Police station as polling place eyed as a civil rights violation in Georgia
Should the police station be the only polling place in a town with a black majority population, a white majority municipal government and a recent history of racial tensions in law enforcement?
The city council of Jonesboro, a rapidly gentrifying but still poor suburb south of Atlanta, has said "yes." Civil rights groups say the proper answer is "no."
The council said its decision in September to hold this year's local elections in the police station is because the usual polling location, a museum, is being renovated and city hall isn't big enough. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and five other groups that promote civil and voting rights this week urged the city to reverse itself or face a potential lawsuit in November for violating the Voting Rights Act.
"Turnout may be suppressed because voters of color, and voters having experienced negative interactions with law enforcement, may be deterred from casting a ballot," they wrote. "Many people of color have a negative and perceptions of law enforcement, and with good reason. Law enforcement has unfortunately played a central role in the suppression of the African-American vote through the course of our nation's history."
The groups' letter said the elections should be held in a school, church or other public buildings that's less freighted with that sort of history. But a state law enacted in the name of voting rights says polling locations can't be switched within two months of Election Day.
Jonesboro's 4,600 person population is 61 percent black, down from 75 percent at the start of the decade thanks to rapid suburban sprawl, but only one of the council's seven members is African-American. Other than hosting beach volleyball when Atlanta held the 1996 summer Olympics, the town is perhaps most famous for making the wearing of sagging pants an act of "disorderly conduct." And allegations of police brutality and mistreatment of people arrested for local offenses, especially black teenagers, led to the resignation of Police Chief Franklin Allen last year.
An increasing number of the country's largest publicly traded companies are disclosing more than ever about political spending habits that the law permits them to keep secret.
That's the central finding of the fifth annual report from a group of academics and corporate ethicists, who say the average score among the biggest companies traded on American exchanges, the S&P 500, has gone up each year since 2014.
Though corporate political action committees must disclose their giving to candidates, those numbers are very often dwarfed by the donations businesses make to the trade associations and other outside groups that have driven so much of the steady rise in spending on elections. Conservatives say robust disclosure of these behaviors is the best form of regulating money in politics and is working fine, and this new report reflects that. Those who say campaign finance needs more assertive federal regulation will argue such corporate transparency is inconsistent and inadequate to the task, and the new report underscores that.
A year from the presidential election, U.S. intelligence agencies have adopted a new framework for how they will inform candidates, groups and the public about attempts to disrupt our country's elections by foreign operatives.
But the one-page summary of the plan, released late last week, is so general that it remains unclear what the intelligence community plans to do if and when it discovers something suspicious.
The summary by the director of national intelligence states that the federal government will "follow a process and principles designed to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that notification decisions are consistent, well-informed and unbiased."
The new framework is designed to prevent a repeat of some of what happened after the 2016 election.