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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NYC Agencies Failing to Give Voter Registration Forms


A New York City law passed in 2000 requires 18 city agencies to give voter registration forms to visitors.  But the Center for Popular Democracy found that 84% of those visitors were not given a chance to register, according to a report to be released Tuesday.

In fact, 60% of the agencies didn’t even have forms in the office.  And 95% of the clients were never asked if they wanted to register to vote.

“This is an urgent problem which is leading to the disenfranchisement of many thousands of low-income New Yorkers,” said Andrew Friedman, the group’s co-executive director.

The group found that 30% of people who visited the city offices weren’t registered to vote, higher than the national average.

Mayor de Blasio’s spokesman Phil Walzak said Hizzoner has ordered agencies to step up their compliance with the law.

Advocates say having city agencies help out with voter registration is especially important because most people nationwide sign up to vote at motor vehicle departments, but many city residents don’t drive.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Removing the Selection Process from Our Election System


First, the reason for this post, was a recent comment made to me by a state board of elections commissioner.  We were discussing the different primary systems, and the comment was "We should only have General Elections".

Now how would that work?

First, we need to think about the parties "Right of Association".  So the parties can run their own selection process to determine their endorsed candidates.

Then the states would need to determine what process the candidates would use to get on the General Election ballot: fees, petition signatures under what party names, etc.

Next what will the ballot format look like?  There will need to be an indication of a party's endorsed candidate.

And finally, with a possible large number of candidates, how will the ballot be counted to determine a winner?

I would suggest we use Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) and a 50% +1 concept.

Hopefully I tweaked your interest and would like your ideas for this concept.

If we do have to use Primaries, I support the Blanket Primary system, similar to Alaska, but with one one ballot, with the winner of each party and a write-in option in the General Election.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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The 2014 Version of the Poll Tax


The recent wave of rulings and opinions on voter ID laws makes for depressing reading.  There is the parade of “practical obstacles” summarized by U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman, writing on the Wisconsin law.  Trying to learn what you need, collecting the documents, getting to and standing on line at one or more state offices that are open only during business hours, and perhaps having to deal with multiple other state and federal agencies to address discrepancies will make your stomach clench and your head ache.  It’s a major undertaking for a high-income, highly educated person with flexible work hours and access to public officials.  It’s prohibitive in multiple ways for others.

There are the calculated choices majority Republicans made in Texas about what kinds of ID to accept and reject.  They said yes to gun permits and military IDs and didn’t mess with absentee ballots, all ways to “broaden Anglo voting,” U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos wrote.  They rejected student IDs, state government employee IDs and federal IDs, all “disproportionately held by African-Americans and Hispanics.”

There is the barrier of cost, addressed in an opinion on the Wisconsin law by Judge Richard Posner, a conservative named by Ronald Reagan to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  He cited a Harvard Law School report that found the cost of documentation, travel and waiting time to get an ID to be $75 to $175.  That’s 50 to 100 times more than the $1.50 poll tax, and all you’d have to do is pay at the polling station before voting.

The poll tax, in many cases applied selectively and used to discriminate, had no place in a democracy.  Yet how different was it from the hurdles placed in the path of so many voters today?

The morality of all this is bad enough, we’re talking about voting, the bedrock of the republic, a right people died to win.  But the voter ID fad also reveals flawed political strategy.  It courts backlash, in the form of higher minority turnout.  And it will make it harder to repair relations with the affected groups when demographic reality takes hold and the GOP needs their votes.

If the Supreme Court decides to rule on the merits of voter ID laws, let’s hope it acts with more dispatch than it did on poll taxes.  The taxes were declared constitutional in 1937.  It was not until 1966, two years after the 24th Amendment banning them in federal elections, that the high court ruled them unconstitutional in all elections.  We don’t need 29 years to know that voter suppression is wrong.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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The Centrist Project for the Senate


Charles Wheelan is the founder of The Centrist Project, a 501(c)4 creating the first political home for centrists.

The organization is based on his book, "The Centrist Manifesto" (W.W. Norton), which outlines a set of centrist principles: fiscal responsibility, environmental responsibility, social tolerance, and genuine economic opportunity for all.

The book also outlines an innovative electoral strategy to elect five centrist U.S. senators empowered to broker deals across party lines.  The Centrist Project's ultimate goal is to help pragmatic leaders and voters solve America's greatest policy challenges.

The Centrist Project has announced it will endorse five moderate candidates in the 2014 elections, and is mobilizing money and voters to support these candidates, and take back the Senate for the middle.

