Obama Orders ‘Full Review’ of Possible Election-Related Hacking Because Of Course

President Barack Obama has ordered a full review of possible election-related hacking. Obama expects to have the report completed “before he leaves office” next month, Politico reported Friday. Though whether the report will be publicly shared has not been announced, a top White House official said Friday that the results would be shared with stakeholders.

“We may have crossed into a new threshold and it is incumbent upon us to take stock of that, to review, to conduct some after-action, to understand what has happened and to impart some lessons learned,” Lisa Monaco, homeland security adviser, told Politico and other reporters Friday.

Back in October, the Obama administration issued a statement asserting it was “confident” that Russia was behind a series of election-related security breaches. “The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts,” a joint statement from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and James Clapper said at the time. “These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there.”

How To Deal With Election Day Stress, According to Psychologists

Is the election stressing you out? You’re not alone: The American Psychological Association found that over 50 percent of U.S. adults, regardless of party affiliation, felt very or somewhat stressed by the election. (In fact, the APA found Democrats and Republicans were equally likely to say the election is a significant source of stress.)

Some women are finding themselves re-traumatized by the leaked Access Hollywood tape in which Donald Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. These stories have, for many women, recalled harassment and abuse they experienced in the past. Even First Lady Michelle Obama told a crowd in New Hampshire that the comments from the tape have “shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”

Even children (and parents of children) are traumatized, as kids are taunted at school with threats of deportation should Trump win on Tuesday.

We are so, so close to the end of this election. And yet it feels so far away. How can we get through this home stretch without letting stress totally destroy us? To find out, I turned to the experts: psychologist and stress researcher David Krantz, and Rutgers University professor of sociology Deborah Carr, who is also the author of Worried Sick: How Stress Hurts Us and How to Bounce Back.

The stress is real

“This is the most stressful election I recall in my lifetime,” said Carr, who chalks up some of that stress to “the fact that the candidates are so extremely different from one another. Oftentimes people think, ‘whoever is voted in as president, it might not matter that much for our everyday lives. Even if we don’t support the person that gets in, we have a system of checks and balances. Everything will be okay.’ But because Trump is so far beyond what a typical political candidate is like, and his views are so extreme and hateful and divisive, his possible election could change the way we live. And I think that uncertainty of truly not knowing what kind of havoc might lie in our nation’s future is very stressful.”

“Even those of us who tend to be fairly calm are angry all the time when we see [Trump] speak,” said Carr. “A lot of it is rooted just in the injustice. He generates hate, he fuels hate, and when we see other people being treated cruelly — when we see women being demeaned and handicapped people being demeaned — it shakes our moral core, and we can’t help but be angry about the fact that he’s spewing this kind of hatred and that an estimated 41 percent of the United States supports a person who spews hate. And oftentimes these could be people we know… Families are being divided. There are tremendous rifts. There are daily life effects.”

“Families are being divided. There are tremendous rifts. There are daily life effects.”

Carr, in case it isn’t obvious, identified herself as a Clinton supporter; Krantz keeps his leanings to himself. From a stress-inducing perspective, he said, this election “is unprecedented. [If someone is] anticipating horrible consequences if one or the other person wins, what do you do?”

“Clearly, there’s an enormous amount of anticipatory distress,” Krantz said, and “a lot of it comes from demonizing of the other side, and real fear of what’s going to happen if the wrong candidate wins. And mixed in with this anxiety and the stress is anger.”

Figure out your coping style

In psychological terms, Krantz explains, there are “active copers” — “Do-something-about-it-types,” he said — and “emotion-focused copers,” who “do things to lessen the amount of anxiety and distress they have, rather than directly act.”

For active copers, this last day-and-a-half before the election presents a unique challenge. “Other than working for your candidate and voting, there really isn’t any action a person can take to alter the outcome or prepare for it, which makes it a very difficult situation,” said Krantz. For starters, “Voting is very important. It gives people a sense of having done something to further the outcome they want.”

If you can volunteer for the candidate of your choice —making calls, getting people to the polls, and so on — spending Election Eve and Election Day on that effort could help you take the edge off your all-consuming fear that the republic will be a heap of smoking rubble come Wednesday morning.

