Supreme Court Rules Against Curbside Voting in Alabama

ImageElection workers assist a voter casting their ballot curbside on the first day of early voting in Spotsylvania, Va., last month.
Credit…Mike Morones/The Free Lance-Star, via Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked a trial judge’s ruling that would have allowed, but not required, counties in Alabama to offer curbside voting.

The vote was 5 to 3, with the court’s more conservative members in the majority.

The court’s brief, unsigned order gave no reasons, which is typical when it rules on emergency applications, and it said the order would remain in effect while appeals moved forward.

In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan, said the state’s policy discriminated against older and disabled voters.

“If those vulnerable voters wish to vote in person,” Justice Sotomayor wrote, “they must wait inside, for as long as it takes, in a crowd of fellow voters whom Alabama does not require to wear face coverings,” referring to masks that help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

She quoted from the testimony of one of the plaintiffs, Howard Porter Jr., a Black man in his 70s with asthma and Parkinson’s disease, who recalled that his ancestors had died for the right to vote. “And while I don’t mind dying to vote,” he said, “I think we’re past that — we’re past that time.”

Officials in some Alabama counties agreed, Justice Sotomayor wrote. “They are ready and willing to help vulnerable voters like Mr. Porter cast their ballots without unnecessarily risking infection from a deadly virus.”

Alabama law neither provides for nor forbids curbside voting, and some counties have used it in previous elections. In the current one, John H. Merrill, Alabama’s secretary of state, a Republican, ordered county officials not to offer it.

Several older or disabled voters sued, saying that Mr. Merrill’s order violated the Constitution and the Americans With Disabilities Act in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Judge Abdul K. Kallon of the Federal District Court in Birmingham agreed, ruling last month that counties may, if they chose to, use curbside voting.

“Curbside, or drive-up, voting is a form of in-person voting (which state law of course permits),” Judge Kallon wrote. “The plaintiffs have shown,” the judge , “that the curbside voting ban imposes a significant burden on vulnerable voters during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

After a divided three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals panel in Atlanta, refused to stay Judge Kallon’s ruling, Mr. Merrill asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

“Some level of risk is inherent in life and in voting, pandemic or no,” his brief said, adding that Judge Kallon’s ruling had left several questions unanswered, most of them logistical.

Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

Former President Barack Obama made a fiery first in-person campaign appearance on behalf of Joseph R. Biden Jr. in Philadelphia on Wednesday, ridiculing President Trump for complaining about campaigning in Pennsylvania, contracting the coronavirus and hiding business dealings with China.

“We know that he continues to do business with China because he has a secret Chinese bank account. How is that possible?” Mr. Obama asked a crowd of supporters invited to hear him speak in the parking lot of South Philadelphia Sports Complex.

He was referring to a New York Times report that revealed previously unknown financial holdings in China — at a time when the president is criticizing Mr. Biden for ties to that country.

“Can you imagine if I had a secret Chinese bank account?” he said. “Can you imagine if I had secret Chinese bank account when I was running for re-election?” His voice straining, he added, “They would’ve called me Beijing Barry.”

It is “not a great idea to have a president who owes a bunch of money to people overseas,” Mr. Obama said, adding that he had probably paid more in taxes working a high school job at an ice-cream parlor than Mr. Trump paid during each of his first two years as president — $750.

Mr. Obama’s long-anticipated speech, the first of several he intends to deliver on behalf of the Biden-Harris ticket over the next two weeks, marked a reversal of his initial reluctance to engage Mr. Trump directly.

And even though his remarks, interrupted from time to time by the honking of horns at the drive-in rally, had moments of his signature soaring rhetoric, he seemed to divert somewhat from the kindler-gentler 2016 mantra inspired by his wife, “When they go low, we go high.”

“By the way, his TV ratings are down,” the former president said. “So you know that upsets him. But the thing is, this is not a reality show. This is reality. And the rest of us have had to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously.”

Mr. Obama, who has helped raise millions for his former vice president online but has not appeared in person at campaign events during the coronavirus pandemic, slammed Mr. Trump’s failure to contain the outbreak in more personal terms than he has used before.

“Eight months into this pandemic, cases are rising again across this country,” he said. “Donald Trump isn’t suddenly going to protect all of us. He can’t even take the basic steps to protect himself.”

Mr. Obama, who set aside his lofty campaign style in a go-for-the-jugular moment, seized on a misstep, recalling that Mr. Trump told supporters on Tuesday at a rally in western Pennsylvania that he would not have visited them if his campaign had not been struggling.

“The president spent some time in Erie last night and apparently he complained about having to travel here,” Mr. Obama said, laughing. “Then he cut the event short. Poor guy. I don’t feel that way. I love coming to Pennsylvania.”

In Philadelphia in August, for the virtual Democratic National Convention, Mr. Obama delivered a televised speech that cast the election as an existential battle for the future of American democracy. He struck those same themes in his return visit on Wednesday.

He said that Mr. Trump’s antics were unacceptable and wouldn’t be tolerated if the person were a school principal, coach or even a family member.

“Why would we expect and accept this from the president of the United States?”

He warned Democrats not to let up because of the polling advantage Mr. Biden is now seeing and said that some had become “lazy” in 2016. “I don’t care about the poll,” Mr. Obama said, referring to Hillary Clinton’s polling lead. “There were a whole bunch of polls last time. It didn’t work out.”

“We’ve got to out hustle the other side,” he added, as the Democratic horns began to honk in unison.

Mr. Obama is scheduled to hold his next event on Saturday in Miami, followed by another rally in Orlando next week, according to a Democratic official with knowledge of his plans.

