Voter Education Issues to Watch
"Because Equity is Still an Issue."
For more information: AAUW Fact Sheets and Position Papers on Affirmative Action, Athletics, Education, Managed Care Reform, Reproductive Rights, and Social Security Reform.
Full calendar of the NYS election cycle for 2014
Updated: July 28, 2014
- Voter Registration among Young People in Midterm Elections - The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement announced that the youth voter registration rate has declined over the last decade. Among the people ages 18-29, the voter registration rate rose from 49 percent in 2010 to 58 percent in 2012. However, this registration rate falls short of the 61 percent registered in 2008.
- Why women are far more likely to vote then men Tut the truth is that women vote in higher numbers than men do. We have in every presidential election since 1980, and the gap has widened over time. In 2012, the difference in turnout was nearly 4 percentage points (63.7 percent of ladies voted vs. 59.8 percent of gents). The disparity was more than twice as large if you look just at those who have never been married. Girls, it seems, really do run this world.
- Lobbying Groups Can Keep Donors Private - A hearing officer on Friday ruled that four lobbying groups that both support and oppose abortion rights can keep their roster of donors a secret. The ruling comes after a 2011 ethics measure required organizations that lobby in New York to disclose their top donors. But as state lobbying regulators developed guidelines for disclosure, some organizations raised concerns, and asked for carve outs to prevent their donors from being disclosed over the fear individuals would be put at risk. Four lobbying had sought exemptions: Family Planning Advocates, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York State Women's Equality Coalition and New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms.
- Nation Must Look at North Carolina's ''Moral Mondays'' - Voter turnout drops by a shocking 50 million in non-Presidential election years. The biggest drop-down is minorities, young people, and lower incomes. Moral Mondays are gearing up for a "mass voter mobilization campaign." Massive voter turnout in support of candidates who value people - not large corporations' profits - is the best hope to recapture rights, power, and policy.
- Students Joining Battle to Upend Laws on Voter ID - Civil rights groups have spent a decade fighting requirements that voters show photo identification, arguing that this discriminates against African-Americans, Hispanics and the poor. This week in a North Carolina courtroom, another group will make its case that such laws are discriminatory: college students. Joining a challenge to a state law alongside the N.A.A.C.P., the American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Department, lawyers for seven college students and three voter-registration advocates are making the novel constitutional argument that the law violates the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18 from 21. The amendment also declares that the right to vote "shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age."
- Voter Fraud Is Rare, but Myth Is Widespread - Is vote fraud common in American politics? Not according to United States District Judge Lynn Adelman, who examined the evidence from Wisconsin and ruled in late April that "virtually no voter impersonation occurs" in the state and that "no evidence suggests that voter-impersonation fraud will become a problem at any time in the foreseeable future." The New York Times reported in 2007, for instance, that a five-year investigation by the Bush administration "turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections." Even after this intensive search, the Rutgers political scientist Lorraine Minnite showed in her book "The Myth of Voter Fraud" that prosecutions for migratory bird law violations were still far more common than election fraud during the 2005 fiscal year.
- Restoring the Right to Vote - Last year, the Supreme Court decimated one of the civil rights movement's crowning achievements, the Voting Rights Act. Now, it's time for Congress to pick up the pieces, put them back together and protect our crucial right to vote. With grassroots pressure, there's no reason the Voting Rights Amendment Act can't become law this year, restoring and strengthening our civil rights protections.
- Are young people finally interested in voting? - For some reason, the young and the minorities are far more interested in this election than they were a month ago. Are the voter registration efforts starting to percolate around the country causing the uptick? The current political climate has these voters thinking more about November than usual. And while measures of voter intention aren't always accurate in scale, it's important to watch the trend, and young and minority voters are trending upward.
- Woman, 92, Denied Photo ID to Vote for Lack of Birth Certificate - Ruby Barber's situation is typical of the hundreds of thousands of registered voters in Texas who don't have a photo ID necessary to cast a ballot under a state GOP law.
- Glass Ceilings in Statehouses in the Northeast - The industrial Northeast enjoys a reputation as a cradle of liberalism, a region that voted overwhelmingly for America's first black president, started the push on same-sex marriage rights and can reliably be found at the forefront of causes for equality. But there is a notable gap: The Democratic Party has yet to elect a female governor in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island or Massachusetts.
Glass Ceilings in Statehouses in the Northeast
- How to Win Millennials: Equality, Climate Change, and Gay Marriage - A new survey shows the youngest bloc of voters is decidedly progressive, nervous about money-and not especially energized about voting. This generational cohort now accounts for about one-fourth of the voting age population-a voting bloc even larger than senior citizens.
- Seats are up for grabs throughout St. Lawrence County in November elections - With November elections creeping up, many seats are up for grabs at the local, state and federal level, the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections says.
- Two potent issues in NY state races - This fall, gender could be the determining divide in New York State. Women have become an enduring majority of the New York State electorate. In both 2010 and 2012, exit polls revealed that women cast 53 percent of the statewide vote. New York's female majority will be asking where candidates stand on Cuomo's Women's Equality Act.
- America's most gerrymandered congressional districts - New York State, while not free of gerrymandering, is less poisoned by it than many parts of the country. Which is why we have so many in-play Congressional Districts this fall.
- The 2014 Election Is the Least Important in Years - A Gallup poll released Monday found that just 35 percent of registered voters are more excited than usual about voting in November's midterm elections. That's well down from 2010 and somewhat down from most other midterm years when Gallup has asked this question. Midterm elections normally generate less voter enthusiasm than presidential years, so this isn't all that high a bar to clear.
- Voter Engagement Webinars - Want to get involved in this year's election but not sure where to start? Our partner, Nonprofit VOTE, is producing a series of webinars aimed at teaching nonprofit staff and volunteers the dos and don'ts of nonprofit election activities. Your PTA can be involved in election activities such as candidate forums, candidate issue guides, ballot measures, and voter registration. Register today for these informative webinars.
- 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.
- 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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