Tierney Sneed

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) on Sunday proved the old saying “no good deed goes unpunished” by taking concerns flagged for his lawyers about potential cyber vulnerabilities in the state’s voter registration website and turning it into an unfounded claim that Democrats had tried to hack the system.

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Georgia continues to be the site of some major voting rights battles, as its Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) faces off against Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams in the governor’s race.

The latest shenanigans have to do with concerns about a potential data vulnerability that was identified by a voter late last week and was passed on to Kemp, who has been sued over his office’s failure to address similar election security issues. Instead of investigating the vulnerability, Kemp’s secretary of state’s office posted a press release Sunday morning claiming that it was investigating a failed attempt by Georgia Democrats to hack the system.

Kemp is also facing lawsuits challenging the state’s exact match law, which requires that the info on voter registration forms matches what’s in the state’s records; tens of thousands of voters’ registrations have been frozen over discrepancies as small as a misplaced hyphen. The challengers were successful on Friday in getting the judge to address a problem with how recently naturalized citizens were wrongfully getting caught up in the system due to its reliance on outdated records. The order makes it easier for those voters to show proof of citizenship so they can vote, and also makes clear that they should be made aware that they have the option to cast a provisional ballot at polling sites if they don’t have their proof of citizenship available to show election workers.

Kemp additionally was sued over the state’s signature match system, which allows local officials to reject absentee ballot and ballot applications because they believe the signatures don’t match the ones they have on record for the voter. His attempt to get an appeals court to halt a lower court’s order against him in the case fell short Friday, with the appeals court panel denying the request 2-1.

Elsewhere, voting rights advocates have had less success in court, in large part due to how courts have interpreted a Supreme Court precedent known as the “Purcell Principle,” which discourages changes to voting practices close to an election, to the detriment of voters.

In North Dakota, Native Americans were unable to get a district court to examine burdens they’ve faced in trying to comply with a new voter ID law, which requires ID docs to have a residential address, despite the fact that many tribes don’t assign street addresses for their members. (Some Native Americans depend on PO Boxes or other non-residential addresses for mail and ID-purposes instead.) The district court had previously watered down the law for the midterms, but an appeals court halted that decision and the Supreme Court also allowed the full law with the residential address requirement to go into effect.

Voting rights advocates also lost in a lawsuit they brought in Kansas challenging the decision by election officials in Dodge City — where Hispanics make up 60 percent of its 27,000 residents — to move the the city’s single polling place a mile outside of town and not near any public transportation. Here too, the judge refused to order the opening of another polling place, citing the nearness of Tuesday’s election.

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Not only did conservative activists Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl have a packed room for their press conference to hype allegations against special counsel Robert Mueller. A giant inflatable rat, apparently dressed like President Trump, was blown up outside of the Holiday Inn in Rosslyn, Virginia, Burkman’s go-to spot to promote his cause du jour.

Burkman and Wohl repeatedly referenced the ballon rat, which could be seen from the window at the front of the conference room. Wohl pointed to it to explain that the “circus” atmosphere had led the accuser they were set to unveil Thursday to bail on appearing in person.

Per the Daily Beast’s Will Sommer, who was also in attendance at Thursday’s presser, the rat balloon was brought by liberal twitter personality Claude Taylor, who carries it on a truck.

Taylor himself touted his and the the rat’s presence at Thursday’s presser. Wohl also noted it on Twitter (albeit falsely labeling it “Antifa.”)

According to a Washingtonian profile of Taylor, the Hawaiian shirt connoisseur worked for the Bill Clinton campaign in 1992 and 1996. He operates the Twitter account @TrueFactsStated, which has more than 200,000 followers. From there he tweets updates about the #RatTruck’s operations, along with an assortment of anti-Trump content.

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The conspiracy theory-peddling conservative activists who hosted a much-hyped press conference Thursday to reveal sexual misconduct allegations against special counsel Robert Mueller struggled to explain simple details about how the accusations came to light and about the accuser herself, who they previously promised would appear in person but who allegedly bailed due to safety concerns.

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The conservative grifters who said that they would be presenting to the press on Thursday a woman making sexual misconduct allegations against special counsel Robert Mueller are now reversing those plans, while backtracking on key details about how their apparent smear campaign came to be.

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Salacious and unfounded accusations that special counsel Robert Mueller engaged in sexual misconduct were even a bridge too far for the far-right conspiracy website Gateway Pundit, which had posted “exclusive documents” Tuesday alleging a 2010 rape, only to take them down a few hours later as scrutiny of the other conservative activists hyping the allegations grew.

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