Saturday, September 23, 2017

Unrig The System Summit is sponsoring this Event.

Registration is now Open for the from February 2nd - 4th 2018 at Tulane University in New Orleans.

A large-scale gathering, bringing together an All-Star Lineup of Leaders and Activists from across the Political Spectrum focused on Unrigging America's Political system.

Convening the Brightest Minds from the Right and Left to Fix American Politics...and Party in New Orleans
Conservatives. Progressives. Solutions.

This is No Ordinary Conference. No endless Panels and Speeches. It’s fast-paced and fun, with plenty of time to Self-Organize as you mingle with top Advocacy Leaders, Academics, Comedians, Musicians, Celebrities, Activists, Philanthropists, and Journalists.

This is about crossing Partisan and Ideological Divides and working together on Concrete solutions to Unrig America’s Political System, with Plenty of New Orleans fun mixed in.

Current Speakers

Jennifer Lawrence - Actor & Member of Represent.Us Board of Directors

Adam McKay - Oscar-Winning Director, Member of Represent.Us Board of Directors

Kerry Washington - Actor & Member of Represent.Us Creative Council

Josh Silver - Represent.Us Member

Richard Painter - Professor, Former White House Ethics Counsel for George W. Bush

Ann Ravel (D) + Trevor Potter (R) - Former Federal Election Commission Chairs

Tom Moore - Federal Election Commission

Ellen Weintraub - Federal Election Commissioner

Lawrence Lessig - Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School

Robert Herzberg, CA State Senator

Zach Wamp - Former U.S. House Rep. (R), Tennessee District 3, Issue One ReFormers Caucus

Rob Richie, FairVote

Greg Orman - The Centrist Project, Entrepreneur

Chad Peace - IVC Media

Steve Hilton - FOX News Host, CEO & Founder, Crowdpac

Anita Earls - Executive Director, Southern Coalition for Social Justice

Keesha Gaskins-Nathan - Program Director, Rockefeller Brothers Fund

Ron Suskind - Pulitzer Prize Winning Writer, Wall Street Journal, Best-Selling Author on Presidents and Politics

Also featuring these Leaders in the field:

RUPA BALASUBRAMANIAN, Philanthropic Advisor
JOHN BONIFAZ, Free Speech for People
LESLEY CHILCOTT, Documentary Film Producer & Director
JEFF CLEMENTS, American Promise
GINNA GREEN, ReThink Media
ANTHONY JOHNSTONE, University of Montana
CATIE KELLEY, Campaign Legal Center
SHEILA KRUMHOLZ, Center for Responsive Politics
CARMEN LOPEZ, Thornburg Foundation
TIFFANY MULLER, End Citizens United
LARRY NOBLE, Campaign Legal Center
LARRY NORDEN, Brennan Center
NICK NYHART, Every Voice Center
DAVID ORR, Oberlin College
JOHN PUDNER, Take Back Our Republic
PAUL S. RYAN, Common Cause
NICK STEPHANOPOLOUS, University of Chicago
ERIC WANG, Center for Competitive Politics

CLICK HERE for more information and to Register.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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NY Assemblyman Proposes Broaden Voting Rules to Boost Turnout

Fewer than a Quarter of Register Democrats in Buffalo, NY are responsible for Choosing who will Lead the City for the next Four Years.

Those are embarrassing numbers, according to Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo,149th District), who said what happened in the 2017 Queen City Primary is indicative of what’s happening across New York State.

Turnout for Primaries in Western New York is historically Low. But this September’s Primary featured a highly publicized Race for Mayor, with Incumbent Byron W. Brown won with 51% for another Four Years.

Ryan is proposing to make Voting easier by allowing for Early Voting, with Precincts Open for Seven Days leading up to Election Day.

Ryan also suggested to follow the lead of States like Ohio and Indiana, which have Open Primaries that allow Voters to choose their Ballot, regardless of their Political Affiliation.

He said the State should make it easier for Democrats and Republicans to Register to Vote in their Party of Choice. Ryan pointed to the fact that, if a Republican wanted to change their Party Affiliation to Vote in the upcoming General Election, they would have had to File the necessary Paperwork in October 2016.

