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SMERCONISH

U.S. Hits Highest Daily Number Of Virus Cases Since Pandemic Began; Soon: President Trump Votes In Person; Could Mail-in Ballot Problems Affect Election Outcome?; Could DOJ Lawsuit Break Up Google?; Is Your Ballot Selfie Legal?; President Trump Votes Today In Florida. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired October 24, 2020 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: Are the harms of lockdown worse than the virus itself? That's today's survey question and I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We're 10 days away from the election and the U.S. is now in the midst of the long-dreaded fall surge. The U.S. has hit a major milestone yesterday. It recorded its highest one-day number of COVID-19 infections, more than 83,000. This shattered the country's previous record set in July by more than 6,000.

Plus, more than 41,000 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals yesterday and experts warned that the daily numbers will get worse, saying the culprits for this rise in new cases are indoor socializing, outbreaks at schools and pandemic fatigue. That sounds like a case for additional lockdown and indeed, this weekend, millions of Europeans are facing tougher coronavirus restrictions.

Wales is beginning a two-week lockdown, Manchester, England is back under the highest tier of restrictions and Ireland has also imposed its strictest level of restrictions in weeks, but a proposal written by a group of well-credentialed scientists says there's a solution to pandemic fatigue, quote, "Allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk."

The document is called the Great Barrington Declaration. The original authors are three physicians from Stanford, Harvard and Oxford. They advocate for what they call focused protection. Quote, "The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk."

The manifesto's central tenet is that not returning to normal life is doing more harm than good, resulting in long-lasting physical and mental health problems. Therefore, the declaration says, restaurants and other businesses should open, arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate in the -- if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

Publication of the Great Barrington Declaration drew swift response in the form of something called the John Snow Memorandum. No, not a "Game of Thrones" reference. This is a tip of the hat to John Snow who was a legendary epidemiologist. The signatures to this document say the Great Barrington Declaration would endanger Americans who have underlying conditions that put them at high risk from severe COVID-19 and result in perhaps a half a million deaths.

Quote, "In addition to the human cost, this would impact the workforce as a whole and overwhelm ability of healthcare systems to provide acute and routine care. Furthermore, there's no evidence for lasting protective immunity to SARS-COVID-2 following natural infection. Such a strategy would not end the COVID-19 pandemic, but result in recurrent epidemics, as was the case with numerous infectious diseases before the advent of vaccination."

Also criticizing the declaration is John Barry, a professor at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He wrote a piece for "The New York Times" which was titled, "What Fans of 'Herd Immunity' Won't Tell You," and he also literally wrote the book on a deadly pandemic, "The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History."

Professor John Barry joins me now to discuss along with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Stanford University epidemiologist, professor and health economist and one of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration. Dr. Bhattacharya, let me start with you. In short, are you saying that the young and others who are least vulnerable should resume life knowing that many will get COVID, that they'll survive and ultimately help slow the spread of the virus? Is that the argument?

JAY BHATTACHARYA, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: Yes, that's the argument. For them, COVID is less dangerous than the other dangers they face. One in four of young adults, for instance, seriously considered suicide in June. The economic collapse caused by the lockdowns have led to endangering the lives of 130 million people worldwide of starvation, actual starvation. In the United States, people have skipped cancer treatments. Yes, that is -- that's true. The risk of COVID is less for them, 99.95 survival rate, versus the harms from lockdown.

[09:05:00]

SMERCONISH: You know, Dr. Bhattacharya, that opponents of this school of thought say it's reckless and that many, many will die as a result. What's your response to that?

BHATTACHARYA: I mean, you can look at the current policy. the current policy has led to hundreds of -- hundreds of thousands of deaths of Americans that many of which are avoidable. The current policy, the idea is that we slow the spread of the disease and that protects the vulnerable. Well, that's evidently failed. We have not actually been able to protect the vulnerable and I think to some extent because we thought of that as a way to protect the vulnerable, we have failed to take up creative ways to actually protect them.

