“How Russian Facebook Ads Divided and Targeted U.S. Voters Before the 2016 Election”

…Internet Research Agency, according to the list of accounts Facebook eventually provided to Congress. What’s more, it shows these suspicious advertisers predominantly targeted voters in swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. “I was shocked,” says Kim, now a scholar in residence at the Campaign Legal Center, of the findings. “I sort of expected these dark money groups and other unknown actors would be on digital…

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“The National Enquirer, a Trump Rumor, and Another Secret Payment to Buy Silence”

Ronan Farrow for the New Yorker: Late in 2015, a former Trump Tower doorman named Dino Sajudin met with a reporter from American Media, Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, at a McDonald’s in Pennsylvania. A few weeks earlier, Sajudin had signed a contract with A.M.I., agreeing to become a source and to accept thirty thousand dollars for exclusive rights to information he had been told: that Donald Trump, who had launched his…

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“A Way to Eliminate One Form of Russian Election Hacking”

…commented that “if Russians sought to redirect alienated HRC (Clinton) voters to third parties, as indictment alleges, it was a shrewd ploy.” Indeed, Stein ultimately won more votes than Trump’s victory margins in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which collectively had enough electoral votes to decide the presidency. The Russians aren’t alone in manipulating this election method vulnerability. A ProPublica investigation revealed that…

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“Facing unfriendly new map, Pennsylvania GOP congressman won’t seek reelection”

WaPo: Costello had been considering the decision since February, when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court drew a new map to replace a gerrymander that Republicans put into place seven years ago. The 6th District, which had cut through three suburban counties in an L-shape, was reshaped to include all of Costello’s Chester County and part of Berks County. That change turned a district that had narrowly backed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president…

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Pennsylvania: “GOP chief justice slams Republican judicial impeachment move”

Post-Gazette:  The chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Thursday that he is “very concerned” about an effort to impeach his four colleagues who voted to overturn the state’s congressional district map and impose a new one. “Threats of impeachment directed against Justices because of their decision in a particular case are an attack upon an independent judiciary, which is an essential component of our…

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“Supreme Court Avoids Bush v. Gore II in Ducking Pennsylvania Redistricting Controversy”

…over at the Harvard Law Review blog.  It begins: After waiting, and waiting, and waiting, the United States Supreme Court finally answered the question whether it would heed Pennsylvania Republicans’ calls to put on hold the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order redrawing the state’s congressional district lines to cure a partisan gerrymander. The answer was no, with no explanation. And in that silence the Court dodged a question it has refused to…

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“Thousands Lose Right to Vote Under ‘Incompetence’ Laws”

…tates use archaic language like “idiots” or “insane persons” in their statutes. The states that do not have similar restrictions are Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Vermont. Not only is there no agreement among legal and psychological experts over whether certain people with disabilities should be disenfranchised, but there is also no set standard for measuring the…

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“Philadelphia-Area Political Consultant Charged in Superseding Indictment With Obstructing Investigation of Federal Election Commission”

…al case against a Philadelphia-area political consultant, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The original indictmenz, returned on Oct. 24, 2017, charged Kenneth Smukler, 57, of Villanova, Pennsylvania, with causing unlawful campaign contributions, causing the filing of false reports to the Federal…

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“Pa. Republican state legislator moves to impeach four state Supreme Court justice”

Philly Inquirer: One day after federal courts declined to block the new congressional map from taking effect, a Republican state representative introduced resolutions to impeach the four Democrats on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court who ruled to impose the map in time for the May 15 primary. Rep. Cris Dush, of Jefferson County, introduced the measures against Justices Christine Donohue, Kevin Dougherty, Debra Todd, and David Wecht. The justices,…

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“Lack of court action on new Pa. voting map causing concern”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: With Tuesday’s deadline for filing nominating petitions imminent, prospective candidates waiting for courts to take action on Pennsylvania’s radically reconfigured congressional map learned Friday that the wait will continue. By day’s end Friday, neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor the U.S. District Court here had decided whether to grant requests from Republican lawmakers who want them to overturn the new…

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With Lamb Holding 627 Vote Lead in PA-18 Congressional Race, Republicans Raise Claims of Voting Irregularities, Possibility of Requesting Recount

