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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Arkansas Judge Voids State Voter ID Law


An Arkansas judge struck down the state's new voter ID law on Thursday, saying it violates the state constitution by adding a requirement that voters must meet before casting a ballot.

Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox voided the measure in a lawsuit over the way absentee ballots are handled under the law.  A separate lawsuit had been filed last week directly challenging the law, which requires voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot.

The law "is declared void and unenforceable," Fox wrote in the ruling.

The Republican-led Legislature approved the law last year, overriding a veto by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe with a simple majority vote in the House and Senate.  Backers of the measure said it was aimed at reducing voter fraud, while opponents said it would disenfranchise voters.

A spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, a Democrat, says the state Board of Election Commissioners has asked McDaniel's office to appeal Thursday's ruling, and it will do so.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which had filed the separate lawsuit, hailed the ruling.

"The important thing is it indicates voters will be able to vote," Holly Dickson, the group's legal director. "It matters not which suit as long as voters will be able to vote."

The law, which took effect Jan. 1, was used in some local elections earlier this year, but it will be used statewide for the first time during early voting beginning May 5 and during primary elections on May 20.

Fox issued the ruling in a case that had focused on absentee ballots.  The Pulaski County Election Commission sued the state Board of Election Commissioners for adopting a rule that gives absentee voters additional time to show proof of ID.  The rule allows voters who did not submit required identification with their absentee ballot to turn in the documents for their vote to be counted by noon Monday following an election.  It mirrors an identical "cure period" the law gives to voters who fail to show identification at the polls.

McDaniel issued a legal opinion in February in which he said absentee voters could not be given additional time to cast ballots, because that wasn't specified in the law.  His opinion conflicted with advice that the Republican Secretary of State's office had given to local election officials.

"The Pulaski County action forced the Court to reach the legal issues involved and strike down the voter ID law," said Chris Burks, a member of the Pulaski County Election Commission.

The Republican sponsor of the voter ID law said he was "shocked" at Fox's ruling, saying he didn't believe the judge gave the state the chance to defend the new measure.

"I thought today was about the rulemaking on the absentee ballots. It seems like he jumped ahead of himself," said Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest.

Under previous law, election workers were required to ask for photo ID but voters don't have to show it to cast a ballot.  Under the new law, voters who don't show photo identification can cast provisional ballots.  Those ballots would be counted only if voters provide ID to county election officials before noon on the Monday after an election, sign an affidavit stating they are indigent or have a religious objection to being photographed.

State Democrats indicated they planned to use the voter ID law as an issue in this year's elections, sending out a fundraising email within an hour of Fox's ruling.

"Don't let an appeal to this ruling turn back the clock for Arkansas voters," Candace Martin, the state party's executive director, wrote in the email.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Anti-Keystone XL Pipeline D.C. Protest




Cowboys and Indians rode on horseback onto the National Mall on Tuesday to show President Barack Obama that opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline extends to the U.S. heartland.

“We’re here to show Obama, to show Washington, D.C., the very faces of the people that the decision on the KXL pipeline affects,” protester Dallas Goldtooth told a crowd on the Mall, where the group erected teepees that will remain through Saturday.

Ranchers and native tribes that oppose the pipeline formed the Cowboys and Indians Alliance, putting a non-traditional face on the anti-Keystone movement that has spanned the president’s time in office.  Their goal, like that of their environmentalist counterparts, is to persuade Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to determine that the pipeline from Canada would go against the national interest.

“We have stopped the pipeline in its tracks for the last five years,” said Jane Kleeb, of the environmental group Bold Nebraska.  The new protest is meant to show that “tribes have the moral authority and the farmers and ranchers have the rights to their land,” Kleeb said.

Several tribes from across the country joined together in January at the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota and signed a treaty formally agreeing to oppose tar sands projects in their territories.

“Of all people, we know not to break a treaty,” Faith Spotted Eagle, an elder of the Yankton Sioux, told the crowd.  And the ranchers, or “cowboys”, are concerned not just about protecting sensitive aquifers near the pipeline, but also about their land rights, several said at the protest.

“I’m here to support the neighbors to the north that don’t want the pipeline across their land,” said Julia Trigg Crawford, a Texas rancher who rode in on horseback.

She didn’t have so much luck with her own land. Part of the Oklahoma-to-Texas southern leg of Keystone XL, which has already been built, runs through Crawford’s ranch land on the Red River.

“Basically they came in and said a foreign corporation building a for-profit pipeline had more of a right to my land than I did,” Crawford said. The land can be used for grazing, but she can’t build a house or drive across it, she said.  Crawford received a check for $10,395 two years ago but has never cashed it, she said.

On Saturday, the center teepee, adorned with the Indian names President Barack Obama received from Montana’s Crow Nation and the Lakota tribe and painted with symbols symbolizing land and water protection, will be presented as a gift to the National Museum of the American Indian.  Organizers said the museum has agreed to house the teepee in its collection.

