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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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Who's allowed to enforce election security? The Brennan Center explains.

The Brennan Center for Justice published a concise primer on the use of U.S. troops, other federal employees (including the Justice Department), militias or others to watch polls or oversee voting, the way President Trump has suggested that his "army" of supporters might do.

The bottom line is that in almost all cases, federal laws prohibit the use of troops or agencies like DOJ or the Department of Homeland Security to enforce election security. The president couldn't deploy the National Guard because when they're under federal command, National Guard troops are considered part of the U.S. military.

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Big Picture
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Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg gave the Center for Tech and Civic Life $250 million to distribute through grants.

Debate, and more suits, sparked by spurt of private funds for election costs

This is the latest illustration of how far the discord over the presidential election has gone:

Faced with a once-in-a-century pandemic that's claimed more than 200,000 lives, and created unprecedented health risks and other complications for voting, Congress and the Trump administration deadlocked after allocating just 10 percent of the $4 billion both red and blue states are begging for to assure the nation's central democratic exercise is safe, comprehensive and trustworthy during the pandemic.

But once wealthy benefactors started stepping in to help — led by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who pledged $300 million a month ago for such anodyne uses as buying disinfectant and hiring poll workers — their effort almost immediately got embroiled in the most litigated election in American history.

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Webinar: How to make sure your vote counts

Webinar rewind: How to make sure your vote counts

With legal fights over the election being waged across the country and disinformation clouding the truth about voting systems, Americans can be forgiven for their confusion about how to cast a ballot this fall. Because each state sets its own rules — for registering, getting and returning vote-by-mail ballots, timetables for balloting in person and so many other things — keeping it all straight can be difficult for both voting rights advocates and individual voters.

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Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images

Two federal agencies have issued a warning that Russians and others may attempt to undermine our election by spreading misinformation.

FBI and DHS warn of foreign misinformation on election results

Remember election security? The Russians? What happened in 2016?

With much of the focus on mail-in ballots, drop boxes and other mechanics of voting during a public health crisis, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security want to make sure Americans know: Foreign actors are again trying again to disrupt our presidential election — including with a disinformation campaign about the results.

"The increased use of mail-in ballots due to Covid-19 protocols could leave officials with incomplete results" the night of Nov. 3, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (a part of DHS) and the FBI emphasized in a joint statement on Tuesday, and "foreign actors and cybercriminals" are expected to spread misinformation and disinformation to "exploit the time required to certify and announce elections' results."

The warning was issued as the Brennan Center for Justice,a progressive think tank that has done significant research on a broad range of election threats, issued a new study concluding that great improvement has been made in securing election systems from hacking, especially in the swing states that will decide the presidency.

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