Rule Change for Last Debate Seeks to Limit Interruptions

Rule Change for Last Debate Seeks to Limit Interruptions

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Credit…Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be muted during portions of Thursday’s final presidential debate, an effort by the organizers to avoid the unruly spectacle that played out at the candidates’ first meeting in Cleveland last month.

As in the first debate, each candidate will be allotted two minutes of speaking time to initially answer the moderator’s questions. But under a plan announced on Monday by the Commission on Presidential Debates, his opponent’s microphone will be turned off during that period, an attempt to ensure an uninterrupted response.

After the candidates finish their two-minute replies, they will be allowed to freely engage with one another for the remainder of the segment. (The debate, to be moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC News, is divided into six segments of 15 minutes apiece.)

Aides to Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump were notified of the change late Monday. Mr. Trump signaled late Monday that he was not happy about it.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One after a day of campaigning in Arizona, Mr. Trump raised objections to the commission’s plans but confirmed that he would take part in the debate.

“I’ll participate, I just think it is very unfair,” Mr. Trump said. “I will participate, but it’s very unfair that they changed the topics and it is very unfair that again we have an anchor who is totally biased.”

The commission acknowledged earlier on Monday that both campaigns might be dissatisfied with the new rules. “One may think they go too far, and one may think they do not go far enough,” the commission said in a statement. “We are comfortable that these actions strike the right balance and that they are in the interest of the American people, for whom these debates are held.”

The Thursday debate in Nashville will mark the final meeting of the campaign between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden. The debate commission had pledged to curtail the chaos that ensued at last month’s first debate in Cleveland, when Mr. Trump frequently interrupted Mr. Biden and the moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News.

Mr. Trump and his aides have signaled deep hostility to any outside control of the candidates’ microphones, and the campaign spent Monday waging a daylong assault on the commission and on Mr. Biden. In a letter sent to the commission before the announcement of the new rules, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, said it would be “completely unacceptable” for “an unnamed person” to shut off a candidate’s microphone.

“A decision to proceed with that change amounts to turning further editorial control of the debate over to the commission,” Mr. Stepien wrote, going on to baselessly accuse the nonpartisan commission of bias toward Mr. Biden.

The commission’s proposal could also create the potential for technical gaffes. Mr. Trump’s voice, for instance, may be picked up by Mr. Biden’s microphone, and vice versa, meaning that an attempted interruption still may be heard, at least faintly, by viewers watching at home.

After the Cleveland debate, the commission released a statement saying that “additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.” But the organizers were slow to agree on any new rules, particularly after a tumultuous week in which an attempt to convert the second debate in Miami into a virtual event prompted Mr. Trump to withdraw. The second debate was eventually canceled, and each candidate held a televised town hall with voters instead.

In the letter, Mr. Stepien — who mockingly referred to the nonpartisan commission as the “Biden Debate Commission” in a tweet — claimed the commission had “promised” that the Nashville debate would be about foreign policy and asked for it to discard the six subjects announced last week by the moderator, Ms. Welker. They are “fighting Covid-19,” “American families,” “race in America,” climate change, national security and leadership.

It is true that in some campaign years, the third presidential debate has focused on foreign policy. But the debate organizers did not announce such a plan in 2020, saying that the third debate would mirror the format of the first, with six subjects selected by the moderator.

A Biden spokesman, T. J. Ducklo, said earlier on Monday that Mr. Stepien sent the letter “because Donald Trump is afraid to face more questions about his disastrous Covid response.”

“The campaigns and the commission agreed months ago that the debate moderator would choose the topics,” Mr. Ducklo said in a statement.

Credit…Mark Makela/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday let stand a ruling by Pennsylvania’s highest court that allowed election officials to count some mailed ballots received up to three days after Election Day. The state is a key battleground in the presidential election.

The Supreme Court’s action was the result of a deadlock. It takes five votes to grant a stay, and the Republicans who had asked the court to intervene could only muster four: Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. On the other side of the divide were Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s three-member liberal wing: Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Neither side gave reasons. The result suggested that Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, could play a decisive role in election disputes if — as Republicans hope — she joins the court before the election.

She is expected to be confirmed by the Senate next week.

The ruling in the Pennsylvania case is a major victory for Democrats in the state who have been pushing to expand access to voting in the pandemic, and for a party that has been requesting absentee ballots in far greater numbers than Republicans. As of Friday, Democrats in Pennsylvania had requested 1,755,940 ballots, and Republicans had requested 672,381, according to data from the Pennsylvania secretary of state’s office.

“Pennsylvania voters deserve clarity and confidence in our election process,” said Josh Shapiro, the state’s attorney general, “and tonight’s ruling from the United States Supreme Court makes clear our law will stand despite repeated attacks.”

“With nearly a million votes already cast in Pennsylvania,” he added, “we support the Court’s decision not to meddle in our already-working system.”

Of course, the extra time could result in further delays in reporting results; Pennsylvania is already expected to be one of the last states to have voting results, since a state law prevents election officials from beginning to process ballots until Election Day, and Republicans in the state legislature have indicated that they will not be offering any relief.

The Supreme Court decision also removes one more legal hurdle related to elections in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state with numerous voting-related lawsuits still undecided, including one about whether election officials will have to perform signature matching on absentee ballots.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump told voters in Arizona that Americans are “getting tired of the pandemic” and accused the news media of exaggerating the crisis, as he sought to make up ground in a traditionally Republican state where the virus is making a comeback.

“Your state is doing great with the pandemic,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in Prescott, his first of two in the state on Monday. “They’re getting tired of the pandemic, aren’t they? You turn on CNN. That’s all they cover: Covid, Covid, pandemic. Covid, Covid, Covid.”

“You know why? They’re trying to talk people out of voting,” Mr. Trump added. “People aren’t buying it, CNN, you dumb bastards,” he said to cheers.

His dismissive remarks about the coronavirus echoed earlier ones he made Monday morning in a call with members of his campaign.

“People are tired of Covid,” Mr. Trump had complained on the call, to which several reporters had been invited. “I have the biggest rallies I’ve ever had. And we have Covid. People are saying: ‘Whatever. Just leave us alone.’ They’re tired of it.”

He added, “People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots.”

After landing in Arizona, Mr. Trump complimented its Republican governor, Doug Ducey, saying that the state was “really in great shape” despite the fact that infections are again on the rise there. Arizona has had 231,910 coronavirus cases, the eighth-highest total in the nation, according to a New York Times database. Over the past week, there have been an average of 796 cases per day, an increase of 58 percent from two weeks ago.

