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Empty US College Campuses are Making it Harder for Students to Vote

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/09/2020 - 2:15am in

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many universities to shut their campuses down, and students are experiencing growing voter suppression efforts. Continue reading

The post Empty US College Campuses are Making it Harder for Students to Vote appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

LaTosha Brown: They’re constantly skimming votesPalast in conversation with the co-founder of Black Voters Matter

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 29/08/2020 - 12:59am in

“We're seeing the same old problems that our community has seen in the past, which we know are all forms of voter suppression,” laments Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown. “We've got to hold people accountable… And there's some people that have got to, not only be held accountable in the sense of being put out of office, but there are some people that should face some charges... READ MORE

Cartoon: Honest headlines

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 9:50pm in

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Muslim Voters Are Finding Their Voice

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 1:20am in

Less than a month before the 2019 New York state general election, political candidates across Monroe County gathered at the local Islamic center. They were there to discuss issues that members of the Muslim community had expressed concerns about — issues like education, the county’s racial divide and hateful rhetoric.  

“Right after [the candidates] finished, these people who attend go up to them, ask questions and tell them their opinions,” said Tabassam Javed, president of the Islamic Center of Rochester. “These are things we have been doing for a long time.” The forum has been held since before 2016, and has featured congressional, district attorney and city council candidates, with Democratic and Republican political hopefuls alike.

Javed believes that, in general, members of the Islamic Center of Rochester are politically active, aided by the forum and other events held at the mosque and community center. But he also believes that for Muslim voices to be heard by politicians, voter turnout for the estimated 20,000 Muslims in the Rochester area — and the 3.45 million Muslims across the United States — needs to improve.

According to a 2017 study by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, only 61 percent of Muslims surveyed voted during the 2016 presidential election — a smaller share than any other faith group. Muslims were also the least likely group to be registered to vote, at 68 percent, compared with 89 to 93 percent for other religious groups. 

icrA political party candidate forum hosted by the Islamic Center of Rochester in 2018. Credit: ICR

But the 2018 midterm elections appeared to show early signs of a change in this pattern, thanks, perhaps, to outreach efforts similar to those at Rochester’s Islamic Center. In states with these outreach efforts, Muslim voter participation ticked up, raising hopes that get-out-the-vote efforts on local, regional and national levels are ensuring Muslim voters’ concerns will be heard in November — and beyond.  

“If you don’t vote, you’re essentially staying silent and you’re not expressing your viewpoints,” said Jawwad Khan, an emergency medicine physician who grew up in Rochester’s Muslim community. “Voting is a way for us to express our voice.”

Turnout is power

The 2018 midterm election marked what Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of the organization Emgage, called an “incredible awakening of the Muslim American civic spirit.” Emgage has been organizing campaigns to increase Muslim American political participation across five states since 2015, but 2018 felt like a tipping point. That year, more Muslim candidates ran for state or national office than any other election since 2001. Two of these candidates, Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, became the first Muslim women to serve in Congress.

Mohamed GulaMohamed Gula

Emgage was a key player in getting out the Muslim vote that year. Volunteers and staff connected with 130,000 households in its largest get-out-the-vote effort ever. Emgage also contacted non-native English speakers to explain the voting process in their native languages. “We provide virtual phone banking opportunities for people to call fellow Muslims and have conversations in their language on the process of registering to vote, but also the process of maybe filling out an absentee ballot,” says Mohamed Gula, Emgage’s national organizing director. In five states where Emgage focused its get-out-the-vote campaign, Muslim voter turnout rose by 25 percentage points compared to 2014.

The Islamic Center of Rochester has organized similar voter registration drives. Javed explaines that, in Rochester, the Muslim community is lingustically and culturally diverse. During their events, he would often hear ten or more languages being spoken. “We had a Somali person who is one of our employees,” he says. “He helped on the voter registration drive, because he could, in Somali language, talk to those Somali people who would not be registered.”

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Gula Believes that increasing the number of polling sites at mosques may also help foster political participation. Historically, polling locations have rarely been located at mosques, even in areas with large Muslim populations, like New York City. So members of Emgage’s Michigan and Texas branches worked with city officials to create these polling sites. For Gula, seeing Muslims so involved in politics is a reward that’s been a long time coming. “Growing up, I never saw any candidates that looked like me, sounded like me, or even shared my name,” he says. “It does inspire you to feel like there is a pathway for you to also get there.” 

Face to face

Like the Islamic Center of Rochester, Emgage has organized events that allow Muslim voters to talk with political candidates face to face. It organized ten of these forums in 2018, and continues to hold them virtually during the pandemic. 

In addition to meeting with candidates, Gula believes that fostering interaction with elected officials is critical to increasing political involvement. Emgage has done this by arranging town hall meetings, such as a recent virtual event in which congressional representatives answered questions about applying for unemployment and Paycheck Protection Program loans. 

In the past, town hall meetings have allowed Muslim voters to discuss concerns with politicians. “We’d talk about issues like asking [officials] their position on hate crimes, the travel ban, or other issues that directly impact the Muslim community,” said Gula. Through these conservations, Gula himself has learned about the diversity of issues important to Muslim community members, including preventing discrimination, foreign policy reform, criminal justice reform and small business development. 

Javed has also seen how dialogue with politicians can defy the stereotypes of the Muslim community. “[Candidates have] been very impressed when they leave this place,” he says. “In their mind, they have some image of what a Muslim is, and then all of a sudden, they realize, Hey, this is a regular Joe here.” 

