Tag Archives | Voting

Activist Comics: Compulsory Voting

It’s kind of crazy that people will accept an army draft in wartime, serving jury duty, and now buying health insurance as government mandates, but the notion of required voting provokes outraged reactions. As it is, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will be quick to point out you don’t even have a right to vote.

As I have screened PAY 2 PLAY across the country, audience members have been thankful for including solutions that attack the cycle of pay-to-play outlined in our documentary. Most of the fundamental reforms we list in our Fix Six are welcomed without question–except one. Compulsory Voting.

Law students in particular take issue with the idea. As proponents of civil liberties, they’ll insist, how can that be fair? The government forcing people to vote is an abomination. I’d think it is a much bigger abomination that only 36% voted in the 2014 midterms, and they are allowed to affect the country so drastically.… Read the rest

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Activist Comics: End Gerrymandering

You would think that your vote gets counted just as equally as others. But you’d be wrong. The reality is, depending on where you live, your vote is quite likely taken for granted in preemptive zoning by election officials.

This tactic of partitioning voter blocs to count on favorable outcomes as a whole was named after Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, whose imaginative map of voting districts was said to resemble a salamander. And even though his name was pronounced to sound like “Gary,” most know the term “gerrymandering”–with a soft “g” as in “Jerry”–to mean not just re-districting, but purposely dividing communities to disenfranchise a voting populous.

Re-districiting is something that happens with census reports to adjust for population change, with the aim of accurately reflecting the citizenry. What once may have looked like a normal map, with cities and towns as logical zones to assign Congressional representation, has since become abstract fractal shapes with no rationale or justification other than being drawn around reliable voters.… Read the rest

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Election Conspiracy Theories Are An American Staple

Many (if not most) Americans think that illegal or unfair tactics are used to influence political elections. The Los Angeles Times casts these beliefs as conspiracy theories, but does that make them any less true?

During this 2014 midterm election season, mainstream and social media have inundated voters with tales of schemes and skulduggery. Whatever the result of Tuesday’s election, many will believe that the process was rigged, the outcome is fraudulent, and they were cheated. The pattern of conspiracy theories is unfortunate but familiar.

Voting machine lever

How pervasive is the belief that American elections will be swayed by improper means? Very. In 2012 we conducted surveys to gauge what Americans thought about the integrity of the system. Just before the election, we asked a national sample of respondents about the likelihood of voter fraud if their preferred presidential candidate did not win. About 50% said fraud would have been very or somewhat likely.

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Everything You Know Is Wrong. Really.

The disinformation mantra has long been “Everything You Know Is Wrong.” Now a new poll across 14 countries by Ipsos MORI shows that in fact, most people really are wrong about the basic make-up of their populations and the scale of key social issues.

  • Teenage birth rates: on average, people across the 14 countries think that 15% of teenagers aged 15-19 give birth each year. This is 12 times higher than the average official estimate of 1.2% across these countries. People in the US guess at a particularly high rate of teenage births, estimating it at 24% of all girls aged 15-19 when it’s actually 3%. But other countries with very low rates of teenage births are further out proportionally: for example, Germans think that 14% of teenage girls give birth each year when it’s actually only 0.4% (35x the actual figure).
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Hormones Affect Voting Behavior, Researchers Find

voting1Via ScienceDaily:

Researchers from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and Rice University have released a study that shows hormone levels can affect voter turnout.

As witnessed by recent voter turnout in primary elections, participation in U.S. national elections is low, relative to other western democracies. In fact, voter turnout in biennial national elections ranges includes only 40 to 60 percent of eligible voters.

The study, published June 22 in Physiology and Behavior, reports that while participation in electoral politics is affected by a host of social and demographic variables, there are also biological factors that may play a role, as well. Specifically, the paper points to low levels of the stress hormone cortisol as a strong predictor of actual voting behavior, determined via voting records maintained by the Secretary of State.

“Politics and political participation is an inherently stressful activity,” explained the paper’s lead author, Jeff French, Varner Professor of Psychology and Biology and director of UNO’s neuroscience program.

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A Neurobiologist on Understanding Psychopaths

Would we vote for a psychopath? I didn’t know we had any other options.

via A Neurobiologist on Understanding Psychopaths | Think Tank | Big Think

Psychopaths make up 1 to 2 percent of the American population. That’s around 6,278,000 psychopaths who live among us and use intimidation and manipulation to lord over others. In any organization of at least 35 people, one will be a psychopath. Before you start making boss jokes, take some relief in the fact that these types of individuals likely don’t want to murder you in your sleep.

James Fallon should know. He himself is a psychopath. And as a neurobiologist at UC Irvine, Fallon has made a name for himself decoding the psychopathic brain.

What should we look for to spot a psychopath? One easy method is to ask: Is the person running for office? Yes, politicians rank high on the psychopathic scale. And we continue to vote for them.

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Voting Machine Manufacturer Diebold Charged Over Bribery, Fraud, And “Worldwide Pattern Of Criminal Conduct”

dieboldNo big deal, they were just the company in charge of making sure that democracy happened. Via the BRAD BLOG:

One of the world’s largest ATM manufacturers and, formerly, one of the largest manufacturers of electronic voting systems, has been indicted by federal prosecutors for bribery and falsification of documents.

The charges represent only the latest in a long series of criminal and/or unethical misconduct by Diebold, Inc. and their executives over the past decade.

A U.S. Attorney says the latest charges are in response to “a worldwide pattern of criminal conduct” by the company…bribing government officials and falsifying documents in China, Indonesia and Russia to obtain and retain contracts to provide ATMs to banks in those countries.

In 2010 the company settled an SEC fraud suit for $25 million. They also admitted in 2008 that they had overstated 2007 election division revenue by some 300% in hopes of manipulating stock prices.

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Republicans Now Seeking To Prevent Women From Voting

votersIt’s no longer just about minorities, the poor, and college students; introducing the next target for disenfranchisement. The New Civil Rights Movement notes that Republicans in Texas (and a number of other states) have now devised and passed new voter ID laws that will render a large fraction of female voters, but not male voters, ineligible to vote:

As of November 5, Texans must show a photo ID with their up-to-date legal name. Only 66% of voting age women have ready access to a photo document that will attest to proof of citizenship. This is largely because women have not updated their documents with their married names. Suddenly 34% of women voters are scrambling for an acceptable ID, while 99% of men are home free.

A birth certificate is not enough. Women voters will have to show legal proof of a name change: a marriage license, a divorce decree, or court ordered change; and they have to be the original documents.

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North Carolina Passes Sweeping Voting Restrictions Aimed At Minorities And Students

votersSince the Supreme Court’s striking down of a key portion of the Voting Rights Act in June, lawmakers in conservative Southern states have leapt into action passing legislation to restrict the ability of minorities, the young, the poor, and college students to vote. Via Buzzfeed, some of the most extreme changes are coming in North Carolina:

On Thursday, North Carolina legislators passed a revised voter ID bill, supported by Republicans who control the state Legislature, that would will place sweeping new restrictions on when, where, and how citizens can vote.

  • The early voting period will be shortened by a week, from 17 days to 10. Same-day registration during the early voting period will be eliminated.
  • Straight-party ticket voting will be eliminated.
  • Political party chairpersons will be allowed to designate up to 12 poll “observers” to monitor polling locations in order to ferret out voter fraud. Democracy North Carolina refers to these observers as “vigilantes.”
  • Sixteen- and 17-year-olds will no longer be allowed to pre-register to vote.
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