In his rallies, Mr. Trump also revived his far-fetched warnings, clearly designed to appeal to affluent white voters, that Democrats want to “destroy” America’s suburbs by promoting affordable housing.

Speaking in Prescott, Mr. Trump boasted that he had rescinded a 2015 initiative requiring localities to create detailed plans to remedy racial segregation in housing. “It allows low-income housing to be built, right next to your American dream,” Mr. Trump said. “What ultimately it means is crime will come pouring in.”

“I’ve watched it for years,” he added. “You’ve all watched it, right? Where they destroy these incredible communities.”

He again harped on that message at a second rally in Tucson. “I kept hearing that women from the suburbs won’t like Trump,” he said. “I said, ‘Why because I’m stopping crime?’ You’re gonna have the suburbs be safe.”

Recent polling has shown Mr. Trump’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden, with a lead of as much as eight points in Arizona, a traditionally Republican state that is growing more Democratic. Early voting has been underway in the state for nearly two weeks.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, tried to shut down the Senate on Monday in protest of President Trump’s push to install Judge Amy Coney Barrett, his Supreme Court nominee, before Election Day.

Mr. Schumer called for the chamber to adjourn until after the November election, unless an elusive deal is reached on a stimulus measure to address the continuing toll of the pandemic. His effort — a largely symbolic move designed to showcase the rush to confirm Judge Barrett — failed on a party-line vote, but it suggested that Democrats plan to use procedural tactics aimed at slowing or stopping the move in the days to come, spotlighting the rush to confirm her as they make their closing arguments to voters.

“We are not going to have business as usual here in the Senate,” Mr. Schumer said. “Their abuse of the Supreme Court process means we will not have business as usual — not now, not until Republicans stop their mad dash to confirm a Supreme Court justice mere days before a presidential election.”

The Judiciary Committee is scheduled on Thursday to approve the nomination of Judge Barrett, a constitutional originalist who personally opposes abortion rights and styles herself in the mold of the archconservative former justice Antonin Scalia.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, planned to advance the nomination over the weekend in time for a final vote on Oct. 26, just over a week before the election.

Credit…Samuel Corum for The New York Times

President Trump attacked Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, as “a disaster” on Monday and said, despite experts’ warnings that the nation was headed toward another peak in the coronavirus outbreak, that people were “tired” of hearing about the virus and wanted to be left alone.

The president issued his first broadsides against Dr. Fauci on Monday morning during a call with campaign staff that reporters listened in on, but then amplified them on Twitter and in remarks to reporters after landing in Arizona for a pair of rallies.

“People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong,” Mr. Trump said in the call with campaign staff, which began with his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, talking about the Republican ground game and other factors that he said supported Mr. Trump’s path to victory.

Mr. Trump also called Dr. Fauci a “nice” guy, but he said, “He’s been here for 500 years,” and added, “Every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb, but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him. This guy’s a disaster.”

The attack on Dr. Fauci comes as the United States has seen more coronavirus cases — over eight million — and more deaths — nearly 220,000 — than any other nation in the world. The president’s advisers have tried to get him to lay off the infectious disease specialist, who remains popular.

It also comes after Dr. Fauci, in an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday, dismissed the president’s claim that the end of the pandemic was just around the corner. Dr. Fauci said during the interview that he was not surprised that Mr. Trump had contracted the virus, citing the failure to take basic precautions at White House events, including the announcement last month of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

“I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded, no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask,” Dr. Fauci said. “When I saw that on TV, I said, ‘Oh my goodness. Nothing good can come out of that, that’s got to be a problem.’ And then sure enough, it turned out to be a superspreader event.”

And after “60 Minutes” reported that the Trump administration had restricted Dr. Fauci’s media appearances, Mr. Trump struck back on Twitter. In a pair of tweets, he complained that Dr. Fauci “seems to get more airtime than anybody since the late, great, Bob Hope,” adding, “All I ask of Tony is that he make better decisions.”

He continued his criticism of Dr. Fauci after landing in Arizona for the first of two scheduled rallies in the state, which is experiencing a rise in coronavirus cases.

Speaking to reporters after deplaning Air Force One, Mr. Trump called Dr. Fauci “a very nice man” but complained that he “loves being on television” and has made “a lot of bad calls.” Asked why he didn’t fire Dr. Fauci, Mr. Trump said, “He’s been there for about 350 years. I don’t want to hurt him.”

Mr. Trump’s attacks on Dr. Fauci led Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee to become the latest Republican to distance himself from the president. “Dr. Fauci is one of our country’s most distinguished public servants,” said Mr. Alexander, who is retiring this year. “He has served six presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan. If more Americans paid attention to his advice, we’d have fewer cases of Covid-19, and it would be safer to go back to school and back to work and out to eat.”

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California on Monday instructed Democratic committee chairmen to work with the top Republicans on their panels to try to resolve critical differences holding up a broad stimulus deal with the Trump administration, racing against a self-imposed Tuesday deadline for a compromise that could be considered before the election.

The directive came after she and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, held their latest talks, speaking for nearly an hour by phone on Monday afternoon. The two “continued to narrow their differences,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi. He added that “the speaker continues to hope that, by the end of the day Tuesday, we will have clarity on whether we will be able to pass a bill before the election.”

The odds of a last-minute deal remain long, with Democrats and the Trump administration still haggling over funding levels and policy issues. Even if they could agree, Senate Republicans have all but ruled out embracing a plan anywhere near as large as the more than $2 trillion package under discussion.

If such a deal were struck, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said the chamber would consider it, but he also made a point of scheduling two separate votes in the coming days on narrower bills of the kind senators in his party are more willing to accept. One would revive a lapsed federal loan program for small businesses and the other would provide $500 billion for schools, testing and expired unemployment benefits.

President Trump has insisted in recent days that he wants to spend more than the $2.4 trillion Ms. Pelosi has put forward in negotiations, and claimed he could easily cajole enough Senate Republicans into supporting an agreement of that size — a notion that many of them have told his top deputies would never happen.

In a private call with Democrats on Monday, Ms. Pelosi outlined a number of remaining areas of disagreement, including Democratic demands for hundreds of billions of dollars in funding for state and local governments, support for restaurants devastated by the pandemic and additional health provisions, according to a person on the call, who disclosed the details on condition of anonymity. Democrats also remain wary that the administration would spend the funds as Congress intended.

