Tag Archives: Voting

IVN: How Many People Actually Voted for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? Not Many

We’ve heard media pundits call it, “democracy in action.” Millions of voters have cast a ballot in the first round of the presidential election with many Republican and Democratic contests still to come. The media has talked about record-breaking numbers showing up to polling locations in droves, but what does that actually mean?

IVN independent author Gabriel Saint Cyr reported recently that both Republicans and Democrats have seen primary/caucus turnout that rivals the 2008 presidential election. The Democrats’ turnout of 11.7 percent of eligible voters nationally is the second highest turnout in nearly a quarter of a century. The Republicans are seeing their biggest turnout in modern U.S. history — a whopping 17.3 percent of the eligible voting population.

Media pundits call this democracy in action, yet this means that the number of voters (percent) in many states who are deciding which two major party candidates are guaranteed a spot on the general election ballot in all 50 states is in the single digits. The electability of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich are being decided by only a handful of voters.

The data below was compiled from various secretary of state and board of elections websites and shows the stark reality of what winning a presidential primary or caucus actually means. The calculations, drawn from election results and voter registration statistics, show how big victories were won by less than 10 percent of the registered voting population in many states — a number that would be even smaller when looking at the entire voting age population.

It is information not often shared in the mass media, but readers can decide for themselves, is this really democracy in action?

This article, written by Athena Gavranian, was republished with permission from IVN.

‘Vote or Die’ Founder Diddy Changes Stance, Calls Voting ‘a Scam’

Rapper, entrepreneur, actor, and record producer Sean “Diddy” Combs expressed feelings of disenfranchisement and called America’s system of voting “a scam” during a question-and-answer session at the Revolt Music Conference in Miami, Fla. earlier this month.

According to The Grio, Combs was asked how young people can express their voices in upcoming elections and he replied:

[pull_quote_center]See the things that’s tricky about politics is there’s so much bullsh*t with it. We started Vote or Die and… and from the community we’re in, we’re not with hearing too much of the bullsh*t. So that’s why we get disenfranchised, [we’re] disconnected because nothing that they’re saying actually relates to us… So Vote or Die, and getting out the vote, those things [were] laid out there so people could understand about the process. We started Vote or Die, and the whole process was all full of sh*t. The whole sh*t is a scam.[/pull_quote_center]

At the end of the day, I’m not telling you not to vote. But I’m saying be a realist and know that they’re motherf*cking kicking some bullsh*t up there,” said Combs.

[RELATED: Donald Trump Says He Hopes to Run for President Against Kanye West]

In 2004, Combs founded Citizen Change, a celebrity-backed get-out-the-vote campaign targeting youth and minority voters with the slogan “Vote or Die.” His recent comments indicate a change in attitude following his time working with Citizen Change.

The Associated Press notes that Combs said in a speech at Milwaukee Area Technical College in October of 2004, “I want y’all to bum rush those polls if you’re registered, and let them know we have the power. So that the next election that comes around, instead of them speaking to the NRA, AARP, soccer moms, NASCAR dads, they’ll be speaking to you, the forgotten ones, the one they turned their backs on.

IVN: 10 Ways Political Parties Control Your Vote

1. States Send Delegates to the Electoral College that Represent Parties, Not People

When envisioning the electoral college, the goal of the Founding Fathers was to send electors who were “free from any sinister bias” to select the next president.

“They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment.” – Federalist Paper 68

Today, however, electors are chosen because of their service, dedication, and loyalty to their political party. Most states have a ‘winner takes all’ electoral system, which presupposes that the electors cast their vote for president not “in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America,” but because they are bound by their party to vote in unison and loyalty to that party’s nominee.


2. Campaign Finance Laws Give Political Parties Special Exemptions Even in Nonpartisan Races

Political parties, through the legislatures they control, have written campaign finance laws to give their parties special advantages that no one else gets. In San Diego, for example, political parties are the only exception to the individual donation limits for local elections, even for offices and elections that are supposed to be nonpartisan. (See, San Diego Municipal Code § 27.2934(b) and § 27.2935(a) that allow parties (but no one else) to give $30,000 to an individual candidate.)

So how hard is it for someone to funnel money through a political party to simply skirt the individual donation limits?

