It’s National Voter Registration Day!

I didn’t really value my right to vote until the Supreme Court started messing with the Voting Rights Act. That’s when I saw what voter suppression was. Up until then, I took my right to vote for granted. Not everybody has an easy time voting, and National Voter Registration Day makes sure that everyone has a say in our country’s future.

No matter where you live, you can contribute to advancing progress by participating in our democratic system and voting, and I really love that. My husband and I are in our 80s and we can’t go out to march or rally. But I can write letters and attend meetings. We can all do something, and we all have our part!

As a retired schoolteacher, I know the importance of a good education. Student success in the classroom is often the result of some basics: showing up and being prepared to participate. The same rules apply to civic engagement. You’ve got to be registered to cast a ballot.

Yet, 6 million Americans didn’t vote in 2008 because they either missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register altogether. That’s why National Voter Registration Day (Sept. 22) is such a big deal.

Volunteers and organizations across the country are in motion to reach thousands of people, reminding them why their voices need to be heard and why their participation is vital. Our country stays strong when all voters are informed and know what’s at stake and who’s standing with women and families. Step one in shaping the direction of our communities, states and country is being registered to vote.

National Voter Registration Day provides hundreds of resources and events to set everyone on the right track for Election Day in November. From bringing new voters into the fold to reminding longtime voters how to stay current and registered, this is a day that celebrates one of the biggest protections our democracy offers. Do your part and get started now.

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ID Required: Use These Photo ID’s To Vote In North Carolina

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Starting in 2016, voters will be required to show a photo ID in order to cast their ballots in person.

Supporters of the law claim it will reduce voter fraud, yet voter fraud has been negligible. More likely is that they wish to suppress the votes of the many groups of people who may find the photo ID hurdle too much to overcome. These groups include blue collar laborers, minorities, students, youth, and the elderly.

Acceptable IDs include:

  • a NC driver’s license,
  • a NC identification card,
  • a US passport,
  • a  US military ID or Veterans ID card,
  • or a tribal enrollment card from a federally or NC recognized tribe.

Please note: No student IDs will be accepted, not even ones from North Carolina state colleges and universities.

Due to perfectly reasonable circumstances, not everyone has a photo ID. For some residents, obtaining one is a difficult task. As a Quaker, I know many folks at the Quaker-run retirement homes in Greensboro. Many of them are elderly and obtaining a photo ID may prove difficult. Many have been too unhealthy to drive for years and therefore they don’t have valid driver’s licenses. As well, because they do not drive, transportation to a DMV office is difficult. Some often do not have relatives or friends nearby to rely on to drive them to get a photo ID. One woman I know there was permanently injured in an automobile accident years ago.  She has no reliable transportation anywhere. Additionally, finding the documents required for such an ID (such as a birth certificate or marriage license) can also be an obstacle.

Everyone should be able to cast a ballot unhindered. Demanding a photo ID creates nothing but a problem for people who have been voting without incident for years. Especially because it was passed to solve nonexistent fraud. We must elect people who will erase the photo ID requirement.

Photo courtesy of Theresa Thompson via Flickr.

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You Should Know: The End of Same Day Registration in North Carolina

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Same-day voting registration laws help improve and equalize the democracy process, but did you know that it’s now illegal to register and vote on the same day in NC?  The republican controlled legislature eliminated same day registration last year, a backwards step for our voting process.  Under the new law, voter registration must occur at least 25 days prior to an election.

In 2007 the state general assembly passed a law that made same-day registration legal and voter participation increased immediately.   More than 100,000 North Carolina residents registered and voted simultaneously in the 2008 and 2012 general elections.  Demos, an organization dedicated to public policy, conducted research comparing same day vs. non same day registration states.  The findings illustrated that same day registration states had higher voter participation than those without same a day policy.

The law,even  showed increased voter participation, especially for certain social groups.  Although youths (18-25) comprised 12% of voters in 2012, they were 33% of same day registration voters; Blacks made up 34% of same day registrants/voters.  Illustrating even greater racial ramifications to the current law, Blacks utilized same day registration/voting more than Whites in 2012, according to Dr. Michael Herron and Dr. Daniel Smith, two political science professors.

This law is important to me. I don’t believe that my parents participated in the civil rights movement to have their offspring jump through voter suppression hoops similar to the ones that existed in the 1950’s and 60’s.  Things should progress, not be repeated under less obtrusive schemes.

Remember, same day registration is now illegal.  Get registered to vote today…the right you save may be your own!

Photo courtesy of Theresa Thompson via Flickr.

