Summary of “‘It’s not a done deal’: inside the battle to stop Brexit”

On 1 February, the Labour MP Chuka Umunna formally announced the existence of the grassroots coordinating group, a regular Wednesday morning gathering of organisations, activists and sympathetic MPs. Two weeks ago, GCG members launched the People’s Vote, calling for a referendum on the final Brexit deal.
Launching in August 2016 with six staff, the campaign group aimed to “Seek common ground between voters on both sides” by advocating a Brexit so soft, one journalist dubbed it “The Mr Whippy of Brexits”.
“I said, ‘Look, I want to stop Brexit as much as anyone else, but the question is how?’ My very strong view was that seeking to divide the movement between whether you were pure no-Brexit or soft Brexit was totally unhelpful.”
One argument is that there was no form of Brexit on the ballot paper and that campaign promises have been broken.
“We think Brexit is being driven by elites,” says Tom Brufatto, chair of Britain for Europe.
Thousands of people have gathered outside the Art Gallery for the Great Northern March, one of several simultaneous Stop Brexit protests designed to show that opposition is growing around the country.
At Best for Britain’s barnstorms, activists are sternly told that things that galvanise remainers, such as flags and Bollocks to Brexit stickers, are counterproductive when it comes to swaying the unconverted.
The voices are diverse, but they all hit the same notes: new facts have emerged; the negotiations aren’t delivering what was promised; a people’s vote is a democratic necessity; Brexit is not inevitable.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why political reforms can be bad for democracy”

“What matters more is whether political elites, and especially parties, serve as filters. Put simply, political parties are democracy’s gatekeepers.”
People either don’t realize how much parties have been weakened over the last half-century, or they are ignorant of the evidence that ineffectual parties put democracy on a path toward instability and even authoritarianism.
The ongoing process of diminishing the power of parties is actually endangering democracy, according to a growing number of experts and political observers.
“The weakening of parties has meant the weakening of government. People don’t like that, but very few people see the connection between political parties and government.”
The rise of political parties in the early 1800s transferred the responsibility “To keep dangerous figures out of the White House” from the Electoral College to the parties.
A system in which parties put presidential hopefuls through a rigorous process, where party insiders with political expertise were given a significant place of influence, would be a way for a party to then submit a candidate to the whole nation.
“That information is useful, even vital, to the task of picking a good nominee.”Masket’s study of political reforms in a number of states has shown that reforms that have weakened parties and given voters more input have counterintuitively made politics more opaque and less democratic.
“Each attempt to drive parties from the political sphere exacts a price on democracy, decreasing transparency, accountability, and other things we claim to hold important in our governing systems,” he wrote in his book, “The Inevitable Party: Why Attempts to Kill the Party System Fail and How They Weaken Democracy.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Christopher Wylie: Why I broke the Facebook data story”

A couple of days later, early on Saturday, Facebook took another dramatic action: it suspended AggregateIQ. This is important because AIQ was the Canadian data firm on which Vote Leave spent 40% of its budget during the EU referendum.
Facebook has suspended AIQ while it investigates AIQ’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica and whether it had access to Facebook data.
When four different campaigns – Vote Leave, BeLeave, Veterans for Britain and the DUP – all used the same data firm, AIQ, it’s pretty much impossible.
1 Cambridge Analytica data harvesting apps captured more than 87 million Facebook profiles, including one million UK records.
Facebook knew in December 2015 that data had been harvested on Cambridge Analytica’s behalf.
AIQ built the “Ripon” platform that Cambridge Analytica used to target people using misappropriated Facebook data.
Facebook suspended AIQ after learning “It may be affiliated with SCL and, may, as a result have improperly received Facebook data”.
9 What is AIQ’s role in this? Was British Facebook data, harvested using Cambridge Analytica’s apps, employed? Was data shared between Vote Leave, BeLeave, Veterans for Britain and the DUP?

