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Fixing Bugs in Democracy: Microtargeting

Organizer: Princeton Gerrymandering Project

Federal election commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub in conversation with professor Sam Wang on the topic of microtargeting. Experts argue that microtargeting fractures civil society by creating separate digital realities for each of us, which can be problematic during a pandemic. Commissioner Weintraub will explain what microtargeting is, why it's worrying to democracy, and what concerned citizens can do about it.

Location: Streaming video

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge claiming Seattle's democracy vouchers are unconstitutional.

Seattle's public funding for candidates survives Supreme Court challenge

A constitutional challenge to Seattle's "democracy voucher" program, the only system of its kind for subsidizing political campaigns with taxpayer funds, has fallen on deaf ears at the Supreme Court.

Two property owners in the city maintained the unique system violates their First Amendment rights by compelling them, through their tax payments, to support candidates they oppose. The justices turned down their appeal Monday without comment.

It was a rare bit of good news for advocates of reducing the influence of big money on politics, who have been disappointed by almost every campaign finance decision by the high court in the past decade.

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Sara Swann/The Fulcrum

Republican attorney Trey Trainor appeared before the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday. He is expected to be confirmed to the FEC.

Trump pick's in line for FEC after enduring Democratic jabs

Much to the chagrin of good governance groups, it appeared clear Tuesday that conservative campaign lawyer Trey Trainor is on his way to a seat on the Federal Election Commission.

Republicans said nothing at all critical, Democrats said nothing supportive and Trainor said almost nothing revelatory about his views during a Senate confirmation hearing lasting less than an hour and a half.

The pro forma nature of the proceedings was a clear signal that, as he runs for re-election, President Trump will be able to break with precedent by adding just one person, and from his own party, to the panel charged with regulating how presidential, congressional and outsider organizations raise and spend campaign contributions.

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Ralph Barrera/Austin American-Statesman

Trey Trainor, who is expected to be confirmed to the Federal Election Commission, worked as a lawyer for President Trump's 2016 campaign.

5 things to know about FEC nominee Trey Trainor

Without enough commissioners for a quorum, the Federal Election Commission has been a toothless watchdog for more than six months. Senate Republicans have now decided to reopen the agency that regulates federal campaign financing for the rest of the political season, but only for the most routine business, by adding a down-the-line conservative as the fourth commissioner.

Trey Trainor, an attorney in Austin and lawyer for the Texas Republican Party, reports Tuesday morning for his Senate confirmation hearing — 29 months after President Trump first nominated him.

Since there's no filibuster on nominations, Democrats who oppose Trainor's emphatic deregulatory approach to money in politics will not be able to prevent his confirmation as the first new FEC member in seven years. But since substantive FEC action requires four votes, it's highly likely Trainor will most often be joining the other conservative in a 2-2 deadlock for the foreseeable future.

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