Efforts like these underpin Emgage’s get-out-the-vote campaign this year — its largest ever, which it’s calling the 2020 One Million Muslim Votes campaign. Building on the techniques that succeeded in 2018, the organization is aiming to get an unprecedented number of Muslims registered and pledged to vote before November.

Gula, for his part, is impressed with the progress his organization has made to increase Muslim political participation. “We have Muslims who are running for office, who are volunteering at polling locations and volunteering in order to translate for other Muslims that might have language barriers,” he says. “So Muslims have become overall more engaged in the political process… I think the growth that we’ve seen in the past four or five years is phenomenal.”

The post Muslim Voters Are Finding Their Voice appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

The Mother of All Celebrations

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/08/2020 - 1:22am in

The She Vote! podcast documents the extraordinary struggle to get women the vote, and tell those stories during an election that may hinge on the votes of American women. It’s a connection forged in suffrage steel and honed in a single phrase: They persisted. Continue reading

The post The Mother of All Celebrations appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Pardon Me?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 19/08/2020 - 7:16am in

This letter from Susan B. Anthony was obtained exclusively by Lynn Sherr and Ellen Goodman, co-hosts of the She Votes! podcast. Continue reading

The post Pardon Me? appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Yes, We can Bust the Ballot BurglaryKeiser Report: How to protect your mail-in ballot and un-steal the election

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/08/2020 - 9:07am in

22% of all mail-in ballots don’t get counted — that's according to an MIT study conducted before Trump took office. And the Post Office has always been a problem, even before a Forever Trumper was appointed as Postmaster General. Safest way to vote... READ MORE

Delay the Election? Presidents Often Do Things They Can’t Do

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 6:56am in

Trump Won't Steal the Election, but Your Governor Might | The NationThe stock response to President Donald Trump’s suggestion that the general election might be delayed because voting during a pandemic would involve a record number of mail-in ballots, a format he argues is unreliable and susceptible to fraud, is that he doesn’t have that power.

NBC News is typical: “The president has no power to delay an election.” [Emphasis is mine.]

What the president understands, and most mainstream commentators fail to accept, is that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to get permission. That goes double when the powers in question are limited by a document that lies in tatters, repeatedly ignored.

            Liberal politicians and news outlets point out that the Constitution assigns the scheduling of elections exclusively to Congress. Republicans tepidly (and troublingly) stopped short of denying Trump’s power to push back the big day, while insisting that the election ought to take place on time. “Never in the history of this country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time. We will find a way to do that again this November 3rd,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

In an era of rampant cynicism it is sweetly naïve and the amusingly charming to see Americans put so much faith into the constitutional checks and balances they learn about in high school civics class. “‘Trump can’t delay the election,’ experts say,” reads a headline in The Washington Post.

            Since when has a 221-year-old piece of paper stopped presidents from doing anything?

I think first of war powers. Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that the right “to declare war” resides exclusively with Congress. Such key founders as George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton—men whose right to define original intent can hardly be questioned—believed that presidents could not dispatch troops without legislative approval except in cases of immediate self-defense. Congress signed off on sending soldiers and sailors to the Quasi-War with France in 1798, naval conflicts with the Barbary States of Tripoli and Algiers, and clashes with Native American tribes in the West.

Congress has since abdicated its war-making powers to the executive branch. Congress hasn’t issued a formal declaration since World War II. Yet we have fought countless wars. Presidents have launched military attacks against Korea, Vietnam, Libya, Grenada, Lebanon, Panama, Serbia, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of these wars of aggression were legalistically constructed as “police actions” or “peacekeeping missions” under the aegis of the UN. The fact remains, this is not what the drafters of the Constitution intended. And it has never been amended. Presidents do what they want; lawyers twist logic to justify their illegal slaughters.

President Abraham Lincoln earns democracy points for holding the 1864 election during the Civil War. Yet he suspended habeas corpus and ignored a ruling by the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court saying that he didn’t have the power to do so. George W. Bush’s Military Commissions Act of 2006 also suspended habeas, for anyone the U.S. government arbitrarily defined as an “enemy combatant.” Until the Supreme Court ruled against him two years later, Congress was complicit with the MCA. Even after the court ruling, the internment facility at Guantánamo Bay remains open; 40 men remain there, not one of whom has ever been charged or tried under basic constitutional standards.

FDR almost certainly didn’t have the constitutional right to send 127,000 Japanese-Americans to internment camps during World War II. Yet he did.

From domestic surveillance by the NSA that violates the agency’s founding charter to asset forfeiture programs that allow the police to seize money and property from people who have never been charged, much less convicted of a crime, Americans live in a society oppressed by a political class that takes no notice of constitutional limits it deems inconvenient.

Does the president have the legal right to delay an election? No.

Does he have the power? Yes, unless We The People refuse to accept it.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of the biography “Political Suicide: The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

Seven Steps to Ensure a Fair and Safe Election

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 27/07/2020 - 11:01pm in

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A democracy cannot rely on luck. Hard work is necessary now to make sure plans are in place for Election Day — just in case. Democracy scholar Norm Ornstein writes in The Atlantic that "some creativity is in order," but disaster at the polls is avoidable if legislators act now. Continue reading

The post Seven Steps to Ensure a Fair and Safe Election appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

‘An Embarrassment’: Trump’s Justice Department Goes Quiet on Voting Rights

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 22/07/2020 - 5:33am in

The justice department, led by William Barr, has been quiet when it comes to protecting the right to vote, former department lawyers say. Continue reading

The post ‘An Embarrassment’: Trump’s Justice Department Goes Quiet on Voting Rights appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

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