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New Technology Allows Election Officials to Verify Votes Like Never Before - Will It Be Widely Used in 2018?

Technology has bestowed a stunning twist of fate in the arcane world of counting how America votes.

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Is Social Media Destroying Democracy?

The political world is awash in a growing sea of social media-fed misinformation, loosely called fake news. Each week brings eyebrow-raising reports of a threat poised to upend America’s already dysfunctional political landscape, or reports that those at the helm of online information ecosystems delight in distorting reality and disrupting societal norms.

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Texas 2018 Primary Shows Democrats Have Momentum, Republicans Still Dominate

Progressive Democrats made some inroads in Texas on Tuesday’s Election Day, with a few winning U.S. House primaries or moving to runoffs that will be held later this spring.

But while there were some successes down the political ladder, from first-time candidates running for state legislature and judgeships, the blue voter turnout seen in 2018’s first primaries demonstrated that it will be years before red-run Texas becomes politically purple, despite its diversifying demographics.

“So far, Dems are seeing big turnout gains vs. '14/'10 in major metro TX, but not nearly as dramatic elsewhere. Bodes well for them in #TX07 & #TX32, not as well for them in other contests,” tweeted Dave Wasserman, the Cook Political Report’s U.S. House expert, based on still-incomplete precinct results after midnight local time.

Statewide, with 88 percent of nearly 7,700 precincts reporting, 976,000 Texans voted in Democratic Party primaries, compared to 1,476,000 voters in GOP’s primaries.   

Texas has 36 House seats. Three national progressive groups—Justice Democrats, Our Revolution and Progressive Democrats of America—endorsed nine House candidates, in some cases overlapping. Of those, Vanessa Adia (TX-12), a mother and teacher, ran unopposed and thus won her primary. Adrienne Bell (TX-14), an educator and longtime Democratic campaigner, and Linsey Fagan (TX-26), a single mother and entrepreneur, both won with more than 50 percent and face no run-off.

Chris Peri (TX-25), a criminal defense attorney, came in first but faces a runoff. Laura Moser (TX-7), a journalist who was actively opposed by Washington-based party officials, came in second and faces a run-off later this spring. 

As the New York Times' live election night coverage noted, both the Democratic and Republican parties were exhibiting the same internal partisan divides that plagued both parties in 2016. Democrats were split between Berniecrats and centrists, while Republicans were split between moderates and the far right.

“Texans voted on Tuesday in primary elections marked by widespread infighting,” the Times reported. “Democrats have been clamoring to flip three congressional seats in districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. But in recent weeks, establishment Democrats have had to grapple with progressive candidates [namely, Moser], and far-right Republicans have set their sights and advertising dollars on moderate Republicans.”

Among Republicans, the top-spending candidate was Kathaleen Wall, a rancher married to a technology executive. She compared herself to President Donald Trump, did no media interviews and spent $6 million of her own money to get 12,000 votes, enough to move toward a runoff later this spring.

On a more local level—seeking state legislative seats, judgeships, county clerk or the state board of education—the progressive group Run for Something reported that its candidates fared well in down-ballot races in some of the state’s bluer epicenters.

“Fourteen Run for Something candidates competed in Tuesday’s Texas primaries and as of midnight, at least nine of those amazing folks will be moving on to the runoffs or the general election in November,” an e-mail reported. “Their hard work and aggressive voter contact drove Democratic voters across the state to turn out in unprecedented numbers.”

“It’s worth noting: Run for Something worked closely with the Texas Democratic Party to recruit candidates this cycle, helping find candidates to contest 133 out of 150 state legislative seats—a nearly 50 percent increase over 2016 and the highest figure since at least the early ‘90s. Fielding candidates all across the state will allow Democrats to capitalize on the wave election this fall, and will hopefully yield some surprising wins!”

Sorry, Russia Is Not the Biggest Threat to Our Elections - Facebook and YouTube Are

Americans who care about democracy and voting should stop jumping to conclusions about Russians hunkered down in Moscow cyber-bunkers, and instead look at what’s happening on these shores as shoddy journalists and Silicon Valley’s content curators are doing Vladimir Putin’s work for him.

Last week, a mini-drama played out in the world of American elections, Russian interference and vote-hacking conspiracies that was a microcosm of the same online dynamics that tilted and force-fed American voters seven times as much Hillary-hating propaganda on YouTube as comparable anti-Trump content.

This snapshot reveals that little has changed in the misinformation engines driving the attention economy. This is the frail state of American democracy today, where the most powerful content curators, opportunistic partisans, poorly informed journalists—and yes, overseas adversaries—are funneling and amplifying “divisive, sensational and conspiratorial” content, as one authoritative report put it, further undermining already shaky public confidence in voting.

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Democrats Are Targeting 12 States to Prevent Another Decade of GOP Gerrymandering

Forget, for a minute, which party controls the House after November’s elections. There’s another decision that will be made this fall that will determine if Republicans will likely dominate the 2020s as they have this decade, in Congress and state capitals.

