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.

The pandemic has changed a lot about how we vote this year, including when we may find out who won.

It's possible — because some rules have changed, and some haven't — that Nov. 3 could come and go without a clear answer as to who the next president will be.

Early voting turnout continues to shatter records, as sky-high voter enthusiasm meets the realities of the United States' creaky machinery of democracy amid a pandemic. That means long lines in some places and administrative errors with some mail ballots, but a system that is working overall, according to experts.

"Despite some of those concerns, things are going at this point reasonably well," said former Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, speaking specifically about the expansion of voting by mail.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Tina Barton knew counting mail ballots would become a problem.

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With an unprecedented number of people planning to vote by mail this year, we wanted to dig into this number.

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COVID-19 is still spreading across the United States, but you would barely know it by how people are planning to vote this year.

As the pandemic took hold in the spring, voting experts predicted a national shift toward mail or absentee voting. Some experts predicted as many as 70% of all votes cast could be by mail, as was the case in Wisconsin's April primary.

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So President Trump spent the last moments of the debate last night repeating these false claims about mail-in balloting.

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Voters in a number of swing states this November will have more leeway in getting their mail ballots back in time to count, should rule changes announced in the past week hold up to legal challenges. But the changes could delay the reporting of election results and possibly set up court fights down the line.

In a call that included a number of "tense moments," Postmaster General Louis DeJoy sought to reassure a group of the nation's top election officials Thursday that election mail will be his agency's highest priority this fall, according to one state election official on the call.

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Updated at 5:29 p.m. ET

Georgia's top election official sounded the alarm Tuesday because he said 1,000 people voted twice in the state's elections so far this year — although when pressed, he acknowledged he didn't know whether any of them did so intentionally.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, made the announcement in a news conference on Tuesday. He said the thousand voters turned in absentee ballots and then voted in person in the state's June primary, but he provided few details apart from that.

In the face of contradictory messages coming from members of his own party, members of the U.S. intelligence community and even a member of his own family, President Trump continues his months-long campaign against efforts to expand voting by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"The fraud and abuse will be an embarrassment to our Country," Trump tweeted Wednesday.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy promised some of the nation's top election officials on Thursday that mailed ballots would be the U.S. Postal Service's top priority this autumn.

DeJoy and the Postal Service have been engulfed in a political firestorm following operational changes he ordered — and now has paused — which slowed the throughput of mail and raised some fears that they might constrain voting by mail.

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The FBI says it has no evidence of any coordinated fraud schemes related to voting by mail this year, undercutting repeated claims by President Trump and his camp about what they've called security problems.

That disclosure was made in an election security briefing for reporters on Wednesday by high-ranking officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Updated at 11:46 a.m. ET

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy defended his leadership of the Postal Service on Friday and sought to reassure senators that his agency would be able to deliver the nation's election mail "securely and on time," calling it a "sacred duty."

"There has been no changes in any policies with regard to the election mail for the 2020 election," he said.

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The Democratic National Convention has come to a close, but the party's push for voting rights has not. Here's NPR's Miles Parks.

President Trump cast a vote-by-mail ballot in Florida this week after months of questioning the security of the method of voting, and in doing so he returned it to election officials using a technique many Republicans say should be illegal.

The way Trump voted shows how he's had to walk a fine line, and often tweak his language around voting, to adjust for political realities and his own behavior.

Updated at 3:26 p.m. ET

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has agreed to appear for a U.S. House Oversight Committee hearing next week as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have voiced concern over the direction of the U.S. Postal Service.

Updated at 7:10 p.m. ET

The top counterintelligence official in the U.S. government warned Friday of ongoing interference and influence efforts by China, Russia and Iran.

William Evanina, who leads the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said that the U.S. government has assessed that China prefers President Trump losing the election, because Beijing considers him "unpredictable," while Russia is working to undermine Democrat Joe Biden.

Updated at 7:32 p.m. ET

The head of the U.S. Postal Service promised Friday to make the organization more efficient and more financially stable, but his remarks may do little to quell fears that the post office's cost-cutting measures will hurt service during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are at the beginning of a transformative process," Louis DeJoy said in his first public remarks since becoming postmaster general. "Our goal is to change and improve the Postal Service to better serve the American public, and I am excited about the opportunities ahead."

Florida's elections system, which has been the butt of political jokes for almost two full decades, got a reprieve this week, as President Trump seemed to indicate it was the only state he felt confident could run a vote-by-mail system.

"Whether you call it Vote by Mail or Absentee Voting, in Florida the election system is Safe and Secure, Tried and True," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "I encourage all to request a Ballot & Vote by Mail!"

Ever since the pandemic struck, state and local election officials across the country have made it clear: To avoid an election disaster in November, they need more money now.

Some residents of Washington, D.C., have lived there for years but still cast their votes from elsewhere in the United States.

D.C. is home to over 700,000 people, a population greater than Wyoming and Vermont — but unlike citizens in those states, D.C. residents don't have anyone voting for their interests in Congress.

Updated at 8:44 p.m. ET Thursday

Attorney General William Barr said Thursday that he doesn't believe President Trump has overstepped the boundaries between the White House and the Justice Department in a number of big recent cases.

Barr told NPR in a wide-ranging interview that he believes Trump has "supervisory authority" to oversee the effective course of justice — but Barr said that ultimately, the choices were made and carried through independently by the Justice Department.

President Trump has made it clear that he does not support allowing all registered voters access to mail ballots this fall, even during a pandemic. But he keeps changing his story about why he's opposed.

Foreign influence-mongers are altering their tactics in response to changes in the practices of the big social media platforms since the 2016 election, three Big Tech representatives told House Democrats on Thursday.

Leaders from Facebook, Twitter and Google told the House Intelligence Committee that their practices have prompted hostile nations to make some of their information operations less clandestine and more overt than they have in recent years.

Delaware briefly deployed a controversial internet voting system recently but scrapped it amid concerns about security and public confidence.

Before the online option was shuttered, voters returned more than 2,700 ballots electronically — and those votes still will be counted, according to the state, along with conventional votes in the upcoming July primary.

Delaware Election Commissioner Anthony Albence said the decision to stop using the cloud-based return option was made to protect public perception of the election.

On the night of Pennsylvania's June 2 primary, things looked bleak for Nina Ahmad.

The former deputy mayor of Philadelphia was running in a crowded Democratic primary field to become the state's auditor general in a race that could be a preview of things to come across the country in November.

If Ahmad won, she'd become the first woman of color to be nominated for an executive leadership position in the state.

But she trailed in the race by tens of thousands of votes on election night. Supporters began reaching out with sympathy.

Almost exactly four years after Russian operatives hacked into the email accounts of prominent Democrats ahead of the 2016 election, Google confirmed on Thursday that foreign adversaries are still at it.

Chinese-backed hackers were observed targeting former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign staff, and Iranian-backed hackers were seen targeting President Trump's campaign staff. Both were targeted with phishing attacks, according to Shane Huntley, the head of Google's Threat Analysis Group.

He said there was no sign the attempts were successful.

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