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2020 U.S. ELECTION: What you need to know right now

(Reuters) - Court battles over how votes are tallied have now spread to almost every competitive state, as the effect of the pandemic has led the two sides to clash over seemingly mundane issues such as witness signatures, postmarks, and the use of drop boxes for ballots.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a discussion with state attorneys general on social media abuses in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 23, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

- With speculation swirling over his pick for the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump heads to Florida on Thursday, hoping to shore up support in that hotly contested state. On Wednesday, the president, who has repeatedly attempted to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election, declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.

- Retired General Paul Selva, once one of Trump’s top military advisers, is joining a large group of former Pentagon leaders to publicly endorse Trump’s Democratic rival Joe Biden, according to a letter seen by Reuters. On Wednesday, Reuters documented how Trump fell out of love with his generals and why the feeling is mutual.

- Election officials are turning to signature verification software to guard against fraud amid the expected avalanche of mail-in voting this year.

BY THE NUMBERS

It looks like a toss up in Florida and Arizona, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos battleground polling.

In Florida, each candidate is polling at 47% with likely voters, who are also equally split over whether Biden or Trump would be better at handling the coronavirus pandemic. The poll found 51% saying Trump would be better at handling the economy, versus 41% for Biden.

In Arizona, 47% of likely voters said they were going for Biden, versus 46% for Trump. Biden would be better at handling the coronavirus pandemic, according to 47%, while 44% said Trump would be better. The poll found 49% saying Trump would be better at managing the economy, while 44% said Biden would be better.

- For the next 41 days, Reuters/Ipsos is polling likely voters in six states - Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona - that will play critical roles in deciding the Nov. 3 outcome.

GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE

U.S. and Chinese diplomats are signaling a tricky road ahead for climate diplomacy. Biden has pledged to reinvigorate U.S. climate leadership if he wins, but re-establishing that role may not be so easy as China’s influence grows, say diplomats from both countries involved in prior negotiations.

INVESTOR VIEW

Trump, looking to shore up support in the Farm Belt, is taking steps to help producers of corn-based ethanol. Trump and his administration have begun chipping away at the industry’s wishlist, using the blueprint of a meeting from last year with senators who were frustrated that the administration had been helping the oil industry at the expense of farmers dependent on ethanol sales.

ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

Expected events and Reuters coverage on Sept. 24:

- Vice President Mike Pence travels to Wisconsin and Minnesota (USA-ELECTION/PENCE (TV))

- Kamala Harris speaks at climate change meeting (USA-ELECTION/HARRIS 08:00 ET / 12:00 GMT)

- U.S. Postmaster General speaks to Economic Club of Washington (USA-ELECTION/POST OFFICE (TV) 11:00 ET / 15:00 GMT)

- Bernie Sanders to give speech on Trump and election integrity (USA-ELECTION/SANDERS 13:00 ET / 17:00 GMT)

- President Donald Trump campaigns in Charlotte, N.C. and Jacksonville, Fla. (USA-ELECTION/TRUMP (PIX, TV) 16:30 ET / 20:30 GMT)

- The presidential election and how it will affect agricultural markets (USA-ELECTION/AGRICULTURE (FACTBOX))

- The energy issues at stake in the 2020 election (USA-ELECTION/ENERGY (FACTBOX))

Refinitiv customers can find more 2020 U.S. Election content on the Election App (USPOL) on Eikon or Workspace.

Media customers can find complete multimedia coverage on the Reuters Connect planning calendar here here

Editing by Leela de Kretser and Rosalba O’Brien

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