Credit…Pool photo by Gabriella Demczuk

WASHINGTON — Iran and Russia have both obtained American voter registration data, and Tehran used it to send threatening, faked emails to voters that were aimed at influencing the presidential election, top national security officials announced on Wednesday evening.

There was no indication that any election result tallies were changed or that information about who is registered to vote was altered, both of which would threaten to change actual votes, said John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, and Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, in an appearance at the bureau’s headquarters.

And it was not clear that either nation hacked into voter registration systems. Some voter information, including party registration, is public, and voters’ names may have been merged with other identifying material like email addresses that is available in other databases, according to intelligence officials, including some sold by criminal hacking networks on the “dark web.”

Still, the announcement that a foreign adversary, Iran, had tried to influence the election by sending intimidating emails was a stark warning. Some of the faked emails, sent to Democratic voters, purported to be from pro-Trump far-right groups, including the Proud Boys.

It was not clear what Iran’s intentions were. Mr. Ratcliffe said the effort was aimed at hurting President Trump, and intelligence officials have said Iran opposes the president’s re-election. But if the emails had the effect of intimidating Democrats, they could also have hurt Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee.

“This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos and undermine your confidence in American democracy,” Mr. Ratcliffe said.

He also said Iran was circulating a video that was pushing disinformation about fraudulent ballots being cast overseas.

Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. called President Trump’s border policy an “outrage” and a “moral failing” that he would reverse if elected, responding to court filings that revealed that the parents of 545 children separated from their families under the Trump crackdown have yet to be located.

“This administration ripped babies from their mothers’ arms, and then it seems, those parents were in many cases deported without their children and have not been found. It’s an outrage, a moral failing, and a stain on our national character,” Mr. Biden said in a statement.

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, had said, “There would be no separation of families at the border” if her husband were elected.

“We have to find a way to reunite these families,” Dr. Biden, who met with refugees at a camp in Matamoros, Mexico, last year as part of her campaign to shed light on the policy, said during an appearance on “The View” on ABC. “As a mother, it breaks my heart, I can’t even imagine it. I think all Americans feel that way, I don’t care whether you’re a Democrat, whether you’re a Republican.”

Under Mr. Trump, in April 2018, the Justice Department announced a “zero-tolerance policy” for illegal entry into the United States that led to nearly 3,000 children being forcibly separated from adult family members who were detained on immigration-law violations.

About 60 of the 545 migrant children whose parents still have not been found were under the age of 5, according to court documents filed this week in a case challenging the practice.

Though attempts to find the separated parents have been going on for years, the number of parents who have been deemed “unreachable” is much larger than was previously known.

In January 2019, a report by the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of the Inspector General confirmed that many more children had been separated than had initially been made public, including under a previously undisclosed pilot program conducted in El Paso between June and November 2017, before the zero-tolerance policy officially went into effect.

Mr. Trump and his allies have often made the misleading claim that the separations began on President Barack Obama’s watch and that Mr. Biden, who was then the vice president, was complicit.

While the Obama administration did order the detention of migrants during a surge at the border in 2014, splitting up families was rare, according to current and former officials.

President Trump complained about the news media’s intensive coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at a campaign rally in Gastonia, N.C., on Wednesday evening, describing the disease as an annoying inconvenience even as the country’s case count and death toll continue to soar.

Attacking two television networks, CNN and MSNBC, with barbed epithets, Mr. Trump insisted for the second night in a row, “That pandemic is rounding the corner. They hate it when I say it.”

“All you hear is Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid,” Mr. Trump said, repeating the word 11 times. “That’s all they put on, because they want to scare the hell out of everyone.”

Mr. Trump’s lament about television news followed a familiar line in his recent speeches, insisting in defiance of all evidence that the coronavirus is rapidly disappearing as an issue. It is not a perspective shared by most voters: A national poll published Monday by The Times found that 51 percent of likely voters believed the worst of the pandemic was yet to come, compared with 37 percent who said the worst was over.

And that was not the full extent of Mr. Trump’s dissembling on the pandemic. He repeated a familiar — and false — line claiming that the country only appears to have so many cases because there is so much testing, and telling supporters that his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., was seeking to “prolong the pandemic” and “shut down your country,” even though the former vice president has presented a public-health agenda aimed at doing the opposite.

The president also continued taunting Democratic governors who have imposed restrictions on gatherings and commercial activity to counter the spread of the virus, including North Carolina’s Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat seeking re-election whose popularity has risen in response to his handling of the pandemic.

“You got to get your governor to open up your state here,” Mr. Trump said, prodding Mr. Cooper. “Open up your state, governor. It’s time.”

But Mr. Trump also went out of his way to poke at a governor outside the region, once again attacking Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, who was recently targeted by right-wing militants in a kidnapping plot.

Mr. Trump also reiterated a call for the jailing of one of his political opponents, a demand he has made often in his political career and with new frequency toward the end of this campaign. His adversary this time was U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, whom Mr. Trump derided for raising the issue of foreign disinformation that targeted Mr. Biden. “Honestly, that guy should be locked up,” Mr. Trump said.

As he swerved from one topic to the next, Mr. Trump occasionally delivered some elements of a conventional political message, promising “record prosperity” in a second term and accusing Mr. Biden of plotting with leftists to raise taxes.

Yet as usual, it was in his digressions that Mr. Trump showed real passion, including in interludes spent going after “the Deep Staters,” former President Barack Obama — whom he referred to using his middle name, Hussein — and the CBS newsmagazine show “60 Minutes,” with which Mr. Trump has been feuding.

