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Will the Massachusetts Vaccine Buddy System Work? Well it’s worth it

BOSTON – Gloria Clark of Malden, Mass., Woke up Thursday with one goal and one goal: to find herself an unvaccinated person over the age of 75.

She started with an ad on Craigslist, but the responses were slow, so she started knocking on doors. The 89-year-old, two doors down, was not interested. An 80-year-old neighbor wasn’t at home and usually took an afternoon nap, but Mrs. Clark was fearless.

“I’ll catch up with her tomorrow morning,” said Ms. Clark, 72, a retired high school math teacher. “I’ll find someone. I know I’m going. “

This week, Massachusetts launched a first experiment in the country, offering vaccinations to those accompanying people aged 75 and over to mass vaccination sites.

The plan aimed to alleviate access problems for older people, who have struggled to make online appointments and visit sports stadiums. Right away, he met criticism from state lawmakers and some public health experts, who said it could result in rare doses for healthy young people.

It also spawned an unusual online marketplace, as enterprising Massachusetts residents sought to forge caring relationships at full speed.

“I have a great driving record and a very clean Toyota Camry,” said one person in a Craigslist ad. “I can also pay $ 100 in cash. I am a nice conversationalist and will let you choose the music and show me all the pictures of your grandchildren!

A Boston-area graduate student offered “$ 200 and up for the privilege of transporting a Massachusetts resident to their first or second appointment for a vaccine.” Another ad mentioned that the trip to vaccination would be in a Lexus.

Other investigations have been made more delicately.

Jean Trounstine, an author and teacher who lives in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, said she received a phone call from a friend who asked if she could accompany him to an appointment for a vaccine. (Ms Trounstine is 74, it turns out not.) “I think she’s just going to look for 75-year-olds,” she said. “It blew me away.

On Wednesday Ms Trounstine heard about the accompanying show on the car stereo and ‘turned around’, as she put it, because it felt like yet another way for those with the resources to skip the line. .

“I am patiently waiting for the vaccine, I am not pulling any strings,” she said. “It’s just kind of a slap on someone like me, who’s not going to look for a 75 year old man.”

At a press conference Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker admitted some were approaching the program opportunistically and warned older people to be wary of offers of help from foreigners.

“You should only contact someone you know or trust to bring you as a companion, be it a child, companion, spouse, neighbor or caregiver,” he said. “Don’t take calls or offers from people you don’t know well or trust, and never share your personal information with anyone.”

Public health experts have voiced differing views on the accompanying program, a concept that was not widely discussed prior to its deployment.

Andrew Lover, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said the plan would speed up vaccinations by providing an “extra boost” to older people living alone.

“There is definitely potential for people to play with the system, but I guess it’s a reasonably small number,” he said. “The more people we can get vaccinated, the better, in the grand scheme of public health, and we’re more than happy to accept this problematic little fraction.”

Others were concerned that the policy would allow young and healthy people to be given limited doses.

“What worries me is that there are a lot of people in their 70s – 74 – who can’t get the vaccine, but there are 22-year-olds who are going to get it. Said Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University School of Public Health. “I don’t know if I’ve seen big empty mega-sites because the old people didn’t show up. If that was the problem, it would be a good solution. “

There have also been complaints from lawmakers, who in a letter to Governor Baker called for a halt to the companion program, saying the system further amplifies the benefit of wealthy families with working cars. and free time. Meanwhile, vulnerable residents aged 65 to 75 found themselves further pushed back into the queue, said State Representative Mike Connolly, who represents parts of Cambridge and Somerville.

“There are people who say you can get $ 250 and a new toaster if you just let someone get you to get the shot,” he says. “I find it all really amazing, and I don’t think I’m alone.”

It wasn’t all criticism, however. Many people in their late 60s this week suddenly considered owning a golden ticket and discussed with each other which friend deserved or needed it most.

Margaret Bibbo, 66, church secretary and cancer survivor, had brought an elderly friend without expecting to be vaccinated herself, and when a doctor offered her an injection as a companion, she first refuse.

“I said, ‘I would love that, but I’m not going to jump in front of anyone,’ she said. “Her quote was, ‘You are just as important as anyone else – you took the time to bring this woman here without expecting the injection. We can take care of you. It was precious.

Upon returning home, she said, she was inundated with gratitude and relief.

“I was blessed yesterday, totally blessed,” she said.

For Ms. Clark, it made perfect sense. Her friends in long-term care have all been vaccinated, “but if you’re like me and you live in your home, you’re stuck.

At 72, she is healthy enough to drive some of her neighbors to colonoscopies and public spirit to work at the polls in special elections. “Someone is out there who needs help,” she said. “It’s just that they don’t know where to go.”

After long, gray months of waiting – “there are only a few things you can clean your house,” she remarked – the possibility of a change had pushed her into high gear.

“I look gorgeous, I’m wearing clothes today,” she says. “I’m heading to the Caribbean as soon as I’m done.”

Will wright contributed reporting from New York.

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As millions get vaccinated, FDA battles to make safety oversight system work

“It’s great for routine tasks, but when it comes to safety oversight, it’s all about size,” said Dr Daniel Salmon, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at the Johns Hopkins University and former federal vaccine official. “The bigger it is, the faster you get a response. Eventually, the VSD will get a really good answer – probably one of the best answers from anyone because they’re so good at doing it. But in a pandemic, time is not on our side.

