“‘No One Believes Anything’: Voters Worn Out by a Fog of Political News”


The decline in confidence is particularly pronounced by party. Today about 69 percent of Democrats have a great deal of confidence in the media, compared to just 15 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of independents, according to Gallup.
Conservatives are less trusting because they are suspicious of the liberal establishment and the media that they see coming from it, said Stephen Hawkins, director of research at More in Common, a nonprofit group studying polarization.
“On the right you have this feeling that the cultural tide has swung against people like me,” said Mr. Hawkins, who grew up evangelical. “There’s this sense of victimhood toward government, media and academia. ‘These people have contempt for us, if not downright hatred, and so cannot be a reliable witness for what we are seeing day to day.’”
Mr. Pomerantsev argues that news avoidance cuts across political lines and that the concept of left and right no longer fits. In Russia, it had more to do with the loss of national identity and a larger story of progress that came with the collapse of the Soviet Union.


“Census counting of prisoners becomes partisan battleground”


When the U.S. Census Bureau counts residents of Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhoods next year, a significant portion of their population will be missing: prisoners.

For these predominantly black areas, with incarceration rates among the highest in the nation, the government’s longstanding policy to count inmates as residents of the prison where they are held diminishes their political power back home.

“When you undercount people for the census, they end up losing in that community dollars that could go toward services that can help remediate poverty,” said state Rep. David Bowen, a Milwaukee Democrat co-sponsoring legislation to end what critics call prison gerrymandering.

Democrats argue the system shifts resources from traditionally liberal urban centers — home to many inmates who are disproportionately black and Hispanic — to rural, white, Republican-leaning areas where prisons are usually located.


“Possible pay-to-play scheme for ambassador role in Trump administration uncovered by CBS News”

CBS News:

A CBS News investigation has uncovered a possible pay-for-play scheme involving the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump’s nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas. Emails obtained by CBS News show the nominee, San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester, was asked by the RNC to donate half a million dollars as his confirmation in the Senate hung in the balance, chief investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod reports….
A Trump supporter, Manchester donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration fund. He was offered the Bahamas post the day after Mr. Trump was sworn in. Manchester said Trump told him, “I should probably be the ambassador to the Bahamas and you should be president.”
Then, for two and a half years, Manchester’s nomination stalled in the Senate.
His Bahamas relief trip caught the attention of the President. Trump tweeted, “I would also like to thank ‘Papa’ Doug Manchester, hopefully the next Ambassador to the Bahamas, for the incredible amount of time, money and passion he has spent on helping to bring safety to the Bahamas.”
Three days after the tweet, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel hit up Manchester for a donation. It was no small sum. In an email, obtained exclusively by CBS News, she asked Manchester, “Would you consider putting together $500,000 worth of contributions from your family to ensure we hit our ambitious fundraising goal?”…

The Senate confirmation process is exactly what Manchester quickly addressed. He wrote back to McDaniel’s request for $500,000, “As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000. Assuming I get voted out of the [Foreign Relations Committee] on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote … Once confirmed, I our [sic] family will respond!” …

Even worse, he said, was Manchester’s response. His big mistake was copying staffers of two senators who controlled his nomination, Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Idaho’s Jim Risch,  alerting them to his willingness to donate more after confirmation.

“I can only tell you that if I received an email like that, there would have been a five-bell alarm that went off,” Corker said.


“North Carolina lawmakers OK new 2020 congressional maps. Now it’s up to the courts.”

News and Observer:

The Republican-led North Carolina Senate approved a new congressional district map Friday to be used in 2020 that is likely to shrink the GOP’s edge in the state’s congressional delegation.
But Democrats plan to challenge the map in court again.
The map passed the N.C. House on Thursday, part of a swift process completed with the Dec. 2 opening of the filing period for congressional candidates in mind. Lawmakers drew the new map after a three-judge panel indicated it was likely to toss the previous map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. The map passed the Senate on a party line vote….

