States Act To Expand Voting Rights For Citizens

There have been a number of positive developments in the states on other issues, including efforts to expand voting access.  Here’s a run-down of some of the best from the last few weeks:

retro-voting-sign1. Wisconsin: Federal Judge Strikes Down Voter ID Law, Finds That ‘No Rational Person Could Be Worried’ About Voter Fraud. The April 29 decision, in an overwhelming win for plaintiffs who argued that the voter ID law suppresses ballot access in the state, could still be overturned on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. But U.S. district judge Lynn Adelman did not hold back: he found not just that the law disproportionately deters minorities and low-income individuals from voting; but also that purported instances of voter impersonation are so infrequent, if they exist at all, that “no rational person could be worried about it.”

2. Hawaii: Aloha State Enacts Strong Voting Rights Law Including Same Day Registration. In 2012, even with its native son Barack Obama atop the ballot, just a paltry 44 percent of eligible Hawaii voters showed up to vote–the worst turnout rate in the country. On April 29, though, Hawaii lawmakers passed legislation to fix that, allowing citizens instead to register to vote when they show up to cast a ballot. Academic studies have found that allowing same-day registration increases turnout between 7 and 14 percentage points.

3. Minnesota: One Day After Judge Orders Online Voter Registration Shut Down, Legislature Passes Law To Revive It. This Monday, a district judge ordered Secretary of State Mark Ritchie to shut down the state’s online voter registration portal by Tuesday night because he lacked legislative authority when he launched it in September. On Tuesday, the Minnesota state legislature passed and Gov Mark Dayton signed into law a bill giving him that authority. Minnesota becomes the 23rd state to have online voter registration, which makes it easier for anybody with access to a computer to register and is simply common-sense for the 21st century.

4. Georgia: 12,000 Citizens Use New Online And Mobile Voter Registration System, More Than Double Than Expected. The new online system rolled out in the end of March, expecting around 5,000 users in the first month. Instead, more than 12,000 enrolled, including 7,000 newly registered voters, according to Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
On a side note:  Last week was also a busy week for the minimum wage news:  first, Senate Republicans in Washington, D.C. blocked increasing the federal minimum wage; then, a coalition of business, labor, and community leaders in Seattle, Washington announced a deal to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15.

And be sure to keep an eye out for…

5. Delaware: State Senate Set To Vote On Same Day Registration After Passing The House. The bill is an important step for expanding access to the polls in Delaware. But its not clear right now whether it’s a sure thing to pass.

BOTTOM LINE: Like we see with minimum wage legislation and so many other important issues for a more prosperous and just nation, cities and states are taking the lead while Congress stalls. When it comes to voting rights, at a time when some conservative-run swing states are doing whatever they can to roll back access, other states are showing the way forward for ensuring that voting is not a privilege, but a right.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

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State-by-State Reports: The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System

— by Megan Slack, August 01, 2013

America has always been a nation of immigrants, and throughout the nation’s history, immigrants from around the globe have kept our workforce vibrant, our businesses on the cutting edge, and helped to build the greatest economic engine in the world. But our nation’s immigration system is broken and has not kept pace with changing times. Today, too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living and working in the shadow economy. Neither is good for the U.S. economy or American  families.

Commonsense immigration reform will strengthen the U.S. economy and create jobs. Independent studies affirm that commonsense immigration reform will increase economic growth by adding more high-demand workers to the labor force, increasing capital investment and overall productivity, and leading to greater numbers of entrepreneurs starting companies in the U.S.

Economists, business leaders, and American workers agree –  and it’s why a bipartisan, diverse coalition of stakeholders have come together to urge Congress to act now to fix the broken immigration system in a way that requires responsibility from everyone —both from unauthorized workers and from those who hire them—and guarantees that everyone is playing by the same rules. The Senate recently passed a bipartisan, commonsense immigration reform bill would do just that – and it’s time for the House of Representations to join them in taking action to make sure that commonsense immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible.

In addition to giving a significant boost to our national economy, commonsense immigration reform will also generate important economic benefits in each state, from increasing workers’ wages and generating new tax revenue to strengthening the local industries that are the backbone of states’ economies. The new state by state reports below detail how just how immigration reform would strengthen the economy and create jobs all regions of our country.

We must take advantage of this historic opportunity to fix our broken immigration system in a comprehensive way. At stake is a stronger, more dynamic, and faster growing economy that will foster job creation, higher productivity and wages, and entrepreneurship.

STATE REPORTS

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas
California Colorado Connecticut Delaware
Florida Georgia Hawaii  
Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine
Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota
Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska
Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico
New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island
South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas
Utah Vermont Virginia Washington
West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming  

Reprinted from The White House Blog.  For more information:

How would you like this scene in your backyard?

The ExxonMobil Pegasus tar sands pipeline spilled around 185,000 gallons of tar sands, undisclosed toxic chemicals and contaminated water in Arkansas yesterday.  Looks like these folks live in a neighborhood with “public” water.  If they had (have) wells, the contaminated water and toxic chemicals would destroy their wells.

Like many tar sands pipelines, Pegasus was actually an older pipeline which had its flow reversed. This is also the case for the Seaway pipeline in Texas and possible tar sands pipelines in New England.

And this wasn’t even the only spill this week! Read more about the 30,000 tar sands spill in Minnesota HERE.

“Folks, these are neighbohood pictures of the Mayflower, AR oil spill on that Exxon pipeline. The local authorities have denied the press access to these areas so few have actually seen the extent of the spill. This picture was taken by a friend’s daughter who lives next door to this house.” — A.J. Zolten

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