So far, few serious problems have been reported through these channels, and no deaths have been conclusively linked to the vaccines. The 30-year initiative, known as the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, or VAERS, is based on self-reported cases by patients and healthcare providers.

Health officials say so far the two vaccines already cleared for use appear to be fairly safe. There have been a few severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, but they are treatable and considered rare. The rate at which anaphylaxis has occurred so far – 4.7 cases per million doses of vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, and 2.5 cases per million from Moderna’s vaccine – is consistent with what is happening. passes with other widely used vaccines.

Bruising and bleeding caused by low platelet count have also been reported, but it is not known whether they are vaccine-related or coincidental. A total of 9,000 adverse events were reported, of which 979 were serious and the rest classified as non-serious, according to the latest available report from the CDC.

In interviews, public health experts, including current and former FDA and CDC officials, expressed the need to improve the old “passive” surveillance, which relies on self-reporting. They said funding shortages, turf wars and bureaucratic hurdles had slowed the readiness of BEST, officially called the Biologics Assessment Safety Initiative, to monitor Covid vaccines.

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How America’s Food System Could Change Under Biden

The transition notes from the left flank of American agriculture began to pile up almost as soon as Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential victory was clear.

There were big and small pleas. Set the rules for organic livestock keeping and reverse the department’s toll on black farmers. Restore school food standards and strengthen GMO labels. Prioritize the climate crisis. It has even been suggested to change the name of the United States Department of Agriculture to Department of Food and Welfare.

Chef Michel Nischan is among those who spoke to Biden’s transition team on nutrition and agricultural policy. His pro-food resume dates back to the first Bush administration. It was his idea to double the value of food stamps for fruits and vegetables, a notion that became a national program.

He has a message for his fellow food warriors, many of whom say their problems were pushed several boxes on the game board under former President Donald J. Trump: The Department of Agriculture is a sub agency – workforce facing staggering hunger and security issues caused by the pandemic. The repair must take place before the reform.

“It’s like, we know you want us to go from meat to going vegan,” Mr. Nischan said. “But man, we need to fix the stove first.”

Tom Vilsack, who was Agriculture Secretary in the Obama administration and is expected to be confirmed by the Senate for another round, said in an interview Friday that he had already outlined his agenda.

“There are probably five very, very big challenges that need to be addressed very quickly,” he said. Topping the list is to protect Agriculture Ministry employees and people who process the country’s food from the virus, and determine what universities, government laboratories and other land granting department offices might be able to store. and administering vaccines.

The fight against hunger is an urgent issue, as are two of his boss’s other priorities: promoting social justice and fighting climate change.

Then comes the strengthening of regional food systems and assistance to farmers. “Once we are a bit on the other side of the virus itself, then we have the important task of revitalizing the rural economy that has been affected by this,” Mr Vilsack said.

Mr. Vilsack is returning to a very different department from the one he ran during Obama’s time, when he landed on Forbes’ list of America’s top employers. Morale is low and many positions are vacant, especially in agencies that provide the data and scientific research on which policy decisions are made.

“Mentally and emotionally, the career staff are just devastated,” said Sam Kass, the White House chief who became President Barack Obama’s senior nutrition adviser and spoke to Mr. Vilsack about his agenda. . “They have to start stabilizing the ship.”

Followers of the good food movement, which promotes healthy local foods grown in an environmentally friendly way by people who receive a fair wage, say that out of necessity, many organizations have grown stronger during an administration. Trump dedicated to agro-industry and factory farming. They had to find ways to be innovative without the support of the huge federal food agency.

The Department of Agriculture, with a budget of $ 153 billion and nearly 100,000 employees, manages 29 agencies and offices whose tasks range from feeding the poorest Americans and regulating food from public schoolchildren to forest management and helping farmers sell products like soybeans abroad.

Progressive food policy at the federal level had grown slowly but steadily since the Clinton administration, when California chef Alice Waters began urging the White House to improve school food and set up a vegetable garden at the White House; when the first national organic standards were introduced; and when the ministry’s attention to civil rights issues increased.

Under Mr. Obama, infant nutrition and the quality of school meals have become a priority. Michelle Obama created a permanent garden for the White House. Thousands of microcredits have been granted to smallholder start-up farmers, and climate-friendly policies have gained ground.

When Mr. Trump arrived at the White House, his supporters joked about turning the garden into a putting green. Its agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, transferred the department’s largest scientific research agencies, the Economic Research Service and the National Food and Agriculture Institute, from Washington to Kansas City, in the Missouri. Whether by design or by default – many employees resigned rather than relocated – staff were emptied, limiting agency efficiency.

Mr Trump has become a champion in many rural communities, easing regulations and paying farmers when his tough trade policies and the pandemic hurt sales.

“In my more than 40 years covering agricultural affairs in Washington, I have seen a president talk about agriculture and trade policy as much as our president,” said Jim Wiesemeyer, Farm Journal Washington correspondent, in an interview with the magazine.