“We have an antiquated system,” Ryan said. “We have a system that reduces people’s ability to vote. It reduces their willingness to vote, and worst of all, it erodes democracy. “We can’t have 15, 20 or 25 percent of the population that are deciding how our country and our state is run.”

Ryan said the State does a poor job of attracting New Voters, adding those from the Millennial generation likely view the current System as “prehistoric.”

He suggested New York look to other States that allow 17-year-olds to Vote in Primaries, so long as they turn 18 by the General Election.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Friday, September 22, 2017

Trump's Travel Ban Set to Expire Forcing Decision on Vetting

A Core Piece of President Trump's Travel Ban is set to Expire on Sunday. The Supreme Court allowed Parts of Trump’s Policy to go into Effect earlier this Summer, starting the Clock on a 90-Day pause in Travel from Six predominantly Muslim Countries. The Stoppage was needed, according to Trump Officials, to Conduct a Review of Vetting Procedures.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Submitted the Results of that Review to the White House late last week. Its Contents have not been revealed Publicly, but the Report could Recommend that the Government Strengthen its Vetting Protocols for Visas and Refugees, add New Nations to the List of Banned Countries, or even Craft an entirely New Order.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a Statement that No Decisions have yet been made about how the President will Proceed. But Trump recently expressed a desire to Enact an even Stricter Travel Ban after a Bomb Explosion in London’s Subway System. “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

The original Executive Order, hastily rolled out just one week after Trump took Office, barred people from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia from entering the U.S. for 90 days, halted the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program for 120 days, and indefinitely Suspended the Resettlement of Syrian Refugees. But the Policy was Halted by Legal Challenges as Protests Erupted at Airports around the Country.

Trump Revoked the Ban and issued a New Order that Dropped Iraq from the List of Impacted Nations and made other Changes designed to Help the Policy Stand up in Court. The Revised Order was also put On Hold by the Courts, but the Supreme Court Overruled in June. The High Court allowed the Government to begin Enforcing the 90-day Ban for Travelers who don’t have a “bona fide” Connection to a Person or Entity in the U.S.

That 90-day Period comes to an End on Sunday, just Two Weeks before the Supreme Court is Scheduled to Hear Oral Arguments over the Policy’s Legality. A Ruling in the Case may not be Issued for Months. One Major Factor that may shape the Administration’s path forward is the Results of the DHS Report, which was required by the Executive Order.

The DHS, in Consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, was tasked with Reviewing the Government’s Current Screening Protocols for the Visa-Issuance Process and the Refugee Admissions Program. The Agency was supposed to Determine, on a Country-by-Country Basis, whether Additional Screening Information is needed to Assess whether an Individual Seeking Entry in the U.S. is a Threat.

The Report is supposed to Recommend what Type of New Information might be needed from Foreign Nationals, with the Executive Order stating that the Standards do not have to be the Same for every Nation. The Review could also Recommend Additional Countries to be placed under Travel Restrictions, as well as Nations that should be Removed from the List. 

Depending on the Findings, the Administration may decide to Expand the Ban, Issue a New One, or Revamp its Vetting Procedures, though all those Options could Face Legal Challenges. “The White House has a wide array of options,” said Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional Law Professor at George Washington University. But “a new order would have the benefit of cleaning the slate and picking better ground for any renewed litigation.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Obama-era School Sexual Assault Policy Rescinded

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Friday she was Rescinding Obama-era Guidance on School Sexual Assault, effective Immediately. The Agency issued a Question-and-Answer Document to Help Schools Navigate the Highly Contentious Issue while a Formal Review is Conducted.

The Document allows Schools to use a Higher Standard of Proof in Campus Disciplinary Proceedings related to Sexual Violence, altering one of the most hotly Debated Elements of the Obama-era Guidance. Instead, Schools can Opt to use a Higher Standard of Proof, known as “Clear and Convincing Evidence”.

Attorneys for the Accused have said too often that the Obama-mandated Standard, known as “Preponderance of evidence", or “More Likely than Not”, undermined the Due Process Rights of the Accused. That Standard is Lower than the "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" Standard Common in Criminal Trials.

In another New Element, the New Instructions will allow Campuses to Provide Mediation in Sexual Assault Cases if both Sides Agree to it, an Option not Permitted under the Obama-era Guidance which pushed School Leaders to Combat Sexual Harassment, including Sexual Violence.