In local elections, this imbalance makes it nearly impossible for those without major political party affiliations to compete, even in supposedly nonpartisan elections.

3. Gerrymandering: Parties Draw District Lines to Insulate Themselves from Competition

Gerrymandering is the act of selectively drawing district boundaries so that voters of the opposing party are crammed into a small number of districts, allowing the party in power to win virtually every other district with impunity. An effective gerrymander will trap one party in a small number of safe districts, after which the other party spreads its voters out over the rest of the state. A tell-tale sign of a gerrymander is a district with mind-bogglingly shaped boundaries.

Often, both parties work together to draw districts so that as many elections as possible are made “safe” for the political parties in power. This is why approximately 90% of elections today are ‘decided’ in the primary.

Statistically, gerrymandering helped ensure that around 94% of House elections in 2014 were noncompetitive, meaning that only 6% of general elections even mattered. This means, if you couldn’t vote in the major party’s primary, you never really had a voice in the election at all.

Voters in some states have tried to fight back, however, by creatingindependent redistricting commissions through the initiative process. But the fate of these commissions might be in danger:

Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature, for example, filed a lawsuit against its citizen redistricting commission, arguing Arizona’s voters didn’t have the power to take away the drawing of districts from the legislators in power. A ruling by the Supreme Court could result in the dismantling of the independent commissions in Arizona and five other states.

4. Taxpayers Fund Primary Elections that Benefit Private Parties

Believe it or not, when the closed primary system was originally enacted, it was a democratic reform: it offered a publicly-administered alternative to the smoke-filled room selection process by party bosses. The direct primary was an attempt to democratize the process by forcing parties to deal with their in-party controversies under the watchful eyes of the public.

Nevertheless, closed primaries serve a private purpose: to select candidates that represent the members of a political party. And, each year, fewer and fewer voters identify with either major political party. And each year, fewer and fewer voters participate in the primary elections as a result. And finally, although only party members are allowed to participate in closed primaries, taxpayers foot the bill for these elections.

5. The Media Discusses Issues Not Based on Merit, But on the Two Major-Party Positions

Let’s face it: we have two political parties that are the sole source of political competition. As a consequence, we’ve divided our political discussions into a two-sided debate between the red team and the blue team.

A Pew Research Center study published in October 2014, for example, shows that the media can be divided into separate echo chambers for each team. These teams of people rely on separate groups of news sources, with little overlap elsewhere in how they gain their information. They are likely to consult with like-minded individuals and like-minded news channels, at the exclusion of other sources of information. Consistent conservatives are more likely to have friends that share their views, while consistent liberals are more likely to end a personal friendship or remove someone from their social media network due to differing beliefs.

Just recently, a recent study by the University of Kansas confirms that 41% of voters are only concerned with their party “winning” an election than being right on a given issue. It is of little wonder, then, that mainstream media channels play into their viewers’ easily identifiable and inherent political biases: It keeps them coming back for more.

6. Parties Are Directly Involved in Administering Elections

Although elections are supposed to offer an organized system by which we elect representatives, even the minutiae of that system is controlled by major parties. For example, in many districts of New York, citizens cannot be poll workers unless they are members of one of the two major parties.

There is even a growing body of scholarly work addressing how parties have hijacked the inner workings of the election system. This law review article from Gilda Daniels, a professor at the University of Baltimore, details how states have slowly outsourced election administration to both major political parties, often leading to patently illegal activities, such as voter suppression, voter caging, and voter intimidation.

7. Chief State Election Officials Are Appointed by Parties

[quote_left]”What if we suggested that the election process was supposed to serve the fans of the entire league, and not just the two teams on the field.”[/quote_left]

Thirty-six states have partisan secretaries of state or lieutenant governors who oversee the public election process. And thirty-two states have no restrictions on the partisan activity of its election officers. Of those with restrictions, many of them are slight, such as restricting election officers from holding another public office.

The dangers of having partisan election administrators are not trivial. As leading election law scholar Rick Hasen explains, election overseers aligned with both major parties routinely implement policies that hamstring voters from the other party.

In short, states have routinely implemented electoral systems that put a conflict of interest between a voter’s right to fair and secure elections and a political party’s pursuit of power.

Imagine if the umpire at a baseball game was actually on one of the two teams!