The Senate debate lasted more than an hour with Republican Sen. Jerry Tillman complaining that Republicans were having to redraw the districts in the first place.

“For 140 years, you all drew the maps,” he said toward Democrats. “You drew them for 140 years, we sat there and didn’t like it, but we took it. … We’re doing exactly what you all did for 140 years and it was constitutionally OK.”

Update: Plaintiffs have already filed their objections to this new plan. I expect we will see Nate Persily drawing maps. (Unlike the last time, where the court went along with the new lines, this one passed on a party line vote.)


Campaign Legal Center Unsuccessfully Fights Effort to Allow Clinton Campaign and Allied Super PAC to Defend Itself in Federal Court (Comment from Marc Elias)

Court order.

Comment from Marc Elias via email: “The idea that a so called good government group would use the fact that the FEC is shorthanded to try to score a victory in court and not let the case be defended is outrageous.  Whatever you may think of the underlying merits, the idea of having both sides represented in an adversarial process is foundational to the rule of law.”


“Dem group files third voting rights lawsuit, this one targeting Benson”

Detroit News:

A Democratic group has filed a third voting rights lawsuit against the state of Michigan, targeting Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson about an automatic registration law.
The lawsuit argues that the treatment by Michigan’s automatic registration law of people under the age of 17 ½ and the Legislature’s limits on proof of residency at the time of registration constitute undue burdens on voters’ constitutional rights.

You can find the state law complaint at this link.


In Extensive Opinion, Federal District Court Holds Unconstitutional Florida Rule Dictating Ballot Order of Candidates Based on Winner of Governor’s Race

Based on social science of the “primacy effect” giving candidates listed first on the ballot a benefit, a federal district court has struck down Florida’s law dictating ballot order of candidates based on the winner of the last governor’s race as unconstitutional.


“Clerks facing challenges with absentee voting skyrocketing in Michigan elections”

Detroit Free Press:

With absentee voting skyrocketing since voters approved a ballot proposal  last year allowing for its expansion, clerks across the state are worrying about counting ballots next year, when a record turnout is expected for the presidential race.
Some clerks and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson are calling on the state to allow election officials to be able to open and prepare absentee ballots for counting — and maybe even begin tabulating — votes before Election Day.
Opponents worry that early processing and counting could lead to more voter fraud because ballots could be less secure until they’re ready to be counted. They’re also concerned that results could leak out and have a chilling effect on voters who haven’t cast ballots yet.


“Democrats could pick up seats in Congress under proposed North Carolina map”

News & Observer:

The new map that started advancing on Thursday would likely have an 8-5 Republican advantage. U.S. Rep. GK Butterfield, a Wilson Democrat, said Democrats have little chance of winning a sixth seat.

“To have a fair map we need a 6-7 map or a 7-6 map or a 6-6-1 map. Those would be fair maps,” said Butterfield, who had copies of the map printed out and showed them to other members of the congressional delegation at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. “This appears on the face of it to be a 5-8 map which doesn’t quite get us where we need to go.”
Democrats at the legislature were also unhappy that there weren’t more competitive districts.


Another Hofeller Bombshell: Hofeller Was Communicating with DOJ Officials to Approve Letter Regarding Citizenship Question on the Census, Meaning DOJ Officials Likely Lied

I’ll update this post with a link to the full filing when I have it. (Update: the document is here.) In the meantime, here is a key tweet from Jonathan Topaz:


Challenges Coming to Canada’s Minimum Voting Age


 In partnership with several child rights organizations, Justice for Children and Youth (JFCY) and the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights (Asper Centre) have secured case development funding from the Court Challenges Program, which helps finance cases of national significance related to constitutional human rights issues. They will be hosting a consultation for children and youth to inform a legal challenge against Canada’s minimum voting age.
The consultation is designed to hear from children and youth on the voting age and determine a legal approach to a constitutional challenge that both respects and represents their interests. If you are interested in joining the consultations, reach out to the Asper Centre through the contact information provided below.
Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is clear that all Canadian citizens are allowed to vote. JFCY and the Asper Centre will be working with other child rights organizations and young people to challenge section 3 of the Canada Elections Act, which prevents citizens under the age of 18 from voting in federal elections, on the grounds that the voting age requirement is unconstitutional.


