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
2015 GOtV (Get Out theVote)
Updated: October 21, 2014
- How Voting in Large Numbers Dramatically Improves Society - Do you want a higher minimum wage? Free childcare? Universal healthcare? A free college education? Then vote for politicians who support those things, and vote out those who don't. It may not seem that simple, but if enough people adhere to this strategy with the patience of several more elections, all those things will happen here. Denmark has proven that to the world by having a model society made possible by a consistently high voter turnout rate. The last election in Denmark brought out 87 percent of the population. To compare, the 2012 presidential election only saw a 57 percent turnout of registered voters in the U.S.
- How Oligarchs Are Becoming Their Own Political Parties - With the advent of Citizens United, any players with the wherewithal can start what are in essence their own political parties, built around pet causes or industries and backing politicians uniquely answerable to them. A case in point is the race for governor in Florida, where Tom Steyer pushes climate protection against the Koch brothers' efforts to stop government intervention.
- Taking most of the places at the table: White men are 31 percent of the American population. They hold 65 percent of all elected offices.
- The Independents Who Could Tip the Senate in November - The percentage of people identifying as independents exceeds 40 percent. There are more independents than either Republicans or Democrats, and it's the fastest growing group of voters. More than 50 percent of millennials self-identify as independents. A recent Gallup poll revealed that 58 percent of Americans and 71 percent of independents believe this country needs a third party because Republicans and Democrats "do such a poor job."
- Do You Care About Reproductive Rights or Marriage Equality? Then You Should Care About State Judge Elections - State judges make decisions about child custody arrangements, restraining orders, and sentencing for people found guilty of a crime. Judges rule on the validity of employment discrimination laws, restrictions on reproductive health care access, and same-sex marriage bans under state constitutions.
- A month from Election Day, election rules still in flux - The ballots are printed, election workers trained and voting locations scouted. But with just a month to go before Election Day, the rules under which the midterms will be conducted remain in flux in four key states. The outcomes of legal challenges could determine just who is eligible to vote on Election Day - and, in states where Senate and gubernatorial races are nail-bitingly close, just who wins when the votes are counted.
- Privacy advocates sue Pentagon over Internet voting test results - Privacy advocates, worried that the Defense Department is sinking millions of dollars into unproven online voting systems, are suing the Pentagon for the release of long-promised test results on whether Internet-based voting is safe.
- Noncandidate Spending Increases in State Elections - Fueled by the political groups empowered by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Pennsylvania is on top of the heap for ad spending so far in state-level races in 2014, with more than $37 million already spent, followed by Texas ($36.8 million), Florida ($33.7 million), Illinois ($26.4 million) and New York ($14.5 million). Through Sept. 8, one day before the final five state primary elections, more than $280 million nationwide was spent on television ads promoting and attacking candidates running for state political office in 2014. The increase in spending by non-candidate committees can be traced in part to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, decided early in 2010. The ruling gave the green light to unions and corporations to spend unlimited funds on ads supporting or opposing candidates.
- Income Inequality 2014: Ahead Of Midterm Elections, Harvard Study Says Americans Grossly Underestimate Inequality - If critics of income inequality are wondering why the growing gap between rich and poor hasn't been a more potent political issue in the upcoming U.S. elections, a study offers some answers: It may be because many Americans grossly underestimate just how unequal the country is. That's one of the key findings of a survey showing the actual gap between CEO and average worker pay in America is more than 10 times higher than the typical American perceives.
- Sixteen for '16 - Number 13: Let People Vote - Voter suppression has re-emerged as a strategy for winning elections and is so widespread in the United States that it criminally undermines the integrity of our democracy. We must let the people vote.
- Tens of Thousands of Wisconsin Students Face New Voting Hurdles - Thanks to a last-minute reinstatement of Wisconsin voter ID restrictions, tens of thousands of students will have to go through additional hurdles before Election Day if they want to exercise their right to vote.
- Panel is not 'independent' - State Supreme Court Justice Patrick McGrath of Troy ordered the state Board of Elections to drop the adjective "independent" from the language of Proposal No. 1, and stated that the new commission "cannot be described as 'independent' when eight out of the 10 members are the handpicked appointees of the legislative leaders and the two additional members are essentially political appointees by proxy."