…th Republican attorneys about their ability to oversee the vote-counting process. Under the state Election Code, she said, such observers must have a signed authorization from the chair of the county committee. “They didn’t produce that until the very end of the evening, when the ballots had already been scanned,” she said.  CNN: A recount is not mandatory in Tuesday’s special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District,…

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“Gerrymandering Justice: Reaction to the Pa. Supreme Court’s Rulings”

…ic somehow survived without impeachment hearings after five Republican-appointed U.S. Supreme Court justices in Bush v. Gore managed to conclude the 2000 presidential election in favor of Republican candidate George W. Bush, Pennsylvania will survive the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent congressional gerrymandering decisions. It is simply a fact of life that judges appointed to federal appellate courts by Republican presidents are more likely…

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“Federal judges hear arguments in Pa. congressional map fight: Should they block new map?”

Philly Inquirer: A panel of federal judges, asked by GOP lawmakers to block the new Pennsylvania congressional map, on Friday questioned whether it should wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to act on a similar request and if blocking the map would further disrupt an already tumultuous election cycle. The three judges — Chief U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Conner for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Judge Kent A. Jordan of the U.S.  Court…

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More Briefs Filed at SCOTUS in Pa Congressional Redistricting Case

Here they are, courtesy of the SCOTUS website: Response to application from respondents League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, et al. filed. Main Document Proof of Service Mar 05 2018 Response to application from respondents Governor Thomas W. Wolf, et al. filed. Main Document Proof of Service Mar 05 2018 Response to application from respondent Lieutenant Governor Michael J. Stack, III filed. Main Document Proof of Service Mar 05 2018 Motion…

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Big Week Ahead in Pennsylvania Congressional Redistricting Litigation

Today at 3, supporters of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court order curing the partisan gerrymander in the state’s congressional districts will file their opposition to the Pa. Republican legislators emergency motion with Justice Alito to stay the Pa court order. That means we are likely to hear something mid-week from Justice Alito or from the entire Supreme Court. And on Friday, a three-judge federal court will hold a hearing on the…

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“Republican lawmakers return to court on Pennsylvania redistricting”

…involved in a partisan-gerrymandering challenge to Pennsylvania’s federal congressional maps. Today that state’s Republican lawmakers returned to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to block what they characterized as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s “intentional seizure of the redistricting process.”…The legislators’ request will go to Justice Samuel Alito, who handles emergency appeals from the geographic area that includes…

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On 4-3 Vote, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Denies Stay in Congressional Redistricting Case, Moving Question to U.S. Supreme Court’s Justice Alito

…Here is the order of the PA Supreme Court. There had been a delay in Justice Alito getting the petition, and apparently it was the wait for this formality to occur.  (The PA legislative leaders issued incorrect information that the press release had already been filed.) Here’s my handicapping of its chances: a big long shot….

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“Democrats Did Better Than on Hundreds of Simulated Pennsylvania Maps”

NYT’s The UpShot: The strong Democratic showing compared with Mr. Chen’s simulations doesn’t necessarily indicate that the map is a Democratic gerrymander. For one, the simulations aren’t perfect. And they aren’t necessarily representative of realistic partisan-blind maps. To take a concrete example: The simulations often split the city of Pittsburgh, something few human map-drawers would choose to do given the requirement to avoid…

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“Trump Endorses G.O.P. Fight to Keep Gerrymandered Congressional Map”

NYT: President Trump added his voice on Saturday to the continued conservative outcry over the court-ordered redistricting of the Pennsylvania congressional map, calling the decision “very unfair to Republicans and to our country.” “Democrat judges have totally redrawn election lines in the great State of Pennsylvania,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “This is very unfair to Republicans and to our country as a whole. Must be appealed to the United…

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“Russia fears have election vendors feeling the heat”

…counties and states were replacing their antiquated punch-card voting machines after Florida’s Bush v. Gore debacle. Many states ended up adopting paperless, touchscreen machines, which are still used in some states such as Pennsylvania. In 2006, a team of security researchers published a report saying that touchscreen voting machines made by the notably litigious vendor Diebold were vulnerable to “extremely serious attacks.” The researchers…

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Three-Judge Federal District Court in Pa Congressional Redistricting Case Sets Expedited Schedule for Briefing on Preliminary Injunction Request

…ring the motion for a preliminary injunction as well as motions to dismiss. The preliminary relief (the whole ball game for 2018) should all be resolved in a few weeks before this three-judge district court, teeing up yet another chance to petition the Supreme Court of the U.S. for extraordinary relief. Earlier: Three Judge Court (All Republican Appointees) Chosen to Hear Pennsylvania Partisan Redistricting Case: Will Party of the Judges Matter?…

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Three Judge Court (All Republican Appointees) Chosen to Hear Pennsylvania Partisan Redistricting Case: Will Party of the Judges Matter?

