Vote twice in June 2020: early, often

long waits at polling places are disruptive and disenfranchising

I got to vote twice in the month of June. Legally. Really! The first time was for the school budget (it passed – yay!), the school board, and the library trustees. That vote was scheduled for the middle of May but postponed because of the coronavirus.

Everyone was supposed to get a ballot by mail by the end of May. The documents were due at the local board of education office by June 9. But because some of the local districts were having trouble printing them out, the deadline was extended to June 16. And the really great thing is that there were 10,700 votes cast in Albany, thrice what the average turnout had been in the past five years.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Presidential primary in New York State was scheduled for the end of April but postponed over COVID-19. Then it was canceled because all of the candidates except Joe Biden had dropped out. However, the Presidential primary, now on June 23 – simultaneous with other ballot initiatives – “should still be held, with all qualifying candidates restored to the ballot, a federal judge ruled.”

I HATED the thought that I was going to be disenfranchised. And, not incidentally, we’ve seen a LOT of difficulties with the franchise in places such as Wisconsin and Georgia. The Brennan Center notes that “long waits at polling places are disruptive, disenfranchising, and all too common. Black and Latino voters are especially likely to endure them.”

With less than five months until Election Day, Is the U.S. ready? Kim Wehle, the author of What You Need to Know About Voting, says no. We should have more options for paper ballots. There are often fewer polling places, because of COVID-19, but also the powers that be are targeting minority communities with polling closures.

Here’s to you, EW

I HAVE to vote. People, especially black people, suffered and DIED for the opportunity to cast their ballot. I decided to vote, by mail, for Elizabeth Warren because that’s who I wanted to win. One could make the strategic case for Bernie, who I voted for four years ago.

But I had never voted for a woman for President in the primary. In 1972, Shirley Chisholm failed to get on the ballot in my Congressional district. Since then, I’ve voted for a bunch of guys who never got the nomination such as Fred Harris and Dennis Kucinich.

In the primary, I vote with my heart. In the general election, I vote with my head.

BTW, I don’t think Warren will be the Vice-Presidential nominee. She turned 71 yesterday. If she weren’t running with a guy who will be turning 78 seventeen days after the general election, I think she’d have a better chance. Also, they are both from the Northeast.

I like Stacie Abrams of Georgia. The reason she’s not currently in elected office is that the former secretary of state, Brian Kemp, now the governor, rigged the system. Someone (a black male) also made me wonder if sizism could play a role in whether to choose her.

Of the folks listed here, I’m guessing Kamala Harris or Val Demings or Tammy Duckworth or maybe Susan Rice. Meanwhile, read How To Read Polls In 2020.

Early voting, and the Political Compass

vote in “off-year” elections

Lots of people don’t vote in “off-year” elections, but I always do, because Math. In a local race, my ballot has a much greater impact in a smaller geography, with lesser participation. It’s diminished in a statewide race, such as for governor, US Senator or President, which of course, is a bunch of state races.

For the first time, there is early voting in New York State this year. Here are the times and places in Albany County, and the rest of the state, starting October 26.

Left? Right?

In a conversation about politics on Facebook, someone wondered if I had taken the Political Compass test, or something like it. “I’m referring to ones that compare results to party; or comparable ideology. I’m curious what a guy like you gets from it.”

I’ve certainly taken a similar test, maybe even this very one. As the folks behind it note: “Our weakest point is commercialism, so it was always inevitable that others with those skills would tinker a little around the edges of our basic concept — and even our name — and repackage it as a national issues-based tool for commercial sponsorship for a few weeks during national elections.”

After all, “The Political Compass has been on the internet since 2001… Our essential point is that Left and Right, although far from obsolete, are essentially a measure of economics.

“As political establishments adopt either enthusiastically or reluctantly the prevailing economic orthodoxy — the neo-liberal strain of capitalism — the Left-Right division between mainstream parties becomes increasingly blurred. Instead, party differences tend to be more about identity issues. In the narrowing debate, our social scale is more crucial than ever.

“We believe that, in an age of diminishing ideology, The Political Compass helps a new generation in particular to get a better idea of where they stand politically — and the sort of political company they keep.”

Take the test if you want; it appears to be anonymous, and the responses are not logged. Check out the other pages as well.

