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October 25, 2018

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered that Georgia election officials stop tossing out absentee ballots that are being rejected due to suspected signature mismatch.

Voting rights activists, including the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the state, arguing that by throwing out absentee ballots without telling voters or giving them the opportunity to fix the issue, their rights of equal protection and due process are being violated. Georgia election officials countered that this could compromise the integrity of the voting process, but Judge Leigh Martin May said the court "does not understand how assuring that all eligible voters are permitted to vote undermines integrity of the election process. To the contrary, it strengthens it."

May ordered that the ballots be included in the provisional vote tally, with the affected voters given up to three days after the Nov. 6 election to prove their eligibility. It's a blow to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is also the Republican gubernatorial candidate. He is a champion of the 2017 "exact match" voting law, which lets officials reject voter registration applications that do not match 100 percent with the information available in state databases. At least 53,000 registration applications have been put on hold because of the law. Catherine Garcia

5:23 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) 2020 Democratic presidential campaign team announced 15 new hires today, including 10 women.

Among the slew of hirings is Briahna Joy Gray, a former attorney and the senior politics editor at The Intercept, who will join the staff as Sanders' national press secretary.

The campaign says that now every single one of its teams "has women, and predominantly women of color, in leadership positions," per Refinery29. Indeed, women make up around 70 percent of the national leadership team.

The campaign, HuffPost reported, was surely determined to address concerns leftover from the Vermont senator's 2016 presidential run, when the staff was criticized for including few women and people of color. That campaign staff was also plagued by allegations of sexual harassment, which several female staffers said were ignored.

Sanders also hired journalist Dave Sirota, who used to serve as Sanders' press secretary in the House of Representatives, as a speechwriter and senior adviser. Sirota, whom The Atlantic has called Sanders' "Twitter attack dog" because of his reputation for "savaging" Democratic opponents, had reportedly been working for the senator in an unofficial capacity for several months, despite Sanders' remarks that suggested he wanted his campaign to remain free of antagonism. Read more on Sirota's hiring at The Atlantic. Tim O'Donnell

5:04 p.m.

President Trump once reportedly considered nominating his personal pilot to manage the Federal Aviation Administration.

That was a year ago, and there's still no Senate-confirmed head of the FAA. But now, amid a worldwide crisis surrounding Boeing's 737 MAX 8 planes, Trump has decided on a candidate.

Trump announced Tuesday that he's nominating former Delta Airlines official Steve Dickson to the post, with The Wall Street Journal reporting the announcement earlier in the day. Dickson has been under consideration for the job since last November, the Journal also reported at the time. No other FAA head has come directly to the job from a senior position at an airline in 30 years. The White House reportedly planned to announce Dickson's appointment earlier this month, but put it on hold as two Boeing planes crashed in similar circumstances in October and two weeks ago, industry officials tell the Journal.

There hasn't been a permanent FAA head since Michael Huerta's five-year term ended in January 2018. Former President Barack Obama had nominated Huerta to the post. Since then, Daniel Elwell, who'd served in the FAA under former President George W. Bush, has led the agency in an acting capacity but was never brought to the Senate for a formal confirmation. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:21 p.m.

MoviePass is allowing subscribers to see virtually unlimited movies in theaters again — but there are a whole lot of caveats to keep in mind.

The movie subscription service made headlines in 2017 when it announced that for just $9.95 per month, users could see one 2D film in theaters every day. But as essentially giving away free movie tickets took an increasingly significant toll on the company, MoviePass slowly rolled back this promise, first by not letting users see certain movies and eventually by restricting them to three a month rather than one a day.

Now, the original $9.95, one-movie-a-day plan is back, but to get that price, users have to pay for a full year up front, whereas the old version allowed them to go month-to-month. This year commitment might create some concern among subscribers given MoviePass' past unreliability and tendency to frequently change its offerings. You can pay for the plan monthly, but in that case, the price goes up to $14.95. The monthly price will rise to $19.95 after this promotion is over, The Hollywood Reporter writes.

The description for the plan also notes that "your movie choices may be restricted due to excessive individual usage," with the terms of service saying the company can "limit the selection of movies and/or the time of available movies." MoviePass last summer began locking users out of popular films in order to cut down on its financial losses, and it seems new users have no guarantee they won't face similar limitations. MoviePass simply promised on Tuesday subscribers will have access to a "large selection of blockbusters and independent films," per Deadline, giving them plenty of wiggle room to limit that selection as they see fit.

While there are those who continue to doubt that MoviePass will even be around in another year, Ted Farnsworth, the CEO of parent company Helios and Matheson, told The Wrap, "we're still here, not going anywhere." Brendan Morrow

4:11 p.m.

As the infamous 'side door' college admissions scandal continues to unfold, the University of Southern California has begun taking action against students who are connected to the case. The engineer of the scheme, William Singer, parents, and university employees have already faced arrests, suspensions, and lost jobs.

