Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Survey of current USA 10-year redistricting and reform processes

In 2011, each state will redraw the boundaries of its legislative and congressional districts. Common Cause supports redistricting reforms, including the creation of independent commissions to conduct redistricting, establishment of criteria for re-drawing districts, requiring a fair and transparent process for conducting redistricting, and creating independent “shadow” commissions to present their own recommendations.

Each state decides for itself who draws its district lines, which has led to a few different models: state legislature, political commissions and independent comissions.

For years, FairVote has highlighted how our nation's reliance upon winner-take-all elections and single member districts for Congressional elections without national standards has left our voting process open to the abuses of unfair partisan gerrymandering. Insiders for decades have known how powerful redistricting can be for elected officials to protect friends and undermine opponents. It's a blood sport that both parties have exploited, thereby minimizing the role of voters in the political process. By gerrymandering the districts, legislators and their political cronies have used redistricting to choose their voters, before voters have had the opportunity to choose them. ... The lessons of our years of research on Congressional elections indicate that resolving the gerrymandering dilemma is only part of the problem. Redistricting reform can minimize the ability of partisan legislators to punish their enemies and reward their friends, but for competitive elections, legislative diversity, and other public interest goals multimember districts with proportional voting are needed to maximize the effectiveness of these reforms – and ensure all voters have choices and no strong prospective candidate is shut out of a chance to participate.

Resources and Opportunities for Participation in Redistricting Available to Members of the Public.

Michael McDonald of George Mason University and Micah Altman of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard, working in conjunction with our two think tanks, have created the Public Mapping Project, an open-source software package that enables anybody to create districts for any state that bance such desirable qualities as compactness and the protection of communities of interest with competitiveness and partisan fairness, all while satisfying one-person, one-vote and the Voting Rights Act. ... The best student plans show that it is possible to create more legitimate and responsive districts — and that with the right tools, citizens anywhere can create better plans to choose their representatives than the representatives do to protect their own careers. While politicians may fight to keep the process closed, the tools are available to enable us to do better. Virginia’s college students have demonstrated that. The challenge is to replicate their efforts across the country and to harness informed and empowered public participation to improve the quality of our democracy.

1/26/2011--Introduced.John Tanner Fairness and Independence in Redistricting Act - Prohibits a state that has been redistricted after an apportionment from being redistricted again until after the next apportionment of Representatives, unless the state is ordered by a court to conduct such a subsequent redistricting in order to:
(1) comply with the U.S. Constitution, or
(2) enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Requires such redistricting to be conducted through a plan developed by the independent redistricting commission established in the state, or if such plan is not enacted into law, the redistricting plan selected by the state's highest court or developed by a U.S. district court. Prescribes requirements for:
(1) establishment of a state independent redistricting commission (including provisions for holding each of its meetings in public and maintaining a public Internet site),
(2) development of a redistricting plan (including soliciting and considering public comments) and its submission to the state legislature (with public notice of plans at least seven days prior to such submission),
(3) selection of a plan, under specified conditions, by the state's highest court or the U.S. district court for the district in which the capital of the state is located,
(4) special rules for redistricting conducted under a federal court order, and
(5) Election Assistance Commission payments to states for carrying out redistricting.

On April 20, Thomas Mann answered your questions on the status of the redistricting process, and efforts for reform around the nation, in a live web chat moderated by David Mark, senior editor at POLITICO. A transcript of this chat.

For more than three decades, the Institute's research has helped shape [redistricting] policy in California and other states by:
Providing state, county, municipal, and tribal governments, businesses, media outlets, and other organizations with in-depth studies on issues ranging from elections and demographics to budgets and regulations;
Delivering sophisticated analysis to the broader public through conferences, academic publications, newsletters, and our blog,;
Maintaining one of the largest databases of economic data and survey research in the country, the most complete archive of voter-approved statewide ballot initiatives, and the California Political History Digital Library;
Publishing reports and studies featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, CNN and many other national and regional publications; and
Giving college students a hands-on opportunity to take on real-world policy problems under the guidance of leading experts in their respective fields.