Describing an interview that he abruptly ended Tuesday week, but which has not yet been broadcast, Mr. Trump claimed that the interviewer, Lesley Stahl, had described him as “begging for women to love you,” a characterization to which he objected.

“You’ll see. You’ll see,” Mr. Trump said, seemingly forecasting some kind of payback, “We have a little surprise for ‘60 Minutes.’”

Also on Wednesday night, the Sinclair Broadcast Group aired an hourlong town hall with Mr. Trump recorded at the White House a day earlier. Speaking in the Rose Garden with the Sinclair host Eric Bolling and fielding friendly questions from several voters, Mr. Trump boasted that he had been doing a “flawless” job before the coronavirus hit and branded Mr. Biden as “corrupt.” If he is re-elected, he vowed, “We’re going to finish it strong.”

Credit…Associated Press

President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, has become caught up in Sacha Baron Cohen’s new “Borat” satire, shown in an edited scene following an actress impersonating a reporter into a bedroom and at one point reclining on the bed and putting his hands in his pants in what he later said was an attempt to adjust his clothing.

The excerpt from Mr. Cohen’s new “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” which will be released on Friday, was described on social media early Wednesday after The Guardian reported that the movie contained “a compromising scene” featuring Mr. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor.

Late Wednesday, Mr. Giuliani called into WABC radio in New York to say that he was tucking in his shirt after removing microphone wires, and chalked the scene’s early release up to a scheme to discredit his recent attempts to push corruption accusations against Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son, Hunter Biden.

“The Borat video is a complete fabrication,” Mr. Giuliani, 76, tweeted after he got off the air. “At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar.”

“I called the police,” he said in a brief text exchange on Wednesday. “He and all his crew ran away leaving their equipment behind.”

Still photos and descriptions of the scene from those who have screened the movie say the heavily edited clip, in line with the actor’s signature mockumentary format, begins with Mr. Giuliani, seated on a couch answering questions. Soon after, the actress, who speaks with a heavy Eastern European accent, asks the former mayor if they can continue their discussion in the bedroom. Mr. Giuliani agrees, and is then shown sitting on a bed, as she appears to take his microphone off and he appears to pat her.

The segment then cuts to the image of Mr. Giuliani, reclining on the bed, placing his hands down the front of his pants.

“I had to take off the electronic equipment,” Mr. Giuliani told the hosts of the “Curtis & Juliet Show.” “And when the electronic equipment came off, some of it was in the back and my shirt came a little out, although my clothes were entirely on. I leaned back, and I tucked my shirt in, and at that point, at that point, they have this picture they take which looks doctored, but in any event, I’m tucking my shirt in. I assure you that’s all I was doing.”

The scene ends with Mr. Cohen, dressed in an outlandish pink costume, bursting in to the room and shouting that the woman, played by the actor Maria Bakalova, was 15 years old (the actor is 24, according to the IMDb).

Mr. Giuliani said Mr. Cohen was frightened by his call to the police, bolted away and left him talking with the filmmaker’s lawyer.

The former mayor is not the first Republican politician to be ensnared in one of Mr. Cohen’s cringe-inducing pranks.

In 2018, Mr. Cohen tricked the former G.O.P. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama into giving him an interview for the Showtime satire show “Who Is America?”

Later in 2018, a Republican lawmaker in Georgia resigned after he was fooled into repeatedly yelling a racial epithet on Mr. Cohen’s Showtime series.

The former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, accused Mr. Cohen of pretending to be a disabled veteran to land an interview with her, which she said was part of his repeated attempts to humiliate and “devalue” middle-class Americans.

“He’s got a lot of people — Newt Gingrich,” added Mr. Giuliani, who insisted he was not taken in by Mr. Cohen. “He got Donald Trump before he was president.”

Mr. Cohen’s new movie, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” is scheduled to be released on Friday on Amazon Prime.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Two polls were released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University, showing a solid lead for Joseph R. Biden Jr. in Pennsylvania and a tight race in Texas.

In Pennsylvania, Mr. Biden led President Trump 51 percent to 43 percent, with a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points. Hoping to help solidify that lead, former President Barack Obama made his first live appearance on the campaign trail in Philadelphia Wednesday at a drive-in rally in support of Mr. Biden.

In Texas, Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump were tied at 47 percent each, with a margin of 2.9 percentage points. Support for Mr. Trump in the reliably red state has dropped by 3 percentage points since last month, and Mr. Biden saw a bump of 2 percentage points.

The results were fairly similar to polling averages, which show Mr. Biden leading by about six points in Pennsylvania and Mr. Trump leading by about one point in Texas. In 2016, Mr. Trump won Pennsylvania by seven-tenths of a percentage point and Texas by nine points.

Quinnipiac also polled the race between Senator John Cornyn, a Republican of Texas, and his Democratic opponent, M.J. Hegar, and found Mr. Cornyn leading 49 percent to 43 percent. The seat is on Democrats’ wish list, but is not one of the party’s main targets in its effort to retake control of the Senate.

The poll interviewed 1,241 likely voters in Pennsylvania and 1,145 in Texas by phone from Oct. 16 to 19.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Democrats plan to boycott a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Thursday to approve the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, in a symbolic move intended to protest Republicans’ push to confirm President Trump’s nominee before Election Day.

Around the time that the committee convenes, Democrats intend to gather instead on the steps of the Capitol for a news conference spotlighting their opposition to Judge Barrett and an extraordinarily swift confirmation process they say has been deeply unfair.