Emotion-focused copers do better to distract themselves until this whole rigmarole is over — a tactic both Carr and Krantz said is a perfectly valid one.

Think happy thoughts

“You have a pass,” Krantz said. “If this situation is just enormously distressing to you, and you do not have a way of altering this — you’ve done what you can — and you’re still distressed by it, take a pass.”

This is emotionally-focused coping, and it is an absolutely acceptable option. “Take a break. Compartmentalize this. Do things you enjoy that take your mind off of it.”

You can do this by “engaging in activities that work on the physiological components of stress, like exercise or relaxation, or engaging in pleasant activities that let you kind of affect your body in a way that will reduce the physiologic components of stress,” Krantz said. Binge-watching a good TV show. Make out with someone cute. Do you have access to a puppy? Now is a good time for playtime.

“Don’t watch the election results alone. Find people you know and trust and feel safe with.”

The night before the election, Carr suggested, “Meditate, or just be quiet and breathe. Take your pet for a walk. Anything physical. Running. Going to yoga. Going to a movie. Reading a novel. Doing a crossword puzzle. It might help you to sleep better. Just play games with family members.”

The night before the election, this willful shutting out of the biggest news story in the country “is going to feel a little bit weird, almost like when you’re grieving and you try to do something normal and it’s hard,” Carr said. But clearing your head before bed might help you get to sleep/ward off your nightmares. Just get “a critical mass” of participants “and remind everyone that, whatever you do, the first five or ten minutes will feel weird, but give it time.”

I am obligated to tell you that both of these experts say you shouldn’t drink too much tonight

While Carr recommended finding ways to distract yourself the night before and of the election, “I don’t suggest distracting yourself with drugs and alcohol. That will only make things worse. Especially if you’re hungover” the day after the election and have to wake, head throbbing, to an impending presidency you find horrifying.

Krantz went with the more do-with-this-information-what-you-will counsel: “Do what you can to forget.”

“To watch the first debates, I had to have a drink,” he said. “There are other people I know who didn’t watch them, and they’re both legitimate.”

Getting through Election Day

Have you been reading all the polls as they roll in, letting the alternating waves of panic and relief crash over you? Here the experts humbly suggest you… not.

“I say this as someone who does surveys for a living: Polls can be very unpredictable,” Carr said. “So right now: Move away from the polls.”

“We know that there’s a margin of error,” she went on. “You can find a poll to support any perspective you want. So I would say just step away from the poll and have patience that hopefully by midnight tomorrow we will know what the answer is.”

And while you’re at it, “Step away from Facebook and Twitter. Think about what people post on Twitter: the most incendiary thing, the funniest thing. They don’t post, often, the straightforward, rational analysis. If you read something that is hateful or controversial, you can physically feel yourself get upset.”

“If you read something that is hateful or controversial, you can physically feel yourself get upset.”

“Is it blocking out reality?” she asked. “Yes and no. It’s not always reality that we see on Facebook and Twitter. It’s the man bites dog, not the dog bites man story. So keep in mind that the most extreme articles are the things showing up in your feed, and they are, perhaps, the most extreme portrayals of reality.”

If you work in the news or some news-adjacent field and you don’t have the luxury of shutting down Twitter for 24-hours (as luxurious as that sounds), “limit it to certain times of day,” Carr said. “And that’s really hard.”

But when you can, “do something to get yourself away from the computer.” And if you’re really hungry for news, read reporting from around the globe. “We have fixated on our country, but we are one small part of the world.”

As for election night, Carr advised, “Don’t watch the election results alone. Find people you know and trust and feel safe with. Because sometimes when you bounce your fears off of other people, they’ll help you rein them in. So try to turn it into a time where you spend time with those you love, respect and enjoy. And if at all possible, turn it into a celebration or commiseration in a way. Recognize that life is going to have to go on, so focus on the present. Be as zen as you can about it: Despite the craziness, we have jobs and families, we have present, immediate needs. We do need to make it through the day, regardless of what happens.”

