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Empty chairs are seen at a polling place Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017, in Alexandria. Photo: Alex Brandon / AP

There is evidence that social media bots helped stir online activity around a controversial ad against Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie in the buildup to election day today, The Washington Post reports. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam's campaign cited a third-party analysis that found automated Twitter accounts tweeted using terms linked to groups behind the ad, allegedly inflaming online tensions.

Why it matters: Similar automated social media accounts helped to stir online chatter over divisive issues on a national scale during the presidential election last year. Facebook, Google and Twitter came under fire on Capitol Hill last week over how Russian actors used their sites to spread controversial content and ads.

What the analysis found: 13 of the top 15 Twitter accounts that posted words linked to the ad, which a group ran targeting Gillespie, were fully or partially automated and generated by software. The study by Discourse Intelligence was paid for by the Virginia Education Association as an in-kind service to Northam's campaign, the Post reports.

Big picture: The Virginia race, which is often seen as a bellwether for the country, comes to a close today. Republicans will be watching the results to see whether an establishment Republican can adopt Trump-style tactics to win over voters, and Democrats will be trying to ride on Trump's low polling numbers.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Oxford and AstraZeneca's vaccine won't just go to rich countries

Waiting, in New Delhi. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

While the 95% efficacy rates for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are great news for the U.S. and Europe, Monday's announcement from Oxford and AstraZeneca may be far more significant for the rest of the world.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca plan to distribute their vaccine at cost (around $3-4 per dose), and have already committed to providing over 1 billion doses to the developing world. The price tags are higher for the Pfizer ($20) and Moderna ($32-37) vaccines.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key information about the effective COVID-19 vaccines — Oxford University's 90%-effective vaccine.
  2. Health: U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations keep breaking recordsWhy we're numb to 250,000 coronavirus deaths — Americans line up for testing ahead of Thanksgiving.
  3. Travel: Air travel's COVID-created future — Over 1 million U.S. travelers flew on Friday, despite calls to avoid holiday travel.
  4. World: England to impose stricter regional systemU.S. coronavirus hotspots far outpacing Europe's — Portugal to ban domestic travel for national holidays.
  5. Economy: The biggest pandemic labor market drags.
  6. Sports: Coronavirus precautions leave college basketball schedule in flux.

Biden transition names first Cabinet nominees

Biden with John Kerry. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday unveiled his nominations for top national security positions in his administration, tapping former Secretary of State John Kerry as his climate czar and former deputy national security adviser Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.

Why it matters: Haines, if confirmed, would make history as the first woman to oversee the U.S. intelligence community. Biden also plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to become the first Latino secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.