“More than 150 Civil Rights Groups Demand Comprehensive Voting Rights Reform”


The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 150 other civil rights organizations released their policy platform, “Vision for Democracy: Fortifying the Franchise in 2020 and Beyond” today, marking the overwhelming support for comprehensive voting rights reform within the civil rights community. The platform offers concrete policy recommendations to public officials, policy makers, and candidates for the 2020 state and federal elections and proposes a unified vision for ensuring that Americans have a strong, functioning democracy.

The platform outlines six major pillars of reform, including preventing barriers to the ballot box; ending felony disenfranchisement; expanding voter registration; increasing voter participation and access; strengthening election security; and creating structural reform. It also calls on federal elected officials to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act – two major legislative measures proposed in the 116th Congress to kick start comprehensive fixes to our democracy.


“Would a Bigger Legislature Mean a Smaller Government for California?”


Putting voters back in charge of the state government requires having more representatives in Sacramento, activists argue. Their lawsuit was launched by a coalition that includes the California Libertarian Party, the Marin County Green Party, a group of Native Americans, and secessionists who have sought for years to form a new state, Jefferson, out of portions of northern California and southern Oregon. Former federal judge Alex Kozinski is helping litigate the case.
The effort faces an undeniably daunting path forward, in part because courts have been generally unwilling to adjudicate questions of political representation. (The same reluctance has stymied legal efforts to restrict gerrymandering, the practice of drawing legislative districts to benefit one political party over another.) But the activists pushing for more representation in California’s legislature argue that the state’s current legislative framework disenfranchises minorities, including Native Americans and Hispanics—a claim that has convinced federal courts to intervene in gerrymandering cases—as well as anyone who lives outside the state’s population centers.
A federal district court tossed the case in 2018, but the activists are now appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, with oral arguments likely to occur later this year or in early 2020. A victory there could send the case back to the lower court for a hearing on the merits.
The state is again trying to get the case dismissed. “Even if a federal court possessed the authority to increase the number of state legislative districts in California, there are no judicially discernible and manageable standards” for deciding how many seats are appropriate, attorneys for Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, argued in a brief filed in August.


“Why Almost Nobody Will Defend the Iowa Caucuses”


In Iowa, fretting about the caucuses is a quadrennial tradition among Democratic and Republican officials alike. But at a time when leading Democrats have made the fight for ballot access, voting rights and diverse representation core principles, their marquee presidential contest offers none of those elements.

The state is more than 90 percent white, rankling officials and activists who say it does not match the party’s diversity elsewhere. The caucuses take place on a Monday night in frigid early February, disenfranchising Iowans who cannot attend because they have to work, have child care obligations, are disabled or are out of state.

The grumbling reached a roar over the last week, amplified by the possibility that Michael R. Bloomberg might enter the Democratic presidential contest and bypass the four early states, a strategy that if successful could render Iowa irrelevant for good.

Flashback to my 2012 Slate piece, Kill the Caucuses!


“Next secretary of state wants to get rid of Mississippi’s Jim Crow-era election law”

Clarion Ledger:

Secretary of State-elect Michael Watson says he will push to change Mississippi’s controversial two-part election process for statewide candidates. 

“I’m definitely supportive of moving away from the current system,” the Republican state senator told the Clarion Ledger Tuesday as he discussed priorities for his new job that begins next year.

Mississippi’s Jim Crow-era election process requires statewide candidates to clear two hurdles to win office — a majority of the popular vote and a majority of the state’s 122 House districts. If they don’t win both, the winner is decided by the Mississippi House. 

The provision was written into Mississippi’s 1890 state constitution to help keep political power in the hands of whites. A federal judge declined to immediately block the election process before last week’s election, though it did not become an issue in the governor’s race as some had worried. 

