A federal judge on Sunday night left in place Georgia’s new $108 million touch-screen voting system, rejecting a call by election-integrity advocates to switch to handwritten paper ballots after problems plagued the new machines during the primaries earlier this year.
The decision came just hours before early voting began in a state with a highly competitive presidential race and two Senate races. Hundreds of people lined up, socially distanced, in the pre-dawn hours Monday to cast their ballots in Cobb County near Atlanta.
In a colorful 147-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg wrote that it was too late to institute such a far-reaching change after lawyers for the Coalition for Good Governance had argued that potential security holes in the system compromised the integrity of the election.
“The capacity of county election systems and poll workers, much less the secretary of state’s office, to turn on a dime and switch to a full-scale hand-marked paper ballot system is contradicted by the entire messy electoral record of the past years,” Judge Totenberg wrote.
“Implementation of such a sudden systemic change under these circumstances cannot but cause voter confusion and some real measure of electoral disruption.”
Judge Totenberg — who began her ruling by comparing the repetitive wrangling over voting procedures to the movie “Groundhog Day” — did acknowledge there could be some issues with the new system. She directed election officials to beef up efforts to review ballot images to ensure voting scanning software does not miss votes before the anticipated January runoff for the Senate seat currently held by Kelly Loeffler.
The judge, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, is the sister of Nina Totenberg, NPR’s longtime legal affairs correspondent.
Georgia’s system is a hybrid. It does not actually store ballots; voters fill out their preferences on the touch-screen, the results are printed out and scanned, then stored in a locked box at each polling location.
Elections officials reported a range of problems when the system was first implemented this year, including inadequate training of poll workers that led to some ballots being placed in scanners upside-down.
The plaintiffs had argued that the system was unconstitutional because voters could not be confident their vote is accurately counted.
Almost four years after Ohio so fully embraced President Trump that many Democrats wrote the state off for the 2020 election, Joseph R. Biden Jr. is headed there on Monday, aiming to energize the Democratic base and to court white working-class Americans who supported Mr. Trump last time, powering his wins in Ohio and across the Industrial Midwest in 2016.
Mr. Biden is expected to promote his economic message to “Build Back Better” as he delivers a speech in Toledo. He is then slated to attend a voter mobilization event in Cincinnati.
It’s a pitch he also pushed over the weekend, swinging through a county in Pennsylvania that voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012, and making a direct appeal to union and blue-collar workers on Saturday afternoon, in a speech laden with economic populist tones.
“There’s going to be such a race for job creation for unions, you’re not going to believe it,” Mr. Biden said there. “The only power we have is union power. You’re the guys who keep the barbarians on the other side of the gate from taking everything.”
Mr. Biden has been leaning into a more populist message in recent weeks, pitching his campaign as Scranton versus Park Avenue, a reference that contrasts his hometown in Pennsylvania with Mr. Trump’s privileged background.
His trip to Ohio is his latest effort to cut into the margins of Mr. Trump’s base. After the first presidential debate, in Cleveland, Mr. Biden launched a train tour that took him through eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, regions that swung heavily in Mr. Trump’s direction in 2016.
But many Democrats still view flipping Ohio as a stretch compared with other places, and the state has not been a central focus of Mr. Biden’s team throughout the race, though officials stress that they want to create as many pathways to electoral victory as possible.
“Biden has a real opportunity,” said David Pepper, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, going on to reference the state’s Democratic senator, who has managed to win statewide despite Republican gains. “If he can come anywhere close to how Sherrod Brown did in those areas, he has a good chance of winning Ohio.”
The event that conservatives hoped would reshape the 2020 election is upon us: The Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett began Monday at 9 a.m. Eastern and promise to last most of the week. Republicans have regarded her nomination as an opportunity to reinvigorate voters on the right and shift focus away from the coronavirus pandemic.