The non-partisan Americans for Redistricting Reform is a national umbrella organization comprised of groups from across the political spectrum that recognizes the critical need to reform our nation's redistricting process. With the post-2010 Census redistricting cycle fast approaching, Americans for Redistricting Reform is committed to raising public awareness of redistricting abuses and promoting solutions that benefit voters and strengthen our democracy.

"Reform Government," by David Weller

political re-
form into a better de-
formed, our government

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Survey on the risk of gridlock in the current USA 112th Congress

gridlock1 a traffic jam affecting a whole network of intersecting streets, which in the early 1990s developed the figurative use of a situation in which no progress can be made. In US politics it was used particularly to denote the situation in which legislation makes no progress, either because of conflicts within Congress, or because of disagreements between Congress and the Administration [e.g. divided government].

JPMorgan Chase, the $2 trillion bank and financial services firm, predicts that the newly Republican-controlled U.S. House will clash with the still-Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate to the point where progress on large legislation is completely halted, according to a confidential memorandum dated Nov. 3 and obtained by OpenSecrets Blog.
"Many expect the next two years may be heavy on rhetoric but light on legislative achievements,” states the 11-page memo, which is authored by the bank’s “government relations” department, another term for the lobbying arm of the company. “The 112th Congress could be remembered as a gridlocked one without any landmark legislation.

“If you look back to the ’60s and ’70s, how could a divided government be so productive? Well, 30-40 percent of the chamber were ideological moderates,” Binder said. “If you need large bipartisan majorities to get much done, and you don’t have 60 votes by yourself, then moderates in the middle make a big difference. And we don’t have any of that today.” ...
Some Republicans have been blunt about their intentions not to bend, and the Tea Party is sending candidates to town explicitly with a no-compromise mandate. The best hope may be that the parties begrudgingly work together, each in search of the credit for reviving the economy.
But an energy bill, immigration reform, a deficit solution — history says they’re not likely.

The current Congress—the 111th—is the most ideologically polarized in modern history. In both the House and the Senate, the most conservative Democrat is more liberal than is the most liberal Republican. If one defines the congressional “center” as the overlap between the two parties, the center has disappeared. ...
Morris Fiorina and colleagues have suggested that this increased polarization is mostly confined to party elites and elected representatives and that the ideological center of gravity of the people has not changed much in the past generation.  But an analysis of National Election Study data challenges this view. Alan Abramowitz finds that in 1984, 41 percent of voters were located at or near the ideological center, versus only 10 percent at or near the left and right extremes. By 2004, only 28 percent remained at or near the center, while the left and right extremes had more than doubled to 23 percent. Indeed, Abramowitz suggests, polarization actually rose faster in the electorate than among elites between 1972 and 2004. ...
Over the past decade, the costs of increased political polarization have been mounting. We are unable to deal with large questions—such as our fiscal crisis—that cannot be solved without bipartisan cooperation and mutual compromise. Staffing our governing institutions has become more difficult: many judicial nominations have gotten caught in the partisan cross-fire, and even executive branch appointments have bogged down, making it hard for incoming presidents to deal with pressing problems. When one party dominates both the executive and legislative branches, polarization often moves policy in directions that moderate and independent voters find troubling, which tends to produce abrupt lurches from one off-center majority to another. When power is divided, polarized parties find it hard to agree on much of significance. Polarization means that our debates no longer stop at the water’s edge, which makes it harder for the United States to maintain a steady stance on defense and foreign policy. And perhaps worst of all, polarization undermines public trust in government, now languishing near record lows.

One should not assume that Obama will get everything he wants from congressional Democrats any more than they will succeed in getting him to sign off on all their pent-up demands. Not only does the spike in deficits from the financial bailout and economic recession impose severe constraints, but the history of unified party government suggests that it is no more a guarantor of success than divided government is of failure. Indeed, American chief executives from Harry S. Truman to Ronald Reagan enjoyed some of their greatest successes in periods of divided government. In the end, what the people want and are willing to speak up for usually matters more than all the frantic maneuvering in Washington.