Maybe everything will actually be fine: A thought experiment

Krantz described a “cognitive approach to stress reduction,” which essentially requires a person to “reinterpret situations so they’re not so dangerous.”

In the case of this election, which feels an awful lot like it could be doomsday, Krantz said it is helpful to remind yourself that “we have successfully as a culture survived all these years. We have a democratic country… We’ve had these types of challenges before. [So it helps to] change your appraisal of what’s happening to not make it so dire.”

Counterpoint: What if it is that dire?

Krantz allowed that, for individuals or groups who have been targeted by a candidate or that candidate’s supporters, “There are clearly a lot of people [who] have reasons to be afraid.”

“I’m a white upper-middle class woman, and I am scared to death,” Carr said. “How must this feel for women who are grappling with unwanted pregnancies? People of color? Religious minorities? There are many people who have been targets of [Trump’s] hate who are fearful for good reasons.”

Krantz’s counsel re: cognitive approaches, he clarified, is not an invitation to pretend this is fine. Just the opposite: “Do not act like everything is fine,” he said, but remember that “it’s very rare that catastrophizing has any positive effect.” (Catastrophizing: Letting your thoughts take you straight to the worst-case scenario.)

“The world will not come to an end with one of the candidates winning or losing. But depending on who you are, you may be very, very negatively affected by what happens.”

If you’re going to take this optimistic route, Krantz advised, “all of these alternative thoughts have to be realistic… The world will not come to an end with one of the candidates winning or losing. But depending on who you are, you may be very, very negatively affected by what happens.”

Krantz said you can self-talk your way out of anxiety in low-stakes situations, like if you’re nervous before a big speech or a first date. But (I asked, full of fear), what if you are stressed about a high-stakes situation? Like, to pull an example out of nowhere, the presidential election?

Here, Krantz hit a wall. “I don’t know a stress-management approach that has ever been examined to reduce legitimate distress and fear of negative consequences.”

Tomorrow (and the day after that)

The election loser, whomever he or she may be, will not likely fade quietly into obscurity. The news cycle churning around the President-elect and, in Miss America parlance, the first runner-up, could be just as anxiety-generating as the past year has been. “There will be all this fear about the fighting and the anger and resentment and name-calling,” said Krantz. “So it’s not just tomorrow.” Are we having fun yet?

If your candidate loses, Krantz said, “You have to become reconciled to what’s going to happen. In my opinion, I tend to be the kind of person that’s fairly action-oriented. Work for a better outcome next time.”

Carr echoed this idea. “The one thing we can do is to find something concrete to do in the future, some future goal that helps you to come to terms with what happens. Not inciting riots.” But you can decide, “‘Maybe I’m going to volunteer more. Maybe I’m going to learn more about gender sensitivity. Maybe I’ll contribute more money to a cause I believe in.’ If you can find any opportunity for personal growth in all of this, that’s a good thing.”

While, eventually, you’ll probably want to heal the rifts between you and the people in your life who support the other candidate (especially if those people are family members, neighbors, colleagues, and other such individuals you couldn’t avoid even if you wanted to), Carr says it’s okay to wait a bit before you re-engage with your across-the-aisle friends.

“If you need a little bit of distance and time from people you fundamentally don’t see eye to eye with, take a break,” she said. “Give yourself a little bit of time to clear your head. And once the acutest pain goes away, just focus on those things you do see eye-to-eye on.” And expect it to be a challenge. “If you believe a family member endorses someone you find reprehensible it’s going to be hard.”

And, Carr added, keep this in mind: “People can counter even the most horrific stressors and they do bounce back. We look at Holocaust survivors, sexual assault victims, people who experienced 9/11, and absolutely they have symptoms. But if they find communities of support, they can find joy and optimism again.”

Kids Cast Their Vote by Writing Letters to America’s Future President

Though they may not be allowed to vote today on Election Day, young kids are still interested in the election and have thoughts to share with the person who will become the next US president. Issues such as education, immigration, health care (the list goes on) still impact kids, so Good Morning America asked young ones all over the country to write a letter to the next president, telling them their hopes for the country.