But USC has now turned its attention the recipients of the ploy, blocking any students who might be connected to the scandal from registering for courses. An official notice from USC was sent to the students on Monday. The school said that following an internal investigation, "we will take the proper action related to their status, up to revoking admission or expulsion."

USC said that all applicants who are connected to the scandal will be denied admission, per Fox 11. The school has also already fired two employees who were involved. No students were charged or accused of wrongdoing in the Justice Department's investigation into the admissions scheme.

The sweeping scheme involved parents allegedly bribing college coaches and other university officials at elite colleges across the country to get their children athletic scholarships even when they did not play the sport. Other parents allegedly paid for Singer's consultancy firm to doctor SAT scores. As a result, prosecutors charged 50 people, including actresses Lori Laughlin and Felicity Huffman, in what has become America's largest college admissions scandal ever uncovered. Tim O'Donnell

3:24 p.m.

The drama between White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, her husband, and President Trump is only getting messier.

George Conway told The Washington Post on Tuesday that it's "maddening" to watch Trump's "incompetence," and his anti-Trump tweets are "just the way to get it out of the way, so I can get it off my chest and move on with my life that day" and "frankly, it's so I don't end up screaming at [Kellyanne] about it." Trump had lashed out at Conway on Twitter earlier in the day, calling him a "total loser!"

Conway also detailed a number of interactions he's apparently had with Trump over the years, despite Trump's 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, claiming the president "doesn't even know him!" Conway said Trump has, in fact, spoken with him over the phone to get his legal opinion several times and once asked him in person whether he should fire then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara. Conway also said he once rode with Trump on the way to a costume party and that Trump went "on and on" about National Security Adviser John Bolton's mustache, with this being a reason he didn't want to pick Bolton as secretary of state.

Kellyanne Conway is reportedly frustrated with her husband's tweets, and "went on a lengthy rant about her husband" during a party last month attended by several journalists. She reportedly said that she believes her husband is jealous of her and that he prefers "to spend his time in front of his computer, while she preferred to socialize," writes the Post.

George Conway, though, swears he isn't jealous of his wife at all, saying, "No one was prouder than I was that she was able to elect this man president despite his obvious flaws." Brendan Morrow

3:21 p.m.

Florida prosecutors are reportedly already prepared to cut a deal with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Kraft was among 25 people charged last month with soliciting a prostitute at a Florida "spa" where women worked in "sexual servitude," police said at the time. Now, prosecutors are saying they'll drop the charges against Kraft and the other people charged if they "admit they would have been proven guilty at trial," The Wall Street Journal reports.

Under the reported deal, all the people charged in the prostitution sting would have to take an education course on prostitution, complete 100 hours of community service, be tested for STDs, and pay some court fees to get their charges dropped, per the Journal. But in what the Journal calls an "unusual provision," those charged would also have to look at the evidence against them and admit that, if they faced a trial, they'd be proven guilty.

A spokesperson for the Florida state attorney's office said this is "the standard resolution for first-time offenders," per the Journal. Kraft's lawyers denied any illegal activity after his arrest, so there's a chance he may still try to fight the charges in court.

Police in Jupiter, Florida, unveiled their bust of a massive prostitution ring centered in a Palm Beach County massage parlor last month. The founder and former owner of the spa, Cindy Yang, was later found to have visited President Trump's club at Mar-a-Lago several times, was invited to the White House, and reportedly said she could sell access to Trump. Kraft and Trump have been close friends for years. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:36 p.m.

Amy O'Rourke's life doesn't look anything like what her husband Beto promised her 14 years ago.

When the couple first moved in together, Beto wrote a letter to Amy promising her a life of "listening to music, making dinner for friends" and "drinking wine on the front porch." Now Beto's running for president — and it's "completely contrary" to what Amy had envisioned for them, she tells The Washington Post in a profile published Tuesday.

Beto proposed to Amy on April Fool's Day, just four months after they met. The Post calls the date "appropriate," considering the antics Beto pulled once they were married:

And then there were the pranks: the remote-controlled cockroach in the kitchen, the "Psycho"-style scares in the shower. One time, according to a friend, Beto collected an especially verdant turd from one of their kids' diapers and put it in a bowl, telling Amy it was avocado. (Neither would confirm this, though Beto did allow it sounded like something he'd do.)

Though less disgusting, Amy did recount a few more issues she had with Beto in the following years to the Post. Beto was on El Paso, Texas' city council when they met, but when he said he wanted to run for Congress, she cried. He won, and it then took Beto's loss in 2018's Texas Senate race to bring him home to his three kids for his "longest stretch of time ... in seven years," the Post writes. Beto asked Amy if she'd like him to quit politics at that point, but Amy — though she'd seen "the pain in her kids' eyes when their calls kept going to voice mail" — said no.

Read more at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

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