Joe Biden and President Trump are preparing for their first debate, in which Mr. Trump will inevitably face questions about a Times report on his tax avoidance. The weekend’s polls brought more good news for Mr. Biden. Kamala Harris plans to speak about Amy Coney Barrett during a campaign trip to North Carolina.

Kamala Harris is expected to address Judge Barrett’s nomination and the Supreme Court in North Carolina.

There was one very simple takeaway from a complicated New York Times exposé analyzing two decades of the president’s tax return data: $750.

In some ways, the figure’s specificity was more visceral than if he had paid zero dollars — which he did for 10 of the preceding 15 years. The $750 figure may stick in the minds of blue-collar voters who earn far less than a president, and who pay far more in federal taxes.

Democrats hope they can turn any feeling of unjustness the number evokes to their advantage. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Sunday that she had paid thousands of dollars in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017 — when she was still working as a New York bartender. “He contributed less to funding our communities than waitresses & undocumented immigrants,” she wrote.

The Biden campaign on Sunday night used the report to press its case that Mr. Trump is out of touch with the working Americans he says he is fighting for. The campaign quickly put out a video showing the typical income taxes paid by an elementary school teacher, a firefighter and a nurse. Each paid thousands of dollars in taxes per year.

At a Sunday evening news conference, Mr. Trump dismissed the reporting as “totally fake news” and claimed he was never contacted about the report, despite the fact that a lawyer for the Trump Organization was quoted in the article.

But it’s inevitably a story he will face questions about in the first presidential debate on Tuesday night. And with five weeks left in the race, every day that Mr. Trump is on defense is one when he isn’t able to shift the dynamics of a race that public polls show he is currently losing.

Revelations like the fact that Mr. Trump deducted $70,000 for hairstyling expenses during “The Apprentice” also risk contributing to a sense that the president views his supporters — those who serve in the military, or pay their tax bills, or attend his rallies in the middle of a pandemic — as fools.

To wit: The tax revelations followed a report in The Atlantic this month that said the president had privately referred to American troops killed in combat as “losers” and “suckers.”

And a former official on the coronavirus task force, Olivia Troye, has gone on the record in recent weeks to recall that Mr. Trump, during a meeting she attended, said there was an upside to the virus: He would no longer have to shake hands with “disgusting” people, referring to his own supporters.

If political tradition is any guide — and in the Trump era, it might not be — the two presidential candidates may stay out of the spotlight on the eve of their first debate.

President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. spent Sunday setting up their Tuesday encounter in different ways: Mr. Biden delivered a speech opposing Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination and Mr. Trump declared on Twitter that both he and his Democratic challenger should take drug tests, before later denying a bombshell New York Times report about two decades of his previously undisclosed tax returns.

So on Monday, Senator Kamala Harris of California may take center stage with a trip to North Carolina, where she is supposed to address Judge Barrett’s nomination. The trip is an opportunity for her to claim a news cycle in a campaign so dominated by Mr. Trump that the running mates on both sides have played relatively muted roles.

More significantly, Ms. Harris’s remarks could offer the clearest look yet at how she will address her role not just as Mr. Biden’s political partner but as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee — the panel that will screen Judge Barrett’s nomination.

Ms. Harris’s position on the committee helped make her a national figure, and she earned the lasting appreciation of Democrats for her approach to questioning previous Trump appointees, like Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and Attorney General William P. Barr.

But her looming confrontation with Judge Barrett may be the most complicated and important one yet, involving the overlapping but distinct pressures of Senate Democrats’ effort to slow Judge Barrett’s nomination and her own campaign’s desire to turn the appointment into an electoral liability for the White House.

It is significant that Ms. Harris’s remarks will come in North Carolina, one of the two most closely divided swing states in polling conducted this month by The Times. The other is Georgia, and the Biden-Harris ticket’s fate in both states may hinge on its ability to maximize support among women and ignite powerful turnout from Black voters. Both are constituencies with much at stake in the Supreme Court fight.

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

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

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

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

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

For both President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr., the three presidential debates may well be the most critical moments of a fall campaign that is being carried out without the typical dawn-to-dusk days of rallies, local television appearances and talking to voters. Millions of Americans will set aside time in the midst of a pandemic to judge Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden side by side in the unfiltered forum of the two men on a stage.

Through 14 primary and general election debates in 2015 and 2016, Mr. Trump emerged as the showman, with a keen sense of how to seize the spotlight, hammer home clear and succinct themes and discombobulate an opponent with claims and accusations that, while often false, are difficult to rebut in real time.

By contrast, Mr. Biden is the classic Senate orator, with knowledge of history and the nuances of policy and a respect for the rules of the game. He draws on the tragedies of his life — the loss of his wife and daughter in a car accident, the death of his son from brain cancer — and tales about growing up around Scranton, Pa., to relate to his audiences. He is quick with a smile that can defuse an attack.