Still, Ms. Pelosi insisted she was optimistic a bargain could be reached and said she was intent on reaching one before a new Democratic administration began in January.

“I don’t want to carry over the droppings of this grotesque elephant into the next presidency,” Ms. Pelosi told her members. “We’ve got to get something big, and we’ve got to get it done soon and we’ve got to get it done right.”

Video

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Monday was the first day of early voting across Florida, and voters were met with lengthy wait times at the polls.

Early voting is kicking off this week in two hotly contested battlegrounds, Florida and Wisconsin, with indications that the record-shattering early turnout seen last week in Georgia, Texas and North Carolina will be repeated in these must-win states for President Trump.

In all, 11 states will allow voters to begin casting ballots this week, with Florida opening its polls on Monday and Wisconsin’s early-voting period kicking off on Tuesday.

Mr. Trump won both states by about one percentage point in 2016, but his opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., holds durable if modest leads in polls of likely voters.

On Monday morning, hundreds of people lined up outside polling stations in South Florida despite early-morning downpourswith a rainbow appearing over Miami Gardens to the delight of voters waiting to cast ballots.

Polls will remain open for early voting through the end of the month.

Other states to open at least some polling locations this week include Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, North Dakota, Utah and West Virginia.

As the polls open, the registration period for voting by mail is closing this week in Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri and New Mexico.

Turnout for early voting broke records in some parts of Texas and Georgia, especially urban and suburban areas with high concentrations of Democratic voters. Some states, Georgia in particular, have been grappling with technical issues that have created long delays. Other states, like Texas, are locked in partisan legal battles over voter access and the use of drop boxes to enable easier voting amid the pandemic.

In general, Democrats are more open to using alternative voting methods — either by mail or by voting early in person — than Republicans, putting intense pressure on the Republican Party to get out the vote on Election Day.

The Florida Division of Elections reported on Saturday that 49 percent of mail-in ballots received so far had come from Democrats, compared with 30 percent from Republicans. The other 21 percent came from unaffiliated or third-party voters, many of whom lean to the right in Florida, making it difficult to assess whether Democrats have a large lead in mail-in voting.

There is no doubt, however, about the scale of the balloting. Many counties, especially in Democratic cities and suburban areas, are reporting record-breaking tallies.

Florida reported that 2,423,573 people — more than 17 percent of the state’s registered voters — had already mailed in ballots.

Credit…Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian, via Associated Press

A federal appeals court on Monday exempted first-time Tennessee voters from having to appear in person at the polls on Election Day if they registered online or by mail, as required by state law. Critics of the law said it would endanger residents during the pandemic.

Siding with civil rights and union groups, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati denied an emergency motion by Tennessee election officials for a stay so that they could enforce the law while it was being litigated.

The court’s unanimous ruling upheld a preliminary injunction that had been granted on Sept. 9 by a district court in Tennessee. The state ranked 12th nationally in the number of virus cases per capita as of Monday, according to a New York Times database.

In their 16-page ruling, the three federal judges who heard the case noted that state election officials had waited a month after the district court’s order to request a stay, and that many of those who would have been affected by the rule might have already voted.

“Given that there are approximately 128,000 first-time voters in Tennessee to whom the first-time voter requirement would apply, the confusion caused by a stay of the district court’s order at this juncture could be relatively widespread,” the judges wrote. “This confusion could lead to frustration and, conceivably, to voters’ decisions not to partake in an ever-changing process.”

Election officials are allowed to deputize residents to register new voters at places that include churches, which exempts them from having to appear in person at the polls, Suzanne Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Shelby County Election Commission in Memphis, said in an interview on Monday night.

Early voting began last week in Tennessee. In Memphis, a poll worker was fired late last week after he turned away several voters wearing T-shirts that said “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe,” Ms. Thompson said.

A Tennessee law prohibits voters from wearing clothing with the names of active candidates or political parties, but the rule does not apply to social justice expressions, she said.

“Frankly, we were horrified when we learned that,” Ms. Thompson said. “So we took immediate action. No one should ever be turned away from a polling location.”

Credit…Corey Sipkin/Associated Press

Known for their largess in free agency, the New York Yankees are offering a different kind of inducement to start this off-season: Bronx poll workers need only apply.

In a partnership with the New York City Board of Elections, the team announced on Monday that Yankee Stadium will host poll worker training sessions from Tuesday through Friday this week.

The Yankees said that about 200 poll workers are expected to participate in the sessions, which will be held in the stadium’s Great Hall, a 31,000-square-foot concourse on the first base side of the stadium that is open on the side and covered by a roof.

It will take place just days after the team’s bitter rival, the Boston Red Sox, opened Fenway Park to hundreds of Bostonians for early voting.

The American League East foes are among dozens of professional sports teams and colleges that have volunteered to open stadiums and arenas — largely absent of fans this year because of the pandemic — for voter drives, early voting and poll worker training.

The ranks of poll workers are often made up of older Americans, who have been reluctant to volunteer during the pandemic. Younger people are stepping in to fill the void. In the Bronx, 10,000 poll workers are used for early voting and on Election Day, the Board of Elections said.

“Opening our building for poll worker training will facilitate the ability of Bronx residents to participate in the upcoming election and increase their opportunity for civic engagement,” Brian Smith, a senior vice president of corporate and community relations for the Yankees, said in a statement.

The Early Vote

Credit…Go Nakamura for The New York Times

More than 29 million Americans have already cast ballots in the 2020 election, including more than four million in Texas — which is nearly half as many Texans as voted during the entire 2016 election, according to data collected by the United States Elections Project.

The huge surge in early voting has campaigns and voting experts alike trying to figure out whether it means that turnout will be unusually high this year, or simply that more people are voting earlier than they normally would because of fears of the coronavirus and mail delays.

“The question, of course, is it going to continue?” Dr. Michael P. McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida who tracks early voting for the United States Election Project, said in an interview. “The usual pattern is that this activity only increases as we get closer to Election Day.”

The early numbers in Texas are staggering, according to data collected by Dr. McDonald. As of Monday afternoon:

  • 4,064,685 voters in Texas have already voted.

  • Turnout is already 45.3 percent of what it was in the entire 2016 election.

  • 3,490,292 Texans have voted in person.

