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Miles Parks

Miles Parks is a reporter on NPR's Washington Desk. He covers voting and elections, and also reports on breaking news.

Parks joined NPR as the 2014-15 Stone & Holt Weeks Fellow. Since then, he's investigated FEMA's efforts to get money back from Superstorm Sandy victims, profiled budding rock stars and produced for all three of NPR's weekday news magazines.

A graduate of the University of Tampa, Parks also previously covered crime and local government for The Washington Post and The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla.

In his spare time, Parks likes playing, reading and thinking about basketball. He wrote The Washington Post's obituary of legendary women's basketball coach Pat Summitt.

Jennifer Morrell understands more than most that when voters experience new ways to vote, it's not easy to take them away.

When Morrell was overseeing elections in Utah's Weber County, it offered what was going to be a onetime, all-mail election to decide a library bond issue.

"People were surprised at turnout, I do remember that," said Morrell, now an elections consultant.

Efforts to protect U.S. elections from disinformation are proceeding amid reports that the head of the agency in the Department of Homeland Security that oversees election security expects to be fired soon by the White House.

Christopher Krebs, director of DHS' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, spearheaded an agency campaign to counter rumors about voter fraud and election irregularities.

Updated at 12:24 p.m. ET

Despite calls from many for a concession this weekend, President Trump and his campaign say they are pushing on to fight the election results tooth-and-nail.

Practically speaking, that means lawsuits.

"Our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated," Trump said in a statement Saturday. "The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots."

Updated at 6 p.m. ET

With former Vice President Joe Biden inching closer to the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to win, President Trump and his campaign have ramped up their efforts to delegitimize the vote-counting process.

Those efforts have come both in public comments, with Trump airing unfounded conspiracies and incorrect information about voting in recent days, and in lawsuits that have thus far had almost no success.

Election Day itself went off far more smoothly than many election officials would have predicted seven months ago, as the pandemic took hold in the middle of primary season.

But for months, those officials warned that the expected influx of mail-in votes this year could mean a longer wait before the winner of the presidency was known.

As Nov. 3 turned into Nov. 4, it became clear that's exactly what was happening.

Government officials have spent the year touting Tuesday's election as potentially the "most secure" in the nation's history.

Fewer voters are set to use the riskiest machines — electronic systems that leave no paper record — as compared to four years ago, and there is a whole-of-government approach to election security that never existed before.

Throughout his eight-year career as the Washington Wizards' starting shooting guard, Bradley Beal has scored more than 11,000 points. He's made two All Star teams and he's hit over a thousand three-pointers.

One thing he hasn't done in all that time: Vote.

"I can selfishly say I was that person four years ago, and eight years ago," Beal said, as his home court, Capital One Arena, was being announced as a voting center this fall. "I was someone who didn't take registration seriously, and I was someone who thought my vote didn't count."

The pandemic has changed a lot about how we vote this year, including when we may find out who won.

It's possible — because some rules have changed, and some haven't — that Nov. 3 could come and go without a clear answer as to who the next president will be.

Early voting turnout continues to shatter records, as sky-high voter enthusiasm meets the realities of the United States' creaky machinery of democracy amid a pandemic. That means long lines in some places and administrative errors with some mail ballots, but a system that is working overall, according to experts.

"Despite some of those concerns, things are going at this point reasonably well," said former Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, speaking specifically about the expansion of voting by mail.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Tina Barton knew counting mail ballots would become a problem.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

With an unprecedented number of people planning to vote by mail this year, we wanted to dig into this number.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

COVID-19 is still spreading across the United States, but you would barely know it by how people are planning to vote this year.

As the pandemic took hold in the spring, voting experts predicted a national shift toward mail or absentee voting. Some experts predicted as many as 70% of all votes cast could be by mail, as was the case in Wisconsin's April primary.

Voters in a number of swing states this November will have more leeway in getting their mail ballots back in time to count, should rule changes announced in the past week hold up to legal challenges. But the changes could delay the reporting of election results and possibly set up court fights down the line.

In a call that included a number of "tense moments," Postmaster General Louis DeJoy sought to reassure a group of the nation's top election officials Thursday that election mail will be his agency's highest priority this fall, according to one state election official on the call.

Updated at 4:39 p.m. ET

Authorities in government and Big Tech unveiled a number of actions and announcements on Thursday in the ongoing effort to defend the 2020 election from foreign interference.