Left in their places in the hearing room will be large posters of Americans whose health care coverage they argue could evaporate in the event Judge Barrett sides with a conservative majority next month when the Supreme Court hears a Republican challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

“Throughout the hearings last week, committee Democrats demonstrated the damage a Justice Barrett would do — to health care, reproductive freedoms, the ability to vote and other core rights that Americans cherish,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said in a statement on Wednesday. “We will not grant this process any further legitimacy by participating in a committee markup of this nomination just 12 days before the culmination of an election that is already underway.”

Three Democratic aides who discussed the plans cautioned on Wednesday that they were still subject to change.

Democrats have sharply opposed Judge Barrett, a conservative in the mold of former Justice Antonin Scalia, on policy grounds. But their goal on Thursday was to tarnish the legitimacy of her confirmation, arguing that Republicans have no right to fill the seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg when millions of Americans are already voting.

Democrats are particularly angry that Republicans have reversed themselves since 2016, when they refused to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee because the election was only nine months away.

Republicans intend to proceed anyway, even if it means tossing out Judiciary Committee rules that require members of the minority party to be present to conduct official business. Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and the chairman of the committee, argued this week that broader Senate rules only require a simple majority of all committee members present.

Republicans on the panel have the votes to recommend Judge Barrett’s confirmation to the full Senate, and are expected to do so unanimously.

“Judge Barrett deserves a vote and she will receive a vote,” Mr. Graham said. “Judge Barrett deserves to be reported out of committee and she will be reported out of committee. Judge Barrett deserves to be on the Supreme Court and she will be confirmed.”

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has indicated that after the committee’s action, the Senate will proceed on Friday to bring up Judge Barrett’s nomination, with a final vote on Monday.

Credit…via YouTube

The premise seemed to be a politically savvy one: find an everyman bar owner in a battleground state whose shuttered business was struggling to survive during the coronavirus pandemic.

But things often aren’t what they seem to be, as the Biden campaign proved this week when it emerged that a Michigan businessman who was the focus of one of its television ads criticizing President Trump’s handling of the pandemic also happened to be an “angel investor.” He had once described his inheritance from his wife’s family as “almost like winning the lottery.”

The ad, which the campaign released to great fanfare during Sunday’s N.F.L. game between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, and posted on YouTube, has since disappeared.

The ad was removed after the bar owner, Joe Malcoun, and his family faced threats, according to the Biden campaign.

“The price for having a voice in our political process cannot be endless harassment,” Bill Russo, a spokesman for the campaign, said in an email on Wednesday night. “And yet, that is what Joe Malcoun and his family currently face as he was doxxed, harassed and threatened after the Trump campaign has sought to smear a community leader who dared to speak out against Trump’s failed response to the Covid crisis. It is shameful.”

It was not immediately clear if the Biden campaign knew of the bar owner’s background or not. A Trump campaign spokesman seized on the oversight.

“In their desperation to pin something else on the president, they fabricated a story in a last-ditch effort to lie to voters because nothing else has worked — and they got caught,” the spokesman, Ken Farnaso, said in an email on Wednesday night.

Mr. Malcoun, owns the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, Mich., a magnet for musicians for 50 years, attracting acts from Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon to Pearl Jam and Nirvana.

There were cutaways in the ad to an idle microphone, bar stools turned upside down and beer taps gone dry.

“Right now, it’s an empty room,” Mr. Malcoun said in the ad. “This is the reality of Trump’s Covid response. We don’t know how much longer we can survive not having any revenue.”

In a 2018 interview with the website All About Ann Arbor, Mr. Malcoun said he had provided seed money to start-ups and explained how he had became an entrepreneur after his wife’s grandfather, a successful real estate investor, died and left them a substantial amount of money.

“Usually you become a C.E.O. and you make money, and then the money allows you to become an angel investor,” Mr. Malcoun said at the time. “I happened to have different circumstances where I had money.”

Mr. Malcoun characterized the amount of money that he and his wife had inherited in this way: “We knew there was something, but we never knew the extent of it, and it was almost like winning the lottery and we were very young.”

Mr. Malcoun did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday night.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

The plexiglass is back.

A pair of towering transparent dividers have been installed next to the lecterns where Joseph R. Biden Jr. and President Trump will meet for their final debate on Thursday in Nashville. The Plexiglass dividers — described by campaign aides as seven feet tall and four feet wide — are a safety measure intended to help prevent any aerial transmission of the coronavirus.

But their debut at the vice-presidential debate did not exactly merit good reviews.

Experts in airborne viruses called the plastic barriers basically useless, saying that an air filter and a box fan would be far more effective. Aides to Mike Pence called for the vice president to be allowed to debate without dividers nearby, saying there was no justification for it. (Mr. Pence’s team ultimately acquiesced.)

The Commission on Presidential Debates has not yet announced any specific medical precautions ahead of Thursday’s debate, such as requiring Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump to submit to independent tests for the virus. At the first debate in Cleveland, each campaign was allowed to test its own candidate on the honor system; two days later, Mr. Trump tested positive for the virus.

The president has been highly critical of the debate commission’s handling of Thursday’s matchup. Talking to reporters at the White House on Wednesday, he deemed it “unfair” that the commission had decided to mute the candidates’ microphones during certain portions of the debate.

Mr. Trump — who picked a fight with Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes” on Tuesday — also repeated baseless claims that the debate’s moderator, Kristen Welker of NBC News, would be biased against him.