  • 574,393 voters have returned mail-in ballots.

Credit…Gerry Broome/Associated Press

The North Carolina Board of Elections instructed statewide election officials on Monday to begin the “curing” process, which is when voters are contacted and allowed to address issues with their absentee ballots, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times.

The process had been on hold for weeks thanks to multiple lawsuits, leaving thousands of ballots — roughly 40 percent of which belonged to Black voters statewide — in a “pending review” queue and voters unaware of whether their ballots would be counted.

But on Monday, the board of elections released guidance stating that voters who did not sign their voter certification, who signed in the wrong place or who have errors in their witness information will be allowed to correct their ballots.

Those ballots missing a witness signature or whose envelopes arrived unsealed will be considered spoiled, and election officials will have to mail new ballots to the voter.

In all cases, election officials are required to contact the voter to inform them whether they are able to address problems with their ballots or whether a new ballot will be sent.

The guidance from the state board of elections also reiterated that election officials do not have to perform any signature matching diligence on a voter’s signature.

Last week, a federal judge had blocked officials from allowing voters to address a missing witness signature but said that deficient information, like a missing or incomplete address, could still be added. But Democrats vowed to appeal, and the curing process remained on hold.

Voting rights experts had expressed alarm about the delay, citing concerns about whether voters whose ballots had been rejected because of correctable errors would have enough time to request a new ballot and return it before Election Day.

“The longer a voter says, ‘Oh I turned in my ballot, it must be good,’ when they do finally hear from the county, they might be more suspicious about it, considering how much disinformation there is going around,” said Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at Common Cause, a voting rights group.

Ad Watch

Democrats have spent months hammering President Trump for his handling of the coronavirus in their ads. With just over two weeks left until Election Day, Mr. Trump’s campaign has a new ad attacking Joseph R. Biden Jr. on the issue that also tries to recast the White House’s pandemic response, which has dragged down the president’s re-election prospects.

The 30-second ad is split into two parts. The first half lashes out at Mr. Biden, accusing him of having “no real plan” for the virus and charging that his response has been to “criticize, complain and surrender.”

Then the music shifts as the narrator declares “President Trump is leading” as he appears in multiple scenes wearing a mask, which he has mostly avoided doing in public, including after he contracted the coronavirus. The ad then hails Mr. Trump for “attacking the virus head on.” The narrator declares: “Under President Trump, we will be careful but resolute. And we will defeat this virus.”

The ad’s declaration that Mr. Biden “has no real plan to defeat the coronavirus” is not accurate. The former vice president has a section of his website devoted to the topic, which he rolled out earlier this year, as well as a plan to reopen the economy. The ad also quotes Mr. Biden from earlier this year accusing Mr. Trump of “hysterical xenophobia” after he imposed a travel ban from China. Mr. Biden made the comments the day the ban was imposed, according to PolitiFact, though the words were not explicitly tied to the travel restriction.

Later, the ad says Mr. Trump is “developing a vaccine in record time.” While potential vaccines may arrive in record time, they are being developed by private companies, not by Mr. Trump or his administration.

The ad began airing over the weekend in some key presidential battlegrounds, including Arizona, where Mr. Trump campaigned on Monday, and in Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia and Maine.

Mr. Trump is seeking to gain political ground on one of the key issues that has undermined his support in 2020. With about 220,000 Americans dead from the virus and millions unemployed, it may be too late to reverse public opinion.

Credit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

In her first public appearance since recovering from the coronavirus, the first lady, Melania Trump, will travel to the battleground state of Pennsylvania on Tuesday for a joint appearance with President Trump.

Mrs. Trump will accompany the president to Erie for an airport rally, her office said.

It was not immediately clear what the first lady’s role in the event would be, though it is possible that she will introduce the president.

With the campaign entering its final two weeks, Mr. Trump is trailing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in every one of the swing states that he carried in 2016, according to a New York Times snapshot of polling averages.

In Pennsylvania, the state where Mr. Biden was born and where his campaign has focused on flipping blue-collar voters who previously supported Mr. Trump, Mr. Biden’s polling lead averaged eight percentage points as of Monday.

Mrs. Trump’s return to the campaign trail will come 18 days after Mr. Trump announced that he and the first lady had tested positive for the coronavirus as part of an outbreak that permeated the West Wing and resulted in the president’s hospitalization for three nights at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Aides to Mrs. Trump said she had “mild symptoms” at the time. Last week, Mrs. Trump revealed that Barron Trump, the couple’s teenage son, also had tested positive and recovered.

Before the outbreak at the White House, which has been connected to a Sept. 26 Rose Garden event at which Mr. Trump introduced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee, Mrs. Trump attended the first debate between her husband and Mr. Biden in Cleveland.

In August, Mrs. Trump gave a keynote speech at the Republican National Convention in August in which she expressed sympathy for those who had lost loved ones or had suffered from the coronavirus. It was a rare acknowledgment of the toll of the pandemic during a week in which Mr. Trump and other Republicans otherwise played down the virus.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel said on Monday that it would investigate whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the Hatch Act’s ban on political activity in the federal workplace by pledging to release Hillary Clinton’s emails, in response to President Trump’s pre-election demand.

“We received your Hatch Act complaint and will open a case file to address this matter,” the Special Counsel investigator Ana Galindo-Marrone wrote in a one-sentence email to the watchdog group American Oversight, which shared it with The New York Times.

The State Department did not have an immediate comment on Monday.

American Oversight had requested the investigation on Friday, warning that Mr. Pompeo may have ordered State Department employees to act “for the purpose of interfering with, or affecting the result of” the Nov. 3 election. Investigating potential Hatch Act violations is one of the four primary responsibilities of the Office of the U.S. Special Counsel, which is tasked with protecting the federal work force from prohibited personnel activities.

Nearly two weeks ago, Mr. Trump issued a rare rebuke of Mr. Pompeo, his top diplomat and loyalist, accusing him of withholding emails that Mrs. Clinton had routed through a home server when she was secretary of state during the Obama administration.

“They’re in the State Department, but Mike Pompeo has been unable to get them out, which is very sad,” Mr. Trump told Fox Business Network on Oct. 8. “Actually, I’m not happy about him for that reason.”

The presidential scolding appeared to be a bald effort by Mr. Trump to galvanize his supporters by vilifying even past political rivals as he trails in national polls.

