Both parties prepare for possibility of contested election as chaotic White House race hurtles to a close

She has also directed some of her members to be ready if GOP legislatures in states with narrow margins or unfinished counts seek to appoint their own electors, a situation Democrats hope to head off with an obscure law from the 19th century that allows Congress to intervene.

The internal talks are among a number of strategy sessions taking place in political and legal circles in anticipation of a post-Election Day fight. The campaigns of President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden are preparing for all scenarios, each amassing robust legal teams to prepare for post-Nov. 3 disputes, in addition to monitoring Election Day activity and ballot counting.

An uncharted battle over who the next president will be, after a campaign that has roiled and exhausted Americans, could severely test the nation’s faith in its election system — and undermine the principle that the president should be selected by voters rather than Congress or the courts, experts said.

“These are all terrible scenarios to contemplate,” said Richard H. Pildes, a professor of constitutional law at New York University. “Nothing is more explosive in a democratic system than a disputed election for the chief executive, because so much turns on who holds that office.”

Campaign operatives, election lawyers and constitutional scholars say there are several scenarios that could push the outcome of the White House race to Congress for the fourth time in history — or to the Supreme Court, as happened in the contested 2000 election.

While most agree such possibilities are slim, Trump has heightened concerns — and preparations — by repeatedly refusing to commit to conceding if he loses, while declaring that he wants the courts to play a role in deciding the race.

During the first presidential debate last week, the president repeated his unsubstantiated claims that voting by mail will lead to widespread fraud, adding that he wants the Supreme Court “to look at the ballots.”

“If it’s a fair election, I am 100 percent on board,” Trump said. “But if I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can’t go along with that.”

Many legal and voting rights experts who have been studying the arcane rules that would govern a contested election say they are less worried about Trump refusing to concede if he loses decisively than they are about a complicated delay over disputed ballots.

Myrna Pérez, director of the Voting Rights and Elections Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, said she fears that there will be “no limits to the political hardball” and “no things that are off the table when people are trying to translate votes into political victories.”

“I wonder what that’s going to leave us with, if we don’t have any shared-upon norms, when there’s not a basic understanding that winning at all costs is not good for us,” Pérez said during a virtual panel discussion last week.

Biden’s continued strength in national and battleground-state polls has heartened Democrats, who are hopeful that he will win

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Top House Democrat: Parties ‘much closer’ to a COVID deal ‘than we’ve ever been’

The head of the House Democratic Caucus said Wednesday that the negotiators seeking an emergency coronavirus deal are “much closer” to a deal than they have been at any point during the long weeks of on-again-off-again talks.

Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesDemocratic leaders: Supreme Court fight is about ObamaCare Pelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief Races heat up for House leadership posts MORE (D-N.Y.) pointed to recent comments by Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTreasury offers coronavirus relief loans to seven major US airlines House GOP leaders rally opposition to Democrats’ scaled-down COVID bill On The Money: Biden releases 2019 tax returns hours before first debate | COVID relief talks hit do-or-die moment | Disney to layoff 28K workers MORE indicating a willingness to embrace $1.5 trillion in new stimulus spending — a number on par with the bipartisan relief package offered last week by the Problem Solvers Caucus — noting that that figure is far closer to the Democrats’ $2.2 trillion package than Republicans have previously backed.

“If you look at the Problem Solvers proposal, at the high end it’s approximately $2 trillion,” Jeffries told reporters in the Capitol. “And so I think that to the extent that Secretary Mnuchin has indicated that he will use the Problem Solver proposal as a basis for any counteroffer actually brings us much closer to an agreement than we’ve ever been.”

After almost two months of stalled talks, Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP seeks to redirect criticism over Trump tax returns House rebuffs GOP lawmaker’s effort to remove references to Democrats in Capitol Grassley says disclosing Trump’s tax records without authorization could violate law MORE (D-Calif.) have resumed the negotiations this week by phone. In some sign that progress is being made, Mnuchin is expected to huddle with Pelosi in the Speaker’s office at 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, according to a source familiar with the gathering.

It marks the first in-person meeting between the pair on COVID-19 aid since the initial talks on another relief package broke down on Aug. 7.

Even as the talks seem to be bearing some fruit, Democratic leaders are also readying a floor vote Wednesday afternoon on their $2.2 trillion partisan package — a vote demanded for weeks by a number of moderate Democrats leery of leaving Washington to face voters without acting on some new round of emergency aid.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThe House’s stake in filibuster reform Centrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote House to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power MORE (D-Md.), who has urged such a vote for weeks, told reporters Wednesday morning that Democrats would scrap that plan and vote on a bipartisan deal instead if such an agreement were to emerge following the talks between Pelosi and Mnuchin.

“If we have a bipartisan deal … that is what we will move,” Hoyer said on a press call.