The kids of the United States shared their hopes and desires, and a lot of them were focused on making sure the U.S. is a loving place.

“I want you to love everyone in our country,” Maxwell, age 6 says. 12-year-old Luca also hopes the next president will focus on love, saying, “Make us love again and not hate.” “I would like America to have lots of love,” Olivia, who is just four, says to the next president.

Other kids were very specific about policies that they want to see implemented and taken seriously by whoever takes office next year.

“I would like for you to improve our environment, stop what’s in other countries, and have more bully-free schools,” 10-year-old Aaliyah says to the new president. “Please stop violence, and please help our country be beautiful,” 8-year-old Gia asks. 10-year-old Scout didn’t mince any words, saying she wants “men and women to have equal pay, and I would like to see real action on gun control.” “Everyone who needs health care should be able to get it,” says 9-year-old Sonali.

12-year-old Kevin sounds like he’s ready to run for president himself, saying he wants “more programs for the homeless, affordable medication, racial equality, and less pollution.”

These kids will have to wait at least two more elections before they can cast a vote, but it’s clear they’re already paying close attention to the issues that impact everyone, no matter how old they are.

Here’s Our Second Shot At Legalizing Florida Medical Marijuana

Florida voters have a second chance to approve a state amendment legalizing medical marijuana for ailments including glaucoma, AIDS and post-traumatic stress disorder, after narrowly rejecting a similar measure two years ago.

The legislature in the meantime has allowed limited use of non-smoked, low-THC pot for patients with cancer or ailments that cause chronic seizures or severe spasms, and two dispensaries have opened in the state with home deliveries allowed statewide. Delays in fully implementing the law have added to arguments in favor of legalizing medical marijuana under the state constitution.

Florida would become the 26th state along with the District of Columbia to legalize the marijuana plant for medical use. Florida is one of 16 states where only part of the marijuana plant is used.

Opponents of the measure in 2014, which failed to garner the required 60 percent of the vote, had expressed concerns that Florida would be overrun with pot shops and that children wouldn’t be adequately protected from potential bad effects of the drug.

Proponents say loopholes have been closed this time, including requiring parental written consent for underage patients and that caregivers register with the state Health Department.

This year’s Amendment 2 would broaden access for diseases with symptoms other than seizures or spasms. The measure lists 10 illnesses: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. It also allows doctors to prescribe pot for any other similar kind of ailment.

The department will regulate how medical marijuana can be distributed along with mandating identification cards for caregivers and patients. Many rules and regulations — from how the marijuana is grown to regulations on how it can be transported for in-home delivery — already have been passed by the legislature under laws for limited use of marijuana. Those regulations also will apply to the constitutional amendment.

How to Follow the Results of the 2016 U.S. Election Online

The end of the 2016 U.S. election, and quite possibly the world as we know it, is almost nye — but we still have one more night of ups, downs, memes, controversies and a palpable sense of dread left to endure.

If, like us, you like your dread best served through the medium of far too many open web browser tabs on a computer screen in a dimly room, you’re in luck. You don’t need to be glued to your TV anymore, just simply check out this handy guide below for all the ways you can consume tonight’s coverage on your computer, phone or streaming device.


The search engine giant will integrate national and local election results — which includes the latest polls, an electoral vote tracker and more — into its search entries, continuously updating as new information becomes available.

The site will also include results on the congressional, gubernatorial, senatorial, and state-level referenda and ballot propositions.


The importance of Twitter on election night, if only to keep you laughing, can’t be underestimated. The click-kings over at Buzzfeed know this all too well, and have partnered with the social media site to broadcast live coverage throughout the evening.

The live stream will be accessible on both Twitter’s desktop website and inside the mobile app. All you need to do is head to the Moments tab to view the live stream. If you have an Apple TV, Xbox One or Amazon Fire TV, you can also view the live stream on your TV, thanks to Twitter’s new TV app. The live stream will be available from 6pm ET.


