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Open Government

Conservative media group sues for access to Wisconsin's Democratic governor

An influential conservative media outlet in Wisconsin is alleging that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is unconstitutionally keeping its reporters in the dark about the governor's public appearances and barring them from events open to other media.

The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, which operates an overtly rightward-leaning news service that covers state government and politics, filed a lawsuit in federal court this week to gain access.

The case is notable in part because it counters a stereotyped narrative — that fights for open government and public access are generally waged by liberal media outlets against conservative government officials.

The suit alleges the news service is being treated differently from other press outlets in Madison because of its political views, in violation of the Constitution's protection of freedom of speech and guarantee of equal protection. It says the governor's staff has refused MacIver's requests to receive media advisories and barred its reporters from a widely attended press briefing in February when Evers detailed his first budget proposal after taking office.

"Our administration provides many opportunities for both reporters and the public to attend open events with the governor," his spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said in a statement. "Gov. Evers is committed to openness and transparency in state government, and he believes strongly that a fair and unbiased press corps is essential to our democracy."

The editors of Wisconsin's Progressive magazine told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel they weren't aware of any similar exclusion by the previous governor, Republican Scott Walker.

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More states rolling the dice for election security

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.

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Inquire Indiana: Which Counties Don't Have Paper Ballots?

Indiana moving far too slowly to thwart election hacking, lawsuit alleges

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.

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