President Trump on Wednesday suggested that people in North Carolina stress-test the security of their elections systems by voting twice — an act that constitutes the kind of voter fraud the president has railed against.
Mr. Trump made the comment when asked by a reporter about his faith in the state’s system for voting by mail, which is expected to be used more widely in the November election than in previous years because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr. Trump encouraged people to send in an absentee ballot and to then go vote in person.
“Let them send it in and let them go vote, and if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote,” Mr. Trump said on an airport tarmac in Wilmington, N.C., in remarks that were broadcast on MSNBC. “If it isn’t tabulated, they’ll be able to vote.”
“So that’s the way it is,” the president added. “And that’s what they should do.”
It is illegal to vote more than once in an election.
Coming out of the party conventions, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. still leads President Trump in most national polls and at least one crucial battleground state — but his advantage has been whittled down.
This is the picture provided by a wave of state and national polls released on Wednesday.
A USA Today/Suffolk University poll found Mr. Biden leading Mr. Trump by seven points among registered voters nationwide, down from a 12-point advantage in June.
A Quinnipiac University poll put Mr. Biden’s lead among likely voters at 10 points; in July, when Quinnipiac used a sample of registered voters, it found a 15-point margin.
Mr. Biden had an eight-point edge among likely voters in a Grinnell College/Selzer survey — results echoed in a CNN poll of registered voters that also gave the former vice president an eight-point lead.
Regardless of the national numbers, the race will be won and lost in just a few key swing states: Even if Mr. Biden ekes out a narrow win in the popular vote, he could still lose the Electoral College, as Hillary Clinton did in 2016.
Credible post-convention polls have not yet been released in most battleground states, but on Wednesday Monmouth University released a survey of Pennsylvania. It found Mr. Biden’s lead among registered voters shrinking to just four percentage points, down from 13 points in July.
In all three national polls, more voters held a negative opinion of Mr. Trump than a positive one, by double-digit margins. But Mr. Biden was not sitting pretty, either: While voters were more evenly split in their opinions of him, he did not manage a net-positive favorability rating in any of those polls.
That is largely because of his difficulties among independents. Although his favorability among Democrats appears to have climbed in the wake of the conventions — now roughly matching Mr. Trump’s overwhelmingly positive ratings among Republican voters — 53 percent of likely independent voters expressed a negative view of Mr. Biden, according to the Quinnipiac survey. Just 39 percent saw him positively.
The USA Today/Suffolk poll found that the party conventions had at best a mild impact on voter choice. Independents were slightly more likely to say the events had diminished their willingness to support Mr. Trump. Thirty-eight percent said that, compared to 29 percent who said the conventions had nudged them toward supporting him.
Still, in that poll, Mr. Trump had consolidated his support among certain key demographic groups — including likely voters 65 and over, who now swing in his favor by 11 points, and men, who now favor him by 12 points.
The Quinnipiac and Grinnell/Selzer polls showed the race slightly more competitive among those groups.
The CNN survey found that both candidates saw a boost in voter enthusiasm after the conventions, by at least one measure: the share of each candidate’s supporters saying that they were voting primarily for their chosen candidate, rather than against his opponent.
Yet it still appears that this election will mostly be a referendum on Mr. Trump. While 77 percent of his supporters said that they were voting mostly for him, a slim majority of Mr. Biden’s backers continued to say that their primary interest was in ousting Mr. Trump.
Joseph R. Biden Jr., moving to refocus the campaign on the coronavirus pandemic after days of national attention on law enforcement matters, argued on Wednesday that President Trump was failing the nation’s parents, teachers and schoolchildren because of his mismanagement of the crisis.
“President Trump still doesn’t have any real plan for how to open our schools safely,” Mr. Biden said in a short speech in Wilmington, Del., after receiving a briefing from a group of experts. “No real plan for how to help parents feel secure for their children. He’s offering nothing but failure and delusions. From the start to finish, the American families and our children are paying the price for his failures.”
The Biden campaign said that Mr. Biden and his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, were urging Mr. Trump to work with congressional leaders to provide emergency funding for schools of at least $200 billion.
“Mr. President, where are you?” Mr. Biden said. “Where are you? Why aren’t you working on this? We need emergency support funding for our schools and we need it now. Mr. President, that’s your job.”
