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Newsletter: Early voting on the rise

A line of voters in Georgia
Monday was the first day for advance voting in Georgia, and people showed up by the hundreds to cast their ballots early at the Bell Auditorium in Augusta.
(Michael Holahan / Augusta Chronicle via Associated Press)

Voters are already turning out for the November election at a record-setting pace.

TOP STORIES

Early Voting on the Rise

With the Nov. 3 election three weeks from today, turnout in the 2020 presidential contest is already on course to smash records.

Nearly 10 million Americans had already cast ballots as of Monday night, through mail ballots or at in-person voting sites, according to the U.S. Elections Project’s nonpartisan tally of early voting. For comparison: By Oct. 16, 2016, about the same number of days before the election four years ago, state election officials reported that 1.4 million people had voted early.

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Voting rules vary by state, but experts say the remarkable turnout this year can be attributed to two causes — more access to early voting, as well as greater enthusiasm among voters — but in Arizona, a crucial battleground state, interviews with Republicans, Democrats and independents showing up to cast ballots revealed a common motivation: fear.

In California, more than 279,000 mail ballots had been returned as of Sunday, according to Political Data, a firm that tracks voting — more than 20 times the turnout at a comparable point in 2016.

Along with early voting, there’s an early voting dispute: California’s attorney general and chief elections officer on Monday sent a cease-and-desist letter to Republican Party officials demanding that they immediately stop using private ballot collection containers marked as “official” drop boxes, saying the do-it-yourself containers that have appeared in several communities across the state are illegal. A spokesman for the California Republican Party rejected the allegation of wrongdoing.

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More Politics

President Trump burst back onto the campaign trail, delivering an energetic and combative hourlong speech in central Florida meant to demonstrate his recovery from COVID-19 and resuscitate his faltering reelection campaign. Though there is no solid evidence of immunity for people who have contracted COVID-19, Trump said, “Now they say I’m immune. I feel so powerful I’ll walk into that audience. ... I’ll kiss everyone in that audience.”

Joe Biden and Trump are neck-and-neck in North Carolina. Will Latinos decide the race?

— Your guide to the 2020 election in California.

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Two Views of a Nominee

The first day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings wasn’t the tumultuous affair that Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh faced in 2018, but it still reflected a sharp partisan divide.

Democrats portrayed her as a lethal threat to the Affordable Care Act and abortion rights and warned that even conducting the hearing during the COVID-19 pandemic was reckless.

Republicans focused their opening statements on Barrett’s character and legal credentials. They also tried to draw Democrats into a debate about Barrett’s Catholic faith, accusing liberals of imposing a religious litmus test. But Democratic senators avoided the topic of religion altogether.

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Unlike any Supreme Court pick since the failed nomination of Robert Bork, Barrett has taken a public stand on the most divisive issues before the court, including abortion, contraceptives, guns and healthcare. Some legal experts say that public record may cause her to face more probing questions than usual during the questioning from senators that is expected to start today.

Tutors in Demand — but There’s a Catch

Coronavirus-forced school closures have fueled an unprecedented run on tutors that takes in the gamut of circumstances — including students who need academic help and those seeking to maintain their high-achieving status.

But for every parent who can pay for private tutoring, there are others who can’t, fueling a surge of start-up volunteer tutoring groups. Yet this tutor-for-hire frenzy highlights concerns about how the pandemic could further increase the education divide.

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“We are going to have an exacerbation of massive inequality,” said Prudence L. Carter, dean of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. “And many children from economically vulnerable backgrounds who need access to tutors will very likely not get that support.”

More Top Coronavirus Headlines

— While the spread of the coronavirus accelerates in much of the U.S., California is enjoying a moment of relief, as COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have dropped to the lowest levels in months.

— A Nevada man got COVID-19 twice. His case shows why we need a vaccine.

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— A late-stage study of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate has been paused while the company investigates whether a study participant’s “unexplained illness” is related to the shot.

For more, sign up for Coronavirus Today, a special edition of The Times’ Health and Science newsletter.

Mexico’s Marijuana Revolution

After decades of restrictive drug policies that fueled deadly cartel wars, Mexico is poised to become the biggest legal cannabis market in the world.

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That’s because the country’s Supreme Court struck down a marijuana ban as unconstitutional two years ago. Now, lawmakers have until Dec. 15 to pass pot legislation. But what will legalization look like, and whom should it benefit?

