A Russian flag flies near the U.S. embassy in Moscow. Photo: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images

Amid criticism that it has failed to adequately respond to Russian propaganda and misinformation, the State Department says it's adding new staff and resources to the effort.

The latest: State's Global Engagement Center (G.E.C), designed to counter propaganda from U.S. adversaries, has now been exempted from a hiring freeze and plans to bring on experts on Russia, China and Iran, Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Heather Nauert told Axios. The agency also "anticipates the arrival of $40 million ...  to counter propaganda and disinformation," and will be reviewing "proposals from civil society groups to fight Russian disinformation," she said.

The backdrop:

  • Vanity Fair reported this week that the G.E.C. "was handicapped for much of Trump’s first year in office." That follows a Politico report last year that then-Secretary of State Tillerson had declined to "issue a simple request" for $80 million earmarked for the G.E.C.
  • The G.E.C. and it's predecessor, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, were primarily focused on countering terrorist propaganda until state-sponsored disinformation was added to the mandate weeks before Trump took office, per Vanity Fair.

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Why it matters: The revelation comes roughly two weeks before Election Day. Ratcliffe said Iran has sent threatening emails to Democratic voters this week in states across the U.S. and spread videos claiming that people can vote more than once.

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Supreme Court blocks Alabama curbside voting measure

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday evening blocked a lower court order that would have allowed voters to cast ballots curbside at Alabama polling places on Election Day.

Whit it matters: With less than two weeks until Election Day, the justices voted 5-3 to reinstate the curbside voting ban and overturn a lower court judge's ruling designed to protect people with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

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