Economy

Live 2020 Presidential Debates News Tracker and Updates – The New York Times

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, was among the Republicans who declined to comment on the president’s taxes.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Republican lawmakers reacted with nearly complete silence on Monday to a New York Times investigation that revealed President Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and that he oversees a network of businesses that are riddled with debt and losing hundreds of millions of dollars.

Spokesmen for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the top two Republicans in the Senate, declined to comment on the article Monday.

A Republican involved in writing tax law, Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said Monday afternoon that he had read the Times article, but declined to comment on how little Mr. Trump paid in taxes.

“The thought that comes to my mind is how come it’s taking the I.R.S. so long to get the audits done,” he told reporters. Asked about the $750 tax payments, Mr. Grassley said: “I want to wait until the I.R.S. gets done so I know how much he owes.”

Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Trump initially called the Times article “totally fake news” on Sunday, and then shifted to accusing the paper of basing the report on illegally obtained information about his finances.

Democrats quickly seized on the investigation. House lawmakers, who have spent years fighting in the courts for access to the president’s tax records, hailed the revelations in the report as proof that their inquiries were justified.

“Trump hides his tax returns because, unlike most working Americans, he is a freeloader who doesn’t believe in paying taxes, only personally benefiting from taxes others pay,” Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, said in a statement. “Most any American who pays taxes has paid more than Trump. He is a taker, not a maker.”

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said on MSNBC Monday that the report raised national security concerns because of the amount of money that the president owes to lenders.

“This president appears to have over $400 million in debt, 420, whatever it is, million dollars in debt,” she told Andrea Mitchell, the show’s host. “To whom? Different countries? What is the leverage they have? So for me, this is a national security question.”

While Republican lawmakers dodged questions about Mr. Trump’s taxes, and the reliably friendly morning show “Fox and Friends” enlisted his press secretary and his oldest son to comment, a few others in the party weighed in. John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio who has endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr., told CNN that the article could affect blue-collar voters who are not yet decided.

“These folks are scraping to make a living and they’re going to wake up to find out this incredible mogul paid $750? I don’t care what his excuses are,” Mr. Kasich said on “Anderson Cooper 360.” “It doesn’t pass the smell test. It’s not going to disrupt those people who were for him totally. They’ll still be for him. But it’s those people on the fence.”

Not all of the president’s conservative allies were silent on how little Mr. Trump paid in federal income taxes over the past decade.

Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk show host who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February at Mr. Trump’s State of the Union address, said on his show on Monday that Mr. Trump’s penchant for minimizing his taxes was something to be proud of, not scorned.

“He’s a master at this,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “These tax returns show that he is a master at using the tax code legally. If Trump had done all of this illegal stuff after all of these years, it would have caught up with him by now.”

Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, spoke at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C.
Credit…Pete Kiehart for The New York Times

Senator Kamala Harris warned on Monday of far-reaching consequences to American society if Judge Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court, saying that the health coverage and abortion rights were in peril.

In a speech in Raleigh, N.C., Ms. Harris amplified an argument that Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been making in the aftermath of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, putting a focus on the fate of health care for millions of Americans.

“This relentless obsession with overturning the Affordable Care Act is driven entirely by a blind rage toward President Obama,” Ms. Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, said. “And it’s happening at a moment when our country is suffering through the ravages of a pandemic that has claimed more than 200,000 lives in our country.”

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments a week after Election Day in a case challenging the Affordable Care Act, and the Trump administration is asking the court to strike down the law.

Ms. Harris also spoke of other issues at stake as President Trump tries to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat, such as abortion rights and voting rights. The president, his party and Judge Barrett “have made clear that they want to overturn Roe v. Wade and restrict reproductive rights and freedoms,” Ms. Harris said.

“Judge Barrett has a long record of opposing abortion and reproductive rights,” she continued. “There is no other issue that so disrespects and dishonors the work of Justice Ginsburg’s life than undoing the seminal decision in the court’s history that made it clear a woman has a right to make decisions about her own body.”

Ms. Harris is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold confirmation hearings for Judge Barrett. Ms. Harris has drawn notice in the past for her tough questioning during Senate hearings, and her spot on the committee will place her at center stage in the confirmation process shortly before Election Day.

Mr. Biden has urged the Senate to refrain from confirming a replacement for Justice Ginsburg before the election, noting that voting is already underway.

Ms. Harris echoed that argument on Monday and offered a message for voters.