Allowing people in prison to vote

Fourteen states and DC allow voting rights to be restored automatically upon release from prison.

elon-voting-bars-buttonHmm. The idea of allowing people in prison to vote had never really crossed my mind before recent events.

Now the notion that people who were OUT of prison regaining the franchise HAS been an issue for me. For instance, voting rights can ONLY be restored through an individual petition or application to the government in Iowa and Kentucky, a draconian process.

This was also the standard in Florida until 2018, when the people decided to change it. Voting rights are now restored automatically upon completion of sentence, including prison, parole, and probation.

The right to vote is restored automatically once released from prison and discharged from parole – probationers can vote – in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Oklahoma, and New York. I can support this.

Fourteen states and DC allow voting rights to be restored automatically upon release from prison. Hey, this appeals to me even more.

But in Maine and Vermont, voting rights are retained while in prison, even for a felony conviction. This partially explains the position of Bernie Sanders, Presidential candidate and the US senator from the Green Mountain State

In an interview with Truthout’s Amy Goodman, Ari Berman, senior writer at Mother Jones, notes: “Prisoners are already counted for redistricting purposes, so they are already counted where they are incarcerated, but yet they’re not allowed to vote. So it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

“And if you believe the purpose of prison is not just punishment, but rehabilitation, then allowing people to still have one of their most fundamental civic responsibilities is a key aspect of rehabilitation.”

Of course, this gets into the whole conversation about whether prison is designed for incarceration or rehabilitation. Check out this 60 Minutes story about how a Connecticut prison is trying to implement a German-style (i.e., civilized) system.

How do other countries deal with the voting issue? Here is a chart of how 45 countries regulate the ability of felons to vote in or , out of prison, or not at all. Note that Canada and Germany are among the least restrictive.

This Truthout title caught my attention: Allowing People in Prison to Vote Shouldn’t Be Controversial. “The mass disenfranchisement of incarcerated people [in the United States] has a racist past and a racist present, and has been used in particular as a tool to suppress the Black vote.” This is clearly true.

“The denial of the vote to people behind bars takes a sharp toll on many marginalized communities, subjecting them to what many call ‘civil death’ — depriving a person of all legal rights.”

Naturally, Arthur chimed in on this issue – in fact, his post popped up as I was writing this piece. “Incarceration is disproportionately directed at people who aren’t white. But that’s an issue on its own, and not, by itself, a reason to let all prisoners vote. Or, maybe it should be?

“Maybe it could help restore justice to the criminal justice system by letting the victims of that system have a say. I don’t yet know what I think, but I’m listening.” That’s about where I’m at. But I’m leaning towards Bernie’s position, significant in that I had had NO position only weeks ago.

November rambling – We are not the enemy

Tips on how to endure the 18+ hour flight

Cease fire Sooner or later, tyrants are always abandoned by their followers

The American civil war didn’t end, and we have a Confederate president

The First Family of Fraud

Fox and Friends: If the Media Doesn’t Want to Be Called ‘The Enemy’They Should Report the Story How He Wants

Amy Biancolli: We are not the enemy

John Oliver: Migrant Family Separation and Drain the Swamp

Why Is It So Hard to Vote in America? Voter turnout lags in the world’s most powerful democracy? and Cost of Voting in the American States

A Legislative Agenda for House Democrats

What Republicans fear most of all

A man who survived a mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017 was among those killed in the 2018 mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA

There’s very little known about the thousands of victims who survive deadly shootings

Tammy Marshall – My Breast Implants Almost Killed Me – The Truth About BII

The US just elected 9 new scientists to Congress

The Ancestor Hunt: Historical Jewish American Newspapers Online

Why are the Spanish living so long?

Ken Levine interviews media consultant, Valerie Geller – Tell the truth, make it matter, never be boring: Learn the keys to successful communication

Ntozake Shange, Who Wrote ‘For Colored Girls,’ Is Dead at 70

Former San Francisco Giants first baseman Willie McCovey’s presence was one of a kind

In Conversation: Alex Trebek The Jeopardy! icon on retirement, his legacy, and why knowledge matters

Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), a former Navy SEAL, representative-elect: SNL mocked my appearance; here’s why I didn’t demand an apology

Jimmy Kimmel: Trumpy bear

John Boehner: Washington Needs to Legalize Cannabis – NOW, he says it

The Crazy Contentious History Of Taco Tuesday

Scott McCartney, travel writer for WSJ, taking world’s longest flight — Newark to Singapore; tips on how to endure the 18+ hour flight

The cheapest ways to get to the center of Manhattan from the three airports that serve the Big Apple

Esquire Fiction: Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah – Annual holiday super sale? Or zombie apocalypse?