I think that the death calculations assume that we can't protect the vulnerable and if you believe that you can't protect the vulnerable, you're not going to try to think of ways to do it. I think it actually is possible and the Great Barrington Declaration, you can go look, we make a lot of concrete suggestions and more are possible if we just engage with it.

SMERCONISH: On my website today, by the way, I have not only the Great Barrington Declaration, but also the John Snow Memorandum. I hope people will go and read both. Professor Barry, you, in your "New York Times" essay, you acknowledge that restrictions designed to limit deaths do cause other harm, economic, domestic violence, drug abuse, decline in diagnostic testing, but in the end, you certainly don't agree with what Dr. Bhattacharya has had to say. Why not?

JOHN BARRY, AUTHOR, THE GREAT INFLUENZA: Well, you know, neither situation is a good one. We are in a bad place. The question is which is going to be least harmful and I think it's pretty clear that, you know, if we go the route that they recommend, you're going to see a minimum according to the models, a minimum, if it requires only 40 percent to reach herd immunity, then you would have 800,000 deaths and most people think that it would take more like 60 to 70 percent to reach herd immunity.

In addition, they don't mention the fact that 78 -- according to one study -- I mean, we do know there's a lot of heart damage, lung damage, damage to other organs from even people who are asymptomatic. In one study, 78 percent, including people with no symptoms, of the people infected with COVID have some heart damage. We have no idea whether that's going to lead to incapacitation or shorten their lives in the future.

And another point that I think's very important is this doesn't really accomplish that much. The reason the economy is stagnant is not so much the restrictions, but the concerns that people still have. There was a study in June, I think, by the University of Chicago of areas that were pretty much adjacent to each other, but across county lines or state borders that had different policies on restrictions and so forth.

And they found that only 7 percent of the economic loss, 7 percent of the decline was the cause of restrictions. The rest was because people were concerned about the virus. Those are just a few of the things and to say that our policy now isn't working is absolutely correct. I agree completely, but that's a straw man because we don't have a policy. The White House has refused to follow the advice of public health professionals.

You know, it'd be nice if we actually went out and tried to file policy that public health professionals have have called (ph). You know, it just -- it doesn't work. I mean, in Brazil ...

SMERCONISH: Dr. Bhattacharya ...

BARRY: Go ahead. SMERCONISH: Yes. I'm sorry.

BARRY: No. Go ahead.

SMERCONISH: I was going to say, Dr. Bhattacharya, isn't one of the impracticalities of what you're advocating the fact that so many households in America today are blended? You've got the grandparents now under the same roof as the kids who are home from school, are home from college and even if you allow the schools to all reopen, you know, the K through 12'ers are still going to have exposure to older Americans.

BHATTACHARYA: So I think one of the -- one of the things about that is that the lockdowns themselves have created multi-generational homes. They've sent -- the economic dislocation from the lockdowns that have sent young adults back home to live with much older parents. So I think that the lockdowns themselves are partly responsible for that.

Creative ways are available to deal with it. For instance, you could have accommodations, temporary accommodations, for people who are living in multi-generational homes that are older that have people that test positive or are exposed to the virus. You provide -- just like we provide hotels for homeless, we could do the same for people living in multi-generational homes. Creative policies are possible.

Actually, let me address a couple things that Dr. Barry said. One, I don't -- I think if you're looking at those models, those models assume that the vulnerable get exposed.

[09:10:03]

You protect the vulnerable, you get many, many, many fewer deaths. He also mentions long-term effects of COVID. I think the problem there is that it's a very common thing even -- it's a very, very thing that happens with other respiratory viruses. Well, influenza has the same thing.

To-date, we don't have any evidence that actually it's very -- it's all that common and that study that Dr. Barry cites, the 78 percent study, that had a control group where it was a 65 percent -- a 60 to 65 percent rate of cardiomyopathy. The control group had that. That study had some serious flaws.

So I think we don't actually have a sense of how common or frequent these numbers are -- these sort of long-term extra respiratory side effects are. I don't -- I think we have to look at what other respiratory viruses look like. Other coronaviruses produce it about the same rate, a very low rate. The influenza produces it at a very low rate.