The organizers also expect 5,000 more protesters at a rally on Saturday.  That will follow a week of events, including a “traditional ceremony” outside Kerry’s house.  Organizers also said that activist group The Other 98% plans to use a high-intensity projector to project messages about Keystone XL onto the Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters Thursday night.



I agree with the stopping of the current project, because it is a bad deal.

We are taking a dirty tar oil and pushing it through a pipeline that will be built with a much smaller temporary workforce then has been indicated.  It will go to a refineries that will generate revenue for the refineries.  Get pushed back through a pipeline to a tax-free zone on the Gulf coast, to get shipped outside the United States.  So we get no benefit of using the oil or any revenue from its sale.

So tell me why this is a good deal.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Myth of Swing Voters in Midterm Elections


I found this article on the New York Times, The UpShot page, by Lynn Vavreck, a professor of political science at U.C.L.A., and a co-author of "The Gamble,” about the 2012 presidential campaign.

She writes:

If you want to understand the 2014 midterm elections, remember this simple fact about American politics: There just aren’t that many swing voters.

Many people change their minds over the course of a campaign about whether to vote and even which candidate they’re leaning toward.  Ultimately, though, voters tend to come home to their favored party.  There are relatively few voters who cross back and forth between the parties during a campaign or even between elections.

Political professionals have increasingly come to appreciate this pattern and have focused resources on getting previous voters to the polls.  Both parties have spent considerable effort in recent elections trying to understand the effects of television ads, canvassing, phone calls and mailings on turnout.  Mobilizing a party’s voters has become as important as persuading undecided or swing voters.

The 2010 midterm elections highlight the relatively small number of swing voters.  After winning with a wide margin and extraordinary enthusiasm in 2008, the Democrats suffered one of the largest losses of seats in any midterm two years later.


Very Few 2008 Voters Chose a Different Party in 2010

Obama Voters
6% - Switched party
65% - Same party
28% - Stayed home

McCain Voters
6% - Switched party
76% - Same party
17% - Stayed home

But only a small percentage of voters actually switched sides between 2008 and 2010.  There were almost as many John McCain voters who voted for a Democratic House candidate in 2010 as there were Obama voters who shifted the other way.  That may be a surprise to some, but it comes from one of the largest longitudinal study of voters, YouGov’s Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project (C.C.A.P.), for which YouGov interviewed 45,000 people at multiple points during 2011 and 2012.

The results clearly show that voters in 2010 did not abandon the Democrats for the other side, but they did forsake the party in another important way: Many stayed home.

Turnout in midterm elections is always down from presidential elections, and Democrats routinely fight to return more of their voters to the polls than the Republicans.

These stable patterns of American politics reveal a clear path for both parties in 2014: Get your 2012 voters to the polls.

The 2014 fight is not over swing voters. It’s for partisans.


But I think the opportunity is there for independents to make a difference.

The goal should be to take away the major parties majority in the House and the Senate by electing more independent candidates.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Monday, April 21, 2014

Looking for Young Political Activists


In my search for up and coming young political activists, I think I found one.

Those of you who follow the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina, here is, Madison Kimrey, the twelve year-old who stood in front of Governor McCrory's mansion and spoke up for voter rights, and who McCrory insulted by having an aide bring out cookies.



Madison Kimrey of Burlington founded NC Youth Rocks after the North Carolina legislature passed voting restriction laws targeting young people, women, minorities, and the poor.

In this speech Kimrey takes exception to the end of a program by which 16 and 17-year-olds pre-registered to vote when getting their drivers license or through school programs.

NC Republicans have soured on pre-registration in recent years because polling data shows that young people tend to vote for Democrats.  If young people in North Carolina get their drivers license before the age of 18, as many do, they will have to make an additional contact with the government to register to vote.  This is seen as advantageous to Republicans, as a percentage of young people will fail to do so and not be eligible to vote until they do.

CLICK HERE for Madison's FB page.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Friday, April 18, 2014

End Partisanship Campaign Moving Into More States



The EndPartisanship.org coalition filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Newark, New Jersey demanding that every voter should have an equal and meaningful vote at every stage of the state-funded election process, regardless of their party affiliation or non-affiliation.

Over 47% of New Jersey voters choose not to register with a political party and 42% of American voters now self-identify as Independent or unaffiliated voters, yet most states have primary systems that give political parties special access to the voting franchise and penalize voters who do not wish to join a political party.

Fewer than 8% of all registered voters participated in New Jersey’s last primary election at a cost of $12 million to the taxpayers.  This amounted to more than $92 per vote cast.  And 2.6 million New Jersey voters were not allowed to vote in the primary election unless they joined either the Republican or Democratic Party.

This campaign is now moving into more states, possibly yours! But first we need some help from you to pool the resources that will be necessary to put voters above parties and constitutionally challenge exclusive, partisan elections across the nation.


The #EndPartisanship campaign is launching the next phase of the state-by-state legal strategy on Monday, May 12th at 5:30 pm PT.

It will take place at the Law Firm of Thorsnes, Bartalotta, McGuire LLP in San Diego, California.

