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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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Tech. Sgt. Jeff Kelly/U.S. Air Force

The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.

Costs to mail ballots may skyrocket for civilians, military living overseas

Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.

The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.

Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.

With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.

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Wambui Gatheru

"Every single opportunity I have been afforded in this country can be traced back to the ratification of amendments."

Meet the reformer: 10 questions with Wambui Gatheru

'Every single opportunity I have been afforded in this country can be traced back to the ratification of amendments.'

Wambui Gatheru is the outreach manager at American Promise, which advocates for amending the Constitution to regulate the raising and spending of electoral campaign funds. Originally from Connecticut, Gatheru, 24, joined the American Promise staff in 2017 after graduating from the University of Connecticut.

The following Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.

What's the tweet-length description of your organization?

American Promise is a cross-partisan organization committed to getting money out of politics, forever, with a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Describe your very first civic engagement.

Knocking door-to-door in my small town in Connecticut when Barack Obama was first running for president.

What was your biggest professional triumph?

Being a part of the effort that made New Hampshire the 20th state in favor of the 28th Amendment. This was something I'd been working on since I started at American Promise two years ago, and the legislation was just passed in March of this year. It was a surreal victory because it had been such a long fight. It took a lot of coordination on every level of civic engagement, but it's a victory I'm happy to have been a part of here at American Promise.

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