Community Activism · Elections · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Help Florida’s Ex-Felons Regain The Right to Vote

Help ex-felons in Florida regain the right to vote by supporting efforts to change a punitive state law.

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee shone a light on this issue recently. Florida is one of just three states that revokes ex-felons’ voting rights for life. As you read this, more than 1.5 million Floridians cannot vote. That amounts to roughly 10 percent of Florida’s adult population, and about 20 percent of all African-Americans living in the state.

Some Floridians hope to change the law. They need 700,000 of their fellow citizens to sign a petition that will place the question of restoring voting rights to ex-felons on the state’s 2018 ballot.

If you haven’t yet, see the Full Frontal With Samantha Bee segment:

https://www.miamirights.com

 

If you live in Florida, click the link below and sign the petition to place the question on the 2018 ballot. If you don’t, print out the PDF at the link below and send it to someone you know who does:

https://media.wix.com/ugd/b14935_60c594c5deec411dae612e7a324057c2.pdf

 

Donate to the Say Yes to Second Chances effort:

https://act.myngp.com/Forms/-182950647699273984

 

Read about the effects of the Florida law, and read about the people who are trying to change it:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/perspective/floridas-felon-vote-destroying-lives-and-wasting-taxpayer-dollars/2307853

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/election/article95076927.html

https://www.wuft.org/news/2017/04/14/activists-push-for-ex-felon-voter-rights-restoration/

https://www.wuft.org/news/2017/04/14/activists-push-for-ex-felon-voter-rights-restoration/

 

Also, visit the Full Frontal with Samantha Bee website:

http://www.samanthabee.com

 

Follow Full Frontal With Samantha Bee on Twitter:

@FullFrontalSamB

 

Like the show on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/fullfrontalsamb

 

And check out the spiffy merch in the show’s online shop:

https://shop.tbs.com

Elections · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Support H.R. 2840, the Automatic Voter Registration Act

Support H.R. 2840, the Automatic Voter Registration Act, which would automatically sign up eligible voters when they interact with a relevant government agency.

Voting restrictions are bullshit. That’s the official position of OTYCD. Always has been, always will be. We feel that if you’re eligible to vote and you want to vote, you should be allowed to vote, and you should be offered a range of options for doing so–in-person, by mail, on weekdays, on weekends, at many different times of day within a reasonable, set window of time.

We’d feel this way if voting restriction laws benefitted Republicans and hurt Democrats. Voting is a fundamental right of a democracy. We should be extending it to everyone who ‘s of age and who wants it, and we should be making it easier and not harder to vote.

On June 8, 2017, Senators Pat Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, and Robert Brady, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, introduced H.R. 2840, the Automatic Voter Registration Act, which would do just that–automatically sign people up to register to vote when they  apply for a driver’s license or for public services, or enroll in college, or become a naturalized citizen. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that eight states, plus the District of Columbia, have adopted automatic voter registration recently. If it was available in all 50 states, it could increase the voter rolls by 50 million.

Right now, GovTrack rates the bill’s chance of passage at 1 percent. But if enough of us call and ask our MoCs to make it a law, maybe it will.

Sample script: (Dear House Rep/Senator Lastname), I am (Firstname Lastname, of town, zip code). I am calling to ask you to support H.R. 2840, the Automatic Voter Registration Act. Making voter registration automatic just makes sense. People who are eligible to vote and who want to vote should be allowed to vote, and we shouldn’t be placing arbitrary barriers in their way–we should make the process as smooth and as easy as possible. If the bill becomes law, it would add 50 million voters to the rolls. Please support it. Thanks.”

 

Read the Brennan Center for Justice’s release on H.R. 2840:

https://www.brennancenter.org/press-release/members-congress-introduce-legislation-modernize-voter-registration

 

Read the Brennan Center’s argument in favor of automatic voter registration:

https://www.brennancenter.org/publication/case-automatic-voter-registration

 

Read the Brennan Center’s backgrounder on automatic and permanent voter registration:

https://www.brennancenter.org/publication/automatic-and-permanent-voter-registration-how-it-works

 

See the GovTrack entry on H.R. 2840:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr2840

 

 

 

 

Community Activism · Uncategorized · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Support the Efforts of Let America Vote

Support the efforts of Let America Vote, which fights attempts to make it harder for Americans to cast a ballot.

