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.

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.

Updated Tuesday at 7 a.m. ET

The image would shock just about anyone: a fire so large that it seems to stretch halfway up the 550-foot-tall Washington Monument, and burning so bright that it dramatically illuminated the landmark.

Shocking but fake.

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.

When President Trump announced Wednesday that Vice President Mike Pence would oversee the government effort to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus, he said the former Indiana governor "has a certain talent for this."

But not everyone agrees.

Pence's public health record, especially while he was governor, is now coming under harsh scrutiny.

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Nevada Democrats, hoping to avoid a repeat of the fiasco of the Iowa caucuses, hosted an hourlong briefing with reporters Tuesday night in which they walked through a mock caucus.

As the Democratic primary season rolls on, one big lesson already is sinking in from the party's caucus-night meltdown in Iowa: Secrecy isn't a strategy.

State Democratic chair Troy Price declined to answer questions a month ago about what sorts of tests were conducted on the smartphone app the party was planning to use on caucus night or detail backup plans should it fail.

But he did promise some sort of transparency.

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For the second day in a row, we're in the fabulous coffee shop here. It is called Smokey Row Coffee Company in Des Moines...

(CHEERING)

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Congress has allocated about $425 million in new funding for election security ahead of the 2020 presidential election, a Democratic congressional source confirmed to NPR on Monday.

The funding is part of a spending package expected to be passed by the end of the week.

Ukraine was bound to come up during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate at some point, but when it did, it quickly became clear that neither former Vice President Joe Biden nor his primary opponents wanted to focus on it.

With the debate's second question, Biden was given a chance to address the unfounded allegations lobbed by President Trump: that Biden used his federal power to corruptly favor a Ukrainian gas company that was paying his son, Hunter.

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A group of guys are staring into a laptop, exchanging excited giggles. Every couple minutes there's an "oooooh" that morphs into an expectant hush.

The Las Vegas scene seems more like a college dorm party than a deep dive into the democratic process.

Cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon are being tossed around. One is cracked open and spews foam all over a computer keyboard.

"That's a new vulnerability!" someone yells.

Updated at 1:40 p.m. ET

Security concerns have prompted the Democratic National Committee to recommend nixing a plan that would have allowed Iowans and Nevadans to remotely caucus for candidates next year.

Supporters have long argued that "virtual caucuses" would open up Iowa's first-in-the-nation presidential contest, which requires caucusers to physically attend sometimes hours-long events to declare their choice for president.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 9:06 p.m. ET

President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to just under four years in prison on Thursday after being convicted last year of tax and bank fraud.

The 47-month sentence from federal Judge T.S. Ellis III was the culmination of the only case brought to trial so far by the office of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller.

The judge also ordered Manafort to pay $24.8 million in restitution and a $50,000 fine.

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