“Get off Twitter,” he added.
If elected, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris would direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make available federal aid to K-12 schools to support their reopening and operations amid the crisis, the campaign said. Mr. Biden hit on similar themes in his address.
Mr. Trump has demanded that schools reopen this fall and threatened to cut federal funding for school districts that defied his wishes. But his effort to pressure schools did not have the effect he desired, and many districts decided to begin the school year with remote instruction.
Mr. Biden’s remarks came as the presidential race has been dominated in recent days by debates over racial injustice and protests. At their party convention last week, Republicans sought to paint Mr. Biden as radically anti-law enforcement, seizing on the unrest playing out in some American cities amid otherwise largely peaceful protests.
The Biden campaign has long sought to make the race a referendum on Mr. Trump’s character and leadership, focusing in particular on his stewardship of the pandemic, and the speech on Wednesday represented an opportunity to put a spotlight on how Mr. Trump’s handling of the crisis was affecting the nation’s schools.
In July, Mr. Biden released his own plan for safely reopening schools, which emphasized deference to local decision-making on whether and how schools could reopen in a safe manner. His plan also called for Congress to pass an emergency funding package to help enable schools to adapt for reopening.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill Biden, will travel Thursday to Kenosha, Wis., to visit a city still reeling from the Aug. 23 police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, his campaign announced. A campaign official said that the Bidens would meet with Mr. Blake’s father and other family members during the trip.
The announcement came one day after President Trump visited Kenosha over the objections of Wisconsin’s governor and Kenosha’s mayor, both Democrats. During his visit, the president did not mention Mr. Blake, who was paralyzed in the shooting, or speak with his family.
Two demonstrators who were protesting the shooting of Mr. Blake were killed in Kenosha last week, and a white teenager has been charged with homicide. Protests over Mr. Blake’s shooting have at times turned destructive in Kenosha, as buildings were burned and storefronts destroyed.
This week Mr. Trump declined to criticize the 17-year-old charged in the killings, Kyle Rittenhouse, who had attended a Trump rally earlier this year.
Mr. Biden, asked on Wednesday about his visit to Kenosha, said “we’ve spoken to all the leaders up there.” He added that “there’s been overwhelming requests that I do come.”
“We’ve got to heal,” Mr. Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Del. “We’ve got to put things together, bring people together. And so, my purpose in going will be to do just that — to be a positive influence on what’s going on.”
Asked whether the officers involved in the police shootings of Mr. Blake and of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., should be charged, Mr. Biden replied: “I think we should let the judicial system work its way. I do think there’s a minimum need to be charged, the officers.” Mr. Biden’s campaign said later that based on his knowledge of the situation, charges looked to be warranted, but a full investigation was necessary first.
The trip comes as Mr. Biden is ramping up his travel schedule in the final two months of the campaign. Since the pandemic began there was a long stretch during which he made only occasional in-person appearances and rarely strayed beyond Delaware and eastern Pennsylvania.
President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. are both planning to visit Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11 to honor the people who died when their hijacked plane crashed in a nearby field during the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Mr. Trump plans to attend a memorial service during his visit, officials said on Wednesday. Mr. Biden’s campaign did not specify whether he would attend the same event, but if he does it would be the only time the two are likely to cross paths before the first presidential debate, which is scheduled for Sept. 29.
The Shanksville memorial, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed, is one of three sites where nearly 3,000 people were killed 19 years ago during the worst terrorist attack on United States soil. More than 2,700 people were killed at the World Trade Center in New York and 184 people at the Pentagon; 40 passengers and crew members died in the Flight 93 crash.
Pennsylvania also happens to be a battleground state in the election, one that both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump hope to win.
The Trump campaign released two ads Wednesday that it said would air in Minnesota and Wisconsin that aim to tie Joseph R. Biden Jr. to protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis.
“Lawless criminals terrorize Kenosha,” the Wisconsin ad states. “Joe Biden takes a knee.”
The new Trump law-and-order spots came a day after the Biden campaign unveiled a 60-second ad that repackaged elements of the speech he gave Monday in Pittsburgh, condemning the violence that sprang from some protests against systemic racism in policing and accusing President Trump of fanning the flames of violence.