It’s disturbing to think that any political party in the United States sees lowering voter turnout as a positive strategy, but that is exactly the current attitude of the GOP. They have noticed that their candidates do better when fewer people come out, and they have pursued policies, such as voter ID legislation, which make it harder for people to vote.

The election of Donald Trump promises to make things worse. Losing the popular vote by three million votes clearly wounded his ego, so much so that on May 11 he launched the Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Its co-leaders are Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a notorious fan of laws that restrict access to the ballot.

We need to push back against voter suppression, hard and often. Two out of five eligible citizens did not vote in November 2016. In order to strengthen democracy and undo the damage of Trump and the Republicans, we need to encourage non-voters to come out and exercise their rights–not just for presidential elections, but for primaries, mid-terms, and special elections. Trump fans and devoted Republicans have no interest in fixing the larger problem. We need to invite and recruit citizens who rarely or never vote.

Let America Vote helps the cause by fighting attempts to make it harder for people to vote. This takes the form of fighting restrictive bills and laws; questioning purges of voter rolls; and fighting those who try to intimidate voters.

 

Visit the Let America Vote page:

https://www.letamericavote.org

 

Learn about restrictive voting laws that might apply in your state:

https://www.letamericavote.org/states/

 

Read Let America Vote’s statement against Republican Karen Handel’s fundraising email that cited her outrage over citizens of Georgia’s 6th District gaining more time to register to vote:

https://www.letamericavote.org/news/2017/jason-kander-statement-karen-handels-outrage-eligible-georgia-voters-allowed-register-vote/

 

Read its statement on Trump’s task force on voter fraud:

https://www.letamericavote.org/news/2017/let-america-vote-statement-executive-order-creating-task-force-investigating-voter-fraud/

 

Like Let America Vote on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/letamericavote/

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@LetAmericaVote

 

Apply to intern with Let America Vote:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc8QCrO26Rw_ciCPQSrfNEG8DuCCoZLAASK_ZsCIJ_s1YzAow/viewform

 

Volunteer to help Let America Vote:

https://secure.letamericavote.org/page/s/get-involved

 

Donate to Let America Vote:

https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/lav-main?recurring=true

 

Read about Trump’s voter fraud commission, the reputation of Kris Kobach, and the GOP’s inclination to suppress the vote:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/05/kris_kobach_is_leading_trump_s_vote_fraud_commission_that_s_terrifying.html

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/the-gops-stealth-war-against-voters-w435890

 

 

Action Alerts · Elections · Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Stand Up for Civilization · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Support Spread the Vote, Which Helps Citizens Obtain IDs

Support Spread the Vote, an organization that helps citizens access the ballot by obtaining IDs that their states require.

Republicans have noticed that they are more likely to win when fewer voters turn out. For this reason, they have embraced anti-democratic (small d) moves such as placing restrictions and qualifications on access to the ballot. Requiring prospective voters to present specific forms of identification is a favorite of theirs.

Voter ID laws suck, and they constitute the modern version of a poll tax. It hits the poor, the working class, the elderly, the young, and minorities particularly hard.

Some lack the documents they need to obtain ID, and cannot muster the money needed to hunt down those documents. Some can’t get the time off work to stand in line at City Hall or the DMV to straighten things out. Some are college students, whose college IDs are not generally accepted, and who receive conflicting information about where they can vote (home or on campus).

Enter Spread the Vote. Its mission is to help people get the documents they need to access the ballot. According to its numbers, 21 million people lack a government-issued photo ID, and 31 states require some form of ID to vote.

By helping Spread the Vote, you help expand the pool of eligible voters and defeat bullshit obstacles thrown up by Republicans who find it easier to frustrate citizens rather than develop ideas and policies that people would want to vote for.

Spread the Vote is and has conducted state-specific projects in Virginia and Georgia, but its scope is nation-wide. Please encourage their good work in whatever manner you can.

 

See Spread the Vote’s webpage:

https://www.spreadthevote.org

 

Ask for its help with obtaining an ID so you can vote:

https://www.spreadthevote.org/vote/

 

Volunteer for Spread the Vote:

https://www.spreadthevote.org/volunteer/

 

Like it on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/SpreadTheVoteUS

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@SpreadTheVoteUS

 

Donate to Spread the Vote:

https://secure.squarespace.com/commerce/donate?donatePageId=58727f25f7e0ab8a674b88bb

 

Read, Educate Yourself, Prepare · Stand Up for Civilization · Stand Up for Norms · Use Your Power, Recruit Friends · Vote with your Dollars · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Support the Efforts of Let America Vote

Support the efforts of Let America Vote, which fights attempts to make it harder for Americans to cast a ballot.