What we do know is that harms from the lockdown are absolutely deadly and we have no doubt about that. The harms from the lockdown worldwide have been absolutely catastrophic and in the United States also catastrophic. We've kept our hospitals empty and people have skipped cancer treatments as a consequence of it, people are skipping diabetes management, the psychiatric harm is absolutely devastating, as I think Dr. Barry will admit. I think the lockdowns themselves are ...

SMERCONISH: Professor -- I want Professor Barry to have opportunity to respond to that and then I want to ask an additional question. Professor, go ahead.

BARRY: OK. Well, first, you know, it we have 225,000 dead today. You know, Sweden tried something akin to what is being recommended. Sweden had the highest death rate in -- just about the highest death rate in Europe. It was more than five times Denmark, it was more than 11 times Norway and their economy actually did worse. In the second quarter, their economy declined more than Denmark and Norway.

You raised the point about the multi-generation -- I mean, making this work, it's just almost impossible. You're essentially asking people to go to concentration camps. I mean, that's an overstatement. I'm sorry I used that phrase, but separating the families, you know, it's just not workable and how do you take care of a 25-year-old obese diabetic who has to go to work? That person is at high risk and, you know, it is a very dangerous situation.

I think the models are pretty accurate and I think the expectations would be certainly 800,000 deaths and probably over a million and that is a very, very high risk to take ...

SMERCONISH: Professor Barry, the essay ...

BARRY: ... for a theory (ph) that has not been proven.

SMERCONISH: The essay that you wrote for "The New York Times" got great circulation. Here's one of the critics that I want to put on the screen and give you opportunity to respond. A person wrote and said, appended to your essay, "Feel free to disagree with me, but in my opinion, the coronavirus response has been upside down from the start. Healthy people under the age of 70 have had every aspect of their lives turned upside down so compromised people over the age of 70 could still go to Walmart.

From the get-go, the extreme quarantine and isolation measures should have focused on those at high risk, not those at infinitesimally small risk. Increase public support for older Americans, rally huge volunteer armies to do deliveries necessary for products and services, make them communicate by Zoom. My kids, who were never at risk, have been essentially on house arrest since mid-March. That's seven months for no reason. Thus, the outrage you see from many Americans now." You would say what to that individual?

BARRY: I would say there is from, you know -- number one, nobody is calling for a general lockdown right now. What would be nice to have and what the public health professionals are calling for is what they have recommended from the beginning and which we have not gotten from the White House. Would there have to be any lockdowns? Probably there would be in some areas where the disease was really, really exploding, but in terms of general lockdowns, absolutely not.

In terms of school openings, I've actually been a hawk in terms of I think, yes, schools should be open because there is a difference between the influenza virus and this virus. In influenza, kids are vulnerable and they're also super-spreaders. Neither of those things are true for coronavirus. So I think schools should be open as long as community transmission is not extraordinary.

[09:15:00]

The real problem is that this administration has not followed public health advice. That is -- we know that the non-pharmaceutical interventions work. They've worked in countries around the world that have actually applied them. They have not worked in places like the United States where we've been hit or miss. You know, give the public health professionals a chance. You know, I respect the signers of the Great Barrington Declaration, but they are a very distinct minority, very distinct minority of public health professionals.

SMERCONISH: OK. And let me just close on this note. First, I'm so privileged to have had both of you here and I'm making available in my Twitter feed and at my website right now the Barrington Declaration, the John Snow Memorandum and Professor Barry's essay from "The New York Times." Thank you both.

BARRY: Thank you.

SMERCONISH: What are your thoughts? Tweet me @Smerconish, go to my Facebook page and I will read some throughout the course of the program. This comes from Facebook, "But to reach 'herd immunity' you have to put the vulnerable at risk too. We are not a 'separate society.' We live in the same society. Even the vulnerable have to go out to work, to school, to shop."

Joyce, I said exactly that to Dr. Bhattacharya, that we have so many blended households today. His response, in part, was we have a lot of -- we have a lot more blended households because of the, quote- unquote, "lockdown" that many have gone into. And again, his argument is to say how much injury are we causing through the ripple effects of the lockdown itself?