The Early Vote


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Residents faced lengthy wait times to cast a ballot for early, in-person voting on Tuesday in Wisconsin, Tennessee and Georgia.CreditCredit…Lauren Justice for The New York Times

Election Day is still almost two weeks away, but more than 40 million Americans have already cast their ballots by mail or at early voting sites — 29 percent of all the votes tallied in the 2016 general election, according to data collected by the United States Elections Project.

The high early-voting numbers reflect a combination of motivated voters and an unusual year in which the twin threats of the coronavirus and mail delays have led millions to mail their ballots early or vote early in person.

In the battleground state of Wisconsin, which President Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016, more than one million people have already voted in this election. That is more than a third of the total who voted there in the 2016 election, according to state data collected by Michael P. McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida. Here’s what the data showed as of early Wednesday afternoon:

  • 1,027,585 Wisconsinites have voted so far, which is 34.5 percent of all the votes that were counted there in the 2016 election.

  • Of those, 79,774 voted in person on Tuesday, the first day voters were allowed to cast in-person ballots, as long lines formed at polling stations around the state.

  • The remaining 947,811 have voted by mail, continuing the trend of large numbers of Wisconsinites choosing to vote by mail since the coronavirus began to spread.

Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. has a narrow edge over President Trump in Iowa, a state Mr. Trump carried by more than nine percentage points in 2016, and the high-stakes Senate race there appears even closer, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll released Wednesday.

Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump 46 percent to 43 percent among likely voters in Iowa, which is within the poll’s margin of error, with 7 percent saying they were undecided or refusing to name a preference, according to the survey.

Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican whose re-election race could help determine control of the Senate, is capturing 45 percent support while Theresa Greenfield, her Democratic opponent, has 44 percent.

The New York Times /
Siena College poll

Joe Biden holds a slim lead over Donald Trump in Iowa, a state Mr. Trump flipped in 2016.

+9 Trump

+3 Biden

Based on a New York Times/Siena College poll of 753 likely voters in Iowa from Oct. 18 to Oct. 20.

Mr. Biden is being propelled by women, younger voters and white voters with college degrees, the same demographics lifting him across the country. But he is also running stronger in Iowa among seniors and working-class white voters than he is in other similarly Republican-leaning states.

Mr. Biden is leading among voters 65 and older, 49 percent to 42 percent, and he is trailing Mr. Trump among white voters without college degrees by only seven points, 48 percent to 41 percent.

The poll, which interviewed 753 likely voters in Iowa by phone from Oct. 18 to 20, has a margin of sampling error of about four percentage points.

The New York Times /
Siena College poll

The Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield is trailing the Republican incumbent Joni Ernst by only one point in the Iowa Senate race.

Dem. Rep. Margin



1 Rep.

6% undecided

Based on a New York Times/Siena College poll of 753 likely voters in Iowa from Oct. 18 to Oct. 20.

President Barack Obama carried Iowa twice, but the state swung decisively to Mr. Trump in 2016. But as in other Midwestern states, Mr. Trump’s incendiary conduct has alienated many voters. The president is viewed unfavorably by more than half of likely Iowa voters, and very unfavorably by over half of women and college-educated voters there.

Another survey of Iowa, released Wednesday by Monmouth University, found Mr. Biden leading Mr. Trump by 50 to 47 percent among likely voters there. Mr. Biden’s edge, which is within the poll’s margin of error, was calculated using a high-turnout scenario that most observers say is already playing out in early voting and absentee balloting.

It also represents a dramatic shift in just the last month: In September, Monmouth found Mr. Trump leading by a 49-to-46 percent margin using the same voter model.

The Monmouth poll found Ms. Greenfield narrowly leading Ms. Ernst, by a 49-to-47 percent margin, which was also within the poll’s 4.4 percent margin of error.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A man in Maryland has been arrested on charges that he threatened to kidnap and kill Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, law enforcement officials said on Wednesday.

A criminal complaint filed by the Secret Service on Wednesday did not describe any steps taken by the man, identified as James Dale Reed, to carry out the alleged threat. It said that on Oct. 4, Mr. Reed approached a house in his hometown, Frederick, Md., northwest of Washington, that had Biden-Harris campaign signs in the yard and left a handwritten note that contained graphic threats against the candidates and their supporters.

The resident’s video doorbell had captured an image of the man who left the note, the complaint said.

“We are the ones with these scary guns, we are the ones your children have nightmares about,” the note read in part. Mr. Reed, 42, was arrested last Friday and is being held without bond in Frederick County, Md., according to court records. A spokeswoman for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, which is representing Mr. Reed, declined to comment.

He provided a palm print and handwriting sample and acknowledged having written the letter, according to the complaint. He is charged with the federal offense of threatening a major candidate, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, and two violations of state law: threatening mass violence and voter intimidation.

The complaint said that Mr. Reed was known to law enforcement for making a complaint against a person under Secret Service protection in 2014.

Death threats against the United States president and presidential candidates are not uncommon in election years. In another high-profile threat this month, a group of men were charged with hatching a detailed plan to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a Democrat who has become a focal point of anti-government groups and anger over coronavirus control measures.

The State of the States

Credit…Nell Redmond/Associated Press

President Trump will hold a rally Wednesday night in Gastonia, N.C., in a state whose officials he clashed with earlier this year over the Republican National Convention, which was scheduled to be held there. The president balked at their demands that convention-goers follow social-distancing measures intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr. Trump tried to move the convention to Florida, only to be stymied by a virus outbreak there. So Republicans wound up holding a few convention events in North Carolina while holding most in Washington, including at the White House, which later had its own outbreak.