Washington can seem like a Venn diagram where the two circles—Republicans and Democrats—will never touch. But on the issue of education reform, the two parties may be able to come together. The Republican agenda of reform—imposing standardized test-based accountability for schools and teachers and fostering competition among schools—has been embraced and aggressively promoted by the Obama administration. President George W. Bush’s signature achievement on this front, No Child Left Behind, has been due for renewal since 2007. Democrats are gearing up to pass a revised version of the law, possibly as soon as next year [2011], and they think this is one issue where Republicans will work with them.

1/25/2011--Introduced.Political Reform and Gridlock Elimination Act - Expresses the sense of the Senate that Congress should:
(1) pass the DISCLOSE Act to prevent a corporate takeover of our elections and ensure that our democracy is open, transparent, and controlled by the people; and
(2) reform Senate rules and procedures to reduce excessive obstruction and delay, while protecting the legitimate rights of individual Senators and the minority.

1"gridlock" A Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Edited by Elizabeth Knowles. Oxford University Press, 2006. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. David Weller. 27 April 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Survey of the 'American Decline' debate

Corruption, the most infallible symptom of constitutional liberty.1
--Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ( 1776–88) ch. 21
There have been many articles in the last couple of years on the idea of 'the American Decline'.  Although a small number deal with it in the most general terms, most relate the issue as a true decline by way of certain segments of our society, such as education, our economy, art museum attendance and foreign affairs.

In a way, the jury is still out in this country on whether we are in decline.  Just like the issue of global warming, most professional journalists are in the affirmative, but you really need a consensus to make it a reality.

Here are several related articles from widely respected magazines and journals that may help you in your own deliberations on an 'American Decline.'

1"Gibbon, Edward" The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Ed. Susan Ratcliffe. Oxford University Press, 2006. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. David Weller. 27 April 2011

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    We recently averted a federal government shutdown 'at the last minute'

    A week ago, many Americans watched the cable news networks and other mass media the last-minute federal budget negotiations-- a "government shutdown" was increasingly at risk as the president and congress members deliberated over it.  In the final hours, the shutdown crisis was averted.

    Do you think our elected officials handled the shutdown risk appropriately?  Why did we get to the point of an eminent government shutdown?  Today, party politics inside and outside government is often a point of contention among the deliberating public-- was this a factor in how the negotiations were conducted?  Were federal laws and/or house rules breached as our representatives worked on the crisis?  If anything, what different should have been done?

    Your thoughtful comments are very welcome; at this blog's early stage, we moderate all comments before they may be posted.  Thanks for your understanding.

    Related articles:

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      "Speaking of politics..."

      What is political reform, and how will I cover it?  Above all else, it's behavior enlightenment and suggestions for good government.  As a Libertarian friend once encouraged me, he said, "thanks for making government better."

      For those who have visited All Things Reform off and on over the past few years, the blog has constantly been re-designed and updated with new or different information.  Also, at the beginning (but less so recently), we've been transparent on our page view analytics.  Also, for each actual blog post, we've been conscious about intellectual integrity and proper source attribution.

      Action alerts here have called for citizen engagement with elected officials on government reform issues, such as campaign finance reform, government transparency/ accountability, professional ethics, fiscal responsibility and electoral reform.  Well over one hundred nationally-based non-governmental organizations (NGO's) have been closely followed by ATR for expert government data analysis, investigations, research and activism.

      Today, as politics in the USA-- government and elections-- is run around the clock on television, radio, print and the web, this blog turns its focus on the larger political reform issues and questions, in the realm of society and demographics.  Your comments will be very welcome and engaging for us and your fellow concerned readers.  Thanks for joining us.

      Thursday, April 07, 2011

      Taking a break

      I will be gone for an unspecified period of time (and the blog will not post anything new.)  A news blog needs attention for several hours every day, and that's not possible to this one-man-show.  Thanks for your building interest in voting rights.