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Scottish police break up 300 house parties

Scottish police have handed out fines after responding to 300 house parties over the weekend. (PA)
Scottish police have handed out fines after responding to 300 house parties over the weekend. (PA)
  • Police in Scotland responded to more than 300 house parties at the weekend

  • Chief constable insists most people are following the new COVID-19 rules

  • Nicola Sturgeon says students are not to blame and may be able to see family at Christmas

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Scottish police responded to more than 300 house parties over the weekend as the country’s chief constable insisted his force will take “decisive action to enforce the law”.

Police Scotland said house parties were being held “in every community and age group”, as first minister Nicola Sturgeon insisted students were not to blame for a rise in coronavirus cases.

Officers handed out 101 fines and made 14 arrests, and three of the incidents required officers to force entry.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “There is no doubt that house parties or house gatherings are not permitted and there can be no excuse for arranging, attending, or hosting a house party.

Watch: What support is the government providing for jobs?

“It is against the law.

“Where officers encounter blatant, wilful, or persistent breaches, we will take decisive action to enforce the law.”

Scotland, like other parts of the UK, has tightened up on its coronavirus rules, with a ban on most socialising in private homes and a 10pm closing time for pubs and restaurants.

Police Scotland said the “vast majority” of people had followed the rules.

“I am grateful for the support and co-operation of the public and the licensed trade which continued over the weekend,” Livingstone said.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said police will enforce coronavirus restrictions. (Ken Jack/Getty Images)
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said police will enforce coronavirus restrictions. (Ken Jack/Getty Images)

“I also want to again underline my admiration and compassion for young people and students who have responded so well to the pandemic at this crucial time of their lives.”

Sturgeon has thanked students at university, saying most had followed the rules and advice to stay away from pubs, cafes and restaurants.

Read more: Scots students can return home on long-term basis

At least 32 universities in the UK have confirmed cases of COVID-19, with more than 640 identified in students and staff by 25 September, Sky News reported.

Manchester Metropolitan University asked well over 1,000 students to self-isolate after 127 cases were confirmed.

Cases have also risen at Glasgow and Edinburgh Napier.

Sturgeon said: “Sticking to guidelines like that isn’t easy especially in the early days of a university term but it will make a difference.

Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh.
Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister’s Questions at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh.

“The incubation period for this virus means I am absolutely sure that we will continue to see increased numbers of infections amongst students for several days to come and there will always be a need for vigilance.

“But the responsibility that has been shown over the past few days will help our efforts to stem this spread and I want to say thank you for that.”

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Covid in Scotland: Police break up hundreds of house parties

Police Scotland face masksImage copyright
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Police broke up “at least” 300 house parties across Scotland over the weekend, with 14 arrests being made.

More than 100 fines were issued between Friday and Sunday, with officers having to force entry to three households.

Police Scotland said its analysis suggested house parties were being held “in every community and age group”.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said most people were following the rules – but “decisive action” would be taken where necessary.

  • New law to break up ‘super spreader’ house parties

New rules barring indoor meetings of more than six people from two households have been introduced in Scotland in response to increasing numbers of Covid cases.

Pubs have also been ordered to close by 22:00, and additional police officers were sent out to support councils over the first weekend of the new restrictions.

Mr Livingstone said officers would “use good sense and exercise discretion”, and that “the great majority of people are taking personal responsibility to do the right thing”.

But he added: “There can be no excuse for arranging, attending, or hosting a house party.

“It is against the law. Where officers encounter blatant, wilful, or persistent breaches, we will take decisive action to enforce the law.”

Image caption

Iain Livingstone said officers would take action against “blatant” breaches of the rules

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the figures had to be seen in the context of a country with a population of 5.4 million people.

She said “the vast majority” were abiding by the rules.

“Anybody who is not, and particularly anybody who is who are fragrantly breaking very clear rules against house parties, should really take a look at themselves,” she added.

“We know that house parties are one of the risk factors that can cause this virus to spread.”

While officers were called to a number of parties at student halls in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon stressed that the issue with indoor gatherings was not just about young people.

Mr Livingstone said on Friday that analysis suggested that only one in 10 house parties police responded to had been linked to students.

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Call the police on parties and don’t mingle, says UK interior minister

By Sarah Young

LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters)British minister Priti Patel said on Tuesday she would call the police to report anyone who flouted a new ban on gatherings of more than six people, suggesting that people who stopped for a chat on the street were breaking new coronavirus laws.

COVID-19 cases across the UK have risen sharply in recent weeks, prompting the government to bring in the new rules to restrict socialising, at the same time as health bosses have said there are problems with accessing tests.

Patel said that people needed to help stop the spread of the disease, and that included calling the police on neighbours. She even suggested that families should not mingle with friends they bumped into on the street.