Friday's announcement was unlikely to Propel Schools to immediately Change their Policies. Many College and University Officials have said they would wait until Rule-Making is complete.

But Cynthia Garrett, Co-President of Families Advocating for Campus Equality, said the New Guidelines will “alleviate the pressure on schools to feel as though they need to stack the deck against those that are accused.” “Probably the biggest thing this does is take the pressure off schools to comply with the 2011 Dear Colleague letter,” she said, referring to the Obama-era Guidance which applied to all Colleges, Universities, and K-12 Schools.

DeVos’ Guidelines also provide Students Accused of Sexual Assault with greater Access to Evidence and Stress that the Identity of their Accusers and Alleged Conduct must be Revealed before they’re Questioned, Garrett said.
“Often these students are brought in to be interrogated before they’re accused of anything,” she said.

But Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, said the Effects of the Change could be “Devastating” to Victims of Sexual Assault. “It will discourage students from reporting assaults, create uncertainty for schools on how to follow the law and make campuses less safe,” Graves said. One Footnote, she said, is particularly Confusing. That Footnote says, “The standard of evidence for evaluating a claim of sexual misconduct should be consistent with the standard the school applies in other student misconduct cases.” Goss Graves said “that seems to suggest the Standard of Evidence used for Evaluating Cases of Sexual Misconduct should be the same as the Evidence used to evaluate Cases of Cheating or Plagiarism. Colleges and Universities should have Different Priorities when it comes to evaluating cases of sexual assault,” she said.

Alyssa Peterson, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for the Victim’s Advocacy Organization Know Your IX, said the Change on Mediation is perhaps “the most frightening part of this for me. It’s very intimidating for a victim to participate in a mediation session with their rapist, and schools might not be the best ones to facilitate such a session.”

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, Ranking Democrat on the Senate HELP Committee, Accused the Department of “continuing a pattern of undermining survivors’ rights.”

Earlier this Month, DeVos had said she would Scrap the 2011 Obama-era Directive and Develop a Replacement through a Rulemaking Process that she said would do a better job of Balancing the Rights of Victims and the Accused. "As I said earlier this month, the era of rule by letter is over. The Department of Education will follow the proper legal procedures to craft a new Title IX regulation that better serves students and schools," DeVos said in a Statement Friday.

The Q&A issued Friday said that Schools that Voluntarily entered into Resolution Agreements with the Department's Office for Civil Rights based on the 2011 "Dear Colleague" Letter must Adhere to those Agreements. "Existing resolution agreements remain binding upon the schools that voluntarily entered into them," the Document says. "Such agreements are fact-specific and do not bind other schools."

Senior Department Officials said Investigations of Schools pertaining to Violations spelled out in the Rescinded Obama-era Guidance would be Reviewed on a Case-by-Case basis, but that the Department would continue to Open New Investigations as the Review process moves forward. The Officials weren’t Specific on the time frame for Action, saying only that the Department’s Proposed Rule could take several months. During the Rulemaking process, the Department said it would continue to rely on 2001 Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance, and a "Dear Colleague" Letter from 2006.

Robert Shibley, Executive Director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a Civil Rights Group that brought a Court Challenge to the Obama 2011 Guidance, said “the fight is certainly not over, but the Dear Colleague letter is certainly over, and it’s a really good day for fundamental fairness on campus.” He added that there’s still a lot of work to do to come up with a system that Balances the Rights of Victims and the Accused.
Shibley said the Guidelines released by the Trump Administration shouldn’t be Confusing for Colleges and Universities. If anything, the Obama Administration’s 19-page Directive on Campus Sexual Assault and the subsequent 46-page Question-and-Answer Document clarifying that Directive were Significantly more Confusing, he said.

DeVos’ Guidelines also note that Resolution Agreements reached by Schools under the Obama Document don’t pertain to other Schools. That’s important, Shibley said, because the Obama Administration tried to Push an overly Broad definition of Campus Sexual Assault through Resolution Agreements.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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EU Seeks to Tax Online Businesses Where Profits are Earned

The European Union’s Competition Watchdog launched an Agenda Thursday seeking agreement among the Bloc's Member Countries to Tax Digital Businesses where they Earn Profits, regardless of their Physical location.

