Monday, August 29, 2016

NY Demand Democracy Campaign has Officially Launched

The New York Demand Democracy campaign has officially launched.

Now you have the opportunity to ask all sitting State Senators and candidates for State Senate, the House that has historically blocked all reform, to pledge their support for the agenda.

This pledge includes promising to support, prioritize and agressively enact:

- Citizen funded elections to limit the influence of big money in campaigns by matching small contributions for all state-level races.

- Elections and voting reforms including automatic registration and expanding online registration.

- Expand and protect the vote including allowing over 40,000 New Yorkers who are on parole to vote.

- Campaign finance reforms to close the LLC loophole, lower contribution limits for candidates and committees, and others.

- Ethics reforms to ban personal use of campaign funds.

Every sitting State Senator and candidate has received a Demand Democracy letter, pledge and tool-kit. They’ve all been asked to pledge to the essential Demand Democracy agenda, and have until Friday, September 2nd to do so.

Here’s where you come in: the Senators and candidates who’ve received the pledge need to know that their constituents care about Democracy.

CLICK HERE to tell your Senate or Senate candidates to pledge their support for Democracy Reform.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Donors to Be Named for Giving Over $5,000 to NY Nonprofits

Donors who give more than $5,000 to Nonprofits in New York must be publicly disclosed.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman won dismissal of a lawsuit by the Conservative Advocacy group Citizens United, which sued to block the rule.

Citizens United had argued its First Amendment rights were being attacked and that their donors "reasonably fear public backlash, financial harm, and worse" if their support of the group were revealed, according to a ruling on Monday in Federal Court in Manhattan.

Citizens United contends donors’ privacy is warranted because the organization has become politically contentious and controversial in recent years, even being compared to al-Qaeda and an "enemy of the people" by its detractors.

"Plaintiffs provide no factual background or support for their conclusory assertions," U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein said in the ruling rejecting the argument.

Schneiderman, a Democrat, said the decision was a victory for "common-sense oversight" of New York’s nonprofit sector. "New Yorkers deserve to know their donations are protected against fraud and abuse, and today the Court protected that right by dismissing each and every one of Citizens United’s claims,” he said.

Citizens United gained notoriety after its 2010 victory over the Federal Election Commission in the U.S. Supreme Court in a decision that cleared the way for unlimited political spending by corporations, unions and wealthy individuals.

The group has been especially active in the run-up to November’s Presidential election, filing several suits seeking information about Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, including how much influence Clinton and her team had over the State Department’s Office of Inspector General.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Foreign Hackers Broke Into State Election Systems

Hackers based outside the United States have broken into two State Election databases in recent weeks, according to a report from Yahoo News, which on Monday revealed a "flash" alert sent earlier this month by the FBI's Cyber Division.

The bulletin reported that the FBI had received information about separate IP addresses attempting to hack into two different States' Board of Election websites. The document itself does not disclose which states were affected, although Yahoo News' Michael Isikoff cited "sources familiar with the document" as saying they are Arizona and Illinois.

Yahoo News reported that the Illinois hacking was more serious, forcing officials to shut down the Voter Registration system for 10 days in late July after hackers downloaded personal data on up to 200,000 voters.

The Arizona attack was more limited and involved introducing malicious software into the Voter Registration system, Yahoo News quoted a State official as saying "no data was removed in that attack," the official said.

"The FBI is requesting that states contact their Board of Elections and determine if any similar activity to their logs, both inbound and outbound, has been detected. Attempts should not be made to touch or ping the IP addresses directly," the bulletin recommended.

The news comes amid increased concerns about the potential for cyberintrusion into the General Election, as well as Republican nominee Donald Trump's warning that the process could be "rigged" against him.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson briefed State Officials earlier this month, offering Federal resources to help State officials scan their systems for vulnerabilities.

The FBI bulletin listed eight separate IP addresses that were the sources of the two attacks and suggested that the attacks may have been linked, noting that one of the IP addresses was used in both intrusions. The bulletin implied that the bureau was looking for any signs that the attacks may have attempted to target even more than the two states. “The FBI is requesting that states contact their Board of Elections and determine if any similar activity to their logs, both inbound and outbound, has been detected,” the alert reads. “Attempts should not be made to touch or ping the IP addresses directly.”

“This is a big deal,” said Rich Barger, Chief Intelligence Officer for ThreatConnect, a cybersecurity firm, who reviewed the FBI alert at the request of Yahoo News. “Two state election boards have been popped, and data has been taken. This certainly should be concerning to the common American voter.”

