Good afternoon and welcome back.
- Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 394 words, a 2 minute breeze.
1 big thing: The ballot box as a battlefield
America's state and local officials are increasingly bringing a battlefield mentality to election security, the AP notes.
Why it matters: Elections 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, the 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?"
Bonus: Pics du jour
A rare "ring of fire" solar eclipse, where the moon covers the sun.
- Above is the view from Bangkok, and below from the southern India city of Dindigul.
2. What you missed
- China, Russia and Iran will hold joint naval drills in the Gulf of Oman starting tomorrow. Go deeper.
- The Catholic Church's Pennsylvania dioceses have paid almost $84 million to 564 sexual abuse victims. Go deeper.
- Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest paid athlete on Instagram, raking in more than twice what he earns from his contract with Juventus. Go deeper.
- China imported 2.6 million tons of U.S. soybeans in November — more than double the previous month.
- The S&P 500 had a return of over 50% during President Trump's first three years in office, more than doubling the average return of 23% at the same point in a presidential term since 1928. Go deeper.