Posted at 06:28 PM in 2012 Presidential Election, Accountability, Accountability Journalism, Citizen Journalism, Civic Apps, Civic Engagement, Civic Innovation, Cost of Freedom App, Digital Journalism, Digital News, Election '12, Election Day 2012, Election Protection Coalition 2012, Social Media, Social Networks, Social Web, STEM, Tracking Change, Transparency, Voter ID, Voting Rights, Yo! Philly Votes | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
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Yesterday I met with Craig Newmark, customer service rep and founder of craigslist, along with Barbara Arnwine and her team at the Election Protection Coalition. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss efforts to remove barriers to the ballot box and help voters get ready.
Craig is concerned about the new voting law changes that “protect the public from a nonexistent problem while stopping five million people from voting.” He joined the fight against voter suppression because “George Washington and Tom Paine would have me speak up.”
Paine was an old-school pamphleteer. Craig wants to use social media to “create a big movement.” In a blog post, Craig wrote:
Folks, think you have the right to vote? Maybe not so much. I’ve been working with some good folks focusing on Voter Suppression issues that are happening across the country. There are some bad actors who are trying to pass legislation that will keep eligible people from voting.
Voter Suppression is happening across the U.S. as restrictive voting laws are being both introduced and passed. 164 laws were introduced in states that would restrict U.S. Citizens from voting in the 2012 U.S. Election.
Restrictive voting has taken these forms:
- Eliminating election-day registration
- Restricting third-party voter registration activities
- Reducing the number of days for early voting
- Legislation requiring photo ID for in-person voting
- Restrictions most heavily disenfranchise young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as voters with disabilities. We need to prevent bad legislation from preventing people to vote in the 2012 U.S. election.
Funny enough, though, Protecting the Vote explains that between 2000 and 2007, there have been 32,299 reports of UFO sightings, 352 deaths caused by lightning, and only 9 instances of possible voter impersonation.
Some other important stuff we uncovered:
- 5 million eligible voters may find it harder to vote in the 2012 U.S. election due to the voter suppression laws.
- Voter ID laws could cost taxpayers $65.8 million in 4 states: PA, IN, NC, MI. All of these states had huge budget shortfalls in 2011.
- 34 states introduced legislation requiring voters to show photo ID in order to vote.
- More than 20 million voting age citizens don’t have the type of photo ID required by the state voter ID laws.
Craig issued a call to action: Get ready.
Craig is a big picture guy. To give folks a heads up about the voter suppression schemes, he’s drawn a really big picture.
Posted at 12:18 PM in 2012 Presidential Election, Black Voters, Civic Apps, Civic Engagement, Civic Innovation, Cost of Freedom App, Election '12, Election Protection Coalition 2012, Race, Social Media, Voter ID, Voting Rights | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Since the 2008 election, there has been a wave of new election laws that restrict access to the ballot box. The Brennan Center for Justice estimates the voting changes could make it harder for five million eligible voters to vote.
The most onerous restriction requires voters to present a government-issued photo ID in order to vote.
Strict photo ID requirements disproportionately impact young, minority and low-income voters.
In Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, the U. S. Supreme Court held that a state with strict photo ID requirements must provide free photo IDs. While the voter ID is free, the document a citizen must produce to establish his or her identity, typically a birth certificate, is not free.
The cost of obtaining a certified birth certificate ranges from $5.00 in some counties in Indiana to $25.00 in Georgia. In addition to the state fee, an applicant will have to pay for postage and photocopying (if requested by mail), a processing fee (if ordered online) or transportation costs (if requested in person).
There are also opportunity costs. With documents in hand, some voters will lose wages as they wait in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles to apply for a “free” voter ID.
Civil rights organizations, including the ACLU and the NAACP, are rightly challenging restrictive photo ID laws. But voters need assistance right now. So at Random Hacks of Kindness at Drexel University, I shared the problem facing millions of already registered voters who, for the first time, must show an official photo ID.
My team developed a prototype for the Cost of Freedom App, a location-based web app that will provide voters with information on how to get a voter ID.
If they do not have an orginal or certified birth certificate, users can type their city and zip code to find out where to get one the cost. If they want to apply in person, they will be given the location, office hours, and directions using public transportation.
Development of the Cost of Freedom App is being crowdsourced by ordinary citizens who are concerned about the impact of photo ID requirements on voting rights.
The Cost of Freedom Project will raise awareness about photo ID requirements among voters who don't have a driver's license, non-driver's license or any other government-issued photo ID. And they may not have "a pot or a window." But they have the right to vote.
In a 1957 speech titled, "Give Us the Ballot," Dr. King said:
So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind—it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact—I can only submit to the edict of others.
We plan to launch the Cost of Freedom App on April 4, 2012. To get involved in this citizen-led voter protection initiative, visit us at Facebook.com/CostofFreedom.
Posted at 09:18 AM in Citizen Journalism, Civic Apps, Civic Engagement, Civic Innovation, Civil Rights, Cost of Freedom App, Election '12, Election Protection Coalition 2012, Race, Social Good for 2012, Social Media, Social Web, Voter ID, Voting Rights | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
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Last night, Attorney General Eric Holder delivered his highly anticipated speech on voting rights at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum in Austin, Texas. The venue is of particular significance given that President Johnson signed into law the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The new photo ID requirements in South Carolina and Texas are under review by the Justice Department so Holder was judicious in his remarks.
I was heartened by Holder's call for citizens to get in the arena:
Only we, the people, can bring about meaningful change.