Barger noted that one of the IP addresses listed in the FBI alert has surfaced before in Russian criminal underground hacker forums. He also said the method of attack on one of the State Election systems, including the types of tools used by the hackers to scan for vulnerabilities and exploit them, appears to resemble methods used in other suspected Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks, including one just this month on the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The FBI did not respond to detailed questions about the alert, saying in a statement only that such bulletins are provided “to help systems administrators guard against the actions of persistent cyber criminals.” Menzel, the Illinois Election Official, said that in a recent briefing, FBI agents confirmed to him that the perpetrators were believed to be foreign hackers, although they were not identified by country. He said he was told that the bureau was looking at a “possible link” to the recent highly publicized attack on the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations, which U.S. officials suspect was perpetrated by Russian Government hackers. But he said agents told him they had reached no conclusions, and other experts say the hackers could also have been common cybercriminals hoping to steal personal data on State Voters for fraudulent purposes, such as obtaining bogus tax refunds.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Could Undecided Voters Swing Election?

They tend to be more younger than older. They are less likely to identify with either of the two Parties. And they strongly dislike both Major-Party candidates.

They are 2016’s undecided voters, or at least those who tell pollsters they won’t choose between Trump and Clinton. Sometimes they say they won’t vote for either candidate. Other times, they say they will vote for another candidate when offered only Trump and Clinton, or they will choose Gary Johnson or Jill Stein when pollsters prompt with those names. Or sometimes they say they won’t vote at all.

Even as Clinton builds a consistent lead in the weeks following the National Party Conventions, this bloc of voters, which usually ranges between 8% and 20% of voters, could still tip the scales in November.

While most pollsters insist it's too early to predict which candidate is likely to win undecided voters over, Clinton would appear to have the most to gain or lose: They're more likely to come from a demographic, younger voters, that's more inclined to back her, and in some surveys have a slightly less negative view of her than of Trump. And yet they've resisted supporting her all year, and are actively seeking other options, such as Johnson or Stein.

"I don't think it's locked in," said John Della Volpe, the Director of Polling at the Harvard Institute of Politics and an expert on younger voters. "It's not even September yet."

A review of polling data, both publicly released and shared from unreleased cross-tabs, establishes a profile of those neither-Trump-nor-Clinton voters, primarily independent, younger and strongly aligned against both politicians.

It’s hardly unusual for voters who identify as independents to say they are undecided in a Presidential election. But what is uncommon about 2016 is that these voters have overwhelmingly negative opinions about both candidates, suggesting it will be difficult for either to bring those voters into the fold.

The latest round of National polls, conducted in late July or August, after the Conventions, paints a reliable picture of the voters either on the fence or firmly aligned against both Major-Party candidates. The sample sizes of undecideds in each poll are small, but some patterns are apparent across most of the polls.

Republicans are slightly more diffident about Trump than Democrats are about Clinton. But those who don’t identify with one of the two Parties are significantly more likely to be undecided.

In a Fox News poll of registered voters, conducted July 31-August 2, only 8% of self-identified Democrats said they preferred another candidate, wouldn’t vote or were undecided. A modestly higher percentage of Republicans, 10% were undecided. But fully a quarter of independents said they were undecided.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll, conducted August 1-4, showed fewer undecided voters overall, but the same pattern: 3% of Democrats, 6% of Republicans, and 12% of independents couldn’t choose between the candidates.

The late July CBS News poll was similar: 4% of Democrats, 6% of Republicans, and 22% of independents said they supported another candidate, wouldn’t vote, or said their choice depends on other factors or were undecided. Put another way: 73% of those who didn’t make a choice identify as independents, 16% were Republicans and 11% were Democrats.

It all comes at a time when more voters are self-identifying as independents, according to University of Arizona Professor Samara Klar, the co-author of a new book on independent voters.

That has implications not just in the number of independent voters who stay home on Election Day, but also those who do vote but are otherwise less engaged in the political process. “When people are saying they are independent, they might be voting for their preferred party, but they’re not putting up a yard sign or putting on a sticker,” Klar said. “And those things matter.”

One-in-five voters under age 35 in the Fox News poll wouldn’t choose between the two candidates, compared to just 12% of voters aged 35-54, and only 9% of voters 55 and older. And in a subsequent, three-way matchup, 19% of voters under 35 said they would vote for Johnson, the former New Mexico Governor running on the Libertarian Party line, far more than the 13% of voters aged 35-54 and the 6% of voters 55 and older.

In the two-way matchup in the CBS News poll, a majority of those undecided voters, 55%, were under the age of 45, even though the younger voters comprised just 39% of the 2012 electorate, according to the Census.

The independence of younger voters from both major parties isn’t new: 4% of voters under age 25 cast their ballots for candidates other than President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney four years ago, according to the exit polls, roughly double the National average.

