The Russians are coming again, so U.S. agents say register to vote now
Watch out, America. Russia apparently is planning to try the old bait and switch.
Having stirred worry across the United States with their documented efforts to try to hack the 2016 election, Russian operatives are expected in 2020 to face stronger and more secure election infrastructure — featuring fewer voting systems that can be penetrated and more paper records that can be used to check that vote totals are correct.
But, wait. According to CNN and other news outlets, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security sent a joint warning statement in the past few days to state election officials saying they think Russia may focus instead on voter suppression next November.
The document is called "Russia May Try to Discourage Voter Turnout and Suppressing Votes in 2020 U.S. Election." And it argues that Russia may find it more efficient to recruit Americans to protest and intimidate voters and to break into voter registration systems than to actually hack into voting machines.
During the lead-up to Donald Trump's election in 2016, according to the report by special prosecutor Robert Mueller, Russian hackers tried to break into voting systems or voter registration databases, or both, in numerous states. No votes were changed but voter registration information was compromised in Illinois.
In response, Congress appropriated $380 million in March 2018 for security grants to the states, and the Senate and House have both passed spending bills this summer that call for several hundreds of millions dollars more in grants.
Most of the grant money that has been spent has been used to buy new voting machines and take other steps to block meddling of the voting process.
One way to prevent Russians from sowing doubt in the 2020 election, experts said, is for people to rely on official sources — such as the offices of the secretaries of state for information about registration and other voting matters.
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Marginal improvements have been made to help voters understand the questions posed to them on the ballot this November, a new study concludes, but such ballot measures still favor the college-educated — who represent a minority of the U.S. population.
This year voters in eight states will decide the fate of a collective 36 such propositions. In a study released Thursday, Ballotpedia assessed how easy it is to comprehend what each proposal would accomplish, concluding that the difficulty level had decreased compared with the referendums decided in the last off-year election of 2017 — but not by much.
In fact, according to a pair of well-established tests, 21 of the 36 ballot measures cannot be understood by the 40 percent of the voting-age population who never attended college.
Colorado has become the second state to ask the Supreme Court to decide if states may legally bind their presidential electors to vote for the candidate who carried their state.
The issue of so-called faithless electors is the latest aspect of an increasingly heated debate about the virtues and flaws of the Electoral College that has blossomed, especially among progressive democracy reform advocates, now that two of the past five presidential winners (Donald Trump in 2016 and George W. Bush in 2000) got to the Oval Office despite losing the national popular vote.