Voter Education: What's at Stake for Women in 2017
"Because Equity is Still an Issue."
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Updated: November 9, 2017
- Trump voter fraud commission sued by one of its own members, alleging Democrats are being kept in the dark - President Trump’s voter fraud commission was sued Thursday morning by one of its Democratic members, who alleged that he has been kept in the dark about its operations, rendering his participation “essentially meaningless.” Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said in a complaint filed in federal court that the 11-member panel is in violation of a federal law that requires presidential advisory commissions to be both balanced and transparent in their work.
- Russian Influence Reached 126 Million Through Facebook Alone - Russian agents intending to sow discord among American citizens disseminated inflammatory posts that reached 126 million users on Facebook, published more than 131,000 messages on Twitter and uploaded over 1,000 videos to Google’s YouTube service, according to copies of prepared remarks from the companies that were obtained by The New York Times. The detailed disclosures, sent to Congress on Monday by companies whose products are among the most widely used on the internet, came before a series of congressional hearings this week into how third parties used social networks and online services to influence millions of Americans before the 2016 presidential election. The new information goes far beyond what the companies have revealed in the past and underline the breadth of the Kremlin’s efforts to lever open divisions in the United States using American technology platforms, especially Facebook. Multiple investigations of Russian meddling have loomed over the first 10 months of the Trump presidency, with one leading to the indictments of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chief, and others on Monday.
- Women — and the Power of the Purse — Will Be Key in 2018 - Female donors are skyrocketing and more women are considering runs. The number of female donors to federal candidates and committees has skyrocketed by roughly 284 percent so far in the 2017-18 election cycle compared with this time in the 2015-16 cycle, according to research from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The number of women donating to a federal campaign has increased by a staggering 670 percent when compared with the early months of the 2011-12 cycle. Still, despite the gains among women donors — and candidates — men continue to keep the edge among contributors and members of Congress. Women make up 50.8 percent of the country’s population, according to the 2010 census, but hold 21 out of 100 Senate seats and represent about 19 percent of voting House members.
- City Board of Elections Admits It Broke the Law, Accepts Reforms - The New York City Board of Elections is admitting it broke state and federal law when it improperly removed voters from the rolls ahead of the presidential primary last spring, including more than 117,000 voters in Brooklyn.
- GAO to investigate Trump's voter fraud commission - The Government Accountability Office will investigate the activities of President Trump's voter fraud commission after three Democratic senators asked that the agency look into the matter. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) said Thursday that the government watchdog has accepted the request to investigate the commission. Bennet, along with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), wrote to the agency last week asking for a probe.
- Wary of Hackers, States Move to Upgrade Voting Systems - State election officials, worried about the integrity of their voting systems, are pressing to make them more secure ahead of next year’s midterm elections. The efforts — from both Democrats and Republicans — amount to the largest overhaul of the nation’s voting infrastructure since the contested presidential election in 2000 spelled an end to punch-card ballots and voting machines with mechanical levers. One aim is to prepare for the 2018 and 2020 elections by upgrading and securing electoral databases and voting machines that were cutting-edge before Facebook and Twitter even existed. Another is to spot and defuse attempts to depress turnout and sway election results by targeting voters with false news reports and social media posts.
- Civil Rights Group Threatens Texas If It Doesn't Protect Voting Rights Of Hurricane Victims - More than 60,000 Texans remained displaced by Hurricane Harvey as of Oct. 1, according to The Associated Press. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund sent a letter to Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos (R) on Wednesday requesting that his office extend the state’s voter registration deadline and allow displaced voters to cast a ballot in a place other than their assigned precinct. The group also wants the state to actively work to inform local election officials that people can vote without identification ? something required by the state ? if they sign an affidavit.
- NY ballot measure would strip pensions of corrupt lawmakers - Voters in New York state will decide next month whether to authorize judges to strip the pensions of corrupt officials.
- Ballot item would create Adirondack land banks, supporters hope to educate public - Environmental and pro-development groups are backing a proposal on the November ballot calling for a constitutional amendment to create a land bank allowing right-of-way and other infrastructure improvements in the Adirondack Park. There has been little opposition voiced about Proposal Three, which would allow up to 250 acres in the Adirondack and Catskill forest preserves to be used for road improvements, bike paths or power lines. The 250-acre land bank would do away with the requirement for those types of local projects to be on state ballots.