But the impact on the Presidential race is two-fold: Younger voters aren’t lining up with Clinton in the numbers they did for Obama in 2012 or 2008, cutting into her margin over Trump. And Trump’s struggles with young voters go even beyond Romney and John McCain, at a huge risk to the GOP’s future.

Della Volpe said younger voters are poised to be the 2016 cycle's latest deciders. He attributed part of the reticence among young voters to their fervent support for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic race. But he also cited data from a July survey showing that nearly twice as many voters aged 18-29 viewed Clinton unfavorably 60% as had a favorable opinion of her 31%. "Among young people, I think it’s a combination of the persistent halo of everything related to Sanders," Della Volpe said. "And Hillary’s favorable rating among young voters was two-to-one unfavorable before the convention."

This is why it will be so difficult for either candidate to win over these voters. In the CBS News poll, the respondents who declined to pick Clinton or Trump were overwhelmingly aligned with both of them. Among those undecided voters, only 5% said they had a favorable opinion of Clinton, according to data provided by CBS News’ polling unit. The majority, 54%, said they viewed Clinton unfavorably. About a third said they were undecided or hadn’t heard enough about Clinton.

Trump’s numbers were even worse. Only 3% of undecided voters said they have a favorable impression of the GOP Presidential nominee, compared to 54% who had an unfavorable opinion.

The undecided share of the electorate could be determinative if they lined up decisively behind one of the two candidates.

But it’s more likely that they won’t even vote in the Presidential elections, pollsters said. Younger voters and those who identify as independents are less likely to vote than older voters and more committed partisans.

"Given what I’ve seen over the past year, it’s not surprising that young people are the last to decide if they’re going to vote, and whether they are going to vote for a particular candidate," Della Volpe said.

As the calendar moves past Labor Day, pollsters will begin testing for this, eliminating unlikely voters from their polls and only reporting results for those who will probably cast ballots in November.

That could serve to eliminate some of the demographic and attitudinal differences among undecided voters. The first major national poll of likely voters, a Quinnipiac University poll conducted August 16-24, found fewer undecided voters overall, and smaller differences by age: 7% of voters under 35, 8% of those 35-49, 7% of those 50-64, and 6% of voters over 65 were undecided in that survey.

On another ballot test question including Johnson and Stein, however, those age differences reappeared. More than a quarter of voters under age 35, 27%, said they would vote for Johnson and Stein, combined. But just 5% of voters 65 and older picked a third-party candidate.

What ever your age, not voting is never an option. There are down ballot candidates, and in some states, ballot initiatives and referendums.

Don't give up your voice.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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GOP Wins Approval for Stop de Blasio Line on Election Ballot

New York Republicans have won State Board of Elections approval for a new “Stop de Blasio” line on the November ballot that will allow voters unhappy with New York City Mayor de Blasio, and perhaps Donald Trump as well, to back their two Assembly candidates without having to vote the GOP party line.

New York County GOP Chairwoman Adele Malpass said that the purpose of the new line, approved on Friday, was to give the large numbers of Democratic and independent voters who polls show are unhappy with de Blasio’s policies a place to cast their ballots without feeling uncomfortable about voting Republican.

Malpass also said that if, as expected, the “Stop de Blasio” line draws a large number of voters, its use will be extended citywide next year to back the Republican Party’s candidate for Mayor, assuming de Blasio is running for re-election. “We’re hoping this becomes a movement into next year” she said.

Malpass said she was surprised at the ease with which petition carriers were able to obtain well beyond the 1,300 signatures required to create the “Stop de Blasio” line in each of the Assembly Districts, noting, “We’d go out on the street for signatures saying that we’re creating a line to stop Bill de Blasio and lots of people would say, ‘I’m a lifelong Democrat but he’s got to go.’”

“We had people saying, ‘We’ll sign anything to get rid of de Blasio,’” she said.

The two Republicans who will be running on both the GOP and the new Party lines against incumbent Democratic Assembly members are: Rebecca Harary, challenging Dan Quart in the affluent Silk Stocking 73rd District on the East Side, and Jon Kostakopoulos, challenging Rebecca Seawright, whose East Side 76th District is just to the north of Quart’s.

Malpass denied that the new line was created to give Republicans and others opposed to Trump a place to vote other than the GOP line, saying the focus was “strictly de Blasio.”

But a prominent Republican activist said, “There are a lot of Republicans, not to mention Democrats and independents, who won’t vote for someone on the same line as Trump, so this is a smart move to give them an alternative.”

Speculation that State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will challenge Gov. Cuomo in the Democratic Primary for Governor in 2018 increased after de Blasio recently came to DiNapoli’s defense in the wake of Cuomo’s verbal attack on the well-liked official.

“Obviously, the state comptroller should be respected,” de Blasio said, referring to what many Democrats saw as Cuomo’s demeaning attacks on ­DiNapoli after several of the Comptroller’s audits questioning the effectiveness of the Governor’s already-controversial economic-development projects.

