Posts Tagged ‘voting’

In the last election, there were over 224 million American citizens over the age of 18 in the United States, and yet only around 157 million were registered to vote. Even fewer actually voted.

Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey and a current ABC News commentator noted on This Week on a recent Sunday morning: “2017 in New Jersey, the lowest voter turnout for governor in the state’s history. It was 36 percent turnout for a statewide gubernatorial race in New Jersey. To just give you an example, eight years earlier, when I was elected the first time, it was 48 percent. It’s a big, big change.” It may have been 38.5% in 2017, but point taken.

Each state determines how it will run its elections in terms of hours of voting, deadlines for registering. So the ability to stifle the process is quite varied.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction in its lawsuit against the Georgia Secretary of State that seeks to remedy an unlawful racial gerrymander. “The lawsuit concerns Atlanta metro area Georgia House of Representatives Districts that were redrawn in 2015 for the sole purpose of helping white incumbents get reelected.”

New Yorkers face unreasonably early registration deadlines, no option for early voting, severe restrictions on absentee voting and long lines at the polls. The state’s user-unfriendly voting laws caused such dismal voter registration and turn-out rates in the last presidential election that New York had the eighth worst turn-out in the country.

There are far too many other examples to list here.

One activist group recommends that Congress must take thesee steps to secure our elections:

Audit elections to verify that ballots are counted and reported correctly
Require paper ballots (or, at least, paper receipts for electronic ballots)
Enact national vote-by-mail
Develop a national response to foreign attacks on our election systems

For ABC Wednesday

As someone who has used an absentee ballot for the school district vote, I was intrigued and disappointed by this from the Albany school district:

“Voters wishing to cast absentee ballots in the City School District of Albany’s May 15 budget vote and Board of Education elections will receive two separate absentee ballots — one from the school district for the budget and related propositions, and one from the Albany County Board of Elections for the board candidates.

“The state moved the district’s board elections from November to May last summer to align Albany with the vast majority of public school districts statewide, which annually hold their board elections and budget vote together on the third Tuesday in May.” This, I thought, was a very good thing, and long overdue.

“The state legislation as it is currently written requires the county to be responsible for the board elections, as it has been traditionally when school board members were elected in November in conjunction with the general election. The district is responsible for the budget vote and related propositions as in past years.

Please note that each absentee ballot must be returned separately to the organization responsible.

“…The absentee ballot for the school budget vote and related propositions… will contain the following propositions:
Proposition #1 — 2018-19 school budget vote
Proposition #2 — Proposal to establish a Capital Reserve Fund
Proposition #3 — 2018-19 Albany Public Library budget vote (this item is unrelated to the school district)”

Incidentally, the League of Women Voters of Albany County has announced a Candidate Forum for the Albany School board election on May 14 at 7 p.m. at Myers Middle School, 100 Elbel off Whitehall Road. It is cosponsored by CANA, Citizen Action NY and the NAACP. Nell Stokes is the moderator.

I hope that there can be a legislative fix for the voting glitch before the balloting in May 2019. The turnout for these important votes are notoriously low, and I’m in favor of things that will make the franchise easier.
Albany County Board of Elections will deal with “absentee ballots for the board elections. Four candidates are vying for three open seats on the school board.”

Meet school board candidates Damarise Alexander-Mann, Ellen Roach, and Tabetha Wilson Monday, April 9 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at 32 Colonial Avenue, Albany. Your presence is welcome.
Please note that the school board election has been moved to May, to match when Albanians vote on the school budget, finally bringing the city in sync with the rest of the state.

There are three seats open: two full four-year terms and one partial one-year term, resulting from Kenny Bruce’s resignation in 2017. Tabetha Wilson, whom the board appointed last year to fill that vacancy, is running. Ellen Roach is running for re-election. President

Sue Adler is not running for re-election.

The Albany school budget vote, Board of Education elections, and Albany Public Library budget vote will take place May 15. The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at these locations, which may be different from those for the general election.

The problem with black history month is that one can slip into the mindset that it’s all about what happened way back when – RIGHT? – but it isn’t. For instance, The Eight Box Law of 1882. It was a nastily clever way to disenfranchise black people in the late 19th century, not dissimilar to activities designed to do the same thing even 80 years later.

Then you recall there are all sorts of ways the system is trying to disenfranchise certain people in the first part of the 21st century, with voting rolls purged in certain neighborhoods; required IDs that are increasingly difficult to acquire; and fewer polling places, so that voters, facing long lines, will be discouraged.

And I’m not even going to get into gerrymandered redistricting.

From Think Progress (2016): “In 2013, North Carolina — led by the GOP — approved a law that eliminated same-day voter registration, cut a full week of early voting, barred voters from casting a ballot outside their home precincts, scrapped straight-ticket voting, and got rid of a program to pre-register high school students who would turn 18 by Election Day. That law also included one of the nation’s strictest voter ID requirements.

“Federal courts struck down most of the law after finding that it was passed with the intention to suppress African-American voters ‘with almost surgical precision.'”

You read that Sentencing Commission Finds Black Men Receive Longer Sentences Than White Men For Same Crime. You may have instinctively known that, but it’s good to have it verified.

And then you remember that, in most states, people that are in the prison system can’t vote, so that’s another method of disenfranchisement. And people who have served their time, “paid their debt to society,” STILL can’t vote in some states, in a few jurisdictions, FOREVER.

So you latch on to the notion that “progress” has been made. and surely there has been. But in a system of two steps forward and two steps back, it can feel a lot like standing still.

vote-button-3I’m voting in favor of the two propositions on the ballot on Tuesday, January 10. The school district notes that “enrollment from prekindergarten through eighth grade has grown 26 percent – about 1,400 students – over the last eight years. It is forecast to continue to grow well into the next decade.”

Proposition #1 is a $6.5 million package of updates, providing an “equitable learning environment” for students at 50 North Lark Street, in advance of September’s opening of the new middle school to serve students on the city’s north side. About 400 students will attend in the 2017-18 school year. This will reduce crowding in the city’s other middle schools, one of which my child attends.
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