“We’re the only ones that do it (like this), and that’s got to change,” Watson said of the state’s election system, adding he plans to push the Legislature to initiate the change, which would ultimately need to be approved by voters. Most states require only a plurality of votes to decide a winner for governor and other statewide contests. 


“Georgia election officials investigate prominent critics”

Looks like more chicanery from Georgia election officials:

Georgia election officials have opened an investigation into two prominent critics of the state’s new touchscreen voting machines, secretary of state Brad Raffensperger’s office confirmed Wednesday.
Those critics called the investigation an attempt to intimidate detractors of the new machines.
Marilyn Marks, executive director of the nonprofit Coalition for Good Governance, and Richard DeMillo, a cybersecurity expert and Georgia Tech professor, are accused of “interfering with voters by being in unauthorized areas” of voting locations while observing pilot elections conducted on the new machines on Nov. 5.


“Lawsuit could purge 234,000 names from Wisconsin voter rolls”


More than 234,000 voters in Wisconsin would be made unable to cast their ballot unless they register again before the next election under a lawsuit filed Wednesday that liberals fear could dampen turnout among Democrats in the 2020 presidential race.
The lawsuit could affect how many voters are able to cast ballots in both the April presidential primary and November 2020 general election in Wisconsin, a key swing state that both sides are targeting. President Donald Trump narrowly won the state by less than 23,000 votes in 2016.
A conservative law firm, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, alleges that the Wisconsin Elections Commission broke the law when it decided to wait up to two years to deactivate voters who may have moved. State law requires voters to respond within 30 days of receiving the October mailing or be deactivated, the lawsuit alleges.


“Appeals court overturns mandate for Texas to implement online voter registration for drivers”

Texas Tribune:

A federal appeals court has overturned a previous ruling that could have opened the door to online voter registration in Texas.
In a Wednesday court order, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal district judge’s ruling that Texas was violating federal law by failing to register residents to vote when they updated their driver’s licenses online. The panel of three federal judges that considered the case did not clear the state of wrongdoing but instead determined that the three Texas voters who had brought the lawsuit did not have standing to sue.
The case revolved around a portion of federal law, often called the motor voter law, that was designed to ease the voter registration process by requiring states to give residents the opportunity to register to vote at the same time they apply for or renew their driver’s licenses.
The legal dispute came after three Texas voters who moved from one county to another were unable to reregister to vote when they updated their driver’s licenses through the state’s online portal. Although the state follows the law for individuals who renew their driver’s licenses in person, Texas does not allow for online voter registration.

You can find the 5th Circuit’s opinion at this link.


“Democrats Look to Build Case That Trump Tried to Bribe or Extort Ukraine”


A top Democratic official said the witnesses — William B. Taylor Jr., the top diplomat in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a senior State Department official — would lay out a timeline of serious misconduct by Mr. Trump and describe how the president sought to “bribe, extort, condition or coerce” the leader of another country. The official spoke on condition of anonymity without authorization to publicly describe internal strategy, but the language echoed the definition in the Constitution of behavior that warrants impeachment and removal from office.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, promised that the two witnesses, who still serve in Mr. Trump’s administration, will reveal the president’s actions to be “a corrupt undertaking that is evident from his own words.”

In a taste of the epic partisan battle to come, Republicans readied their arguments that the president did nothing wrong — and certainly nothing impeachable — and raged against a process they have denounced from the beginning as unfair and illegitimate.

“We want to make sure the truth gets out,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader. “There is no reason for the president to be in this impeachment.”

House investigators have spent seven weeks methodically assembling evidence through closed-door interviews that Mr. Trump used security aid as leverage to force President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and debunked claims that Democrats conspired with Ukraine to interfere in the 2016 election.


Parnas and Fruman Got Access to Trump to Call for Dumping Ambassador By Promising Big Contribution to Trump Super PAC


The April 2018 dinner was designed to be an intimate affair, an opportunity for a handful of big donors to a super PAC allied with President Trump to personally interact with the president and his eldest son.

