Thursday, March 31, 2011

DRI Report: US justice system is critically threatened by possible large scale judicial campaign contributions

From a Justice at Stake GavelGrab blog article, which offers reader commenting-- for details and a link to a summary of the report, please read the entire article.
"A DRI report confirms that large scale contributions to judicial campaigns in the US have reached unprecedented levels since the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, posing critical threats to the notion of judicial independence and the integrity of the American civil justice system."
This judicial campaign finance issue has been woefully neglected in the mainstream media.  A continuation of this trend of larger campaign contributions will result in a much greater impact on elected judiciary than the American voter presently expects.

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) gives shareholders more of a voice when publicly-traded corporations spend money on politics

From a Brennan Center for Justice blog article, which doesn't offer reader commenting.  For details, please read the entire article.
"The SEC has just issued an important post-Citizens United no-action letter that will enhance the ability of shareholders to have more of a voice when publicly-traded corporations spend money on politics. In doing so, the SEC recognized that shareholder accountability over corporate political spending is a significant policy issue that can’t be barred from a proxy statement under the ordinary business exclusion. ...
This SEC no-action letter means shareholders can assert self-help on a company-by-company basis, not just on transparency of political spending, but also on an advisory shareholder vote on such spending.  This is a big step in the right direction for giving shareholders more protections after Citizens United allowed corporations the ability to spend other people’s money in politics."
Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 in favor of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the State of Arizona public financing of campaigns case

From a article, which doesn't offer reader commenting; for details, please read the entire article.
"The goals and essential features of Arizona's Clean Elections system are similar to those of the so-called Millionaire's Amendment, a provision of federal law that raised contribution limits for congressional candidates facing wealthy, self-financed opponents. The Supreme Court overturned that rule in 2008, concluding that it imposed an unjustified burden on freedom of speech. If anything, Arizona's system—which provides actual money, not just permission to take more of it from each donor—is even more objectionable. 
The likely demise of Arizona's law does not mean that public financing in general is unconstitutional. But at a time of fiscal reckoning, the last thing the government should be doing with taxpayer money is funding candidates who prefer forcibly extracting subsidies from their fellow citizens to seeking their voluntary support."
Now, for the sake of debate, let's ponder any U.S. Constitution reasoning for this decision.  Why should a citizen in our republican system of government need to approve the rescinding of a passed legislative act? What gives a federal court the right to rescind democratically a passed legislative act?  Or am I outside the bounds of this issue?

Thanks to Election Law Blog for a link to the article.

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

The USA democracy debate over felon voting reform falls on partisan lines

From a Death and Taxes article, which offers reader commenting -- for details, please read the entire article.
"The debate over felon voting reform could easily be dissected into a bipartisan matter. Governors Branstad and Scott as well as the other officials supportive of increased felon disenfranchisement are all Republicans, and many critics claim the GOP wants to cut down on a population more loyal to the Democrats.
“This is about stealing elections and hurting individuals’ chances of starting over after prison. If felons had had the franchise in Florida back in 2000, over a million more people would have been eligible to vote, the election would not have been close enough for the Supreme Court to give it to Bush,” Ohio lawyer Ken Lumpkin told the Cleveland Leader.
And, yes, reform opponents do tend to invoke right-wing rhetoric to plead their case."
Thanks to The Sentencing Project for the news.

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Oral arguments conclude in US Supreme Court case regarding the State of Arizona's public campaign finance law

From a Huffington Post article, which includes reader commenting -- for details, please read the entire article.
"This week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that will, as I previously wrote, likely determine the constitutional bounds of public campaign financing programs across the country. In that case, McComish v. Bennett, the Court will rule on whether it is legal to provide publicly financed candidates with additional public funds when they are faced with heavy spending by privately financed opponents or independent expenditure groups."
As author Jessica Levinson notes later in the article, based on the transpired oral arguments, it looks likely that the US Supreme Court will vote 5-4 in favor of knocking down the State of Arizona's public campaign financing law.

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A history on democracy and representation concerning the citizens of Washington, DC (District of Columbia)

From a New York Times article, which includes reader comments --- for details, please read the entire article.
"On March 29, 1961, the states completed ratification of the 23rd Amendment, which gave residents of the District of Columbia the right to vote in presidential elections. The anniversary is worth remembering, both because the amendment was an important step toward full political equality for citizens of the nation’s capital and because it was frustratingly incomplete.
A half-century later, the District of Columbia’s population, estimated in the new census at 601,723, is larger than Wyoming’s and only slightly smaller than Vermont’s. Yet Washingtonians still have no meaningful voice in Congress and lack full authority over their own affairs.
Washington is an undemocratic anomaly, despite the grand ideals of equal rights carved into the city’s stone monuments. Its second-class citizenship is a legacy of racial injustice and, more recently, partisanship in Congress."
A history of the state of democracy for the permanent residents of Washington, D.C.

Thanks to @blackvoices on Twitter for the story.