YouTube will host live stream election coverage from Bloomberg, Complex News, NBC, MTV, PBS, Telemundo, and The Young Turks. Streaming kicks off at 7PM ET on Tuesday. Head here for all links.


On top of that, several news outlets will be live-streaming election coverage on Facebook. They include: ABC News, CNN, Daily Caller, The New York Times, NowThis, PBS NewsHour, Univision, Vox, AJ+, and The Washington Post.

Sling TV

Sling TV offers a free 7-day trial that doesn’t require any contracts and can be canceled at any time, which opens up the platform to non-subscribers looking for actual TV coverage on their computers. With Sling TV’s most basic subscription package, Sling Orange, you get over 25 channels, including news stations like CNN. Head to Sling for more information.


Nice and simple, Politico has a complete visual breakdown of results by state as well as an easy-to-use bar which tracks electoral votes. Check it out here when the first polls open.

Streaming news stations

CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox all have dedicated landing pages for the elections, and they’ll all live-stream their news coverage for free — so long as you’re located in the States.


VoteCastr, partnered with Slate and Vice News, is promising “minute-by-minute projected outcomes,” with data-collection teams “across the battleground states” streaming data. This info will then be checked against proprietary precinct, county, and statewide database models, beginning when polls open in Florida and ending with the final poll closing in Nevada. This promises to be the most terrifying way to watch the election because the projected result will likely swing both ways throughout the day. Check it out here.

How Worried Should We Be About Election Hacking?

Already, the 2016 election has been profoundly shaped by hacks. From Hillary’s vulnerable email server to Wikileaks’ string of Russia-linked email dumps, digital security has been one of the major forces driving the news. So far, all the hacks have been about information — in their way, not so different from October Surprises and smear campaigns of previous elections — but they raise an even more troubling question. With allegedly state-sponsored hackers already playing an active role in the campaign, could the integrity of voting itself be at stake?

It’s a hard question — but let’s start with the bad news…


Like most municipally-contracted technology, voting machines are terrible in basically every way. They’re expensive, old, prone to failure, and unpleasant to look at. As you might expect, they’re also not that hard to break into. Computer scientists have been demonstrating that for at least 10 years, generally by physically cracking open the machines and installing election-rigging software. Election boards have been slow to respond, and the demonstrations have just gotten better as the years go by.

Princeton computer scientist Andrew Appel, one of the main figures doing those demos, has argued that no voting machine is entirely immune. “It’s a general principle about computers,” he wrote earlier this year. “They run whatever software is installed at the moment.” That fatalism holds true in the everyday practice of security as well: once your opponent has physical access to your device, the fight is pretty much over.

The important question isn’t “can this machine be hacked?” but “can we verify whether it’s working properly on Election Day?” Voting machines aren’t doing too well on that front either. The key safeguard is a paper trail — either a paper ballot scanned into an optical reader, or a touchscreen interface that prints out a paper receipt when a vote is cast. That record prevents voting tallies from being changed after the fact, allows an audit if the result is disputed, and enables frequent checks to make sure votes are being accurately recorded. But according toa Brennan Center study, a full 20 percent of Americans’ votes this November will be cast on systems without that paper trail, which give election officials few protections if a machine is compromised.


At the same time, there’s a big difference between hacking a single machine and tipping election results overall. Voting machines aren’t networked together — in fact, they aren’t directly connected to the internet at all — so nearly every compromise would require physical access to each specific machine. There are a few exceptions — notably Diebold’s AccuVote machines in Georgia, which could be remotely attacked through their ballot definition system— but the attack is complex, the machines are rare, and it would be hard to discreetly swing an election through that method alone.

Tailored physical access (basically, breaking into a warehouse full of voting machines) would be simple enough for a single precinct, but stuffing enough ballots to tip the election would require a coordinated effort across hundreds of precincts, all performed covertly enough that the results aren’t called into question. It would be a massive undertaking, and unlike most digital attacks, it would have to be performed entirely on US soil, under the eye of election officials. That’s a lot harder than sending a few phishing emails. If you’re worried about a domestic, partisan threat, it’s also worth noting that all those officials come from different areas and levels of government, so you’d need a pretty broad conspiracy to pull anything off.