Current North Carolina polls show Joseph R. Biden Jr. with a narrow edge over Mr. Trump, averaging 2 percentage points, according to the Upshot’s calculator. Here is a look at how North Carolina is doing on two the biggest issues of the election: the coronavirus and the economy.

In recent days, North Carolina has seen some of its highest average numbers of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, according to a New York Times database. The state has averaged 2,045 new cases per day over the past week, an increase of 19 percent from its average two weeks earlier. As of Wednesday afternoon there had been at least 249,205 cases in the state — the seventh highest state total in the nation — and 4,019 deaths.

The unemployment rate in North Carolina was 7.3 percent in September, which is below the national average of 7.9 percent, according to data collected by Moody’s Analytics, but higher than it was four years ago, when it stood at 5.1 percent.

Credit…CBS NEWS, via Associated Press

President Trump continued his taunting of the “60 Minutes” anchor Lesley Stahl on Twitter Wednesday, tweeting several photographs of himself with the CBS star he has been angry with since an as-yet-unaired interview she conducted with him at the White House on Tuesday that he called “fake and biased.”

Among the images Mr. Trump posted were a sequence in which his press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, presented Ms. Stahl with a large book filled with what he said were his achievements on health care, an issue on which even some Republicans admit his record is thin.

Mr. Trump wrote that Ms. McEnany was providing Ms. Stahl “with some of the many things we’ve done for Healthcare. Lesley had no idea!” Ms. McEnany tweeted one of the same photos on Tuesday evening and wrote that Ms. Stahl “couldn’t believe how HUGE it was and said, ‘I can hardly lift this!!’”

But Mr. Trump’s tweet on Wednesday became fodder for ridicule online. Noting that Mr. Trump has never delivered on regular promises to unveil a comprehensive health care plan to replace Obamacare, which he has worked to eliminate, Twitter users shared memes in which the book was variously filled with hundreds of blank pages, the names of people who had lost health insurance under Mr. Trump’s presidency, or even obituaries for some of the more than 200,000 Americans who have died from coronavirus.

Not so, Ms. McEnany said in an email.

“It was a very large book of everything President Trump has signed — executive orders and legislation — to improve health care for Americans over the past three and a half years,” she wrote. “All of these items are public, just compiled in one place in this book.”

Mr. Trump grew irritated with Ms. Stahl’s questions during a 45-minute sit-down with her at the White House on Tuesday. According to people familiar with the exchange, the president refused to participate in a subsequent “walk-and-talk” that had been planned with Ms. Stahl and Vice President Mike Pence. He later tweeted a short video clip showing Ms. Stahl in the White House without a mask.

Mr. Trump also tweeted on Wednesday several photographs of Ms. Stahl speaking to him on camera, providing no commentary and thus leaving their point unclear — but perhaps suggesting he is ready to make good on a threat he tweeted on Tuesday to release White House video of their interview before “60 Minutes” airs on CBS Sunday. The interview with the president is scheduled to be broadcast Sunday, and will also feature an interview with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Senator Kamala Harris and Mr. Pence were also interviewed for the broadcast. Norah O’Donnell spoke with Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris.

“You have to watch what we do to ‘60 Minutes,’” Trump told supporters in Erie, Pa., on Tuesday night. “You’ll get such a kick out of it. You’re going to get a kick out of it. Lesley Stahl’s not going to be happy.”

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, who was the Republican nominee for president in 2012, said Wednesday that he had already voted in this year’s presidential election — and not for his party’s nominee, President Trump.

“I did not vote for President Trump — that’s all I’ve got for you,” Mr. Romney said in the Capitol on Wednesday, declining to say whom he did support.

Mr. Romney’s vote, which was confirmed by an aide, was not exactly a surprise: He did not vote for Mr. Trump in 2016 either, writing in the name of his wife, Ann Romney. Earlier this year, he was the lone Republican to vote to convict the president at his impeachment trial.

But the news put him in the company of a growing number of prominent Republicans who are publicly making it plain that they do not intend to support Mr. Trump.

  • Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, who holds an office once occupied by Mr. Romney, said at a news conference earlier this month that he was considering abstaining in the presidential election. “You know, I think I may take a pass on that one,” he said.

  • Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, who has clashed with Mr. Trump on his response to the coronavirus pandemic, wrote in the name “Ronald Reagan” this year when he cast his ballot for the 2020 election, acknowledging at a news conference earlier this week that it was a “symbolic” gesture.

  • Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska castigated Mr. Trump in a telephone town hall with constituents last week, accusing the president of bungling the response to the coronavirus pandemic, cozying up to dictators and white supremacists and offending voters so broadly that he might cause a “Republican blood bath” in the Senate.

  • And Cindy McCain, whose late husband, Senator John McCain of Arizona, was the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr. last month, citing Mr. Trump’s disparagement of members of the armed forces, and she later campaigned with Mr. Biden in Arizona.

Ad Watch

Seven months into the coronavirus pandemic, America has figured out how to make big-time sports happen. The World Series is taking place in front of a few thousand fans. The N.B.A. crowned a champion last week. Pro football is on TV three days a week, and the top college football leagues are back in action.

But many smaller sports conferences are on hold, and that’s the crux of a new Biden campaign ad.

Tristen Vance, a linebacker at Northern Arizona University, says that he’s worked his whole life to have a shot at playing professional football, and his dreams were put in jeopardy by the postponement of the fall football season.

“Trump’s failure of leadership is why we can’t play right now,” Mr. Vance says in the ad. “I don’t blame President Trump for the virus, but I 100-percent blame him for the response to the virus.”