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

State of Michigan Governor proposes the right to rescind local elections' votes

How did this corporatist governor get elected by the people of Michigan?  Well, the people of Michigan just might have voted a lot of its voting rights away.

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

TPM: True the Vote held a national conference on the defensive for "voting system integrity" in Houston, Texas on Friday and Saturday

From a TPMMuckraker article, which includes reader commenting -- for details, please read the entire article.
 "When you talk about conservatives who rail against the supposed scourge of voter fraud and support voter identification laws that many expert say depress turnout among Democratic-leaning constituencies, there's a few big names that invariably come up.
There's John Fund, the Wall Street Journal columnist who wrote an entire book on the matter. There's Hans von Spakovsky, the former Bush Justice Department official who supported allowing a voter ID law in Georgia to be cleared by the feds over the objections of career staffers in the Civil Rights Division voting section, who believed it could dilute the minority vote. There's Andrew Breitbart, the conservative behind the series of "Big" websites, who helped promote the undercover videos by James O'Keefe that brought down the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN).
All of them were at the first national conference of True the Vote this weekend, held at the swanky InterContinental Hotel in Houston, Texas. True the Vote, which was started by a Texas Tea Party group called the King Street Patriots, made it clear they intended to help groups around the country monitor the polls and make anti-voter fraud efforts a major part of the political landscape going into 2012.
A few consistent themes emerged from the speeches at the summit (which this reporter watched via a live stream from outside the room): that their efforts to preserve the integrity of elections weren't partisan, that they wanted everybody to be able to vote, and that suggestions that their efforts suppressed the vote of minorities were just unsubstantiated partisan attacks from the left. But the non-partisan theme was somewhat undercut by the partisan messages of the speakers and attacks on the Obama administration."
How can they claim that they are non-partisan? All associations in the political world are partisan; and it's nothing to be defensive about.

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Your papers, please": Americans are more likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning than commit voter fraud!

From a ThinkProgress article, which includes reader commenting -- for a short history of the century-long conservatives' anti-voter agenda in the USA, please read the article.

"Thursday, ThinkProgress reported that the Ohio House had approved the most restrictive voter id law in the nation — a bill that would exclude 890,000 Ohioans from voting. Earlier this week Texas lawmakers passed a similar bill, and voter id legislation — which would make it significantly more difficult for seniors, students and minorities to vote — is now under consideration in more than 22 states across the country.
Conservatives have said voter id laws are necessary to combat mass voter fraud. Yet according to the Brennan Center for Justice, Americans are more likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning than commit voter fraud. And the Bush administration’s five-year national “war on voter fraud” resulted in only 86 convictions of illegal voting out of more than 196 million votes cast. Instead conservatives are employing an old tactic: using the specter of false voting to restrict the voting rights of minorities and the poor.
Below, ThinkProgress examines the history of conservatives anti-voter agenda:"
Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Plutocracy in this nation is an ungrateful bastard to us, we, the people

From a Constitutional Accountability Center PAY 2 PLAY article, which offers reader commenting -- for details, please read the entire article.

"As our country migrates from democracy to plutocracy, we more and more see tax cuts for the wealthy few, tax breaks and subsidies for the big corporations that operate as fronts for those wealthy few, and budget cuts for the things We, the People (government) do to empower and protect each other. Just a few weeks ago we watched as an extension of the Bush tax cuts and a huge cut in the estate tax rate was pushed through. Now we watch as the discussion turns to cuts in Social Security and the rest of the so-called 'safety net.'"
The rich and multinational corporations get free handouts, while most of we, the people of the USA pay taxes for the stuff.  Now Washington, DC doesn't want to touch our defense budget, yet is cutting already insufficient social programs.  This is a grave situation for a democracy.

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

US Supreme Court case on the constitutionality of the state of Arizona's public financing law begins on Monday

 A Constitutional Accountability Center PAY 2 PLAY blog article, which offers reader commenting.

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Friday, March 25, 2011

Research results on the usability of state-level candidate and initiative campaign finance data from all 50 states

From a National Institute on Money in State Politics research article, which doesn't offer reader commenting -- for details, please check out the entire article.
"To assess the current state of campaign-finance disclosure across the country, the Institute surveyed the 2010 disclosure practices in each of the 50 states. The survey closely examined five disclosure aspects of contributions data filed by state-level candidates, political party committees and ballot measure committees: accessibility, timeliness, accuracy, completeness and searchability. Although others have conducted national examinations of state campaign-finance laws, the Institute’s survey examined disclosure practices from a public user’s perspective."
This is great information on the quality of candidate and initiative campaign finance disclosure in your own state government -- check it out when you hope to see how an important state-level campaign is being paid.

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Election reform news digest

 According to this story, a bill will probably be introduced on Friday, March 25, setting up a system in which voters register into [ballot-qualified] political parties.

