrived two weeks ago.

The last time I attempted voting by mail in Georgia was when Brian Kemp was elected. I requested the ballot several weeks ahead of time, the county mailed it six days before the election, it arrived the day before the election, and there was literally a giant cockroach in the mailbox on my ballot. In GA, you used to have to drop off your mail-in ballot at county headquarters, so that took me over an hour because traffic in Atlanta is a nightmare. After that, I decided I’d just vote in person. I was able to reactivate my registration when I got the replacement license.

This election is SO important, and I have an unpredictable chronic pain disease, so voting by mail is really much better for me, in case I can’t actually get out of bed on Election Day. But I’ve been wavering about whether to try and vote in person this election because USPS is so bad here, and I haven’t had issues at my specific polling place in the past in terms of lines (although they did have the doors locked once). For now, since Georgia has changed the rules about dropping off mail-in ballots, I plan to drop my vote-by-mail ballot off at the library to minimize the chance of the post office losing it.

Ariana D., 23, Los Angeles, CA

When I first registered to vote a few years ago while attending college on the East Coast, begrudgingly voting between two different white supremacist parties, I was unaware that it could make my private address and information public. In fact, I found a site that was unaffiliated with the state) that took pride in exposing all registered voters’ full name, party affiliation, and home address; they could find all of this information easily just by looking at voter registration logs. My name and address were listed, along with other personal information, right there for anyone to access.

The site radiated such Trump-ian energy: A lot of the information was typed out in stark red text, including parts of a disclaimer about how the site’s creators were legally permitted to disclose people’s personal information. It also said that, if a person wanted their information removed from the site, it was an incredibly complicated, bureaucratic process without a guaranteed resolution.

At the time, I was deep in the throes of healing after completing a yearlong trauma-focused therapy program and felt too overwhelmed to take action toward having it removed. As a survivor and Black femme, I was afraid that my former home address had been made available via a Google search.

Leading up to the general election, I registered again in the state I moved to after college. I wanted to vote out of civic obligation amid a feeling of political futility. But when I received a letter from the BOE that my name wasn’t written legibly and requesting confirmation of my name, I reconsidered how I felt about the possibility of my home address becoming publicly available again. I’d moved for many reasons, including for a deeper sense of safety, and I wanted to give myself time to weigh my choices. I made the choice not to register in order to protect my privacy.

I understand the power of voting on a local level, but, frankly, my ancestors and I are tired. Call it Afropessimism or political nihilism, but I’m making a choice to disengage on my terms to protect my own safety, and that, to me, feels personally and politically powerful.

Kathleen McKeveny, 26, Oakland, CA


Photo courtesy of Kathleen McKeveny

I sent my voter registration application to the BOE in Alameda County. It was sent back to me with a Post-It note attached requesting that I re-sign the application because my signature was somehow ripped off in the mail. The application was folded into triads and in an envelope, so I have no idea how my signature could possibly have been the only portion of the paper affected by an accidental tear.

Photo of ripped ballot

Photo by Kathleen McKeveny

I sent back my registration immediately and haven’t gotten confirmation that it was received yet. I still have no idea if I’ve been properly registered or if I need to take more action. I am definitely going to vote, though: California has same-day registration in the absolute worst case scenario. This was just such a bizarre thing to have happened.

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All the products we found to be the best during our testing this year



(CNN) —  

Throughout the year, CNN Underscored is constantly testing products — be it coffee makers or headphones — to find the absolute best in each respective category.

Our testing process is rigorous, consisting of hours of research (consulting experts, reading editorial reviews and perusing user ratings) to find the top products in each category. Once we settle on a testing pool, we spend weeks — if not months — testing and retesting each product multiple times in real-world settings. All this in an effort to settle on the absolute best products.

So, as we enter peak gifting season, if you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift, we know you’ll find something on this list that they (or you!) will absolutely love.


Best burr coffee grinder: Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder With Digital Timer Display ($249; amazon.com or walmart.com)

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder
Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder

Beginner baristas and coffee connoisseurs alike will be pleased with the Baratza Virtuoso+, a conical burr grinder with 40 settings for grind size, from super fine (espresso) to super coarse (French press). The best coffee grinder we tested, this sleek look and simple, intuitive controls, including a digital timer, allow for a consistent grind every time — as well as optimal convenience.