Go to my website, answer at Smerconish.com. Are the harms of lockdown worse than the virus itself?

Up ahead, President Trump will be casting his early vote during this house in West Palm Beach in person.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm voting here as opposed to sending it in. You know, those mail-in. I like being able to vote. I'm old-fashioned, I guess.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: But because of the pandemic, unprecedented numbers of Americans are voting by mail, many for the first time. A percentage of mail-in ballots are always rejected for various defects, but this year, could that number be significant enough to effect the outcome of the election? And astronaut Kate Rubins voted really remotely from the International Space Station and posted this selfie. Good thing she didn't include a picture of her actual ballot because on earth, in certain states, she might have been guilty of a crime and I'll explain.

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[09:20:00]

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SMERCONISH: That's a live shot in West Palm Beach, Florida, crowds gathering in anticipation of President Trump casting his Florida ballot in person. When he does, we'll bring it to you live.

President Obama was in Philadelphia this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You don't have to wait for November 3rd to cast your ballot. You can vote from home with a mail-in ballot. Just go to IWillVote.com/PA to request your ballot right away and before you send it back, Pennsylvania's got this thing where you've got to use both envelopes. So you've got to read the directions carefully to make sure your vote counts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: So taking my cue from President Obama, here's my mail-in Pennsylvania ballot. This is the first time that the commonwealth has allowed mailing in for people in a presidential election without an excuse for not voting in person, a decision that actually predated the pandemic.

I've got to, you know, fill in the dots accurately and sign it and then put it inside the so-called "secrecy envelope," then place it inside this envelope and I'm worried, you know, that I'm going to get something wrong and for good reason.

One less worry as of Friday is that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided unanimously that county election officials can't throw out absentee ballots for signatures deemed not to match those on file. So in this case, I've got to sign the -- I've got to sign the exterior of the envelope, but where there was concern that there'd be a matching of signatures to what they have on file and some would then be tossed as a result, the effect of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ballot is to say there won't be that kind of signature.

Frankly, it sets up a disconnect because if you vote in person, there will be a signature comparison, but not if you vote by mail and I'm sure that will continue to be a subject of controversy.

In this election, unprecedented numbers of Americans are voting by mail, many for the first time, and there's still a good chance hundreds of thousands of them are going to get something wrong. Could this have a significant impact on the outcome? In the 2016 presidential election, 318,728 mail-in ballots were rejected. In this year's primaries more than half a million mail-in ballots were rejected and not every state even kept track of that figure.

Drill down on some of those numbers and it's troubling. For example, in Pennsylvania, President Trump only won the state in 2016 by 44,292. Well, in this year's primaries, 37,119 ballots were rejected. In Wisconsin, the President won by only 22,748. The number of ballots rejected in this year's Wisconsin primary was more than that, 23,196. In the crucial swing state of Florida, "Politico" found more than 35,500 vote-by-mail primary ballots didn't count because of missed deadlines or technical flaws.

[09:25:04]

In this year's primary in New York City, over 400,000 absentee ballots were sent in and 84,000 of those were not counted, a whopping 21 percent.

There's always been a disparity between the parties when it comes to utilizing mail-in ballots and it's even more accentuated this year. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 69 percent of Biden voters expected to vote by mail compared to just 21 percent of Trump voters. That would explain why Democrats are in court in more than half the states fighting to extend deadlines and to waive witness and notary requirements.

They also want voters to be given the chance to fix errors, they call that "curing," before their ballots are rejected, but different states have different rules and only 22 states allow voters to cure mail-in ballots once they've been sent in. In North Carolina, for instance, of the ballots needing fixing, 52 percent belong to Democrats compared with 21 percent for Republicans and although the state is 22.2 percent black, 31 percent of the ballots that need fixing are from voters who are African-American.

As I've discussed before, the dominance of the Democratic mail-in vote will likely create a blue shift that will increase Joe Biden's vote in the days following the final day of voting. In a recent piece in "The New York Times" titled "Mail Ballots are Already Being Rejected. Guess Whose," the answer is young voters, black and Hispanic voters and first-time mail-in voters who all traditionally trend Democratic.