      You may find Voting News and the Brennan Center for Justice helpful in keeping you informed.

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

      Tuesday, April 05, 2011

      A nonpartisan look at DRE voting machines

      From Voting Machines, a nonpartisan, nonprofit website that presents facts, studies, and pro and con statements related to direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines. Throughout this website, the term 'electronic voting machines' refers to direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines and not optical-scan machines. Although optical-scan machines use an electronic reader to tabulate the vote totals, voters mark their selections on a paper ballot and are not directly recording their votes into the machine.
      "Originally developed in the 1970s, direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machines have become increasingly used nationwide. After the 2000 US presidential election's troubles with "pregnant” and "hanging” chads and the subsequent passage of the 2002 Help America Vote Act which swelled use of DREs, electronic voting technology became widely debated.

      Proponents argue that electronic voting machines are secure, able to unambiguously capture the intent of a voter, capable of preventing residual votes, reliable, easy to use, calculate and report voting results faster, and are accessible to disabled, illiterate, and non-English speaking voters.

      Opponents of electronic voting machines argue that DREs give too much power over public elections to their private manufacturers, are vulnerable to hacking and other forms of tampering, do not allow for meaningful audits and recounts, and do not offer voters a trustworthy way to verify their votes."
      Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

      A nonpartisan look at felon voting rights in the USA

      From Felon Voting, a nonpartisan, nonprofit website that presents facts, studies, and pro and con statements on questions related to whether or not felons should be allowed to vote.
      "An estimated 5.26 million people (as of 2004) with a felony conviction are barred from voting in elections - a condition known as disenfranchisement. Each state has its own laws on disenfranchisement. While Vermont and Maine allow felons to vote while in prison, nine other states permanently restrict certain felons from voting.

      Proponents of felon re-enfranchisement say that felons who have paid their debt to society by completing their sentences should have all of their rights and privileges restored. They argue that efforts to block ex-felons from voting are unfair, undemocratic, and politically or racially motivated.

      Opponents say felon voting restrictions are consistent with other voting limitations such as age, residency, sanity, etc., and other felon restrictions such as no guns for violent offenders and no sex offenders near schools. They say that convicted felons have demonstrated poor judgment and should not be trusted with a vote."
      Thanks to for the link.

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

      A State of California legislature committee ignores citizen petitioning expertise in favor of passing an anti-petitioning bill on to the Appropriations Committee

      The entire Citizens in Charge article, which offers reader commenting.
      "This morning I testified at the California state capitol before the Public Safety Committee against SB 168 a bill aimed at banning payment per signature for petition circulators. Here is a clip about how the hearing went from the capitol grounds. Video:
       AKR at CA Capitol

      I went on the record for Citizens in Charge and made the following points:
      • The supporters of SB 168 suggest that the bill is needed to combat fraud in the petition process. Yet, there is little evidence of fraud and absolutely no evidence that paying circulators “per signature” does anything to induce fraud or that laws which ban it do anything at all to mitigate fraud. 
      • Even if California had a serious problem with petition fraud, and obviously any fraud is too much, banning petition sponsors from paying circulators by the signature will do nothing to address the problem. Last year, in a lawsuit challenging a Colorado law similar to SB 168 (though far less severe), U.S. District Court Judge Philip Brimmer wrote in his order blocking enforcement of the law that, “pay-per-signature compensation is no more likely than pay-per-hour compensation to induce fraudulent signature gathering or to increase invalidity rates.” 
      • Passage of SB 168 is likely to lead to costly litigation that California can ill afford especially in the midst of our budget crisis. Challenges to bans on per signature payment of petition circulators are currently underway in Colorado, Nebraska and Oregon. While the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld such a ban in an Oregon case, similar bans have been enjoined or overturned in Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio and Washington. As recently as 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from Ohio’s Secretary of State in Citizens for Tax Reform v. Deters, effectively affirming the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to strike that state’s ban on pay-per-signature. 
      • Grassroots groups hoping to place a reform on the state ballot without the ability to pay their workers by the signature could face costs that are significantly higher – in some cases as much as double. While SB 168 may not deter the state’s most powerful or wealthy special interests, the higher costs will block the participation of grassroots groups and those less well-to-do. 
      • Lastly, as a representative of the only national organization dedicated to protecting the right to petition, I want to bring to this committee’s attention the fact that the original analysis on this legislation referred to people who circulate petitions as “bounty hunters.” That language serves to demean an entire group of overwhelmingly honest and hardworking citizens. It shows hostility to this process that is constitutionally protected. The term commonly, and more respectfully, used for these campaign workers is “petition circulator
      In closing, I reiterated the fact that even if California did have a problem with petition fraud – and there is little evidence to show we do – Senate Bill 168 will do nothing to stop it. What it will do is reduce the rights of Californians, put grassroots groups at an even greater disadvantage versus well-funded special interests, and open up the state to costly litigation. As a Californian, I respectfully asked the committee members to do what is right for the citizens of our state and refuse to allow this bill out of their committee.