In an exclusive suite known as the Trump Townhouse at Trump’s Washington hotel, the group  including Jack Nicklaus III, the grandson of the famous golfer, and a New York developer — snapped photos, dined and chatted about their pet issues with the president for about 90 minutes.

Among those in attendance were two Florida business executives who had little history with Republican politics but had snagged a spot at the dinner with the promise of a major contribution to the America First super PAC. They turned the conversation to Ukraine, according to people familiar with the event, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private dinner.

One of the men, Lev Parnas, has described to associates that he and his business partner, Igor Fruman, told Trump at the dinner that they thought the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was unfriendly to the president and his interests.

Remember the Court in Citizens United told us that ingratiation and access are not corruption. Even if that’s right, it can facilitate corruption.


Scott Walker Falsely Claims Democrats Won in Virginia Because of a Gerrymander


This is rich. What Democrats did in Virginia was get the conservative Supreme Court to agree that Virginia Republicans engaged in a racial gerrymander. Virginia Democrats won in part because courts removed the gerrymander, not because Democrats engaged in a gerrymander.


“Emails Show Trump Officials Consulted With GOP Strategist On Citizenship Question”


A prominent GOP redistricting strategist had direct communication with an adviser to the Trump administration concerning the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census, newly released emails show….

The administration’s now-former adviser on census issues, Mark Neuman, however, provided previously undisclosed emails to the House Oversight Committee in July, according to the committee’s acting chair, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., that show that Neuman and Hofeller were in contact about the following draft language for a citizenship question request:

“We understand that the Bureau personnel may believe that ACS [American Community Survey] data on citizenship was sufficient for redistricting purposes. We wanted the Bureau to be aware that two recent Court cases have underscored that ACS data is not viable and/or sufficient for purposes of redistricting.”

“Please make certain that this language is correct,” Neuman wrote to Hofeller in an email dated Aug. 30, 2017.


“Redistricting activists brace for wall of inaction as battle moves to states”


In North Carolina, lawmakers have been forced back to the drawing board yet again after a state court ruled last month that the current congressional map was drawn illegally along partisan lines.

It’s the latest judicial rebuke of gerrymandering in North Carolina, where state and federal judges have repeatedly tossed congressional and legislative maps since they were drawn by GOP lawmakers after the 2010 Census.

But activists say that trying to abolish lines drawn for partisan gain will probably be a lot harder elsewhere in the country, where conservative-leaning state courts are less receptive to such challenges.


“The Cybersecurity 202: Election vendors should be vetted for security risks, says watchdog group”


The federal government should start vetting companies that sell election systems as seriously as it does defense contractors and energy firms, a top election security group argues in a proposal out this morning.

Under the proposal from New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, government auditors would verify election companies and their suppliers are following a raft of cybersecurity best practices. They would also have to run background checks to ensure employees aren’t likely to sabotage machines to help Russia or other U.S. adversaries.

The suggestion comes as Congress continues to fight over whether to tighten election security as candidates ramp up for the 2020 election. Senate Republicans, especially, have stalled further security measures, even as observers warn that the next election is ripe for hacking by foreign adversaries such as Russia, which interfered in the 2016 contest.

See also the Brennan Center press release.


“Hillary Clinton Raps Boris Johnson Over His Suppression of a Russia Report”


Russia’s influence in British politics has resurfaced as a potentially explosive issue in the country’s general election, with Hillary Clinton joining a parade of critics castigating Prime Minister Boris Johnson for withholding a secret parliamentary report on Russia until after Britain goes to the polls.

Mr. Johnson’s decision to delay the politically sensitive report until after the Dec. 12 election has not prevented the leak of unsavory details, some of which paint a damning portrait of Russian oligarchs funneling money to Conservative Party politicians.

