California has decided to throw a flag on people who post deepfake videos of candidates running for public office.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed legislation that prohibits distribution of these artificially created or manipulated videos within 60 days of an election unless the video carries a statement disclosing it has been altered. Texas enacted a similar law late last month.
That the nation's most populous state, where lawmaking power is entirely in Democrats' hands, would mirror a new policy in the third-largest state, formulated entirely by Republicans, is a clear indictor that the new world of deepfakes is causing big-time bipartisan worry among politicians. But some experts question whether the laws will survive legal challenges.
Almost 1,700 polling places have been closed in counties that are no longer subject to federal oversight brought on by past voting discrimination, according to a new study that was highlighted at a congressional hearing Tuesday.
The poll closings, documented in the report Democracy Diverted by the Leadership Conference Education Fund, was one of several examples witnesses gave of what they say are discriminatory practices that have occurred since the Supreme Court voided a key part of the Voting Rights Act six years ago.
The mayor of Fort Worth, Betsy Price, had an answer for her city's historically low turnout in local elections. She blamed the schools.
"Part of the problem is public schools aren't teaching civic engagement," she said during a mayoral debate in May, the election a few days away.
One of her challengers, though, blamed the press. "If the media would get more behind things and get a fire going, we'd have better turnout," James McBride said.
And another challenger blamed the politicians. "We have leaders who don't want people to come out and vote because they know a low voter turnout favors them," Deborah Peoples said.
Peoples, the local Democratic Party chairwoman, lost the election and Price, a Republican, won her fifth term. But the research on what influences turnout suggests it was Peoples who was onto something.
Election officials in Texas, the nation's second largest state and one that's rapidly becoming politically competitive, are being sued by voters and advocacy groups who say the way they reject mail-in ballots is unconstitutional.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in San Antonio by two voters and groups who advocate for the disabled, older and disabled veterans, people in jail, and young voters on college campuses.
People in all of those groups tend to make extensive use of mail-in ballots, not only in Texas but across the country. And litigating to ease the rules for this type of voting is becoming an increasing popular tactic for those pushing for better access to the ballot box.