KGOU

Miles Parks

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

This week, the acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire sat before the House Intelligence Committee. The hearing, of course, focused on President Trump's phone call with the Ukrainian president, but we noticed that Maguire also said this.

North Carolina state Sen. Rick Horner is pointing at a colorful computer screen.

A staffer points and clicks, points and clicks, slightly changing the dimensions of the red, yellow and cyan jigsaw puzzle at Horner's request.

It's a map of the voting districts of North Carolina. Horner, a Republican, is shaping democracy — and generally having a ball.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A group of guys are staring into a laptop, exchanging excited giggles. Every couple minutes there's an "oooooh" that morphs into an expectant hush.

The Las Vegas scene seems more like a college dorm party than a deep dive into the democratic process.

Cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon are being tossed around. One is cracked open and spews foam all over a computer keyboard.

"That's a new vulnerability!" someone yells.

Updated at 1:40 p.m. ET

Security concerns have prompted the Democratic National Committee to recommend nixing a plan that would have allowed Iowans and Nevadans to remotely caucus for candidates next year.

Supporters have long argued that "virtual caucuses" would open up Iowa's first-in-the-nation presidential contest, which requires caucusers to physically attend sometimes hours-long events to declare their choice for president.

The warden of the federal prison in New York City where Jeffrey Epstein was found dead has been reassigned, the Department of Justice says. Two other staffers were placed on leave.

The administrative moves took place amid official investigations into Epstein's death and following harsh official criticism of the Bureau of Prisons.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

One of the largest gatherings of hackers in the world is happening this weekend in Las Vegas. And one of the things they're hacking into is voting equipment. NPR's Miles Parks has more from DEF CON 27.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

New Jersey is a decisively Democratic state, but last year Democratic lawmakers there decided to try to cement their power even further.

Hillary Clinton won by 14 percentage points in 2016. Barack Obama won by 17 percentage points before that, and a Republican hasn't won a Senate race there since 1972.

Even so, the state Legislature introduced a plan that would overhaul the map-making process in a way that would guarantee Republicans became a "permanent minority."

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Updated Aug. 15

Every year, thousands of Americans try their hand at breaking into politics by running for some kind of elected office.

It's a noble act, often aimed at trying to make a difference — on a school board, a city council or a zoning commission.

But it isn't easy, and many passionate, intelligent people don't know where to start.

NPR's politics team and Life Kit are putting together a how-to guide — in podcast form — on running for office.

Updated on June 7 at 4:30 p.m. ET

The way Thomas Hofeller talked about redistricting — the drawing of political boundaries and the sifting of voters into buckets — you could be forgiven if you assumed he was speaking about a loved one or a favorite holiday.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

What special counsel Robert Mueller said last week is going to stay with many people for a long time.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

From 8 a.m. to noon on Election Day last November, voting in Johnson County, Ind., ground to a halt.

Lines at precincts across the county, just south of Indianapolis, swelled. Some voters waited hours to cast a ballot; some left furious that they were unable to do so.

"People weren't happy. People had to leave and go to work," said Cindy Rapp, the Democratic member on Johnson County's election board.

The county votes on electronic voting machines, which don't provide a paper trail — something cybersecurity experts vehemently warn against.

Updated at 4:12 p.m. ET

Special counsel Robert Mueller shut down his Russia investigation on Wednesday in an unusual appearance in which he restated his findings and made clear that he never considered it an option to charge President Trump.

"We are formally closing the special counsel's office," Mueller told reporters at the Justice Department on Wednesday morning.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

Florida lawmakers were angry Thursday when they emerged from an FBI briefing that left them with unanswered questions about the two county election offices in their state that were breached by Russian cyberattacks in 2016.

Sen. James Lankford is worried about election apathy.

Not that people will stop caring about politics, but as the weeks and months pass after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report on Russian interference, the Oklahoma Republican said he worries there won't be the same urgency to safeguard American democracy.

The 2018 midterms went by without a major cybersecurity breach, but the issue isn't solved, Lankford warned.

Russian hackers breached the systems of two county elections systems in Florida in 2016, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday at a news conference. DeSantis said no data were tampered with and vote tallies were not affected.

The intrusions, which had not ever been publicly confirmed, were first disclosed in special counsel Robert Mueller's report about Russian interference in the 2016 election last month.

From checking in at a polling place on a tablet to registering to vote by smartphone to using an electronic voting machine to cast a ballot, computers have become an increasingly common part of voting in America.

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