Read more from our testing of coffee grinders here.

Best drip coffee maker: Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker ($79.95; amazon.com)

Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker
Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker

During our testing of drip coffee makers, we found the Braun KF6050WH BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker made a consistently delicious, hot cup of coffee, brewed efficiently and cleanly, from sleek, relatively compact hardware that is turnkey to operate, and all for a reasonable price.

Read more from our testing of drip coffee makers here.

Best single-serve coffee maker: Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus ($165; originally $179.95; amazon.com)

Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus
Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus

Among all single-serve coffee makers we tested, the Breville-Nespresso VertuoPlus, which uses pods that deliver both espresso and “regular” coffee, could simply not be beat for its convenience. Intuitive and a snap to use right out of the box, it looks sleek on the counter, contains a detached 60-ounce water reservoir so you don’t have to refill it with each use and delivers perfectly hot, delicious coffee with a simple tap of a lever and press of a button.

Read more from our testing of single-serve coffee makers here.

Best coffee subscription: Blue Bottle (starting at $11 per shipment; bluebottlecoffee.com)

Blue Bottle coffee subscription
Blue Bottle coffee subscription

Blue Bottle’s coffee subscription won us over with its balance of variety, customizability and, most importantly, taste. We sampled both the single-origin and blend assortments and loved the flavor of nearly every single cup we made. The flavors are complex and bold but unmistakably delicious. Beyond its coffee, Blue Bottle’s subscription is simple and easy to use, with tons of options to tailor to your caffeine needs.

Read more from our testing of coffee subscriptions here.

Best cold brewer coffee maker: Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot ($25; amazon.com)

Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot
Hario Mizudashi Cold Brew Coffeepot

This sleek, sophisticated and streamlined carafe produces 1 liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of rich, robust brew in just eight hours. It was among the simplest to assemble, it executed an exemplary brew in about the shortest time span, and it looked snazzy doing it. Plus, it rang up as the second-most affordable of our inventory.

Read more from our testing of cold brew makers here.

Kitchen essentials

Best nonstick pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid ($39.97; amazon.com)

T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid
T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan With Lid

If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2 1/2-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.

Read more from our testing of nonstick pans here.

Best blender: Breville Super Q ($499.95; breville.com)

Breville Super Q
Breville Super Q

With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day over a year seems like a bargain.

Read more from our testing of blenders here.

Best knife set: Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set ($119.74; amazon.com)

Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set
Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set

The Chicago Cutlery Fusion 17-Piece Knife Block Set sets you up to easily take on almost any cutting job and is a heck of a steal at just $119.97. Not only did the core knives included (chef’s, paring, utility and serrated) perform admirably, but the set included a bevy of extras, including a full set of steak knives. We were blown away by their solid construction and reliable execution for such an incredible value. The knives stayed sharp through our multitude of tests, and we were big fans of the cushion-grip handles that kept them from slipping, as well as the classic look of the chestnut-stained wood block. If you’re looking for a complete knife set you’ll be proud of at a price that won’t put a dent in your savings account, this is the clear winner.

Read more from our testing of knife sets here.


Best true wireless earbuds: AirPods Pro ($199, originally $249; amazon.com)

Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro

Apple’s AirPods Pro hit all the marks. They deliver a wide soundstage, thanks to on-the-fly equalizing tech that produces playback that seemingly brings you inside the studio with the artist. They have the best noise-canceling ability of all the earbuds we tested, which, aside from stiff-arming distractions, creates a truly immersive experience. To sum it up, you’re getting a comfortable design, a wide soundstage, easy connectivity and long battery life.

Read more from our testing of true wireless earbuds here.

Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278, originally $349.99; amazon.com)

Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4

Not only do the WH-1000XM4s boast class-leading sound, but phenomenal noise-canceling ability. So much so that they ousted our former top overall pick, the Beats Solo Pros, in terms of ANC quality, as the over-ear XM4s better seal the ear from outside noise. Whether it was a noise from a dryer, loud neighbors down the hall or high-pitched sirens, the XM4s proved impenetrable. This is a feat that other headphones, notably the Solo Pros, could not compete with — which is to be expected considering their $348 price tag.