To raise the large sums of money necessary for a presidential campaign, candidates turn to fund-raisers who tap into donor networks. Donations are "bundled" together and contributed to the presidential hopeful. There are no limits on how much an individual can bundle for a candidate, given an individual donor's legal contribution limits.

ES&S to pay Cuyahoga $200K, Military Voters Bill stalled in CO, and more news from Verified Voting Foundation's Voting News blog

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Polk County, Florida Commissioners file lawsuit against voter-approved term limits and salary cuts initiative

 From a article, which has reader commenting -- for details, check out the entire article.
"Polk County, Florida commissioners agreed unanimously Tuesday to challenge the constitutionality of voter-imposed term limits and salary cuts.
County Commissioner Bob English brought up the issue, which was not scheduled for discussion, during his portion of the agenda."

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Bill Introduced for Democracy Messages to be Put Onto Washington, DC Street Signs

A press release from DC Vote; article doesn't offer reader commenting:
"DC Vote Executive Director Ilir Zherka today applauded Washington, DC Councilmember Michael Brown’s announcement of a bill to rename multiple streets in the District with democracy messages.
'Councilmember Brown is taking a bold step in the right direction,' Zherka said. 'Adding DC democracy messaging to these prominent streets will send a message to Congress, and the nation, that the District will no longer sit quietly by while its residents are treated like second-class citizens.' Zherka added, 'Our original recommendation to the Council was to rename Pennsylvania Avenue, but more power to Councilmember Brown for taking it further and increasing the impact of the message with such significant landmarks as Constitution and Independence Avenues.'”

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Democracy Day: A Call to Action by Rock the Vote

From a Rock the Vote interview article, which offers reader commentary -- for more, of the interview, please check out the entire article.
"Ashley Garcia and Ammaarah Khan are two high school seniors coming from opposite ends of the country with one very important interest in common: they are counting down the days to cast their first ballots, just like thousands of other young people across the country. Forty years ago, students and educators joined forces and fought to give 18-year-olds the right to vote with the passage of the 26th Amendment, and today, Rock the Vote is launching the first annual Democracy Day to invite thousands more young people to the conversation on the importance of civic engagement and voting. Rock the Vote briefly chatted with both Ammaarah and Ashley to find out what issues were most important to them. ...
To participate in Democracy Day, sign up at"
Have a happy Democracy Day!

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Recent elections news digest

On April 4, 2011, 11:00AM to 12:30PM, Bennett College, in Greensboro, North Carolina, hosts a forum focusing on the North Carolina General Assembly's current efforts to pass a Voter ID law. Learn how this proposal could suppress the vote for tens of thousands of North Carolinians. Hear students from area colleges and universities come together as one voice to speak out against the Voter ID bill.

Bubbling tension over a Boulder City, Nevada decision to sue the petitioners of several ballot questions on November’s ballot inspired about 30 residents to march on the front steps of City Hall on Tuesday.

Did everyone know that today is the 40th Anniversary of 18-year-olds winning the right to vote, via the 26th amendment?!/RockTheVote/statuses/50549424660824064

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

An appeal for more civics education in America's high schools

From a Huffington Post article, which offers reader commenting -- for details, please check out the entire article.
"Research continues to prove that civic education and early participation in elections creates a habit of ongoing engagement, which is why it is necessary to target this generation of high school students to bring them into the political process and encourage their involvement at an early age. With school budgets being cut and civics education being scaled back in high schools, we all must commit to teaching today's youth about what it means and how to participate as a voting citizen in our democracy."
Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Recent election reform news

On March 22, the Maryland Court of Appeals, the highest state court in that state, ruled that signatures on petitions may be valid, even if the signature is illegible. The ruling says that if the printed name on the petition and the address match the voter registration records, and the appearance of the signature matches in both places (whether it is legible or not) the signature is valid.  For details:

Pew survey results on Americans' connecting to elections and campaigns

Pennsylvania State Senator Jane Earll (R-Erie) has introduced two bills that would move Pennsylvania toward Merit Selection of appellate judges.

The [Brennan Center for Justice- assisted] version of Bill 108 that will be introduced this afternoon would give Nevada’s voters the 21st-century voter registration system they deserve.

Leslie Proll of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund points out that 40 percent of President Obama’s nominees to the federal bench are racial or ethnic minorities, and that the slow pace of confirmations undercuts the President’s efforts to diversify the judiciary.

The State of Iowa Supreme Court is giving speeches and granting interviews with reporters.  Numerous “Law Day” events are scheduled across the state the week of May 4, including tours of the state Supreme Court and the justices’ chambers and an opportunity for private citizens to speak with the justices.

On March 21, the Arizona Senate Judiciary unanimously approved HB 2304. This bill, sponsored by the Secretary of State and containing many election law changes, improves ballot access. It says that when a party qualifies for the ballot, it is then entitled to be on the ballot for two elections, not just one. Also it legalizes out-of-state circulators for all types of petitions. The bill had already passed the House. [HB 2304 will next be voted on the floor (the entire house) of the Arizona State Senate.]