By adding her voice, Mrs. Clinton, whose presidential bid in 2016 was undermined by systematic Russian interference, could thrust the dispute over Russia to the center of the campaign.


“Will the Class of 2020 Vote Next November? California’s Governor Just Vetoed Legislation That Would Have Made it More Likely.”

Civics Center:

Almost every member of the Class of 2020 in California high schools will be old enough to vote next November. But will they be registered? Governor Gavin Newsom just vetoed AB 773, which would have required public high schools to give students the opportunity to register or pre-register to vote and to teach students about the voting process. 

The Governor’s veto message said youth voter turnout is already increasing in the State without additional investments. While young adults indeed turned out in greater numbers in 2018, youth voter registration and thus voting rates still lag well behind the registration and turnout rates of other age groups. A February 2019 study by the California Civic Engagement Project at USC concluded:  “A significant challenge for youth turning out to vote is their continuing low registration rates compared to older Californians. In the 2018 general election, the gap in registration rates between youth and older (age 65-74) Californians was 24 percentage points.” And while roughly 27 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds turned out to vote in 2018, the overall turnout rate was double that.  

AB 773 would have dramatically improved youth voter registration rates. Registering high school students to vote presents a golden opportunity to register teens before they go to college or join the workforce. And voter pre-registration, which automatically adds 16- and 17-year-olds to the voter rolls when they turn 18, extends that opportunity to the entire senior class. Secretary of State Alex Padilla recently announced a laudable, nationwide campaign to champion legislation to expand voting rights and access through measures like voter pre-registration. 


Today’s Must-Read; “Close Election in Kentucky Was Ripe for Twitter, and an Omen for 2020”


A few hours after polls closed in Kentucky last Tuesday, a Twitter user writing under the handle @Overlordkraken1 posted a message to his 19 followers saying he had “just shredded a box of Republican mail-in ballots.”

It was clear that the Kentucky governor’s race was going to be excruciatingly close, and that the Republican incumbent, Matt Bevin, could be headed to defeat. But just in case anyone missed the significance of the destroyed-ballots claim, @Overlordkraken1 added a final touch to his tweet: “Bye-Bye Bevin,” he wrote.

For those eager to cry fraud as a reliably red state leaned blue, the fact that @Overlordkraken1 did not appear to be in Kentucky — Louisville was misspelled in the location tag on his tweet, for one thing — was not going to get in the way of a useful narrative. Nor was Twitter’s decision to suspend his account.

Within hours of @Overlordkraken1’s tweet, as it became apparent that Mr. Bevin was trailing in the vote tally, hyperpartisan conservatives and trolls were pushing out a screenshot of the message, boosted by what appeared to be a network of bots, and providing early grist for allegations of electoral theft in Kentucky. High-profile right-wing figures were soon tweeting out their own conspiracy theories about the election being stolen — messages that were in turn pushed by even more trolls and bots — and the Bevin campaign began talking about “irregularities” in the vote without offering any specifics or evidence.

The talk has only intensified in the days since, though it has yet to be matched by any evidence of actual election rigging. But with Mr. Bevin’s choosing not to concede, and Kentucky authorities’ preparing to recanvass all of the votes at his insistence, Kentucky is shaping up to be a case study in the real-word impact of disinformation — and a preview of what election-security officials and experts fear could unfold a year from now if the 2020 presidential election comes down to the wire.
Since his election four years ago, Mr. Bevin has hitched himself to President Trump, and his allegations of irregularities echo the Trump playbook. Mr. Trump has sown doubts about a “rigged election” system since before his own election, including openly questioning the mail-in ballot process in Colorado. He then contended that fraud had lost him the popular vote (which Hillary Clinton won by 2.9 million votes). And he has amplified similar theories while in office, tweeting at least 40 times about unfounded voter fraud allegations, according to an analysis by The New York Times, including a claim after the midterm elections last year that “many ballots are missing or forged” in Florida.


