The new debate over war powers, defense policy, and the National Guard
Benson Scotch appeared at the University of Wisconsin Law School on April 2, 2009, together with special guest State Representative Spencer Black, lead sponsor of WI National Guard federalization review legislation
Last August hundreds of people from across the country convened in Madison, WI for the 2nd Democracy Convention. Made up of nine individual conferences, the Convention was an extraordinary space for individuals and organizations to network with and learn from one another in the service of building a larger, more dynamic democracy movement.
If George W. Bush – notorious for skipping his Texas Air National Guard drills during the Vietnam War – were in the Guard today, he’d be up in the air without a propeller.
That’s because today’s National Guard has become virtually indistinguishable from the nation’s active-duty forces in the war zone. The majority of these so-called part-time soldiers have served combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, with many– if not most – deployed more than once.
As of April 24, 622 members of the Guard have been killed [.pdf] in the two-front war since 2001. Forget the whole bit about “weekend warriors” – reservists have become indispensable to the ongoing overseas operations since Bush himself launched the country into war nine years ago.
Two years ago, the week before Election Day, I drove to Harris County, Texas. More specifically, I drove to the Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, a polling location for early voting in one of Houston’s poor, predominantly black neighborhoods. After alleging that Harris County had a widespread problem with voter fraud, a Tea Party group called the King Street Patriots had launched a project called True the Vote, which had trained hundreds of volunteer poll watchers. As the early-voting period began, reports had begun to trickle out about white poll watchers arriving at minority precincts and intimidating voters. In Texas, poll watchers, appointed by a political party to watch the proceedings, aren’t allowed to do much; they’re barred from communicating with voters.
Voter ID laws have received plenty of attention recently, but they're not the only controversial changes to election rules this year. Some states have made changes that critics say could impact individuals' ability to vote. Here are four.
Ohio won't count provisional ballots mistakenly cast in the wrong precinct.
Fearing that Minnesota's same-day voter-registration system could be replaced by provisional balloting, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners voted to oppose a proposed state constitutional amendment that would require voters to show state-issued IDs at the polls.
County officials said they could not afford more unfunded state regulations, and they said the state has already forced counties to absorb the full cost of human service programs such as Meals on Wheels and intervention programs for teen run-aways.
As we noted on Thursday, the issue of poverty was conspicuously missing from the first presidential candidates’ debate. While the term “middle class” was traded more than thirty times between Obama and Romney, neither candidate made any substantive claims about poverty. In a debate dominated by the topic of the economy, Obama couldn’t bring himself to say the words “poor” or “poverty” one time. Middle class, meanwhile, remains the term that is supposed to blanket everyone living in the US—despite their income or wealth.
WASHINGTON — Earlier this year, voting rights advocates foresaw a cloud over this year's election because new voting laws in Republican-led states tightened the rules for casting ballots and reduced the time for early voting.
But with the election less than a month away, it's now clear those laws will have little impact. A series of rulings has blocked or weakened the laws as judges — both Republicans and Democrats — stopped measures that threatened to bar legally registered voters from polling places in the November election.
"Courts see their role as the protectors of the core right to vote," said Ned Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University.
In this November’s presidential election, Virginia voters will cast ballots on machines that use wireless technology state lawmakers barred five years ago to protect voting machines from hackers. Continued reliability and security concerns over electronic voting are not unique to Virginia, or to machines that use wireless technology, but the case illustrates the credibility issues that have plagued electronic voting machines in use across the country in the aftermath of the messy 2000 presidential election, when the federal government mandated changes to election systems and processes.
The combined effects of voter roll purges, demands for proof of citizenship and photo identification requirements in several states may hinder at least 10 million Hispanic citizens who seek to vote this fall, civil rights advocates warn in a new report.
Hispanic voters are considered pivotal to the presidential election this November, and are being heavily courted by both Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. If they turn out in large numbers, Hispanics could sway the outcome in several swing states.
On September 4, Quebec’s student movement, admired for its 300,000-person protests, provided a less sensational model for youth worldwide — of a movement struggling with the contradictory effects of a hotly contested election.
A decade after Dana Debeauvoir helped change Travis County, Texas to an all-electronic voting system she still expects to be falsely accused of fixing the coming election, just as she had in the last two presidential races. The clerk, who has administered voting for 25 years in the county that includes Austin, says the public has remained mistrustful of the ballot system, where voters pick candidates directly from a computer screen, without marking a piece of paper. “There have been so many hard feelings,” says Debeauvoir. “You get people saying ‘I know you have been flipping votes.’”
CHICAGO –As contract talks continue to two steps forward and one step backward, the city’s 29,000 public school educators enter their fourth day of a labor protest that has shut down schools across the city. An independent new poll indicates the majority of the public and parents support the teachers strike and blame Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his hand-picked school board for the District’s education woes.
At a time when political operatives are trying to make it harder for some Americans to participate in the democratic process, community voter registration drives continue to increase the numbers of eligible Americans registered to vote. But, in recent years, state legislatures have attempted to make it harder for voter registration drives to operate. More than half of the states have some laws governing community-based voter registration drives. State Restrictions on Voter Registration Drives is the first comprehensive review of those laws.
Nacho Martínez shoots a cheeky grin as he tells of the day he decided to protest against Mexican presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto. “We were so nervous,” he states. “We thought that we were really going to get into trouble.”
One of the most notorious election officials in the nation may be mercifully retiring at the end of this year, but that hasn't stopped her from attempting to block citizens hoping to oversee the accuracy of their own elections in one of the most right-leaning counties in Wisconsin, following one of the most contentious elections of the year and certainly in state history.