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Mandy Vigil of New Mexico works during a 2020 exercise in Springfield, Va., for state and local election officials. Photo: Alex Brandon/AP.

America's state and local officials are increasingly bringing a battlefield mentality to election security, AP reports.

Why it matters: Election security worries have soared to new levels due to Russian military agents targeting voting systems nationwide.

  • Before 2016, the job of local election officials could had been described as akin to a wedding planner who keeps track of who will be showing up on Election Day and ensures all the equipment and supplies are in place.
  • In 2019, it's "another level of war,” said Jesse Salinas, the chief elections official in Yolo County, California. “We have to fight back, and we have to prepare.”

The big picture: The Harvard-based Defending Digital Democracy Project, founded by former presidential campaign manager Robby Mook and Matt Rhoades, brought election officials from 24 states together with military advisers.

  • The project’s latest playbook encourages state and local election officials to adopt a “battle staff” command structure with clear responsibilities and standard operating procedures for dealing with minor issues, AP notes.
  • The project is also providing officials with a free state-of-the-art incident tracking system.

The bottom line: “If democracy is under attack and you guys are the ones at the pointy end of the spear," said Eric Rosenbach, co-director of the Belfer Center, "why shouldn’t we train that way?"

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Palestinian Authority announces new COVID restrictions as cases surge

A nurse administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty Images

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday announced fresh coronavirus restrictions, including a partial lockdown, for the occupied West Bank as COVID-19 cases surge.

The big picture: The new measures come as Israel, which leads the world in vaccinations, faces increased pressure to ensure Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have equal access to vaccines.

Myanmar military fires UN ambassador after anti-coup speech

Photo: Peerapon Boonyakiat/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Myanmar's military regime on Saturday fired the country's Ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, a day after he gave a pro-democracy speech asking UN member nations to publicly condemn the Feb. 1 coup, The New York Times reports.

Details: State television said the ambassador had "betrayed the country and spoken for an unofficial organization which doesn’t represent the country and had abused the power and responsibilities of an ambassador."