Miles Parks

Miles Parks is a reporter on NPR's Washington Desk. He covers voting and elections, and also reports on breaking news.

Parks joined NPR as the 2014-15 Stone & Holt Weeks Fellow. Since then, he's investigated FEMA's efforts to get money back from Superstorm Sandy victims, profiled budding rock stars and produced for all three of NPR's weekday news magazines.

A graduate of the University of Tampa, Parks also previously covered crime and local government for The Washington Post and The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla.

In his spare time, Parks likes playing, reading and thinking about basketball. He wrote The Washington Post's obituary of legendary women's basketball coach Pat Summitt.

Government officials have spent the year touting Tuesday's election as potentially the "most secure" in the nation's history.

Fewer voters are set to use the riskiest machines — electronic systems that leave no paper record — as compared to four years ago, and there is a whole-of-government approach to election security that never existed before.

Throughout his eight-year career as the Washington Wizards' starting shooting guard, Bradley Beal has scored more than 11,000 points. He's made two All Star teams and he's hit over a thousand three-pointers.

One thing he hasn't done in all that time: Vote.

"I can selfishly say I was that person four years ago, and eight years ago," Beal said, as his home court, Capital One Arena, was being announced as a voting center this fall. "I was someone who didn't take registration seriously, and I was someone who thought my vote didn't count."

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The pandemic has changed a lot about how we vote this year, including when we may find out who won.

It's possible — because some rules have changed, and some haven't — that Nov. 3 could come and go without a clear answer as to who the next president will be.

Early voting turnout continues to shatter records, as sky-high voter enthusiasm meets the realities of the United States' creaky machinery of democracy amid a pandemic. That means long lines in some places and administrative errors with some mail ballots, but a system that is working overall, according to experts.

"Despite some of those concerns, things are going at this point reasonably well," said former Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, speaking specifically about the expansion of voting by mail.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Tina Barton knew counting mail ballots would become a problem.

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With an unprecedented number of people planning to vote by mail this year, we wanted to dig into this number.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

COVID-19 is still spreading across the United States, but you would barely know it by how people are planning to vote this year.

As the pandemic took hold in the spring, voting experts predicted a national shift toward mail or absentee voting. Some experts predicted as many as 70% of all votes cast could be by mail, as was the case in Wisconsin's April primary.

Voters in a number of swing states this November will have more leeway in getting their mail ballots back in time to count, should rule changes announced in the past week hold up to legal challenges. But the changes could delay the reporting of election results and possibly set up court fights down the line.

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