This is roughly what a joint statement from Homeland Security and the Intelligence Community said earlier this month, simultaneously urging election officials to seek federal help with cybersecurity and ensuring voters that it would be “extremely difficult” for foreign actors to alter ballot counts or election results, due in large part to the decentralized nature of the system. The Brennan Center came to the same conclusion, and as fear of election-day chaos has mounted, it’s an important point to keep in mind.

That’s not to say a few hacked machines couldn’t do damage on Election Day, but it’s worth considering exactly what it would look like. If irregularities appeared in the paper records, officials would be quick to remove the offending machines and move the precinct back to old-school paper ballots. Even machines without paper backups are subject to periodic test ballots, and if a machine started changing or dropping votes en masse, it would be hard to go entirely undetected.

At that point, the effect of a hack isn’t so different from the voting machines just breaking down, which of course happens all the time. That’s not exactly good news, but so far we’ve managed to muddle through.


While ballots and voting machines are the most important part of the election infrastructure, they’re not the only part, and there’s plenty of lower-hanging fruit for hackers to go after. Voter rolls are particularly vulnerable, and unlike voting machines, they’re connected to the web. Hundreds of thousands of new registrations flood into state tallies in the run-up to Election Day, so voter rolls have to be somewhat network-accessible for simple logistical reasons.

There’s also reason to think that hackers are targeting that data. This year has already seen attacks against voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois, with the latter attack bringing down the system for 10 days and stealing data on as many as 200,000 voters. If an attacker went farther, actively erasing certain voters from the rolls, it could easily cause havoc on Election Day, as we saw with even legal registration surprises in the Democratic primary.

The good news is that, like the voting machines, rolls are distributed. Hackers might compromise the election board’s version of the voter registration list, but there would be plenty of other evidence that each voter was registered, including previously distributed voter rolls (typically retained by each state party) and actual registration forms. If a voter’s registration can’t be verified on Election Day, they’re supposed to be given a provisional ballot that can be defended in court after the fact — which, at least in theory, should limit the effect of voter roll attacks.


Just stopping outright fraud doesn’t mean we’re in the clear, though. If all the machines in a Miami precinct decide they’re only going to register votes for Hillary Clinton, it would call the whole system into question, even if everyone’s vote is ultimately counted correctly. Others have speculated about hacking the reporting itself, breaking into the Associated Press system that reports polling data to the public at large. This is the most plausible way an election hack could succeed, kicking up enough dust to sow doubt about any result the system produces. If there’s tangible evidence of fraud, it’s hard to say if any subsequent result could satisfy the public.

In some ways, that’s also good news. If chaos is the biggest threat, it means we’re already protected from other threats like covert vote manipulation and outright fraud. The only way we’ll get into trouble is if everyone freaks out. Otherwise, we should be fine.

Of course, that’s not exactly reassuring if you’ve followed the last few months of election news. People are freaking out already! But that’s really more of a general America problem than a hacking problem specifically — which brings us to the next big point.


Of course, chaos could be a problem even without a digital attack. If one candidate simply refuses to accept the outcome of the vote as legitimate — as Trump has suggested he might— then you’ll end up with a crisis of the system no matter what. Voting-machine failures would make that crisis more acute, but no more so than the kind of recount we saw in 2000. The real problem is a fraying of political norms. A digital attack could worsen that problem, but it wouldn’t create it.

The same is true for the voter roll attack. In theory, the provisional ballot system should ensure that anyone with a irregular-but-valid registration has the opportunity to vote. The problem is, certain states have spent years undermining that system for partisan ends, trying to shrink the pool of voters to build a more ideologically friendly electorate. There are also plans for coordinated voter intimidation (which is very much illegal) from Trump supporters unaffiliated with the campaign. As a result, many voters will be encountering a much more hostile environment at the polling station, making a voter roll attack potentially much more damaging.