What if we suggested that the election process was supposed to serve the fans of the entire league, and not just the two teams on the field.

8. Parties Write Laws That Directly Limit The Ability of Opposing Voters to Cast Their Votes

Across the nation, the major political parties have written laws that keep voters that do not support them away from the polls. Parties have successfully closed previously open primaries, shifted power from primaries to caucuses, implemented voter ID laws, limited early voting days, and even restricted the ability of get-out-the-vote organizations to register new voters.

In fact, party-affiliated poll watchers in some states have the power to confront individual voters about their registration or citizenship and thereby invalidate their vote. Challenges in the courts to such broad voting restrictions, as one would expect, are ever so commonplace. And many of them — such as these challenges on voter ID laws — are unsuccessful.

Predictably, voter turnout has decreased as political parties have exerted more control over the process. Less voters in the party primaries means that only the most dedicated and party-faithful voters are left.

When only the party faithful are left voting, only the party faithful are represented. That leaves us with more partisan legislators who have an interest in enacting more partisan laws.

9. Parties Appoint the Judiciary and Control Judicial Elections

Although there are various methods of appointing judges, they are all centered around the political parties’ power. Seven states have partisan judicial nominations. Many other states leave their judges to the mercy of political-party influence: partisan elections are used in twenty states for local trial court judges, nine states also elect judges for courts of appeal, and seven states elect judges for state supreme courts.

These judges face pressure to make judicial decisions to win votes and special interest groups to raise funds. Justice Pariente of the Florida Supreme Court explains that a politicized justice system endangers “our right to appear before impartial judges who are neither bought nor bullied.”

Even the most powerful judicial body in the United States, the Supreme Court, along with all other federal judges, are appointed by the President and approved by Congress. This has made the Supreme Court so motivated by partisan influence that the justices are routinely categorized as “liberal” or “conservative.”

This influence over the judicial appointment process gives political parties an inordinate foothold in another process that is supposed to be completely nonpartisan.

10. Other Benefits

Additionally, political parties are tax exempt, receive discounted postage rates, and have free access to voter registration records. Historical voting records, for example, give partisan political operatives the ability to identify and ‘turn out their base’ much easier than nonpartisan candidates.

For the presidential election, the two major parties control the debate process (and in turn the public discourse). This is because the Commission for Presidential Debates is controlled exclusively by Republicans and Democrats who have made it nearly impossible for third parties or independent candidates to participate. In particular, the threshold to participate in the major debates requires support from 15% of likely voters based on the results of three major polls. But how can a candidate be expected to gain that much support among the electorate if he or she can’t even enter the televised debates or otherwise be heard by the American people?

Unsurprisingly, the 15% requirement has become a topic of much debate and is being challenged by multiple groups, including Gary Johnson’s Our America Initiative and ChangeTheRule.org.

Closing Remarks

Private political parties have managed to influence nearly every aspect of our public election process. As a result, both major parties have managed to insulate themselves from meaningful competition, leading to an increasingly divisive political climate in which candidates are forced to toe the party line.


This story originally appeared on IVN and written by Daniel Kim.

Critics Warn New Calif. Law May Let Illegal Immigrants Vote In Elections

CALIFORNIA, October 12, 2015– On Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed Assembly Bill 1461, the Motor Voter Act, into law. The bill makes it to where all who have registered for a driver’s license are automatically registered to vote. In January of this year, a California law went into effect that allows illegal immigrants to have a California driver’s license, which is why critics of the new Motor Voter Act have suggested it is a calculated way to allow illegal immigrants an opportunity to vote in elections.

“This bill is terrible. It makes an already bad situation much, much worse,” True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht said in a statement.

Engelbrecht said that California’s registration databases “lack the necessary safeguards to keep non-citizens off the voter rolls.”

Eleven states and the District of Columbia currently allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. However, the licenses appear different than those issued to citizen drivers. In California, licenses issued to illegal immigrants carry the words “Federal Limits Apply” and “not valid for official federal purposes” according to DriveCA.org, which would theoretically prevent them from being used to vote in federal elections.

In California, however, True the Vote spokesman Logan Churchwell said that state officials “specifically chose not to make non-citizen license holders searchable in their DMV database,” and called the newly signed bill “unprecedented.”