Mr. Biden has regularly condemned the violence that has arisen from some protests, and accused Mr. Trump of stoking divisions. But Mr. Biden’s new ad, part of a pushback after speaker after speaker at the Republican National Convention tried to paint him as soft on lawlessness, often by misrepresenting his record and his policy positions, is the first time that he has put the issue of public safety into a major paid advertising program.
The ads are part of a $45 million one-week television and digital purchase that is by far the campaign’s largest to date. (The Biden campaign announced a record-breaking $364.5 million August fund-raising haul, which is more than Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump raised combined in July.)
The ad represents a shift for the Biden campaign. Since Mr. Biden first went on the airwaves in June, nearly 75 percent of the television ads that his campaign have run have focused on the coronavirus, according to an analysis by the media-tracking firm Advertising Analytics.
Mr. Trump’s ads have been the inverse. Only 5 percent of them have focused on the virus compared to more than 60 percent that highlighted crime — a reflection of the Trump campaign’s determination to frame the election around the question of whether Mr. Biden would be able to keep people safe, rather than around the coronavirus crisis and Mr. Trump’s leadership over the last three and a half years.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced a $364.5 million haul of donations for August between his campaign and his shared committees with the Democratic Party, shattering past fund-rasing records.
Small-dollar online donations accounted for more than $205 million of that sum and Democratic contributors poured money into Mr. Biden’s coffers, especially since the selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. So many supporters bought Biden-Harris yard signs that the campaign had to open a new fulfillment center. Big contributors, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, gave generously too, with checks that can be as large as $721,300.
Mr. Biden’s sum laps what is believed to be the previous monthly record of $193 million, set by Barack Obama in September 2008, though there is no formal record-keeping. The $364.5 million is more than the sum of what Mr. Biden ($140 million) and President Trump ($165 million) raised in July.
“That figure blows me away,” Mr. Biden said in a statement.
The Biden campaign said that it now counts more than 4 million donors and that 1.5 million Americans gave for the first time in August.
Just the portion that Mr. Biden raised online — $205 million — is more than any previous presidential candidate’s full monthly total.
The Trump campaign has not announced its August fund-raising total but has said it raised $76 million during the Republican convention.
The Commission on Presidential Debates has selected the moderators for the three debates between President Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. this fall, as well as the single vice-presidential debate, the commission announced Wednesday.
Chris Wallace, the “Fox News Sunday” anchor, will moderate the first debate on Sept. 29, to be held in Cleveland, the person said.
The second debate, a town hall-style forum scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami, will be moderated by Steve Scully of C-SPAN.
And the final one, on Oct. 22 in Nashville, will be moderated by Kristen Welker of NBC.
The vice-presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris, Mr. Biden’s running mate, which is set for Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, will be moderated by Susan Page of USA Today.
The choices of moderators appeared to anger the Trump campaign, which had made a list of demands and named moderators it considers acceptable.
“These are not the moderators we would have recommended if the campaign had been allowed to have any input,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign. “Some can be identified as clear opponents of President Trump, meaning Joe Biden will actually have a teammate on stage most of the time to help him excuse the radical, leftist agenda he is carrying.”
Mr. Biden told reporters that he looked forward to debating Mr. Trump — and that he regretted that there would not be real-time fact checkers weighing in as they speak.
Aside from a Kennedy losing, election night in Massachusetts on Tuesday felt almost normal.
Despite the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic, results for a hotly contested statewide race trickled in throughout the night, with a winner called around 10:30 p.m. Nearly one million absentee ballots were counted by midnight. There were even timely victory and concession speeches.
For those looking to Massachusetts as a possible model for how to successfully hold the November general election during the pandemic, voting rights groups and election experts said the state’s primary provided a mix of smart policies and harsh deadlines — which possibly disenfranchised numerous voters.
Indeed, Massachusetts may have offered the country a model for how to count votes, but casting ballots wasn’t always as seamless.
As in other states’ primaries, there were anecdotal reports of voters never receiving their ballots, not receiving the privacy envelope for returning a ballot, or receiving ballots too close to the deadline to mail them back. A court decision ruled that all ballots had to be received by 8 p.m. on the night of the election to be counted, regardless of whether they had been mailed earlier and simply suffered from postal delays.
