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The Overlooked Weak Link in Election Security

More than one-third of counties that are overseeing elections in some of the most contested congressional races this November run email systems that could make it easy for hackers to log in and steal potentially sensitive information.

A ProPublica survey found that official email accounts used by 11 county election offices, which are in charge of tallying votes in 12 key U.S. House of Representatives races from California to Ohio, could be breached with only a user name and password — potentially allowing hackers to vacuum up confidential communications or impersonate election administrators. Cybersecurity experts recommend having a second means of verifying a user’s identity, such as typing in an additional code from a smartphone or card, to thwart intruders who have gained someone’s login credentials through trickery or theft. This system, known as two-factor verification, is available on many commercial email services.

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Why Am I Seeing This? Interesting Facebook Ads From Our Political Ad Collector

These ads are collected from participants in our Political Ad Collector project. If you want to help us by submitting the ads you see to our collection, join the project. It’s easy.

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No, a Teen Did Not Hack a State Election

Headlines from Def Con, a hacking conference held this month in Las Vegas, might have left some thinking that infiltrating state election websites and affecting the 2018 midterm results would be child’s play.

Articles reported that teenage hackers at the event were able to “crash the upcoming midterm elections” and that it had taken “an 11-year-old hacker just 10 minutes to change election results.” A first-person account by a 17-year-old in Politico Magazine described how he shut down a website that would tally votes in November, “bringing the election to a screeching halt.”

But now, elections experts are raising concerns that misunderstandings about the event — many of them stoked by its organizers — have left people with a distorted sense of its implications.

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Fund Meant to Protect Elections May Be Too Little, Too Late

The Election Assistance Commission, the government agency charged with distributing federal funds to support elections, released a report Tuesday detailing how each state plans to spend a total of $380 million in grants allocated to improve and secure their election systems.

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When Sarah Sanders and the ACLU Teamed Up for Voting Rights

As the midterm elections approach, Republican state officials and lawmakers have stepped up efforts to block students from voting in their college towns. Republicans in Texas pushed through a law last year requiring voters to carry one of seven forms of photo identification, including handgun licenses but excluding student IDs. In June, the GOP-controlled legislature in North Carolina approved early voting guidelines that have already resulted in closing of polling locations at several colleges. And last month, New Hampshire’s Republican governor signed a law that requires students who vote in the state to also register their cars and obtain driver's licenses there.

One nationally prominent Republican, however, once took the opposite stance on student voting. As an undergraduate at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee — now White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — sued to allow students to vote after being one of more than 900 purged from the county’s rolls.

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Election 2016 Gets a Report Card

A new report out today by researchers at MIT contains some good news about America’s election process. States seem to have fixed the long lines and sky-high wait times that plagued voters in 2012. Overall, it’s getting easier to vote, the research shows.

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Congress Works for You. Here’s How to Be a Better Boss.

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Election Commission Documents Cast Doubt on Trump’s Claims of Voter Fraud

In May of 2017, President Donald Trump established a presidential commission to explore the threat of voter fraud — staffing it with multiple Republicans who had theorized that fraud was a substantial problem in American democracy. The commission, widely called the voter fraud commission, was immediately criticized as a political creation aimed at a phony problem.

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Kris Kobach’s Lucrative Trail of Courtroom Defeats

Kris Kobach likes to tout his work for Valley Park, Missouri. He has boasted on cable TV about crafting and defending the town’s hardline anti-immigration ordinance. He discussed his “victory” there at length on his old radio show. He still lists it on his resume.

But “victory” isn’t the word most Valley Park residents would use to describe the results of Kobach’s work. With his help, the town of 7,000 passed an ordinance in 2006 that punished employers for hiring illegal immigrants and landlords for renting to them. But after two years of litigation and nearly $300,000 in expenses, the ordinance was largely gutted. Now, it is illegal only to “knowingly” hire illegal immigrants there — something that was already illegal under federal law. The town’s attorney can’t recall a single case brought under the ordinance.

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Updated: Facebook Political Ad Collector

See how political advertisers target you. Use this database to search for political ads based on who was meant to see them.

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How Voting Laws Have Changed Since 2016

See the new legislation and legal cases in your state that have the potential to change how you vote this November.

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How the Case for Voter Fraud Was Tested — and Utterly Failed

In the end, the decision seemed inevitable. After a seven-day trial in Kansas City federal court in March, in which Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach needed to be tutored on basic trial procedure by the judge and was found in contempt for his “willful failure” to obey a ruling, even he knew his chances were slim. Kobach told The Kansas City Star at the time that he expected the judge would rule against him (though he expressed optimism in his chances on appeal).

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Covering the Midterms With Electionland 2018

In the run-up to the 2016 election, ProPublica organized a project called Electionland to cover voting, nationally and in real time. Along with a coalition of news organizations and tech companies, we brought together more than 1,100 journalists around the country to cover impediments like restrictive voting laws, allegations of voter fraud, voter harassment, equipment failures and long lines — all of which can effectively disenfranchise eligible voters and erode the integrity of the vote.

Today we’re announcing that we’re relaunching Electionland to cover the 2018 midterm elections. Policies and practices that jeopardize Americans’ fundamental right to vote demand scrutiny. And the concerns raised by the 2016 election — about cybersecurity and foreign attempts to sow doubt about the integrity of the election — make this even more urgent.

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Electionland: The Inside Story

The Google News Lab commissioned a case study on Electionland, a journalism project that ProPublica helped organize and participated in last year. The report was released today and is available for download.

The 66-page report was researched and written by Cassandra Lord, a writer and consultant based in London. It’s being released​ on the first day of the Collaborative Journalism Summit, a conference taking place this week at Montclair State University in New Jersey.

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After Electionland: How it Worked, What We Found and What’s Next

The results are in. The country has a new president-elect, and over 1,000 people joined Electionland to cover voter accessibility and obstacles at the polls on Election Day. The project was done in collaboration with the Google News Lab, Univision, USA Today and WNYC. Today, ProPublica’s Scott Klein, Celeste LeCompte and Jessica Huseman take us inside the project, which was one of the largest newsrooms in the country on Election Day. They walk us through the reporting process, share some surprising findings and talk about what’s next for large-scale collaborative journalism.

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About Electionland

Electionland is a coalition of newsrooms around the country that are covering problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2018 elections. If you’re a journalist covering voting, sign up to find out more about how you can get tips about voting problems in your area. Questions? Read our FAQ.

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