- New York expands access to voter registration forms - An executive order the governor signed Monday requires agencies to mail or provide electronic voter registration forms to any member of the public whose contact information is on file. Previously, only the state Department of Motor Vehicles and certain social service agencies provided voter registration forms. The governor also created a State Agency Voter Registration Task Force to oversee administration of the program, in consultation with the state Board of Elections. Cuomo's counsel, his director of state operations and undisclosed agency heads will sit on the task force.
- Here’s the winning women’s suffrage centennial ‘I voted’ sticker - No need to exclaim “I voted!” after you leave the polls this November: “General” Rosalie Jones can do it for you. Jones, a Long Island native, led a 150-mile hike from New York City to Albany in December 1912 to present a petition to Governor-elect William Sulzer, who had expressed support for women’s suffrage. It is up to county boards of election whether they wish to distribute stickers at the polls.
- Too Young to Vote, but Asking for Yours - Across the New York region, and indeed the country, young people are turning their attention to politics, motivated in part by the election of President Trump. From mayoral races to state legislative campaigns, teenagers and others who are too young to vote are canvassing neighborhoods and learning the intricacies of electoral politics. Some are running for office themselves. The trend is heartening to academics and observers of public service like Gerald Benjamin, a professor of political science at the State University of New York at New Paltz. Dr. Benjamin said he has long detected a distinct lack of interest in elective office in young people, even those otherwise active in environmental advocacy and identity politics.
- Watch: What’s a constitutional convention all about? Expert panel discusses - Capitol Confidential hosted a constitutional convention panel discussion at the TU’s Hearst Media Center on Wednesday, featuring Gerry Benjamin, director of the Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz; Arthur “Jerry” Kremer, founder and chairman of Empire Government Strategies; Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union; and Bill Samuels, founder and chairman of Effective New York. Didn’t catch the panel? Couldn’t believe what you heard in real time? Re-live it all again.
- History frowns on partisan gerrymandering - Partisan gerrymandering violates the framers’ core principle of actual representation. It likewise conflicts with the First Amendment right to meaningful political speech and association, and with the 14th?Amendment’s extension of constitutional responsibilities to the states. Viewed through the prism of history, partisan gerrymandering is not an accepted and cherished feature of our American system. And the extreme gerrymanders we see today go dramatically further than anything we have seen in the past. They sabotage fundamental constitutional values. For those defending partisan gerrymanders, contrary to their sweeping claims, history is not on their side.
- How partisan is too partisan? Wrong question. - Right now, due to a combination of polarized voting and partisan gerrymandering, primary voters rule the roost. As a result, a relatively small number of primary voters are vastly overrepresented in our legislative bodies while voters who show up only in general elections are vastly underrepresented. The most partisan voters end up deciding how partisan is too partisan. That’s the problem. We should draw representative districts so that moderate voters have as much say as partisan voters. That means doing away with as many reliably partisan districts as possible. This approach would solve two problems at once: It would prevent any partisan majority in control of the redistricting process from abusing that power to enhance their power, and it would also be a relatively easy standard for the courts to administer.
- Judge upholds NY voting booth selfie ban - You might want to think twice before taking a selfie in the voting booth this November. A judge is upholding a ban on taking photos of marked ballots in New York State.
- Learning 2016's Lessons, Virginia Prepares Election Cyberdefenses - Virginia was among 21 states whose systems were targeted by Russian hackers last year for possible cyberattacks. While officials say the hackers scanned the state's public website and online voter registration system for vulnerabilities and there's no sign they gained access, state authorities have been shoring up the security of their election systems. One of the most drastic steps was a decision by the Virginia Board of Elections earlier this month to order 22 counties and towns to adopt all new paper-backed voting machines before November. The board decided that the paperless electronic equipment they had been using was vulnerable to attack and should be replaced.
- DHS tells states about Russian hacking during 2016 election - The Department of Homeland Security contacted election officials in 21 states Friday to notify them that they had been targeted by Russian government hackers during the 2016 election campaign. Officials said DHS told officials in all 50 states whether their systems had been attacked or not. DHS left it to individual states to decide whether to make public whether they had been targeted. Friday’s notifications were made after state elections officials and some federal lawmakers expressed frustration that Homeland Security had not yet disclosed the extent of the Russian attempts to infiltrate voter registration systems.
- Supreme Court case offers window into how representatives choose their constituents - Wisconsin’s redistricting maps are at the center of a Supreme Court case that could change the dynamics of U.S. politics — if the justices decide for the first time that a legislative map is so infected with political favoritism that it violates the Constitution.
