Miles Parks

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

Parks 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, Parks also previously covered crime and local government for The Washington Post and The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla.

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

At this time last week, Iran was dropping missiles on bases that housed U.S. troops in Iraq. Those troops answer to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. He's been in the job six months, after a career in the Army and the private sector.

Yesterday, I went to the Pentagon to talk to him about this standoff with Iran and where the U.S. goes from here. I asked what he was thinking when those Iranian missiles started hitting Iraq last Tuesday.

Iowa's Democratic Party plans to use a new Internet-connected smartphone app to help calculate and transmit results during the state's caucuses next month, Iowa Public Radio and NPR have confirmed.

Party leaders say they decided to opt for that strategy fully aware of three years' worth of warnings about Russia's attack on the 2016 presidential election, in which cyberattacks played a central role.

President Trump did not seem concerned Tuesday when asked about the threat of a "Christmas present" from North Korea if the U.S. doesn't roll back economic sanctions on the country by the end of the year.

"Maybe it's a nice present," Trump told reporters at an event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. "Maybe it's a present where he sends me a beautiful vase, as opposed to a missile test."

Party leaders in Congress continued to spar Monday over details of an impending impeachment trial in the Senate, with newly released emails giving more ammunition to Democrats in their requests for new witnesses.

Congress has allocated about $425 million in new funding for election security ahead of the 2020 presidential election, a Democratic congressional source confirmed to NPR on Monday.

The funding is part of a spending package expected to be passed by the end of the week.

Trailing in the vote tally for Kentucky's governorship by about 5,000 votes, incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin decided last week to play what's becoming a familiar card: He questioned the election's legitimacy.

"What we know is that there really are a number of significant irregularities," Bevin said Wednesday in front of the governor's mansion, "the specifics of which we're in the process of getting affidavits [about] — and other information that will help us to get a better understanding of what did or did not happen."

For decades, the cybersecurity community has had a consistent message: Mixing the Internet and voting is a horrendous idea.

"I believe that's about the worst thing you can do in terms of election security in America, short of putting American ballot boxes on a Moscow street," howled Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on the Senate floor this year.

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.

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.

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.

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

One of the largest gatherings of hackers in the world is happening this weekend in Las Vegas. And one of the things they're hacking into is voting equipment. NPR's Miles Parks has more from DEF CON 27.

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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 7:45 p.m. ET

In a 5-4 decision along traditional conservative-liberal ideological lines, the Supreme Court ruled that partisan redistricting is a political question — not reviewable by federal courts — and that those courts can't judge if extreme gerrymandering violates the Constitution.

The ruling puts the onus on the legislative branch, and on individual states, to police redistricting efforts.

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.

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