Mrs. Clinton largely disappeared from public life after she lost the presidential race to Mr. Trump in 2016, and the State Department has already released more than 35,000 emails related to multiple investigations of her personal server, including some as recently as last year. She was cleared of deliberate wrongdoing, although State Department investigators concluded last year that she put classified material at risk by using her personal email account for official business.

Nevertheless, Mr. Pompeo pledged on Oct. 9 to “get the information out that needs to get out” and called Mrs. Clinton’s actions “unacceptable behavior.” He bristled at a journalist’s question last week over whether his own actions violated the Hatch Act, and insisted on an Arizona news show that “this isn’t about politics.”

He also hinted, tellingly, that there are no more emails surrounding the investigations into Mrs. Clinton that have yet to be released, telling a Florida news show that “we’re continuing to work to identify whether there are any more that are potentially available.”

Mr. Pompeo has already faced criticism and fierce scrutiny of whether he has crossed the boundaries of his official duties in advocating Mr. Trump’s re-election. Most notably, he addressed the Republican National Convention in August while on a diplomatic trip to Jerusalem, with the city’s holy sites clearly visible over his shoulder as he praised Mr. Trump.

Ethics lawyers — including a former White House adviser to President George W. Bush — have filed Hatch Act complaints against Mr. Pompeo for engaging in political activity while on the job, and at least one House oversight committee is also investigating.

Credit…Kathryn Gamble for The New York Times

A once-in-a-century pandemic, the largest racial justice movement since the 1960s and a relentless social media firehose are making this year’s election one of the most stressful in the nation’s history, experts say.

About 68 percent of adults say that the presidential election is a significant source of stress in their lives, according to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, up from 52 percent in 2016. The group didn’t track elections as a source of stress before that — but that’s in part because psychologists weren’t hearing all that much about it.

“I would rank 2020 very high in the list of stressful elections, certainly in the top five, if not the top three,” said Bruce J. Schulman, a professor of history at Boston University.

Of course, elections have always been somewhat stressful. The election of 1860 was a catalyst for the Civil War. The election of 1932 took place in the midst of the Great Depression, when many Americans were hungry and homeless.

But only the most recent elections have come in the digital age. And now, during an especially bitter campaign, Mr. Trump is routinely making news on Twitter and people are getting updates pushed to their smartphones day and night. (In 2012, about four in 10 American adults reported owning a smartphone, half the rate of today.)

And no other election has taken place during a widespread, modern-era pandemic.

“The pandemic has disrupted so much of daily life, even more than a war or depression would,” Dr. Schulman said.

More people are calling therapists like Steven Stosny, a relationship expert in Maryland who used to get one to two emergency calls a week and now is getting as many as five a day.

Dr. Stosny, who coined the term “election stress disorder” four years ago, said that the background anxiety from the pandemic and the election has translated to far more stress in the daily lives of his clients, who are cooped up at home and already on edge.

“People have shorter fuses,” he said.

He saw a similar phenomenon in 2004, after the race between John Kerry and George Bush. But this year, he said, is far different. “2004 seems like a cakewalk compared to this,” he said.

Credit…Tara Pixley for The New York Times

Bettie Griggs, a retiree in Los Angeles, was 12 years old and living in Louisiana when her mother received her first voter registration card in the mail. It was 1965.

“I can still recall the joy that she had,” Ms. Griggs said. “I can recall seeing that the card was actually stamped ‘illiterate’ and thinking, ‘Oh my God, they stamped her card illiterate.’”

The long history of voter disenfranchisement in the United States is a central theme that guides Ms. Griggs’s family reunions, held every other year in Shreveport, La.

That is because in the African-American family tradition, reunions frequently act as opportunities for political organizing, with older generations emphasizing to younger family members the importance of registering to vote. Save the church, Black families have often lacked designated spaces — public, and wholly their own — where they can be immersed in community. Much like services on Sundays, reunions are rituals that give families an occasion to come together and share political wisdom and oral histories.

But many of these gatherings have been upended this year, even as an enormously consequential election unfolds and as large numbers of Americans have been shaken awake to confront a fuller picture of bigotry in their country. At a time when family reunions would have been a timely way to honor diaspora-wide histories of surviving racialized violence, the coronavirus, a disease that disproportionately affects Black Americans, has prevented many of them from happening.

This could have subtle but meaningful political implications, as Black Americans’ voting rights are increasingly under attack.

With early voting underway, states are working to reassure voters that their ballots will be counted. The latest video in the Stressed Election series shows how states’ responses to Russian hacking and the coronavirus crisis have helped make the election more secure than ever.

Video

transcript

transcript

This U.S. Election Could Be the Most Secure Yet. Here’s Why.

With early voting underway, states are working to reassure voters that their ballots will be counted as cast. Our video shows how states’ responses to Russian hacking and the coronavirus crisis have helped make the election more secure than ever.