But the state still shattered its record for primary participation, with more than 1.6 million ballots cast. Though interest in the Democratic Senate primary was high, election officials said that a law signed this summer by Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, that expanded mail-in voting and early voting had been essential to voting during the pandemic.
Local election clerks pleaded with Michigan lawmakers at a House Elections Committee meeting Wednesday for legislation to help them handle an expected surge in absentee voting in November.
“We received another mail bin full of absentee ballot applications today. August was great, we had fabulous turnout and participation, but it pushed us close to our limits,” said Chris Swope, the city clerk of Lansing, Michigan’s capital, where poll workers were on the job from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., counting nearly 18,000 absentee ballots cast in the primary on Aug. 4.
“That lays out the challenge that we’ll have in November when we expect double or more the number of ballots,” he said. “We’re going to be stretched beyond our limits.”
Under Michigan law, local clerks can’t start processing absentee ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day. A bill that has stalled in the State Senate would allow them to begin processing, but not tabulating ballots the day before the November election.
Last month, a record 2.5 million people voted in the primary, with 1.6 million of them casting absentee ballots. The number of absentee ballots is expected to more than double in November, said Mark Grebner, founder of Practical Political Consulting, which tracks voting trends in Michigan.
That prediction has local clerks consumed with preparations for November and worried that results might not be available until a day or two after the election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
“I have 30,000 absentee ballot applications now, with hundreds more coming in daily. We’re planning to process at least 40,000 ballots,” said Pam Smith, city clerk of Farmington Hills, a Detroit suburb. “Our counting probably won’t be complete until the late afternoon or early evening on the Wednesday after the election in November.”
Republican legislators have said they are reluctant to approve help for the clerks, fearing that processing ballots early could lead to mischief. But State Representative Julie Calley, a Portland Republican and chairwoman of the state’s House Elections Committee, said she hopes to take up the bill, which has been languishing in the State Senate since February, awaiting a vote that could move it to the House. The legislature is in session until the end of September, but off for much of October.
“If the bill comes over to me, I’ll give it a hearing,” she said. “With secure parameters in place, we can do some element of early processing.”
The Trump campaign and the Republican Party sued Montana officials on Wednesday in response to an order allowing counties there to conduct the November election by mail.
The order — issued last month by Gov. Stephen Bullock, a Democrat who ran for president last year and is now running for Senate — allowed county officials to expand access to voting by mail, as well as early voting.
The lawsuit named Mr. Bullock and Corey Stapleton, the secretary of state and a Republican, as defendants. It called the order a “brazen power grab” that was “not authorized by state law.” It also claimed that mailing ballots to all voters would invite fraud and accused Democrats more broadly of using the pandemic as an excuse to promote voting by mail.
“This template lawsuit appears to be part of a pattern of lawsuits across the country by Republican Party operatives to limit access to voting during the pandemic,” Mr. Bullock said in a statement Wednesday. “Voting by mail in Montana is safe, secure, and was requested by a bipartisan coalition of Montana election officials seeking to reduce the risk of Covid-19 and keep Montanans safe and healthy.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Stapleton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Bullock’s Aug. 6 order said that while in-person voting would still be permitted, the goal was to “shift the default” to voting by mail in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. It also noted that Mr. Bullock had issued a similar directive in March, which expanded mail-in voting for the state’s primary elections in June.
“That election was a success, marked by an increase in voter turnout compared to previous primary elections,” the August order said.
In recent months, the president pushed the false argument that voting by mail is a recipe for fraud. He has warned, without evidence, that mail elections would involve ransacked mailboxes, forged signatures and illegally printed ballots. But he has also encouraged people to vote by mail in Florida.
Five states now conduct all elections almost entirely by mail. They report very little fraud.
Members of the Navajo Nation filed an emergency motion on Wednesday asking a federal court to require the Arizona secretary of state to count ballots from tribal members that are postmarked by Election Day, even if they are delivered later.
The motion is connected to a lawsuit that six members of the Navajo Nation filed last week, and asks the United States District Court for the District of Arizona to grant a temporary injunction that would ensure that the ballots in question are counted in this November’s election while the full case is pending.