- A chance to cut waste, save money - On election day 2014, though, New Yorkers will have the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment, Proposition 2, that will help save tax dollars and the environment by enabling the state Legislature to go digital with its communications. On average, there are 17,000 to 18,000 bills introduced during each two-year legislative term. Every bill that's introduced is printed a minimum of 213 times to "age" on 213 legislative desks for at least three days.
- 10 Reasons Young Women Absolutely Need to Vote in the Midterms - Young people are the most diverse generation of Americans ever, but Congress isn't reflective of that diversity. White men only make up 32 percent of the U.S. population, but they make up 79 percent of the Senate and 75 percent of the House. Meanwhile, women make up more than 50 percent of the population but only 17 percent of Congress. Voting is one way to get our voices heard on the issues that affect our lives and matter most to us.
- Primary Day, deja vu all over again - Turnout in New York has been well below the national average for more than 30 years. During the last midterm election, for instance, New York ranked dead last in turnout, just below Texas and Utah. And let's not forget that was in the general election; turnout in primaries is always much lower than it is in general elections. In 2012, New York State ranked 44th among all states (and the District of Columbia) in voter turnout. Only 53.2% of eligible New York voters cast a ballot . . . This dismal voter-turnout pattern has been the case in New York for the last several election cycles. Going as far back as the 1980 presidential election, New York's voter turnout seldom matched the national average."
- Unshackled from limit, political mega-donors give millions - More than 300 wealthy contributors have already exceeded the previous $123,200 cap on total donations. Together, 310 donors gave a combined $11.6 million more by this summer than would have been allowed before the ruling. Their contributions favored Republican candidates and committees over Democratic ones by 2 to 1.
- AAUW Today: 5 Things You Can Do to Get Out the Midterm Vote - 2012 was the year of the woman voter. The It's My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign was a great success, registering and turning out millennial women voters nationwide. We believe in the power of women's voices, which is why AAUW and the AAUW Action Fund are renewing our efforts in 2014 for the critical midterm elections - a time when young women are not as likely to vote as in presidential election years.
- Students Step Up Efforts to Protect Youth Vote - Access to the vote is now in jeopardy for many students and youth due to a slew of changes to state election laws passed in North Carolina, Texas and other states in recent years. Voter ID requirements and other new voting restrictions not only pose unique barriers to African-American, Latino and low-income voters, they say, but also disproportionately affect students and youth, despite the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that declares the right to vote "shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age."
- Hatred of Congress may finally get voters off the couch - More people tend to vote when Congress is hated, and the current crop of leaders in Washington, D.C. are among the most reviled in history, a new report shows. That means the midterm elections in November may prompt the highest voter turnouts in recent memory, according to the Gallup report.
- National Voter Registration Day Webinar - You can Watch the presentation on YouTube. You can also download the PowerPoint presentation and the audio portion of the presentation. A great learn more about National Voter Registration Day, especially about activities on the day and questions about materials.
- Unlike previous midterm election years, no dominant theme has emerged for 2014 - But in an unusual twist, no single issue is driving the national debate. Even without a single salient issue, a heavy cloud of economic anxiety and general unease is hanging over the fiercely partisan debate. Listening to voters, you hear a downbeat tone to everything political - the nation's economy, infrastructure and schools; the crises flaring around the world; the evolving culture wars at home; immigration laws; President Obama and other elected leaders in Washington.
- Redistricting Amendment Language Set, Critics Object - The state board of elections approved the language for a ballot amendment that would change the way redistricting is done in New York. But not everyone is happy with the wording, or the amendment. The November ballot amendment would permit the Senate and the Assembly to appoint members to what the amendment describes as an "independent" commission to redraw legislative district lines every ten years, as required by the census. Currently, the legislature controls redistricting directly, and traditionally, the majority parties in each house of the legislature have mutually agreed to draw the new districts to suit the party in power. Critics say that's led to all sorts of oddly misshapen districts, gerrymandered to help an incumbent lawmaker win re election, or keep the seat in the hands of one of the main political parties.
- A comprehensive investigation of voter impersonation finds 31 credible incidents out of one billion ballots cast
- 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.
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.
Back to the Index
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.
Back to the Index
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."
Back to the Index
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.
Back to the Index
Branch Homepage - Public Policy Issues to Watch