Joining me now to discuss is Wendy Weiser, vice president and director of the Democracy Program at NYU School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice. Wendy, what worries you most about this subject?

WENDY WEISER, VP AND DIRECTOR OF DEMOCRACY PROGRAM, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: Well, thank you for having me. You know, any practice that results in a significant number of ballots cast by eligible voters being tossed for technical reasons is problematic and, frankly, unacceptable in a 21st Century America. This is something we can and should do better with and I am worried not only at the level of disenfranchisement, at the racial disparities we see, but also, as you noted, in close races, these percentages could make the difference in the outcome of an election. SMERCONISH: I know that the national average was about 1 percent or 1.5, but I'm going to put on the screen a slide that shows a variety of states and their rejection rates and, you know, some of it is alarming. Look at those if you're able. New York, 13.7, Arkansas, 7.6, Kentucky, 6.8, North Carolina, 6.1, Louisiana, 5.9, Massachusetts, 5.8. To what do you attribute those, what I would call, high rates of rejection?

WEISER: Well, interesting, we see the highest rates of rejection often in states where voters typically vote by mail or by absentee ballot at smaller rates and so we've seen, across the country this year, a real surge in voters moving towards absentee voting because of the pandemic, but suddenly those percentages which typically apply to a small number of ballots now are, you know, much more significant because in many cases half or more voters are going to be voting by absentee ballot.

SMERCONISH: Well, I wouldn't want somebody to get the wrong message from this. I wouldn't want someone to say, oh, my gosh, I better go out and vote in the midst of a pandemic live and in person where I'd been planning to vote by mail. I mean, my advice on radio and here on CNN is to tell people to treat this like a wedding invitation. You know, frankly, sometimes wedding invitations are pretty complicated. How many people are coming, do you want the chicken or the fish and what envelope goes where? It's the same kind of thing, right? Pay attention when you're filling it out.

WEISER: Yes. Absolutely. I mean, the good news this year is we have record levels of voter enthusiasm and the motivation to vote is high and voters can actually dramatically reduce the likelihood that their ballots are in this small portion of ballots that get rejected by following the instructions closely. If you are in, you know, one of the 12 states that require a witness with your absentee ballot like Wisconsin and North Carolina, make sure you get that witness.

As you noted, if you're in Pennsylvania, make sure you put your ballot in that extra secrecy sleeve that's included with the ballot and make sure in every state that you include a signature on your ballot envelope and double check.

[09:30:00]

Make sure all the information is correct. Another critical fact is be timely, that's also very important.

SMERCONISH: And just to underscore, different states -- we essentially have 52 different systems going on here and whether there's a cure process, whether you get to fix it is dependent upon your state, correct?

WEISER: Yes. The rules for -- and this is confusing for voters as they're hearing a lot of national news about mail voting, the rules and the requirements vary state by state, jurisdiction by jurisdiction. So read your instructions carefully.

And 32 states, ballots won't count if they are mailed on time but received after Election Day. That is -- no matter where you are, it is a good idea to get those ballots in as early as possible. Flatten the curve, that will also ease election administration. And in 22 states, if there is a mistake, they'll give you an opportunity to cure it. They won't (INAUDIBLE).

Another thing that voters can do to make sure their ballots count (ph) you can track (INAUDIBLE) in virtually every state --

SMERCONISH: All right. I'm losing Wendy Weiser. Wendy, I'm losing you, but here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to say that the Brennan Center has a great Web site with lots of good data. Thank you for being here and I hope people will go there to learn more information.

I want to remind you, ladies and gentlemen, to go to my Web site at Smerconish.com and answer this week's survey question.

"Are the harms of lockdown worse than the virus itself?"

Up ahead, the Department of Justice thinks that Google's vast amount of power is a problem so they filed an antitrust lawsuit that could have major implications on the internet's future. But do you pass up the competition in favor of Google services? Google thinks so. And they say it's what might save them.

