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By Nicholas Kusnetz, Center for Public Integrity 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The offices in a former Kohl’s department store here look inconsequential enough — linoleum floors, fluorescent lights and cookie-cutter furniture. But what happens in this strip mall, and other equally nondescript settings nationwide, could in fact be crucial to the struggle over America’s voting laws and apparatus — a struggle that may go a long way toward determining the outcome of next November’s presidential election.

The Franklin County Board of Elections moved to the north side of this capital city last year after using the site in 2012 to accommodate the rush of people who cast their ballots during Ohio’s early voting period. But that early voting policy is still not set in stone — its duration and details have been stretched and squeezed repeatedly over the past few years by both state law and court order, part of a bitter clash between Democrats and Republicans over access to the ballot, electoral integrity and resources.

The multi-billion dollar MOX plant under construction near Aiken, South Carolina in 2013

The multi-billion dollar MOX plant under construction near Aiken, South Carolina in 2013

By Patrick Malone and Douglas Birch, Center for Public Integrity 

A team of experts has confirmed what the Energy Department has been saying for two years — that burying 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium would be far cheaper and more practical than completing a multibillion-dollar plant that would turn the radioactive material into commercial reactor fuel.

The report raises pressure on Congress to walk away from a costly project that has been plagued by rapidly escalating costs and an absence of any customers for the fuel it is supposed to produce.