“Let’s vote for health care,” she said. “Vote for the Affordable Care Act. Vote as if your life, your choice, depends on it, because it does. Make it clear to President Trump and to every Republican senator that if they’re determined to get rid of your health care, you’ll be just as determined to vote them out of office.”

As Republicans line up to meet Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Democrats are examining her record for evidence to use during her Supreme Court confirmation hearing.
Credit…Al Drago/Getty Images

The process to confirm of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court got underway quietly but hastily on Monday, as more than a dozen senators prepared to meet her while others began a deep scrub of her record on and off the bench.

The flurry of activity, barely 36 hours after President Trump announced that he would nominate Judge Barrett, offered the latest sign that Republicans plan to move with speed unseen in other recent confirmation fights to ensure the seat vacated by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg is filled before Election Day, giving conservatives a six-to-three majority.

The White House plans to send paperwork to the Senate formally nominating Judge Barrett on Tuesday, when lawmakers reconvene. She was scheduled to begin a parade of courtesy visits to Senators Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, who championed her selection; Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee; and many of the Republicans on the panel.

Some top Democrats, still steaming over Republicans’ rush to fill the seat so close to an election after refusing to move forward with President Barack Obama’s election-year choice four years ago, turned down offers to meet with her, laying the first bricks in a wall of opposition to the nomination they plan to erect in the coming weeks.

“The whole process has been illegitimate,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, adding, “I will not meet with her.”

Democrats, who plan to focus their energy on Judge Barrett’s view of the Affordable Care Act, which is the focus of a case before the court, were intensely interested in clues as to how she might rule: a 2017 law review article by Judge Barrett criticizing the 2012 opinion of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. upholding one of the health law’s key provisions and a 2015 public radio interview in which she again appeared critical of the court when it upheld the law.

They also planned to highlight her dissent in a 2019 gun rights case in which Judge Barrett wrote that she would have narrowed a federal law prohibiting convicted felons from owning guns. The ruling, Democrats are prepared to argue, also implies that Judge Barrett believes voting rights can be more easily stripped than the right to bear arms.

Republicans began rolling out customary lists of endorsements from across the legal profession. On Monday, the Republican Attorneys General Association lent its support in a video, calling Judge Barrett “an exemplary jurist, and extraordinary mother, accomplished, honest, hardworking.”

In a series of tweets on Monday, the president appeared annoyed at reporting that revealed that he is not as wealthy and successful as he claims.
Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

President Trump shifted his position overnight on a sweeping New York Times investigative report on his taxes, accusing the paper on Monday of using “illegally obtained information” after initially saying on Sunday that the article was “totally fake news.”

In a series of tweets Monday morning, Mr. Trump did not explicitly deny the revelations that he paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, and that he paid almost no taxes in other years because of huge losses in many of his businesses.

Instead, Mr. Trump lashed out at the suggestion that he is not as wealthy and successful as he has repeatedly claimed to be, insisting — without providing any evidence — that his finances are in very good shape.

“If you look at the extraordinary assets owned by me, which the Fake News hasn’t, I am extremely under leveraged — I have very little debt compared to the value of assets,” he insisted on Twitter.

In fact, as the article notes, Mr. Trump is heavily in debt, and much of what he owes to lenders will have to be paid back in just a few years.

“He is personally responsible for loans and other debts totaling $421 million, with most of it coming due within four years,” the report says. “Should he win re-election, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president.”

Mr. Trump also said Monday that he “might release” financial statements that show “all properties, assets and debts,” but did not say when he might do that. “It is a very IMPRESSIVE Statement,” he wrote.

The report revealed that Mr. Trump paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years that The Times examined because of huge losses in other businesses that Mr. Trump owns. The president used provisions in the tax law to offset his tax obligations with the losses.

The article notes that The Times “obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office.”

Despite Mr. Trump’s allegation that the report was based on information that was gotten illegally, the report noted that “all of the information The Times obtained was provided by sources with legal access to it.”

It added: “The Times was able to verify portions of it by comparing it with publicly available information and confidential records previously obtained by The Times.”

On Sunday night, Mr. Trump told reporters at a news conference that he had paid “a lot” in taxes. He also claimed that he was not contacted before the article ran, despite the fact that it quotes a lawyer for the Trump organization.

By Monday morning, he was insisting on Twitter that he had paid “many millions of dollars” in taxes. He did not specify whether he meant federal income taxes, and he complained that he “was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation and tax credits.”