And President Trump will be voting this hour in person in West Palm Beach in Florida. We'll bring you that live when it happens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I like to get online and if I have to stand there for two hours, maybe they'll move me (ph) up a little bit. But I like to vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[09:36:26]

SMERCONISH: Crowds still gathering in West Palm Beach, Florida, awaiting President Trump en route to cast his ballot. He's doing so as a Florida resident in this cycle. Different, of course, than how he voted four years ago. When that happens, we will bring it to you live.

This week, the Justice Department launched an antitrust action against Google claiming that the search giant illegally protects its monopoly. The government asserted that Google -- quote -- "anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in the markets for general search archives (ph), search advertising, and general search text advertising, the cornerstones of its empire."

Google responds that people use its search engine because they want to, not because they're forced to through anticompetitive practices. The outcome could have a profound impact on the internet as we know it. This is the latest salvo in the war against the big tech, big three, Amazon, Apple, Facebook -- four if you count Microsoft. And more action may be on the way for Facebook. "The Washington Post" reporting that state and federal investigators are expected to file antitrust charges against the social media giant as soon as November.

Steven Levy joins me. He's the editor-at-large for "Wired." The "Washington Post" has called him America's premier technology journalist. Why? Well, he wrote a book about Apple called "The Perfect Thing." He wrote a great book about Facebook called "The Inside Story." And most importantly for our purposes, he wrote "In The Plex, How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives." Steven, what's this all about?

STEVEN LEVY, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, WIRED: Well, as you mentioned, the government is taking a hard look at these big tech companies. You know, there are four people usually cited, Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon. And some people throw Microsoft in there. And they have a lot of power.

Facebook and Google together have the majority of advertising on the web. And just about 100 percent of the profits from advertising on the web -- and Google gets its money from search. They have what most people would consider a monopoly in search. They have well over 80 percent by some measures over 90 percent of all of the searches that are done on the Web are Google searches. And the government says, wait a minute, it's not illegal to have a monopoly. But when you use that monopoly, you leverage it to get an even bigger share and lock in your monopoly, that's no good.

So one thing that Google does is they pay billions of dollars to companies like Apple and companies like Mozilla and Samsung, so when you search, the default will be a Google search. And the government says, wait a minute, that's not fair. It's OK to have a lot of people who want to search there, but when people go to these other places, you know, they start off with an iPhone, they shouldn't automatically have Apple -- I'm sorry, Google as their search engine. They should start from scratch maybe and pick what they want.

SMERCONISH: So, interesting you and I are having this conversation and I'm waiting a live feed of President Trump going to vote. We're 10 days out from the conclusion of this election. And it begs the question, will this sort of thing transcend a change in administration or could potentially a Joe Biden administration have a different view of this issue?

LEVY: That's a great question, if you look back to the Microsoft trial which the government says this is the biggest thing we've done since then. Twenty years ago, the government sued Microsoft for leveraging its monopoly and operating systems to try to make people -- force people really to use their internet browser.

[09:40:06]

And they lost the case. But when a new administration came in, the George W. Bush administration, they settled the case and rolled back the remedy that the judge recommended. He wanted to break up Microsoft.

So, could the same thing happen here? One sign which Google probably is liking is that some state attorneys general signed on to the government's action but they were all from red states. So it implied they had to rush this out, somehow, to get out before the election. And though I don't think Google can take too much comfort because Biden has talked about his worries about big tech as well. So we might see the suit continue, but it might have a different form under a Joe Biden administration.

SMERCONISH: Take my final 30 seconds and tell me why should I as a consumer care about this?

LEVY: Yes, you might be happy saying I use Google search. What's the problem here? No one forces me --

SMERCONISH: Right.

LEVY: -- to use that. But I think that not only Google, but these other companies under investigation, Amazon with its market power and internet commerce, you know, Facebook, the social network dominates, these have incredible power over our lives. We use them multiple times a day. We can't imagine life without them. And there's a lot of negative things that come from this.

And I think that if you think about it, you need someone to give some oversight to these companies. So I think this is a significant move on the government's part. And it's not going to be the only one, it's the first of a lot.

SMERCONISH: When I needed to read in anticipation of hosting you on my radio program, what did I do? I Googled the subject, of course. Steven, thank you so much for being here.