Video tour from the forties Los Angeles side-by-side with the same route in 2016

It slices, it dices, and it’s older than me

This image has exactly 12 dots, but it’s impossible to see them all at once

Now I Know: The Problem With Anonymous Lottery Winners and The Cat’s Meow, Instrumentalized

Fabulous German words with no English equivalent

MUSIC

Take the A Train – Roy Clark And Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown; Roy Clark, country guitar virtuoso, ‘Hee Haw’ star, dies at 85

Above The Law – The O’Jays

BE A DJ: Kathy Buckley – 10/30/18 (WDST, Woodstock, NY)

Snippets of Hey Red! B/W We’re Not Going Steady – Herb London on Buzz Records; London, Conservative Thought Leader and occasional political candidate in New York State, died at 79. (HT to Dustbury)

Solid Rock is now a cultural part of Australian music history

Alexander Borodin’s String Quartet No 1, performed by the Moscow String Quartet

Recording of a warning chime recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra – In all, Lincoln commissioned six different non-critical warning chimes from the orchestra, covering 25 vehicle functions

Careless Whisper – Train, ft. Kenny G

Happiness is just around the bend – Brian Auger

Anything You Can Do – Voctave

9,999,999 Tears – Dickie Lee

Alice Cooper in a Dodge commercial

Registering to vote for Election Day

The Supreme Court has eviscerated the 1965 Voting Rights Act

votingrightsact_0It’s Election Day in the United States. One of the things that needs explaining to the ABC Wednesday folks from outside the US is that each state gets to set the rules for voting; the window for registering, what is required for registering, the hours the polls are open, et al.

Someone noted on Facebook that Oregon provides automatic voter registration unless the person opts out. The story was from 2015, but there were recent comments suggesting that this method should be in the US Constitution.

Of course, changing the Constitution is difficult. Still, many of the amendments after the first ten, the Bill of Rights, are about voting. #15 allowed blacks to vote, at least theoretically. #19 provided women’s suffrage. #24 prohibited a poll tax. #26 permitted 18-year-olds to vote. And there are others.

A guy named Frank S. Robinson is no relation to the baseball Hall of Famer, as far as I know. He says he was “a devoted conservative Republican for 53 years,” but feels “today’s Republican party must be exterminated (electorally).” He explains this all in about 1000 words on Facebook. I’m going to quote just a part of the stuff related to elections.

“Republicans have… become masters of vote suppression, imposing ID requirements, reducing early voting, closing polling stations, and purging voter rolls, all cunningly targeted against non-white, elderly, and poorer voters likely to back Democrats. Stopping them from voting.

“For example, North Dakota has passed a law requiring a street address for voting. Indian reservations — guess what? — don’t have street addresses. This will probably mean defeat for Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp.

“Meantime, such vile voter disenfranchisement tactics may well have made the difference in three key states Trump narrowly won in 2016, giving him the presidency. (And they have the chutzpah to talk about ‘election fraud.’)

“Democratic governors can veto Republican gerrymandering and vote suppression schemes. One noteworthy governor’s race is Georgia’s where Stacey Abrams, a black woman with a tremendous background of accomplishment, faces a cringeworthy Trump sycophant flaunting his almost sexual love for guns.

“He’s also the Georgia secretary of state overseeing the election (refusing to recuse himself) and trying to keep as many blacks from voting as possible. He’s canceled more than a million voter registrations, including 50,000 new ones — mostly by blacks. To steal the election.

“‘Disenfranchisement’ was an overused buzzword some years back. But now it’s a huge reality, with the Supreme Court having eviscerated the 1965 Voting Rights Act; it even upheld North Dakota’s atrocity.”

I’ve complained about most of these tactics in the past, but it’s nice to read them all in one place. If you’re in the US and CAN vote, do it!

For ABC Wednesday