Yesterday I wrote about the new federal lawsuit being brought against the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s partisan gerrymandering remedy for state congressional redistricts. I explained why this is such a long shot. I noted then that the challengers sought a three-judge court, with direct appeal to the Supreme Court (bypassing the Third Circuit). That three judge court has now been chosen, and it includes three judges nominated by Republican…

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New Federal Lawsuit in Pennsylvania Congressional Redistricting Litigation Seeks 3 Judge Court Order to Hold Elections Under Old 2011 Maps; Case is Longshot

You can find the complaint (which may or may not have already been filed) at this link.  Some of the plaintiffs are members of Congress who are not parties to the other litigation, so the Rooker-Feldman doctrine may not apply to bar their suit. But there are other abstention and standing doctrines that will stand in the way. Basically, it is hard to get a federal court to act to essentially enjoin the actions of a state court when there is a…

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Has the Pennsylvania Republicans’ Emergency Request to Justice Alito in Congressional Redistricting Cases Not Been Filed?

Yesterday I wrote about a petition that I said had been filed with Justice Alito by Republican legislative leaders in Pennsylvania trying to stop the congressional redistricting ordered by the state Supreme Court. The post explained why I believe the matter is a longshot. When I posted the petition I noticed that the title of the file had the word “draft” in it, but didn’t think too much of it. But now it appears that the…

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“Who Needs Congressional Districts?” and a Possible Answer

…ts, and nine via general ticket. That latter group would have to win statewide. That means they’d be more likely to tailor a message that could win a respectable percentage of the vote in the Philadelphia suburbs, where most Pennsylvania statewide elections are won or lost. That might produce a different kind of representative — one who had incentives to compromise instead of incentives to obstruct. Michael Li:…

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A VRA Claim in Pennsylvania?

Rick noted that there’s been some talk of a VRA challenge to the new Pennsylvania congressional districts. An initial obstacle to such a claim is that the relevant new districts are nearly identical, demographically, to their predecessors. PlanScore’s pages for the old and new plans include the most up-to-date minority citizen voting-age population (CVAP) shares for all of the districts. The old plan had one black-majority district…

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“New Pa. congressional district map could be challenged by Common Cause, NAACP on civil rights grounds”

This development is unexpected: Micah Sims, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, said his organization and the state NAACP are considering filing suit in federal court to challenge the new map imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week. He said it may violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which banned obstacles to voting by minorities. Under Pennsylvania’s former 2011 map, drawn by Republicans, nonwhites make up a majority of…

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Breaking: Pennsylvania Republican Legislative Leaders Petition Justice Alito AGAIN to Block Pa Congressional Redistricting Plan Ordered by State Supreme Court

…lito, who can decide the matter himself or refer to the entire Court. Last time Justice Alito decided the matter himself, after asking for a response from the other side. Like the last petition, this petition argues that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, by holding that the existing maps violated the state Constitution, usurped the power to draw Congressional maps given to state legislatures (unless Congress overrides). As I recently explained;…

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“Republican challenge to Pennsylvania map likely to fail; For Republicans, it’s not clear yet what legal avenue they plan to proceed with first, or the relief for which they will ask”

…Politico reports. UPDATE:  Looks like Pa Republican leaders opposed to the state Supreme Court redistricting remedy will file a SCOTUS petition AND a new separate federal district court lawsuit. Here’s why both are likely to fail….

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“Subversive gerrymandering reform in Pennsylvania”

…of the justices on the court or those involved in drawing maps. Partisan fairness is, in my view, as legitimate a political criterion to use when thinking about how to draw maps as partisan-blind or neutral criteria. But the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not, in my view, act forthrightly in its opinion dictating criteria and its ultimate map. The criteria it enunciated–its three values of compactness, contiguity, and avoidance of dividing…

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The Pennsylvania Remedy

…miniscent of the 1980s and 1990s, and are more than double the usual contemporary levels. Once the model includes incumbency, it becomes possible to analyze an array of electoral scenarios. For example, what if every seat in Pennsylvania was an open seat, with no incumbent running? Then Democrats would be expected to win nine seats (compared to eight using the basic model). District 17 would flip from barely Republican to narrowly Democratic….

