Miles Parks

Miles Parks is a reporter on NPR's Washington Desk. He covers voting and elections, and also 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.

When Ohio State elections law professor Daniel Tokaji tells colleagues from other parts of the world about how the United States picks election officials, he says they're stunned.

"And not in the good way," says Tokaji.

That's because in a large portion of the U.S., elections are supervised by an official who is openly aligned with a political party. It's a system of election administration that's routinely come under scrutiny over the past two decades, and did again in this year's midterms especially in Georgia, Florida and Kansas.

Updated at 3:21 p.m. ET

After two recounts, a deluge of lawsuits and loaded political rhetoric, the 12-day election marathon in Florida is finally drawing to a close.

Election workers in Florida have been counting remaining ballots by hand in the close U.S. Senate and state agriculture commissioner contests, as a number of lawsuits are still outstanding in the final 48 hours before official election results are due to the state.

If a federal judge declines to extend the state's deadline, county canvassing boards need to turn in their official results following machine and manual recounts by noon on Sunday.

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The sheriff in Butte County, Calif., delivered some sobering news. He says more than 600 people are missing in the wildfire there.

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As confusion continues over the outcome of multiple Florida elections, a hand recount has been ordered in that state's narrow Senate race between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Meanwhile, in the gubernatorial contest, Republican Ron DeSantis appears headed to victory over Democrat Andrew Gillum after a machine recount did not significantly narrow the margin in that race.

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We begin this hour in Florida, where they are still counting votes from last Tuesday's elections.

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Days after midterm voting, as ballots are still being counted, Republican lawmakers who are holding on to tight leads in midterm states are alleging foul play and voter fraud. The claims were amplified by President Trump, without evidence, on Friday morning.

"You mean they are just now finding votes in Florida and Georgia — but the Election was on Tuesday?" he wrote in a tweet. "Let's blame the Russians and demand an immediate apology from President Putin!"

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The Trump administration says it is changing a U.S. asylum rule. A big question is whether that rule change is within the law.

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Across the country, states are on track to overwhelmingly change the way elections are run.

In the ballot measures that passed Tuesday, voters in at least three states took the power to determine political boundaries away from state legislatures, while a similar proposition in Utah was too close to call. Voter registration deadlines could become a thing of the past in three states that are making it easier to take part in elections.

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On Wednesday, federal judges in Ohio ordered the state to allow voters who had been purged from the state's voter rolls over the past six years to vote in this year's midterm elections.

As the hunt intensifies to try to find who sent at least 10 potentially explosive devices to Democrats and critics of President Trump around the country, a second important question lingers: how exactly were the dangerous packages sent?

The FBI and the investigative arm of the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, both declined Thursday to confirm to NPR how the packages reached the destinations at which they were intercepted.

As Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen walks around the second floor of his office in Panama City, Fla., he points up at a makeshift ceiling of tarp and plywood.

"From that wall right there, all the way over, all the wood there, that all just got put on," he says.

Andersen is the supervisor of elections for Bay County, Fla., the county most ravaged earlier this month by Hurricane Michael. Andersen was in the elections office two weeks ago, one floor below this spot, when 130-mile-an-hour winds ripped off the building's roof.

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A number of states are blocking web traffic from foreign countries to their voter registration websites, making the process harder for some U.S. citizens who live overseas to vote, despite the practice providing no real security benefits.

Updated at 9:49 p.m. ET

President Trump continued his defense Tuesday of his Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh, mocking one of Kavanaugh's accusers at a Mississippi campaign rally.

The latest move by Trump came just hours after he had highlighted the possibility of false accusations against young men in the midst of a cultural moment brought on in the past year by the #MeToo movement.

Rob Goldstone, the man who sent the email to Donald Trump Jr. that proclaimed "Russia and its government's support" for the Trump campaign, now says he had no idea what he was talking about.

In fact, not only did he not know the Russian government had launched a broader program of "active measures" against the 2016 election, Goldstone also says he made up some of the most important details in the message.

It's been a tough couple of years for the business of voting.

There's the state that discovered a Russian oligarch now finances the company that hosts its voting data.

Then there's the company that manufactures and services voter registration software in eight states that found itself hacked by Russian operatives leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

And then there's the largest voting machine company in the country, which initially denied and then admitted it had installed software on its systems considered by experts to be extremely vulnerable to hacking.

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About 1 out of every 3 American adults thinks a foreign country is likely to change vote tallies and results in the upcoming midterm elections, according to a new NPR/Marist poll released Monday.

The finding comes even as there is no evidence Russia or any other country manipulated or tried to manipulate the vote count in 2016 or at any other point in American history.

In a sign that America's two centuries-old democracy is under strain, nearly 2 in 5 American voters do not believe elections are fair, according to a new NPR/Marist poll. Nearly half of respondents lack faith that votes will be counted accurately in the upcoming midterm elections.

Updated at 6:34 p.m. ET

Members of Congress clashed on Wednesday with giants of the Internet world — including, in one case, a personal confrontation in the hallway.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey faced questions Wednesday afternoon from a House committee amid criticism from Republicans that Big Tech suppresses conservatives online.

Updated at 1:59 p.m. ET

Paul Manafort's defense team rested on Tuesday without calling any witnesses to testify in the bank and tax fraud trial, including Manafort himself.

The move means the trial is nearing its end, as closing arguments are expected to begin on Wednesday morning.

Defense attorney Kevin Downing told Judge T.S. Ellis III about his team's decision before the court broke for lunch Tuesday and repeated it again in the afternoon to make it official in front of the jury.

Updated at 8:53 p.m. ET

Prosecutors in Paul Manafort's bank and tax fraud trial did not rest their case on Friday as had been expected earlier.

Instead, they called a witness to the stand who highlighted the sometimes murky line for Manafort between the personal and the political, and they said they expected to call one or two more witnesses on Monday before resting then.

Updated at 7:05 p.m. ET

Paul Manafort's former business partner Rick Gates concluded three sometimes punishing days of testimony in Manafort's bank and tax fraud trial on Wednesday as prosecutors and defense lawyers battled over his credibility.

Gates spent the early part of the week corroborating prosecutors' version of events, but Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, he endured a bruising cross-examination by Manafort's defense that touched on his admitted financial crimes and an extramarital affair.

Updated at 8:23 p.m. ET

Paul Manafort's former business partner Rick Gates underwent hours of brutal cross-examination on Tuesday in a vicious courtroom battle over his credibility.

Gates is the marquee witness in the government's case against Manafort, who stands charged with bank and tax fraud.

After Gates described the intricate financial web he says he and Manafort spun to commit financial fraud together, defense attorneys battered Gates with questions about an extramarital affair and asked why anyone should put any stock in what he says now.

Updated at 6:23 p.m. ET

Paul Manafort's former business partner Rick Gates took the witness stand on Monday for the most highly anticipated — and likely crucial — testimony in Manafort's trial on bank and tax fraud charges.

Gates worked as Manafort's right-hand man over the past decade, and prosecutors say he helped Manafort evade taxes and lie to banks to qualify for loans.

Bank and tax fraud trials normally aren't very compelling theater.

When it's the former campaign chairman for the current president of the United States, however, and it's the first trial brought by a special counsel tasked with investigating Russian interference in American democracy, things are a bit more interesting.

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