But the mood was dark on the other side. “Looking back, it was pretty brutal,” said Laura Batcha, CEO of the Organic Trade Association, which represents a $ 50 billion segment of the food industry. “The root of it was a hyper-anti-regulatory agenda with no respect for organic produce or other forms of sustainable agriculture.”

Some, like Ms Batcha, trust Mr Vilsack, who was most recently the top executive of a global dairy trade group.

Others see it as a retread, without a fresh, step-by-step view of how to improve the food system. Not all agro-industry and commodity farmers are satisfied either. Many hoped the job would go to Heidi Heitkamp, ​​a former senator from North Dakota with close ties to rural issues. Fighters for social justice and environmental issues campaigned for Marcia L. Fudge, a congresswoman from Cleveland whom President Biden ultimately appointed secretary of housing and urban development.

In Mr Vilsack, the new president went with the experience, looking for someone who could immediately get down to work on the safety and nutrition issues related to the pandemic. The number of Americans facing hunger has risen, by some estimates, to over 50 million in 2020, from about 34 million in 2019.

President Biden signed an executive order on Friday that would increase both the amount of federal food aid for an estimated 12 million people who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as Food Stamps) and the grocery money donated to school-aged families. children. He also included more money for food stamps and other federal food programs in his proposed $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package.

“Of all the problems we face in this country, for me hunger is the most soluble,” said Billy Shore, founder and executive chairman of Share Our Strength, which works to end child hunger in the United States. United States. “We are so focused on vaccine or testing shortages. There is no shortage of food in the country or food programs. I think this is a moment of enormous opportunity.

Public schools scramble to feed students even when the pandemic has kept them at home, which has renewed a call for universal school meals. The idea is to remove the administrative complexities of the $ 18 billion program and make healthy foods available to all students, regardless of their family’s income, such as bus rides or textbooks. . (Under a Trump administration order relating to Covid, all children have temporary access to free school meals until the end of the school year.)

The department could help heal political divisions by making it easier to use locally grown foods and making meals healthier for schools, said Curt Ellis, chief executive of FoodCorps and a group pushing for a summit of the White House on child nutrition during Biden’s First 100. days.

“This type of local economic development is very popular in rural communities in the Red State, as well as in urban communities in the Blue State,” Mr. Ellis said, adding that the school nutrition professionals with whom he works had made progress despite the Trump administration. Strategies.

“The question now is what can we accomplish with the wind at our back,” he said.

The pandemic has shown how fragile the food supply chain is, Vilsack said, and highlighted the need to open more regional and local markets and increase the number of meat processors so that the country not be so dependent on a handful of factories. .

Changes that many people thought were decades away, like universal school meals, stronger urban and rural supply chains, and e-commerce for agriculture, accelerated during the pandemic and the Trump administration, has said Krystal Oriadha, senior director of policy and programs at the National Farm to School Network.

Farmers, cooks, environmentalists and anti-hunger advocates – groups that often pull in different directions – have been forced to strengthen relationships based on intersectionality and a new understanding of interconnectedness and connection. the vulnerability of the food system.

“It’s a new time, with a new generation of voters pushing for ideas regarding environmental and racial justice issues like we’ve never had before,” she said. “For the first time, we can all see each other there.”

Even Ms Waters, the leader who has long relied on connections with high-profile politicians to further her quest to improve children’s education through gardening, works closer to home now. She is lobbying the University of California to replace its food supply system with a system based on a network of local farms as part of its global food initiative and to include food in the aggressive carbon neutral plan of the university.

In a recent interview, Ms Waters said that despite the change in administrations, she has given up on looking to Washington for solutions to what she sees as a broken food system.

“If we have one idea for all at the national level, it is just watered down,” she said. “I can no longer think nationally. I need to act locally. I need to go where the doors are open.

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Synchronize your calendar with the solar system

This eclipse is unusual. It is an annular eclipse or “ring of fire,” which means the moon is too far from Earth to completely block the sun, but will fit in entirely. It will also cross the North Pole, so it will travel north first, then south. While residents of parts of Canada and Russia will experience the full “ring of fire” effect of the eclipse, those living on the east coast of the United States may be able to experience a partial solar eclipse, a nice glimpse of the total sun. eclipse that will cross the United States in 2024. Learn more about astronomical events to look forward to here.

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Driver who killed 5 cyclists had methamphetamine in his system, prosecutors say

A truck driver who slammed into a group of cyclists, killing five, on a Nevada highway last week has been charged with multiple felonies after it was discovered he had methamphetamine in his system, prosecutors said.

Driver Jordan Alexander Barson of Arizona has been charged with five counts of driving under the influence causing death, one count of driving under the influence causing significant bodily harm and five counts of reckless driving charge resulting in death, according to Clark County District Attorney Steven B Wolfson.

Barson, 45, was arrested Wednesday morning and awaiting his extradition from Mohave County, Ariz., The Nevada Highway Patrol said. It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Barson had a lawyer. There was no response Wednesday afternoon to a phone number and email address listed under his name.

According to the Highway Patrol, Mr. Barson was driving an Isuzu box truck on US 95, about 60 miles south of Las Vegas, on Thursday morning when he approached a group of about 20 cyclists who were being escorted by a Subaru Outback.