So far, Judge Barrett’s appointment has not worked out that way. The White House event at which President Trump announced her election became a major transmission point for the coronavirus — Dr. Anthony S. Fauci called it a “super-spreader event” — and at least two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have been infected. Mr. Trump’s bout with the disease, and rising case counts across most of the country, have relegated the Supreme Court fight to the political background.
There is still hope within the G.O.P. that Democrats might fumble the hearings in a way that could be politically useful — a concern some Democrats share, given the apparently diminished capacities of Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the judiciary committee. And at the very least, the hearings give Republicans something to talk about besides Mr. Trump and the virus, even if that is where most voters remain focused. That could be no small favor in red states where Senate seats are at stake.
It is unlikely, however, that Mr. Trump will cooperate with efforts to shift the spotlight this week. He is holding a rally tonight in Florida — his first appearance outside Washington since he revealed he tested positive for the coronavirus, even though unanswered questions remain about his medical condition, including about the continued presence of the coronavirus in his body and his ability to transmit it to others. And he plans to campaign in Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina in the coming days.
The question for Democrats — not just Joseph R. Biden Jr. but the party’s whole ticket — may be how much time and political capital they will put into making a strenuous public case against Judge Barrett, at a moment when Mr. Trump continues to serve up generous quantities of easier political fodder for an election that is only weeks away.
As the Senate dives into the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Republicans and Democrats are offering two starkly divergent portraits of a nominee who would tilt the court decisively to the right.
Just 22 days before a bitterly contested election, Republicans trailing in the polls are racing to confirm Judge Barrett and cement a 6-to-3 conservative majority on the nation’s highest court that could long outlast President Trump’s tenure even if he were re-elected. In need of a last-ditch campaign reset, they plan to largely eschew the implications of the court’s rightward tilt, instead portraying Judge Barrett as an apolitical and accomplished working mother of seven in an appeal to moderate voters, especially women.
Democrats are taking the opposite approach. They will brush past Judge Barrett’s biography and qualifications and focus instead on legal writings that suggest she is an ideologue with a far-right political agenda, arguing that she would overturn the Affordable Care Act, roll back abortion rights and favor Mr. Trump in any election-related legal challenge that might arise from the balloting on Nov. 3.
The emerging strategies threaten to turn four days of nationally televised proceedings into a bruising affair, even by the modern standards of recent bitter Supreme Court confirmation battles. They also reflect a reality that both parties have accepted: With Republicans largely united in her favor, Democrats are powerless to prevent Judge Barrett, an appeals court judge in Chicago and Notre Dame law professor, from ascending to the Supreme Court. The real fight is to influence Election Day.
“What the American people need to know right now is the Republican Party is much more interested in putting this person on the court so she can take away health care from millions of people than actually helping them,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii. Democrats’ goal, she added, was for voters to “take that understanding to the polls.”
The political implications of the proceeding will be hard to miss. Less than a week after the vice-presidential debate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s running mate, plans to step off the campaign trail to reclaim her place on the Senate Judiciary Committee. She will appear at the hearings remotely as a pandemic precaution. Four endangered Republicans on the committee, including the chairman, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, will jockey for the attention of cable news and voters.
“It is energizing voters in Iowa,” Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, one of the vulnerable Republicans, told reporters on Sunday as she campaigned at Harley-Davidson stores on a motorcycle trip across the state. “They really do want to see someone that will uphold our Constitution, and that’s the only litmus test I have.”
Tommy Tuberville, the Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, is running in large measure on his experience in college football’s Southeastern Conference, known as the S.E.C., where he coached Auburn University.
But he has had experience with another S.E.C., the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other financial regulators.
A review by The New York Times found that Mr. Tuberville, who leads Senator Doug Jones, a Democrat, in the polls, has a history of involvement with at least three people who were later convicted of financial fraud in what were described as Ponzi schemes. Mr. Tuberville was largely seen as a victim and never charged with a crime.
In two episodes, Mr. Tuberville lost millions of dollars. A third was more minor, when Mr. Tuberville and his wife, Suzanne, bought a home through a company created by a lawyer who was later convicted of running a real estate-related Ponzi scheme.
