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.

Voting rights groups and many Democrats are ratcheting up pressure to make mail voting more available nationwide in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but President Trump is standing in opposition.

"Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country, because they're cheaters" said Trump, during Tuesday's daily White House briefing. "They're fraudulent in many cases." He was responding to a question about Wisconsin, which proceeded with in-person voting Tuesday despite objections that the election should move to all mail-in ballots.

Now less than seven months away from a general election that could be held under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled a plan to radically reshape voting to respond to the emergency.

It's a massive set of proposals that shows where the more liberal section of the Democratic Party wants to take Democracy, even if Republican lawmakers in the Senate and the White House have made it clear that such changes are political non-starters.

Updated at 8:30 p.m. ET

In a wide-ranging, digressive news conference Sunday evening, President Trump said he has activated the National Guard to assist New York, California and Washington, states that so far have been hit hardest by the coronavirus.

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While much of the country has come to a standstill because of the rapidly spreading coronavirus, democracy, it seems, goes on.

Four states are set to hold their presidential primaries on Tuesday, and many more states and territories are currently scheduled to vote before the end of April.

Here are answers to three questions you may have about voting in the time of a pandemic.

1. Are elections still happening?

Life Kit: How To Vote

Mar 8, 2020

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Every election year there are races across the country that are decided by tiny margins, yet every election, there are also tens of millions of people who could vote but don't. NPR's Miles Parks from our Life Kit podcast has this guide to the process and maybe deciding an entire election with your ballot.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Well, good morning, everybody. I don't think I've ever seen so many people at a board of elections meeting before.

Updated at 10:58 a.m. ET

Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City who had spent hundreds of millions of dollars on ads during a 100-day presidential campaign, announced on Wednesday he's suspending his bid and is endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden.

"Three months ago, I entered the race for President to defeat Donald Trump," Bloomberg said in a statement. "Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump — because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult."

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Local governments across the United States could perform a simple upgrade to strengthen voters' confidence that they are what they say they are: use websites that end in .gov.

Federal officials control the keys to the ".gov" top-level domain, making it less likely that somebody could get one fraudulently and use it to fool people.

Domains that end in .com or .org, meanwhile, could be set up by attackers to try to intercept users seeking information from real sources.

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Updated at 1:32 p.m. ET

President Trump "did absolutely nothing wrong," White House counsel Pat Cipollone said Saturday, as lawyers representing the president got their first shot to poke holes in the impeachment case made this week by Democrats.

Saturday's proceedings, which lasted a little more than two hours, set up the White House arguments in the impeachment trial. The proceedings resume Monday at 1 p.m.

A district encompassing Greater Seattle is set to become the first in which every voter can cast a ballot using a smartphone — a historic moment for American democracy.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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The president begged for unity before unleashing a speech that focused squarely on his most controversial policy. A traditional show of support from the speaker of the House turned into a sarcastic instant meme.

Such is politics in 2019.

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Leading up to Nov. 6, 2018, anyone with a stake in American democracy was holding their breath.

After a Russian effort leading up to 2016 to sow chaos and polarization, and to degrade confidence in American institutions, what sort of widespread cyberattack awaited the voting system in the first national election since?

None, it seems.

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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.

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