Non-profit Media Access Project filed a petition for a proposed rulemaking with the US Federal Communications Commission that would require that any person providing 25 percent of the funding for a political TV message or one-third of the money for a political ad on radio to be identified on the air. The group also called for the FCC to require that anyone providing 10 percent or more of the funding for such ads be listed in a TV station’s public file.

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Democratic activist's cynical satire on the state of democracy in America

A Free Press opinion article from a political activist, who is disgusted at the state of America's democracy after voting on last November's General Election Day.

 Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Citizen volunteers of Common Cause deliver 30,000 petition signatures to the US Justice Department asking to investigate two US Supreme Court justices' alleged activities with Koch Industries

From a Common Cause CommonBlog article, which offers reader commenting -- for details, view the video and the entire article.
"Common Cause volunteers helped deliver petitions with over 30,000 signatures to the Justice Department today, asking them to investigate US Supreme Court Justices Scalia' and Thomas' ties to Koch Industries. It was a beautiful day to stand outside the Department of Justice ... We were not allowed into the building."
Has this country regressed democratically to the point that common citizens with signed petitions can't enter a non-security related federal building??

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Recent election reform news

State of Ohio House's Republicans are attempting to rush through a bill (HB 159) that would make the current burden on eligible Ohio voters more onerous, requiring that in-person voters present one of four specified forms of government-issued photo identification.

A State of Ohio photo ID bill hearing will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 before the House Committee on State Government and Elections

Citizen redistricting: Public Mapping Project is an open-source software package that enables anybody to create districts for any state

During Rock the Vote's fourth year of participating in the SXSW Festival, they conversed with the musicians and asked questions

It isn't too often that a top Federal Election Commission official fesses up to not enforcing campaign finance laws, but that's exactly what Donald McGahn, a Republican commissioner of the FEC, did Saturday.

State of Florida Legislature proposals for an expanded, and then split-up, Florida high court

The US Supreme Court let stand a lower court decision affirming the constitutionality of limits on the sums political parties can spend in coordination with their candidates; it declined to hear an appeal in a lawsuit by former Rep. Joseph Cao, Republican-Louisiana, and the Republican National Committee

State of Indiana election law bills that are technically dead this year-- House Democrats boycotted-- include a bill to require birth certificates for presidential candidates, a bill to eliminate the straight-ticket device, and a bill to provide that the open primary should become a secret open primary (currently, any voter can choose any party’s primary ballot, but the voter on primary day must publicly disclose which ballot he or she is requesting; the bill would make that decision private).
Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

How to prepare Election Day parties

 From an articlesbase article, which offers reader commenting-- read the entire article for details:
"[General] Election Day only comes around once a year, and a lot of people like to 'party for their parties,' especially if their candidate comes out on top; this is where Election Day party supplies come in.

Election Day party supplies come around every time election time comes around. With election day party invitations there can be certain ideas that can be used to make Election Day an amiable day."

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Recent elections tweets

  1. State of Mississippi House leaders to join redistricting lawsuit
  2. Utah bill HB477. What is up with that? It was passed, now it's being repealed by the same governor who signed it?
  3. Testimony of Project Vote in opposition to State of Ohio Bill HB 159, State Government and Elections Committee, Ohio House of Representatives
  4. US Congressional Democrats raise funds from labor unions during costly state government-labor clashes
  5. State of Florida bill SB 1504 would restrict state's citizen initiative rights
Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Will the US Supreme Court in Fox v Vice Close the Door to Future Civil Rights Lawsuits?

From a People for the American Way "People For" article, which doesn't offer reader commenting:
 "Today, the Supreme Court is hearing hear oral arguments in Fox v. Vice, a case that threatens to choke off future civil rights litigation. People For the American Way Foundation has joined an amicus brief protecting the right of people to sue to protect their basic rights.
In a federal civil rights lawsuit, where the government or a government official is being sued, a trial court can sometimes order the plaintiff to pay the defendant's legal fees. The law allows this if (1) the defendant is the prevailing party and (2) the plaintiff's case was frivolous. In Fox v. Vice, the Supreme Court is being asked to interpret this law. The potential exposure to paying a defendant's legal fees serves as an obvious deterrent to bringing suit, and it's important, therefore that it be narrowly construed in order not to violate Congress's intent to empower people to vindicate their rights in the courts."
An American's civil rights is an integral part of our US Constitution's Bill of Rights, and many people have fought hard to improve voting rights across the country.  A court verdict mandating a plaintiff that loses a case to pay all of the winning defendant's legal fees, whether that case is deemed frivolous or not, would be a major obstacle or deterrent to many future civil rights cases.

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Kansas City citizens go to the polls today for a mayoral election; but why is it, like most elections in the US, held on a Tuesday?

Read the entire, entertaining article from the Kansas City Star, which has reader commenting.

Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Recent elections tweets

  1.  High court rejects GOP challenge to political party campaign finance restrictions
  2. McCulloch Defends Montanans' Right to Register to Vote on Election Day
  3. 73% of internet users in PEW survey went online to get news or info about 2010 midterms. Make a visit to part of that!
  4. As States Redo Congressional Districts, Hobbyists Draw Own Lines; 'the Baconmander'
  5. Testimony in opposition to Pennsylvania’s proposed photo ID law
  6. NAACP Sues Mississippi Over Redistricting
  7. GOP freshman Pompeo turned to Koch for money for business, then politics
  8. To right, Citizens United just a start-- a new legal front to fight campaign finance laws
  9. LeftForum SHAME! Why do left elites fail to discuss Internet voting?
  10. Persons Lose Liberty to Parties in Idaho
Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Monday, March 21, 2011

Utahns for Ethical Government sues the State of Utah for illegal petition administration

From a The Republic article, which offers reader commenting:
"A Utah public interest group sued the state Monday, claiming an ethics initiative is being illegally kept off the November 2012 ballot even though the group says enough signatures have been gathered to qualify it for inclusion.

Utahns for Ethical Government aims to force state elections officials to certify the signatures that officials have so far refused to do.

The group began collecting signatures in August 2009 to push the initiative that would create an independent ethics commission for legislators and other government officials, require fuller disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and prohibit transfers of campaign funds, among other things. "
Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Nevada state legislature hearing will be held on Tuesday, March 22 concerning bills on voter registration and felon voting rights

Information from a Douglas County (Nevada) Republican Central Committee article, which doesn't offer reader commenting:
"Two bills are being heard in the Nevada Legislature next week concerning our elections process. AB108 eliminates the deadline to register to vote for an election, and allows same-day registration and voting.  AB301 makes minor revisions to existing law regarding restoration of voting rights, juror eligibility and ability to hold public office for felons who have either completed their sentences or have been discharged from parole. 
A hearing will be held on Tuesday March 22 at 1:30 PM (Pacific Time) in the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections. The hearing will be held in Room 3142 of the Legislative building, and will be videoconferenced to Room 4406 of the Grant Sawyer Office Building in Las Vegas, Nevada. 
Information on the bill is here: you cannot attend the hearing, comments on the bill may be made here:"
Contact information for each of the members of the committee is included in the article. Please contact these members with your comments if you’re unable to attend the hearing on Tuesday.

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Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Recent tweets on election reform

  1. For Public Financing Reform, All Eyes on New York State
  2. Where's the change Tennesseans voted for in 2008 (voting machines/ election auditing)?
  3. Track the federal political contributions of more than 100 different industries and special interest areas

Add to Diigo Amplify
Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Recent tweets on election reform

  1. LeftForum SHAME! Why do left elites fail to discuss Internet voting?
  2. Persons Lose Liberty to Parties in the State of Idaho 

Add to Diigo Amplify
Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A state of Massachusetts committee will hold a hearing on bills concerning initiative petitioning by citizens

 An article from Ballot Access News, which offers reader commenting:
"The Massachusetts Joint Election Laws Committee will hear HB 1830 and SB 13 on March 23, Wednesday, at 1:30 p.m. These are identical bills to increase the number of signatures for a statewide initiative from 3% of the last gubernatorial vote, to 7% of the last gubernatorial vote. Currently, the Massachusetts statewide initiative process to change ordinary laws requires fewer signatures (as a percentage of the state’s population) than any other state. 
The Massachusetts initiative process was used successfully in 1990 to qualify an initiative that cut the number of signatures for statewide minor party and independent candidates from approximately 50,000 signatures, to 10,000 signatures. Probably that measure could never have qualified for the ballot if Massachusetts had had a 7% requirement for initiatives."
Definition of initiative: In a modern representative democracy, most laws are enacted by legislatures—the representatives of the people—rather than by the people themselves. The initiative is an alternative process through which citizens themselves propose and vote on new laws directly. In states that allow use of this process, proponents, after drafting a proposal, generally must collect signatures in order to place their measure on the ballot.

Floyd Feeney "Initiative"   The Oxford Companion to American Law. Kermit L. Hall, ed. Oxford University Press 2002. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press   David Weller.  20 March 2011  

Massachusetts: How to contact your own Joint Election Laws Committee concerning Bill H01830 and Bill S00013

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Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Recent tweets on election reform

  1. Where do pragmatists and moderates get a fair hearing? Nowhere?
  2. Independent voters surge in California
  3. Delaware Senate Committee to Hear Anti-Fusion Bill in Coming Week
  4. Rural New York Legislators Propose Resurrecting Jim Crow
  5. Wisconsin Activists Plan Formation of Labor Party USA
  6. California's redistricting panel can't escape partisan pressure
  7. Where's the Sunshine on Senate Campaign Finance Reports?
  8. "Pay to Play or More Transparency? Powerful Campaign Funds Revived"
  9. New Mexico state Senate approves campaign spending disclosure
  10. Nevada state Senate panel OKs campaign disclosure bill
  11. Read this if you aren't ready to give our democracy up to the highest bidder
  12. Former Lobbyists Return To Capitol Hill as Congressional Staffers To Assist The Powerful Interests That Employed Them
  13. Fourth Circuit Sets Hearing Date in Petitioner Residency Lawsuit
  14. The Obama re-election campaign money machine