      Although the Humane Society of the United States and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association also stood with Citizens in Charge in opposition to this bill, it was passed out of the Public Safety Committee to the Appropriations Committee."

      This intelligent consultation by the nation's leader in petitioning government is proof that the committee didn't listen, as the bill subsequently passed that committee.  Truth be told, the committee members who voted for this attack on citizen petitioning didn't give a damn about Citizens in Charge's testimony, and the other attending petitioning organizations.  If the voters of these committee members' districts had known before Election Day that this kind of thing would happen, they surely wouldn't have voted them into office!

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

      Action alert: Call your own state legislators to pass a free speech for people Constitutional Amendment

      From a Free Speech for People email message; this is an action alert.
      "Our fight for a Constitutional Amendment to ensure that people, not corporations, govern in America starts in the states.

      We don’t need to wait for Washington to change.  We can generate the change we need, by focusing our energy on our state governments instead.

      It’s easy to take action now, by making just 2-3 quick calls to your state officials.  Can you help?

            Click here to make a couple of quick calls.

      Going to the states makes all kinds of sense:
      • First, states have a central role to play in passing a Constitutional Amendment.  The Constitution says so.  We’ll want to get the states involved sooner or later, so we might as well start with them.
      • Second, our state legislators are likely to be much more accessible, and more responsive to our campaign, than their counterparts in Washington.  Our state legislators work closer to home, and they have much smaller districts.  They get far fewer phone calls, so each call they get is more likely to influence them.  As a result, it may take just a couple of phone calls from us to get some of our state legislators on board.
      • Third, there’s a good chance our state legislators will want to get involved.  Think about it: people run for office to to help address the big issues facing our society.  This fight for a Constitutional Amendment is an opportunity for state legislators to stand up and help lead the way to defend our democracy.  We think a lot of them will jump at the chance.
      For all these reasons, unlike almost any other national issue we can think of, it really makes sense to start with the states on this one."

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

      Sunday, April 03, 2011

      State of Wisconsin senator recall information and guide

      The entire Recall Elections Blog article, which offers reader commenting.
      "Among the 18 states with a recall, Wisconsin has one of the hardest signature requirements to get a recall on the ballot. First, it requires a fairly high number of signatures (25% for the governor's office in the last election). It could be higher -- for example, Louisiana requires the signatures of 33 1/3 of all the eligible voters in the district -- but it is clearly a healthy amount. It is combined with an extremely tight deadline to hand them -- 60 day. Only four states limit the gathering period to 60 days. Most of the others fall between 90 and 180. That the Democrats were able to get the signatures (presumably they feel confident that the signatures are valid, and since they don't live in NY, there are probably less hurdles) to recall Senator Dan Kapanke in half the compressed time frame is clearly a strong sign for them.
      Here is a list of next steps on Wisconsin"
      Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

      Monday will be a "Day of Action" on State of Florida college campuses against a state legislature anti-voter registration bill

      An entire Florida College Democrats press release.
      "Under short notice, House Republicans expanded a short, 14 page elections bill into a 128 page attack on the voting rights of Floridians. The bill, HB 1355, is largely a carbon copy of a similar proposal two years ago, SB 956 during the 2009 Legislative session, to eliminate crucial election rights Floridians enjoy. In 2009, the bill was just over 70 pages long, making this bill twice as long and complex. The 2009 proposal failed after a significant backlash against the proposals by constituents. The proposed changes will negatively impact students in particular.