It’s disturbing to think that any political party in the United States sees lowering voter turnout as a positive strategy, but that is exactly the current attitude of the GOP. They have noticed that their candidates do better when fewer people come out, and they have pursued policies, such as voter ID legislation, which make it harder for people to vote.

The election of Donald Trump promises to make things worse. Losing the popular vote by three million votes clearly wounded his ego, so much so that on May 11 he launched the Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Its co-leaders are Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a notorious fan of laws that restrict access to the ballot.

We need to push back against voter suppression, hard and often. Two out of five eligible citizens did not vote in November 2016. In order to strengthen democracy and undo the damage of Trump and the Republicans, we need to encourage non-voters to come out and exercise their rights–not just for presidential elections, but for primaries, mid-terms, and special elections. Trump fans and devoted Republicans have no interest in fixing the larger problem. We need to invite and recruit citizens who rarely or never vote.

Let America Vote helps the cause by fighting attempts to make it harder for people to vote. This takes the form of fighting restrictive bills and laws; questioning purges of voter rolls; and fighting those who try to intimidate voters.

 

Visit the Let America Vote page:

https://www.letamericavote.org

 

Learn about restrictive voting laws that might apply in your state:

https://www.letamericavote.org/states/

 

Read Let America Vote’s statement against Republican Karen Handel’s fundraising email that cited her outrage over citizens of Georgia’s 6th District gaining more time to register to vote:

https://www.letamericavote.org/news/2017/jason-kander-statement-karen-handels-outrage-eligible-georgia-voters-allowed-register-vote/

 

Read its statement on Trump’s task force on voter fraud:

https://www.letamericavote.org/news/2017/let-america-vote-statement-executive-order-creating-task-force-investigating-voter-fraud/

 

Like Let America Vote on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/letamericavote/

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@Let_AmericaVote

 

Apply to intern with Let America Vote:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc8QCrO26Rw_ciCPQSrfNEG8DuCCoZLAASK_ZsCIJ_s1YzAow/viewform

 

Volunteer to help Let America Vote:

https://secure.letamericavote.org/page/s/get-involved

 

Donate to Let America Vote:

https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/lav-main?recurring=true

 

Read about Trump’s voter fraud commission, the reputation of Kris Kobach, and the GOP’s inclination to suppress the vote:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/05/kris_kobach_is_leading_trump_s_vote_fraud_commission_that_s_terrifying.html

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/the-gops-stealth-war-against-voters-w435890

 

 

 

 

Call Your State Legislators · Community Activism · Elections · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Learn If Your State Is Passing Laws That Restrict Voting, and Fight Back

Is your state trying to pass laws that make it harder to vote? Consult the Brennan Center’s info and maps, and if the answer is yes, fight back.

Voting restrictions are a scourge on democracy, but as long as they benefit Republicans, Republicans will try to pass them. We feel that if you are eligible to vote, and you want to vote, you should be able to vote, and you should be given many options for doing so to let you choose the means that works best for your schedule.

The Brennan Center for Justice, located at the New York University School of Law, tracks state bills that intend or have the effect of making it harder to vote.

 

First, read the Brennan Center’s Voting Laws Roundup for 2017, and see if your state is mentioned:

https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/voting-laws-roundup-2017?utm_content=bufferba0df&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

Also see the Brennan Center’s interactive map of New Voting Restrictions in America:

https://www.brennancenter.org/new-voting-restrictions-america

 

Once you know what’s going on in your state, call your state-level reps to speak out against laws that restrict voting.

Don’t know who your state house rep and state senator are? Plug your address and zip code into this search tool (note–the address is key. If you only give your zip code, you won’t get the two names you most need):

https://whoaremyrepresentatives.org

Then click on the names of your state house rep and state senator. Their contact info will come up.

Here’s a sample script that you can modify accordingly:

“Dear (State Senator/House Rep Lastname), I ask you to oppose (House/Senate bill ####), which will have the effect of making it harder to cast a vote. Everyone who is eligible to vote, and wants to, should have the opportunity to do so. Bills and laws that make it harder to vote are inherently anti-democratic. Please do not sponsor, co-sponsor, or support bills that stop people from voting. Thank you.”

