Hello OnPolitics readers!
The jobs of poll workers and election officials have become more dangerous since the 2020 presidential election, when allegations of voter fraud spotlighted ballot collection and counting methods.
Now, the once obscure civil servants face an unprecedented wave of threats and intimidation as their identities are exposed online. A 2021 survey found one in three election officials say they feel unsafe because of their job, and one in five listed threats to their lives as a job-related concern.
Despite the formation of a Justice Department task force last summer to investigate hundreds of potential threats and bills introduced in six states to protect poll workers, many are reconsidering election work in the future. Fewer staffers working on election days could have immediate consequences, such as consolidated polling places and long lines.
Supreme Court allows Alabama to potentially dilute Black vote
The Supreme Court Monday reached a 5-4 decision to allow Alabama to use a congressional map a lower court said likely denied the state’s Black voters an additional member in the U.S. House of Representatives, therefore violating the Voting Rights Act.
Black residents comprise 27% of Alabama’s population, but Republican state lawmakers drew congressional districts following the 2020 U.S. Census to give Black voters control of only one in seven congressional seats.
Instead of ruling on the state’s gerrymandering practices, the Supreme Court blocked the lower court’s requirement that Alabama redraw its maps before the November midterm elections.
Associate Justice Elena Kagan, who dissented, said the court’s decision “does a disservice to Black Alabamians who…have had their electoral power diminished – in violation of a law this court once knew to buttress all of American democracy.”
Want to know more?: The Supreme Court’s ruling over Alabama’s redistricting practices brought to light a deeper dispute about how the court decides emergency cases.
Real quick: stories you’ll want to read
- Biden vows to ‘end’ Nord Stream 2: During a White House meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President Biden vowed to block a controversial gas pipeline between Russia and Germany if Moscow invades Ukraine.
- Top White House scientist resigns: Dr. Eric Lander, a top White House scientist, has announced he is resigning, hours after the administration faced repeated questions about why he hadn’t been fired over his treatment of coworkers at the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
- Former State Department spokesperson running for Tennessee congressional seat: The Republican candidate pool for Tennessee’s new 5th Congressional District grew larger on Monday, with former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus officially announcing her candidacy following an unexpected endorsement from former President Donald Trump.
- New York couple arrested for stolen cryptocurrency scheme: FBI agents arrested a New York couple this morning for allegedly conspiring to launder most of the cryptocurrency stolen during the 2016 hack of a virtual currency exchange that is now worth a whopping $4.5 billion.
Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for OnPolitics newsletter here.
Local governments are more vulnerable to cyberattacks than ever. DHS wants mayors to step up.
Cyberattacks against the machinery that runs America are increasing by the day, and the nation’s top civilian cybersecurity official is calling in the cavalry – America’s mayors – to form a front line of the U.S. defense.
Jen Easterly, who heads the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), says ransomware and other digital threats have made local governments around the nation vulnerable as never before.
Where are attacks happening?Water treatment plants, hospitals, police departments and even the automated systems that run entire cities have been hit by hackers, at times with devastating consequences.
In an exclusive interview with USA TODAY, Easterly and Austin, Texas Mayor Steve Adler said their first order of business is to convince leaders at the municipal level that they need to take ownership of the problem given the tens of thousands of bullseye targets in their communities. And their second is to let America’s mayors know that Washington, and especially CISA, has lots of new money and organizational bandwidth to help them.
“As ransomware has made clear, everyone is a target, and state and local governments face the full panoply of threats that the federal government does, from hostile nation-state actors to cyber criminals and everything in between,” said Frank Cilluffo, a former White House cyber and homeland security official. “And to the extent that the federal government is effectively outgunned and outmatched in this fight, the state and local level are all the more so.”
A solution on the way?: To help fix the problem, Easterly has plans to help allocate $200 million this year – and $1 billion total over the next four years – in recently approved infrastructure funding for training and other assistance to municipalities coast to coast.
Today is #SaferInternetDay. Check out these five tips on how to better protect your devices and data. — Amy and Chelsey