The riders, who competed in an annual 130-mile race, had split into two groups – one in front of the Subaru and the other behind, the Highway Patrol said.

Credit…Nevada Highway Patrol

Mr Barson struck the slower group behind the Subaru and then hit the Subaru, the highway patrol said.

Seven cyclists were thrown from their bikes. Five died on the highway.

The cyclists killed have been identified by authorities as Erin Michelle Ray, 39, Michael Murray, 57, Aksoy Ahmet, 48, and Thomas Chamberlin Trauger, 57, all of Las Vegas; and Gerrard Nievas, whose age and city of origin were not mentioned.

Another cyclist was hospitalized in critical condition and subsequently upgraded to stable condition. The driver of the Subaru was also taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Mr. Barson, who was not injured, remained at the scene of the accident and spoke to investigators afterwards.

Highway Patrol initially said Barson did not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. But Mr Wolfson’s office said on Wednesday that Mr Barson had finally found methamphetamine, a highly addictive stimulant, in his system.

“I’m at a loss for words,” Wolfson said in a statement. “I have said hundreds of times, to countless people, choosing to get behind the wheel of a drunk car is unwise. These actions are unacceptable and have consequences. Tragically, this type of reckless behavior left five people dead, several injured and our community in mourning again.

The riders had taken part in an annual tradition: a 130-mile long drive from the M Resort Spa Casino in Henderson, Nevada, through Searchlight to Nipton, Calif., And back again.

The part of the highway where cyclists were impacted has a speed limit of 75 mph. But the highway is generally considered safe for cycling because of its wide shoulder, local cyclists said.

“It’s really disappointing because I’ve been doing this race for the past three years and at that time in the morning there’s no traffic,” said Yash Gokul, team founder. local bike race, who said he knew the cyclists who were killed.

Mr Gokul said he planned to make the trip that day, but canceled to help his daughter with homework remotely.

He said he was not surprised that Barson had been charged with driving under the influence when he struck the cyclists.

“There is nothing there,” Mr. Gokul said. “You saw cyclists coming in for a while, so now it makes sense that he must have been weakened when he hit them.

The news of the accident brought mourning to the local cycling community.

“Everyone is devastated,” Clay Weeks, who works at Pro Cyclery, a Las Vegas bicycle store, said last week. “I hope it opens people’s eyes and makes them more vigilant of cyclists on the road, because things like these happen too often in the community.

Bike rides make up just 1% of all trips in the United States, but cyclists are more prone to crash-related injuries and deaths than people in cars and trucks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that more pedestrians and cyclists were killed in 2018 in the United States than in any year since 1990.

The number of pedestrians killed increased by 3.4% in 2018, to 6,283, and the number of cyclists killed increased by 6.3%, to 857, even as the total number of road fatalities decreased, a declared the agency. On average, around 17 pedestrians and two cyclists were killed in crashes every day.

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Is the legal system an effective solution to domestic violence?

Since then, cases of domestic violence against women have fallen by about 63%, from nearly 1.7 million in 1993 to about 628,000 in 2019, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Violence against women by other family members also fell, to almost 390,000 cases in 2019, from 529,000 in 1993.

But those numbers – largely based on self-reported cases – paint an incomplete picture, said Leigh Goodmark, director of the gender violence clinic at the University of Maryland School of Law. The downward trajectory of domestic violence corresponds to the overall reduction in violent crime, which fell 65% between 1993 and 2019.

“We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the criminal response to intimate partner violence, and for that investment it still went down less than what was happening to other crime rates that weren’t receiving investment. specific, ”Ms. Goodmark said. “It is a problem.”

In fact, since 2012, the number of domestic violence cases has stagnated instead of continuing on its downward trajectory, hovering between one million and 1.2 million cases. In 2018, cases topped 1.3 million, or about 20% of all violent crime in the United States that year, and cases of rape and sexual assault nearly doubled from more than 430,000 in 2015 to over 730,000 in 2018, making it one of the most violent years on record in the past decade.

Ms Barnett, in her lawsuit, also lists the many ways Mr LaBeouf abused her emotionally and verbally – by yelling at her, isolating her from friends and family, and berating her for disagreements on issues. inconsequential – by specifying that physical violence is only one dimension of violence.

Emotional abuse – when abusers exert crippling levels of control over victims – is a much more prevalent form of abuse, said Ruth Glenn, president and CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. About half of all women have experienced at least one act of psychological aggression, such as monitoring their location or receiving threats, by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

“I would like to be able to educate about the tactics that attackers are using to control you and take away your agency,” Ms. Barnett told The New York Times. She also acknowledged that despite the economic means to escape, it was still difficult to extricate itself due to the psychological torment.

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Trump associates said they were screened under alleged pardon system

Bradley Diller said he was unaware of his father’s relationship with Mr. Broidy or Mr. Lowell, and that his father had never discussed asking them – or anyone’s help – for help. either – to try to get a pardon for Mr. Baras.

“I doubt my father would do something like that,” he said, adding that based on their discussions, he believed his father was “just trying to help him through legal means.