State Democratic insiders said de Blasio, if he survives an expected Cuomo-inspired Primary challenge next year, would be ­DiNapoli’s most powerful ally in taking on the Governor in 2018.

Meanwhile, speculation that DiNapoli is contemplating challenging Cuomo will likely be increased by spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman’s repeated refusal, when pressed, to unequivocally rule out a challenge.”

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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How the Middle Class Lost the Election

Joel Kotkin is a Presidential fellow at Chapman University and the Executive Director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His latest book is “The Human City: Urbanism for the Rest of Us.”

His article appeared in RealClear Politics Aug. 28, 2016.

Middle-class rage has dominated this election, but ultimately 2016 seems destined to produce not a populist victory but the triumph of oligarchy. Blame goes to a large section of the middle and working class itself, which, in rejecting political convention, ended up with a candidate who never would have served their interests. You can blame “elites” all you want, but in a republic, citizens need to act responsibly. And choosing Donald Trump doesn’t fit that description.

Middle-class revulsion with the political mainstream has been driven by slow economic growth, stagnant wages, a dysfunctional education system, and, for smaller businesses, a tightening regulatory regime. Homeownership is now at a nearly half-century low. New business start-ups, for the first time in three decades, are not keeping up with the number of deaths. Both stats reveal a real decline in aspiration. Most Americans, in a stunning reversal of past trends, see a worse future for their offspring than themselves. Who can blame them? Middle-class breadwinners and working-class wage-earners now suffer from deteriorating health and shorter lifespans.

In other words, middle-class Americans could certainly use a champion. But those who chose Trump went off the rails.

CLICK HERE to read the article.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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General Election Presidential Major/Minor Party Polls Aug. 28 Update

I scanned the RealClear's Election 2016 Presidential Polls site to see what the election would look like if the polls where between Clinton (D),Trump (R), Johnson (LIB) and Stein (Green).

The General Election polls the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) will use to determine who gets on the podium, candidate will need minimum of 15% average of those organizations' most recent publicly-reported results at the time of the determination, are:

- ABC-Washington Post
- CBS-New York Times
- CNN-Opinion Research Corporation
- Fox News
- NBC-Wall Street Journal

They will be applied in mid-September, 2016. If a candidate is invited to the first Presidential debate, that person's Vice Presidential running mate will be invited to the Vice Presidential debate. The criteria will be reapplied between the first and second Presidential debates and the second and third Presidential debates.

From July 29 - August 4, the avg. is: Clinton 44%, Trump 36%, Johnson 10%, and Stein 5%.

The current numbers of all polls are:

Friday, August 26
General Election (Gravis) - Clinton 42%, Trump 41%, Johnson 4%, Stein 1%, Other/Undecided 12%

Florida (Mason-Dixon) - Clinton 44%, Trump 42%, Johnson 6%, Stein 2%, Other/Undecided 6%

Thursday, August 25
General Election (Quinnipiac) - Clinton 45%, Trump 38%, Johnson 10%, Stein 4%, Other/Undecided 3%

General Election (Rasmussen Reports) - Clinton 42%, Trump 38%, Johnson 9%, Stein 2%, Other/Undecided 9%

General Election (Reuters/Ipsos) - Clinton 39%, Trump 36%, Johnson 7%, Stein 3%, Other/Undecided 15%

Michigan (Suffolk University) - Clinton 44%, Trump 37%, Johnson 5%, Stein 3%, Other/Undecided 11%

Wednesday, August 24
General Election (Economist/YouGov) - Clinton 42%, Trump 38%, Johnson 6%, Stein 4%, Other/Undecided 10%

Arizona (CNN/ORC) - Trump 45%, Clinton 38%, Johnson 12%, Stein 4%, Other/Undecided 1%

New Mexico (PPP) - Clinton 40%, Trump 31%, Johnson 16%, Stein 4%, Other/Undecided 9%

Tuesday, August 23
General Election (NBC News/SM) - Clinton 43%, Trump 38%, Johnson 11%, Stein 5%, Other/Undecided 3%

Virginia (Roanoke College) - Clinton 48%, Trump 32%, Johnson 8%, Stein 3%, Other/Undecided 9%

Utah (PPP) - Trump 39%, Clinton 24%, Johnson 12%, Stein 1%, Other/Undecided 24%

Monday, August 22
Ohio (Monmouth) - Clinton 43%, Trump 39%, Johnson 10%, Stein 1%, Other/Undecided 7%

Between July 12 - August 28, the highest Percent for the Candidates General and State are:

Clinton - 50%

Trump - 52%

Johnson - 16%

Stein - 7%

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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