“The Fake News Media, just like Election time 2016, is bringing up my Taxes & all sorts of other nonsense with illegally obtained information & only bad intent,” he wrote on Twitter.

Ad Watch

Not long after The New York Times published an investigation into President Trump’s long-sought tax returns, the campaign of Joseph R. Biden Jr. turned one of its most revealing findings — that Mr. Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency — into a 30-second video comparing that tax bill to those paid by American workers.

One of Mr. Trump’s enduring strengths has been his appeal to white working-class voters, many of whom view him as a billionaire who made personal sacrifices to run for, and serve as, president. The video seeks to undercut that, comparing Mr. Trump’s tax bill to those typical of elementary school teachers ($7,239), firefighters ($5,283), nurses ($10,216) and construction managers ($16,447).

In recent weeks, Mr. Biden has tried to frame the presidential race as “Scranton versus Park Avenue,” and the findings of the Times investigation could help him further that effort by casting Mr. Trump as not just a rich candidate who is detached from the experiences of average Americans, but someone who deployed complex tax-avoidance schemes to avoid paying his fair share.

Mr. Trump broke with the modern tradition of major-party presidential candidates releasing their tax returns. The Times report, the first look at his recent filings, showed that he paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency and another $750 in his first year in the White House. He also paid no income taxes in 10 of the previous 15 years, mostly because he reported losing much more money than he made.

The Biden campaign said it obtained the average earnings for each profession from 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics data, and that the average paid in income taxes was calculated for a single person, age 40, with $0 in state and federal withholdings.

The video was shared online organically enough to rack up more than 3 million views on Twitter alone in less than a day. This particular video, which features only words flashing on the screen and no narration, was designed for social media but its message could find its way into the Biden campaign’s large paid-media budget.

The Biden campaign hopes to cut into Mr. Trump’s support among white working-class workers and hopes the specificity of the $750 tax figure helps it break through.

Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential nominee, faces growing tensions between the center and left wing of his party. 
Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

There is a battle brewing among Washington Democrats that is set to boil over if Democrats take back the Senate and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. defeats President Trump.

Even as Republicans line up behind Mr. Trump, Democrats are navigating fault lines in their own ranks over how they would govern as the controlling party. Some Democrats, and not just on the party’s left, are increasingly embracing structural changes to the political system — including eliminating the Senate filibuster, ending the Electoral College and granting statehood to Washington, D.C. — while others reject these ideas as norm-busting power grabs that are unpalatable to a majority of voters.

These tensions have only intensified with the looming battle over President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The potential for a decades-long conservative majority on the court, after Republicans broke precedent four years ago by refusing to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee for a vacancy, has prompted change-seeking Democrats to add another item to the policy list: expanding the size of the Supreme Court.

“If Republicans confirm Judge Barrett, end the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court,” Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts said in a tweet on Saturday. Even Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said last week that “everything is on the table.’’

But the momentum for structural change faces a six-foot roadblock, hand delivered by the primary voters within their own party: Mr. Biden.

A consummate Washington institutionalist who served in the Senate for nearly four decades, Mr. Biden often speaks in fond and wistful terms about Senate customs of yore. From a policy standpoint he has largely rejected calls to eliminate the filibuster, only recently signaling some openness to doing so, or to expand the Supreme Court.

Compared to many of his Democratic predecessors, Mr. Biden would be a very progressive president should he succeed in his White House bid. On issues of climate, education and even health care, he has proposed an agenda that has moved leftward since he entered the primaries. Yet on institutional change, Mr. Biden has not matched the urgency from the left that the election and the Supreme Court fight have stirred.

The discord could set Democrats on an inevitable collision course: a party that is increasingly seeking to play by different rules led by a figure who helped create the current ones. The outcome of the fight will help define a party that has rallied around the mission of defeating Mr. Trump and Senate Republicans in November but remains ideologically fractured.

In three separate rulings, federal judges in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., ordered the Postal Service to halt changes that slowed mail delivery.
Credit…Kathryn Gamble for The New York Times

Two federal judges ruled against the Postal Service in three separate cases, ordering temporary injunctions to force it to suspend changes to its operations that have contributed to widespread delays in the delivery of mail.

Gerald Austin McHugh Jr., a federal judge in Pennsylvania, issued a preliminary injunction Monday ordering the Postal Service to halt efforts to reduce work hours and change carrier schedules, among other policies, unless the agency were to obtain an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Six states and the District of Columbia had sued the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, last month, claiming that recent changes violated federal law. The coalition asserted that the agency had failed to submit the proposed changes to the regulatory commission, the body responsible for issuing advisory opinions before nationwide changes.

