Voter Education Issues to Watch
"Because Equity is Still an Issue."
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Updated: April 16, 2014
- In the News: Cuomo signs bill to reform Electoral College process - Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation pledging to award New York's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the majority of the national popular vote. The National Popular Vote bill (S.3149/A.4422) enters New York into an interstate agreement with California, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington to award their 29 electoral votes to the candidate who garners the most votes across each of the 50 states.
- In the News: New York votes to reform Electoral College process - Bill on Cuomo's desk would add 29 votes to national movement to reform electoral college.
- In the News: Why We Need School Boards Now More Than Ever - The key to fixing what ails our education system is more democracy, not less.
- In the News: Why We Need School Boards Now More Than Ever - The key to fixing what ails our educat
- In the News: Measures by G.O.P. Aim to Limit Voting in Swing States - The bills, laws and administrative rules - some of them tried before - shake up fundamental components of state election systems, including the days and times polls are open and voting locations.
- In the News: North country representatives divided on national popular vote - A bill that would tie New York to a movement to base presidential elections on the popular vote passed the state Senate and Assembly on Tuesday. It has drawn both support and criticism from north country representatives.
- In the News: NYPIRG: 170 gave more than half of total political donations - With campaign finance reform and the creation of a public financing system for elections in the wind at the moment in the budget negotiations, NYPIRG's data maestro Bill Mahoney joined other good-government advocates to release a report on the state's top political donors and the political entities that find a home for their money.
- In the News: Failure by state to consolidate primary and federal election dates will cost St. Lawrence County $60,000 to $150,000, chairman says
- In the News: Real fraud is too often on legal voters - The New York bill would flag anyone other than election workers who challenge more than 10 voters — a welcome effort to squelch partisan efforts to discourage broad blocs of voters, as Schneiderman suspects was recently the case in Dutchess and Nassau counties.
- In the News: State Election Commissioners Association changes position on primary voting
- In the News: Court Finds Pennsylvania's Voter ID Law Is "Invalid and Unconstitutional" - Pennsylvania's commonwealth court has found the photo requirement of the 2012 voter ID law "invalid and unconstitutional on its face." So, a total victory for the plaintiffs, a collection of people who lacked proof of identity, defended by civil liberties groups. "The only fraud uncovered in this case is the ID law itself," crowed Witold Walczak, legal director of the Pennsylvania ACLU, "which is exposed as a voter suppression tool adopted to game elections."
- In the News: Federal Judge Approves June Primary Date - As expected, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe on Thursday designated the fourth Tuesday in June as the date to hold Congressional primaries in New York. The designation was done to comply with the federal MOVE Act, a measure that requires military and overseas voters have timely access to absentee ballots.
- In the News: Local elections leave eight open legislative seats in Albany - There are eight new vacancies in the Legislature—seven in the Assembly and one in the Senate—after sitting lawmakers were elected to other offices.
- In the News: People Power Expressed in Election Results - From increased minimum wage wins to local fracking bans, the people made their voices heard this election.
- In the News: Texas’ Stringent Voter ID Law Makes a Dent at Polls - The nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Texas, which opposed the new law, said that it was concerned more about voters who do not have the proper documentation at all, and might stay away from the polls altogether as a result.
- In the News: William Rivers Pitt: Decisions Are Made by Those Who Show Up - The only people [voting] in America right now are the ones who think women's rights don't count, who think warfare is a sustainable economic engine because they're the ones making the money from it, who think Wall Street and industry should be untouchable, who think taxes are evil even as they feast like vampires upon the open vein of government largesse...and a substantial majority of the 35 percent that will vote next year have been irretrievably convinced of this, and will vote to sustain it even as it guts their future.
- In the News: Norm Ornstein: The US Needs a Constitutional Right to Vote - It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, is leading to a new era of voter suppression that parallels the pre-1960s era - this time affecting not just African-Americans but also Hispanic-Americans, women, and students, among others. Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., and Keith Ellison, D-Minn., have introduced in Congress a constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to vote. It has garnered little attention and no momentum. Now is the time to change that dynamic before more states decide to be Putinesque with our democracy.
- In the News: Voter ID laws threaten women's rights - A wave of new voter identification laws in states across the country have drawn plenty of criticism, and rightly so. But the news coverage has missed another class of victims: women. Specifically those who’ve changed their names because of marriage or divorce.