Read more from our testing of noise-canceling headphones here.

Best on-ear headphones: Beats Solo 3 ($119.95, originally $199.95; amazon.com)

Beats Solo 3
Beats Solo 3

The Beats Solo 3s are a phenomenal pair of on-ear headphones. Their sound quality was among the top of those we tested, pumping out particularly clear vocals and instrumentals alike. We enjoyed the control scheme too, taking the form of buttons in a circular configuration that blend seamlessly into the left ear cup design. They are also light, comfortable and are no slouch in the looks department — more than you’d expect given their reasonable $199.95 price tag.

Read more from our testing of on-ear headphones here.


Best matte lipstick: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick ($11, originally $22; amazon.com or $22; nordstrom.com and stilacosmetics.com)

Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick

The Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick has thousands of 5-star ratings across the internet, and it’s easy to see why. True to its name, this product clings to your lips for hours upon hours, burritos and messy breakfast sandwiches be damned. It’s also surprisingly moisturizing for such a superior stay-put formula, a combo that’s rare to come by.

Read more from our testing of matte lipsticks here.

Best everyday liquid liner: Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner ($22; stilacosmetics.com or macys.com)

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

The Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a longtime customer favorite — hence its nearly 7,500 5-star reviews on Sephora — and for good reason. We found it requires little to no effort to create a precise wing, the liner has superior staying power and it didn’t irritate those of us with sensitive skin after full days of wear. As an added bonus, it’s available in a whopping 12 shades.

Read more from our testing of liquid eyeliners here.

Work-from-home essentials

Best office chair: Steelcase Series 1 (starting at $381.60; amazon.com or $415, wayfair.com)

Steelcase Series 1
Steelcase Series 1

The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the highest overall, standing out as one of the most customizable, high-quality, comfortable office chairs on the market. At $415, the Steelcase Series 1 beat out most of its pricier competitors across testing categories, scoring less than a single point lower than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, easily making it the best bang for the buck and a clear winner for our best office chair overall.

Read more from our testing of office chairs here.

Best ergonomic keyboard: Logitech Ergo K860 ($129.99; logitech.com)

Logitech Ergo K860
Logitech Ergo K860

We found the Logitech Ergo K860 to be a phenomenally comfortable keyboard. Its build, featuring a split keyboard (meaning there’s a triangular gap down the middle) coupled with a wave-like curvature across the body, allows both your shoulders and hands to rest in a more natural position that eases the tension that can often accompany hours spent in front of a regular keyboard. Add the cozy palm rest along the bottom edge and you’ll find yourself sitting pretty comfortably.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic keyboards here.

Best ergonomic mouse: Logitech MX Master 3 ($99.99; logitech.com)

Logitech MX Master 3
Logitech MX Master 3

The Logitech MX Master 3 is an unequivocally comfortable mouse. It’s shaped to perfection, with special attention to the fingers that do the clicking. Using it felt like our fingers were lounging — with a sculpted ergonomic groove for nearly every finger.

Read more from our testing of ergonomic mice here.

Best ring light: Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light ($25.99; amazon.com)

Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light
Emart 10-Inch Selfie Ring Light

The Emart 10-Inch Standing Ring Light comes with a tripod that’s fully adjustable — from 19 inches to 50 inches — making it a great option whether you’re setting it atop your desk for video calls or need some overhead lighting so no weird shadows creep into your photos. Its three light modes (warm, cool and a nice mix of the two), along with 11 brightness levels (among the most settings on any of the lights we tested), ensure you’re always framed in the right light. And at a relatively cheap $35.40, this light combines usability and affordability better than any of the other options we tested.

Read more from our testing of ring lights here.


Best linen sheets: Parachute Linen Sheet Set (starting at $149; parachute.com)

Parachute Linen Sheets
Parachute Linen Sheets

Well made, luxurious to the touch and with the most versatile shopping options (six sizes, nine colors and the ability to order individual sheets), the linen sheets from Parachute were, by a narrow margin, our favorite set. From the satisfying unboxing to a sumptuous sleep, with a la carte availability, Parachute set the gold standard in linen luxury.

Read more from our testing of linen sheets here.