Voting machines. Our democracy depends on them to accurately record each and every ballot. You go to the polls, you cast your vote, your voice is heard. Right? Not so fast. “Russian attacks.” “Russian hackers.” “Russian hackers tried to break into U.S. election systems.” Because in 2016 — “The Russians managed to get us paranoid about the security of our own election systems.” But this year, experts are more confident that — “I think it is safe to say this is the most secure election we’ve ever held in the United States.” In 2016, Russians infiltrated our voting systems in every single state. “This was one of the most successful intelligence operations in modern history.” Now, there’s no evidence Russians altered votes, but — “It’s as if a cat burglar got into your house, cased the joint, but didn’t take anything.” And it raised the question — “Could the Russians actually affect the vote?” But because of some of the machines we were using, we didn’t know for sure. So in 2020, if there’s another cyberattack, Americans want to know that their vote was counted as they cast it. Like, say, with a — “Voter-verified paper trail.” Yes, like that. A paper trail. Turns out a few people tried to make this happen years ago, but — “It’s a rough world out there in the elections voting system business.” To see why it took Russia’s hacking to improve our voting technology, we go to Texas. The Constitution gives states power to run their own elections, and most states give counties the power to choose their own voting machines. And nowhere is this more apparent than in — “Texas.” “Texas.” “Texas —” [mooing] “— is a microcosm of all the different voting technologies used everywhere in the U.S. Every different Texas county, different voting system, different procedures.” Dan Wallach is a computer scientist at Rice University in Houston, and he had actually been warning about the vulnerabilities of our voting system long before 2016. “I’m worried about evil software in the machines flipping your vote in a way that you, the voter, can’t tell that the machine was evil.” He was most concerned about direct recording electronic voting machines, or DREs. “The only record of your vote is inside the memory of that machine. And that means that if something tampers with that electronic memory, you have no way to go back.” And yet in the last presidential election, 28 percent of registered voters used these machines. So how did some Americans get stuck with these vulnerable voting machines? Well, to find out, we need to go all the way back to 2000. The aught. Florida. It was Al Gore versus George Bush for president. “Oh my goodness. 2000. That was the election that we all thought would never end. “The presidential race is crackling like a hickory fire here. Couldn’t be much closer.” A contested vote, a recount and all of it came down to the chads. Those pesky fragments of paper leftover when a hole is punched in a card. Not all those chads were entirely punched through, though. “There was a hanging chad.” “It’s slightly detached.” “Pregnant chad.” “Dimpled chad.” “Opening and closing chad.” During the recount, poll workers were left to determine voter intent, and all eyes were on the chads. “By that time, we all knew what a bad system punch-card voting was.” “In the wake of the hanging chad issues, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002. The Help America Vote Act allocated billions of dollars to help states replace antiquated voting machines.” And the states went shopping. Some bought hand-marked paper ballots and optical scanners. And others bought the machines that had worried Dan the most. The very modern, paperless DREs. “If it were up to me today, and if I were selling voting technology, I would not sell a paperless DRE system in good conscience. I don’t think that it’s a responsible thing to do.” This is Eddie Perez. He used to sell these machines, but left the industry to advocate for more secure voting systems with a paper trail. “I would characterize the level of federal regulation for voting technology as relatively thin. There are a lot of products that are actually more highly regulated than voting technology. Even things as mundane as ballpoint pens. Parts fail, systems get old, screens stop performing the way they are supposed to. So a voter might touch one portion of the screen to mark one candidate and the system interprets it as a choice for someone else.” “It is not letting me vote for who I want to vote for.” “There is plenty of voting equipment that is still out there whose design dates, probably, all the way back to 20 years ago.” But with most of their federal money spent, many Texas counties were stuck. “We kept our electronic voting system for 18 years.” As Travis County Clerk, Dana DeBeauvoir is responsible for picking the machines for voters in Austin. “The thing that was most important to our voters was to have a paper trail. But none of the voting system manufacturers would build a system with a paper trail. And it was frustrating.” And so she decided to build one herself. “I was watching a video of a professor out of Rice University rake me over the coals.” “Such blatant security flaws. I mean, just really bad engineering.” “Instead of just getting mad, I went to that person.” “My phone rings and it’s Dana, and she says, ‘I want your help.’” “And I said to him, ‘Let’s you and I design a voting system together.’” “I’m like, seriously? All right. Can I invite my friends? We hacked up an inkjet printer and a bunch of other cheap hardware mashed into a custom steel box that we built, and we came up with a really great design.” They called it S.T.A.R. Vote. “Computer scientists love to make acronyms out of words. First we come up with the acronym, then we try to find the words that fit.” “Secure.” “Transparent.” “Auditable.” “Reliable.” “A combination of both electronic and paper voting paper voting methods.” “S.T.A.R. Vote.” A new electronic voting machine with paper backup ballots that help with verification and audit. An open-source system which makes it more secure and cheaper for taxpayers. The end product, a newer, safer voting machine. “What we were actually doing was a start-up business. And I don’t think we really realized that at the outset.” Designing a machine is one thing. Finding someone to manufacture it is another. “The voting system industry is a couple hundred million dollars a year. That’s a teeny tiny market.” “It’s difficult to get in the marketplace, and they don’t welcome anybody else coming in.” In a small market, there’s not much room for competition. Just three companies dominate the voting machine industry. “Those three major vendors are the ones that have carved out their space and made their commitment to it. And so they actually wield a lot of power in that industry.” “That market doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for companies to do innovative design and development.” “Voting technology is simply very, very slow to change.” “Current electronic voting machines have little or no security built in. Please help me and other elections administrators who want to do a better job. What we are designing is an electronic voting system. We’re ready to start building S.T.A.R. Vote.” In 2016, Dana DeBeauvoir had reached the final stages of the S.T.A.R. Vote design when reports that … “The intelligence services of a foreign power intervened on a scale never seen before.” … shook America’s confidence in its voting system. It seemed like the perfect moment for new players like S.T.A.R. Vote, who’d spent years thinking about how to get voters to trust their election results. “Since we had done all the design work for them, we thought one of the regular manufacturers would pick this up. Travis County put it out to bid. Most of the big manufacturers submitted bids. However, they submitted bids that were more along the lines of, buy what we already have.” She says the vendors rejected a key security component of S.T.A.R. Vote. “Open-source software.” Good for transparency, but having free source code means companies can’t charge as much. “Open-source systems — at least the way this one was designed, and in most cases — are low-revenue software projects.” They all passed. With the 2020 election around the corner, Dana still had all those aging DREs, so she was — “Running out of time. At that point, we realized that we had reached the end of our possibilities with S.T.A.R. Vote. It was probably the lowest time in my entire career. We had the secret recipe for pulling everybody together, and we still hadn’t made it happen.” But bigger changes were happening nationally. After 2016, voting systems were declared part of the country’s critical infrastructure — like dams and power plants. This meant new federal scrutiny of how Americans cast their vote for the first time since 2000. “And the voting machine manufacturers began to get the message.” “Yes.” “They began to move towards systems that had paper backup because they recognized that the political pressure was tremendous.” In 2018, Congress gave the states more money to fortify their systems and required a paper trail for all newly purchased voting machines. “Six months after we got the bad news that no one was going to build S.T.A.R. Vote for us, we got a dramatic turnaround in the industry for voting systems. They had in fact built a new voting system with electronic support and a paper trail. My thrill was a little bit tempered by the frustration of knowing that they could have done it years before.” And so Travis County joins battleground states like Pennsylvania and Georgia, and went shopping. Again. “A lot of money.” And paper is the reason experts are saying 2020 may be the most secure election we’ve ever held. It’s not just about the voting machines. A greater number of e-poll books — which are used to check-in voters on Election Day — will also have a paper backup system. “And that’s why the Department of Homeland Security has spent a year trying to get cities and towns across America to print out those e-poll books to make sure that they had multiple backups of their registration systems.” A process moved further along by the pandemic. “You know in an odd way, the coronavirus crisis has helped us some in our election crises.” It’s pushed many states to shift to mail-in voting, which offers an automatic paper backup. In 2020, because of states buying new voting systems and the increase in vote-by-mail, an estimated 95 percent of voters will use auditable paper ballots. That’s not to say the shift to paper has been problem-free. Some states bought machines that produce a barcode for a paper ballot, which makes it harder for voters to verify. “The paper that comes out of the machine — machine-marked paper — has a barcode on it that is the official vote. No human can read a barcode.” And in various states, there have been printing errors on mail-in ballots. “There’s a different name on the ballot that you’re supposed to send in.” Still, when it comes to hacking and widespread fraud, experts agree that paper — through mail-in voting or with a voter verified paper trail — is as safe as it gets. “Having a paper ballot mailed to more and more Americans means there is a traceable way for people to vote. And a way for election monitors to audit later on that those votes were counted the way they were cast. And that they were cast by people eligible to vote.” The nation’s voting system is safer than it was four years ago, but some counties didn’t make the transition and could be more vulnerable. “The only states with significant amounts of non-paper digital ballots are states like, honestly, Texas.” Texas, a potential swing state for 2020, lags behind the rest of the country in election security. Harris County, the third largest county in the nation, wasn’t able to purchase new machines and still has their DREs from 2006. And with the Texas Supreme Court refusing to expand absentee voting and by allowing only one drop box per county, it puts extra pressure on the machines to function smoothly on Election Day. “A perception hack is a hack that is just big enough to create the illusion of a broad cyberattack. Because if they can manipulate some votes, registration systems, e-poll books, in just a few places, people will assume that they did so everywhere. That’s the beauty of a perception hack. And four years later, The psychological import of what the Russians did may be greater than anything that they actually hacked into, because they have managed to shake the confidence of American voters that their votes will be counted as they cast them.” This is Alex. And I’m Kassie. We produced this episode of “Stressed Election.” There’s a lot going on this election, and we want to make sure we take a deep dive into the major issues. Stick around for the next episodes. We’re going to cover voting rights, voting technology, disinformation and vote-by-mail.

