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Today in OpenGov: How transparency and accountability can uphold election integrity

Monday, November 7, 2016 15:39
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(Before It's News)

By The Sunlight Foundation

comey-letter

“NM, NBD, MB.”- FBI: “We have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton,” Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey told Congress, in a letter on Sunday. Which is to say, after using software to review some 650,000 emails found on former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s computer in search of classified information, the FBI still “cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges” against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A spokesman for the FBI declined to comment beyond Comey’s letter, when asked by the Washington Post.

What the FBI’s new letter didn’t say: “A senior law enforcement official confirmed to NBC News that nearly all of the thousands of newly examined emails on Weiner’s laptop were duplicates of emails already seen by the team investigating Clinton’s server. Although some emails did forward documents previously identified as containing classified information, the review didn’t change the total number of classified documents investigators found on the server.”

SUNSHINE AT THE POLLS: Here’s the good news: The 2016 election is not rigged. Here’s the bad news: there are systemic inequalities in voting access and infrastructure. Many state officials reduced the number of polling places after a 2013 SCOTUS ruling on the Voting Rights Act. Long lines are a direct result. [ProPublica]

This week, the local officials charged with conducting a free and fair election are facing an unprecedented wave of distrust. To combat that social tsunami, here’s four ways for the members of the public and government officials to use transparency and accountability to help mitigate rumors, conspiracy theories and false claims. [READ MORE]

CLINTON INC: “As Clinton aims to move back into the White House, the cottage industry around her political aspirations has sprung up anew and created tensions along the way. Tapping a deep network of donors and their own appetites for bloody political combat, eccentric operatives earn handsome livings orbiting in Clinton’s universe and even work within the shadowy corners of her campaign, according to interviews, tax and campaign filings and hacked emails from Podesta’s inbox posted on WikiLeaks.” [LA Times] CAMPAIGN 2016

  • In a rare campaign story this weekend that shocked no one, Indiana Governor Mike Pence confirmed that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump would not release his tax returns prior to the election. He will be the first major party presidential nominee in more than four decades not to do so. [Dayton Daily News]
  • Unless Congress acts to reassert a norm, we are likely to see other candidates duck disclosure. [CNBC]
  • Similarly, unless Congress acts to reform campaign finance, we’ll continue to see a lack of disclosure of contributions by nonprofit groups, or so-called “dark money.” [WSJ]
  • Here’s a look at how the Clinton campaign gamed SuperPAC regulations. [Shadowproof]
  • And here’s a dive into the more than $2 billion in spending this cycle across national, state and local elections. [KQED]
  • Fake news is a huge societal challenge, as we’ve seen in this campaign – and newsrooms are about to cut more staff, which will mean less of of the real news we depend on. [New York Times]
  • There is no single cure for systemic problems, whether disease or misinformation, however, which means that we need to improve the news environment, including how the world’s biggest social network weights, shows and rewards clickbait and misinformation. [Vox]
  • Slate and Vice News plan to release real-time exit polls during Election Day. [Politico]
  • That may not be such a great idea. [Society of Professional Journalists]
  • A NASA astronaut sent in an absentee ballot from the International Space Station. Which is to say, he voted from space, leaving earthbound citizens with fewer excuses for not turning out tomorrow. [NASA]

NATIONAL

  • Microsoft co-founder Steve Ballmer couldn’t find a summary of government spending at all levels. So, he’s building one. USAFacts will put more sunlight on how accessible and accurate state and local government spending data is. That’s good news. [Bloomberg]
  • The FBI leaks of ongoing investigations merit Congressional oversight and scrutiny by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General to re-establish institutional norms around disclosure, particularly prior to elections. [Politico]

STATE AND LOCAL

  • As Socrata shifts away from smaller government entities, OpenGov Inc. is looking to pick up customers. Notable: open source plays a role. Ben Miller: “From the get-go, OpenGov is looking to differentiate itself from Socrata when it comes to serving those smaller customers. Probably the biggest difference is that OpenGov’s answer is based on open-source code from the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN). OpenGov’s open data offering was made possible by their April 2016 acquisition of Ontodia, a company with hundreds of public-sector open data clients.” [Govtech]

INTERNATIONAL

  • Yes, open government is political. The principle that governments of the people should be open and accountable to the people is founded in 18th Century Enlightenment philosophy and politics. Similarly, open data is political. FOIA is political. Civic tech is political. [Medium]
  • Now that we’ve re-established that, let’s talk about whether transactional arguments are useful when we move beyond that principle. [Results for Development]

EVENTS.

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