“Skeptics Urge Bevin To Show Proof Of Fraud Claims, Warning Of Corrosive Effects”

Miles Parks for NPR:

Bevin isn’t the first politician to question the results of a race after the fact, and occasionally, if infrequently, those concerns have been founded in reality.

After the 2018 midterms, then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott alluded to “rampant voter fraud” that was never borne out in his Senate race.
Democrats also have continued to blame the results of the Georgia gubernatorial election on election administration issues that they say suppressed turnout.

And in North Carolina, an election for a House seat did end up being nullified because of an absentee ballot scheme.

Even after winning the 2016 election, President Trump alleged that “millions and millions of people” voted illegally in the 2016 election, which he said was why he lost the national popular vote to Hillary Clinton.

Trump has never presented any evidence for that claim, and a group his administration assembled to investigate voter fraud disbanded less than a year after it was formed, with no major result.

Overall, there has seldom been any evidence of widespread fraud in elections.

All the same, Americans’ confidence in elections has been slowly eroding over the past 20 years — and democracy-watchers put some of the blame on political rhetoric.


“I worked on political ads at Facebook. They profit by manipulating us.”

Yael Eisenstat WaPo oped:

I joined Facebook in June 2018 as “head of Global Elections Integrity Ops” in the company’s business integrity organization, focused specifically on political advertising. I had spent much of my career working to strengthen and defend democracy — including freedom of speech — as an intelligence officer, diplomat and White House adviser. Now I had the opportunity to help correct the course of a company that I viewed as playing a major role in one of the biggest threats to our democracy.

In the year leading up to our 2016 election, I began to see the polarization and breakdown of civil discourse, exacerbated by social media, as our biggest national security threat; I had written about that before Facebook called. I didn’t think I was going to change the company by myself. But I wanted to help Facebook think through the role it plays in politics, in the United States and around the world, and the best way to ensure that it is not harming democracy.

A year and a half later, as the company continues to struggle with how to handle political content and as another presidential election approaches, it’s clear that tinkering around the margins of advertising policies won’t fix the most serious issues. The real problem is that Facebook profits partly by amplifying lies and selling dangerous targeting tools that allow political operatives to engage in a new level of information warfare. Its business model exploits our data to let advertisers aim at us, showing each of us a different version of the truth and manipulating us with hyper-customized ads — ads that as of this fall can contain blatantly false and debunked information if they’re run by a political campaign. As long as Facebook prioritizes profit over healthy discourse, it can’t avoid damaging democracy.


“Expensive, Glitchy Voting Machines Expose 2020 Hacking Risks”


Digital voting machines were promoted in the wake of a similarly chaotic scene 19 years ago: the infamous punch-card ballots and hanging chads of south Florida that tossed the presidential contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore into uncertainty.

But now, the machinery that was supposed to be the solution has spawned a whole new controversy, this time with national security at stake—the prospect of foreign states disrupting American elections.
Security experts say the cheapest, and to their minds, most reliable and hack-proof method to cast votes also happens to be the lowest tech: paper ballots marked by hand and fed through scanners (no chads) to tally the results. They have called for replacing computerized equipment—particularly paperless older models—with the decidedly Luddite alternative.The devices have “raised far more security questions than paper ballots because you have a potentially hackable computer standing between the voter and the record,” said J. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan, adding that without sufficient research, these new machines could be “a waste of money.”

Cybersecurity experts are baffled by local election officials choosing the computerized voting machines. “It’s a mystery to me,” said Rich DeMillo, a Georgia Tech computer science professor and former Hewlett-Packard chief technology officer. “Does someone have 8 x 10 glossies? No one has been able to figure out the behavior of elections officials. It’s like they all drink the same Kool-Aid.” 
The animus is mutual. At conferences, election administrators swap complaints about cyber experts treating them like idiots, said Dana DeBeauvoir, head of elections in Travis County, Texas, whose office purchased a computerized system DeMillo deplores. Hand-marked ballots are “a supremely horrible idea” cooked up by people in Washington “who have never had to really conduct an election,” she said.