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With early voting underway, states are working to reassure voters that their ballots will be counted as cast. Our video shows how states’ responses to Russian hacking and the coronavirus crisis have helped make the election more secure than ever.
Credit…Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee are planning a $55 million advertising blitz for the final two weeks of the campaign, officials said Monday on a call with reporters. The push comes as Joseph R. Biden Jr. leads Mr. Trump in most national election polls 15 days before the election.

The advertising campaign will target states in the Sun Belt and the Rust Belt, including Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin. There will also be ads in Iowa and Ohio, the president’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, said.

For weeks, the Trump campaign has been out-advertised on television, but Mr. Stepien praised the ground operation built by the R.N.C. as a counterforce. He said that the Biden campaign’s late push on the ground was simply “too late.”

The new ads are focused in particular on reaching older voters, who polls have shown moving toward Mr. Biden. Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said one ad would focus on “Medicare savings” achieved during Mr. Trump’s tenure, which she called “truly phenomenal.”

“This is really a tale of two campaigns. Joe Biden is putting it all on TV,” Mr. Stepien said, saying that Mr. Trump is running a “real campaign.”

“We like our plan better,” he said.

Credit…Alexander Drago/Reuters

As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, Republicans hope that gains in voter registration in three states — Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — and heavy turnout by those new party members might just be enough to propel President Trump to a second term.

“The tremendous voter registration gain by the Republicans is the secret weapon that will make the difference for the Republicans in 2020,” said Dee Stewart, a Republican political consultant in North Carolina.

Since 2016, Republicans have narrowed the registration gaps in Florida and Pennsylvania by around 200,000 voters and in North Carolina by more than 230,000 voters, though registered Democrats still outnumber registered Republicans in all three states.

Mr. Trump narrowly won Florida and Pennsylvania in 2016, and won North Carolina by nearly four percentage points, but he is trailing Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the polls in all three states, and Democrats are holding a significant advantage in early turnout

Voter registration numbers alone are not predictive about the outcome of races: Democrats had a surge in voter registrations in 2018, and went on to win the House of Representatives but lost some races in key states where they had an overall registration edge. Democrats also led Republicans in voter registration in several key states in 2016 that they ended up losing.

The Trump-Biden contest this fall may be driven less by incremental changes in registration than by who turns out to vote, and how much they want the president to have a second term, or not. And the difference of a point or two in voter registration only makes a difference in a close race.

Analyzing voter registration — and how it might affect the outcome of the looming election — is also complicated by the fact that a number of states permit same-day voter registration. In addition, at least six battleground states — Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin — do not break down voter registration by party, though Democrats point to some perceived gains there.

Credit…Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

The playlist at President Trump’s rally in Carson City, Nev., on Sunday night included Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1969 antiwar anthem “Fortunate Son,” a song that the bandleader John Fogerty penned in protest of class inequalities during the Vietnam era.

“Some folks are born, silver spoon in hand — Lord, don’t they help themselves,” Mr. Fogerty’s voice blasted from the speakers as American flags flapped over the stage. “But when the taxman comes to the door. Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale.”

The song would seem to be an unusual choice for a billionaire candidate who paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 — even more so since Mr. Fogerty had demanded two days before the rally that Mr. Trump stop using it.

On Friday, Mr. Fogerty wrote on Twitter that he was “issuing a cease-and-desist order” to the Trump campaign over its use of the song, a precursor to seeking a legal order to stop it.

His statement on Twitter included a photograph of himself in uniform as a supply clerk at stateside Army bases.

“I wrote this song because, as a veteran, I was disgusted that some people were allowed to be excluded from serving our country because they had access to political and financial privilege,” Mr. Fogerty wrote. “I also wrote about wealthy people not paying their fair share of taxes. Mr. Trump is a prime example of both of these issues.”

At 75, Mr. Fogerty is one year older than Mr. Trump, who avoided military service during the draft by claiming he had a foot problem. The song includes the lyrics, “It ain’t me, It ain’t me, I ain’t no millionaire’s son.”

“It is confusing that the president has chosen to use my song for his political rallies when it seems, in fact, that he is probably ‘The Fortunate Son,’” said Mr. Fogerty in a video posted on his Facebook page last month.

A Trump campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

President Trump — who hamstrung the White House coronavirus task force, peddled dubious Covid-19 cures and publicly downplayed the threat of the disease — accused Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Sunday of leaning too heavily on the scientific community for setting pandemic policy.