The Postal Service’s “ability to fulfill its mission during a presidential election taking place in the midst of a public health crisis is vital,” Judge McHugh wrote. “The delays that have occurred as a result of the initiatives described above clearly pose a threat to the delivery of Election Mail to and from the voters.”

In a separate ruling on Sunday, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of United States District Court for the District of Columbia found that several new policies had put “the timely delivery of election mail at risk.” In his decision, which came in response to a lawsuit filed by New York State and several other states and cities, Judge Sullivan reasoned that mail delays were also likely to cause more residents to vote in person and risk spreading the coronavirus.

“It is clearly in the public interest to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, to ensure safe alternatives to in-person voting, and to require that the U.S.P.S. comply with the law,” Judge Sullivan wrote.

In a third case, eleven voters and four voting rights organizations had alleged that the recent Postal Service changes had violated the constitutional right to vote. Judge Sullivan sided against the Postal Service in that case on Monday, writing that the plaintiffs could suffer “irreparable harm” from the policies if their votes were not counted.

He ordered the Postal Service to reverse a policy that had cut back on late and extra delivery trips.

The rulings follow similar decisions in Washington State and New York that ordered the Postal Service to halt several operational changes. In an interview with the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., last week, Mr. DeJoy said his agency was working to settle the lawsuits.

Given Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s current edge, his advisers have been downplaying the debate’s significance even as the former vice president plunges himself into preparations.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Joseph R. Biden Jr. was frustrated as he tried last year to prepare for an unwieldy debate season that stuffed as many as 11 other Democratic rivals onto a single stage. At some mock sessions, he was flanked by “Elizabeth Warren,” played by Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, and “Bernie Sanders,” portrayed by Bob Bauer, the former White House counsel, as they peppered him with progressive lines of attack.

Mr. Biden lamented privately to advisers — and occasionally in public — that it was nearly impossible to debate with such a crowd. “If you had a debate with five other people, you might actually get a chance to say something,” Mr. Biden told donors in Hollywood last fall. He would deliver more forceful performances as the field narrowed, he promised.

Now, Mr. Biden will get his chance. The former vice president will debate President Trump for the first time on Tuesday, a date circled for months as one of the most consequential on the 2020 political calendar, and one of a dwindling number of chances for Mr. Trump to chip into Mr. Biden’s lead in the polls.

Given Mr. Biden’s current polling edge, his advisers have been downplaying the debate’s significance even as the former vice president has plunged himself into days of intense preparation. He is rehearsing and studying his briefing books — Mr. Biden has long preferred the Arial typeface, 14 point — in a process overseen by his longtime adviser and former chief of staff, Ron Klain, who similarly ran Hillary Clinton’s debate camp.

“It is definitely one of the last things that could move the race,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary under former President Barack Obama and a former adviser to Mr. Biden. “The odds of it moving the race are not high. But there are not that many opportunities.”

Campaign stickers at the Lancaster County Democratic Party offices in Lincoln, Neb., in June. Nebraska awards its Electoral College votes by congressional district.
Credit…Nati Harnik/Associated Press

In a close race, the presidential election could be decided by an unlikely spot: Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, which includes Omaha and most of its suburbs.

If the race is decided there, Joseph R. Biden Jr. appears to have the advantage, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll. He leads President Trump by seven points, 48 percent to 41 percent.

Unlike most states, Nebraska awards its Electoral College votes by congressional district: The statewide winner receives two votes, and the winner of each district receives one. And while one electoral vote isn’t much, it could prove decisive in an increasingly plausible set of circumstances.

Nebraska’s Second District would give Mr. Biden exactly 270 electoral votes, the number needed to win, if he held the states that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016 and flipped Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan. It would allow him to win the presidency without Pennsylvania or Florida.

The district has long loomed as a potential vulnerability for the president. It is traditionally Republican, but Mr. Trump carried it by only two points in 2016. The district was even closer than familiar battleground states like Arizona or North Carolina.

Its demographics have made it an even more plausible pickup opportunity for Mr. Biden. It’s relatively white, metropolitan and well educated, and national polls routinely show Mr. Biden running ahead of Mrs. Clinton’s performance among all three of those groups.

Video

transcript

transcript

Why Voting in This U.S. Election Will Not Be Equal

The first episode of our four-part series, Stressed Election, focuses on voter suppression in Georgia, where a growing Black and Latino population is on the precipice of exercising its political voice, if they get the chance to vote.

