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Both billionaires' efforts will focus in part on registering young voters.

Steyer, Bloomberg pledge $60 million to boost turnout

Now there are two New York billionaires with the presidency on their minds who are opening their wallets big-time to register voters in battleground states.

On Monday the progressive advocacy group NextGen America announced plans to spend $45 million in the next year to register and turn out people in 11 states that both the Democratic nominee and President Trump will be targeting. The group was founded and is financed by investor and philanthropist Tom Steyer, who started his Democratic presidential bid in July.

And on Wednesday top aides to Michael Bloomberg signaled that, whether he joins the crowded Democratic field or not in the coming weeks, he will pour between $15 million and $20 million into bolstering the ranks of progressives signed up to vote in just five big purple states.

The back-to-back announcements are the latest reflections of the enormous amounts of cash that will flood the 2020 campaign as well as the expectation that turnout in a handful of places could decide whether Trump is re-elected.

Last week Bloomberg, the media mogul and former mayor, unveiled a $100 million online advertising campaign attacking Trump in four swing states as well.

His additional effort will reportedly seek to register 500,000 black, Latino, Asian, young and rural voters starting early next year in five states the president won in 2016: Michigan and Wisconsin, which he carried by less than a percentage point each; Arizona and North Carolina, where his margin was 3 points; and Texas, which he won by 9 points but has since undergone enough demographic change to give the Democrats hope for their first presidential win in 44 years.

The Steyer-connected drive will target four of the same states (but not Texas) and also Florida, Iowa, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Some of those states, notably Maine, were added to the list because the Democrats have an opening to flip Senate seats there.

NextGen America — from which Steyer resigned as president after starting his campaign — says the goal is to sign up at least 270,000 new voters younger than 35 and then get them to the polls along with 330,000 who are already on the rolls.

"If Mike runs, we're going to try to do what we can to run two campaigns simultaneously," Bloomberg's senior advisor Howard Wolfson told the Associated Press. Beyond the Democratic contest, he added, "there's another campaign going on that the president has begun that ends in November that also needs to be engaged. And one of the arguments that we would make on behalf of Mike to primary voters is he is able to wage these two campaigns simultaneously — effectively and simultaneously."
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The House on Friday passed legislation to restore a provision of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. The bill would require advance approval of voting changes in states with a history of discrimination. Here President Lyndon Johnson shares one of the pens he used to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Passage of historic voting rights law takes a partisan turn

In a partisan vote on an issue that once was bipartisan, House Democrats pushed through legislation Friday that would restore a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act passed the House 228-187, with all Democrats voting for the bill and all but one Republican, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, voting against it.

The bill faces virtually no chance of being considered in the Republican-controlled Senate.

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Big Picture

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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1952 Eisenhower Answers America

On TV, political ads are regulated – but online, anything goes

Lightman is a professor of digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University.

With the 2020 election less than a year away, Facebook is under fire from presidential candidates, lawmakers, civil rights groups and even its own employees to provide more transparency on political ads and potentially stop running them altogether.

Meanwhile, Twitter has announced that it will not allow any political ads on its platform.

Modern-day online ads use sophisticated tools to promote political agendas with a high degree of specificity.

I have closely studied how information propagates through social channels and its impact on political messaging and advertising.

Looking back at the history of mass media and political ads in the national narrative, I think it's important to focus on how TV advertising, which is monitored by the Federal Communications Commission, differs fundamentally with the world of social media.

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