Those problems are bigger threats than outdated voting machines, and solving them is much more urgent. Digital security is part of the answer — fewer people will trust a system if the Russians keep breaking in — but the real problem is political. How do you keep trust in a system amid the most fractious election in decades? How do you convince the losing side to accept the results when there may be an entire industry stoking their sense of resentment and betrayal? Replacing old equipment might be the easy part.

Reward Yourself For Voting with a Free Krispy Kreme Doughnut

No matter who you’re voting for, this election is probably stressing you out. Tensions are high, language is heated, and your Facebook is probably unusable. But there is one light waiting at the end of the tunnel.

On Nov. 8, you can get a free doughnut of your choice at any Krispy Kreme if you come in wearing an “I Voted” sticker.

Jackie Woodward, Chief Marketing Officer of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, said in a press release, “We want to sweeten Election Day by saying ‘thank you’ to those who participate at the polls. It has been a long election season, and we think a free treat is the perfect way to reward voters.”

Preach, Jackie.

So plan your cheat day accordingly, and treat yourself to a doughnut on the most contentious of Election Days.

You Can Buy Your Very Own Florida Voting Machine From the 2000 Election

The specimen above is a voting machine—but not just any voting machine. This voting machine was used in Florida, in the 2000 election. More specifically, it comes from Palm Beach County, where Democrats tried to challenge votes cast for Pat Buchanan by arguing that the design of the infamous butterfly ballot confused voters who intended to vote for Al Gore.

This, in other words, is a piece of history. And if you’re willing to spend $2,400 on eBay in the next two days, it could be yours.

It only took a few years for pieces of the 2000 election to go to market. In 2005, as the Associated Press reported years back, Jim Dobyns, a political consultant, bought 1,200 Palm Beach County voting machines and, after renting a few to HBO for Recount, started selling them off. The price for a punch card machine back then was $75, although it later went up to $99, then $250 as the supply ran out, Dobyns told NPR in 2011.

Now, they’re rare enough that this eBay seller thinks this one might be worth much more. The package also includes a signed photograph of the canvassing board who counted the chads, a photo of George W. Bush, a bumper sticker signed by Jeb Bush, and Palm Beach Post papers from the time.

If that’s not convincing but the idea of owning a piece of the 2000 election is enticing, there are cheaper options. One eBay seller was offering a Votomatic used in Marion County, Fla., during the election for $1,400; the seller bought it at auction three years ago and was told this was one of two considered for permanent preservation in the George W. Bush Library. There’s another Palm Beach County machine available for $400. For budget election ephemera, there’s also Votomatic used in Florida’s 2000 election (county not specified) on sale for just $79.99.

Solar Companies Are Suing Over Florida’s Deceptive Solar Initiative

A controversial amendment in Florida might get thrown out before the votes are even counted.

After months of arguing — both in court and to the public — that Amendment 1 is deliberating misleading, two pro-solar groups in Florida are filing to have the state Supreme Court reconsider the amendment’s language and to have the Secretary of State embargo the results of the vote until the court makes a decision, representatives said Wednesday.

According to a lawyer for the Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FlaSEIA) and Floridians for Solar Choice, a consumer group, the move comes after “proof of the deception and potential misconduct” was revealed last month.

The “proof” was found in comments by a vice president at the conservative James Madison Institute. During a September address uncovered last month by the Center for Media and Democracy and the Energy and Policy Institute, Sal Nuzzo told fellow conservative policy wonks that solar’s popularity could be used in favor of utilities.

“The point I would make, maybe the takeaway, is as you guys look at policy in your state or constitutional ballot initiatives in your state, remember this: Solar polls very well,” Nuzzo told a crowd of conservative state policy wonks. He referred to it as “political jiu-jitsu” that the groups can use “to our benefit either in policy, in legislation, or in constitutional referendums.”

Nuzzo’s description fell in line with exactly what the Florida solar groups argued to the state Supreme Court in the spring: that utility interests were deliberating obfuscating the purpose of the amendment, which would change the state’s constitution, making it look like a pro-solar measure.

By a 4–3 margin in March, the court ruled the ballot language could go to voters, even while a dissenting judge called it “affirmatively misleading.” That means the solar groups only need one justice to reverse the opinion, and they are hoping Nuzzo’s comments tip the balance.

