This Week in 200 Words

In state updates, a briefing in Connecticut – attended by Senator Richard Blumenthal and Secretary of State Denise Merrill – discussed what Connecticut is doing to prevent foreign interference in its elections. North Carolina continues to tackle gerrymandering. There has been a rise in “dark money” ads circulating in Maine. In New York, advocates pushed for campaigns to be publicly financed while citing a decades-old anti-corruption commission that explains how state races are too influenced by wealthy donors. Also, Oregon is attempting to implement campaign money limits, which have long been stalled by a court decision.

In other news, a coalition of 130+ interest groups called on Congress to end Citizens United via constitutional amendment. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger addressed the problem of gerrymandering, emphasizing that too many government officials are voted in by the minority of voters. Lastly, tech giants like Facebook and Google met with intelligence officials to discuss security for the upcoming presidential election.

National News

Statesman: Doggett: Why the Democratic debate must address democracy reform

Democracy reform impacts every other debate topic—from climate change and gun violence prevention to lowering the cost of prescription drugs and assuring healthcare access. We need the best democracy, not the best democracy that money can buy.

Mother Jones: Report: More than 1600 Polling Places Have Closed Since the Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act

“Next to the ballot itself, the most identifiable element of our democracy’s voting process is the polling place. It should—and it must—be accessible to all,” the report states. “When it is not, the barriers to participation can be high. Moving or closing a polling place— particularly without notice or input from communities—disrupts our democracy.”

Vox: Michigan has a smart idea for fixing gerrymandering. Conservatives want to crush it.

Reformers hoping to rein in partisan gerrymandering have a big idea that’s caught on in several states: handing the redistricting power over to an independent commission, rather than politicians in the legislature, as Michigan’s electorate voted to do last year.

FiveThirtyEight: Politics Podcast: The Gerrymandering Fight Moves To The States

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that federal courts would not decide cases on partisan gerrymandering. Now the legal battle has moved to the states. A North Carolina court panel ruled Tuesday that the state’s legislative maps violate the state’s constitution, ordering that they be redrawn within two weeks.

NPR: Will A Massive Effort To Secure The 2020 Vote End Up Superfluous Or Not Enough?

National security officials have been clear about two things: First, that the Russian government attacked the 2016 election with a wave of “active measures” documented in prosecution documents and the final report of former Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.

Common Dreams: Over 120 Groups Call on Congress to Back Constitutional Amendment Overturning Citizens United

Major civil rights, environmental, labor, LGBTQ, and good government groups sent a letter to lawmakers, which coincided with a national call-in day for constituents to pressure their representatives in Congress support the measure.

Press Herald: Sen. Collins criticizes ‘dark money’ in political campaigns

“I’ve never had so much money spent against me in negative ads so early,” Collins said on the radio show Friday. “People should know where this money is coming from. I would support a bill to require all groups to disclose their donors.”

The Washington Post: Schwarzenegger: Too many voters live under minority rule. Here’s why.

Democratic candidates for the North Carolina House and Senate won a solid majority of the statewide vote last fall, but Republicans nevertheless won 54 percent of House seats and 58 percent of Senate seats. “Representatives are choosing voters based upon sophisticated partisan sorting,” a bipartisan panel of judges concluded. “It is the carefully crafted will of the map drawer that dominates.”

The Hill: Tech giants meet intelligence officials to talk 2020 election security

The meeting is the latest signal that law enforcement is working more closely with tech companies following the 2016 presidential election, which was marked by new and innovative forms of online interference including coordinated disinformation campaigns.

State Updates

Connecticut-The San Diego Union-Tribune: Connecticut officials focused on tighter election security

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill will receive a briefing Monday from elections security experts on how to protect the country’s election system ahead of primary elections throughout the state.

North Carolina-The Real News Network: North Carolina Did What SCOTUS Wouldn’t – Ended GOP Gerrymandering

A North Carolina state court panel stopped the GOP’s gerrymandering plan by ruling that the maps drawn for GOP-dominated voting districts were in violating of the state’s constitution, and of the rights of North Carolina voters

Washington-RealClearPolitics: ‘Dark Money’-Fueled Ads Heat Up Maine Senate Battle

Collins, now in her fourth term, had to know that her pivotal vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as the newest Supreme Court justice would place a huge, blinking neon target on her back ahead of her 2020 reelection campaign. But the GOP centrist says she didn’t expect shadowy “dark money” liberal groups to spring up in Maine and start flinging arrows at her more than a year before voters go to the polls.

New York-Times Union: Advocates make the case for public financing of campaigns

The New York Public Interest Research Group’s review of campaign fundraising in last year’s state legislative races reached the same conclusion as the anti-corruption commission assembled in the 1980s by then-Gov. Mario Cuomo: the winners get the bulk of their money from wealthy New Yorkers, big businesses and politically connected interests.

Oregon-The Oregonian: Campaign money limits in 2020? Oregon Supreme Court leaves possibility open

The Oregon Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a request to delay arguments in a major campaign finance case, a decision that leaves open the possibility that political donations could be capped in statewide races next year — even though lawmakers have stumbled in their own attempts to set them.