Miles Parks

Miles Parks is a reporter on NPR's Washington Desk. He covers election interference and voting infrastructure and reports on breaking news.

Miles joined NPR as the 2014-15 Stone & Holt Weeks Fellow. Since then, he's investigated FEMA's efforts to get money back from Superstorm Sandy victims, profiled budding rock stars, and produced for all three of NPR's weekday news magazines.

A graduate of the University of Tampa, Miles also previously covered crime and local government for The Washington Post and The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla.

In his spare time, Miles likes playing, reading and thinking about basketball. He wrote The Washington Post's obituary of legendary women's basketball coach Pat Summitt.

You can contact Miles at mparks@npr.org.

North Carolina state Sen. Rick Horner is pointing at a colorful computer screen.

A staffer points and clicks, points and clicks, slightly changing the dimensions of the red, yellow and cyan jigsaw puzzle at Horner's request.

It's a map of the voting districts of North Carolina. Horner, a Republican, is shaping democracy — and generally having a ball.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A group of guys are staring into a laptop, exchanging excited giggles. Every couple minutes there's an "oooooh" that morphs into an expectant hush.

The Las Vegas scene seems more like a college dorm party than a deep dive into the democratic process.

Cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon are being tossed around. One is cracked open and spews foam all over a computer keyboard.

"That's a new vulnerability!" someone yells.

Updated at 1:40 p.m. ET

Security concerns have prompted the Democratic National Committee to recommend nixing a plan that would have allowed Iowans and Nevadans to remotely caucus for candidates next year.

Supporters have long argued that "virtual caucuses" would open up Iowa's first-in-the-nation presidential contest, which requires caucusers to physically attend sometimes hours-long events to declare their choice for president.

The warden of the federal prison in New York City where Jeffrey Epstein was found dead has been reassigned, the Department of Justice says. Two other staffers were placed on leave.

The administrative moves took place amid official investigations into Epstein's death and following harsh official criticism of the Bureau of Prisons.

New Jersey is a decisively Democratic state, but last year Democratic lawmakers there decided to try to cement their power even further.

Hillary Clinton won by 14 percentage points in 2016. Barack Obama won by 17 percentage points before that, and a Republican hasn't won a Senate race there since 1972.

Even so, the state Legislature introduced a plan that would overhaul the map-making process in a way that would guarantee Republicans became a "permanent minority."

Updated Aug. 15

Every year, thousands of Americans try their hand at breaking into politics by running for some kind of elected office.

It's a noble act, often aimed at trying to make a difference — on a school board, a city council or a zoning commission.

But it isn't easy, and many passionate, intelligent people don't know where to start.

NPR's politics team and Life Kit are putting together a how-to guide — in podcast form — on running for office.

Updated on June 7 at 4:30 p.m. ET

The way Thomas Hofeller talked about redistricting — the drawing of political boundaries and the sifting of voters into buckets — you could be forgiven if you assumed he was speaking about a loved one or a favorite holiday.

From 8 a.m. to noon on Election Day last November, voting in Johnson County, Ind., ground to a halt.

Lines at precincts across the county, just south of Indianapolis, swelled. Some voters waited hours to cast a ballot; some left furious that they were unable to do so.

"People weren't happy. People had to leave and go to work," said Cindy Rapp, the Democratic member on Johnson County's election board.

The county votes on electronic voting machines, which don't provide a paper trail — something cybersecurity experts vehemently warn against.

Updated at 4:12 p.m. ET

Special counsel Robert Mueller shut down his Russia investigation on Wednesday in an unusual appearance in which he restated his findings and made clear that he never considered it an option to charge President Trump.

"We are formally closing the special counsel's office," Mueller told reporters at the Justice Department on Wednesday morning.

Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

Florida lawmakers were angry Thursday when they emerged from an FBI briefing that left them with unanswered questions about the two county election offices in their state that were breached by Russian cyberattacks in 2016.

Sen. James Lankford is worried about election apathy.

Not that people will stop caring about politics, but as the weeks and months pass after the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report on Russian interference, the Oklahoma Republican said he worries there won't be the same urgency to safeguard American democracy.

The 2018 midterms went by without a major cybersecurity breach, but the issue isn't solved, Lankford warned.

Russian hackers breached the systems of two county elections systems in Florida in 2016, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday at a news conference. DeSantis said no data were tampered with and vote tallies were not affected.

The intrusions, which had not ever been publicly confirmed, were first disclosed in special counsel Robert Mueller's report about Russian interference in the 2016 election last month.

From checking in at a polling place on a tablet to registering to vote by smartphone to using an electronic voting machine to cast a ballot, computers have become an increasingly common part of voting in America.

Most Democrats want impeachment hearings to begin now that special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted findings are public, but that idea is still unpopular overall, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

The results come as national Democratic Party leaders and 2020 presidential candidates are grappling with how to approach an issue that could ignite base voters but alienate a section of more moderate America.

In a rare public appearance on Tuesday, Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and one of his closest advisers, said that the multiple investigations into Russian election interference have been more harmful to American democracy than the original interference itself.

What does the arrest of Julian Assange mean for the role that WikiLeaks might play in future election interference targeting the United States?

National security officials say they're confident that foreign activity will continue through 2020, but no one knows how familiar it may look, how much it may evolve — or whether a WikiLeaks without Assange could play a similar role.

The answer, cyber-observers say, is probably yes ... but.

Updated at 10:03 a.m. ET

The release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report may provide Americans with the best playbook yet on how to defend democracy in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election.

Most people in America want the Electoral College gone, and they want to select a president based on who gets the most votes nationally, polls say.

Democratic presidential candidates are weighing in too.

"Every vote matters," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in Mississippi on Monday. "And the way we can make that happen is that we can have national voting and that means get rid of the Electoral College."

That line garnered one of her largest roars of applause for the evening.

Gregg says that change would radicalize politics.

High-ranking Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for a counterintelligence investigation into a woman who has peddled access to President Trump and who founded the massage parlor where New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is accused of soliciting sex.

Updated at 4:56 p.m. ET

President Trump used his veto pen for the first time Friday, after Congress tried to reverse his national emergency declaration and rein in spending on a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Congressional critics do not appear to have the votes to override Trump's veto. So, as a practical matter, the administration can continue to spend billions of dollars more on border barriers than lawmakers authorized, unless and until the courts intervene.

Updated at 5:16 p.m. ET

In an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives called Thursday for special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to be made public when it is completed.

The vote is not legally binding, but it represents the growing pressure from both sides of the aisle on the Justice Department to disclose as much of the report as possible.

The House passed an extensive bill Friday that would overhaul the way Americans vote and take aim at the money currently flowing through the U.S. political system.

Updated at 5:16 p.m. ET

After months of insisting that he knew of no illegal activity being done on behalf of his campaign, Republican Mark Harris, who leads the race for North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, called Thursday for the State Board of Elections to hold a new election.

Shortly afterward, the bipartisan state board voted unanimously to redo the only congressional race left from the 2018 midterm elections that remains undecided.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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