The Times review included a small charitable foundation created by Mr. Tuberville, finding that its tax records indicated that less than a third of its proceeds went to the veterans’ causes it was set up to advance. The foundation also had bookkeeping issues.
The review raised questions about Mr. Tuberville’s judgment and financial acumen. While he has said on the campaign trail that he hoped to serve on the “banking finance” committee — the Senate has separate, and prestigious, banking and finance committees — he has at times undercut his own qualifications. Regarding an ill-fated hedge fund venture, he once told a reporter, “I’m not smart enough to understand all the numbers.”
In a statement, Mr. Tuberville’s campaign largely deflected financial questions. “Doug Jones, Chuck Schumer, and other liberal, Swamp Democrats are spreading lies in an attempt to smear Coach Tuberville’s career, accomplishments, and charitable service,” the statement said, adding, “Coach is focused solely upon serving his fellow Alabamians and faithfully representing their conservative values, beliefs, and desires.”
In one fraudulent scheme, Mr. Tuberville was an investor and a 50/50 owner of a financial firm, TS Capital, that was shut down by state and federal regulators. A 2012 complaint from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said that Mr. Tuberville’s partner, John David Stroud, racked up trading losses of nearly $1.2 million and misappropriated nearly $2.3 million for “car payments, travel expenses, entertainment and retail purchases.” As one of Mr. Stroud’s lieutenants put it, the firm had “the optics of a Ponzi scheme.”
At the Church of God of Prophecy in Phoenix, hundreds come each Sunday for two hours of worship in Spanish. They share passages from the Bible, sing and embrace each other tightly. The evangelical congregation, led for nearly 25 years by Pastor Jose Rivera, is nearly all Latino, the vast majority with roots in Mexico.
They are not unlike the people President Trump tried to demonize from the outset of his first campaign, or all that different from those he is trying to keep out with his border wall and hard-line immigration policies.
But they do not agree on Mr. Trump — some see him as a savior, others as a predator. By Mr. Rivera’s estimate, somewhere between a quarter and a third of his congregants support Mr. Trump, a rate that is echoed in national polls.
When Pastor Rivera looks at his congregation, he sees a microcosm of the Latino vote in the United States: how complex it is, and how each party’s attempt to solidify crucial support can fall short. There are not clear ideological lines here between liberals and conservatives.
Conversations with dozens of members of Rivera’s congregation and with other Hispanic evangelicals around the country over the course of the year make clear that religious identity is often a more fundamental part of their political affiliation than ethnic identity.
“I believe that he’s just doing the courageous things based on Scripture, and making our country become what it should become and bring us all our blessings,” said Carlos Ruiz Esparza, 52, a steadfast supporter of the president who regularly worships with Mr. Rivera.
Latinos are projected to be the largest minority to vote in the presidential election this year, and the 32 million eligible voters could play a decisive role in who wins the White House. And while Hispanic evangelicals make up a small slice of the electorate, they are a key to Mr. Trump’s consistent support from roughly one-third of Hispanic voters, particularly in battleground states like Florida and Arizona.
Mr. Rivera, who has been a bishop for the last three decades, said, “They try to present him as the messiah, but if he is the messiah, he is not doing what we are supposed to do.”
The two biggest groups on the anti-Trump Republican landscape, the Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump, have become multimillion-dollar operations that conduct their own sophisticated data research and polling.
Then there’s the Bravery Project, led by Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman from Illinois; Stand Up Republic, which recently introduced a spinoff, Christians Against Trumpism & Political Extremism; the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform, known as Repair and led by two former top Trump administration officials; and 43 Alumni for Joe Biden, made up of members of President George W. Bush’s administration.
And don’t forget about the short-lived Right Side PAC, founded by Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director, and Matthew Borges, a former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. The group formed in June with the mission of turning out Republican voters for Mr. Biden in battleground states, but shut down after Mr. Borges was arrested on federal corruption charges. Mr. Scaramucci has since given the money to the Lincoln Project and teamed up with Repair.