Best shower head: Kohler Forte Shower Head (starting at $74.44; amazon.com)

Kohler Forte Shower Head
Kohler Forte Shower Head

Hands down, the Kohler Forte Shower Head provides the best overall shower experience, offering three distinct settings. Backstory: Lots of shower heads out there feature myriad “settings” that, when tested, are pretty much indecipherable. The Forte’s three sprays, however, are each incredibly different and equally successful. There’s the drenching, full-coverage rain shower, the pulsating massage and the “silk spray” setting that is basically a super-dense mist. The Forte manages to achieve all of this while using only 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM), making it a great option for those looking to conserve water.

Read more from our testing of shower heads here.

Best humidifier: TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier (starting at $49.99; amazon.com)

TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier
TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier

The TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier ramped up the humidity in a room in about an hour, which was quicker than most of the options we tested. More importantly, though, it sustained those humidity levels over the longest period of time — 24 hours, to be exact. The levels were easy to check with the built-in reader (and we cross-checked that reading with an external reader to confirm accuracy). We also loved how easy this humidifier was to clean, and the nighttime mode for the LED reader eliminated any bright lights in the bedroom.

Read more from our testing of humidifiers here.


Best TV: TCL 6-Series (starting at $579.99; bestbuy.com)

TCL 6-Series
TCL 6-Series

With models starting at $599.99 for a 55-inch, the TCL 6-Series might give you reverse sticker shock considering everything you get for that relatively small price tag. But can a 4K smart TV with so many specification standards really deliver a good picture for $500? The short answer: a resounding yes. The TCL 6-Series produces a vibrant picture with flexible customization options and handles both HDR and Dolby Vision, optimization standards that improve the content you’re watching by adding depth to details and expanding the color spectrum.

Read more from our testing of TVs here.

Best streaming device: Roku Ultra ($99.99; amazon.com)

Roku Ultra
Roku Ultra

Roku recently updated its Ultra streaming box and the 2020 version is faster, thanks to a new quad-core processor. The newest Ultra retains all of the features we loved and enjoyed about the 2019 model, like almost zero lag time between waking it up and streaming content, leading to a hiccup-free streaming experience. On top of that, the Roku Ultra can upscale content to deliver the best picture possible on your TV — even on older-model TVs that don’t offer the latest and greatest picture quality — and supports everything from HD to 4K.

Read more from our testing of streaming devices here.


Best carry-on luggage: Away Carry-On ($225; away.com)

Away Carry-On
Away Carry-On

The Away Carry-On scored high marks across all our tests and has the best combination of features for the average traveler. Compared with higher-end brands like Rimowa, which retail for hundreds more, you’re getting the same durable materials, an excellent internal compression system and eye-catching style. Add in smart charging capabilities and a lifetime warranty, and this was the bag to beat.

Read more from our testing of carry-on luggage here.

Best portable charger: Anker PowerCore 13000 (starting at $31.99; amazon.com)

Anker PowerCore 13000
Anker PowerCore 13000

The Anker PowerCore 13000 shone most was in terms of charging capacity. It boasts 13,000 mAh (maH is a measure of how much power a device puts out over time), which is enough to fully charge an iPhone 11 two and a half times. Plus, it has two fast-charging USB Type-A ports so you can juice a pair of devices simultaneously. While not at the peak in terms of charging capacity, at just $31.99, it’s a serious bargain for so many mAhs.

Read more from our testing of portable chargers here.


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Trump’s misleading tweet about changing your vote, briefly explained



Open Sourced logo

Searches for changing one’s vote did not trend following the recent presidential debate, and just a few states appear to have processes for changing an early vote. But that didn’t stop President Trump from wrongly saying otherwise on Tuesday.

In early morning posts, the president falsely claimed on Twitter and Facebook that many people had Googled “Can I change my vote?” after the second presidential debate and said those searching wanted to change their vote over to him. Trump also wrongly claimed that most states have a mechanism for changing one’s vote. Actually, just a few states appear to have the ability, and it’s rarely used.

Twitter did not attach a label to Trump’s recent tweet.

Trump’s claim about what was trending on Google after the debate doesn’t hold up. Searches for changing one’s vote were not among Google’s top trending searches for the day of the debate (October 22) or the day after. Searches for “Can I change my vote?” did increase slightly around the time of the debate, but there is no way to know whether the bump was related to the debate or whether the people searching were doing so in support of Trump.