      Florida College Democrats (FCD) will host a “Day of Action” against this legislation on college campuses throughout the state on Monday, April 4th. FCD held such a day of action in 2009 after the introduction of SB 956 with great success, increasing student awareness of this draconian legislation and generating large volumes of calls to legislators.

      The following is a summary of the most devastating changes in HB 1335:
      1. End Election Day address changes for voters already registered elsewhere in Florida
      2. Require anyone collecting voter registrations to register with the State.
      3. Forces registration volunteers to sign statements that threaten fines for application mistakes. (Designed to discourage volunteers from engaging in registration efforts.)
      4. Require all organizations collecting voter registrations (including grassroots student clubs on college campuses) to submit the names, addresses, dates of birth, and aforementioned statements for every one of their volunteers to the State.
      5. Require all organizations (including student groups) to obtain custom registration forms from the local Supervisor of Elections with the organization’s name identified on the form. Forms used today or those available to the general public are not permitted.
      6. $100 fine for each application delivered to the Supervisor of Elections just 2 days after being signed. (A trap, because many individuals sign the form and only turn it in for delivery by the organization days later.)
      7. Fines collected will no longer go towards voter education.
      8. Prohibits voter protection activity within 100 feet of the line to vote. (Not the polling place itself. Remember that UCF experienced a line over 5 hours long in 2008. Voter protection in that case would have been forced thousands of feet away from the polling place.)
      9. Effectively prohibits the offering of legal advice to disenfranchised voters.
      These changes will effectively neuter all campus activism by placing legal barriers in the face of students helping their friends and neighbors participate in our electoral Democracy. Non-partisan entities ranging from Student Governments, to Housing Departments, to Honors Societies will be unable to meet these new legal requirements to engage in voter registration drives."
      This State of Florida legislature bill slaps the face of anyone there willing to serve their community by participating in a voter registration drive; these drives are politically non-partisan, as anyone who signs a voter registration card is free to vote any way he pleases.  Please take action if you feel this is an attack on democracy and the civic enterprise of public service!

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

      Reasons Republicans should avoid the US Department of Justice and go to federal court if Democrats claim a state's redistricting in violation of the Voting Rights Act

      From The Heritage Foundation article, which doesn't offer reader commenting. For details, please see the entire article.
      "The redistricting process for congressional and state-legislative seats will soon begin in earnest. All redistricting plans must meet the “one person, one vote” equal-protection standard established by the Supreme Court, which means that districts are supposed to be as even in population as possible.
      But redistricting also must comply with the Voting Rights Act, and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division just released its new “Guidance Concerning Redistricting Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.” This guidance, which affects redistricting in all or parts of 16 states, is almost guaranteed to cause problems for Republicans. ...
      The lesson here is that Republican-controlled legislatures that have drawn up redistricting plans that Democrats don’t like would be foolish to submit those plans to the Civil Rights Division for administrative review. Instead, they should go straight to the federal district court in D.C., the alternative procedure set forth in the Voting Rights Act.
      States must understand that they cannot expect to get an impartial hearing from this Justice Department. They may still get a panel of liberal judges in federal court, but at least normal evidentiary standards will apply. In court, DOJ will have to provide actual evidence of discrimination — not the rank hearsay and imaginary evidence often considered in its own administrative review. Moreover, states will be able to cross-examine their accusers in court. That doesn’t happen in the administrative setting. Indeed, the Justice Department often refuses to even tell states who has accused them of discrimination in their redistricting process."
      Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

      Candidates' resumes largely forgotten as co-stars take center stage in State of Wisconsin Supreme Court race

      From a Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel article, which includes reader commenting-- for video interviews of the candidates and more details, please see the entire article.
      "In the drama that is a political campaign, the candidates are usually the stars.

