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Courtesy of Unite America

Representatives of democracy reform groups show off their Accelerator Awards given out late last week by Unite America and RepresentUs. The groups received a total of $250,000 in grants as part of the awards to promote their work on redistricting reform and expanding voting.

13 tapped for prizes to boost local democracy reform campaigns

DENVER — Thirteen local good-government groups across the country have been awarded a combined $250,000 to advance their causes.

The money is going to the inaugural winners of the Accelerator Awards, chosen from 115 applications around the country. The prizes are the creation of Unite America in partnership with RepresentUs. The two are among the most prominent non-partisan groups advocating for fixes to the problems of dysfunctional democracy.

The money was awarded to both fledgling and established organizations to advance their work in three areas: ending partisan gerrymandering, giving voters more power in elections and getting more citizens involved in elections.

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TV stations fight FCC over political ad disclosure

Broadcasters are pushing back against the Federal Communications Commission after the agency made clear it wants broader public disclosure regarding TV political ads.

With the 2020 election less than a year away and political TV ads running more frequently, the FCC issued a lengthy order to clear up any ambiguities licensees of TV stations had regarding their responsibility to record information about ad content and sponsorship. In response, a dozen broadcasting stations sent a petition to the agency, asking it to consider a more narrow interpretation of the law.

This dispute over disclosure rules for TV ads comes at a time when digital ads are subject to little regulation. Efforts to apply the same rules for TV, radio and print advertising across the internet have been stymied by Congress's partisanship and the Federal Election Commission being effectively out of commission.

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A new poll asking people to choose all of the candidates they could support finds Sen. Elizabeth Warren with the broadest backing of any of the Democratic presidential candidates.

Warren the big winner in 'approval voting' poll

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has the broadest support among Democratic presidential contenders — by a healthy margin — according to a poll testing a voting system that allows people to show support for more than one candidate.

Using what's called approval voting, the Massachusetts senator would have the support of 74 percent of Democratic primary voters, according to the poll, conducted Nov. 16-20 by the Center for Election Science.

Warren was followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with 64 percent, and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 61 percent. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive frontrunner in the crowded Democratic field, finishes in fourth place at 53 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.

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Swing states build 2020 hacking protections: Will they hold?

With the presidency on the ballot in less than a year, fears of another attempt by Russia or other foreign powers to interfere in the election seem to grow with each passing day.

But in the battlegrounds where the outcome will be decided — the 13 states almost certain to be most hotly contested by both parties — election security has been tightening and the opportunities for a successful hacking of American democracy are being greatly reduced, a review of the procedures and equipment on course to be used in each state in November 2020 makes clear.

"There's been a huge amount of progress since 2016," says Elaine Kamarck, an election security expert at the Brookings Institution. James Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, says his assessment of the fight against election interference results in feeling "confident that a lot has been done to make it better."

In fact, many who work on the issue now cite the public's perception that our election systems are vulnerable as a problem at least as great as the actual threat.

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