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Brennan Center for Justice

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that works to reform, revitalize – and when necessary, defend – our country's systems of democracy and justice. At this critical moment, the Brennan Center is dedicated to protecting the rule of law and the values of Constitutional democracy. We focus on voting rights, campaign finance reform, ending mass incarceration, and preserving our liberties while also maintaining our national security. Part think tank, part advocacy group, part cutting-edge communications hub, we start with rigorous research. We craft innovative policies. And we fight for them – in Congress and the states, the courts, and in the court of public opinion.

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The state Supreme Court said it was fair to make ex-felons like Erica Racz (seen registering to vote in January 2019) pay all monetary penalties before regaining the franchise. But it was only an advisory opinion.

Florida top court ruling on felon voting is hardly the final word

Republicans hoping to limit the newly restored voting rights of convicted felons in Florida have won the backing of the state Supreme Court. But it's really just a victory in the court of public opinion, because the justices issued only an advisory opinion Thursday while the real decision is up to the federal courts.

At issue is a law passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature last year to implement a state constitutional amendment approved in 2018 with the support of almost two-thirds of the electorate, restoring voting rights to about 1.4 million Floridians with criminal records.

It is the largest single expansion of voting rights in the country since 18-year-olds got the constitutional right to cast ballots half a century ago. But its reach could be sharply limited if Republicans successfully defend the financial curbs they want to impose.

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House Administration Committee

The CEOs of the three biggest voting machine makers beginning their testimony. From left: Tom Burt of Election Systems & Software, John Poulos of Dominion Voting Systems and Julie Mathis of Hart InterCivic.

Top three voting machine makers embrace more federal regulation

Here's something you don't see every day: Executives of three companies agreeing with the suggestion they should be under stronger oversight by Uncle Sam.

But that's exactly what happened Thursday, when representatives of the three companies that make more than 80 percent of the 350,000 voting machines used in the United States testified before Congress.

Just the appearance at one hearing by leaders of three competing businesses — Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Dominion Voting Systems of Denver and Hart InterCivic of Austin, Texas — was in itself historic. Even more unusual was their willingness to embrace tighter federal regulation and oversight ahead of the election, which could provide them with some government cover if the presidential contest is marred by hackers once again.

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kanvag / Getty Images

Dark money flowing fastest into state judicial races, analysts find

Special-interest groups, many with donors the public never knows about, continued to play an outsized role in the financing of elections for state Supreme Courts across the country, a new analysis finds.

More than $39.7 million was spent on four dozen contests for seats on the top courts in 21 states last year, and 27 percent of the money was contributed by advocacy organizations allowed by state and federal laws to keep secret the identities of their benefactors. The calculation was unveiled Wednesday by the Brennan Center for Justice, which advocates for tougher campaign finance regulation and many other causes on the left side of the democracy reform debate.

By comparison, in no election during the past two decades have these so-called "dark money" organizations accounted for more than 19 percent of all spending in races for Congress.

The lack of donor transparency has the obvious potential to obscure all sorts of conflicts of interest for the justices on state Supreme Courts, who have the final say annually on litigation directing billions of dollars into corporate coffers and consumers' wallets. And, the Brennan Center wrote, it also undermines the public's confidence in state judicial systems maintaining their impartiality.

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mapchart.net

Currently, two of Nevada's four congressional districts are routinely competitive between Republicans and Democrats.

Bid launched to bring independence to Nevada political mapmaking – in 2023

A long quest has formally begun to add battleground Nevada to the roster of states where the election districts are drawn by non-politicians.

Advocates for ending partisan gerrymandering nationwide filed a proposed state constitutional amendment on Monday with officials in Carson City. It would create an independent commission to draw both state legislative and congressional districts — with a mandate they be geographically compact, give minorities a fair shot at representation and be as "politically competitive" between the major parties as possible.

The earliest that could happen is four years from now, however. That's because, even if advocates gather the necessary 98,000 signatures by June to put the measure on next November's ballot, and even if it succeeds then, a second statewide vote reaffirming the first one is required in 2022 before the new panel could get to work.

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