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If Trump wins, 20 million people could lose health insurance. If Biden wins, 25 million could gain it.

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Millions of Americans stand to gain — or lose — health care coverage in the 2020 presidential election.

An unfavorable Supreme Court ruling next year could mean potentially millions of low-income and middle-class people lose their health coverage in the middle of a pandemic. A freshly seated Justice Amy Coney Barrett and other conservative justices could invalidate most or all of the Affordable Care Act, as Donald Trump’s administration is urging the Court to do.

The Trump administration announced its plan to protect people with preexisting conditions under that scenario last week that was, in effect, no plan at all. It was instead a plea to trust that Trump would figure out a way to restore the protections, despite his efforts to roll them back throughout his first term.

The Supreme Court could also reject the argument for overturning the ACA. And if Joe Biden wins the presidency, he could wield a mandate to expand health coverage to millions more Americans, creating for the first time a government health insurance plan that would be available to middle-class, working Americans as an alternative to the private coverage offered by their employer. Low-income people who live in the states that have refused to expand Medicaid would be enrolled in that new government program, expanding the safety net to millions of people to whom it’s so far been denied.

Universal health coverage would be within reach. A decade after Obamacare passed, Joe Biden could complete its mission.

Democrats are framing Senate Republicans confirming Trump’s new Supreme Court nominee as an existential threat to the ACA and its most popular provisions. It is a new spin on their most successful message in the 2018 midterms, when Democrats hammered Republicans for their efforts to repeal the health care law and won a House majority on the strength of that argument.

“What’s at stake here, as the president has made it clear, he wants to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. He’s been running on that. He ran on that and he has been governing on that,” Biden said at the first presidential debate Tuesday. “He’s in the Supreme Court right now trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which will strip 20 million people from having insurance.”

But if Democrats actually get a chance to govern, they will have to decide how ambitious to be in the middle of a pandemic and an economic recession. The center of gravity in the Democratic Party and in the country on health care has shifted substantially to the left since Biden and Barack Obama won in 2008. Obamacare is pretty popular, the winning issue for Democrats that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was once ridiculed for saying it would be. A public option — once so radical it was stripped from the Affordable Care Act in a futile effort to win over Republican votes — is considered the moderate alternative to single-payer Medicare-for-all.

The possible futures for US health care have perhaps never been so disparate as they are today. In one of the most extreme scenarios, 20 million people could lose health insurance. In the other, 25 million people could gain coverage.

The first domino will fall in the November election, when America’s voters decide which candidate they want to preside over the next chapter of health reform.

Trump doesn’t have a plan if the Supreme Court ends coverage for 20 million people

The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in California vs. Texas for November 10, the week after Election Day. Republican-led states and the Justice Department have urged the Court to invalidate the ACA in its entirety, arguing that because the individual mandate penalty has been repealed, the rationale used to save the law in 2012’s National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (for which Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the Court’s majority opinion) no longer applies — so Obamacare must fall.

Trump would be the silent author of a ruling striking down Obamacare if the three justices he’s appointed — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and, assuming she is confirmed in time to hear the case, Amy Coney Barrett — side with the archconservatives Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito to overturn the law. A decision would likely come in the spring of 2021.

In that scenario, more than 12 million people who gained coverage through Medicaid expansion could lose their coverage. And so could most of the 11.4 million people who purchase coverage on the law’s private insurance markets, because they rely on federal subsidies that would also be nixed. Protections for preexisting conditions would be wiped off the books. The provision that guarantees free preventive care, including contraception, would be gone. The US would be effectively starting over, as if a decade of health reform never happened.

Urban Institute

But if the Court rules as Trump is asking them to, his administration does not actually appear to have a plan to replace the ACA. The president is promising something “much cheaper and far better” — such a ruling “would be a big win for the USA,” as he recently tweeted — but the White House has offered no evidence such a plan exists.

After weeks of promises about a forthcoming health care plan, the Trump administration convened a call with reporters last week to unveil some health policy news. But the details were staggeringly meager: Trump would sign an executive order that “it is the policy of the United States” that people with preexisting conditions would be protected.

That order doesn’t actually have any force of law. With Obamacare eradicated, insurers would be free to begin charging people higher premiums or denying coverage altogether because of their medical history. And it was already exposed during the Republicans’ failed Obamacare repeal fiasco that no consensus currently exists within the party about how to protect people with preexisting conditions. It would seem to require government spending and regulations for insurers — both of which are antithetical to the GOP’s stated ideology.

Some conservatives would probably be comfortable with reconstituting many of Obamacare’s policies — guaranteed issue, tax subsidies, and the like — with tweaks that they believe would make premiums cheaper.

“It’s an alternative form of the individual market, with important technical differences,” Avik Roy, president of the free market Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity and a proponent of such a plan, told me recently. “We’d end up in a pretty similar place, but with a reformed individual market.”

