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(CBS DETROIT) – Southwest is doubling down on its promise to keep middle seats open.

The airline says it will keep the middle row clear through Nov. 30.

Southwest also reinforced its mask policy which requires all passengers over the age of two, to wear a face covering.

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Early voting begins in Minnesota, other states ahead of November election

Voters in Minnesota, Virginia, South Dakota and Wyoming on Friday began casting their ballots for the November presidential election as the early voting periods began in those states.

Starting Friday up until Nov. 2, voters in Virginia can submit ballots in-person at precincts across the state, and may send in ballots by mail up until Oct. 23. Those who have requested absentee ballots in Minnesota, South Dakota and Wyoming may now cast their ballots in-person or by mail up until the day before Election Day. 

Early voting in Minnesota comes as both President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE and Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenCast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response Biden tells CNN town hall that he has benefited from white privilege MORE are set to visit the state on Friday. Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in the evening at an airport in the city of Bemidji, while Biden is expected to go to a union training center in Duluth. 

The Trump campaign hopes to flip the Midwestern state, which Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillicon Valley: FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden | Treasury Dept. sanctions Iranian government-backed hackers The Hill's Campaign Report: Arizona shifts towards Biden | Biden prepares for drive-in town hall | New Biden ad targets Latino voters FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden MORE won in 2016 by just under under 45,000 votes. However, recent polling from FiveThirtyEight shows Biden leading the president by approximately 17 percentage points. 

Tweets early Friday morning showed long lines already forming outside precincts, with one image capturing dozens of voters standing outside a Richmond, Va. building ready to cast their ballots six weeks before the official Nov. 3 election. 

There may be 6+ weeks until Election Day 2020, but early voting in Virginia actually starts today — and there are dozens of voters in line to vote in person even before the building here in Richmond, VA opens

— Amanda Golden (@amandawgolden) September 18, 2020

Other states, including New Jersey, Michigan, Vermont and Illinois are set to begin early voting in the coming week, with 29 other states and the District of Columbia following suit throughout October. 

Early voting comes as lawmakers and others have raised concerns about the safety of in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic. In response, several states have expanded absentee voting, with South Carolina voting Tuesday to allow all voters to cast absentee ballots in November’s election. 

President Trump has continued to criticize mail-in voting, advancing claims without evidence that the practice leads to a large number of fraud cases. 

"What they’re doing is using COVID to steal an election," the president said last month. "They’re using COVID to defraud the American people, all of our people, of a fair and free election. We can’t do that."

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Hillary Clinton Minnesota Virginia South Dakota Wyoming 2020 election absentee ballots coronavirus covid-19 mail-in voting

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