40 days to Nov. 3

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Election Day is 40 days away, but voting is already underway in several states. To help you vote during this unusual year — in a country where voting is already more difficult than in most other democracies — we have put together a step-by-step guide.

Register. Check your registration status through a national group of state officials or at Vote.org. If you aren’t registered, move quickly. The earliest deadlines, including in Florida and Arizona, are less than two weeks away. In 40 states, voters can register online. In others, like Texas, you’ll have to mail in a form or submit it in person.

You can also use a one-stop hub from the group When We All Vote, which lets you enter your address and then offers information on how to register and vote.

Vote by mail. Most states have loosened their rules during the pandemic, but they differ by state. In many places, you must first fill out an online form requesting a mail-in ballot.

You should pay careful attention to your state’s rules for returning a ballot. In Pennsylvania, for example, you must enclose it in two envelopes. In North Carolina, a witness must sign your ballot. Ignore these rules, and your vote may be thrown out. Historically, mail ballots are rejected much more often than in-person ballots (although some states are taking steps to reduce rejection rates this year).

To meet your state’s deadline for mail-in ballots, the safest bet is to vote as soon as you know which candidates you support. If you live in one of the many states with drop-off locations, you may want to visit one of them rather than mailing in the ballot. Most states will also let you track the status of completed mail ballots.

Or vote in person. Voting in person during the pandemic appears to be about as safe as going to the grocery store — low risk but not no risk. Many states are taking measures, like spacing out voting booths, to increase safety. You should also wear a mask and stay at least six feet from others.

In most states, you can vote early even if you’re voting in person.

Make a plan. Social-science research has found that people who make a specific voting plan — exactly when and where they will vote — are more likely to do so than people who vaguely promise themselves that they will.

Once you’ve made that plan, tell others about it, in person or in your social-media feed. The announcement will help you stick to the plan and encourage others to do the same. You can also use a platform like Outvote to encourage your friends and relatives to vote, via text messages and social media.

Protesters took to the streets in multiple cities after a grand jury in Louisville, Ky., declined to charge the two officers who fatally shot Breonna Taylor in March. Most protests were peaceful, but not all: In Louisville, two police officers were shot. Both are expected to survive.

The grand jury did indict one former detective for recklessly firing into another apartment during a raid of Taylor’s home, as the police searched for evidence against her ex-boyfriend.

President Trump took new steps to question basic democratic principles that other presidents of both parties have long supported. At a news conference, he declined to endorse a peaceful transfer of power after the November election, saying, “We’re going to have to see what happens.”

He also repeated false allegations claiming widespread voter fraud and said he wanted to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg quickly so the Supreme Court could resolve any election dispute. (A long read: The Atlantic explains why the mechanics of American democracy are “at meaningful risk of breaking down” this year.)

The campaign: A new poll by The New York Times and Siena College shows Trump struggling in three states he won in 2016: He trails in Iowa, is tied with Joe Biden in Georgia and has a small lead in Texas. The results are broadly similar to those from other recent polls.

Hundreds of mourners, including dozens of Ginsburg’s former clerks, honored her as a pioneer of women’s rights at the Supreme Court. “She forced the courts to see us as human and that we had brains and we deserve our full rights,” said one woman, who drove from Grayslake, Ill., to be there.

President Xi Jinping pledged that China would reach “carbon neutrality” by 2060, meaning its net carbon emissions would reach zero. The move is “potentially enormous,” one expert said. But it won’t be easy: China is the world’s biggest polluter and has increasingly turned to coal in the past few years.

California announced its own lofty climate goal: The state plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. Last year, only about 8 percent of passenger vehicles sold in the state were not gasoline-powered.

Few Republicans frustrate liberals as much as Mitch McConnell, the Senate leader who has tossed aside various American political traditions to stymie progressive legislation and fill the federal courts with conservative judges. That’s why Democratic donors have donated more money — almost $47 million — to McConnell’s opponent in Kentucky this year, Amy McGrath, than to any other Senate candidate in the country.

But some political analysts believe much of that money is wasted. If Democrats want to take away McConnell’s job as Senate leader, they would be smarter to direct more money to Democratic candidates with a better chance of winning than McGrath, these analysts say.

Trump won Kentucky by almost 30 percentage points in 2016. Six years ago, when Democratic donors last dreamed of beating McConnell, he won by more than 15 points. This year, no public poll has shown the race to be especially close.

The bigger uncertainty is whether Republicans will keep their Senate majority or whether McConnell will be demoted to minority leader. That, in turn, will hinge on elections in more than a dozen other states where the polls are closer than in Kentucky.

Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report finds the contrast with Texas — a far more expensive state than Kentucky to campaign in, where the Democratic candidate, M.J. Hegar, is also a female former military officer — to be especially jarring.

This okra soup contains ingredients drawing from at least four continents, a mishmash of global influences from West Africa to Peru. Based on a recipe by Amethyst Ganaway, a chef and writer of Gullah Geechee ancestry, it’s a simple dish that emphasizes the freshness of its ingredients. Okra naturally thickens the broth, and the fresher it is, the better.

Being a referee is among the more thankless jobs in the N.B.A. Zach Zarba has spent roughly 23 nights a month during each regular season away from home — for the past 17 years. He stays in shape for all the running he has to do during games. As part of his preparation, he also keeps track of player beefs on social media.

“You have the best seat in the house,” he said. “Every night, your job is never the same.”

Lenny Kravitz has sold more than 40 million records worldwide. He won four consecutive Grammys for male rock vocal performance from 1999 to 2002. And he is still “the epitome of cool,” said the actor Jason Momoa, who has been in a relationship with Lisa Bonet, Kravitz’s ex-wife, since 2005.

Exposure to Prince, the Jackson 5 and Led Zeppelin as a kid helped shape Kravitz’s future sound — as did Kiss, Steely Dan and the opera “Tosca.” He spent years declining record deals that would have required him to change his style of music, until Bonet paid for him to record the demos that eventually led to a recording contract. He also has a new memoir coming out, and he spoke with The Times.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: The Colorado, Mississippi or Ohio (five letters).

You can find all of our puzzles here.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David

P.S. The New York Times won five Emmy Awards this week, four for “The Weekly” and one for “Where Are All the Bob Ross Paintings? We Found Them.”

You can see today’s print front page here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the grand jury’s decision in the Breonna Taylor case. On the latest episode of “Sway,” Kara Swisher interviews Gov. Gavin Newsom of California.

Lalena Fisher, Ian Prasad Philbrick and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at themorning@nytimes.com.

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