Independent Voting Videos


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Supreme Court to Hear Texas Redistricting Case

An update from a prior post.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge brought by conservatives to Texas State Senate redistricting maps that they say violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of "one person-one vote".

The districts were initially imposed by court order ahead of the 2012 elections but were later adopted by the Republican-led state legislature and signed into law by Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, in 2013.

The challengers, voters Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger, claim the districts violate the U.S. Constitution guarantee of equal protection under the law because they are at odds with the principle of “one person, one vote.” Evenwel and Pfenninger are backed by the Project on Fair Representation, a conservative group that has a history of challenging laws that take race into account.

They say that in the districts where they live, which have a high proportion of people eligible to vote, their vote has less weight than it would in districts with a low proportion of potential voters. Some of the districts include large populations of Hispanic non-citizens who are not eligible to vote.

The court will hear oral arguments in the case in its next term, which starts in October and ends in June 2016.

The case is Evenwel v. Abbot, U.S. Supreme Court, 14-940.

So the question is "who is a person" under the law, that should be counted in the redistricting calculation?

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Monday, May 25, 2015

The International Flag of Earth

A designer in Sweden has made a flag for Earth.

It's made specifically to look awesome in space.

We Earthlings are all these circles, and when we come together, we make something beautiful.

The international flag of Earth might be the very first flag we have that doesn't pit any of us against each other.

But a flag that's a pure celebration of us.

Earthlings. Together.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ted Cruz and the Citizen Issue

I have been following the citizenship issue with Ted Cruz. After review this issue, I found he had dual citizenship, U.S. and Canada. But final fix this problem by Canada accepting his request to revoke his Canadian citizenship.

Then I can across this review of his path to U.S. citizenship:

1. Cruz's father left Cuba with a forged exit visa to came to the US under a student visa.

2. Marries, has kids in Texas, still not a citizen, his student visa runs out and he applies for political asylum, granted, but then finds out he has to register for the draft for the Vietnam war.

3. So he leaves the US and runs off to Canada to avoid the draft with a married woman he met while at school.

4. His father takes on Canadian citizenship and renounces his Cuban Citizenship upon arrival in Canada.

5. No divorce papers from either marriage were discovered.

6. No marriage papers were found before the birth of Ted Cruz who is given a Canadian birth certificate because both his mother and father are Canadians and have lived in Canada for 4 years.

7. The mother had renounced US citizenship to remain in Canada and never registers Ted's birth certificate with the American consulate.

8. They live in Canada four years before Ted Cruz is born to unwed mother and stay another 4 years, total 8 years in Canada. Another story says she notified the U.S. Consulate to register his citizenship.

9. Father Cruz returns to US after amnesty is granted for all draft dodgers in 1978.

10. Mother follows back to the US but does not get back together with the father, according to her.

11. Ted's father, to avoid paying US taxes for 27 years, remains a Canadian citizen until 2005 when his son Ted announces he wants to run for public office.

12. After becoming an American citizen, his father takes on a tax exempt job as an evangelist.

The parents lived in Canada for 4 years before Ted's birth and remained in Canada for 4 more years for a total of 8 years.

The law states, "For persons born between December 24, 1952 and November 14, 1986, a person is a U.S. citizen if all of the following are true.....For persons born out-of-wedlock (mother) if all the following apply:

1.the mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of the person’s birth and

2.the mother was physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year prior to the person’s birth." OR, if married to an alien, Cruz's father, a Cuban Canadian, must be physically present for a period of 10 years prior to the birth.

3. She lived in the US 6 years before leaving to Canada and then lived in Canada 4 years before his birth (10 years). So she does not meet the requirements for Ted to be a natural born citizen. Since she lived in Canada for 4 years prior to his birth and took on Canadian citizenship to live and work in Canada, she does not meet the requirement. Ted is not eligible for being the U.S. President.

From Wikipedia:

Cruz was born on December 22, 1970, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where his parents, Eleanor Elizabeth Darragh Wilson and Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, were working in the oil business. His parents owned a seismic-data processing firm for oil drillers. Cruz's mother, Eleanor Wilson Cruz, was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, of Irish and Italian descent. She earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Rice University in Houston in the 1950s.