Sanford Diller knew Mr Broidy through Republican Jewish donor circles, according to a person familiar with their relationship. Both have made donations to conservative and hawkish foreign policy groups, including the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

While Mr. Diller gave $ 133,400 to the Republican Party committees in 2016, there is no record of a donation from him to Mr. Trump’s campaign. With the exception of $ 23,400 in donations to Republican Senate candidates in 2014, Mr. Diller didn’t have a long history of Republican donations prior to that.

Mr. Broidy, a Californian businessman who owns a Virginia-based defense contracting company, had helped raise funds for Mr. Trump’s campaign in 2016 and, after the election, became the one of the main fundraisers for the inauguration of Mr. Trump and the National Republican. Committee, as well as a member of Mr. Trump’s private club in South Florida, Mar-a-Lago.

Mr Broidy has marketed his access to Mr Trump to potential business partners and others seeking the favor of the administration, including foreign governments and interests in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe .

It is not known how Mr. Lowell got involved. He was well known for his ties to Mr. Kushner.

Mr Weingarten said the events took place in 2017. He played down the potential corruption scheme, saying Mr Lowell’s role “was simply a routine lawyer who unsuccessfully defended his client’s name.”

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Arizona, Wisconsin certify Biden wins: ‘system is strong’

Arizona and Wisconsin on Monday certified President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the winner of their presidential elections, formalizing his victory in two other battlefield states as President Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the The election continued to fail.

Such certifications would be an afterthought in any other year. But in a political environment where Mr. Trump’s false claims about widespread electoral fraud have created an alternate reality among his staunch supporters in the West Wing and beyond, the results have opened a new path to victory for him.

While Mr. Trump has injected daily drama into the normal post-election bureaucratic process by urging his Republican allies to push to block the certification of results or overturn them entirely in the battlefield states that Mr. Biden won, Monday’s debates were lapsed business.

In Arizona, Katie Hobbs, the Democratic Secretary of State, formalized her state’s results as she sat at a long table with three Republicans who signed the election documents: Governor Doug Ducey; the State Attorney General, Mark Brnovich; and Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert M. Brutinel.

Ann Jacobs, the chairman of the Wisconsin Election Commission, signed a document during a three-minute videoconference in which she recounted certifying Mr Biden’s victory.

“I am signing it now as the official state determination of the November 3, 2020 election results and prospecting,” Ms. Jacobs said before presenting the document to the camera. Later Monday afternoon, Governor Tony Evers of Wisconsin, a Democrat, announced that he had signed the state verification certificate naming Mr. Biden’s voters list to represent Wisconsin in the electoral college.

Mr Trump, backed by his legal team and supporters in the conservative news media, hoped he might somehow triumph in Wisconsin and Arizona, as well as Georgia, where Republican officials steadfastly refused on Monday to challenge Mr. Biden’s victory there. . In all three states, as well as Michigan and Pennsylvania, the other two states that switched from voting for Mr. Trump in 2016 to Mr. Biden this year, the Trump campaign has sought to undermine the results through legal efforts. and public relations to deliver the electoral college president vote.

But as has been the case elsewhere, election officials from both Arizona and Wisconsin parties refused to undermine their state laws to overturn the popular vote in their states.

“We are doing a good election in Arizona,” Ducey said Monday, signing documents certifying Mr. Biden’s victory in Arizona and awarding him the 11 votes in the state’s electoral college. “The system is solid.”

In Wisconsin, Ms Jacobs chose to certify Mr Biden’s victory there a day before the state’s Dec. 1 deadline to do so.

Ms Jacobs’ certification followed the conclusion of recounts, requested and subsidized with $ 3 million from Mr Trump’s campaign, in Dane and Milwaukee counties, which revealed Mr Biden had added 87 votes to his statewide margin.

Ms Jacobs, a Democrat from Milwaukee, said certification of the presidential election result was at her discretion and that she expected the move to trigger legal challenges from the Trump campaign.

“The power to do this rests solely with the president,” Ms. Jacobs said in an interview on Monday.

All states must certify the results of their presidential elections, exhaust legal challenges, and send the names of their Electoral College delegates to Congress by December 8. Voters’ lists will meet in their states on December 14, sending the results to Congress, which is slated to resolve any final disputes and certify the Electoral College’s vote on January 6.

Unlike other states where the Trump campaign has claimed, without producing any evidence, that widespread fraud led to Mr. Biden’s victories, Mr. Trump’s legal strategy in Wisconsin hinges on an effort to reject hundreds of thousands of missing ballots on what amounts to a technicality.

The Trump campaign argued in its recount petition that all ballots cast on absentee voting sites in person before election day should be disqualified. The campaign falsely claimed that these mail ballots were issued without each voter submitting a written request requesting the ballot, but the first line of mail ballot requests that voters filled out on early voting sites read: “request / official certification of postal voting”.

This argument would reject hundreds of thousands of ballots across Wisconsin, including those cast by prominent Trump supporters, such as several state lawmakers and one of Wisconsin’s top attorneys, Jim Troupis, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

On Twitter Monday, Mr. Trump called on Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia to “quash” Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The president also baselessly claimed that there had been “total electoral corruption” in Arizona. The Trump campaign has yet to identify systemic electoral fraud in its court challenges.

Ms. Jacobs’ certification of Wisconsin’s results represents opening a window for legal challenges from the Trump campaign, which argued the president should have won the state and its 10 Electoral College votes despite the fact that ‘he lost to Mr. Biden. by 20,682 votes.

