More interns than ever working for pay on the Hill this summer
Internships on Capitol Hill have long been viewed as the province of the rich, or at least those who could afford to spend a semester or summer without getting paid. A nonprofit civic education group took the lead in changing that with a paid internship program started three years ago, and this summer Congress itself is doing more to pay for its collegiate help than ever before.
Paying more interns is seen as a small but serious step toward improving how Congress functions, because there's a strong expectation the place will work better if it's staffed by a more economically as well as ethnically broad-based group of people.
College to Congress aims to bring more diversity to the intern pool by giving low-income students opportunities to work for members of both parties. The 18 students chosen for this summer have all their expenses related to housing, travel, food and professional clothing paid for—more than $26,000 each.
The new investment by the taxpayers is not as generous. Last fall Congress agreed to spend $14 million on paid internships. Each House member has been given $20,000 for that purpose. Senate funding differs depending on the size of each senator's state, but the average allotment is closer to $50,000.
The money will guarantee a boost in young people who can get by on the Hill for a few months without trolling receptions for free food or hoping their parents will come through with some help. Two years ago, only 8 percent of House Republicans and 4 percent of House Democrats paid their interns, the advocacy group Pay Our Interns estimates. In the Senate, it was 51 percent of Republicans and 31 percent of Democrats.
The same report pegged at $6,000 the average cost for someone to live and work in Washington during an internship.
These are the College to Congress interns and their placements:
- Ana Aldazabal of La Habra, Calif. and California State University at Fullerton is with Rep. Gil Cisneros, D-Calif.
- Onyx Brunner of Chicago and Yale is with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
- Joshua Cardenas of San Francisco and Wesleyan is with Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
- Abigail Christopher of Brick, N.J. and University of Delaware is with the GOP staff of the Education and Labor Committee.
- MyChale Cooper of Tuscaloosa, Ala. and University of Alabama is with Rep. Gary Palmer, R-Ala.
- Kendall Criswell of Tuscaloosa, Ala. and University of Montevallo is with Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y.
- Matthew Garza of Weslaco, Texas and Colby College is with Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del.
- Bridger Jimenez of Long Beach, Calif. and California State University at Dominguez Hills is with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
- Jalen Johnson of Albany, Ga. and University of West Georgia is with Sen. Sonny Perdue, R-Ga.
- Alyssa Kurke of Glassboro, N.J. and American University is with Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H.
- Reecha Patel of Bartonville, Pa. and Lehigh University is with Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa.
- Khymaya Perkins of Detroit and Dartmouth is with the House Democratic Caucus.
- Madison Piel of Marlborough, Conn. and Assumption College is with Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark.
- Marissa Reyes of Prosser, Wash. and Barnard College is with the Senate Democratic Diversity Initiative.
- Ryan Schiesser of Franklin Furnace, Ohio and Shawnee State University is with the GOP staff of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
- Tyler Swartzell of Fargo, N.D. and The College of William & Mary is with Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.
- Jasmine Teeny of Troutdale, Ore. and Biola University is with the GOP staff for the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
- Justin Walker of Lexington, S.C. and University of South Carolina is with Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa.
The paper trail has become the industry standard for giving voters and elections officials confidence that ballots haven't been hacked. Now comes another back-to-the-future move for boosting security and bolstering public confidence in elections: the return of the 10-sided dice.
The quirky toys found in many high school classrooms and role-playing games are part of a pilot program announced this week in Pennsylvania, which is joining a handful of other states in trying out a math-based system for checking the accuracy of election returns.
The "risk-limiting audit" searches for irregularities in vote tallies and relies on some seriously advanced statistical analysis combined with a bit of analog randomness, which is where auditors using those pentagonal trapezohedrons (the dice) at public audit hearings will get involved.
Indiana is not moving nearly assertively enough to upgrade its voting machines so they're less vulnerable to hackers, a nonprofit alleges in a federal lawsuit pressing the state to spend millions more before the presidential election.
At issue is the timetable for eliminating the direct recording electronic, or DRE, voting machines that are in use in 58 of the state's 92 counties. The complaint filed Thursday by Indiana Vote by Mail, which advocates for any array of proposals to give Hoosiers easier access to the ballot box, wants to force the state to replace the paperless devices in the next year with machines that produce a voter-verified paper audit trail.
Indiana for now looks to be among just eight states using paperless balloting in 2020, when President Trump will be counting on its 11 electoral votes. The state last went for the Democratic candidate for president in 2008.