Miles Parks | WYPR

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

Updated at 9:34 p.m. ET

On day three of a hearing meant to get to the bottom of an absentee ballot scheme in the as-yet-undecided U.S. House race in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, Republican Mark Harris' son testified that he warned his father about the political operative at the investigation's center.

All eyes now are on Harris, who is expected to testify first thing Thursday morning about what he knew was going on in the eastern part of the 9th District, and when he knew it.

Updated at 7:12 p.m. ET

Three months after the midterm elections, North Carolina officials began publicly laying out their evidence for the first time that the outcome in the state's 9th Congressional District may have been tainted by election fraud.

In her response to President Trump's State of the Union address, Stacey Abrams went through some of the top issues for the Democratic Party.

Health care. Climate change. Gun safety.

Then she brought up a topic Democrats are planning to spend a lot of time on over the next two years: voting.

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.

The most important political issues of the past year will be on display Tuesday night, not only in what President Trump says in his State of the Union address but in who will be in the audience.

Furloughed federal workers, Border Patrol agents, immigrants, school shooting survivors and the first inmate to benefit from a new criminal justice law will be among those to gather in the chamber of the U.S. House.

In the predawn hours of Jan. 25, more than a dozen FBI agents raided Roger Stone's home in South Florida and took into custody one of President Trump's closest longtime confidants.

CNN showed the agents moving up the driveway with weapons and flashlights in footage that critics have said is shocking.

But was it unusual?

The short answer: No. Law enforcement agencies often conduct early-morning arrests or raids with large numbers of officers and tactical equipment.

Updated at 5:17 p.m. ET

President Trump's choice to lead the Justice Department, William Barr, took questions from lawmakers Tuesday, with the central one being whether Barr will work to impede the Russia investigation.

Barr, who previously served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for the first day of his confirmation hearing.

Today, Mark Harris is at the center of an election that just won't end in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District.

The outcome remains up in the air pending an investigation into allegations of election fraud by an operative hired by the Harris campaign.

It's the only remaining uncalled election of the 2018 midterms, but it's just the latest bump in a half decade of setbacks as Harris has had his eyes set on joining Congress.

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.

Inside his barber shop in Bladenboro, N.C., Rodney Baxley is giving Bobby Simmons a haircut.

The two men are talking about what everyone in this part of the state has been talking about for the better part of the past month: McCrae Dowless, and the operation he was running to get out the vote for Republican Mark Harris in the congressional race in North Carolina's 9th District.

When it comes to election fraud, the "voting twice by dressing up with a different hat" tactic that President Trump talks about almost never happens.

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