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Open Government

GOP Leaders Back Off Idea of Shielding Trump's Renomination

Grassroots voters all along the ideological spectrum agree on at least one thing when it comes to picking presidential candidates: an open primary and caucus process, where party bosses don't game the system to aid their preferred candidate. And, after contemplating a blatant nose-thumbing of that "good government" concept – in order to assure President Trump's re-nomination – Republican Party leaders are signaling they'll leave the rules pretty much alone in 2020.

That's because they are "content that existing bylaws and the president's overwhelming grassroots support are sufficient to stiff-arm any GOP opponents that might emerge," the Washington Examiner reports. (At the same time, at their winter meeting the 168 members of the Republican National Committee may formally signal their enthusiasm for anointing Trump to a second term at next summer's convention in Charlotte.)

A handful of prominent GOP dissidents, including Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and former Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, are quietly assessing their prospects for waging an insurgent challenge – and the party bosses' response suggests they're not much worried for now. (Besides, any signs the party machinery is tipping the scales to the incumbent could undercut a central message of Trump's: that he's an anti-establishment populist whose victory came after besting "rigged" systems in the GOP primary and the general election.)

But other anti-Trump forces are not taking those signals for granted. Defending Democracy Together, a group of conservatives opposed to the president, has launched to air TV ads this week in the early primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina, warning that the RNC will rig the nominating system to thwart any challenges to Trump.

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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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