The European Commission issued a 10-page Communication to the European Parliament and Council saying that the current Requirement for Companies to be Physically Present or Own Assets in a Country before they can be Taxed there is quickly becoming Outdated as Online Retailers, Social Media Platforms, Subscription Sites, and Collaborative Sharing Sites such as Airbnb.

France, Germany, Italy, and Spain want Digital Multinationals like Amazon and Google to be Taxed in Europe based on their Revenues, rather than only Profits as now, their Finance Ministers said in a Joint Letter.

France is leading a push to clamp down on the Taxation of such Companies, but has found support from other Countries also frustrated at the Low Tax they receive under Current International Rules.

Currently such Companies are often Taxed on Profits booked by Subsidiaries in Low-Tax Countries like Ireland even though the Revenue originated from other EU Countries.

CLICK HERE to read the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) Communication.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Voting Laws Roundup 2017

At this point in the year, every State’s Legislature is either in Session or has Completed its 2017 Calendar. As has been the case all Decade, Legislators across the Country are trying to Reshape State Voting Laws. In several places, this means it will soon be Harder to Vote: Five States have already Enacted Bills to Cut Back on Voting Access, and one more is on the verge of doing so. By comparison, Three States Enacted Voting Restrictions in 2015 and 2016 combined. Overall, however, more Bills to Expand Access to Voting were introduced this year than Bills that would Restrict Voting Access. Still, of the Legislation making the most substantial impact on Voting Access, more Legislation to Limit Participation is advancing toward Passage. Moreover, Governors in Nebraska and Nevada have Vetoed the Bills that would Expand Access to the Franchise.

Overall, at least 99 Bills to Restrict Access to Registration and Voting have been introduced in 31 States. Thirty-Five such Bills saw significant Legislative Action, meaning they have at least been Approved at the Committee Level or beyond, in 17 States.

Several States will soon implement Major New Voting Restrictions. Five States have already Enacted Laws making it harder to Register or Vote, one more is on the verge of doing so, and more States could act later this year:

Arkansas: passed Two Bills to bring back Voter ID to the State after a Court struck down an earlier Law.

Georgia’s" Legislature sent Bill that would make Voter Registration more difficult to the Governor, and he Signed it on May 9th.

Indiana enacted a Law that will implement a Purge of Registered Voters from the Rolls. The Program will Remove Voters in a manner similar to Purges in other States that have been criticized for being Error-Prone and inadequately Protective of Eligible Voters.

Iowa’s Governor Signed a broad-based Law that will require Voter ID, Restrict Voter Registration efforts, and impose New Burdens on Election Day Registration and Early and Absentee Voting. Although not as Restrictive as a North Carolina Law that Passed in 2013, and was Blocked by a Federal Court, Iowa’s Law similarly Restricts Voting in a number of different ways.

Montana’s: House and Senate passed a Bill that will Prevent Civic Groups and Individuals from helping others Vote Absentee by Collecting and Delivering their Voted Ballots. The Bill now goes to Voters as a November 2018 Ballot Measure.

North Dakota: also Enacted Legislation to Re-Impose an Identification Requirement after a Court Blocked a Strict ID law in 2016.

Voter ID Bills are still the most common form of Voting Restriction moving in State Legislatures. Since 2010, Ten States have Passed more Burdensome Voter ID Requirements. As in previous years, Voter ID is the most common type of Legislation to Restrict Voting Access this year. Overall, 39 Bills imposing Harsher Voter ID Requirements were introduced in 22 States.

Legislation Pending in other States poses Risks to Voting Access:

Oklahoma’s: Senate Passed a Bill that would add a Voter ID Requirement to the State Constitution. The Bill Passed with a wide margin in the Senate, setting up a likely House Vote.

Texas’s: Senate Passed a Voter ID Bill that would put in place a Voter ID Provision less Voter-Friendly than the current, Court-Ordered Provision.

Restrictions on Voter Registration are a Close Second. After Voter ID, making the Voter Registration Process more burdensome is the most popular subject of Bills to cut back on Voting Access. Overall, 33 Bills to make the Voter Registration Process more burdensome have been introduced in 22 States. Bills have at least been considered and Approved by a Legislative Committee in Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia. Of these, New Hampshire's has the most momentum: a Bill to make Registration more Difficult for Students, supported by the Secretary of State, has Passed the Senate. The Majority of States acting to Restrict Voting are legislating on topics where Courts previously acted to Protect Voters.

