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Election day is 40 days away, but several states are already voting. To help you vote in this unusual year – in a country where voting is already more difficult than most other democracies – we’ve put together a step-by-step guide.

To register. Check your registration status through a national group of civil servants or on Vote.org. If you are not registered, go quickly. The earliest deadlines, including in Florida and Arizona, are less than two weeks away. In 40 states, voters can register online. In other countries like Texas, you’ll need to email or submit a form in person.

You can also use a one-stop hub from the When We All Vote group where you can enter your address and get information about registration and voting.

Vote by email. Most states relaxed their rules during the pandemic, but they differ from state to state. In many places, you must first fill out an online form to request a postal vote.

You should carefully follow the rules of your state for returning a voting slip. For example, in Pennsylvania, you need to wrap it in two envelopes. In North Carolina, a witness must sign your ballot. If you ignore these rules, your vote may be dropped. In the past, postal ballots were rejected much more often than personal ballots (although some states are taking steps this year to lower rejection rates).

To meet your state’s deadline for postal ballot papers, it is safest to vote as soon as you know which candidates you are supporting. If you live in one of the many states that have dispensaries, you may want to visit one of them instead of sending the ballot in. In most states, you can also track the status of completed postal voting slips.

Or vote personally. A one-on-one vote during the pandemic seems about as safe as visiting the grocery store – low risk but no risk. Many states are taking measures such as spacing voting booths to increase security. You should also wear a mask and be at least three feet away from others.

Most states allow you to vote early, even if you vote in person.

Make a plan. Social science research has shown that people who create a specific voting plan – exactly when and where they will vote – are more likely to do so than people who vaguely promise they will.

Once you’ve created this plan, tell others about it in person or on your social media feed. The announcement will help you stick to the plan and encourage others to do the same. You can also use a platform like Outvote to encourage your friends and family to vote through text messaging and social media.

Protesters took to the streets in several cities after a grand jury in Louisville, Kentucky refused to indict the two officers who fatally shot Breonna Taylor in March. Most of the protests were peaceful, but not all: two police officers were shot dead in Louisville. Both should survive.

The grand jury accused a former detective of ruthlessly shooting into another apartment during a robbery on Taylor’s house while police were looking for evidence against her ex-boyfriend.

President Trump has taken new steps to challenge fundamental democratic principles that other presidents of both parties have long supported. At a press conference, he declined to advocate a peaceful transfer of power after the November elections, saying, “We have to see what happens.”

He also repeated false allegations alleging widespread electoral fraud and said he wanted to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg quickly so that the Supreme Court could resolve any electoral dispute. (A long read: The Atlantic explains why the mechanisms of American democracy are “at significant risk of collapse” this year.)

The campaign: A new poll by the New York Times and Siena College shows that Trump is struggling in three states he won in 2016: it runs in Iowa, is linked to Joe Biden in Georgia, and has a small head start in Texas. The results are broadly similar to other recent surveys.

Hundreds of mourners, including dozens of Ginsburg’s former employees, honored her as a pioneer of women’s rights at the Supreme Court. “It forced the courts to see us as human beings and that we had sense and deserve our full rights,” said one woman who drove to be there from Grayslake, Illinois.

President Xi Jinping promised that China will achieve “carbon neutrality” by 2060, meaning that its net carbon emissions will reach zero. The move was “potentially enormous,” said an expert. But it won’t be easy: China is the world’s largest polluter and has increasingly turned to coal in recent years.

California announced its own lofty climate target: The state plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. Last year, only about 8 percent of the passenger cars sold in the state were non-gasoline-powered.

Few Republicans frustrate liberals as much as Mitch McConnell, the Senate chairman who tossed various American political traditions aside to hamper progressive legislation and fill the federal courts with Conservative judges. Because of this, Democratic donors have donated more money – nearly $ 47 million – to McConnell’s Kentucky opponent Amy McGrath this year than any other Senate candidate in the country.

However, some policy analysts believe that much of this money is being wasted. If Democrats want to take away McConnell’s job as Senate chairman, it would be smarter to direct more money to Democratic candidates with better odds than McGrath, these analysts say.

Trump won Kentucky in 2016 by almost 30 percentage points. Six years ago, when Democratic donors last dreamed of beating McConnell, he won by more than 15 points. This year, no public poll has shown that the race is particularly close.

The greater uncertainty is whether the Republicans will retain their Senate majority or whether McConnell will be demoted to the minority leader. That, in turn, will depend on elections in more than a dozen other states where the polls are closer than Kentucky.

Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report finds the contrast with Texas – a far more expensive state than Kentucky, where Democratic candidate MJ Hegar is also a former military officer – particularly worrying.

This okra soup contains ingredients from at least four continents, a mix of global influences from West Africa to Peru. Based on a recipe from Amethyst Ganaway, a chef and writer from Gullah Geechee, it’s a simple dish that emphasizes the freshness of its ingredients. Okra naturally thickens the broth and the fresher it is, the better.

Refereeing is one of the more ungrateful jobs in the NBA. Zach Zarba has spent roughly 23 nights a month in every regular season he’s away for the past 17 years. He stays in shape for all the running he has to do during the games. As part of his preparation, he also follows player beefs on social media.

“You have the best seat in the house,” he said. “Every night your job is never the same.”

Lenny Kravitz has sold more than 40 million records worldwide. From 1999 to 2002 he won four consecutive Grammys for male rock singing performances. And he’s still “the epitome of cool,” said actor Jason Momoa, who has been in a relationship with Lisa Bonet, Kravitz’s ex-wife, since 2005.

The encounter with Prince, Jackson 5 and Led Zeppelin as a child shaped Kravitz’s future sound – as did Kiss, Steely Dan and the opera “Tosca”. For years he turned down record deals that would have meant changing his music style until Bonet paid to record the demos that eventually led to a record deal. He’s also put out a new paper, and he’s spoken to The Times.

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