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NYT’s The Upshot: New PA Districts Achieve “Partisan Balance”

…not. Instead, a nonpartisan map usually means a partisan-blind map. It strives for compact districts that respect communities of interest, with little regard for the partisan outcome. A decision to pursue partisan balance in Pennsylvania is particularly significant because Democrats are at a clear geographic disadvantage. They waste a lopsided number of votes in heavily Democratic Philadelphia and Pittsburgh; the Republicans don’t waste as many…

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Pa Supreme Court on 4-3 Vote Adopts Advisor Nate Persily’s Maps for Pennsylvania Congressional Redistricting; GOP’s Litigation Options Do Not Look Good

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court (with three dissents) [links below] has adopted  Nate Persily’s maps for redrawing congressional districts. (One of the districts–18—looks surprisingly like Penn State’s Nittany Lion.) Philly Inquirer: Its plan splits only 13 counties. Of those, four counties are split into three districts and nine are split into two districts. It also includes significant changes to the state map,…

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Scoring the Pennsylvania Proposals

…s to submit their proposed remedial maps in the ongoing litigation over Pennsylvania’s congressional plan. In sum, seven maps were submitted: two by the plaintiffs, one by the governor, one by the lieutenant governor, one by Pennsylvania House Democrats, one by Pennsylvania Senate Democrats, and one by a group of intervenors. (The state’s Republican legislative leaders also submitted their map a few days earlier.) All of these maps perform…

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“Judges Say Throw Out the Map. Lawmakers Say Throw Out the Judges.”

NYT:  In Pennsylvania, a Republican lawmaker unhappy with a State Supreme Court ruling on gerrymandering wants to impeach the Democratic justices who authored it. In Iowa, a running dispute over allowing firearms in courthouses has prompted bills by Republican sponsors to slash judges’ pay and require them to personally pay rent for courtrooms that are gun-free. In North Carolina, the Republican Party is working on sweeping changes to rein in…

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Introducing PlanScore — Evaluating New Maps

…in we plan to add more states soon (especially ones that might find themselves in remedial proceedings due to ongoing litigation). As an example of PlanScore’s utility, consider the remedial plan that was recently offered by Pennsylvania’s Republican legislative leaders after the state’s congressional map was struck down. We uploaded the map on the site, and learned the following about it: Its efficiency gap, partisan bias, and mean-median…

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“Experts launch PlanScore.org to allow citizens to evaluate redistricting schemes”

…re proposed maps for Pennsylvania, with Wisconsin, North Carolina, Maryland and Ohio coming soon.  By 2020, PlanScore plans to allow maps to be scored for all 50 states. An analysis conducted through PlanScore shows that the Pennsylvania congressional map proposed February 9 by Republican legislative leaders to meet the state Supreme Court’s order is still seriously skewed in favor of Republican candidates and voters.  The new map was scored for…

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Pennsylvania Governor Rejects Republican Legislative Leaders’ Proposed Districting Plan, Meaning Special Master Will Draw Congressional Districts

…ers’ submission is another partisan gerrymander. Princeton University professor Sam Wang said bluntly that “a prettier map can still conceal ill intent” and “it appears that Republicans are not dealing in good faith with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s order.” A Washington Post data expert concluded, “Pennsylvania Republicans have drawn a new congressional map that is just as gerrymandered as the old one.” The New York Times found the submitted…

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“Election Security in All 50 States”–New CAP Report and Big Monday Event

…hat were targeted by hackers during the 2016 election.1 Among those states notified by DHS were: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.2 Arizona, California, Iowa, Texas, and Wisconsin were also among those states originally contacted by DHS. However, those states have denied that their election systems were…

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“Pa. Republicans have proposed a new congressional map. Democrats say it’s still gerrymandered.”

Philly.com:  A proposed new map of Pennsylvania congressional districts may have sanded off some of the rougher edges of the current version, but it still amounts to a pro-Republican gerrymander, a chorus of Democrats complained Saturday as they urged Gov. Wolf to reject it. The governor, whose administration is combing through the proposal with the advice of a prominent mathematics professor, is expected to announce his position on the new map…

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