The Treasury Department announced it's sanctioning a member of the Ukrainian parliament who waged an influence campaign aimed at the 2020 election — one who specifically spread "false and unsubstantiated narratives" about former Vice President Joe Biden.

Updated at 5:29 p.m. ET

Georgia's top election official sounded the alarm Tuesday because he said 1,000 people voted twice in the state's elections so far this year — although when pressed, he acknowledged he didn't know whether any of them did so intentionally.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, made the announcement in a news conference on Tuesday. He said the thousand voters turned in absentee ballots and then voted in person in the state's June primary, but he provided few details apart from that.

In the face of contradictory messages coming from members of his own party, members of the U.S. intelligence community and even a member of his own family, President Trump continues his months-long campaign against efforts to expand voting by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"The fraud and abuse will be an embarrassment to our Country," Trump tweeted Wednesday.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy promised some of the nation's top election officials on Thursday that mailed ballots would be the U.S. Postal Service's top priority this autumn.

DeJoy and the Postal Service have been engulfed in a political firestorm following operational changes he ordered — and now has paused — which slowed the throughput of mail and raised some fears that they might constrain voting by mail.

The FBI says it has no evidence of any coordinated fraud schemes related to voting by mail this year, undercutting repeated claims by President Trump and his camp about what they've called security problems.

That disclosure was made in an election security briefing for reporters on Wednesday by high-ranking officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

President Trump cast a vote-by-mail ballot in Florida this week after months of questioning the security of the method of voting, and in doing so he returned it to election officials using a technique many Republicans say should be illegal.

The way Trump voted shows how he's had to walk a fine line, and often tweak his language around voting, to adjust for political realities and his own behavior.

Updated at 3:26 p.m. ET

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has agreed to appear for a U.S. House Oversight Committee hearing next week as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have voiced concern over the direction of the U.S. Postal Service.

Election officials are seeking clarification from the Postal Service about how recent cutbacks will affect what's expected to be an avalanche of mail-in voting in the upcoming election. Changes in postal operations have already led to mail delays across the country, raising alarms about what will happen in November.

Updated at 7:10 p.m. ET

The top counterintelligence official in the U.S. government warned Friday of ongoing interference and influence efforts by China, Russia and Iran.

William Evanina, who leads the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said that the U.S. government has assessed that China prefers President Trump losing the election, because Beijing considers him "unpredictable," while Russia is working to undermine Democrat Joe Biden.

Updated at 7:32 p.m. ET

The head of the U.S. Postal Service promised Friday to make the organization more efficient and more financially stable, but his remarks may do little to quell fears that the post office's cost-cutting measures will hurt service during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are at the beginning of a transformative process," Louis DeJoy said in his first public remarks since becoming postmaster general. "Our goal is to change and improve the Postal Service to better serve the American public, and I am excited about the opportunities ahead."

Florida's elections system, which has been the butt of political jokes for almost two full decades, got a reprieve this week, as President Trump seemed to indicate it was the only state he felt confident could run a vote-by-mail system.

"Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!"

President Trump's claims about why November's election could be marred and illegitimate shifted again Thursday, after he walked back his desire to potentially delay voting.

Trump falsely claimed that the U.S. is sending out "hundreds of millions of universal mail-in ballots" and also repeated a conspiracy theory about foreign countries counterfeiting ballots.

Ever since the pandemic struck, state and local election officials across the country have made it clear: To avoid an election disaster in November, they need more money now.

Some residents of Washington, D.C., have lived there for years but still cast their votes from elsewhere in the United States.

D.C. is home to over 700,000 people, a population greater than Wyoming and Vermont — but unlike citizens in those states, D.C. residents don't have anyone voting for their interests in Congress.

Updated at 8:44 p.m. ET Thursday

Attorney General William Barr said Thursday that he doesn't believe President Trump has overstepped the boundaries between the White House and the Justice Department in a number of big recent cases.

Barr told NPR in a wide-ranging interview that he believes Trump has "supervisory authority" to oversee the effective course of justice — but Barr said that ultimately, the choices were made and carried through independently by the Justice Department.

President Trump has made it clear that he does not support allowing all registered voters access to mail ballots this fall, even during a pandemic. But he keeps changing his story about why he's opposed.

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