Most of the States that have already Enacted or on the verge of Enacting New Voting Restrictions are passing Legislation of the same subject on which Courts have recently acted to Protect Voters from past Voting Restrictions.

Arkansas: has Passed Two harmful Voter ID Bills. One, which Restores a Statutory Requirement that Voters show one of a Limited set of ID, has been Enacted. The other, which would Amend the State Constitution to require Voter ID, must be Approved by the Voters in the form of a Ballot Initiative before taking effect. A State Court blocked a previous ID Law in 2014.

Georgia: enacted a Law imposing a Requirement that Information on Voter Registration Forms match exactly with other State Records, a burdensome Process known as “No Match, No Vote.” Only months earlier, the Secretary of State Agreed in a Court Settlement to stop a similar procedure that had prevented Tens of Thousands from Registering.

Iowa: Enacted an Omnibus Voting Bill, described in further detail above, on May 5th. The Bill includes a Requirement that Suspected Non-Citizens be Deleted from the Voter Rolls. Such Removals Programs, if conducted without Safeguards to adequately ensure those being Removed are actually Ineligible, can sweep in Thousands of Eligible Voters, as has happened in Colorado and Florida. In 2014, a State Court Blocked former Secretary of State Matt Schultz from Purging suspected Non-Citizens because he Lacked Authority to carry out the Program in the manner he intended.

North Dakota’s: Governor Signed a Bill on April 25th that would Restore a Strict Voter ID Requirement in the State. In 2016, a Federal Court partially Blocked a previous ID Law that accepted a Narrow Range of Identification Documents and did not provide any meaningful Voting opportunities for Voters without the Accepted ID. The New Bill slightly Expands Options to use for ID, but Eliminates the Process the Court imposed, which allows Voters without IDs to Cast a Ballot that Counts on Election Day, and instead included a more Burdensome Process. One Legislator argued that that the Bill does not Pass Constitutional muster.

Texas’s: Legislature is considering a Voter ID Bill that is on the verge of being Passed. A House Committee has already Approved the Legislation and it has already Passed the Senate. The State Attorney General has described the Bill as a response to a Court’s Blocking of the State’s previous Strict Voter ID Law. Critics observe that the Bill, if Enacted, would put in place a Voter Id Requirement that is more Stringent than the existing Court-ordered Process.

Bills to Restrict Voter Access Approved by State Legislatures in 2017

Arkansas: Voter ID (HB 1047) Passed and Signed. Voter ID (HJR 1016) Passed House and Senate; Signed by Governor; must be Approved as Ballot Measure to become Law.

Georgia: Voter Registration (HB 268) Passed and Signed.

Indiana: Voter Purge (SB 442) Passed and Signed.

Iowa: Voter ID, Restrictions on Voter Registration Drives, Election Day Registration, and Absentee Voting (HF 516) Passed the House and Senate. Also contains Voter List Maintenance Provisions that, if Implemented Improperly, could lead to Voter Purges.

Montana: Absentee Ballot Collection (SB 352) Passed House and Senate; must be Approved as Ballot Measure to become Law.

North Dakota: Voter ID (HB 1369) Passed and Signed.

Overall, at least 531 Bills to enhance Voting Access have been introduced in 45 States. One hundred fifty-six Bills have at least been considered and Approved by a Legislative Committee in 30 States. 

Fifteen State Legislatures have Passed Bills to Expand Access to Voting, but Governors have Vetoed the most impactful Legislation.

Eight States have Enacted Bills that will make Voting and Registration easier, Seven States have not yet Enacted Legislation but have Passed it through their State Legislatures, and more than a 100 Bills to Improve Voting Access have at least advanced through a Committee. The Two Bills that would make the biggest Impact on Voting Access, however, have been Vetoed.

Florida, Kansas, New Jersey, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia enacted Legislation that would make it Easier to Vote without showing up to the Polls on Election Day.

New Jersey: improved Voting for Military Voters.