The crowded, competitive arena of party-less anti-Trump Republicans is, in some ways, a product of the fact that not having a party means not having any clear leader. Groups with similar missions engage in little coordination or sharing of resources.
The groups’ leaders say this is all fine, and organic. Mr. Schott’s competitors in the conservative anti-Trump space say there is little downside to another player spending $1 million on advertising criticizing the president.
But what is less clear is whether more coordination among anti-Trump Republicans — who harbor deep worries about what would happen to the country if Mr. Trump were re-elected, and are eager to be seen as having been on the right side of history — would better serve the collective project to unseat the president.
“The Never Trump movement is having a moment,” said Lucy Caldwell, a Republican strategist who advised Mr. Walsh’s failed primary challenge to Mr. Trump this year. “But on the whole, the last four years have been a lot of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks, and a lot of head chefs in the kitchen.”
Here are the daily schedules of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates for Monday, Oct. 12. All times are Eastern time.
President Donald J. Trump
7 p.m.: Holds a rally in Sanford, Fla.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
1:15 p.m.: Speaks to union members in Toledo, Ohio.
5:45 p.m.: Takes part in a voter mobilization event in Cincinnati.
Vice President Pence
12:30 p.m.: Holds a rally in Columbus, Ohio.
Senator Kamala Harris
9 a.m.: Takes part in the Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearing remotely from the Hart Senate Office Building.
President Trump’s son Eric on Sunday angrily dismissed a New York Times investigation showing that more than 200 companies, special-interest groups and foreign governments obtained favors from the Trump administration while patronizing Mr. Trump’s properties, earning the president millions of dollars.
Appearing on the ABC News program “This Week,” Eric Trump deflected when asked to comment on the investigation. He denounced the news media, listed what he said were accomplishments of his father’s administration, insinuated financial impropriety by Joseph R. Biden Jr. and said his father had “lost a fortune” as a result of being president.
But he did not rebut any of The Times’s specific findings or give a clear answer to any of the questions asked by the host, Jon Karl.
“The last thing I can tell you Donald Trump needs in the world is this job,” the younger Mr. Trump said. “He wakes up in the morning, and he has to fight you and he has to fight the entire media and he has to fight the Democrats, and he gets punched in the head every single day. And he wakes up and he fights for this country, and he fights against the lunacy of the radical left.”
In contrast to the president’s contention that he was a Washington outsider who would “drain the swamp” when he took office, The Times investigation revealed that Mr. Trump not only did not disentangle himself from his business empire, but fostered a pay-to-play culture during his presidency.
Mr. Trump turned his own resorts into the Beltway’s new back rooms, with companies and other special-interest groups spending millions booking conferences and rooms at his hotel in Washington and other properties, and on membership fees at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. They have been able to parlay their access to the president into federal funding, contracts, regulatory changes and ambassadorships.
When Mr. Karl suggested to Eric Trump that the Times investigation showed “at the very least a huge appearance of a conflict of interest,” the younger Trump responded that tens of millions of people stayed at the family’s properties every year. The president placed his two adult sons at the helm of the Trump Organization when he took office in 2017, but The Times reported that he still kept watch on properties run by the company.
The Times’s investigation found that President Trump’s finances had been in steep decline before he entered the White House.
The reporting was part of an ongoing examination of Mr. Trump’s finances by The Times, which revealed that he had used much of his reality television fortune to buy and prop up a collection of money-losing golf courses that required regular infusions of cash.
The Times found that he had personally guaranteed more than $300 million in loans coming due within four years.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, took issue Sunday with a decision by the Trump campaign to feature him in an advertisement without his consent and said it had misrepresented his comments.
“I was totally surprised,” Dr. Fauci said. “The use of my name and my words by the G.O.P. campaign was done without my permission, and the actual words themselves were taken out of context, based on something that I said months ago regarding the entire effort of the task force.”
CNN first reported Dr. Fauci’s displeasure with the campaign ad.
