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Michigan's attorney general filed felony charges Thursday against two far-right activists who allegedly coordinated a series of racist robocalls that discouraged voters in Detroit and other cities from participating in the November election.

Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl are each being charged with four felony counts, including intimidating voters and conspiracy to commit an election law violation.

Local officials in Texas say they plan to fight a new order from Gov. Greg Abbott to limit the number of places where voters can hand deliver mail-in ballots.

Abbott announced the order Thursday, the same day local election officials opened the drop-off sites.

Starting Friday, Abbott said in a statement, "mail ballots that are delivered in person by voters who are eligible to vote by mail must be delivered to a single early voting clerk's office location as publicly designated by a county's early voting clerk."

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In the first presidential debate, President Trump was asked if he would refrain from declaring victory until the election has been independently certified. He refused to make that commitment.

Atlantic writer Barton Gellman was not surprised.

With just a month remaining in the presidential campaign, former Vice President Joe Biden's team is launching in-person canvassing in key states.

The effort will start this weekend, the Democratic campaign said, with several hundred volunteers canvassing in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Michigan and Nevada.

The move is a reversal for the Biden campaign, which suspended face-to-face canvassing in the spring because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and, apart from distributing mailers, stuck to that stance in the following months.

Updated at 2:37 p.m. ET

A federal judge ordered the Trump administration's blue-ribbon law enforcement commission on Thursday to cease its work and barred it from releasing a report until a series of legal requirements are met.

The ruling from Senior U.S. District Judge John D. Bates brings a halt to the work of the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice less than a month before its deadline to deliver a final report.

Yoel Roth spends a lot of time thinking about what could go wrong on Twitter. It's his job, as the social media company's head of site integrity.

"Having a vivid imagination is key," he told NPR. "None of the threats are off-limits."

A Pennsylvania court has introduced a strict new rule for voters in what is perhaps the most important swing state in the United States.

The state sends out an extra "secrecy" envelope with all its mail ballots. And the court has now decided that if voters forget to include that envelope when they return their ballots — an error that's being termed a "naked ballot" — their votes will be automatically void.

President Trump's selection of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg came just 38 days before the presidential election on Nov. 3.

The move to have her on the court by then has ignited a major partisan battle on Capitol Hill.

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Despite people's fears, sophisticated, deceptive videos known as "deepfakes" haven't arrived this political season. But it's not because they aren't a threat, sources tell NPR. It's because simple deceptions like selective editing or outright lies have worked just fine.

"You can think of the deepfake as the bazooka and the video splicing as a slingshot. And it turns out the slingshot works," said Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley specializing in visual misinformation.

COVID-19 is still spreading across the United States, but you would barely know it by how people are planning to vote this year.

As the pandemic took hold in the spring, voting experts predicted a national shift toward mail or absentee voting. Some experts predicted as many as 70% of all votes cast could be by mail, as was the case in Wisconsin's April primary.

Brad Parscale, the former campaign manager and longtime digital strategist to President Trump, has stepped away from his role in the president's re-election effort, campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh confirms to NPR. Last weekend, Parscale was involved in an incident with police that saw him involuntarily hospitalized.

In a statement to Politico on Wednesday, Parscale said he was stepping down to seek help for "overwhelming stress" on both him and his family.

The Trump administration has added its fourth political appointee in three months to the Census Bureau amid growing concerns about partisan interference with the 2020 census.

Earl "Trey" Mayfield has been appointed to serve as counselor to the bureau's director, Steven Dillingham, the bureau's chief spokesperson, Michael Cook, confirmed in a statement Wednesday to NPR.

"In this role, Mr. Mayfield will assist the Director in strategic decision making and litigation coordination, reporting to the Department of Commerce Office of General Counsel," Cook said.

Updated 1 a.m. ET Thursday

President Trump signed a short-term spending bill into law early Thursday, about an hour after current funding levels expired and averting a federal government shutdown.

Hours earlier the Senate voted 84-10 to approve the bill, which extends current funding levels and keeps the federal government open through Dec. 11

In theory, parts of the government were unfunded for about an hour, but the White House did not address the discrepancy in a brief statement following the signing.

President Trump has consistently told Americans "the complete opposite" of what his health experts have been telling him in private meetings about COVID-19, according to Olivia Troye, who until recently worked on the the White House coronavirus task force.

President Trump attempted to clarify his position on white supremacists after a litany of members of his own party urged him to more clearly condemn the right wing group known as The Proud Boys, whom he told to "stand back and stand by" in Tuesday night's first presidential debate.

The president told reporters at the White House that he doesn't know who the Proud Boys are, but said they should "stand down" and let law enforcement do their work.

"I don't know who the Proud Boys are, you'll have to give me a definition," he said.

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A federal appeals court has denied the Trump administration's request to temporarily block a lower court order that extends the 2020 census schedule.

The Census Bureau must continue counting as ordered by the lower court for now, according to the new ruling by 9th U.S. Circuit Judge Johnnie Rawlinson and Judge Morgan Christen, who were part of a three-judge panel. Circuit Judge Patrick Bumatay dissented.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court seat made vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has a relatively short record as a federal judge, but a long track record as a conservative lawyer and law professor.

The world was watching the U.S. presidential debate on Tuesday night, and what they saw was not pretty.

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