“Seven hours, 45 minutes, and 13 seconds it took for me to vote in Fulton County, Ga. As soon as I saw the line, I hit the stopwatch on my phone. I spent the first couple hours listening to a new Run the Jewels album. And then I ended up listening to the entire discography. And then I started watching season eight of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.’ And that’s five hours. It was one o’clock in the morning, and somebody was like, ‘Hey, y’all remember we came to vote yesterday, right?’” “Look at it.” When it comes time to vote in November, would you rather stand in a line like this … “Somebody please help us. We are at our polling place in Atlanta, Fickett Elementary School. The systems are down.” … or like this? “Oh look, there’s no line. There’s no line at all out here in suburban white country.” Seven years ago, a controversial Supreme Court ruling struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act. “If you hear me, the voting machines were not working.” And after that, many states passed laws that ended up making it harder for people of color to vote. “We have all these barriers that aren’t in place for other people. It’s 2020. Why is it this difficult for someone to go to and vote?” To understand why, we go to Georgia. “I think Georgia has become a kind of hotbed for voting rights questions.” “How voting takes place has become one of the most explosive issues in Georgia. Georgia is the largest state by landmass east of the Mississippi River. It’s dominated by the reality of Atlanta. It’s multicultural. It’s growing. It’s dynamic, this sort of throbbing megalopolis where you’re seeing Democrats in large numbers. And then beyond these urban centers, you have a much more traditional, rural Georgia, where you have seen a massive shift of white voting behavior from conservative Democrat to full-on Republican.” Georgia has historically been a pretty conservative state, but as it becomes more culturally and racially diverse … “In this presidential election, there is some thought that Democrats have a shot here.” … but one fact still remains. “Republicans control the State House. Republicans control the Legislature, and they are free, frankly, to implement the voting laws they see fit.” As Republicans fight to remain in control of the state, some say it’s no longer a fight over who people vote for, but who is allowed to vote. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent federal agency, says these are the five most common voter suppression tactics. They happen across the country, but the only state that has ticked every box is Georgia. “The term voter suppression —” “Voter suppression.” “Voter suppression.” “Voter suppression.” ”— embedded in that word is the very question of what the motivation is for these kinds of laws and procedures.” “The Republican argument, that they say, is that they are worried about voter security. They are worried about voter fraud.” “Voter fraud is all too common.” “We don’t have evidence of that.” “And then they criticize us for saying that.” “Federal law actually requires us to make sure that we keep our voter rolls updated, clean, fresh and accurate.” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is Georgia’s lead elections official. It’s his job to maintain the state’s voter lists. “Many people don’t realize that, nationwide, about 11 percent of all people move every year. And that’s why you want to update your voter rolls. We just send notices out to people that haven’t voted for a long period of time.” “There’s an argument to be made that purging voter rolls serves a legitimate purpose. And that is to make sure that people are alive. The counter-argument, of course, is that these voter rolls in some states are being aggressively purged by Republicans in an effort to keep them from coming to the polls.” In 2017, 560,000 voters were purged from Georgia’s voter rolls. A report later found that Black voters were purged at a higher rate in more than half of Georgia’s counties. “This is happening in the context of the American South, where there is a long and well-documented history of using trickery.” “The kind of Jim Crow-era — things like poll taxes —” “— voting tests, literacy tests to keep people of color away from the polls.” “You know, it’s important to recognize that, until the 1960s, African-Americans were pretty much shut out of voting in the state of Georgia. That began to change when the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.” “Voting Rights Act of 1965 basically says that states cannot make laws that infringe on people’s rights to vote.” A key part of the law with something called Section 5 preclearance, which said — “States with a history of racist legislation cannot make laws that infringe on people of color without the federal government’s permission.” After the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965, the number of African-Americans who registered to vote in Georgia doubled. “It changed Southern politics.” “At the most basic level, bigger participation from Black Americans.” And for a while, that’s how things went. But … “It’s not as if the South loved the preclearance.” Many of the states felt it was an unfair burden, especially when voter participation increased. “What was true is that they, frankly, couldn’t do much about it.” Well, until a challenge to the law brought the issue all the way to the Supreme Court. Announcer: “— the 1965 Voting Rights Act.” [crosstalk] “Shelby v. Holder.” Shelby v. Holder. “I just get wound up when you ask me about voting rights.” Here to help explain is Debo Adegbile, the lawyer who argued that preclearance was still necessary. But the other side argued that the standards used to measure discriminatory voting practices were outdated. In a 5 to 4 decision, the justices ruled to strike down the preclearance, which effectively meant that states could pass new voting laws without federal oversight. “So it was a resounding loss, and perhaps one of the most significant civil rights decisions of the United States Supreme Court in recent memory.” “The decision of Shelby took away the federal government’s most effective tool in regulating state voting rights.” “After the Shelby decision, there were almost immediate attempts to change the way voting works.” Some states passed voting legislation just hours after the ruling. Alabama implemented new voter ID laws. North Carolina eliminated seven days of early voting. And the list goes on. “Without the preclearance provision, there were many, many elections where those discriminatory laws affected our politics.” Voting rights advocates say this was a key ruling that had the power to impact the outcome of an election. And that’s what many believe happened in Georgia in 2018. “The governor’s race in Georgia in 2018 was …” “Bitter.” “On one side, you had …” “I’m Stacey