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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?"

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Complaint to FTC: Amazon search results full of potentially deceiving ads

Photo: Nigel Kirby/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Amazon does not sufficiently distinguish between its search results and paid ads, potentially "deceiving millions of consumers," according to a complaint filed to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Joan Moriarty, research director for the Strategic Organizing Center, a coalition of labor unions that filed the complaint, told the Washington Post the group is "very hopeful" that the FTC will investigate the complaint because Lina Khan (D), a known Amazon critic, is now chair.

4 hours ago - Health

Pfizer-BioNTech: Booster doses more effective at blocking Omicron

Prepared doses of the BioNtech-Pfizer Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine in Germany on Dec. 7. Photo: Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday that two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine were significantly less effective at neutralizing the Omicron variant in early lab tests, but a three-dose regimen was more effective.

Why it matters: Omicron, which has been labeled a variant of concern by the World Health Organization after being identified by scientists in South Africa last month, has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines against this specific new form of coronavirus.

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils "Building a Better America" branding

President Biden speaks on infrastructure while visiting a bridge in Woodstock, N.H., last month. Photo: John Tully/Getty Images

President Biden today launched a new website and unveiled bold new branding as part of a nationwide tour to sell the benefits of his infrastructure package.

Why it matters: The White House says passage of the new law shows the ability to "forge bipartisan consensus and prove our democracy can deliver big wins" even in these toxic times.