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Bipartisan Senate accord: Russia is still at it

News

Bipartisan Senate report says Russian disinformation will work again without broad pushback

Gun rights. Racism. Immigration. When it came to disrupting the 2016 presidential election, Russian operatives knew all the hot buttons to push on social media, according to a report released Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

And push them they did, in what the report found was a clear and multifaceted effort to help Donald Trump and undermine Hillary Clinton — in a disinformation campaign virtually guaranteed to be resurrected with fresh approaches in the coming year.

"Russia is waging an information warfare campaign against the U.S. that didn't start and didn't end with the 2016 election," the committee said. "Their goal is broader: to sow societal discord and erode public confidence in the machinery of government. By flooding social media with false reports, conspiracy theories, and trolls, and by exploiting existing divisions, Russia is trying to breed distrust of our democratic institutions and our fellow Americans."

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TikTok vows to be a political safe space

With the presidential election just over a year away, political advertisements on the Internet are quickly becoming hard to avoid. But there's at least one place online to escape from it all: TikTok.

The trendy video-sharing platform, popular among the members of Generation Z, wants to become a digital space totally safe from both traditional partisan vitriol and the new wave of disinformation that has sullied the last couple of elections. And so it announced last week that it is barring all ads related to candidates and political issues in the United States.

Although many of the app's 80 million users are not yet old enough to vote, TikTok's politics-free zone provides a unique experience at a time when other social media platforms are rife with paid election content.

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Deepfakers beware: Do it in California or Texas and you'll be in deep trouble

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.

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Washington state says hackers try every day but that its election security is first in class

Local races and a handful of legislative special elections are the only things on the ballot in Washington next month, but the state's chief election official is nonetheless warning that hackers are hunting for a way to disrupt the contests. She's also asserting that her agency is up to the cybersecurity task because of lessons learned from Russia's 2016 interference.

"We have attempts every day," says Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican. "Tens of thousands of attempts to get into our system ... right now, we are just blocking all of them."

"Some are just trying to see what they can see, what can we get to and what can we play with," she told KIRO. "And some have bigger chess moves. They are trying to undermine confidence that voters have in our system."

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Debate

Here's why political independents should hate ranked-choice voting

Will ranked-choice voting make an impact for independent voters? Negative.vote's Mike Shannon says no.

Community

How to Connect with Freshman Lawmakers

Join the Congressional Management Foundation on Oct. 9 for a webinar breaking down its new research on communication and engagement between Congress and constituents.

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

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Ballot measures are good democracy — but only if you can understand them

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.

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Balance of Power
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Two states asking Supreme Court for permission to regulate Electoral College conduct

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.

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