“The New Motor Voter Act will make our democracy stronger by removing a key barrier to voting for millions of California citizens,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement. “Citizens should not be required to opt in to their fundamental right to vote. We do not have to opt in to other rights, such as free speech or due process.”

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United We Stand Music/Activism Festival Returns to L.A. for Second Year

This September the Free and Equal Elections Foundation’s United We Stand festival returns to Los Angeles to present a wide range of socially-conscious musicians, speakers, authors, and other cultural leaders to discuss and celebrate the political process.

Originally launched in May 2014, the second annual United We Stand Festival will take place at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles on September 19 from 5-10 pm PST. The 2014 event was seen as a success, bringing together musicians Immortal Technique, Cappadonna & U-God of Wu-Tang Clan, comedian Lee Camp, activists Sean Stone, Jill Stein, Foster Gamble (Thrive), Nick Bernabe (March Against Monsanto), Richard Gage (Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth), journalists Abby Martin, Ben Swann, Amber Lyon, Maytha Alhassen, Luke Rudkowski, Mnar Muhawesh and many more.

The 2015 event will kickoff a series of open presidential debates for 2016 presented by the Free and Equal Elections Foundation. The festival will be broadcast worldwide by freeandequal.org

Free and Equal hopes that the event’s momentum will help inspire people to run for office targeting the Congressional races in 2016. Free & Equal Elections will also launch an open source “Election Assistant” Database. This “Election Assistant” Database will be accessible to all and provide information on every candidate.

The organization aims to bring together a range of speakers on topics including fighting against the Patriot Act, NDAA, NSA, endless warfare, the war on drugs, pollution, election fraud, drones, GMOs, police brutality, and the attack on net neutrality.

“By creating an event that combines the most socially-conscious elements of activism, music, and journalism we are allowing concerned citizens to be a part of a much needed conversation about the failures of our political process and, most importantly, possible solutions,” Free and Equal founder Christina Tobin tells TruthInMedia. Tobin says she hopes the event can contribute to the broad awakening taking place around the United States.

The UWSF 2015 will feature Civil Rights leader Amelia Boynton Robinson as the keynote speaker, as well as Professor Griff from Public Enemy, conscious reggae artist Spragga Benz, journalists Amber Lyon, Luke Rudkowski (We Are Change), and Mnar Muhawesh (MintPress News), radio show host Tony Stiles, Alexander McCobin, Co-Founder and President of Students for Liberty, author Daniel Pinchbeck, former Judge and Vice Presidential candidate Jim Gray, and a host of other musicians, artists, activists and thinkers from around the country. (Full Disclosure: I will be speaking at the event as well)

Tickets for the festival became available online Tuesday, but organizers are expecting tickets to the event to sell out quickly.

DC City Council Considers Bill to Allow Non-Citizen Residents to Vote in City Elections

The Council of the District of Columbia held hearings last week to consider the Local Resident Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015, a bill that wouldexpand the definition of ‘qualified elector’ to include [non-citizen] permanent residents for the purpose of local elections.

In a January statement on the bill, its author, Councilmember-At-Large David Grosso, said, “‘All politics is local’ is a common phrase in the US political system and what most District residents care about are the tangible things that affect their day-to-day lives like potholes, playgrounds, taxes, snow removal, trash collection, red light cameras and more. All of these issues are important to voters in DC. Unfortunately, not all of our residents have a say in choosing the officials who make these decisions. In my opinion, that is unjust.

DC Board of Elections executive director Clifford Tatum told WAMU, “Allowing non-citizens to vote requires the creation and maintenance of two separate voter registration rolls, as well as a system for converting voters from the non-citizen roll to the citizen roll as they become naturalized citizens. We would also be required to conduct a separate voter registration roll maintenance process.

Councilmember Brianne Nadeau argued that the bill should be considered despite the additional costs and complications and said, “We always have to be careful in government and to lead when we see obstacles and when we see bureaucratic hurdles, to make sure they are not what stands between us and doing the right thing for our residents.

Local Washington DC activist Dorothy Brizill, an opponent of the bill, said that the legislation “is particularly sensitive and of concern to those individuals, both black and white, who are aware of the long historical struggle to secure the right to vote for all American citizens. For many, the right to vote is the essence of citizenship.

