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Voting in prison divides the candidates, but not civil rights groups

Since Sen. Bernie Sanders declared that all people incarcerated should be permitted to vote, the idea has divided the Democratic presidential field. But now 73 civil rights and liberal advocacy groups have signed a letter endorsing the Vermonter's view.

"Felony disenfranchisement is not just anti-democratic and bad for public safety, it is an unpopular practice that sprang from the most shameful era of American history, a vestige of our past wildly out of step with international norms. And now is the moment for its abandonment," reads the letter, which was posted by The Huffington Post.. "This growing movement against felony disenfranchisement is a promising endorsement of American values, but it raises a key question: Why disenfranchise people in prison to begin with? Why not let them continue to vote while they are incarcerated?"

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Kamala Harris say they're open to the idea of letting all prisoners vote, while former Rep. Beto O'Rourke and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro say they're open to prison voting by nonviolent felons. The rest of the field seems united behind restoring the franchise to felons as soon as they get out of prison. (President Trump is vehemently opposed to letting anyone vote from behind bars.)

Thanks to a wave of changes in the past two decades, most notably in Florida last year, all but five states allow convicts to vote at some point after they are released, though the policies vary widely and the strings attached in many places can be highly difficult to circumvent.

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Open Government
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FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub

The struggle is real: FEC stalled on regulations for online political ads

The Federal Election Commission has once again punted on establishing rules for identifying who is sponsoring online political advertisements. Thursday marked the fourth consecutive meeting in which the topic fell to the wayside without a clear path forward.

FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub revived debate on the topic in June when she introduced a proposal on how to regulate online political ads. In her proposal, she said the growing threat of misinformation meant that requiring transparency for political ads was "a small but necessary step."

Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen and Commissioner Caroline Hunter put forth their own proposal soon after Weintraub, but the commissioners have failed to find any middle ground. At Thursday's meeting, a decision on the agenda item was pushed off to a later date.

Weintraub's proposal says the funding source should be clearly visible on the face of the ad, with some allowance for abbreviations. But Petersen and Hunter want to allow more flexibility for tiny ads that cannot accommodate these disclaimers due to space.

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Open Government
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California's Supreme Court is expediting President Trump's challenge to a new state law that would require him to release five years of tax returns in order to get on the state ballot for the 2020 election.

California court expedites Trump challenge to new tax returns requirement

The California Supreme Court is fast-tracking its review of a challenge to a new law that would require President Trump to make public his tax returns in order to get on the state's ballot for the 2020 election.

A lawsuit seeking to block implementation of the law was filed August 6 by the California Republican Party against Secretary of State Alex Padilla. It claims the law violates California's constitution.

Two other challenges, one filed by Trump's personal lawyers, are pending in federal court.

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