Abrams, and I’m running for governor. I have a boundless belief in Georgia’s future.” “Her strategy was based on signing up people of color. And then on the other side …” “I’m Brian Kemp.” “— because you’re a proud, hardcore Trump conservative on spending, immigration and guns.” “So you had a secretary of state, who had come under criticism for voter suppression, running the election that he’s in.” “That puts them at odds.” “We’ve seen jurisdictions consolidate and close precincts. We’ve seen voter ID laws come into play. There was a system in Georgia called Exact Match, where if your information doesn’t 100 percent match databases that the state uses, that you can be purged from the voter rolls. That tends to target people with ethnic names. A lot of these new suppression schemes seem race-neutral, but they have the same impact.” “Georgia has 159 counties.” “It’s a staggering number of counties.” “And we are hearing reports from all over the state.” [phones ringing] “There was a county in Georgia called Randolph County.” “Randolph County tried to close seven out of nine —” “Seven out of the nine.” “— polling places in a county that’s 60 percent Black.” “Jeff Davis County polling location consolidations. I mean, I should say that, like, this could take a while.” “Chatham County allowed the city of —” [crosstalk] “Fighting voter suppression is very much like fighting a hydra. You chop off one head, and three grows in its place.” Here’s one impact: The 2017 Exact Match law prevented 53,000 Georgians from having their registrations accepted. Nearly 70 percent were Black. “The evidence is very clear to us that the ones most impacted by these new laws are Black Georgians, are people in Democratic communities.” All of this results in a contested election. And then … “But I’m here tonight to tell you, votes remain to be counted.” “Make no mistake, the math is on our side to win this election.” “So Brian Kemp squeaks out a victory.” “And he is now the governor of Georgia. It was two figures who have represented the opposite sides of the voting rights argument.” “The question that dogged Georgia throughout 2018 was whether or not these tactics were fundamentally fair.” “So what happened in 2018 really is a preview, where democracy is under a stress test.” One that may get even more stressed in the lead-up to 2020, with the added elements of coronavirus and a country on edge after nationwide protests. “If you want change in America, go and register to vote. Show up at the polls on June 9.” In April, in response to the pandemic, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger sent out absentee ballot applications to nearly seven million registered voters in an attempt to reduce in-person voting. “And what that really has done is it’s taken the pressure off it today, so that instead of having those, you know, million people that were voted absentee show up today, we now have something that is more manageable.” But many of those absentee ballots were never delivered. In Atlanta, this contributed to Election Day wait times that were reminiscent of 2018 and 2016. “We got here before six o’clock this morning.” “Since six this morning. It’s almost 9 a.m., and I have not moved.” In Fulton County, Georgia’s largest, election director Rick Barron had to contend with both a 9,000 percent increase in absentee ballots, and the rollout of a new voting machine system. “We became an absentee-by-mail state. We still had to do our full complement of Election Day infrastructure. We did our early-voting infrastructure. And it stretched us.” With many usual polling sites, like churches and schools, dropping out because of the pandemic, an estimated 16,000 voters in Fulton County were redirected here, to this restaurant, Park Tavern. “Take a look behind me. This is the Park Tavern precinct.” “This polling place is serving multiple locations that are supposed to be separate locations.” And these problems stretched all across metro Atlanta. “The impact of having problems at the voting booth in high-density areas in Georgia means that people of color are going to be disproportionately affected.” One study showed that in communities where more than 90 percent of registered voters were minorities, the average minimum wait time at the polls was 51 minutes. When whites made up more than 90 percent of voters, it was just six minutes. “So how are things running now?” “Well, by and large, they’re running very smoothly throughout the state, except, obviously, Fulton County has had multiple failures.” Each county in Georgia runs its own election, with Georgia’s secretary of state as the top official. But after the massive failures in the primary, a blame game commenced. “They should be embarrassed with their performance.” “Whatever Secretary Raffensperger’s opinion is, he’s the head election official in the state, and he can’t wash his hands of all the responsibility.” “In this environment, incompetence does have the effect of voter suppression.” Things would have looked different before the Shelby decision. Even in an emergency situation like the pandemic, the implementation of all of these changes — new voting machines, poll place closures and the absentee balloting — still would have required federal oversight through Section 5 preclearance, meaning voters of color would have had … “A front-end protection that stops discrimination before it can take root. What we’ve lost with the Shelby County ruling is that, now when changes are made to take account of the public health crisis, they are not being made toward, are those changes harming minority voters.” Which means … “Your only option, now, is to go case by case, to try and find every bad thing that’s happening and try and figure out if you can bring a case to stop it. That’s costly. Litigation is slow. Can they happen quickly enough in proximity to an election to make a difference?” “Voting rights and questions of voter suppression are not limited to the South. It’s happening in Texas, in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and other places. The political power of 1776 to 1960 was one that excluded huge communities of people in this country. And so history tells us the same thing the current day tells us. If you are Black, brown in this country, to exercise your democratic rights is harder than if you are white. It’s not just a foregone conclusion that everyone who is an American gets to vote.” “You know, this is America. We can put a Tesla in space, but we can’t vote? I mean, what do we think is going to happen in November?” “This is Alex.” “And I’m Kassie.” “We produced this episode of Stressed Elections.” “There’s a lot going on in this election, and we want to make sure we take a deep dive into the major issues. So stick around for the next episodes.” “We’re going to cover voting technology, disinformation and voting by mail.”