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Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Electronic Voting Machine security: In the USA, vulnerability to attack by hackers who could inject software or hardware to skew vote counts

From a MIT Technology Review article, which has a Judge's Summary and offers reader commenting:
"When the stakes are high enough, hackers have figured out how to defeat all manner of computers not even connected to the internet: ATM machines, credit card readers on gas pumps; you name it. How long then, in a society in which elections are already bought and sold through political action committees and K-Street lobbying, before the monetary incentive to steal votes from the latest generation of voting machines exceeds the difficulty of pulling it off? 
That, indirectly, is the question asked and answered in a just-released judge's summary (pdf) of testimony from a trial conducted in 2008-2009 in which the state of New Jersey was sued for insufficiently guaranteeing the physical security of its electronic voting machines."
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Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

The USA Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is undergoing scrutiny by Congress and is at risk of getting scrapped

From a The Hill article, which offers reader commenting:
"The House Administration Committee is questioning the long-term viability of the independent commission established in the wake of the contested 2000 presidential election to improve how elections are conducted nationwide. 
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, has disbursed over $3 billion in “requirements” payments to states to update voting machines and enhance election administration, but the commission has seen that funding significantly decline in recent years. 
At the Elections Subcommittee hearing Thursday on its operations and fiscal 2012 budget request, lawmakers targeted the commission’s funding, bureaucracy and current lack of a quorum."
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Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

March 17, 2011 congressional 1-minute speech commemorating the 46th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and US Representative John Lewis

Article from Deeper Inside the Mountain blog, which offers reader commenting:
"(Mr. BARROW asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.) 
Mr. BARROW. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to commemorate the 46th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and to recognize the courage of my colleague, Congressman John Lewis, and the many other heroes of the civil rights movement. 
A couple of weeks ago, I was privileged to retrace the footsteps of history with John Lewis and walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. There, nearly 50 years ago, some 600 demonstrators marched to take a stand for African American voting rights. On the bridge, they were savagely attacked by State and local lawmen to prohibit their crossing. Journalists captured those brutal attacks, sparking outrage that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 
Congressman Lewis recently returned to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Again he was met by a large group of police--this time as an honor guard. 
We have come a long way in the last 50 years, and we still have a long way to go to ensure equality and justice for all. But we never could have come as far as we have without the courage and the devotion of countless men and women just like John Lewis."
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Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March for solidarity takes place against a clandestine meeting between state senators from Wisconsin and corporate campaign donors

From a Common Cause CommonBlog article, which offers reader commenting:
"Wednesday, March 16, was a day for solidarity as hundreds of people marched on 601 13th Street NW in Washington, D.C, an arbitrary address for a clandestine meeting of state senators from Wisconsin with corporate campaign donors.  The same senators who not two weeks ago chose to rip the right to collectively bargain from the hands of teachers, public transportation employees, and other unionized public servants.  This was not a difficult decision made to balance the budget, but a calculated attack on the major donors of the opposition, funded by corporations who benefit directly from limiting the rights of workers to make demands of their employers."
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Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

There will be a Special Election on March 24 to replace US Representative Lee in New York state's 26th Congressional District

From a Federal Voting Assistance Program news release, which doesn't offer reader commenting:
"On Tuesday, May 24, 2011, New York will hold a special election for the 26th Congressional District, to fill the seat vacated by Representative Christopher J. Lee. The 26th Congressional District includes the following counties: Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming. 
To determine if your legal residence is in the 26th Congressional District, go to:, then use the "Find Your Representative" dialog on the upper left corner."
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Wisconsin state senator recall petitioners can expect court disputes over the validity of their petitions

From a article, which offers reader commenting:
"Relatively lenient Wisconsin petitioning provisions may ease the path to recall -- but lawyers say protracted court battles are entirely possible over the petitions that both parties are now circulating.
Under state law, petition circulators -- who face tight regulations in other states -- do not need to be registered voters or to live in the district, but merely have to be eligible to vote if they were to live in Wisconsin, a measure which excludes felons, minors, and non-citizens. Wisconsin has same-day voter registration, so the signatories only need to be eligible to vote and live within the proper districts.
Court disputes over the validity of the petitions will likely revolve around the eligibility of the person circulating the petitions, the eligibility of the signatory, legibility and weeding out duplicates."
Thanks to Ballot Access News for the story.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Five Students Protesting Michigan Governer Snyder's Draconian Voting and Other Citizens' Rights are Arrested at Michigan Capitol During Sit In