Under Florida law, it is legal to ask the court to reopen its advisory decisions on constitutional amendments.

“It is not only appropriate, it is our obligation… to bring this information to the court’s attention in an official manner,” said Ben Kuehne, a lawyer for the solar groups.

Kuehne called Amendment 1 “a secret scheme by the pro-utility coalition to mislead the public into believing the solar Amendment 1 is in fact a pro-solar amendment, when in truth it is nothing but a scheme to deceive.” The amendment would not make any immediate changes to Florida’s solar laws, but it could make it harder to lease solar panels and could lead to high fees on solar consumers.

The campaign for the amendment has been almost entirely supported by the utilities. In fact, all but $10 out of the more than $26 million pro-Amendment 1 campaign can be directly tied to utilities and affiliated conservative groups. In the last two weeks, Florida Light & Power and Duke Energy have given another $3 million to the amendment’s backer, Consumers for Smart Solar.

Consumers for Smart Solar was quick to disavow Nuzzo’s comments, even scrubbing the group’s website of references to the James Madison Institute.

Steve Smith, executive director for the Alliance for Clean Energy, said the response from Consumers for Smart Solar — that Nuzzo was speaking out of turn and did not have any connection to the amendment — was incredulous.

“It does not pass the laugh test that somehow or another there is not a close association between the utilities [and the James Madison Institute],” Smith said. He noted that Gulf Power and the institute share a number of board members.

While the court decides whether to revisit the decision, the Florida Secretary of State is being asked to withhold results of the vote, which is included on the November 8 ballot. A number of Floridians, who have already begun voting, have come forward to say they misunderstood the ballot measure.

Keuhne said that, for precedent, it would be better not to have a vote “rather than have a vote on a defective constitutional amendment.”

Utility Companies Drop Millions On Last-Ditch Effort To Pass Deceptive Florida Solar Initiative

On Tuesday, former Florida Senator and Gov. Bob Graham (D) added his voice to the growing chorus against Florida’s Amendment 1, which asks voters to support a utility-backed initiative that could make it more difficult for the solar industry to develop.

“There is an amendment on the ballot that isn’t what it appears to be,” Graham told reporters.

The amendment has increasingly come under fire in the past few weeks, especially after a recording surfaced of a conservative policy wonk praising the initiative. A vice president at the James Madison Institute referred to Amendment 1 as “political jiu-jitsu,” that used solar’s own popularity as a way to earn support for a measure that would not actually help grow solar in the state.

Even before then, utilities — and conservative groups tied to utilities — had poured more than $22 million into backing the initiative. Last week, the alliance — a group called Consumers for Smart Solar — spent another $3.5 million on ads in the state. Of that, $3 million came from Florida Light & Power and Duke Energy, two major southern utilities.

An audit of donors to Consumers for Smart Solar found that of the only 12 individuals who had donated, 11 had direct ties to the utility industry or one of the conservative groups supporting the organization.

Meanwhile, support for the amendment seems to be falling, as solar supporters have coalesced into an alliance of their own. As recently as late September, the amendment was polling with 66 percent support (a constitutional amendment in Florida requires 60 percent of the vote to go into effect). But a more recent poll put support at only 40 percent — and that poll was conducted in the days before the revelations about intentionally misleading voters.

Supporters of the amendment argue that it is important to enshrine policies that protect non-solar customers from cost-shifting — that is, when some customers have to pay more than others to maintain the grid. Most evidence, though, does not support the theory of cost-shifting, because of the broader benefits of distributed solar generation.

“The economic benefits of net metering actually outweigh the costs and impose no significant cost increase for non-solar customers. Far from a net cost, net metering is in most cases a net benefit — for the utility and for non-solar rate-payers,” the Brookings Institute concluded recently.

In a call with reporters Tuesday, Graham put it even more strongly: “There have been a number of studies on [cost-shifting],” he said. “In virtually every instance… the result is, ‘No,’ but even more, ‘Hell no.’”

“The installation of solar saves customers money because it avoids having to build additional generating capacity,” Graham said.