- In the News: Just 35 of 435 Elections Competitive after 201 Years of Gerrymandering - Next November, Americans will elect representatives to the 114th Congress. Before the Congress-led shutdown, 2014 election projections showed that of the 435 seats up for election, only 35 seats will have a competitive election. On average, there is one House member for every 700,000 citizens, a ratio that is second only to India when comparing it to the world’s representative democracies. These numbers point to a grave problem: the House of Representatives is utterly unrepresentative.
Study: 30% of Americans Get Their News on Facebook - A new study reveals that 30% of Americans get their news on Facebook, and suggests that the social network drives people to media sites who may not have otherwise done so. Of that 30%, more than half — 78% — said they click on news links to media sites after initially logging on for unrelated reasons, such as checking out friends' pictures or updating their statuses. In fact, only 16% of Facebook users say that getting news is the primary reason they log on.
- Guest Blog: The perils of two-tier voter registration systems - What Arizona, Kansas, and the Court have overlooked, however, is that having a dual system does not free the state from other statutory and constitutional constraints that both protect the right to vote and allow Congress to legislate with respect to voter qualifications.
- In the News: Texas' New Voter ID Laws May Roll Back Women's Voting Rights - The anticipated impact of these new laws on suppressing minority votes has been well documented, but the effect of new laws on women has received markedly less attention.
- In the News: 2 States Plan 2-Tier System for Balloting - Barred by the Supreme Court from requiring proof of citizenship for federal elections, Arizona is complying — but setting up a separate registration system for local and state elections that will demand such proof. The state this week joined Kansas in planning for such a two-tiered voting system, which could keep thousands of people from participating in state and local elections, including next year’s critical cycle, when top posts in both states will be on the ballot.
- In the News: States joining forces to scrub voter rolls - More than half of states are now working in broad alliances to scrub voter rolls of millions of problematic registrations, identifying people registered in multiple states and tens of thousands of dead voters who linger on election lists.
- In the News: Kansas Secretary of State Has Plan to Keep More Than 17,500 Legal Voters From Voting - The new proof-of-citizenship law took affect at the beginning of this year and has resulted in thousands of previously legal voters becoming "suspended" until such time as they present documentation to prove they are citizens. The burden is now on them to prove they are innocent, rather than on the state to prove they have broken any laws.
- In the News: Report: Colleges Can Help Improve Youth Voter Turnout - Youth voter turnout, especially among low-income students, is significantly impeded by voter identification laws and restrictions on same-day registration, and educators and policymakers should collaborate to improve civic education and engagement, according to a new report commissioned by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. Most of the report’s recommendations – including lowering the legal voting age to 17 – are directed at politicians and K-12 schools as opposed to colleges (though it does encourage collaboration with colleges on the issues). But there is some takeaway for higher education as well, CIRCLE Director Peter Levine said here at the report’s release Wednesday.
- In the News: OpEd: The Dishonesty of Voter ID Laws
- In the News: NYT Editorial: Plan B for Voting Rights
- AAUW in the News: Women’s Equality Day is Aug. 26 (OpEd - Aug. 23, 2013)
- Department of Justice to Sue Texas Over Election Law - On Thursday, the Department of Justice announced that Attorney General Eric Holder will sue Texas over its voter identification law. This suit will be the department’s second attempt to halt Texas' election law changes since the Supreme Court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in June.
- Pennsylvania’s controversial voter identification law will not be in effect during this November’s election while it is being challenged in court. Judge Bernard McGinley stated that allowing enforcement of the law before a final court decision has been reached would only confuse voters, as appeared to be the case in the 2012 election.
- In the News: St. Lawrence County shifts several poll locations
- Obama Administration Challenges Texas Voting Law - Following the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will support a lawsuit challenging Texas’s redistricting plans. Holder will ask the federal court to require that the state submit its voting law changes to the department for “preclearance.” The Voting Rights Act had required Texas and several other states to obtain approval due to a history of discrimination. AAUW plans to work with Congress to develop a bipartisan response to the Supreme Court decision that will ensure equitable political participation and nondiscriminatory voting laws for all Americans.
- In the News: St. Lawrence County shifts several poll locations
- In the News: Dutchess college students win voting rights settlement in federal court - The May 13 agreement permanently prohibits the Dutchess County Board of Elections from rejecting any student application solely because dorm name and room number information is lacking.
