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Hard Numbers: Three keys to the White House, early voting records, Florida's minimum wage, searching for mail-in-ballots

A voter drops off her vote by mail ballot at the Supervisor of Elections office on election day in West Palm Beach, Florida on August 18, 2020.

3: As votes continue to trickle in, three yet-to-be-called battleground states — Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania — now appear to hold the key to the White House. It could take days to find out the final tallies as each of the states works through its own count of early votes, mail-in ballots, and election day votes.


101 million: More than 101 million Americans voted early in this year's presidential election, according to the US Elections Project. Social distancing restrictions and fears about the pandemic caused an influx of mail-in ballots and early in person voting. In 2016, some 47 million Americans voted early, while 32 million people cast their ballots early in 2012. Analysts are predicting unprecedented levels of voter turnout when all is done and dusted.

15: Floridian voters have approved "Amendment 2," which will raise the state's minimum wage to $15 by 2026. (Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25.) While in recent years the move towards a $15 minimum wage has gained momentum across the country — and is a key part of the Democratic party's platform — Florida is the first southern state to approve the measure.

300,523: The US Postal Service said that some 300,523 mail-in-ballots around the country could not be found Tuesday afternoon, having received incoming scans at processing depots but not exit scans. A federal court ordered the agency — and law enforcement — to "sweep" processing plants by the time polls closed, but the mail service (represented by the US Justice Department) said it would make decisions about its own inspection schedule. Voting rights advocates are up in arms as the situation gets messier and messier.

Dating and debates, music festivals and dance classes, work and education – an increasing amount of our social interactions now take place online. With this shift to virtual venues, ensuring kindness and respect in everyday interactions and encounters is more important than ever.

The digital space has become a fundamental part of the national and international conversation, and has also, at times, become a breeding ground for bullying, trolling and hate speech. There is a clear need for more "digital good" to ensure that online encounters have a constructive impact on everyone involved. To learn more about digital good and what it means, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

As the global vaccination race heats up, the most populous country in the world is trying to do three very hard things at once.

India, grappling with the second highest confirmed COVID caseload in the world, recently embarked on what it called "the world's largest" coronavirus vaccination campaign, seeking to inoculate a sizable swath of its 1.4 billion people.

That alone would be a herculean challenge, but India is also making hundreds of millions of jabs as part of the global COVAX initiative to inoculate low-income countries. And as if those two things weren't enough, Delhi also wants to win hearts and minds by doling out millions more shots directly to other countries in its neighborhood.

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Passport to the Hajj — Saudi Arabia announced that it will require pilgrims to have vaccine passports in order to enter the country for the annual Hajj later this year. Each year, millions of Muslims from dozens of countries travel to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina to fulfill a religious obligation, in an annual event that brings in billions of dollars for the Saudi economy. The vaccine passport requirement may mean that people without means or access to vaccines in their home countries will be shut out of the Hajj this year, but Riyadh is relying on the scheme to help them pull off the event — after last year's event was mainly cancelled amid the pandemic— without fomenting a COVID outbreak.

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26,000: Efforts by the Australian government to keep the pandemic at bay have harmed the country's agriculture sector, which relies on foreign workers to tend to crops and cultivate the land. Australia had a deficit of some 26,000 farmworkers because of entry restrictions in recent months, Agri businesses say, resulting in tens of millions of dollars worth of wasted crops.

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When America's top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was last on GZERO World in the fall of 2019, just weeks before the pandemic hit, he saw the country's the anti-vax movement as concerning, but still a fringe issue. What a difference a year makes, with one in five Americans saying today that they're reluctant to take the COVID-10 vaccine. Why has vaccine hesitancy grown so much?
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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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