      But in Tuesday's state Supreme Court race, Justice David Prosser and Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg at times have been upstaged by a supporting cast of Wisconsin's most powerful and polarizing public officials and interest groups.

      Gov. Scott Walker, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, Justice Michael Gableman, Republican legislators, unions and business organizations are playing prominent roles in this election.

      With the spotlight on the divisions on the high court, new legal restrictions on public employee unions and legislative redistricting, this campaign is less about who the candidates are than about who - and what - they are believed to be for or against."
      Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"

      Saturday, April 02, 2011

      Finding states' tight budget solutions to voter guide media formats

      From a Voting Information Project article, which doesn't offer reader commenting.  For details, please read the entire article.
      "FY2012 cuts [in many state budgets] come after several consecutive years of belt tightening and beg the question of whether or not election officials will be forced to cut important services. Many see mailings and printed voter guides as the obvious solution for an electorate living with 21st century technologies, but there are concerns of disenfranchisement as essential voting information moves online. As the debate rages on, I’m weighing in with the hope of finding a middle ground to address these concerns."

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

      Friday, April 01, 2011

      The democratic tool of citizen petitioning in the US is under increasing attacks by politicians and special interests

      From a Citizens in Charge article, which offers reader commenting-- for details and a cartoon video please see the entire article.
      "The right to petition laws and state constitutional amendments onto the ballot gives the voters a critical check on unresponsive elected officials. Powerful politicians fear the citizen initiative because voters may restrain their power; big business groups and powerful labor unions fear the initiative process because voters threaten their grip on state capitols. Legislators on both sides of the aisle sponsor “reform” bills that do nothing but restrict the rights of citizens, and special interests are more than happy to cheer the attacks on by supplying misinformation "

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

      Serious problems plague the Secretaries of States' of New Mexico and Colorado's voter fraud analyses/ conclusions

      From a Brennan Center for Justice article, which doesn't offer reader commenting.  For analysis details, please read the entire article.
      "Recently the Secretaries of State in New Mexico and Colorado announced seemingly shocking findings that their research identified “thousands” of non-citizens, apparently voting illegally in their respective states.  A careful review of the reports and information released (they have not released the complete set of data and methodology used to arrive at their conclusions) shows some serious problems with the methods used based upon the information they did disclose resulting in questionable conclusions. ...
      Until there is the opportunity to review the methodology and analysis used to arrive at the conclusions of the Secretaries of State in New Mexico and Colorado, everyone should blow away the smoke, ignore the mirrors and look at this data critically, with their own eyes."

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

      Political revenge alleged as reason for State of Iowa voters' ouster last year of three of its state Supreme Court justices

      From a Justice at State GavelGrab article, which offers reader commenting-- for details, please read the entire article.
      "Given the deadlines that are passing, Iowa legislators won’t be approving a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and woman this year.

      And that result, states a Sioux City Journal editorial, shows how little was accomplished by voters’ ouster of three state Supreme Court justices last year over a ruling that permitted same-sex marriage:
      'The effort was about exacting political revenge, not about working within the system to affect change. Its sole accomplishment was to establish an ugly precedent for the future by injecting politics into our courts.'"

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

      Strengthened public financing of Los Angeles candidate campaigns passes in March 8 election

      From a Common Cause CommonBlog article, which offers reader commenting-- the article is a summary compilation of newspaper stories about the event.
      "California Common Cause, along with a long list of partners, secured an enormous victory for Fair Elections in Los Angeles this month.  Measure H, an initiative that strenghtened the L.A. public financing system and banned contract bidders from donating to city campaigns, passed with 75% of the vote on March 8th."
      Remember, "voting turnout and activism means spreading the word!"