- The Sunlight Foundation
- The Power of One Vote
NYS's Sunlight Site
SunLightNY.com is a site which Attorney General Cuomo's office has developed to let us see the internal results of campaign financing. You can learn the source of a candidate's funds, the legislation representatives have sponsored and the laws governing special interests. It is a wonderful source of information, useful to all of us.
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Take Our Daughters to the Polls
A new campaign has been launched to call on all parents to take their daughters to the polls when they vote on Election Day. The “Take Our Daughters to the Polls” campaign encourages adults to speak with their daughters about the importance of voting and to show them how to participate in the electoral process. The campaign was created by the White House Project, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing women’s leadership in the United States, and supported by numerous national organizations, including AAUW. You can participate by signing the pledge to take a young girl to the polls on Nov. 4 and by spreading the word.
- from AAUW's Washington Update for October 3, 2008.
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The Sunlight Foundation
A great organization to empower watchdogs! The foundation is using the power of the Internet to "shine a light on the interplay of money, lobbying, influence and government in Washington in ways never before possible." They have compiled a great list of helpful sites for those of us wanting the insider's scoop on all things government and politics.
Just a few of the sites that the Sunlight Foundation features - and in some cases, funds - include:
- Congresspedia.org - The "online wiki-based citizens' encyclopedia on Congress" from the Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Media & Democracy.
- Contractor Misconduct Database - The government awards contracts to companies with histories of misconduct such as contract fraud and environmental, ethics, and labor violations. The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is providing such data about the top 50 contractors.
- EarmarkWatch.org - Ever wanted to be an investigative reporter? Want to follow the money? This site is a user-friendly, online investigative tool that lets citizens determine "if earmarks address pressing needs, favor political contributors or are simply pure pork." The unique site guides users step by step through the process that an investigative reporter would follow - associating different kinds of political information with each earmark, and also guides users about how to use online resources on campaign finance, lobbying and federal spending for their research - tying the pork to the source. Users can also comment on and fact-check one each other's work, or send messages - including tips and suggestions - to others.
- Fedspending.org - OMB Watch's combination of data from the Federal Procurement Data System and the Federal Assistance Award Data System has created a free, searchable database of federal government contracting and spending. The database allows you to search contracts and grants by state, congressional district, contracting agency or type of award, and shows where the money is being spent and - very important - whether it was competitively bid or just given to Haliburton.
- GovTrack.us - This site uses THOMAS data and others to provide Congressional profiles and searchable legislative data. Users can sign up for email alerts to track Members, legislation and votes.
- LOUIS - Sunlight Foundation's Library of Unified Information Sources - "a search engine that combs through seven different sets of government documents. The seven sets of documents are Congressional Reports, the Congressional Record, Congressional Hearings, the Federal Register, Presidential Documents, GAO Reports, and Congressional Bills and Resolutions."
- OpenSecrets.org - This site is the premiere source of data on money in national politics. The user is able to search by member of Congress, by donor, or by industry sector. The site also contains four separate databases: lobbying, personal financial disclosures, congressional travel and revolving door.
- VoterWatch - "...combines C-SPAN video of Congress with the accompanying text from the Congressional Record to allow viewers to search the video for comments made by a member of Congress."
- WashingtonWatch - This site determines the average cost, or savings, per individual of each bill introduced in Congress by performing calculations on government estimates compared to the US population. The Web site provides users with pro and con arguments for each bill, allows comments on each bill, allows users to vote "yes" or "no" on the bills and provides a "write your rep" function.
- Watchdog.net - "...is a hub for data about politics. The site brings together census data, voting records, lobbying forms, campaign finance reports, and much more in one easy-to-understand place. And then it gives you the tools to actually do something about it."
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The Power of One Vote
Your one vote can make a difference.
- In 1645, one vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England.
- In 1649, one vote caused Charles I of England to be executed.
- In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German.
- In 1845, one vote brought Texas into the Union.
- In 1868, one vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment.
- In 1876, one vote gave Rutherford B. Haves the presidency of the United States.
- In 1923, one vote gave Adolph Hitler leadership of the Nazi Party.
- In 1960, a one-vole change in each precinct of Illinois would have denied John F. Kennedy the presidency.
- In 1968, Hubert Humphrey lost and Richard Nixon won the presidential election by a margin of fewer than three votes per precinct.
- In 2000, one vote in the U.S. Supreme Court lost the presidential election for Al Gore and won it for George W. Bush.
- from AAUW's Action Alert, Sept. 2004.
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