He will surrender your future to the virus,” Mr. Trump said at his rally in Carson City, Nev. “He’s going to lock down, this guy wants to lock down.”

Mr. Trump went into a brief imitation of a grave, serious person: “‘He’ll listen to the scientists,’” he said witheringly. Then he added: “If I listened totally to the scientists we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression instead of — we’re like a rocket ship, take a look at the numbers,” apparently referencing a modest rebound in employment that has already begun to fade.

Hours earlier, at a campaign event in Durham, N.C., Mr. Biden mocked the president for claiming that a cure was right around the corner.

“As my grandfather would say, this guy’s gone around the bend if he thinks we’ve turned the corner,” Mr. Biden said. “Turn the corner? Things are getting worse.” Virus cases are up 30 percent nationwide over the last two weeks, as the country surges toward a third peak in the outbreak.

Mr. Biden has said he would follow the guidance of scientific advisers on which measures to implement to battle the pandemic, which has killed almost 220,000 people in the United States. Mr. Trump’s lurching and contradictory response to the virus has not only damaged his re-election chances, but hampered the economic recovery, experts say.

In his Nevada speech, Mr. Trump went on to criticize Democratic governors for imposing mandatory lockdowns, along with other measures seen by scientists as essential for arresting the spread of the virus in order to hasten the reopening of the economy and schools.

“This is tellingly out of touch and the polar opposite of reality,” a Biden campaign spokesman, Andrew Bates, said in response to the president’s comment. “Trump crashed the strong economy he inherited from the Obama-Biden administration by lying about and attacking the science, and layoffs are rising.”

Credit…Emily Elconin for The New York Times

Neither candidate running for the U.S. Senate in Michigan seems to want voters to know whether they are the Republican or the Democrat.

The Democrat, Senator Gary Peters, slapped on a black leather jacket and rode his Harley-Davidson across Michigan, and his ads have highlighted his toughness on China and his support for banning Chinese travelers from entering the United States early in the coronavirus outbreak, a policy of President Trump’s.

The Republican, John James, calls himself “nonpartisan.” He denounces the way politics have become “nastier and more divisive.” His wife recently appeared in a campaign ad to talk about their young son who has asthma as a way to demonstrate her husband’s commitment to protecting health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions.

The race — one of a handful that could tip the balance in the Senate — is among the most contested and expensive in the country. Polls show a tighter race than Democrats had anticipated, and both sides are fighting for the few remaining independent, undecided voters. In an election in which the parties have focused on getting their base to turn out, Michigan stands out as a place where winning the middle could make the difference.

For Mr. Peters, one of only two Democrats running for re-election in a state that Mr. Trump won in 2016, the path to victory becomes much easier if he can persuade enough of the president’s supporters to vote for him.

For Mr. James, success will come from the opposite situation: if enough people voting for Joseph R. Biden Jr. cross over to support a Republican for the Senate.

Polls have varied but show Mr. James with an outside chance of helping Republicans flip a Democratic seat. A New York Times/Siena College survey found Mr. Peters up by one point, while others put his lead in the mid-to-high single digits.

Credit…Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

The New York Post’s front-page article about Hunter Biden last week was written mostly by a staff reporter who refused to put his name on it, two Post employees said.

Bruce Golding, a reporter at the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid since 2007, did not allow his byline to be used because he had concerns over the article’s credibility, the two Post employees said, speaking on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation.

Coming late in a heated presidential campaign, the article, based on unsubstantiated material provided by allies of President Trump, suggested that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had used his position to enrich his son Hunter when he was vice president. The Post based the story on photos and documents the paper said it had taken from the hard drive of a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden.

Many Post staff members questioned whether the paper had done enough to verify the authenticity of the hard drive’s contents, said five people with knowledge of the tabloid’s inner workings. Staff members also had concerns about the reliability of the article’s sources and its timing, the people said.

The article named two sources: Stephen K. Bannon, the former adviser to President Trump now facing federal fraud charges, who was said to have made the paper aware of the hard drive last month; and Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, who was said to have given the paper “a copy” of the hard drive on Oct. 11.

Mr. Giuliani said he chose The Post because “either nobody else would take it, or if they took it, they would spend all the time they could to try to contradict it before they put it out.”

Credit…Elizabeth Frantz for The New York Times

Angelynne Hinson, who helps to oversee voting in the New Hampshire seacoast town of Portsmouth, has never seen such a jittery group of voters in her life.

“They’re terrified,” Ms. Hinson said. “The level of anxiety is really very high.”

Polls released this week suggested that Joseph R. Biden Jr. was ahead by a comfortable 10 points in New Hampshire, a state that President Trump very nearly won in 2016.

Losing it again would be a disappointment for the Trump campaign, since it has invested considerable resources there, repeatedly dispatching the president and members of his family to the state in recent months. Mr. Biden and Senator Kamala Harris, his running mate, haven’t visited since the Democratic primary.

New Hampshire, a state with a pugnacious, small-government ethos, was once seen as a tossup, but then the coronavirus pandemic sent the economy into a slump. If Mr. Biden wins, it will mark the fifth consecutive victory in the state for a Democrat in a presidential election.

In interviews last week, many voters said they were aware that the polls showed Mr. Biden in the lead — but they didn’t believe them.

“I don’t trust it,” said Bernadette Ruscillo, 55, a nurse from Salem, who supports Mr. Biden. “I see a lot of Trump signs popping up that weren’t there two weeks ago.”

Ms. Ruscillo, who is biracial, said she believed that many Trump supporters kept their allegiance quiet for fear of being met with disapproval. “It’s closet racism,” she said.

Brian Murphy, the chairman of the Republican Party in Rockingham County, also said pollsters were missing a large slice of voters — those who “have said, we’re going to keep our business to ourselves, we don’t want the intrusion or the scorn or whatever it is.”

New Hampshire’s demographics, however, have been working against Republican interests. Unlike other New England states, New Hampshire has seen an influx of new voters between presidential elections. One in five New Hampshire voters will be casting ballots in the state for the first time this year, according to Kenneth M. Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

In the past, it might have been reasonable to assume that those new arrivals leaned conservative, having chosen New Hampshire because it has no income tax. But recent transplants have tended to be younger and well educated, and say they are drawn to the state more because of the quality of life and the proximity to their work.





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