From a PoliticusUSA article, which offers commenting:
"Five students chose to stay and get arrested today when the Lansing rally and protest against Governor Rick Snyder’s “financial martial law” (among other rights Snyder’s bill takes away) was interrupted by state police demanding that the protesters leave the interior of the Capitol. As protesters banged on the doors from the outside and protesters on the inside chanted, “Let them in! Let them in!” police tried to convince the protesters inside the Capitol to leave. ... 
Those that stayed were mostly students, though one young man said he had to drop out of school due to high tuition costs and was now unemployed. They came from all over Michigan — from the Detroit area to Kalamazoo — to the rally at the Capitol in Lansing, Michigan. They sat linked, arm in arm, waiting to be arrested. While they waited, one of the young men said, “We just want to be clear, this isn’t the way we’d prefer to do this. It’s the only way we have to be heard.” By tomorrow, of course, Fox News will be reporting on these evil student thugs who dared to get upset when Governor Snyder took their voting rights away. But that will be inaccurate. ... 
Governor Synder is begging for a protest tougher than this. He’s driven the good people of Michigan to drastic action. The protests today had an edge we didn’t see in Wisconsin yet, probably because Snyder is coming for their very voting rights on top of collective bargaining and other Draconian measures. While all of the protests have been inspiring and moving, the Michigan protests were heart-breaking at the same time, because no human beings in a so-called democracy should be driven to such desperation by a despotic leader. It’s shameful that the people of Michigan have less rights in many ways at this point than a few nameless countries we supposedly liberated in the name of freedom."
Read the entire article for a heart-felt tale of Michigan citizens protesting for their constitutional right to vote!

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A national summit planned by the conservative True the Vote will be held in Houston, Texas on March 25

 From a The Nonprofit Quarterly article, which offers reader commenting:
"Texas-based Tea Party organization called "True the Vote" issued a warning about electoral fraud, having found that "precinct judges . . . help people vote." As Eliza Carney of the National Journal says, "One would hate to think of a poll worker helping someone vote." True the Vote and others are so exercised about this that they have planned a national summit in Houston on March 25 to train citizen volunteers to act as poll watchers during the 2012 elections. ...
For all the nonprofit conference discussions of the role of 501(c)(3)s in voter registration and education, nonprofit readers of the Nonprofit Quarterly should realize that there is a well-funded nonprofit movement pushing in exactly the opposite direction."
Thanks to Voting News for the story.

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Voting Rights Project defends in federal court the Voting Rights Act Section 5 protections against the use of racially discriminatory voting practices

From a Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law article, without offering reader commenting, but having a link to the court case:
"On February 2, 2011, the Voting Rights Project participated in oral argument and on February 16, 2011, filed its third major brief in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, a challenge to the constitutionality of Congress' 2006 reauthorization of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The Project represents Shelby County resident Bobby Lee Harris, who intervened in the case to defend Section 5.  Since 1965, Section 5 has provided crucial protections against the use of racially discriminatory voting practices.  Section 5 currently applies across nine states and parts of seven other states. 
In its briefs and in oral argument, the Project has emphasized the broad discretion granted Congress to remedy racial discrimination in voting, and the lengthy record Congress established in 2005 and 2006 demonstrating the continuing prevalence of voting discrimination and the ongoing need for the Section 5 preclearance remedy."
Definition of Voting Rights Act of 1965: Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to improve voter registration and turnout among African‐Americans. It has been amended or reauthorized in subsequent years.

Howard Ball, David Schultz "Voting Rights Act of 1965"  The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. Kermit L. Hall. Oxford University Press. 2005. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  17 March 2011  <>

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Florida State House Speaker and other legislators are retaliating through electoral reforms against Florida Supreme Court because of a court decision

From a Florida Initiative for Electoral Reform press release, which doesn't offer reader commenting:
"The sudden charge by State House Speaker Dean Cannon and other legislators to drastically reform Florida’s Supreme Court is a poorly disguised attempt at retaliation towards the judicial branch. The Florida Supreme Court’s disqualification of Amendment 7 from the 2010 ballot made it a target for legislators who seek to protect gerrymandering and derail the Fair Districts amendments, approved by over 62% of voters. The specific aim of Amendment 7 was for it to be simultaneously approved along with Amendments 5 and 6, thereby essentially overriding them. Speaker Dean Cannon personally argued the case for the counter amendment during the court hearing. Ultimately, the court decided to uphold a lower court decision to strike Amendment 7 off the ballot for being misleading to voters. Not coincidentally, Cannon is now leading the effort to break up the court into two separate civil and criminal courts while also requiring justices to obtain 60% of the vote to win merit retention, as opposed to the current simple majority. 
Opposition to this retaliatory “reform” comes from the fact that a well financed minority could effectively hold judges hostage to obtaining the 60% needed for retention. The higher rate of turnover would create more flexibility for the executive branch and its allies in the legislature to appoint agenda friendly judges, regardless of which of the two parties hold the power. This would undermine the impartiality of justice and the independence of the judicial branch. ... 
Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, removing regulations on spending by moneyed special interests on ads in support of or against candidates, this retaliatory “reform” of Florida’s Supreme Court will further the effects of plutocracy at the expense of impartial justice. The passive, open acceptance and attempted rationalization of such measures by legislators highlights the unrepresentative nature of the existing system and the continuing need for electoral reform."
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Miami-Dade County, Florida voters recall their Mayor and Commissioner