Cruz's father was born in 1939 in Matanzas, Cuba, and as a teenager, he joined Fidel Castro's guerrilla groups to fight against the regime of Batista. He left Cuba in 1957 to attend the University of Texas. Rafael Cruz became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2005. Cruz's father eventually left the oil business to become a minister, and he is now a pastor in Carrollton, Texas, a Dallas suburb.

Another issue:

Ted Cruz was naturalized under a collective naturalization act that gave him a second class of citizenship not covered under the 14th Amendment effective on 10 October 1978. He has not yet been naturalized in the State of Texas under the Texas naturalization law of 1869 as covered under the Texas Constitution of 1876.

So, please due your own research, and can he run for President?

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Missouri Secretary of State Candidate Files Voter ID Measure

A Republican candidate for Missouri Secretary of State, St. Louis attorney Jay Ashcroft, the son of former governor, U.S. Senator and Attorney General John Ashcroft, on Thursday filed an initiative petition that would allow the Legislature to require voters to present photo identification at the polls.

Republican supporters, including Ashcroft's opponent in the GOP primary Sen. Will Kraus, have pushed to amend the state's constitution since the Missouri Supreme Court declared photo ID requirements unconstitutional in 2006.

"This is an important part of protecting our ballot box in the state," Kraus said. "I support any effort to make voter ID become law in Missouri and I am encouraged to see more and more individuals and organizations join this cause every day."

Supporters of requiring photo ID say it would prevent in-person voter fraud and protect the integrity of elections. But Democratic opponents say the measure would make it harder for minorities, women and the poor to vote.

Ashcroft said he supported making it easy for people to get any ID that would be required and said the constitutional amendment would simply allow lawmakers in the future to enact requirements if they chose to do so. "The core idea of it is we're just making sure people are who they say they are," Ashcroft said. "If we allow people to fraudulently vote then we disenfranchise others."

Aschroft entered the race for after current Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, announced a bid for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Roy Blunt.

A report released in 2014 estimated that a House measure to enact photo ID requirements could disenfranchise more than 200,000 eligible voters.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Celebrating the Crazy Voter

The Centrist Project is a 501(c)(4) organization which primarily focuses on creating a political, educational and advocacy home for moderate Americans. The Centrist Project Voice is a federal political committee which primarily helps members elect candidates who reflect their Centrist Principles through a variety of activities aimed at influencing the outcome of the next election. The Centrist Project Voice is a separate segregated fund of The Centrist Project. Paid for in part by The Centrist Project Voice.

When Americans decide to vote their minds and break from expectations, they are derided as crazy and denounced for refusing to conform to one side.

But there is a different opinion. In a political system aching for change, it is the voters who disrupt, who break the status quo, that we need the most. They are the ones who see the problems endemic in politics and are willing to demand better.

In this week's CenterLine, from the Centrist Project, we celebrate the Crazy Voter, those of you who are just crazy enough to make a difference.

You see things differently. You reject the notion of us vs. them, black and white politics. You see nuance and complexity in policy and you embrace this in your own beliefs.

You see Congressmen and Senators as representatives and public servants, not party members, partisans, or ideologues.

You don’t see policy in shades of red or blue. You don’t play politics like a game and you don’t see winners and losers. When you see the problems our nation is facing you don’t ask who is to blame, you ask how they can be fixed.

You make your own decisions. You are a skeptic. You question pundits who label opponents as the enemy, and you reject name calling, grandstanding, and partisan bickering. You find out for yourself.

When you vote, you vote for the candidate who best represents you. You are a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent by choice. No one is entitled to your vote, they have to earn it.

You believe. You look at politics in America, at the state of our democracy, the dysfunction of our Congress, and the challenges of our policy, and you say, “We can do better than this.”

When others resign themselves to dysfunction in Congress, to failures of leadership and failures of policy, when they give up and say “things will never get better,” you ask, “Why not?”

57% of Americans blame extreme partisans for the dysfunction in Congress. Public approval for both parties is way below 40%. The portion of Americans who identify as Independent is at a record high and growing. Americans everywhere see the problems facing our nation, and are calling for something new.

So maybe Crazy Voters aren’t that crazy after all. Maybe they are just the innovators, the early adopters. Maybe what makes them special isn’t how they think, but how they act. Crazy voters are the ones who are loud enough and disruptive enough to be called crazy in the first place. And 2016 is going to be their year.