Utah: Expanded Early and Absentee Voting Opportunities.

The Other States Upgraded their Absentee Voting Procedures:

Idaho: made its Voter ID Law slightly less Burdensome.

Indiana: improved its Process for Registering Voters who visit the State Drivers’ License Offices.

Wyoming: eased the process for Restoring the Right to Vote for People with Criminal Convictions.

The most Significant Reforms to pass, however, have been Vetoed by Republican Governors:

Nebraska: Governor Pete Ricketts, also a Republican, Vetoed a Bill that would have Restored the Right to Vote to Citizens with Criminal Convictions upon their Release from Incarceration. The Veto came after Nebraska’s Unicameral Legislature, which is technically Non-Partisan, but controlled by Legislators generally identified as Politically Conservative, Passed the Bill by a 27-13 margin. An attempted Veto Override Failed, with the Chamber splitting 23-23 for Override.

Nevada’s: Assembly and Senate Passed Legislation to establish Automatic Voter Registration, but Republican Governor Brian Sandoval Vetoed it. The Legislation, an Initiative Petition, now goes to the Voters, who could Approve it by directly Voting on it in the November 2018 General Election.

Automatic Registration and other Reforms to Modernize Voter Rolls are common Forms of Legislation to Expand Voting Access

Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) remains a popular Pro-Voter Reform that is being introduced in Legislatures across the Country, building on momentum from the last two years. AVR is a New Reform that Leverages existing Technology to help get Voters Registered. It also changes our System from one in which Voters must Affirmatively Register to Vote to one in which they are Registered unless they “Opt Out.” In 2015 and 2016, Six States passed or implemented AVR.

District of Columbia: AVR became Law in 2017.

Illinois: nearly Enacted the Reform last year, just Passed the Senate by a 48-0 Vote. The Bill is similar to Legislation introduced and supported by both Democrats and Republicans in the last Legislative Session, and there is a strong possibility the Bill will Pass.

Nevada: Passed an AVR Bill through both Legislative Chambers, but it was Vetoed by the Governor. It will be on the Ballot in 2018 for the Voters to decide.

Utah's: House Passed an AVR Bill, but it Died in the Senate.

Colorado, Connecticut, and Georgia are moving forward to implement AVR Administratively.

Overall, at least 86 Bills to Implement or Expand AVR have been introduced in at least 32 States.

Legislation has at least been Approved by a Legislative Committee in Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington, and efforts to introduce and Pass Legislation have also received Media attention in Maine and Maryland.

Legislation to Expand Early and Absentee Voting is Popular

In addition to the Six States that have already enacted Legislation to make Early, Absentee, and Military Voting easier, Seven States have at least moved Early Voting Legislation through a Committee, and Nineteen States have done the same with Absentee Voting Legislation. Overall, 166 Bills to improve Early Voting or Absentee Voting Access have been introduced in 35 States.

Legislation Restoring the Right to Vote to People with Past Convictions is also common. As described above, Nebraska and Wyoming’s Legislatures approved Bills to help Restore the Right to Vote to People with past Criminal Convictions. Nebraska’s Bill was Vetoed.

Nevada’s: Senate Passed a Bill that would Improve the Rights Restoration Process in the State, and a Bill is also moving in the House. Nevada’s Governor has Opposed past efforts to Restore the Right to Vote.

Virginia: different Versions of a Bill that would Improve Voting Access for certain Persons with Criminal Convictions Passed in the House and Senate, but neither was Enacted.

Overall, 55 Bills to help Restore the Right to Vote to Persons with Past Criminal Convictions have been introduced in 18 States, and Bills have at least been Approved by a Committee in 17 States.

Bills to Enhance Voter Access Approved by State Legislatures 2017:

Florida: Absentee Voting (H 105) Passed and Signed.

Idaho: Voter ID (HB 149) Passed and Signed.

Indiana: Electronic Voter Registration (HB 1178) Passed and Signed.

Kansas: Absentee Voting (HB 2158) Passed and Signed.

Maryland: Voter Registration (HB 1626) Passed House and Senate.

Montana: Absentee Voting (HB 287) Passed House and Senate.

Nebraska: Voting Rights Restoration (LB 75) Passed Unicameral Legislature; Vetoed by Governor.