This is core of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s argument in his campaign’s final weeks — one he’s repeating in paid advertising and is expected to return to during Thursday’s final debate: that Mr. Trump has mishandled the national response to the coronavirus and can’t be trusted to make things better.

Mr. Vance was hardly a top professional prospect, but the Lumberjacks’ season was moved to the spring, robbing him of whatever chance he had to play his senior college season in time for National Football League scouts to see him before the league’s draft, which is scheduled to start April 29.

The ad first aired during the Monday night game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals. The campaign plans to air the ad during upcoming football games.

Mr. Biden is making this election a referendum on Mr. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus. (This ad isn’t the first one from the Biden campaign lamenting the loss of parts of the college football season.) It’s his best card to play, given that Americans believe by wide margins that the former vice president would do a better job handling the virus.

Credit…Democratic National Convention, via Getty Images

With less than two weeks to go in the presidential race, the heaviest hitter on the Democratic bench, former President Barack Obama, returns to the campaign trail on Wednesday to make the case for his former vice president, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Obama will make the first of a series of homestretch appearances at a “drive-in rally” in the parking lot of the stadium where the Philadelphia Phillies play. Pennsylvania, with its deep-blue cities, deep-red rural areas, purple suburbs and cache of 20 electoral votes, is a deeply divided state and one of several Mr. Biden must win if he is to wrest the White House from President Trump.

Both candidates have criss-crossed the state in recent weeks — Mr. Trump spoke in Erie Tuesday night — and while Mr. Biden has maintained a steady lead in the polls there, surveys released in recent days show the race tightening.

In a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday evening, Mr. Obama offered a preview of the rally, telling young people that they can create “a new normal” in American politics by going to vote.

“One of the most inspiring things about this year has been to see so many young Americans fired up, organizing, marching and fighting for change,” Mr. Obama said. “Your generation can be the one that creates a new normal in America. One that’s fairer, where the system treats everybody equally and gives everybody opportunity. We can come out of this moment stronger than before.”

Mr. Obama has been a presence of sorts throughout the race: Mr. Biden seldom makes a campaign stop without reminding voters of the things that he and Mr. Obama accomplished together. For the next two weeks, he will make the case for Mr. Biden in the flesh. His aides have not revealed his itinerary for the rest of the campaign, but last week a person familiar with the planning said that Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida were also on his short list.

For most of Mr. Trump’s term, Mr. Obama refrained from criticizing his successor, even as Mr. Trump worked to systematically demolish many of Mr. Obama’s achievements.

But he briefly came out of retirement during the midterm campaign in 2018 and returned to the public stage again this summer, issuing a scathing indictment of the Trump presidency at the Democratic National Convention.

Mr. Obama decried “the meanness and the lies and crazy conspiracy theories” and argued that democracy itself was on the ballot. “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t,” he said.

This evening’s rally at Citizens Bank Park begins at 5:45 p.m. Eastern time.

Credit…Gerry Broome/Associated Press

A federal appeals court ruled that North Carolina election officials can continue to accept absentee ballots up to Nov. 12, provided they were postmarked by Election Day.

The ruling, issued by the Fourth Circuit of Appeals late Tuesday night in a 12-3 ruling, rejects a Republican appeal to block a ballot deadline extension issued in late September by the North Carolina Board of Elections, which changed the day ballots must be received by election officials from Nov. 6 to Nov. 12.

Republicans in the state had argued that the extended deadlines created two sets of rules for voting in North Carolina, an argument the court rejected.

“As for applying different rules to different voters, again, the Board’s change does no such thing,” Judge James A. Wynn wrote. “All voters must abide by the exact same restriction: they must cast their ballots on or before Election Day. The change impacts only an element outside the voters’ control: how quickly their ballots must be received to be counted.”

“This change, of course, may have its own important consequences for the health of our citizenry — in terms of unnecessary infections avoided — and our democracy — in terms of lawful ballots cast and counted,” Judge Wynn added.

The ruling comes after the Supreme Court of the United States declined to rule on a ballot deadline extension in Pennsylvania, which kept in place a ruling that allowed for ballots to be counted if they were received three days after Election Day.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump falsely insisted on Tuesday that the United States is “rounding the turn on the pandemic” and distorted Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s position on fracking as he sought to close ground in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Trump hammered his Democratic opponent’s energy policies, repeating a false claim that Mr. Biden supports a total ban on fracking, a major industry in the state. In what Mr. Trump said was a first for one of his campaign rallies, he played on large video screens a montage of several clips in which Mr. Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, talked about phasing out fossil fuels to combat climate change.

“If Biden is elected, he will wipe out your energy industry,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump also offered a litany of false claims about Mr. Biden’s position on the coronavirus, saying that the former vice president would “delay therapies, postpone the vaccine, prolong the pandemic, close your schools, shut down our country.” But his claim that under his own leadership, the country was “rounding the turn” on the pandemic was sharply at odds with the reality that the virus was surging both nationally and in Pennsylvania, where cases are at a level the state has not seen since April.

Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump by an average of 7 percentage points in the state, according to the Upshot’s calculator. Mr. Trump, seeming to acknowledge that deficit, pined for the days earlier this year when his electoral standing looked brighter. Before “the plague” arrived, he said, “I wasn’t going to Erie. I mean, I have to be honest, there’s no way I was coming. I didn’t have to.”

He added, “We had this thing won.”

Mr. Trump had one other warning for voters during his rally: that Mr. Biden would fail to entertain them as he has. “If you want depression, doom and despair, vote for Sleepy Joe,” he said. “And boredom.”