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The first episode of our four-part series, Stressed Election, focuses on voter suppression in Georgia, where a growing Black and Latino population is on the precipice of exercising its political voice, if they get the chance to vote.

THE UPSHOT

Joseph R. Biden Jr. has maintained a steady lead over President Trump in national polls.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

National polls released on Sunday continued to show Joseph R. Biden Jr. hanging on to a significant lead as his first debate with President Trump approaches. The polls, one by The New York Times/Siena College and two from ABC News/The Washington Post, found Mr. Biden ahead by an average of eight points.

State polls
National polls

Mr. Biden also got some good news over the weekend in NBC/Marist polls from the battleground states of Wisconsin, showing Mr. Biden leading among likely voters by 10 points, and Michigan, showing him leading by 8. But one big caveat: those polls were not weighted by education, which means they probably have too many college graduates represented and overstate support for Mr. Biden (Failing to weight by education is one of the main things that went wrong with polls in 2016.)

In Georgia and North Carolina, which Mr. Trump won by more than five points and nearly four points in 2016, CBS/YouGov joined a long list of pollsters to show very close presidential races in those states, with Mr. Trump up by one point in Georgia and Mr. Biden up by two points in North Carolina.

CBS/YouGov polls also offered promising news for Democrats in some of the most hotly contested Senate races, finding the Democrat Cal Cunningham up by 10 points against the Republican incumbent, Thom Tillis, in North Carolina, and the Republican stalwart Senator Lindsey Graham locked in a tight race with Jaime Harrison in South Carolina.

Chris Wallace of Fox News has warned viewers not to expect him to fact-check the presidential candidates at the debate he will moderate on Tuesday.
Credit…Pool photo by Joe Raedle

President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. will not be the only ones in the spotlight at their first debate on Tuesday night. Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who is moderating, will face intense scrutiny on how he handles the evening, particularly given Mr. Trump’s tendency to hurl false and baseless claims at his opponents.

But Mr. Wallace warned that viewers should not expect him to fact-check either candidate.

“My job is to be as invisible as possible,” Mr. Wallace said during a Fox News segment on Sunday. “I’m trying to get them to engage, to focus on the key issues, to give people at home a sense of, ‘why I want to vote for one versus the other.’”

Mr. Wallace, who has regularly argued that fact-checking is outside the purview of a debate moderator, called it “a step too far.”

