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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Independents Challenge New Mexico's Closed Primary


On July 30, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King asked the Bernalillo District Court that is hearing Crum v Duran to let him intervene in the case.

The case is a state law that bars independents from voting in the primary election.  The lawsuit contends the law allowing only Democrats and Republicans to vote in the primary violates the New Mexico Constitution.

Secretary of State Dianna Duran was named as a defendant in the case.  She has chosen not to defend the law.

The Attorney General is asking the state District Court judge to permit him to intervene in the lawsuit filed on behalf of nearly 294,000 voters registered as independents.

Unless the Attorney General is allowed to intervene, there will be no one to defend the state law that says only party members may vote in party primaries.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Justice Dept. Weigh in on Ohio, Wisconsin Voting Rights Cases


The Justice Department weighed in formally Wednesday in pending voting rights litigation involving Wisconsin's voter identification law and Ohio's election practices.

In April, a federal judge blocked enforcement of the Wisconsin law.  That decision is now on appeal to the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, where the Justice Department filed an amicus brief Wednesday urging the appeals court to uphold the ruling striking down the Wisconsin measure.

The Ohio case, involving challenges to state efforts to curtail early voting and limit same-day registration, is still awaiting a decision in the district court.  The Justice Department lawyers filed a "statement of interest" in that case that doesn't explicitly stake out a position on the key issues, but does say Ohio is misinterpreting its duties under the Voting Rights Act.

"These filings are necessary to confront the pernicious measures in Wisconsin and Ohio that would impose significant barriers to the most basic right of our democracy."

"These two states' voting laws represent the latest, misguided attempts to fix a system that isn't broken."

"The Justice Department will never shrink from our responsibility to protect the voting rights of every eligible American."

"We will keep using every available tool at our disposal to guard against all forms of discrimination, to prevent voter disenfranchisement, and to secure the rights of every citizen."

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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The Oregon WFP Supports the Open Primary Ballot Measure


The Oregon Working Families Party (WFP) supports the Oregon Open Primary ballot measure.  They believe that for too long the political system has been rigged against working people, and see the adoption of this measure as a step toward empowering more voters and enabling a diverse set of voices to set the governance agenda of the state.

As a minor party, the reason they choose to support the Oregon Open Primary is:

"We believe this proposal not only protects but enhances our ability to participate meaningfully in selecting who will govern our state, and what issues they will elevate in their governance."

Unlike the measures that have passed in California and Washington, this version of Top Two maintains the integrity of the role for political parties by permitting party endorsements to appear on the ballot.  It also enhances fusion voting, allowing multiple party endorsements, and to give voters more information about what a particular candidate stands for.

And it opens the door for WFP members and all others who are not registered as either a Democrat or a Republican to cast votes in the primary races that decide so much of who governs the state.

The Ballot Measure, Initiative #55, has these points for the General Election Ballot format:

- There is no write-ins.

- Next to the Candidates name, Registration: Major or Minor Party name, "not a member of a party", or no statement.

- After Registration, Endorsed by: If Major or Minor party has endorsed the candidate through their party process.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

MAYDAY.US Announces Support for their First Two Candidates‏


MAYDAY.US, Dr. Lawrence Lessig Founder and Board Chairman, announced the first two candidates the PAC will support, making campaign finance reform a top voting issue in Iowa and New Hampshire.

In the New Hampshire Republican Senate primary, they are supporting two-term State Senator Jim Rubens, the only Republican U.S. Senate candidate in the nation who has openly endorsed fundamental reform to the way campaigns are funded.  He's made political reform his central issue.  While most Republicans in Congress oppose reform, this is a race where reformers can show their support for the backs of those brave Republicans who buck special interests and do the right thing.

They are opposing former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.  Brown's record shows that he supports Citizens United, opposes federal public financing, and he was the deciding vote against the most bare-minimum disclosure statute.  And after agreeing to a "People's Pledge" in his race against Elizabeth Warren in 2012, he refuses to now.

In a key open seat in Iowa's 3rd congressional district, they are supporting Democrat Staci Appel, a former State Senator who sponsored a voter-owned clean elections fund and supports small dollar public funding proposals, like Congressman Sarbanes' Government by the People Act.

They are opposing a DC insider whose largest funding comes from Washington lobbyists, David Young, former Chief of Staff to Sen. Chuck Grassley.

If a candidate for Congress wants to be inoculated from being on their target list, there is an easy way to do so, get on the right side of reform and pledge to support one or more of the fundamental reforms:

1. Government By the People Act - Matching funds, tax credit, vouchers.

2. Fair Elections Now Act - Matching funds.

3. The American Anticorruption Act - Vouchers & lobbying reform.

4. Citizen Involvement in Campaigns Act - Tax credit.

5. Taxation Only With Representation Act - Vouchers.

CLICK HERE for more information on each Act.

For each of them would change the way campaigns are funded, by reducing the influence of special interests.

They created a Contact A Candidate site for you to easily locate and call representatives in your area and urge them to inoculate themselves by supporting reform.

CLICK HERE to see where candidates near you stand on the issue.  If your representatives haven't supported any of the reforms, call them, email them, Tweet them, and show up at Town Hall meetings and demand an answer.