That fateful decision concerns whether the GOP will monopolize the process for revising political maps that will hold for a decade of congressional and state legislative elections starting in 2022. Ten years ago, after being trounced by President Obama and seeing Democrats take full control of Congress, Republicans plotted a comeback by targeting this same process in 16 states. They wanted to monopolize redistricting and they did, producing gerrymanders that diluted Democrats’ power.

On Wednesday, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee revealed its 2018 strategy. The NDRC is targeting 12 states it believes hold the key to preventing another decade of runaway Republican rule. Their strategy is not to turn the tables on the GOP—they can’t; they’re too far behind. Rather, Democrats hope to elect a slate of governors wielding veto pens and to retake enough state legislative chambers to force Republicans to negotiate sharing power. 

“During the last redistricting process in 2011, Republicans had trifecta control [the governor and both legislative chambers] in 19 states, which gave them complete power over the drawing of 213 congressional districts,” the committee said. “The NDRC is committed to changing that and making sure Democrats have a seat at the table in the 2021 redistricting process.”

“This is a critical election year for redistricting because it is the first cycle where the officials elected will serve during the redistricting process in 2021,” the NDRC continued. “NDRC is targeting 12 states during the 2018 election cycle, including 9 gubernatorial races, 20 legislative chambers, 2 ballot initiatives, and 2 down-ballot races. There are 8 additional states on our Watch List.”

While Americans keep hearing that the House will be up for grabs as 2018 is turning into a blue wave year, these statewide races—especially for governor where there are open seats due to term limits—are arguably more important if one doesn’t want to live under outsized GOP rule for another dozen years.

“People need to keep in mind that the GOP has key structural advantages,” said David Daley, author of Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy, which documents the GOP’s gerrymander of 2011. “Turnout [next fall] matters. Democrats need to run everywhere, while prioritizing ruthlessly: if they miss these targets in 2018, they will not have another shot at the maps in many of these states until 2031.”

“They also need to understand taking back the House and having a seat at the table in redistricting are two different things,” he continued. “The first could happen. But the second is arguably more important — and that’s a harder, longer fight that needs to be measured in flipping state legislative chambers in key states, and winning seats at the table in 2021.”

Indeed, getting that negotiating power is the goal, NDRC founder, former Attorney General Eric Holder, told the New York Times. “From my perspective, success is if you break a trifecta… I don’t think that in December of 2018, you measure success by whether you have assumed control of a particular state.”

NDRC’s 2018 Targets 

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The Supreme Court Is About to Make Rulings That Will Shape Elections for Years to Come

The U.S. Supreme Court, dominated by a Republican-appointed majority, is poised to issue a series of voting rights rulings this spring that will set the stage for elections for years to come.

The majority of these cases involve gerrymandering—a process in which legislatures, in states with one-party rule, draw electoral districts to lock down their power after the once-a-decade U.S. Census. They do that by aggressively segregating reliable voters, typically "packing" their base into easily won seats; while "cracking" their opponent’s voters into multiple districts. Such mapmaking can give its author's party a starting-line advantage of 6 percent or more with likely voter turnout.

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What Is Antifa, Really?

The Charlottesville white supremacist rally left one woman dead, dozens injured and a country grappling with questions about how such a thing could happen on the streets of a supposedly liberal college town. Adding media insult to national injury, the tragedy inspired a festival of false equivalency from pundits on both sides of the aisle, who considered the anti-fascist or Antifa counterprotesters just as bad as those chanting "blood and soil."

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With DACA on the Chopping Block, Hundreds Descend on Central Park to Defend Immigrants

A double-decker bus full of confused tourists circled Central Park. In between the usual sightseeing stops, the riders were treated to a new attraction not mentioned in the guidebooks: a political protest. Noticing their stares, one protester shouted, "Get off the bus and join us! Support DACA!"

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After Charlottesville, a Surge in Anti-Racism Rallies Across the Country

Sadie, 3, wore red-rimmed sunglasses to the Rally for Peace and Sanity at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, New York. As elected officials denounced racism and war, she sat in her father's lap, carrying two neon green signs. One said "Love one another." The other, "Black Lives Matter."

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What Can We Learn from 1967's Summer of Love to Help Us Through Our Current Political Nightmare?

Editor's Note: Danny Goldberg is the modern version of the Renaissance man. He has a long and colorful history as an activist, author and influential music executive. Goldberg came of age at the height of the hippie era in 1967, experiencing the powerful and haunting mix of excitement, hope, experimentation and despair. He captures it all in vibrant detail and political nuance in his newest book, In Search of the Lost Chord: 1967 and the Hippie Idea (Akashic Books). AlterNet's executive editor Don Hazen interviewed Goldberg in his offices at Gold Village Entertainment on July 12.

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Outrage Over Trump Turned a Red-State Republican Into a Resistance Leader

Resistance against Donald Trump's presidency has come from unexpected places, with many overnight activists joining their first protest or call to Congress. But one of the most surprising transformations is that of Beverly Tuberville, the founder of the resistance organization Indivisible Oklahoma, who, prior to Trump's nomination, was a lifelong Republican.

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