Currently, Arizona requires mail-in ballots to be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted. The lawsuit — which the tribal members filed with the help of the Native American voting rights group Four Directions — argues that this deadline violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by giving tribal members living on the Navajo reservation, where mail service is sparse and many residents do not have reliable transportation, less opportunity to vote than other Arizonans.
A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat elected in 2018, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Before filing the lawsuit, Four Directions sent test mailings from various parts of the Navajo reservation to compare delivery times to those in other parts of Arizona. It found that certified first-class mail sent from the reservation took five to six days to reach the county recorder’s office, compared with just one day for mail sent from cities like Scottsdale and Flagstaff.
The reservation is sprawling, covering more than 27,000 square miles of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, including more than 18,000 square miles in Arizona alone. But the Arizona portion has only 11 post offices and 15 postal provider locations, according to the lawsuit. By land area, that would be equivalent to the entire state of New Jersey having roughly 13 postal locations.
About 67,000 eligible voters live in the Arizona portion of the reservation.
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure” that abridges “the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” In 1982, Congress amended the section to clarify that even if a policy was not passed with malicious intent, it could still be illegal if it had the effect of denying protected groups equal opportunity to vote.
Before a Black Lives Matter rally in his district on Tuesday, Representative Clay Higgins, Republican of Louisiana, threatened on Facebook to kill people who showed up armed and seemed to single out Black protesters.
He posted a photo of a Black militia. “If this shows up,” he warned, “we just eliminate the threat.” He added, “we don’t care what color you are.”
“I wouldn’t even spill my beer,” Mr. Higgins wrote. “I’d drop any 10 of you where you stand.”
The congressman’s post inciting violence came as President Trump has been responding to nationwide demonstrations against police brutality by suggesting, in increasingly conspiratorial terms and without offering evidence, that armed agitators are being sent into American cities to cause disorder and bloodshed.
Facebook deleted Mr. Higgins’s post, according to the congressman, who wrote an update Tuesday standing by his original message and telling his followers: “I’ll advise when it’s time gear up, mount up, and roll out.”
Mr. Higgins, a two-term member of Congress, posted the original message before a demonstration in Lafayette, La., on Tuesday protesting the killing of a Black man by the city’s police officers.
Armed people did in fact show up at the protest, but they were white and part of the right-wing Louisiana Cajun Militia. A member identifying himself as a militia leader told a reporter they were there to protect the right of those attending to protest, but added, “We’re just not going to let them go around burning flags and intimidating.”
Mr. Higgins did not kill them.
Mr. Higgins, a former police officer known as the “Cajun John Wayne” who gained notoriety for viral anticrime videos, resigned from the force in Opelousas, near Lafayette, in 2007 after admitting to striking a suspect in handcuffs during the execution of a warrant and later giving false statements about the incident during an investigation, according to local reports.
President Trump joked to Sarah Sanders, the former White House press secretary, about her “taking one for the team” after North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, winked at her during a summit in 2018, Ms. Sanders said.
Ms. Sanders revealed the episode in her new book, “Speaking for Myself,” in which she discusses her time working for Mr. Trump, as well as how she may run for governor of her home state of Arkansas and her early days caring for young children.
Throughout, Ms. Sanders writes glowingly about her former boss. Excerpts from the book, which goes on sale on Tuesday, were provided to The New York Times.
Ms. Sanders describes the summit in Singapore between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim in detail, including a moment where she and the North Korean leader “made direct eye contact and Kim nodded and appeared to wink at me.” She described herself as stunned.
On the trip back to Air Force One, Ms. Sanders relayed the encounter with Mr. Kim to Mr. Trump and the White House chief of staff at the time, John F. Kelly. The two men burst out laughing, Ms. Sanders writes.
“Kim winked at you?” Mr. Trump asked, adding, “Are you telling me Kim Jong-un hit on you!?!?”
Ms. Sanders made clear she didn’t mean that, but Mr. Trump and Mr. Kelly continued to joke about Mr. Kim’s intentions.
“Well, Sarah, that settles it,” Ms. Sanders recalls the president joking. “You’re going to North Korea and taking one for the team! Your husband and kids will miss you, but you’ll be a hero to your country!”