“If I saw something that I thought was inappropriate, then quite frankly I would effectively call the police,” she told Sky News.

“It’s not about dobbing in neighbours, I think it’s all about us taking personal responsibility. If there was a big party taking place, it would be right to call the police.”

Asked to define “mingling” – also not allowed under the new rules – she said it was “people coming together” and that if two families of four stopped for a chat in the street they would be infringing the law.

“It is mingling, I think it’s absolutely mingling,” she told BBC radio.

The social clampdown comes amid concern that people are struggling to get tests for COVID-19, especially in areas where the infection rates are highest.

Patel said that tests were available for people in their local areas, and that Public Health England was adding capacity and ensuring more testing was available on a daily basis.

“The majority of tests are available within a 10-mile (16-km) radius,” she told BBC TV, although she conceded that in some extreme cases people wouldn’t be able to get a test within that radius.

UK media reported many examples of people in virus hotspots unable to get tests, while NHS Providers, a body representing hospital, community and ambulance services in the state-run health service, said on Twitter that current testing shortages were starting to impact health services.

(Additional reporting by Alistair Smout and Michael Holden, editing by Estelle Shirbon)

(([email protected]; +44 207 542 7064; Reuters Messaging: [email protected]))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Coronavirus: Police Scotland called to 405 house parties over weekend

PoliceImage copyright

Police officers were called out to 405 house parties across the country over the weekend following reports of breaches of coronavirus rules.

Six people were arrested and one fixed penalty notice was issued, Police Scotland said.

Other people attending the parties were given “suitable advice” and then dispersed.

Two officers who went to a house in Muirhouse, Edinburgh, were allegedly assaulted.

The windows of two police cars were also smashed during the incident at 05:35 on Sunday.

  • New police powers to break up house parties
  • New rules limit gatherings to six people

Two men, both aged 47, have been arrested and charged and are due to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff later.

Public nuisance

Police Scotland also confirmed that officers responded to 1,552 reports of noise, public nuisance and disturbance between Friday and Sunday.

That was an increase of of 41% compared with the same weekend last year.

As of 9 September, there had been 294 arrests for Covid-related breaches and 3,388 fixed penalty notices issued.

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said the force “will not tolerate blatant disregard for the legislation which is there to help stop the spread of the virus”.

“In some of the situations officers were assaulted, which is horrific,” he said. “Officers have been spat upon as well as physically assaulted in other ways.

“The law is really clear – you can’t have a party within your house and if you do we’re going to be called and we are going to take enforcement action to make sure you don’t repeat that.”

Image caption

Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said Police Scotland would not tolerate “blatant disregard” for the law

It was announced in August that Police Scotland would be given powers to break up and disperse house parties.

The move came amid concerns about links between large indoor gatherings and the spread of Covid-19 cases.

A new law came into force on Monday, limiting social gatherings in Scotland to a maximum of six people from two households.

Police Scotland said officers had been involved in 68,000 “interactions” with the public since lockdown rules were introduced.

Mr Graham added: “Our approach throughout the pandemic has been to engage with the public, explain the legislation and guidance, and encourage compliance, only using enforcement as a last resort.

“We will continue with that approach, but we will not hesitate to use enforcement action where it is necessary.

“We will not tolerate blatant disregard for the law, which is in place to help stop the spread of the virus, and we have been using our powers to disperse large groups of people at house parties.”

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Coronavirus: Hertsmere infection rise ‘due to teenage house parties’

County Hall, HertfordImage copyright
Geograph/Jack Hill

Image caption

Hertfordshire Borough Council said the rise in cases in Hertsmere was “significant”

Large house parties attended by 16 to 19-year-olds were to blame for one of the biggest rises in coronavirus cases in England, a council said.

Hertsmere in Hertfordshire had the third highest rate of infection for any area outside the North West.

The borough council warned schools may close if residents do not “get a grip”.

Hertsmere, which has a population of just under 105,000, recorded 60 positive cases of Covid-19 in the seven days up to 4 September.

‘Stern warning’

This gave the area, which includes Radlett, Bushey, Elstree and Borehamwood, 57.2 cases per 100,000 of the population.

Only Birmingham, Bradford and some areas of the North West had a higher per 100,000 infection rate.

The week before the 60 positive cases were recorded in Hertsmere, there were only 13 cases.

Tim Hutchings, the councillor responsible for public health at the council, said the rise in cases in Hertsmere was “significant”.

He said the outbreak was among a “group of young people in a number of large social gatherings in private homes in the last week of August”.

Conservative Mr Hutchings said the council had written to parents of children at schools where fellow pupils were self-isolating with a “stern warning: stop these house parties and private events or face enforcement action of up to a £10,000 fine”.

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