Grosso’s statement on the bill asserted, “According to the US Census Bureau (2012), approximately 53,975 residents in the District are foreign born, but not naturalized US citizens. Over 90% of that population is 18 years of age or older. These are taxpayers who should have the opportunity to have their voices heard in local elections.Daily Caller notes that Grosso clarified that those who would be granted voting rights under the bill “are residents who are well on their paths to citizenship.

National Legal and Policy Center chairman Ken Boehm told National Journal that the move would be a “slippery slope” that risks “diluting the value” of US citizenship. He added, “The people who advocate this clearly think they would get the votes of the non-citizens.

Richard Winger of Ballot Access News pointed out the fact that, if the bill were to pass, the US Congress has the authority to override it.

Non-citizen residents are currently authorized to vote in 7 US jurisdictions, 6 of which are municipalities in neighboring Maryland.

According to The Washington Post, a 2014 law passed by the Council of the District of Columbia allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

Gary Johnson: Choosing Between GOP or Dems is Like Choice of Coke or Pepsi

Washington, DC- Third parties cannot be successful unless the Democratic and Republican parties begin allowing them to participate in televised debates, according to former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. Speaking to RT’s Erin Ade and Ben Swann, the Libertarian activist laid out what is wrong with the current two-party system, and compared choosing between Democrats and Republicans to choosing between Coke and Pepsi: any difference is merely cosmetic.

Georgia man forced to remove his NRA Instructor hat before voting

DOUGLASVILLE, GA, October 29, 2014 – Last Friday, Bundy Cobb, a Douglasville, GA resident, was told by poll workers that he must remove his hat with the wording “NRA Instructor” on it before he would be allowed to enter the voting booth.

Cobb is a certified firearms trainer through the National Rifle Association (NRA) and wears the hat in part to promote his business, True Aim Defense.

The Douglas County board of elections supervisor Laurie Fulton defended the decision as a move of extra precaution and stated, “The courts have found that anything that suggests association with the NRA in many people’s perceptions is associated with the Republican party. So in an overabundance of caution Mr. Cobb was asked to remove the hat so that no one could interpret that we were playing any favoritism over one party versus the other.”

Cobb obeyed the request in order to vote, but later reached out to Atlanta’s local Fox News affiliate to express his distress over the situation. Cobb stated, “It’s ridiculous, my hat advertises my business.” Cobb went on to say that the NRA has nothing to do with political parties and stated, “I know personally some Democrats who are members of the NRA.”

You can watch the full local report of the incident here.


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Voter I.D. Laws Blocked in Wisconsin and Texas

On Thursday, the United States Supreme Court blocked a law in Wisconsin, which would require voters to present photo IDs. This was originally put into place by a lower court, and would have effected the election in November.

The Huffington Post reported that the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals originally declared the law constitutional on Monday. However, on Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project “filed an emergency request asking the Supreme Court to block the ruling.”

The Associate Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, Molly Collins, said the union is “thrilled that people are going to be able to vote in this election.

According to Politico, the vote was 6-3, and the law was struck down on the grounds that it “discriminated against minorities by forcing many of them to get new identification.”

Although there were complaints that absentee ballots had been sent with no notification of the need for a photo ID, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen insisted that they “will be exploring alternatives to address the Court’s concern and have voter ID on Election Day.”

I believe the voter ID law is constitutional, and nothing in the Court’s order suggests otherwise,” Van Hollen said.

The law requiring voter IDs in Wisconsin was originally passed in 2011. Similar laws have been passed in other states, including Virginia, where the State’s Board of Elections announced that approximately 100,000 voters might not be able to vote in the November elections, due to the fact that they do not have a valid photo ID.

While 34 states have passed laws requiring voters to have photo IDs, Wisconsin isn’t the only state making last minute changes.

Also on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos, blocked the voter ID law in Texas, calling it an “unconstitutional poll tax,” and saying that its purpose was to discriminate against Hispanic and African-American citizens by creating “an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.

Following the federal judge’s decision, the Texas Attorney General’s office announced that it plans to appeal the decision immediately. The Deputy Communications Director, Laura Bean, said that the office will “urge the Fifth Circuit to resolve this matter quickly to avoid voter confusion in the upcoming election.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws are constitutional so we are confident the Texas law will be upheld on appeal,” Bean said.