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Suzanne Lynch’s US Election Diary: Voters queue up amid worrying sign for Trump in key state

New poll puts Joe Biden seven points ahead of Donald Trump in Georgia

Election Day may be 19 days away, but across the United States people have already started casting their votes.

Long queues were reported again yesterday in states such as Georgia and Texas that opened early voting this week. For many people across the globe, the sight of long lines in one of the world's most stable democracies is surprising. For many Americans it's par for the course. Some states, particularly those lacking a tradition of postal voting, have struggled with long waits and malfunctioning election infrastructure for years.

Optimists, however, say the queues this week are a good thing. If more people vote early, there is less chance of technical glitches derailing things on election day. It’s also indicative of huge voter enthusiasm – a trend that is worrying Republicans, given that Democrats are statistically most likely to vote early.

According to officials in Georgia, almost 130,000 people voted in the state on Monday – a record number in a state with a long history of voter disenfranchisement.

In a worrying sign for Donald Trump who won Georgia by five points in 2016, a new poll yesterday put Joe Biden ahead by seven points in the southern state.

Trump  was back on the campaign trail last night – this time sporting a “Make America Great Again” hat and throwing his tie into the audience – as he addressed a packed crowd in an airport hangar in Iowa.

Not everyone was happy at his arrival – a giant billboard with the words “Trump Covid Superspreader Event” was erected right across from the site. Iowa is experiencing a record-high number of hospitalisations from Covid, and the state’s positivity rate topped 20 per cent.

News also emerged last night that the president’s youngest son, Barron, had contracted Covid but had now tested negative. In an unusually candid message from the sphinx-like First Lady, Melania informed the world of the news via a statement posted on Twitter. Reflecting on her own experience of the virus, she said she had chosen “to go a more natural route in terms of medicine, opting more for vitamins and healthy food”.

In marked contrast to her husband’s response to his diagnosis, she said she had time to reflect on “the hundreds of thousands of people across our country who have been impacted by this illness that infects people with no discrimination”.

Back on Capitol Hill, Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing continued for a third day, with Trump's nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg maintaining heroic levels of judicial silence and noncommittal answers.

Asked by New Jersey senator Cory Booker if she approved of separating children from their parents at the border, Ms Barrett replied: "That's a matter of hot political debate in which I can't express a view or be drawn into as a judge." Regardless of her performance over the last few days, Ms Barrett is almost certain to be confirmed when the committee votes on her nomination, and the process goes to the full Senate for a vote.

On the campaign trail

The second presidential debate had been scheduled to take place tonight, but the commission on presidential debates cancelled the event last week after Trump refused to participate in a virtual version.

Instead, both candidates are due to hold rival TV events – Biden will take part in a "town hall" event in Philadelphia with ABC News where he will take questions for 90 minutes, while the president will participate in a similar NBC event in Miami. Vice president Mike Pence and Eric Trump will also be in southern Florida on Thursday.

Having concluded her duties as a member of the senate judiciary committee interviewing Ms Coney Barrett, Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris will return to the campaign trail, travelling to Michigan today.

Her husband, Doug Emhoff, will accompany Biden's wife Jill on a trip to Minnesota. Republicans have been making a play for the midwestern state that hasn't voted Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972, but the latest polls show Biden is well ahead.

Quote of the day

"There's nothing wrong with confirming to the Supreme Court of the United States a devout, Catholic, pro-life Christian," Republican senator Josh Hawley telling it how it is during the confirmation hearing for supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barret.

Recommended reading

I report from the Navajo Nation, a community that has been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus but where the Trump campaign sees an opening. Mike Pence's nephew John Pence was campaigning when I visited the capital, Window Rock, on the Arizona-New Mexico border.

My piece looking ahead to tonight's rival events by the two presidential candidates.

As Kamala Harris returns to the campaign trail, this New York Times piece examines Ms Harris's student days and the influence of her time at the all-black Howard University in Washington DC (it also includes must-see pics of the California senator sporting some on-trend early-eighties looks).

The Washington Post reports on Joe Biden's efforts to reach out to Catholic voters, as Republicans try to woo the constituency.

It follows Fintan O'Toole's recent article on how Catholicism is featuring in this election.