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Moscow Midterms”

It’s midafternoon in Moscow when voting starts.
On certain voter files, so when the American voters show up in person today, their information won’t match their IDs.
Intelligence officials like John know that the Russians aren’t just targeting local officials but voting service providers as well – the vendors who make voting machines and software and who sometimes help municipalities or counties draw up their ballots.
Alexei targeted Bonnie and a few other clerks whose towns use touch-screen voting machines.
While a voting machine itself will never be connected to the internet, the touch-screen voting machines, as well as optical scan machines, all require programming that is done on other computers.
American election board officials comforted the public that there were paper trails attached to most voting machines, a backup measure, in case something went wrong.
Not only is it a swing state, but many of its counties use digital machines that don’t produce paper records – the vote tally is stored only in the machine.
Not only were his hacks of online voter registrations a success, but the ensuing chaos – America is burning hot with indignation and accusations of disenfranchisement – has provided Alexei with the perfect cover for his work on the voting machines.

The orginal article.

Summary of “There Is More At Stake In The Census’s Citizenship Question Than Response Rates”

If response rates decline, states with larger proportions of non-citizens could lose political power.
The addition of the question plays into an ongoing legal debate over how political districts should be drawn within states.
As things stand today, states use census data to draw congressional and state legislative districts with approximately equal total populations, including people who are ineligible to vote.
Sue Evenwel, the lead plaintiff in the case, lived in a state Senate district with approximately 584,000 citizens eligible to vote, while a neighboring district had only about 372,000 eligible voters.
The court unanimously rejected Evenwel’s argument that states must redistrict based on “Electoral equality.” In her majority opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, “Nonvoters have an important stake in many policy debates By ensuring that each representative is subject to requests and suggestions from the same number of constituents, total population apportionment promotes equitable and effective representation.”
While the court declined to force states to draw districts according to the voter-eligible population, it did not say whether states could if they wanted to.
If adding the citizenship question is Step 1 in this question returning to the high court, Step 2 would be a state or municipality deciding to redistrict according to voter-eligible population during the next round of redistricting, in 2021.
In the first scenario we discussed – lower response rates among non-citizens – political representation would shift in favor of states with larger proportions of eligible voters.

The orginal article.

Summary of “My 72-Hour Safari in Clinton Country”

For the first few minutes of his shift, the Clinton voter laid out a relatively straightforward, if improbable, way Donald Trump could gain his support.
The idea: Just as reporters from New York and D.C. trek into Trump Country to visit greasy spoons and other corners of Real America™ to measure support for the candidate, I’d venture from Trump Country to the most stereotypical bastions of coastal liberal elitism, and ask the people I met whether they still support Hillary Clinton.
The deeper I plunged into the Blue Abyss, the more I realized how broad the political chasm between Clinton Country and Trump Country really is.
Of course, voters in Clinton Country are generally horrified by Trump.
It wasn’t just the clichéd dispatches from Trump Country that Clinton Country voters had come to loathe-it was Trump Country itself.
“I feel like people who are in Clinton Country are a little too quick to be critical of people in Trump Country, if you will, and maybe aren’t willing to give an earnest consideration of the opinions and emotions that drive people in Trump Country as they should,” he said.
“People in Trump Country have quite a different value set than Clinton Country, and we need to respect those differences. When I look at people there who are still supporting Trump, I’m a bit taken aback by that.”
In Trump Country, Trump voters’ disdain for reporters may be more choleric and louder, marked by raspberries blown at the press.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Does America Want A Third Party?”

Micah: OK, I don’t want this chat to just be bashing Brooks’s argument; I want to talk about third parties.
Micah: OK, so he sorta bungles parties and bungles recent U.S. political history, but let’s talk about the force he thinks will spur a viable third party.
Does the Republican Party under Trump look a lot different than the Republican Party under Reagan? Sure.
Micah: But that’s party identification people do say they want a third party!
Part of the issue that Americans don’t want a third party – they want their third party.
Natesilver: Yeah, look, I don’t want to go overboard in totally dismissing the idea of a third party.
Natesilver: Because among that 61 percent, there’s 21 percent who want the Reasonable Center Party, 20 percent who want the Green Party, and 20 percent who want the America First Party.
Micah: OK, so if we all think that it’s much more likely that one of the two major parties will shift in a big way than that a third party will emerge, what could that shift(s) look like?

The orginal article.