- Civics ed key to equity, improving discourse - In a turbulent political climate, civics is crucial to helping students engage with and process the world around them. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor joined a group of experts Thursday to discuss the importance of enriching civics education in order to advance not only political knowledge, but also social equality. Among the many topics speakers discussed at the "Democracy at a Crossroads" event, held at the Newseum, they all emphasized this point: a good civics education and background is critical to graduating students who know how to engage in our society.
- Study: College Student Voting Rose in 2016 Election - College campuses are often the target of get-out-the-vote efforts, and there seems to be evidence that the strategy worked in the last election, at least to some extent. Turnout among college students increased by more than 3 percent in 2016 compared to the previous presidential election, according to a new study from Tufts University. Turnout increases were highest at colleges in New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
- Davis Declares Con-Con Victory, Withdraws Lawsuit - “The Board’s decision is an important victory for New York voters,” said Davis. “While the Convention Question won’t be on the front of the ballot where it should be, voters will at least be urged to turn the ballot over to vote on whether to hold a Constitutional Convention and on two Amendments proposed by the Legislature. For the future, a Convention can revise the Constitution to modernize the language of the Convention Question and require its prominent placement.”
- State legislature passing fewer "same as" bills - The New York Public Interest Research Group, or NYPIRG, has released its yearly assessment of the state legislature. The review takes a look at things like the number of bills passed, the use of messages of necessity, campaign fundraising activity, and approval of constitutional amendments. This year, the legislature passed fewer "same as" bills, or identical bills on the floor of both houses. The analysis also shows that despite complaints that Governor Cuomo relies too heavily on messages of necessity, in reality he has issued fewer of those messages than his predecessors.
- Momentum builds against gerrymandering - In the 2016 election, more than 400 of 435 House races were scored as “safe” for incumbent Republicans and Democrats because of gerrymandering. That translates into a reality where most members of Congress do not have to listen to anyone in the other party. Incumbents don’t even have to listen to people in their own party, so long as those people are not extreme voices posing a primary challenge. The poison fruit produced by gerrymandering paralyses politicians. Nothing gets done in Congress. It contributes to Congress’s high disapproval rating from both Republicans and Democrats. About 72 percent of Americans disapprove of Congress, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.
- Gillibrand, Graham propose commission to study election interference - Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand on Friday teamed up with a leading Republican colleague to propose an independent commission to investigate how Russian cyberattacks affected the 2016 election and how such meddling can be prevented in the future. “There is no credible doubt that Russia attacked our election infrastructure in 2016,” Gillibrand said. “We need a public accounting of how they were able to do it so effectively, and how we can protect our country when Russia or any other nation tries to attack us again."
- Trump’s voter fraud commission proves a magnet for controversy - The fresh controversies angered some Democratic commissioners already feeling heat from their party for being on Trump’s commission, which critics say is really aimed at making it more difficult to vote. Even some Republicans following the commission and sympathetic to its mission said it may now face an even tougher job of selling any recommendations it crafts.
- Potential Constitutional Convention Raises Article 14 Fears - Every two decades, New Yorkers go to the polls to decide whether they want to rewrite the language in their state constitution. Historically, they take a pass on this opportunity in more than a century, only three constitutional conventions have been called by the voters, the most recent in 1967. And even in that year, the same voters who called for the convention decided they didn’t like the result and rejected the changes proposed by the convention’s delegates. Steps to a new constitution:
If a convention is held, voters will elect three delegates from each of the state’s sixty-three Senate districts and fifteen at-large delegates—a total of 204. Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, predicts the makeup of the convention “would be very similar in composition to the state Senate we have now.
- November 7, 2017: Public votes on whether to hold constitutional convention.
- November 6, 2018: Delegates elected if public votes for convention.
- April 2, 2019: Start of convention.
- November 5, 2019: Public votes on proposed changes to constitution.
- Election Infrastructure: Vulnerabilities and Solutions - In June 2017, the American people learned that Russian operatives had targeted 39 state election systems in the lead-up to the 2016 elections. Beyond the states, Russians targeted an election equipment vendor. These cyberintrusions and other Election Day disruptions exposed the country’s voting infrastructure as outdated and vulnerable to attack, weakening confidence in the electoral process. One poll found that 1 in 4 Americans will consider abstaining from voting in future elections due to concerns over cybersecurity. Election officials at all levels of government must invest in America’s election infrastructure and defend the security of our election system. This fact sheet breaks down several vulnerabilities in America's elections systems, and a number of solutions policymakers at all levels of government can pursue to improve election infrastructure.
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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.
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