US elections have 'obvious weak spots' that cheaters could exploit — here's how to start fixing them

Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Many liberal and progressive media outlets have been lamenting the fact that House Resolution 1, a.k.a. the For the People Act — a comprehensive voting rights bill — is unlikely to be passed by the U.S. Senate, where centrist Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has come out against it. Veteran conservative columnist Mona Charen, in an article published by The Bulwark this week, is somewhat critical of HR 1, but not for Trumpian reasons. Charen, an outspoken Never Trumper who supported now-President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, agrees with Democrats that allies of former President Donald Trump are declaring war on U.S. democracy. And some of her warnings and recommendations are similar to what election law expert Richard L. Hasen had to say in an article published by The Atlantic back on January 4.

The 64-year-old Charen, who worked in the Reagan White House during the 1980s, is worried that in 2024, pro-Trump Republicans will try to overturn the presidential election results if they don't like the outcome — and she doesn't see either HR 1 or the John Lewis Voting Rights Act as adequate vehicles for addressing that "threat."

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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