Summary of “Kansas Scrambles To Change Rules After 6 Teens Enter Governor’s Race”

When it comes to the rules about who can run for state office? There are no rules.
“Under Kansas law, there is no law governing the qualifications for governor, not one,” Bryan Caskey, director of elections at the Kansas secretary of state’s office, told The Kansas City Star last year.
Republican Rep. Blake Carpenter introduced a bill requiring candidates to be at least 18 years old to run for the state’s top elected offices, such as governor, secretary of state or attorney general.
Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor would have to have lived in the state for four years.
“We have age requirements on voters, and I really think that anybody who’s running should be able to vote for themselves,” Rep. Keith Esau, a Republican running for secretary of state, told The Topeka Capital-Journal.
He’s referring to Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the force behind the state’s strict voter ID law, who is running for governor.
State Sen. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, became the first woman to enter the crowded field for governor in December.
The state’s lack of rules for candidacy are so profound that Caskey could not even find a rule limiting the field to human candidates.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Hating Gerrymandering Is Easy. Fixing It Is Harder.”

It’s easy for opponents of gerrymandering – the drawing of political boundaries for the benefit of one party or group over another – to argue what districts shouldn’t look like.
To maximize the number of districts in which one minority group makes up the majority of the voting-age population in the district To be compact while splitting as few counties as possible.
In North Carolina, for example, where Republicans drew 10 overwhelmingly Republican districts and three serpentine Democratic districts, not a single district had a Cook Partisan Voter Index score that was remotely competitive.
The compactness map that is guided by borders scored especially highly on our compactness metrics: Compared with the current map, it reduced the total length of boundaries used to divide states into districts by 27 percent and reduced the number of times counties are split from 621 to 380.
If a state has five districts and Republicans won an average of 60 percent of its major-party votes in the last two presidential elections, three districts would be drawn with a Republican lean and two would be drawn with a Democratic lean.
Its 2011 redistricting led to three closely divided districts out of nine total, including one that was won by Donald Trump and is now represented by a Democrat and another that Hillary Clinton won and is now held by the GOP. But constructing those three districts while preserving two Latino-majority districts to comply with the Voting Rights Act required some map-making gymnastics and ignited a redistricting firestorm in which the state’s leading Republicans accused the commission’s independent chair of being a Democratic lackey.
Our interactive’s “Highly competitive” map features 242 districts where both parties have at least a roughly 1-in-6 chance of winning, a more than three-fold increase over the 72 in the current map.
Second, many scholars now wonder whether majority-minority districts have done more favors for Republicans than minorities because they’ve made surrounding districts whiter and more Republican.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Reversing Felony Disenfranchisement is Transforming Virginia”

Virginia hasn’t made life easy on people who go through that system.
Although since a 2015 state supreme court ruling Virginia has been perhaps the most stringent state on teacher’s qualifications-barring all people with any felonies from working as a teacher in any district-throughout the South’s history, prohibitions against people with crimes of moral turpitude of any degree have gone hand in hand with legalistic efforts to disenfranchise black people and permanently render them second-class citizens.
People in Virginia charged with such crimes, even misdemeanors, cannot work as teachers, marriage therapists, real-estate agents, or registered nurses, and may lose or be denied licensure for dozens of other jobs.
People like Spicer at places like Bethany often pleaded for help from state politicians in easing some of the state’s most severe restrictions on people with felonies, to little avail.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Virginia has historically been one of the most zealous states in the country in disenfranchising people with felonies, with even those who finish probation having what amounts to a lifelong severance of voting rights unless the governor reviews their case and restores their rights personally.
When I talked to black organizers in the state-which disenfranchised as much as 16 percent of black voters by way of felony restrictions in 2016-they pointed both to a change in state law eliminating some of the weight of its “Moral turpitude” restrictions and to increased attention to registering people in jail and people with felony convictions as key factors in their victory.
More broadly, the Sentencing Project estimates that 1 in 13 black people in America was barred from voting by felony disenfranchisement in 2016, as compared to 1 in 56 non-black people.
According to Thomasson, although McAuliffe has issued 201 pardons, what might stand as the most pardons of any governor in Virginia history, the two fronts-one of which involves restoring civic life to people who’ve largely done their time, and the other which means actually forgiving people for perhaps even violent crimes-are different both optically and procedurally.

The orginal article.