US elections live news: Romney for filling Supreme Court vacancy

The senator’s support of filling the seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before election gives Republicans needed votes.

  • Senator Mitt Romney said on Tuesday he supports filling a Supreme Court vacancy before the election, all-but-assuring Republicans have the needed votes to confirm a potential nominee.

  • Trump campaigns in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, as the vacant Supreme Court seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sparks a new rallying cry among supporters: “Fill that seat”.  

  • Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris heads to Michigan, where she will hold a round table with Black men in Flint. 

  • Biden will not be on the road on Monday, but will hold a virtual fundraiser
  • Trump will deliver a pre-recorded speech at the United Nations General Assembly, with 42 days until November 3.

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the US elections. This is Joseph Stepansky.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, September 22

11:30 ET – Michigan: No charge in toilet election display                  

A prosecutor in Michigan has flushed a complaint about a toilet that was promoted as a place to drop absentee ballots.

The election clerk in Ingham County informed police about a toilet on the front lawn of a home in Mason, near Lansing. A sign said, “Place mail in ballots here.”

Barb Byrum, a Democrat, said it’s a felony to take illegal possession of absentee ballots, But there was no evidence of an intent to violate Michigan law, said the office of county prosecutor Carol Siemon, a Democrat.

“Instead, this seemed to be an effort to make a humorous political statement,” the statement said.

More than 2 million Michigan voters could cast mail ballots this fall. Trump has repeatedly perpetuated unfounded claims that mail voting leads to higher rates of fraud.

10:00 ET – Romney’s support gives Republican senators needed vote

Mitt Romney has said he supports moving forward with confirming a new Supreme Court justice before the election, giving Republicans the needed votes to move forward and scuttling Democrats hopes of further defections from party ranks. 

“I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the president’s nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications,” Romney said in a statement.

So far, Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins are the only Republicans in the chamber to oppose Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to move ahead with a confirmation. 

Romney had voted to convict Trump during the Senate impeachment trial, the only Republican to do so, raising the prospect he may break from the party again on the confirmation. 

09:30 ET – Report: Putin ‘probably directed’ influence operation to hurt Biden at the polls

A top-secret CIA assessment has concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “probably directing” an election influence campaign to “denigrate” Biden and influence the election, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing two sources who had seen the report. 

The influence operation involves Ukrainian legislator, Andriy Derkach, who is connected to Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. It says Derkach tried to disseminate disparaging information about Biden in the US through lobbyists, Congress, the media and contacts with figures close to the president.

The intelligence community had previously determined that Putin had directed a 2016 influence campaign that involved hacking Democratic National Committee emails and influencing voters through social media and staged in-person events. 

09:00 ET – Poll: Most voters think next president should pick new justice

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll found that half of registered voters believe a new Supreme Court Justice nominee should be selected by whoever wins on November 3, because the election is less than 50 days away. 

That’s opposed to 37 percent who believe Trump should pick the nominee because “he is the current president”, the poll found. 

Nearly 80 percent of Democrats think that the election winner should choose the nominee. Meanwhile, 71 percent of Republicans think Trump should make the pick. For Independents, 49 percent think the winner of the election should make the selection, while 31 percent think Trump should do it. 

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Read all the updates from yesterday (September 21) here.

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