Nevada: Automatic Voter Registration (IP 1) Passed House and Senate; Vetoed by Governor.

New Jersey: Military Voting (SB 92) Passed and Signed.

New Mexico: Disability Access (HB 98) Passed House and Senate.

Oklahoma: Early Voting (SB 347) Passed House and Senate.

Tennessee: Absentee Voting (SB 286) Passed and Signed.

Utah: Voter List Maintenance (HB 86) Passed and Signed. Early Voting (HB 105) Passed and Signed. Absentee Voting (HB 230) Passed House and Senate. Minimum Standards for Polling Places (SB 116) Passed House and Senate.

Virginia: Absentee Voting (HB 1912) Passed House and Senate.

Wyoming: Voting Rights Restoration (HB 75) Passed and Signed.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Thursday, September 21, 2017

DHS Rejects Call to Halt Security Detail for Top Officials

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has Rejected a call from its Internal Watchdog Office to Suspend or End Security Details for the Heads of two of its most Significant Components: Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

In a Report released Thursday, DHS Inspector General John Roth said there's No Clear Legal Authority for the Executive Protection Arrangements and a Perception they may have little to do with mitigating any real threat. "Because these security details incur substantial monetary and personnel costs, provide transportation and logistical services not necessarily tied to any demonstrated security concern, and are often authorized by those receiving the services, these details give the appearance to some observers of being more related to executive convenience and status than protection," Roth wrote. "It is axiomatic that no government employee can use government resources for his or her own private benefit, and every government employee has the duty to protect and conserve government resources and only use them for authorized purposes. The current situation is based on questionable legal authority and invites abuse."

In a Letter sent to the Inspector General (IG) in June, DHS Management said it was Reviewing the Security arrangement, but intends to keep the Details for now due to Threats faced by Top Officials in the Immigration-focused Agencies. "It is important to note that the very nature of both the CBP and ICE positions subject them to intense attention and hostility, and increases the likelihood that they may be the subjects of attack while performing their official duties at any number of events or publicly known government offices," wrote Jim Crumpacker, a DHS Official who handles responses to Oversight Reports.

"CBP's headquarters is also the site of numerous protests, at least one per month, with unknown protesters sometimes entering the building and remaining just outside of CBP office space," Crumpacker wrote. "Even within that office space, agency leadership could easily become the target for an insider threat. For example, during the course of imposing routine discipline, CBP management regularly encounters employees, some of whom are armed law enforcement officers, who are discontented with the real or perceived loss of their livelihood, opportunity for advancement, and reputation."

The Divisions are currently Headed by ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan and CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. However, many Details in the Report appear to refer to those Officials' predecessors during the Obama Administration. The IG Report was triggered in part by Whistleblower complaints that Law Enforcement Agents were being diverted from their Ordinary Duties and instead assigned to Protect CBP or ICE Leaders during their Travels.

The IG Report says DHS may be understating the Cost of the Protective Details, which the Watchdog Agency said "could exceed $1 million" apiece. Roth also noted that Congress has Strictly Limited the Number of Government Officials entitled to Door-to-Door Transportation between Home and Work and neither the ICE Director nor the CBP Commissioner is on that List.

DHS' response points to several Specific Incidents causing concern about the CBP and ICE Officials' Safety. The Agency said last year CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske received Threats telling him to "resign or please die soon" and threatening to rape his Wife and Sexually molest his Grandchildren. Former ICE Directors and an Acting Director "have been victims of 'doxxing,'" involving Publication of Personal Information on the Internet, Crumpacker said.

In addition, "CBP and ICE leadership oversee large law enforcement agencies that regularly incite emotional, familiar, and professional turmoil among their law enforcement targets and affiliated individuals," he wrote.

Roth said he's "sympathetic" to those concerns, but systematic, Professional Security Assessments are needed to determine who should have Protection. The IG also said it was troubling that the Top Leaders of ICE and CBP appear to Authorize and Approve their own Security Arrangements.

DHS Management has pledged to issue a Department-Wide Policy on Security Details by June 20th of next Year, but Roth called that Timetable too drawn out. "DHS has not articulated the reasons a fairly simple policy should take a year to issue, particularly given that the department has been aware of the issue since at least November 2016," he declared.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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