Two weeks ago, the Trump campaign demanded recounts from Dane and Milwaukee, the two largest and most democratic counties in the state, in an effort to build a legal case against Mr. Biden’s victory in everything. the state. The Trump campaign is also likely to take legal action to challenge Ms Jacobs’ certification.

Republicans on Wisconsin’s six-member bipartisan Election Commission had said they hoped Ms Jacobs would wait to certify the presidential election results until the Trump campaign has exhausted its legal challenges. But the Trump campaign has filed no complaints in Wisconsin; he had nothing to dispute until Mrs. Jacobs certified the election results.

The Trump campaign and the Wisconsin Republicans are also expected to challenge Ms Jacobs’ power to certify election results on her own. State law gives her, as chairman of the electoral commission, clear authority and responsibility to certify the election, although other parts of the Wisconsin Election Code refer to the entire bipartisan commission of six members certifying the results of the presidential elections.

Glenn Thrush contributed reporting.

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Trump tested the electoral system and the cracks were exposed

As President Trump’s efforts to overthrow the 2020 election have gradually disintegrated, the country appears to have escaped an apocalyptic scenario in the campaign epilogue: Since November 3, there have been no tanks in the streets or widespread civil unrest, no brazen intervention by the judiciary or a partisan state legislature. Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s obvious victory resisted the peddling of Mr. Trump’s conspiracy theories and his campaign of baseless lawsuits.

Ultimately – and the post-election stalemate initiated by Mr. Trump and his party is really coming to an end – the president’s attack on the election has whistled an anticlimax. It was marked not by further dangerous political convulsions, but by a letter from an obscure bureaucrat appointed by Trump, Emily W. Murphy of the General Service Administration, authorizing the process of formally handing over the government to Mr. Biden. .

For now, the country appears to have avoided a ruinous collapse of its electoral system.

Next time the Americans may not be so lucky.

While Mr. Trump’s mission to subvert the elections has so far failed at every turn, it has nonetheless exposed deep cracks in the edifice of American democracy and paved the way for future disruption and possibly a disaster. With the most amateurish efforts, Mr. Trump managed to freeze the passage of power for most of a month, imposing submissive indulgence from Republicans and arousing fear and frustration among Democrats as he explored a range of wild options to thwart Mr. Biden.

He never came close to achieving his goal: Senior state officials resisted his pleas to deprive large numbers of voters, and judges nearly laughed at his legal team outside of court.

Ben Ginsberg, the most prominent Republican election lawyer of his generation, said he doubted any future candidates would attempt to replicate Mr. Trump’s precise approach because it failed. Few candidates and election lawyers would consider Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell – the public faces of Mr. Trump’s litigation – as the authors of an ingenious new playbook, Mr. Ginsberg said.

“If in a few months we look back and see that this Trump strategy was just a total failure, then it is unlikely to be copied,” said Mr. Ginsberg, who represented former President George. W. Bush during the 2000 election stalemate. “But the system has been tested like never before.”

That test, he said, revealed sufficiently vague provisions and loopholes in US electoral law to make a crisis too plausible. He pointed out in particular the lack of uniform standards for the timely certification of elections by state authorities, and the uncertainty over whether state legislatures had the power to appoint their own voters in defiance of the government. popular vote. The 2020 election, he said, “should be a call for a review of these issues.”

Yet even without precipitating a full-fledged constitutional crisis, Mr. Trump has already shattered the long-held norm that a defeated candidate should concede quickly and graciously and avoid challenging the results for no good reason. He and his allies have also rejected the long-held convention that news media should declare the winners, and instead exploited media fragmentation and the rise of platforms like Twitter and Facebook to encourage an alternate reality experience for his supporters.

The next Republican candidate to lose a close election may find that some voters expect him to emulate Mr. Trump’s conduct, and if a Democrat adopted the same tactic, the GOP would not have the right to complain .

Even more important is how Mr. Trump identified perilous pressure points within the system, legal and political experts have said. These vulnerabilities, they said, could be manipulated to a destabilizing effect by someone else, in a closer election – perhaps an election that presented real evidence of tampering or foreign interference, or a result which gives a winner who was easily beaten in the popular vote but won a very fine victory in the Electoral College.

In these scenarios, it may not be such a distant gamble for a losing candidate to attempt to stop certification of results by low-profile state and county councils, or to push state lawmakers to nominate a voters list or to put pressure on those nominated by politicians. to the federal government to block a presidential transition.

Indeed, Mr. Trump has managed to interfere with normal electoral procedures in several states. He summoned Michigan Republican leaders to the Oval Office as his allies pitched the idea of ​​appointing pro-Trump voters in the state, which Mr Biden carried by more than 150,000 votes. And it inspired a right-wing attack on Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who refused to confirm Mr. Trump’s false allegations of ballot tampering. Although Mr. Raffensperger oversaw a fair election, the two Republican senators from Georgia, channeling the president, called for his resignation.

Michael Li, senior attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice, said the country had experienced a “Lord of the Flies moment” which revealed how ready some powerful actors were to allow an open-ended effort to sabotage free and fair elections .

