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California’s role in historic voter turnout

In other words, Californians play a major role in what my colleagues have reported as a historic increase in turnout across the country; the country is on track to exceed 150 million votes for the first time.

While it‘s easy to say that opposition to the president is what drives Golden State voters to the polls, as The Reporter reported in Vacaville, Republican Party officials say their base is more energetic than never. This is part of why President Trump’s attacks on postal voting could backfire on the California government, according to CalMatters.

[Read The Times’s guide to the California races to watch.]

Yet the latest Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll found that not only will Joseph R. Biden Jr. clean up in California, but he could also win by the biggest margin since 1920, when Republican Warren Harding defeated the Democrat James Cox. by 42 percentage points.

Mr Biden leads by 36 percentage points, according to the poll, which – if confirmed in the vote tally – would be a Democratic presidential candidate’s biggest victory in state history, the poll’s authors said.

Either way, election officials are preparing to vote a lot more in person in the days ahead.

Over the weekend, new stadiums and arenas were opened as polling stations. While voters in some places, like Butte County and Riverside County, encountered computer delays, for the most part, things seemed to be going smoothly.

Learn more about the election:

  • On Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom has traveled to Nevada to campaign for Mr. Biden. [The Sacramento Bee]

  • President Trump has called on his supporters to watch the polls. It’s something people are already instructed to do – and it’s actually quite boring. [The New York Times]

  • Economists at Stanford University created a statistical model which estimated that at least 30,000 coronavirus infections and 700 deaths have been linked to 18 Trump campaign rallies. [The New York Times]

  • “I didn’t know there were so many Trump supporters in California.” Hundreds of people rallied for president in Beverly Hills. [The Los Angeles Times]

  • Here is how the A’s transformed the Oakland Coliseum at the largest polling center in Alameda County. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

  • Connect to a live broadcast of The Daily on Election Day with Times reporters across the country. They will describe what is happening in the major battlefield states from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. PT, at nytimes.com/thedaily.

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As the picture of the pandemic grows darker across the country, California’s progress in tackling new cases of the virus has been mixed.

[Track coronavirus cases by California county.]

The governor on Friday cut the ribbon on a new lab built by the state in partnership with the company PerkinElmer, which will double the state’s current testing capacity, once it is at full capacity in March – a decision Newsom says will help more schools, healthcare facilities and businesses operate more safely.

Still, there are worrying signs that the virus is far from under control in the state.

In recent days, some counties in southern California, including Los Angeles and Riverside, have reported worrying increases – again. The numerous cases in Orange County have hampered authorities’ efforts to reopen more businesses, like Disneyland. Even in San Francisco, which has been touted as a model for a measured reopening, officials said over the weekend they would suspend reopening plans due to the increase in cases and hospitalizations.

[Read about a debate over reopening classrooms in San Francisco.]

And after months of growing arrears, which led to a hard reset of the state’s unemployment claims system, California Department of Employment Development Director Sharon Hilliard announced on Friday that she would take his retirement at the end of the year.

Ms Hilliard, a nearly four-decade veteran of the ministry, stepped in to help manage the pandemic response in February.

Her departure will make her the second major figure in California’s coronavirus response from following a tech-related snafus: In August, Dr Sonia Angell, the state’s director of public health, abruptly said resigned a week after a data tracking problem caused nearly 300,000 records to disappear from the state system. The governor did not respond to repeated questions at the time as to whether the two were related.

[Here’s what to know about California’s tiered reopening plan.]

Taken together, the incidents underscore how much work remains to be done to overhaul what Mr Newsom has described as catastrophically outdated computer systems “decades in the making” and how essential that work will be for millions of unemployed Californians.

Learn more about the pandemic:

  • “It was Covid who really killed this child. Police link pandemic stress to spike in homicides in cities across the country, including California. [The New York Times]

  • If you missed it, here’s a detailed look, in partnership with 11 local newsrooms across the country, on what it means to be unemployed during the pandemic. A story comes from Santa Ana. [The New York Times | Voice of OC]

  • Rural farming towns of Kern County were hardest hit by Covid-19. [The Bakersfield Californian]

Here’s why the pandemic has hit Central Valley communities. [The New York Times]

  • Skeptical that masks actually work? (Again?) Here’s a graphic that shows how they’re protecting you and the people around you – in microscopic detail. [The New York Times]

  • The pandemic made this the saddest Día de los Muertos: “The dead man? There are so many.” [The Los Angeles Times]


As Election Day – as it will exist this year – gets closer and closer, my colleagues in the Style office have once again broadened the boundaries of “public service journalism” with this slightly chaotic electoral distractor. (Disclaimer: Eligible voters are only allowed to use it if they have already voted.)

Click to listen to Michael Barbaro, host of The Daily, react to things; watch a video showing the birth of a baby star; and watch a comedian try to guess which paint color is mixed. In the process, stay away from social media and try to forget that we are unlikely to get any final results on Tuesday night. In fact, we never did, anyway – and certainly not in California.


California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. PT on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Have you received this email? Sign up for California Today here and read each edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley, and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow us here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.