Are you crazy enough to make a difference? You can help make real change happen by becoming a Centrist Project member.

CLICK HERE for more information about The Centrist Project.

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NYS Administration Nixes Email Policy

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration announced on Friday it is ending a highly criticized email retention policy that required unsaved messages be deleted after 90 days.

In its place, state officials pledged to develop a “uniform” policy for state agencies and departments that would provide specific guidance on which emails should be retained as official records and be maintained.

The announcement came at a meeting on open government and records retention featuring top Cuomo aide Bill Mulrow and the governor’s counsel, Alphonso David. Representatives of the attorney general’s office and comptroller’s office were also present. The sole lawmaker who participated by phone was Republican Assemblyman Andy Goodell.

Details of what emails and documents would be maintained by the new policy were yet to be made official, but David indicated the administration would rely on the existing retention laws. At the same time, he suggested that retention of email may be up to individual users to determine whether an email should be deleted. The new policy, he said, will be “governed by the user and it’s going to be manual more than anything else.”

Meanwhile, the governor’s office plans to introduce legislation that would subject the state Legislature to the same open government requirements as the rest of state government. The Legislature is largely exempt from the existing FOIL laws, but does make a few documents public, such as bills and finalized reports. Such a measure would mean legislators’ emails and meetings with lobbyists could become required disclosure.

It is unlikely the Legislature will pass such a measure before the end of the session on June 17. Mulrow, Cuomo’s secretary, knocked the legislative conferences for not appearing at the meeting today in New York City.

Cuomo since taking office has come under criticism for his transparency record despite promising one of the most open administrations in state history.

Reporters have complained the administration has been slow to respond to FOIL requests. Daily schedules of where the governor will be are often left vague or blasted out with little moments’ notice before an event. The state budget negotiations, too, have remained mostly out of public view.

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Vote Centers Coming to Texas

In Texas, a slow-building revolution is moving one county at a time to switch the largest state in the lower 48 to a vote center system instead of the traditional precinct-based polling places.

Since beginning a pilot program of vote centers nearly a decade ago just over 10 percent of the state’s 200+ counties used vote centers in the most recent statewide election and more are petitioning to make the move.

While not willing to call the pilot an outright success because of the still small sample of counties using the system, the secretary of state’s report to the 84th Legislature on the program said anecdotally, vote centers do make it easier for voters and elections officials alike.

“However, anecdotal evidence from the participating counties, including feedback from voters and election officials, along with the turnout percentages, suggest countywide election polling places offer a way to ensure that voters who plan to vote in the election have an increased opportunity to do so much as with early voting,” the report said.

Potter County is currently completing the application process to become one of the pilot counties. While a 2013 Vote Center Committee didn’t back the idea, at the urging of new Election Administrator Melynn Huntley, the county is now ready to move forward.

“As I learned how precinct-based voting worked, I saw nothing by advantages for our county in becoming a Vote Center County [VCC],” Huntley said. “Call it naivety or perpetual optimism, but vote centers made sense to me. So earlier this year, I asked the vote center committee to look at the idea again.” Huntley called on officials from other counties using vote centers to help with a presentation to county officials and she said that really helped change the minds of many of the decision-makers.

Alicia Phillips Pierce, communications director for the secretary of state’s office said this support from participating counties to each other and to those applying, has been key for successful rollouts. “Working together, the counties have been able to learn from each other to make the use of countywide polling places go smoothly,” Pierce said.

Of course, as with any change in a lifelong process there have been bumps. Galveston County and Collin County both suffered a host of problems the first time they rolled out vote centers. But both counties remain in the pilot program and have been able to fix their initial problems.

Naysayers have cited those examples as well as concerns about the shift in politics or voter disenfranchisement as reasons for not making the shift. Huntley said she was able to allay those fears in Potter. “By looking at the track record of counties that have been using vote centers in Texas, fears were allayed and the naysayers became supporters,” Huntley said. “In counties that have vote centers, voter turnout has remained consistent or improved slightly. And there have been no remarkable political shifts that can be tied to vote center polling.”

This year, the Legislature failed to move on bills to expand the pilot program to more counties, but elections officials remain hopeful.

“I can’t speak for all the voters of Texas but from the input I receive from voters in our county, they would very much like to see continued use of this type of voting,” Hudson said.

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