But others on the right, including the Trump administration in its proposed federal budgets, still support a framework similar to 2017’s Graham-Cassidy bill, which would effectively take the money appropriated by Obamacare and turn it into block grants for states to spend as they see fit (and which would lead to millions of Americans losing coverage, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office). Either way, cuts to Medicaid seem likely if Republicans are reforming the health care system. Both camps are proposing them.

The pressure to act and prevent millions of people losing coverage would be enormous. But the White House still has no official plan, a month before the election and Supreme Court oral arguments, and Trump has not proven adept at passing major legislation through Congress. So it must be treated as a plausible outcome that if the Court strikes down Obamacare, no deal gets done and the law is allowed to lapse without anything to replace it.

The US uninsured rate was already ticking up under Trump, after he undermined the ACA’s private markets through regulatory action, and Covid-19 has led to several million more people losing coverage. The losses could be even greater under this worst-case scenario, up to 20 million people suddenly uninsured with no guarantee of a fix.

Joe Biden’s plan would cover more than 20 million people — if it ever becomes reality

No matter how the Supreme Court rules in the Texas case, Joe Biden could have an opportunity to reshape American health care. If the Court were to strike down the ACA, then the Biden administration would obviously be forced to react.

But even if the justices uphold the law, Biden could still decide proactively to push through another health reform bill. Some senior Democrats are imagining what they have called a “Never Again” agenda if they control the White House and Congress, a response to Covid-19 that addresses many of the weak spots exposed by the pandemic. Covering the 30 million or so Americans who are still uninsured would be a natural fit for such a legislative agenda.

Even for Biden, the consummate Washington operator, passing a major health care bill would be challenging. Democrats will have big decisions to make, starting with how to pass a bill through the Senate. Should they use budget reconciliation, with the limitations that it places on spending? Should they eliminate the filibuster and pass whatever bill they come up with via a bare majority? Those will be delicate discussions.

Then comes the policy. Some Democratic aides I’ve spoken with think the smart move, assuming the party enjoys a full sweep in the election, would be to keep up the pressure on Republicans. Democrats could pass legislation they believe will be overwhelmingly popular with the public and dare Republicans to oppose it. That would be an argument for being a little more restrained on health care; rather than try to establish a public option, which the health care industry fiercely opposes and will spend millions trying to turn public opinion against, Democrats could choose to expand the existing Obamacare subsidies for private insurance instead.

But progressives, especially those in an expanded House majority, are going to push for more — a public option, at a minimum, given Biden’s stated support for it. And given how much health care politics have shifted in the years since Obamacare passed, Democrats might actually be able to create a public option without risking a voter backlash if they go that route.

More Americans approve of the ACA (49 percent in the September Kaiser Family Foundation’s tracking poll) than disapprove of it (42 percent). At the beginning of this year, nearly 70 percent of Americans said they support creating a public health insurance option to compete with private plans.

Even the center-left candidates whom Democrats are trusting to win competitive Senate races and a new majority now say they are on board with the public option, 10 years after then-Sen. Joe Lieberman threatened to block Obama’s health reform legislation unless the public option was removed.

“I believe we should let Americans stay on their private insurance if they want to,” Barbara Bollier, the Democratic Senate candidate in Kansas, said in response to a policy questionnaire Vox sent to campaigns. “But they should also have an affordable public option they can buy into if they are either not happy with their plans or lack coverage.”

Biden could seize that momentum to push Democrats to pass a public option next year. He is proposing that the 2 million people currently locked out of coverage because their state hasn’t expanded Medicaid through Obamacare be automatically enrolled in the new public plan at no cost. As many as 12 million people who currently get their insurance through their work could find the public option to be a cheaper alternative, according to estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Biden also wants to expand the premium tax subsidies so they would pay for a more generous plan and more people would qualify for them. People currently ineligible for that government assistance could see their monthly premium drop by half or more.

The chart below, from the Kaiser Family Foundation, compares what percentage of their income a person making too much money to qualify for Obamacare’s subsidies pays for health insurance under the status quo versus what they would pay under Biden’s plan.

Kaiser Family Foundation

By the Biden campaign’s estimates, 97 percent of Americans would have health insurance under his plan. The Urban Institute modeled a program very similar to what Biden is proposing and found that all legally present US residents would have coverage; about 6.6 unauthorized immigrants would remain uninsured.

The CBO estimates about 20 percent of 30 million uninsured Americans are not lawfully present, meaning Biden’s plan would provide coverage to as many as 24 million currently uninsured people if Urban’s projections are correct.

So in the most pessimistic post-election scenario, 20 million people could lose their insurance; in another more optimistic reality, more than 20 million people could gain it. The difference would be who sits in the White House come January 20, 2021.


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

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(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.

Coffee

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.

Audio

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.

Beauty

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.

Home

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.

Video

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.

Travel

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

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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.
Twitter

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.
Facebook

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.

Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.


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The United States is in the middle of one of the most consequential presidential elections of our lifetimes. It’s essential that all Americans are able to access clear, concise information on what the outcome of the election could mean for their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. That is our mission at Vox. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone understand this presidential election: Contribute today from as little as $3.

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

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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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