Deadline: Candidates have until 5 PM EST next Tuesday, August 5, to inoculate themselves.  That means we have one week to urge candidates to do the right thing.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Arizona Prop-121 Non-Partisan Elections for 2016 Ballot


Paul Johnson, the former Mayor of Phoenix, will attempt to qualify an initiative in 2016 to convert all Arizona elections, except presidential elections, to non-partisan elections.  There will be no party labels on any ballot, except for President, under the proposal.

The proposal, Prop-121, being prepared for the 2016 ballot would have all candidates of all political stripes run in a wide-open primary.  Then the top-two vote-getters in each race would face off in the general election, regardless of party affiliation.

Johnson said the two major parties rig the system to suppress independent voters, who he believes are more moderate politically than those who remain party faithful.  And he said that is not blunted even though independents, who outnumber both Democrats and Republicans, can vote in partisan primaries.

By law, Johnson and his allies cannot start circulating petitions until after this year’s general election.

The number of signatures will be set at 15 percent of those who vote in this year’s gubernatorial race, a goal likely to approach 300,000.

UPDATE
A new app, from the Open Nonpartisan Elections committee, is designed to drum up support for a 2016 ballot measure that will ask Arizona voters if they want to abolish the existing partisan-primary system and replace it with an Non-Partisan system.  The aim is to amp up the number of independents who actually vote in next month's primary.

You can get the app through your app store by searching for Arizona Nonpartisan Movement.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Accelerating to the Future


In 1994, I attended an event at the Waldorf Astoria in New York to discuss the Internet and what was its future.  There were many of the players in discussion forums like Bill Gates, Steve Case, Larry Ellison, etc.

The keynote speakers were the Futurists, Alvin and Heidi Toffler.

In 1970 they wrote a book called Future Shock.  Tofflers' main point was that the world was going through wrenching change from an industrial to a post industrial or technology society.  Decades latter the book holds up well.  One of their arguments is that the rate of change is accelerating.  In other words, if you think the world is transforming fast now, just wait; soon it will be happening faster.

The Tofflers' concept of accelerating change is most pertinent to Silicon Valley and technology, which drive so much of the transformation in our economy but are also vulnerable to the forces they describe.  How can such business retain their customers when there are always newer, shinier competitors coming along?

Tofflers' concept, Desynchronization, which they describe as “businesses and family structures are transforming at a much more rapid rate than are reforms in our education, political, and legal systems.”

During the event, Steve Case said Tofflers’ The Third Wave, published in 1980, was instrumental in his thinking while he created AOL.  Ted Turner credited the Tofflers' with inspiring him to start CNN.  Bill Gates said the Internet was not going to work and left, but we continued with the rest of the sessions.

In the summer of 1996, I went to work in Seattle as the Acting COO and CIO for Multiple Zones, the direct marketing company that produced The PC Zone and The MAC Zone catalogs, selling hardware and software from Microsoft and Apple.

During this period, I worked with Microsoft to beta test the ability to sell and download software over the Internet.  Bill Gates changed his mind.










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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Friday, July 18, 2014

New Ways to Propose Legislation to Your Lawmakers


Politicians have long been scratching their heads on how to restore the increasingly fractured relationship with constituents.  So as more Americans migrate online, lawmakers are experimenting with crowdsourcing as a means to better understand voter needs and to create policy that answers their concerns.

In states such as New York and California, code repositories such as GitHub and writing workspaces like Wikispaces are fast becoming mediums for politicians to field feedback or help drafting legislation, Government Technology reports.

In fact, California Democrat Assemblyman Mike Gatto gained great fanfare for his Wikispaces initiative, which enlisted residents to help draft legislation on probate law.  The measure, which enables a court to determine who becomes guardian of a deceased person’s pet, may have been a small contribution to the state, but it motivated Gatto to further pursue the idea of crowd sourcing policy.  Gatto contends that crowdsourcing could bridge the longstanding gap between elected officials and frustrated constituents.

“When you put out a call like I did and others have done and say ‘I’m going to let the public draft a law and whatever you draft, I’m committed to introducing it, I think that’s a powerful message,” Gatto said.  “I think the public appreciates it because it makes them understand that the government still belongs to them.”

New York City Council Member Ben Kallos uses GitHub to collect public commentary on much of his technology-related legislation.  Kallos finds crowdsourcing as an empowering tool that creates a different sense of democracy, he told Government Technology.

The Catwaba Regional Council of Governments in South Carolina and the Centralia Council of Governments in North Carolina are surveying local insight how leaders should plan for growth in the area.  Earlier this year, residents were given iPads at a public forum to review four ideas for growth and provide feedback.

Of course, there’s a chance that special interest groups can manipulate these digital tactics to dictate how policy is shaped.  Crowdsourcing expert Trond Undheim cautions that while the concept is great for public engagement, lawmakers should be careful with whom is influencing how laws are written.  But Gatto maintains that Wikispace provides safeguards about editing a crowdsourced bill if it is apparent someone is changing legislation for the wrong reason.

“I think as long as there is sufficient participation, and that’s the big key, then I don’t think anyone can pull a fast one,” Gatto said.

But perhaps that’s the point of crowdsourcing: underscoring the very idea of democracy and giving everyone an opportunity to speak up

But there are potential problems to overcome.  Who will have access to an online system, who monitors the production of a bill, and how is the potential constitutionality maintained?










NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!

Michael H. Drucker
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