LEVY: Thank you, Michael. Take care.

SMERCONISH: Steven wins, by the way, that camera shot with the foliage. Where was he? Massachusetts looked great.

Still to come, President Trump will be voting and he'll do so in person in Florida. We hope we're going to bring it to you live. I hope it happens during the course of the next 20 minutes.

Many of the 52 million Americans who have already cast their ballots are posting selfies of themselves voting. Did you know that in several states it's illegal to do so? And I'll explain.

Meanwhile, I want to remind to you answer the survey question.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:46:25]

SMERCONISH: Be careful with that stick. Ten days before the final day of voting, more than 50 million Americans have already voted and the internet is rife with ballot selfies to broadcast that they voted and to encourage others to do so. Celebrities getting in on the act as well. Among them, Tracee Ellis Ross, Reese Witherspoon, Will Ferrell.

Check out this heartwarming picture of 102-year-old Beatrice Lumpkin proudly casting her ballot in Chicago. She has voted in every election since 1940. When she was born, women couldn't vote.

Did you know that if we could see Beatrice's actual filled out ballot in the photo then perhaps she'd be guilty of a crime and that's because Illinois is one of several states including New York, Texas, South Carolina and Florida where showing your ballot once it's completed or asking someone to show you theirs is against the law. So, you'll notice that New York resident Whoopi Goldberg, for instance, was careful to blur her completed ballot on her Instagram video to avoid possibly being charged with a misdemeanor.

I know, you're wondering is it ever prosecuted? There was a high- profile example that we discussed in 2016, Justin Timberlake posted and then deleted a selfie of his vote in Memphis where he could have been punished with 30 days in jail and or a $50.00 fine. He wasn't.

The local county attorney said it wasn't worth using their limited resources to pursue the matter. "The New York Times" suggests that 2020 might see a lot of selfie violations given that so many people are voting absentee and by mail. And selfies at home are a lot easier than in a voting booth. So might it be time to do away with such laws? Is it a citizen's right to declare how they voted if they want to?

Here's a map that shows how different states deal with the selfie issue. No clear laws banned or other voting pictures allowed. Proponents of selfies argue they're good for democracy, they boost turnout. And that they're protected under free speech.

Those opposed say that ballot selfies could compromise elections by coercion. By encouraging people to vote a certain way, and then using the photo to prove they did so. Selfie or not, just make sure you vote.

Still to come, more of your best and worst tweets and Facebook comments and we'll give you the final result of the survey question from Smerconish.com.

"Are the harms of lockdown worse than the virus itself?"

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:53:46]

SMERCONISH: -- is interesting, right? After all the conversation about mail-in ballots and absentee ballots, perhaps wanting to reinforce to his base that he's voting in person and they should be voting in person as well.

Of course, four years ago, legally speaking, he was a New York state resident and cast his ballot in the Empire State. This year, perhaps underscoring the fact that Florida is in play and he really needs to win it, he's casting his ballot in the Sunshine State. So he's there, the motorcade is there, and then his schedule today will consist of doing, I think, three different rallies in three different states. But this is live footage of the president arriving to cast his ballot.

If he was watching the last segment here on CNN, then he'll know he should not take a selfie of that completed ballot, however tempting it might be to do so. So the president arriving in West Palm Beach, Florida, to cast his ballot. We think we know who he's voting for.

May I give you the results of the survey question from Smerconish.com because we had quite a barn burner.

"Are the harms of lockdown worse than the virus itself?" Survey says 85 percent say no, 20,449 votes were cast.

[09:55:04]

Quickly, can I see some social media? I know we're limited on time. What do we have?

Yikes, Michael. Another way-off base survey question. Perhaps you should ask the people on ventilators and the families of those who have died. Of course, the virus is worse. None of us is totally locked down.

Dianne, did you pay attention to it and did you do what I asked which is to read the Great Barrington Declaration, as well as Professor John Barry's essay and the John Snow Memorandum? If not, please do so. They are all on my Web site.

All right. Out of time. Thank you so much for watching. That's the live shot of President Trump now voting, casting his ballot. He's just walked in to vote. Thanks.

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