The spot seeks to use Mr. Trump’s illness with Covid-19 and apparent recovery to improve the negative image many Americans have of his handling of the coronavirus.
“I can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more,” the ad shows Dr. Fauci saying — though in fact he was talking about the broader government effort.
Dr. Fauci, who said he had never publicly endorsed a political candidate in decades of public work, has long had an uneasy relationship with President Trump. Just a little over a week ago, he clashed with his boss over his position on mask-wearing.
In his debate with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Mr. Trump claimed that Dr. Fauci had initially said “masks are not good — then he changed his mind.” When Mr. Biden said wearing masks could save tens of thousands of lives, Mr. Trump contended that “Dr. Fauci said the opposite.”
In fact, in the early days of the pandemic, Dr. Fauci and other health experts discouraged the general public from rushing out to buy masks because they were worried about shortages for health workers. Their position changed when it became clear that asymptomatic transmission was spreading the virus.
Dr. Fauci may favor measured language, but his criticisms of the White House — and, implicitly, the man in the Oval Office — over the handling of the pandemic have not gone unnoticed, including by hard-core Trump supporters who claim he is part of a “deep state” conspiracy to undermine the president.
On Friday, Dr. Fauci called the White House ceremony announcing Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court a “superspreader event.”
“It was in a situation where people were crowded together and not wearing masks,” he said. “The data speak for themselves.”
Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee begins on Monday. The proceedings will play out partially by video to allow senators who may be sick or worried about infection to participate remotely. No members of the public will be allowed in the hearing room, which will be sparsely populated with senators and spectators.
With just over three weeks left until Election Day, hundreds of supporters of President Trump took to Michigan’s highways on Sunday afternoon for a loud and visible display of devotion to their candidate.
It was similar to the Trump boat parades that took over waterways this summer, only on wheels. Festooning their cars with Trump banners and American flags, cardboard cutouts of the president and hand-painted slogans, hundreds of people gathered at rest stops along I-75 and U.S.-31, the main freeways that run north and south along the eastern and western sides of the state. At noon, with horns honking, all headed north, driving for an hour or more as they passed people heading home from fall foliage tours.
“The American people have two choices: Either vote socialism, or you vote for capitalism,” said Vern Mueller, 77, of Reese, who worked in the agriculture industry and met up with more than 60 cars at a Bay County rest stop. “Trump is a capitalist. That’s the way America should be. That’s how it was founded.”
The Trump campaign has reveled in public displays of support from boat parades and road rallies in Michigan and other states since the coronavirus took hold of the country in March. The president regularly tweets glowingly about the flotillas, and his son Donald Trump Jr. even invited boaters to join him in a parade off the Hamptons on Long Island in August.
It’s a way for the president’s fans to rally for re-election without having to worry about social distancing.
“We’re all ready to get out and bust out, and we can do whatever we want in our cars, right?” said Debra Ell, 64, of Frankenmuth, an organizer of the rally who also helped sign people up to work the polls on Election Day.
Not everyone was a fan, Krystie Linton, 44, a special-education teacher from Ann Arbor who supports Joseph R. Biden Jr., looked on with a mix of horror and curiosity at a Trump group at a rest stop who had arrived in cars and trucks covered in pro-Trump symbols and set up tables with Trump merchandise.
“I just don’t get it,” Ms. Linton said on her way home from a fall weekend up north. “Trump has brought out the worst in America. It’s a scary place for our country to be.”
The rally, called “The Cannonball Run,” also served as an opportunity to recruit Republican poll workers to help count absentee ballots and watch polling places in Flint, a predominantly Black city and Democratic stronghold.
“We thought about where we can have the biggest impact,” Ms. Ell said. “You have to have an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, and we think the city of Flint needs the help most.”
Both Republicans and Democrats have recruited workers to watch polling places and the sites where absentee votes are counted. Under state law, paid workers at the polls must be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. But there have been complaints over the years from elections officials in urban areas, who have said that volunteers at the polls have tried to intimidate voters as they wait in line to vote.