“It’s easy to laugh at Trump’s challenges just because they’ve been so out there,” Mr. Li said. “But the scary thing is you take a step back and see how many people were ready to accept it until the process got deep enough. ”

“There will be closer elections, ultimately,” he added. “This one wasn’t very close. The fact that people are prepared to take dangerous paths should give us pause. “

It remains to be seen whether Mr. Trump will end up becoming a singularly painful loser or the herald of a new era of the Wild West in the US election campaign. There have been much closer elections this century – including the 2000 vote that plunged the country into a week of reviewing Florida’s rocky counting procedures, and the 2016 election that made Mr. Trump the president across a historically wide divide between the popular vote and the Electoral College. But another considered the corrosive tactics Mr. Trump sought to employ.

Like many other presidential ploys over the past four years, Mr. Trump’s election conspiracy unfolded in part because of external circumstances – the large number of shifting states Mr. Biden carried, for example. – and in part because of his own clumsiness. His lawyers and political advisers never came up with a real strategy to reverse the popular vote in several large states, based on a combination of televised crushes and fierce allegations of electoral fraud in large cities for which there was no proof.

Barbara J. Pariente, a former chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court who oversaw the state-level battle over the 2000 vote, said it was critical that Congress clarify the process by which elections are carried out and resolved or risk greater calamity to come. years. Mr Trump’s team, she said, had previously violated basic standards of legal conduct by filing complaints seeking to reject large numbers of votes “without any evidence of impropriety, then asking a court to examine it in more detail ”.

“Looking at what’s going on now, I think it’s a real attack on our American democratic system, and it makes tens of millions of Americans doubt the outcome,” Ms. Pariente said. “This has serious implications, in my opinion, for the future of this country.”

Even if Congress were to impose a clearer set of electoral procedures, there is reason to doubt that the rules could reverse the all-out war mood that Mr. Trump has molded. In failure, he created a roadmap for his own party – or even, in some circumstances, for a grieving Democrat – to wage a bitter fight against an unfavorable election result, supported by strong voices from the right. -wing of the media and much of his party’s conservative base.

And it is this latest cohort, the millions of voters who remain loyal to Mr. Trump and seem largely indifferent to the facts of the vote count and the intricacies of legal process, that represent the most powerful type of weapon for this defeated president, or another executive who could follow his example.

Shawn Rosenberg, professor of political and psychological science at the University of California at Irvine, who has written pessimistically about the trajectory of American democracy, said Mr. Trump had been very effective in exploiting the gap between the complexity of the the country’s political system and the more rudimentary understanding that most voters have of their government. For the average supporter, he said, questions of political norms and procedures were “very abstract” and far less important than simply winning – an impetus that Mr. Trump fueled at the expense of democratic institutions.

Mr Rosenberg warned that if Mr Trump’s political opposition had succeeded in toppling an incumbent – a rare feat in the country’s presidential system – the election was not the kind of overwhelming rout that could have proven that the American democracy was “invulnerable” to the type of erosion. exhibited in more recent democracies like Poland and India. It has somewhat disappointed the criticisms of Mr. Trump left and right, he said.

“Their hope was that he had gone so far that he would awaken that awareness and that resolve among the American people,” said Mr. Rosenberg. “And that was clearly not the case for about 72 million of them.”

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Maine voting system threatens Collins in closing days of tight Senate race

CUMBERLAND, Maine – Sara Gideon, her voice hoarse on a cold Friday night, stood in the center of a fairground scene like the headline of a rally behind the wheel, making a closing speech to a choir of horns from car and headlights appreciating a Democrat-dominated government that would act aggressively to tackle climate change, economic and racial inequalities and runaway health care costs.

A day earlier, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, had crossed the state in her signature campaign bus with a very different message, highlighting the billions of dollars she had directed to Maine businesses during the pandemic and her life of connections made across state, barely mentioning President Trump or his party leaders as she played her mark of moderate pragmatist.

The appearances reflected the contrast between the two women leading the most expensive Senate race in Maine history. That has hardly changed since Ms Gideon entered the fray more than 16 months ago, hoping to capitalize on Liberal anger against Mr Trump and outrage over Ms Collins’ vote for confirm Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to deny the Republican senator a fifth term.

But thanks to a presidential impeachment trial, a deadly pandemic, and yet another historically partisan Supreme Court confirmation battle, neither candidate has been able to maintain a consistent advantage in the race. Instead, due to a relatively new voting system in Maine, the outcome of the contest – and potentially the balance of power in the Senate – may not revert to who voters in Maine nominate first, but to who they appoint second.

Tuesday’s contest will likely be the first time Maine has counted second choices in a Senate race using a ranked choice voting system that has been in place since 2018. It allows voters to list a second candidate and counts those preferences as votes if no one reaches 50% when the first choice votes are tallied. The system could prove particularly dangerous for Ms Collins – who, like Ms Gideon, has consistently fallen below 50% in public polls in recent months – because Lisa Savage, a progressive who presents herself as independent in the race , urged her supporters to list Ms. Gideon second.

“It’s obviously a very close race, but I feel the momentum is breaking me,” Ms. Collins said Thursday, after munching on an ice cream cone as she completed a series of rainy business tours. local in two counties. “My goal is to get 50% on election day, and ranked choice voting wouldn’t come into play. So that’s what I’m hoping for.