A fragrant cannabis garden just steps from the nation’s Senate serves as a reminder that time is ticking.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

In 1973, the U.S. armed forces switched from conscripting American men to recruiting them for a volunteer army. The Vietnam War had been unpopular, as was the draft that went with it.

Within four years, The Times reported, 200,000 people were joining the military each year, though it was not necessarily a decision some were excited about. An Oct. 23, 1977, story featured two 18-year-olds at LAX as they shared a drink, waiting to report for duty. “My brother told me it’s going to be hell. Are we in for it. Might as well live it up now. This is it,” one said.

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Oct. 12, 1977: 13 volunteers hold up their hands at an induction ceremony at the Armed Forces Building in Los Angeles
Oct. 12, 1977: An induction ceremony for volunteers into the U.S. Army at the Armed Forces Building on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. After the draft ended in 1973, about 200,000 volunteers joined each year.
(George Rose / Los Angeles Times)

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CALIFORNIA

— Fierce Diablo winds are expected to kick up in Northern California this week, bringing an increased fire risk to the burn-scarred region and prompting Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to prepare for potential power shutoffs in parts of 43 counties.

— Amid thousands of LAPD unauthorized force complaints from the public since 2015, there were only two documented cases in which an officer filed one against a peer. The department says poor tracking is skewing the numbers.

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At least 76 people were arrested in downtown L.A. on Sunday night after the Lakers’ NBA championship win, marking the latest confrontation between LAPD officers and a large street crowd in a year already shaped by mass protests.

— The San Francisco Fire Department has revealed the circumstances leading to the death of a firefighter during a training exercise last week, noting that restrictions implemented to stem the spread of the coronavirus might have played a role.

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NATION-WORLD

Roberta Wright McCain, the mother of the late Sen. John McCain who used her feisty spirit to help woo voters during his 2008 presidential campaign, has died at age 108.

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Armenia and Azerbaijan on Monday accused each other of attacks over a separatist territory despite a cease-fire deal brokered by Russia in an effort to end the worst outbreak of hostilities in the region in decades.

— These pretty villages supported Brexit. Now residents are disappointed to find they’re at Britain’s new border, with noisy construction crews and customs checkpoints.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

— Emboldened by the success of Disney+, Walt Disney Co. is reorganizing its massive entertainment and media operations to focus on creating content for its streaming services.

— The great tenor saxophonist and composer Pharoah Sanders is turning 80. He still plays his horn daily, but “I don’t really get into that celebrating.”

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— Is box-office magic even a thing during the pandemic? The Geffen Playhouse bet yes and sold 6,000 tickets for a single evening of a Zoom magic show.

— At 10 years old, drummer Nandi Bushell has already conquered musical milestones most artists would be lucky to reach in a lifetime, including besting Dave Grohl in a viral drum battle.

BUSINESS

— Gov. Gavin Newsom, aiming for an eventual safe reopening of California theme parks, said he was sending a team of people to parks open in other states to learn what precautions they are taking to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

Facebook will ban posts that deny the Holocaust in a reversal of a long-held policy.

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SPORTS

— The Dodgers lost 5-1 to the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. Game 2 is today.

Joe Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman who became the sparkplug of the Big Red Machine, died at his home in Danville, Calif. He was 77.

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Get our free daily crossword puzzle, sudoku, word search and arcade games in our new game center at latimes.com/games.

OPINION

— The Republicans’ hypocrisy in Monday’s Barrett hearing was simply unbearable, columnist Robin Abcarian writes.

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— Make way for Slayer Pete. Buttigieg is the Biden campaign’s ruthless secret weapon, columnist Mary McNamara writes.

WHAT OUR EDITORS ARE READING

— For Central American migrants fleeing gang violence, winning protection in the United States can be particularly difficult. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

— Why do people believe in mythical creatures, aliens and the like? A book offers an explanation. (Los Angeles Review of Books)

ONLY IN CALIFORNIA

When Gov. Newsom signed an executive order to protect nearly a third of California’s land and coastal waters, he had more than climate change on his mind. A fondness for plants, animals and environment runs in his family — so deeply that Newsom’s beloved childhood pet was a river otter named Potter, writes columnist George Skelton. And Potter continues to influence Newsom’s approach to environmental policies.

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Comments or ideas? Email us at headlines@latimes.com.


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