Evan Vucci / AP

The annual black-tie dinner of the Alfalfa Club is the board meeting of America's establishment: The 750 guests tonight include Warren Buffett, Tim Cook, Jamie Dimon, Bill Gates, Bob Gates, Vernon Jordan, Charlie Rose, Jeb Bush, James Baker and plenty more moguls and grandees. The head table, stretching across a giant ballroom, includes the Cabinet, the congressional leadership and the cream of the diplomatic corps.

President Trump's name is in the program, seated between Michael Bloomberg and Chief Justice Roberts.

But in a shot at the swamp, Trump isn't coming. The White House says he'll be working, and never committed to going. Vice President Pence is still expected and some West Wing officials, including Kellyanne Conway, plan to attend. Chief strategist Steve Bannon was going, but now will be with the president in some briefings.

Others from the Trump inner circle who are expected: Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, Gary Cohn, Hope Hicks, deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, incoming Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, incoming Sec. of Defense James Mattis and incoming Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross. Dina Powell, Trump's senior counselor for economic initiatives, is a "sprout" – an inductee to Alfalfa.

The evening includes funny speeches, with plenty of barbs aimed at the president. During the debate over whether Trump should go, some aides worried that a zinger might rankle the boss. Now they won't have to fret about the piercing comedy stylings of Mayor Bloomberg and Erskine Bowles.

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In photos: Virginians line up for hours on first day of early voting

Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

In some parts of Virginia, people waited in line up to four hours to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting, according to the Washington Post.

The big picture: The COVID-19 pandemic seems to already have an impact on how people cast their votes this election season. As many as 80 million Americans are expected to vote early, by mail or in person, Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, told Axios in August.

Updated 49 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 30,306,469 — Total deaths: 948,147— Total recoveries: 20,626,515Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 6,705,114 — Total deaths: 198,197 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.

Court battles shift mail-in voting deadlines in battleground states

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Michigan joins Pennsylvania in extending mail-in ballot deadlines by several days after the election, due to the coronavirus pandemic and expected delays in U.S. Postal Service.

The latest: Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled that all ballots postmarked before Nov. 2 must be counted, so long as they arrive in the mail before election results are certified. Michigan will certify its general election results on Nov. 23.