Credit…Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

To help spur voters to the polls, most politicians conduct in-person canvassing or send mass emails. But Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took a novel approach: She asked her nine million Twitter followers to watch her play a video game.

“Anyone want to play Among Us with me on Twitch to get out the vote?” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, tweeted on Monday afternoon, referring to the popular livestreaming platform. She added that she had never played it “but it looks like a lot of fun.”

Among Us is a multiplayer game in which players try to stay alive on an alien spaceship. In a nutshell: Players who are designated as “crewmates” must run around completing a set of tasks while trying to root out and avoid getting killed by other players who are acting as “impostors.”

The game was created in 2018 and has soared to popularity during the pandemic. Major streamers, YouTube stars and TikTok influencers now play it for millions of fans.

At the peak on Tuesday night, more than 400,000 users were watching Ms. Ocasio-Cortez play Among Us with a handful of popular streamers, making her debut one of the most-watched streams in the service’s history.

Her fellow gamers included Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, who suggested in several tweets she was enjoying herself.

As Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s pink “aoc” avatar bounced around the spaceship, a video beneath the action showed the headphone-clad congresswoman smiling as she played — and occasionally gasping when her avatar ran into trouble.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez talked a little about politics — including health care and transgender rights — and the presidential election. She said that she planned to vote in person, rather than by mail, because she wanted her vote counted on Election Day.

“Justin Amash just texted me, saying he’s highly entertained,” she said, referring to the former Republican representative from Michigan who left the party last year after clashing with President Trump.

“I’m so excited by this upcoming election,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez added a few minutes later. “We can overwhelm the polls, and we can get things back on track.”

For the most part, though, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez was absorbed in the game itself, and the spaceship where her avatar was competing. At one point she observed that some of its features seemed anachronistic.

“What kind of futuristic spaceship still runs a combustion engine?” she asked. “I mean, really?”

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

On Monday, President Trump picked a fight with Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. On Tuesday, it was Lesley Stahl, the “60 Minutes” correspondent, who was caught in the president’s cross hairs, after he cut short an interview in frustration and then mocked her on Twitter for not wearing a mask at the White House after the interview.

Feuding with individuals who are not actually Mr. Trump’s opponent, in a race that is two weeks away, has struck many in his orbit as a waste of limited time when he should be singularly focused on making the race a referendum on Joseph R. Biden Jr., the person he is actually running against.

But his advisers saw gleams of hope, nonetheless.

For one, their internal numbers over the past three weeks have stabilized after the double whammy of the first presidential debate, in which Mr. Trump’s aggressive performance hurt him, and then his subsequent hospitalization for the coronavirus.

And while Mr. Biden continues to lead in places like Wisconsin and Arizona, he has also done so without breaking decisively into a double-digit lead, leaving open the possibility that the race will tighten on Election Day, when in-person ballots come in.

Trump campaign officials are also watching the mammoth early voting numbers come in with some skepticism, because there’s nothing to compare them to. They think Democrats are not close to reaching the number of mail ballot requests they need if more than 40 percent of their voters plan to vote by mail.

An ABC News poll released Tuesday showed a one-point race in the battleground state of North Carolina, with Mr. Biden leading Mr. Trump 49 percent to 48 percent, and was heralded as good news for a campaign that has invested heavily in the swing state.

And they think the Thursday night debate offers Mr. Trump one last chance to reset the dynamics before Election Day. Some of his advisers have told him to try and employ some humor, even acknowledging the reality that many of the suburban women voters and older voters he needs are turned off by his tone and his Twitter feed. One person advised him to pledge to tweet less in a second term.

Mr. Trump, however, has never been easy to coach, and is already coming in fuming, not only at Mr. Fauci and Ms. Stahl, but at the Presidential Debate Commission, for changing the rules, and at the moderator, Kristen Welker of NBC News, who he has been trying to claim is biased despite having praised her work in the past.

Credit…Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune, via Associated Press

In an election year functioning in a seemingly constant state of enmity, one in which few politicians and institutions have been unscathed from attacks, the two rival candidates vying to become Utah’s next governor are outliers.

The Republican lieutenant governor, Spencer Cox, and the Democratic candidate, Chris Peterson, appeared together in a series of new public service announcements promoting civility in politics.

In the ads, which were shared by the rivals on social media on Tuesday, the two candidates stand about six feet apart, with Mr. Cox wearing a red tie and an elephant button and Mr. Peterson in a blue tie with a donkey button.

In one ad, Mr. Cox says, “While I think you should vote for me,” before Mr. Peterson interjects, “Yeah, but really you should vote for me.”

Mr. Cox then concludes: “there are some things we can both agree on.”

The candidates, who are both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said that they wanted to set an example of how politicians should conduct themselves.

“We can debate issues without degrading each other’s character,” says Mr. Peterson, a first-time candidate and a law professor at the University of Utah.

Mr. Cox adds, “We can disagree without hating each other.”

In another one of the ads, Mr. Cox and Mr. Peterson both pledged to accept the outcome of the presidential election, something that President Trump has repeatedly balked at when asked in interviews and in his first debate with his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

“Whether you vote by mail or in person, we will fully support the results of the upcoming presidential election, regardless of the outcome,” Mr. Peterson says.

Mr. Cox echoes his opponent.

“Although we sit on different sides of the aisle we are both committed to American civility and a peaceful transition of power,” he says.

Mr. Peterson and Mr. Cox conclude the ads by saying in unison that they approve the messages.

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