Community Activism · Elections · Voting Rights, Fighting Voter Suppression

Look Carefully at Your Local Polling Place. Is It Accessible to the Disabled?

Look carefully at your local polling place. Is it accessible to the disabled? Make note of what needs improving, and ask local electoral officials to make fixes before the 2018 midterms.

Today is November 7. Many state and local elections will happen today. (Best of luck to the candidates OTYCD wrote about who are running in Virginia, New Jersey, and Manhattan.) If you’re going to the polls today, please look carefully at your local site and note how well it serves your disabled neighbors.

If you see things that need fixing, please bring them to the attention of your local electoral commission so they can be addressed before the 2018 midterms.

A note on photography: While you shouldn’t have problems taking photos of the exterior of the polling site, be careful when taking photos inside the voting area. Never photograph filled-out ballots, and make sure to take your photos when there’s no chance of a filled-out ballot appearing in your shot. If you end up needing to send your photos to state or local election officials, take care to blur the faces of any voters who are visible, to protect their privacy.

 

Things to look for:

Are there accessible parking spots near the poll site? Are they clearly designated and marked as such? Is at least one of the parking spots van-accessible (There’s a parking space and an area to one side of the parking space that’s painted with white or yellow diagonals)?

Are there ramps or a side entrance with no stairs that a disabled person could use to enter the building? Are the entrance doors wide enough to admit a wheelchair and easy for a wheelchair user to open (no funky old locks or latches)?

Once inside the building, are there sufficient elevators and ramps to allow disabled people to reach the area where the voting booths are placed? Are the elevators wide enough for a wheelchair? Are the elevator buttons at a height that wheelchair users can reach (no higher than four feet from the floor)?

Are there signs that point voters to the polling site? Where are they hung? How legible are the signs–are they clearly written and clearly printed? If your community speaks more than one language, are there signs in every major language? (If the poll provides ballots in that language, it should have signage in that language, too.)

Is the actual voting area laid out in a way that would allow wheelchair users to get around easily?

Is there at least one booth that’s wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair? Does it have a writing surface that’s at a height that would be useful to a wheelchair user?

Is there at least one vote-tally machine that is designed for use by wheelchair users?

What options are provided for blind voters, and for people who don’t use wheelchairs but who might need to sit to fill out their ballot?

Is there a long line to vote? (If you have a stopwatch function on your phone, use it to time the length of the wait.) Was the weather bad or challenging in any way? What accommodations are there (if any) for people who cannot stand for extended periods of time?

If the site cannot be made sufficiently accessible for disabled voters, does it offer curbside voting instead?

 

Another note for those who have disabled friends who want to vote: Do not advocate for them unless they explicitly ask you to help them.

If they do ask you for help, listen to what they say, watch what they do, and be alert to their needs. When in doubt, ask them what they want you to do. When you’re both in doubt, you might want to call your state Protection and Advocacy Hotline (scroll down for the link).

 

If you do spot something that seems like a problem, do not storm up to a pollworker and demand it be fixed then and there. Instead, compose an email or letter, or write down a script to use when calling the officials who choose, equip, and operate polling places.

Stay factual. Stick to describing what you saw, explaining why it’s problematic, and asking what can be done to make it better.

Keep following up on your request with the goal of fixing things before the 2018 primaries take place.

 

If you or someone who came with you to the polls are denied their right to vote–for any reason–you can call the Election Protection Coalition Hotline. A trained lawyer will answer and help with troubleshooting:

1.866.OUR.VOTE (1.866.687.8683)

 

If you or a disabled friend hit a disability-related problem that stops you from voting, you can call your state’s Protection and Advocacy Voter Hotline:

http://www.advocacymonitor.com/directory-of-protection-and-advocacy-voter-assistance-hotlines-2016/

 

Here’s a link that will help you find your state or local election officials:

https://www.usa.gov/election-office

 

Here’s a link to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Checklist for Polling Places:

https://www.ada.gov/votingchecklist.pdf

 

See the National Disability Rights Network’s page on voting:

http://www.ndrn.org/en/public-policy/voting.html

 

See the National Council on Independent Living’s links to resources on making the vote accessible:

https://www.ncil.org/votingrights/voting-accessibility-media-resources/

 

Special thanks to Sarah at the National Council on Independent Living for her help with researching this post.