Representing #EndPartisanship:

Jeffrey Krinsk
David Noonan
Patrick Shea
Tom Warwick
Steve Peace
Jeff Marston
Professor Lawrence Claus

CLICK HERE for more information and to show your support for this issue.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Live Below The Line Campaign



Find out why over 25,000 people across the world have taken the challenge to eat and drink on $1.50 a day for 5 days, raising over $4.4 million for the world’s leading anti-poverty organizations.

Live Below the Line is an innovative awareness and fundraising campaign that's making a huge difference in the fight against extreme poverty.  Quite simply, we’re building a movement of passionate people willing and able to make a meaningful difference to those who need it most.

Live Below the Line is the week of April 28th – May 2nd, 2014.

Live Below the Line is challenging individuals and communities to eat and drink on just $1.50 per day for 5 days, to raise awareness of the lack of choice and opportunity faced by the 1.2 billion people currently living in extreme poverty.

Think about that figure - 1.2 BILLION - living every day in extreme poverty.

Participants choose to take the challenge and fund-raise for one of their charity partners whose work is vital to ending extreme poverty.

When we say ‘extreme’ poverty we mean the poorest people in the world.  The World Bank defines extreme poverty as living on less than $1.25 US dollars per day.

And right now, 1.2 billion people across the world live in extreme poverty. Live Below the Line believes that we have an obligation to reduce that number dramatically.

Live Below the Line is an initiative of the Global Poverty Project, a campaign and advocacy organization whose mission is to increase the number and effectiveness of people taking action against extreme poverty.

In 2009 Rich Fleming from the Global Poverty Project and Nick Allardice from the Oaktree Foundation in Australia, were living together in a share house.  Nick and Rich shared a common passion for alleviating poverty.  Many of their conversations highlighted how hard it was to truly understand the lack of freedom and choice that living in extreme poverty entails.

Together, Nick and Rich saw the opportunity to take this concept to thousands of citizens across the world to help them appreciate the reality of extreme poverty and, in doing so, raise critical money to continue the work needed to end extreme poverty.

Live Below the Line hopes to deepen understanding of the challenges faced by individuals living in extreme poverty, and to raise vital funds for crucial anti-poverty initiatives.

In 2014, Live Below the Line is running in the US, UK and Canada simultaneously in order to raise money for their partner organizations.

Across the world, thousands of people will join the movement to tackle extreme poverty.

CLICK HERE to find out more about the campaign and to join.











NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

ACLU of Arkansas Files Suit Over Voter I.D. Law


Thanks to Ballet Access News for this post.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas and the Arkansas Public Law Center filed a lawsuit in state court today on behalf of four plaintiffs seeking to overturn the state's voter I.D. law as violating the state constitution.

The legislature passed Act 595, over Gov. Mike Beebe's veto, in 2013, requiring a photo I.D.

The suit cites the Arkansas constitution, which says:

Elections shall be free and equal.  No power, civil or military, shall ever interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage; nor shall any law be enacted whereby such right shall be impaired or forfeited, except for the commission of a felony, upon lawful conviction thereof.

To vote, an Arkansas citizen must now be in possession of a I.D. card issued by the federal government, the state or an accredited post-secondary school in Arkansas.

Don't have a car?  No longer driving?  Aren't in the military?  Aren't in school?  Not a world traveler equipped with a passport?  Don't work for the state?

Plaintiffs in the suit are Freedom Kohls, Toylanda Smith and Joe Flakes, who do not possess photo I.D.s, and Barry Haas, who has one but declined to show it at the polls at an election this year and was required to cast a provisional ballot, which was not counted in the election results.  Defendants are Secretary of State Mark Martin and the members of the state Board of Election Commissioners.

Kohls is a 34-year-old Hurricane Katrina refugee who lost all her possessions, including her ID, in the storm.  Smith has had trouble navigating the system to get a photo I.D., which is required to get a birth certificate.  Flakes is 78 and was never issued a birth certificate because he was delivered by a midwife who did not properly record his birth; he'd have to go to court to get a birth certificate.

At a press conference in front of the Pulaski County Courthouse this afternoon, ACLU director Rita Sklar called the right to vote fundamental and the "great equalizer" that gives the same weight of opinion at the polls to all.  She said voter impersonation was not a problem; the law only serves to make it harder for "the poor, the disabled, the elderly, people of color" to vote: "This law stands between qualified voters and the ballot box."  ACLU lawyer Holly Dickson noted that the new law also requires that the name on the voter I.D. match the name the voter registered under, which create hurdles for women who taken their husband's name since registering and whose I.D. reflects the name.

Sklar and Dickson said it was their experience in meeting people across the state that most people do not know the law exists.

The complaint has been assigned to Judge Tim Fox's court.  The suit asks Fox to enjoin the state from requiring a voter I.D.; the ACLU would like to see him act before the May 20 primary.*mnsp; The deadline to register to vote is Monday, April 21.

If Fox does not issue an injunction but rules after the primary that the state law is unconstitutional, disenfranchised voters could sue to nullify the results of the election.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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