So I began to wonder if this actually took place, how would the Senate determine, who is the majority party?

And to my surprise, this is what I found.

For an independent senator, they must announce who they will caucus for, if they want their vote to count in the selection process of majority and minority leaders.

So again, if an independent wants to take part in the selection process of the Senate, they have to be a Democrat or a Republican.

But I agree with the concept of becoming the consensus builders working across party lines to represent the 40+ percent of independent voters.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Supreme Court Allows Texas to Use New Voter ID Law


The Supreme Court said Saturday that Texas can use its controversial new voter identification law for the November 2014 election.

A majority of the justices rejected an emergency request from the Justice Department and civil rights groups to prohibit the state from requiring voters to produce certain forms of photo identification in order to cast ballots.  Three justices dissented.

Early voting in Texas begins Monday.

The Supreme Court's order was unsigned, as it typically is in these situations.  Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented, saying they would have left the district court decision in place.

The law sets out seven forms of approved ID, a list that includes concealed handgun licenses but not college student IDs, which are accepted in other states with similar measures.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent early Saturday morning, blasting the court's decision to allow Texas to use its new voter ID law in the November elections.

She wrote:

The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.  In any event, there is little risk that the District Court's injunction will in fact disrupt Texas' electoral process.  Texas need only reinstate the voter identification procedures it employed for ten years (from 2003 to 2013) and in five federal general elections.  The potential magnitude of racially discriminatory voter disenfranchisement counseled hesitation before disturbing the District Court’s findings and final judgment.  Senate Bill 14 may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5% of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification. Id., at 50–51, 54.  A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic.

The law was struck down by a federal judge last week, but a federal appeals court had put that ruling on hold.  The judge found that roughly 600,000 voters, many of them black or Latino, could be turned away at the polls because they lack acceptable identification.

The Justice Department and civil rights groups that filed court challenges to the Texas law had hoped that it would be a significant test case of the continuing effect of the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court had nullified a key section of the Act in its 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

Because the Corpus Christi ruling against the law is now on hold, it is unclear whether the judge will move ahead now with a separate review that she was asked to make, on the issue of putting Texas under a regime of court supervision based upon her finding of intentional racial bias in the voter ID law.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Nationwide Congressional Primary Day in June




Currently, states set their own congressional primary dates, and they range from March to September.

Louisiana has abolished congressional primaries and merely holds an election for Congress in November.  All candidates from all parties appear on that ballot.  If no one gets 50%, there is a runoff in December.

To boost voter participation in primaries, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) proposes that all states move their primaries to a single, national primary day in June, essentially a “mega-super-Tuesday.”  A common national primary day, says BPC, would “increase media attention and awareness, potentially leading to more participation.”

The call for a national primary day is one among a comprehensive array of recommendations from a new report released by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform.

CLICK HERE to read the report.

Also, a group of experienced observers of Congress recommended that Congress exercise its Article One authority over congressional elections to set a nationwide primary day for congressional elections. The group also recommends June.

The authors of the recommendations include Alan Frumin, parliamentarian of the U.S. Senate; former Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, former Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, former Congressman Bob Livingston of Louisiana, former Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts, and political analyst Lawrence O’Donnell, Jr.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tallahassee‏ Florida's Anti-Corruption Act


Anti-corruption organizers in Tallahassee, Florida have been working for months to mount a pivotal campaign, a fight to save one city from the tide of big money politics and corruption that threatens the future in cities across the country.

The story behind the organizers, and the grassroots momentum for the Anti-Corruption Act they’re trying to pass, could be an instant classic on Election Day.  So let’s cover the details.



The story of Tallahassee sounds like the set up for a great joke: A Tea Party member, a League of Women Voters organizer, and a member of Common Cause walk into a courtroom...

With more than 20,000 petition signatures, these organizers get to work landing a tough anti-corruption law on the books.  Out of nowhere, obstacles appear.  Pushback from local officials heats things up.

What happens next?  Only Election Day can tell us.  But if they win in Tallahassee, politicians will have to act differently.  A victory here means elected officials won’t be able to take big money from the special interests they’re supposed to keep in check.  And in future elections, candidates will have to turn to voters for the money to finance their campaigns.

Basically: A victory for the Anti-Corruption Act in Tallahassee will show the whole country that voters have the power to fix our broken system.

CLICK HERE to found out more about the Anti-Corruption Act.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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