It was only after Trump’s posts that searches about changing your vote spiked significantly. It’s worth noting that people were also searching for “Can I change my vote?” during a similar period before the 2016 presidential election.

Google declined to comment on the accuracy of Trump’s post.

Trump also claimed that these results indicate that most of the people who were searching for how to change their vote support him. But the Google Trends tool for the searches he mentioned does not provide that specific information.

Perhaps the most egregiously false claim in Trump’s recent posts is about “most states” having processes for changing your early vote. In fact, only a few states have such processes, and they can come with certain conditions. For instance, in Michigan, voters who vote absentee can ask for a new ballot by mail or in person until the day before the election.

The Center for Election Innovation’s David Becker told the Associated Press that changing one’s vote is “extremely rare.” Becker explained, “It’s hard enough to get people to vote once — it’s highly unlikely anybody will go through this process twice.”

Trump’s post on Facebook was accompanied by a link to Facebook’s Voting Information Center.

At the time of publication, Trump’s false claims had drawn about 84,000 and 187,000 “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook, respectively. Trump’s posts accelerated searches about changing your vote in places like the swing state of Florida, where changing one’s vote after casting it is not possible. Those numbers are a reminder of the president’s capacity to spread misinformation quickly.

On Facebook, the president’s post came with a label directing people to Facebook’s Voting Information Center, but no fact-checking label. Twitter had no annotation on the president’s post. Neither company responded to a request for comment.

That Trump is willing to spread misinformation to benefit himself and his campaign isn’t a surprise. He does that a lot. Still, just days before a presidential election in which millions have already voted, this latest episode demonstrates that the president has no qualms about using false claims about voting to cause confusion and sow doubt in the electoral process.

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Nearly 6,000 civilian casualties in Afghanistan so far this year



From January to September, 5,939 civilians – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded – were casualties of the fighting, the UN says.

Nearly 6,000 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of the year as heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters rages on despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations has said.

From January to September, there were 5,939 civilian casualties in the fighting – 2,117 people killed and 3,822 wounded, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a quarterly report on Tuesday.

“High levels of violence continue with a devastating impact on civilians, with Afghanistan remaining among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian,” the report said.

Civilian casualties were 30 percent lower than in the same period last year but UNAMA said violence has failed to slow since the beginning of talks between government negotiators and the Taliban that began in Qatar’s capital, Doha, last month.

An injured girl receives treatment at a hospital after an attack in Khost province [Anwarullah/Reuters]

The Taliban was responsible for 45 percent of civilian casualties while government troops caused 23 percent, it said. United States-led international forces were responsible for two percent.

Most of the remainder occurred in crossfire, or were caused by ISIL (ISIS) or “undetermined” anti-government or pro-government elements, according to the report.

Ground fighting caused the most casualties followed by suicide and roadside bomb attacks, targeted killings by the Taliban and air raids by Afghan troops, the UN mission said.

Fighting has sharply increased in several parts of the country in recent weeks as government negotiators and the Taliban have failed to make progress in the peace talks.

At least 24 people , mostly teens, were killed in a suicide bomb attack at an education centre in Kabul [Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]

The Taliban has been fighting the Afghan government since it was toppled from power in a US-led invasion in 2001.

Washington blamed the then-Taliban rulers for harbouring al-Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda was accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.

Calls for urgent reduction of violence

Meanwhile, the US envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday that the level of violence in the country was still too high and the Kabul government and Taliban fighters must work harder towards forging a ceasefire at the Doha talks.

Khalilzad made the comments before heading to the Qatari capital to hold meetings with the two sides.

“I return to the region disappointed that despite commitments to lower violence, it has not happened. The window to achieve a political settlement will not stay open forever,” he said in a tweet.

There needs to be “an agreement on a reduction of violence leading to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”, added Khalilzad.

A deal in February between the US and the Taliban paved the way for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counterterrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to sit with the Afghan government to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula.

But progress at the intra-Afghan talks has been slow since their start in mid-September and diplomats and officials have warned that rising violence back home is sapping trust.


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