From a Recall Elections Blog article, which offers reader commenting:
"Miami-Dade County voters overwhelming decided to remove Mayor Carlos Alvarez and Commissoner Natacha Seijas in today recall vote. so far, the reports are that this is a landslide, with the Herald reporting an astonishing 88% of voters casting the ballot for removal."
Definition of recall:  Process whereby an elected official may be subject to an election which can lead to loss of office before his or her term of office has expired if a specified number or percentage of electors sign a petition calling for such an election. The recall device is widely available at state and local level in the United States and was used in California in 2003 to replace the Governor, Gray Davis, with Arnold Schwarzenegger .

WG "recall"   The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. Ed Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan. Oxford University Press 2009. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  David Weller.  16 March 2011  

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An invitation to join a "welcoming party" for Wisconsin Republican legislators who are attending a lobbyist fundraiser

A Common Cause CommonBlog article, which offers reader commenting:
"Looking for some fun at midweek? Join us and our friends from Public Campaign, Public Citizen, the Sierra Club and other groups this Wednesday evening to welcome a special group of out-of-towners to our nation’s capital.Our visitors are Republican state legislators from Wisconsin. You’ve probably read lately about the number they and Gov. Scott Walker have done on the Badger State’s public employees, stripping away collective bargaining rights that have helped thousands of  teachers, nurses, construction workers and other public servants gain a slice of the American dream. Now these “worthies” are headed to Washington to be rewarded by their corporate sponsors . We thought it would be nice to spoil their fun, or at least embarrass them a little.
The BGR lobbying firm, one of Washington’s most influential, is hosting a $1,000 per person reception to benefit Wisconsin’s Republican officeholders and candidates. The featured guests, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, will be GOP state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, Rep. Scott Suder, Sen. Glenn Grothman, Sen. Alberta Darling, and Rep. Robin Vos.
We and our activist friends were somehow left off the guest list for this 5:30 p.m. event at BGR’s offices in the Homer Bldg., 601 13th St., NW. So some of us will gather on the sidewalk outside, starting around 5, to provide our own welcome. We won’t have any of the Chardonnay and stale canapes that no doubt will be served inside but we’ll offer up some fresh observations about the buying and selling of political influence in Washington, Madison and capital cities all across the country.
Hope you can join us."
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Eight reform organizations express “grave concern about the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission"

From a Democracy 21 article, which includes a letter, but doesn't offer reader commenting:
"In a letter sent to President Barack Obama today, eight reform organizations expressed “our grave concern about the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission which is spectacularly failing to meet its statutory responsibilities to administer and enforce the nation’s campaign finance laws.”
The reform organizations included Americans for Campaign Reform, Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Democracy 21, League of Women Voters, Public Citizen and U.S. PIRG."
This is the "high church" group of government reform organizations in Washington, DC, which sends letters and publishes accompanying press releases for the occasional urgent problem.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

President Obama continues to ignore the national black hole that is our Federal Election Commission (FEC)

From a Roll Call article, which doesn't offer reader commenting:
"This is getting ridiculous. After April, all but one of the six commissioners on the Federal Election Commission will be sitting with expired terms. Half the commission had their terms expire two years ago. Yet, there they sit — voting in an unprecedented number of 3-to-3 partisan deadlocks, preventing the elections agency from making decisions, offering advice or even enforcing the law.
The Federal Election Commission is broken. What should alarm us is that this is the agency that is supposed to monitor our elections and disclose who is funding which campaigns. Sadly, the FEC is barely fulfilling its mission — and the agency is closing its eyes just as we are entering the 2012 election cycle, which is likely to see spending hit more than $3 billion in the onslaught to buy the White House, fueled by secretive and unlimited corporate cash."
The FEC has long been an absolute travesty to federal administration and the rule of law.  The negative impact it has had on our nation's federal electoral campaigns is criminal.  President Obama, since entering office in early 2009, has been derelict in his duties for one of his critically important and indispensable Executive Branch agencies.  It's a disgrace to our nation, and to the remnants of her once vibrant democracy!

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Once again, a California state bill restricting citizens' petitioning is being legislated

From a Citizens in Charge article, which offers reader commenting and an action alert against the bill:
"An identical bill was vetoed in 2006 and 2009 but that won’t stop state [California State] Senator Corbitt from attacking California petition proponents. The California Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday, March 15, on SB 168, an attempt to ban paying petition circulators by the signature. Such bans have been found unconstitutional in several states, and most recently a federal judge in Colorado found that state’s ban likely to be struck down."
California: You can contact your State Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee on bill SB 168.

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