“I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad,” he said in the run-up to his 2016 debate between Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton. “It’s up to the other person to catch them on that.” Those comments caused a minor stir at the time, but the debates’ organizers have made clear they agree, and his stewardship of that debate earned praise at the time.

Tuesday’s debate, which airs commercial-free from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Eastern time on every major network, is likely to attract a television and livestreaming audience of close to 100 million for the kind of civic gathering increasingly rare in a polarized, pandemic-stricken age.

Sara Gideon, the Maine House Speaker, has sought to portray Senator Susan Collins as a rubber stamp for Republican judicial nominees.
Credit…Sarah Rice for The New York Times

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, facing the toughest re-election campaign of her political career, on Monday will debate Sara Gideon, her Democratic opponent, as Senate Republicans rush to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Supreme Court and the longstanding Republican effort to reshape the federal judiciary has been a consistent issue overshadowing the race between Ms. Collins, who is seeking a fifth term in the Senate, and Ms. Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.

The Republicans’ race to confirm President Trump’s nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, before the Nov. 3 election could reshape the battle for control of the Senate. In recent surveys, a majority of voters said that they believe the next president should choose the successor to Justice Ginsburg, a view Ms. Collins has said she shares.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report has rated the Maine Senate race a tossup, but an array of polls — including a New York Times/Siena College poll released earlier this month — have found Ms. Collins trailing Ms. Gideon by a narrow margin.

The race has become the toughest of Ms. Collins’s career in part because she supported the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, enraging Democrats and prompting outside political groups to flood the race with millions of dollars in support of Ms. Gideon. And while Ms. Collins has said she opposes holding a vote on the vacancy before the general election, Ms. Gideon and the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm have worked to galvanize voters in opposition to both Ms. Collins and a Republican majority.

“The United States Senate under Mitch McConnell’s control is virtually just rubber stamping almost every one of Trump’s judicial nominees,” Ms. Gideon said in a television ad that began airing the day after Justice Ginsburg’s death. “We have to change the people who make him majority leader, and that includes Senator Susan Collins.”

Ms. Collins, the only New England Republican in Congress, has sought to portray herself as a moderate willing to buck her party, arguing that she also backed Supreme Court nominees named by President Barack Obama. During their first debate, earlier this month, she asked Ms. Gideon if she would have supported Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

“I believe I would have to fully study to be able to answer that question,” Ms. Gideon said. Ms. Collins responded, “She’s ducking the question.”

Lisa Savage and Max Linn, two independents who are also seeking the Senate seat, will participate in the debate as well. They are expected to try to separate themselves from the two party candidates, particularly because the state has adopted ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to list candidates in order of their preference. In absence of a majority, officials can continue recounting ballots until someone wins.

Many voting rules have changed this year because of the pandemic, making it harder than usual to figure out how to cast your ballot. So we did the work for you, in hopes of helping make sure your vote is counted.

Brad Parscale served as the campaign manager for President Trump’s re-election campaign until July. 
Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

MIAMI — President Trump’s former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, was hospitalized after the police were called to his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., by his wife, who said he had guns and was threatening to hurt himself, officials said on Sunday evening.

The episode took place outside a home that, records show, Mr. Parscale bought in 2019.

“When officers arrived on scene, they made contact with the reportee (wife of armed subject) who advised her husband was armed, had access to multiple firearms inside the residence and was threatening to harm himself,” the Fort Lauderdale Police Department said in a statement. “Officers determined the only occupant inside the home was the adult male. Officers made contact with the male, developed a rapport, and safely negotiated for him to exit the home.”

A police report said that the officers who responded to the house had recovered 10 firearms from Mr. Parscale, including handguns, shotguns and rifles. In the report, Officer Timothy J. Skaggs wrote that when he arrived as the scene he “observed several bruises on both arms” of Mr. Parscale’s wife, Candice Parscale, which “she advised occurred a few days ago, during a physical altercation with Bradley, which she did not report.”

The police said Mr. Parscale was taken to Broward Health Medical Center for an evaluation.

Mr. Parscale was replaced as campaign manager in July, after complaints from Mr. Trump about how the campaign’s money had been spent and as the president sank in the polls, largely because of his own performance handling the coronavirus pandemic.

Nonetheless, Mr. Parscale remained a target of criticism, in part because of his public presence representing the campaign. He has remained as an adviser to the campaign, primarily dealing with digital fund-raising and digital advertising.

In a statement, Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the campaign, said: “Brad Parscale is a member of our family and we all love him. We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible.”

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. Here’s what you can do when a loved one is severely depressed.

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