Mr. Trump’s debating style helped carry him to victory and can still be glimpsed almost every time he appears at a White House news conference or a rally.

But Mr. Biden’s performances were inconsistent over the course of nearly a dozen Democratic primary debates. Even his supporters say that, at 77, his voice is less firm and that he appears less energetic and passionate than he used to. Mr. Trump has highlighted some of those moments to raise doubts about his opponent’s mental acuity.

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

The first episode of our four-part series, Stressed Election, focuses on voter suppression in Georgia, where growing numbers of Black people and Latinos are on the precipice of exercising their political voice — if they get the chance to vote.

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

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

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

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

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to overhaul the way communities test their water for lead, a policy change that will be pitched ahead of Election Day as a major environmental achievement for a president not noted for his conservation record.

But a draft of the final rule obtained by The New York Times shows the E.P.A. rejected the recommendation of top medical and scientific experts who urged the agency to require the replacement of the country’s six million to 10 million lead service lines, an expensive but effective way to avoid crises like the one still afflicting Flint, Mich.

The measure is the first major update in nearly three decades to the 1991 Lead and Copper Rule, a regulation aimed at protecting drinking water from lead, a potent neurotoxin that has been linked to developmental problems in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said there is no safe level of lead exposure for children, and the new rule requires for the first time testing for lead in all schools and day care centers.

“The rule will better identify high levels of lead, improve the reliability of lead tap sampling results, strengthen corrosion control treatment requirements, expand consumer awareness and improve risk communication,” the draft from mid-July said.

Still, beyond internal debates among state and local officials, the new lead rule is unlikely to burnish the president’s image, political strategists say. Mr. Trump’s environmental record has been a rallying cry for some voters because he has relentlessly pushed to dismantle measures to control air and water pollution while mocking and dismissing climate change.

In recent weeks, however, he has sought a remarkable rebranding, even describing himself as the most environmentally friendly president since Theodore Roosevelt. In Jupiter, Fla., this month, he endorsed a 10-year moratorium on oil and gas drilling off the Southeast coast. His administration is the one that proposed lifting the moratorium in the first place.

Republican strategists said Mr. Trump’s campaign might be trying to improve his standing among suburban women and other swing voters. But they also doubted it would pay off.

Like many things this year, the presidential and vice-presidential debates will look a little different. There will only be one moderator per debate, and we’re still not sure if there will be a crowd — and, if there is, how many people will be allowed in. Each debate will start at 9 p.m. Eastern time and will run uninterrupted for an hour and a half, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Location: President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, will meet at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

How to watch: The Times will livestream the event, and our reporters will provide commentary and analysis. It will also be carried on channels including CNN, Fox News, CBS, ABC, C-SPAN, NBC and MSNBC.

Topics announced: The moderator has full discretion in picking the debate topics. For the first round, Mr. Wallace chose Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Biden’s records, the Supreme Court, the pandemic, the economy, race and violence in cities, and the integrity of the election.

How to watch: The Times will have an uninterrupted livestream and will provide insight and analysis. It will also be carried on the news networks.

Topics announced: They will be made public a week before the debate. There will be nine topics.

How to watch: The Times will stream the event and provide live analysis. It will also be carried on the news networks.

The moderator: Steve Scully, the political editor at C-SPAN, will moderate a town-hall-style event with undecided voters from South Florida.

How to watch: The Times will have an uninterrupted stream along with a live chat and a live briefing with analysis from our reporters. It will also be carried on the news networks.

The moderator: Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent and co-anchor of “Weekend Today.” She is only the second Black woman to serve as the sole moderator of a presidential debate.

Topics announced: They will be made public a week before the debate, but there will be six topics.

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

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

The police identified the man as Mr. Parscale, and said he was taken to Broward Health Medical Center for an evaluation.

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

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

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

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

Here are the daily schedules of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates for Monday, Sept. 28. All times are Eastern time.

Afternoon: Speaks on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and the Affordable Care Act in Raleigh, N.C.

After that: Takes part in a “Sister to Sister” round table in North Carolina to hear from Black voters.

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

Many rules have changed during the pandemic, so this interactive guide can help you ensure your vote is counted.

Joe Biden and President Trump are preparing for the first debate, in which Mr. Trump will inevitably face questions about a Times report on his taxes. Read the latest.

Many rules have changed during the pandemic, making it harder to figure out how to cast your ballot. This interactive guide can help you ensure your vote is counted.

Joe Biden and Donald Trump need 270 electoral votes to reach the White House. Try building your own coalition of battleground states to see potential outcomes.


News – 2020 Election Live Updates: Report on Trump’s Taxes Reverberates Throughout the Campaign