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But there is little evidence Ms Collins has been able to take the lead in recent weeks. Even after she became the only Republican to break with her party and Mr. Trump last week to vote against Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, citing the proximity of the election, voters appeared unmoved. In statewide interviews, his supporters and opponents both felt it was a necessary political move to woo moderate voters, with Democrats noting that it did nothing to affect the result.

“It’s hard to ruin your party, and I give it credit for it,” said Lara Rosen, 39, who was packed in her car with a cup of haddock chowder and her 5-year-old son Isaac Rosen. -Murray. to support Mrs. Gideon. “It’s not enough. It’s not the only thing I care about.

Maine first rolled out its statewide ranked choice voting system two years ago, allowing voters to rank their preferences instead of choosing a single candidate. If the election ends without any candidate reaching at least 50%, the one with the fewest votes is eliminated and these ballots are redistributed to the remaining candidates according to the voters’ second choice. The elimination process continues until a candidate has passed the threshold of majority.

The system, which is also used in Australia, Ireland and in the race for the best Oscar picture, proved to be prominent in Maine’s second congressional district in 2018. After garnering more votes as a second or third choice, Jared Golden, a Democrat, Unelected Representative Bruce Poliquin, a Republican who had been the first choice of more voters. (Independent Senator Angus King who is Caucasian with Democrats easily crossed the bar with over 54% of the vote that year.)

“It’s not as simple as you might think – there is no clear political flow from candidates from small parties to candidates from the majority,” said Daniel M. Shea, professor of government at Colby College. and senior researcher on college polls. of the Senate race. In the college’s final poll, which called the race a “statistical overheating,” a brash businessman Max Linn won 1.7% of the vote while Ms Savage, a teacher linked to the Maine Green Independent Party, got 4.7%, behind Ms Gideon at 46.6% and Ms Collins at 43.4%. The poll had a 3.3% margin of error.

Mr Linn, an often belligerent presence in the debate who cut off surgical masks in the middle of an exchange to illustrate opposition to a mask warrant, said in an interview that he is not working to influence his supporters who ranked second on their ballot. But Ms Savage, who supports several progressive causes like Medicare for all and a Green New Deal, has built her campaign in part around explaining choice voting – and urging her supporters to “vote blue # 2” and direct their secondary votes to Mrs. Gideon.

“Our platform and our issues are what most young voters resonate with, but they say, ‘I don’t believe in electoral politics; I don’t think it changes anything; I’m not very inclined to vote, ”Ms. Savage said on Saturday. She was sitting at a table at the Portland Farmers’ Market that offered condoms branded “Medicare for all”, rainbow “Lisa for Maine” pins and several explanations of the voting system. “So now our pitch to them is, ‘But we have a choice vote. It amplifies the power of your vote, ”she said.

Ms Savage stressed that she was not seeking to undermine Ms Gideon in her attempt to overthrow Ms Collins, but rather to help attract otherwise reluctant, young and rookie voters who were bewildered by the bitter and suspicious campaign that Ms Gideon did was not liberal enough. Many experts say Ms Savage’s supporters could tip the scales and give Ms Gideon a victory.

“We want to send a signal to Democrats that we are part of the ‘Susan Collins’ retirement team with them,” Ms. Savage said. Her campaign, she added, approached Ms Gideon’s team with suggesting that women campaign for the other second, but have not received a response. (During an appearance at Bates College on Friday, Ms Gideon told reporters she would encourage her constituents to consider ranking Ms Savage second.)

But in search of a clear path to victory, Ms Collins and Ms Gideon plunged into a wave of last-minute campaigns, distributing bumps and platitudes in a bid to galvanize their supporters and persuade the remaining undecided voters. of State. The Colby College poll found that 3.6% of the 879 probable voters polled had not made a decision.

“There are a lot of people who have made up their minds, some of whom may have made up their minds 10 months ago, and some of whom have been to this place in the past two months,” Ms. Gideon said during a stopover at a logging site in Oxford County, as machines felled trees behind her. “I think there are people who still don’t know what to do. They think about the balance between the presidential election and the Senate, and they have a hard time figuring out exactly who is going to do what or who did what.

During a four-day tour of the state, Ms. Gideon frequently summoned the specter of Mr. Trump and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader, to present the race in national terms and to argue that it was vital for Democrats to control the White House and Congress set the agenda in Washington.

For her part, Ms Collins spent the final days of the campaign highlighting the financial support she had given to small businesses across the state by championing the Paycheck Protection Program, a popular federal lending program which her campaign said channeled more than $ 2.3 billion to nearly 30,000. companies.

Ultimately, his final presentation for a fifth term depends on voters who still appreciate the power of a Maine vote in first place on the powerful Appropriations Committee, which allocates federal spending; the few remaining split-ticket voters in the state like Bill Green, a retired reporter and longtime Maine TV member.

Mr Green, a registered Democrat who voted for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic presidential candidate, endorsed Ms Collins in a series of campaign announcements.

“She went to work every day, and whoever elected president, Susan Collins worked with him,” he said. “It’s her job to go out there and do the best job she can for Maine, to hold his nose and work with the guy.”