So speak out. Raise awareness about what's at stake. Call on our political parties to resist the temptation to suppress certain votes in the hope of attaining electoral success and, instead, encourage and work with the parties to achieve this success by appealing to more voters. And urge policymakers at every level to reevaluate our election systems – and to reform them in ways that encourage, not limit, participation.
Today, we cannot – and must not – take the right to vote for granted. Nor can we shirk the sacred responsibility that falls upon our shoulders.
And, in the spirit of Lyndon Baines Johnson, let us continue.
Indeed, this image from the website of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security unwittingly shows the barrier between voters and the ballot box. Sadly, the struggle continues.
The citizen-powered Cost of Freedom Project is answering Holder's call to action. Join us at Facebook.com/CostofFreedom.
Posted at 09:53 AM in 2012 Presidential Election, Black Voters, Citizen Journalism, Civic Apps, Civic Engagement, Civic Innovation, Cost of Freedom App, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Election '12, Election Protection Coalition 2012, Race, Social Media, Voter ID, Voting Rights | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
The 2012 presidential election will be held 47 weeks from today.
While the Republican presidential wannabes continue to duke it out, concerned citizens, civil rights and advocacy groups are fighting to make sure that every voter has equal access to the ballot. With the wave of new voting requirements since 2008, the Brennan Center for Justice estimates that more than five million registered voters may be disenfranchised.
And the new restrictions keep coming. Yesterday the Pennsylvania Senate State Government Committee passed the “Pennsylvania Voter Identification Protection Act” to protect against, um, “voter impersonation.”
In a recent op-ed, state Sen. Daylin Leach told the real story of voter impersonation:
A study conducted by President George W. Bush's Justice Department found that, out of more than 300 million votes cast from 2002 to 2007, there were only 86 cases of voter fraud nationwide and that most of them involved immigrants who misunderstood their eligibility. In Pennsylvania, since 2004, there have been more than 20 million votes cast and four convictions for fraud, all of which involved people registering when not eligible. None of these cases involved someone pretending to be someone she was not.
Fraudulently impersonating a voter is already a felony. Risking years in prison to gain an undeserved vote seems like a low-gain, high-risk crime, which is probably why it never happens. In addition, a voter already has to show proof of who he is the first time he votes in a new precinct. Thus, under current law, Pennsylvania has significant and apparently effective protections in place to ensure the integrity of the voting process.
So Pennsylvania may soon be added to the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law “Map of Shame.”
We know what the problem is. With the election 329 days away, we can be part of the solution.
One of the lessons of the Tea Party and Occupy movements is that citizens don't need permission to advocate for their own interests. If you are concerned about the impact of photo ID requirements on voter turnout, pull up a chair and get involved with the citizen-powered Cost of Freedom Project.
Posted at 10:08 AM in 2012 Presidential Election, Citizen Journalism, Civic Apps, Civic Engagement, Civic Innovation, Cost of Freedom App, Election '12, Election Protection Coalition 2012, Occupy Wall Street, Race, Social Media, Tea Party, Voter ID, Voting Rights | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
In his 1941 State of the Union address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared there are “four essential human freedoms.”
Seventy years later, Republican fear of “voter impersonation” has led to “the 4 proofs” test in order to vote.
The Pioneer Press reports some Wisconsin voters are having trouble showing proof of their identity:
Jennifer “Rita” Platt says she's determined to vote next year, but Wisconsin isn't making it easy for her.
She and the rest of Wisconsin's voters will need to comply with a new voter ID law when they go to the polls in February's primaries.
With few exceptions, those without the proper ID can't vote.
But Platt and her boyfriend don't have forms of identification accepted at the polls, so they recently drove about 45 minutes to a Department of Motor Vehicles office in Hudson to each get an ID.
They encountered two problems.
The DMV office's computer system was down, which meant they couldn't get an ID processed. And they were told they didn't have the proper identification to get a state ID card or a Wisconsin driver's license, Platt said.
“They said I didn't have a certified birth certificate or a current passport,” said Platt, who said she had asked the DMV what was needed before heading to Hudson.
She had brought an expired Iowa driver's license, her Social Security card and a pay stub from the St. Croix Falls school district, where she works as a librarian, believing those items would satisfy the DMV's requirements, she said.
Platt, of Osceola, said she is going to have to find her certified birth certificate or request a new one, take unpaid time off from work and again make the trip to the DMV.
She'll eventually get an ID despite the financial cost and inconvenience, she said. Other people, however, may not be so determined, she added.
The Cost of Freedom Project is developing a location-based web app that will provide voters like Jennifer Platt the information they need before waiting in line to apply for a voter ID. This citizen-led initiative is powered by developers, researchers, activists, bloggers and ordinary Americans who are concerned about the burdensome impact of restrictive photo ID requirements.
To get involved, please visit Facebook.com/CostofFreedom.
Posted at 10:17 AM in 2012 Presidential Election, Citizen Journalism, Civic Apps, Civic Engagement, Civic Innovation, Cost of Freedom App, Election Protection Coalition 2012, Race, Social Media, Voter ID, Voting Rights | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
On Monday, the NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund released a 67-page report, "Defending Democracy," that documents how new voting requirements, including photo ID, “block the vote.”
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.
The black unemployment rate is 15.5 percent. A lot of folks are busted and too broke to pay attention. In eight states, registered voters without a government-issued photo ID face a stark choice: Eat or pay the cost of a “free” voter ID.
Posted at 01:42 PM in 2012 Presidential Election, Black Voters, Civic Apps, Civic Engagement, Civic Innovation, Civil Rights, Cost of Freedom App, Election '12, Election Protection Coalition 2012, Race, Voter ID, Voting Rights | Permalink | TrackBack (0)