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Votes Are Still Being Counted In This Crucial Minimum Wage Race

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Election Night 2013 has come and gone, but the outcomes of some very important races have yet to be determined.

In the Seattle-area city of SeaTac, home of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a measure to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and allow workers to earn paid sick days looked victorious on Election Night with roughly 54 percent. But with Washington’s vote-by-mail system, votes are still trickling in, and the result is far from over.

After the totals were updated on Wednesday night, the “Yes on Proposition 1” vote to raise the wage lead by only 19 votes out of roughly 6,000 cast, about 0.3 percent. On Thursday night, the “Yes” lead climbed to 53 votes — still an outrageously slim margin.

As the Slog reports, there are about 300 ballots left to count “but since these could come from anywhere, they defy prediction.”

The vote SeaTac has big implications. More immediately, it could influence the chances of a similar brewing $15 minimum wage proposal in nearby Seattle. But it could also serve as a model for other small municipalities, particularly those with airports or other large low-wage institutions, to launch their own pro-worker SeaTac-esque campaigns.

The Koch Brothers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Restaurant Association are all well-aware of this. That’s why even in his small city of 25,000 people, spending on the Proposition 1 race equaled roughly $300 per voter.

The remaining 300 ballots will be counted in the next few days, after which the measure will certainly go to court. But the no amount of money can change this: idea has been planted.

Photo by Yes for SeaTac on Facebook

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“Moral Monday” Spreads Across North Carolina

Since the end of April, Moral Monday protests have occurred every Monday in front of the state legislature in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Moral Monday rallies have gathered thousands of supporters, and over 900 have been arrested through civil disobedience actions. These massive protests have been centered on issues of economic justice and basic fairness—cuts unemployment benefits, the failure to extending Medicaid for 500,000 uninsured people, cuts to public school funding, voter suppression, and other issues.

This Moral Monday protests have begun to spread across our state. This past Monday, in conjunction with the Raleigh protest, a Moral Monday march was organized in Greensboro. Since many people couldn’t travel to Raleigh to voice their support, activists organized a Greensboro Moral Monday rally to focus on voter ID laws and looming cuts to early voting.

Over 200 people marched and chanted, toted signs saying “Save Early Voting,” “Voter ID = Voter Suppression,” and “Keep Sunday Voting”.

“I thought it was wonderful,” said Working America member Carol Tweede, who attended. “Turnout was more than I ever expected. I feel very happy at these demonstrations, because everyone pulls together. It’s one great big body of people trying to help each other. It is so inclusive and nice to be around people who believe the same way you do, the right way.”

Across North Carolina, folks are standing up against the right-wing state legislature, not just in Raleigh.

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Old Mother Hubbard

Rebecca Hawkins—Ohio

The other night I met a woman on turf whose husband had been laid off from his auto manufacturing job. He has not been able to find steady work and has been working for a temp agency in a desperate attempt to support his family. The woman related to me that she often doesn’t have enough money to feed her children. I asked if she was registered to vote; she said no. She then asked for a voter registration form because she finally realized she could help to make a change by voting.

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Video: He said he doesn’t vote

Patricia Penton spoke with a man who said he doesn’t vote…until she changed his mind.

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Braving the dog

by Nathan Horak-Hern—Kentucky


While canvassing this past week I came to a Working America member’s house with a large yard surrounded by a chain-link fence. Sitting near the front door was a small, but unchained, dog. I love dogs, but even the smallest one can pose a major hazard to the canvasser’s efforts. After taking a moment to consider what the famous door-to-door worker Cliff Clavin would do, I decided against spouting useless trivia at the pup, and entered the gates.

I was soon rewarded for my “bravery,” as the dog was friendly and the Working America member was vitally interested in our cause. She has been an assistant at a cancer treatment center for many years. She told me she’d seen first-hand how our current governor’s “streamlining” of Medicare here in Kentucky had severely undermined people’s health care. She said she’d definitely be supporting Steve Beshear, the labor-endorsed candidate for governor, in the upcoming election, largely due to his efforts to give the poor and the elderly the assistance they need to obtain necessary health care. She even offered to volunteer if her work schedule would allow it. I thanked her for her dedication, and her dog for the hospitality, before rambling on to my next stop.

Paid for by AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education Treasury Fund.

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The biggest sign they had

by Maribeth Schneber—Kentucky

I met a woman in the field who was a staunch supporter of Steve Beshear, the labor-endorsed candidate for governor here in Kentucky. When I got to talking to her, she told me that she had a house for sale, and she had told the Beshear campaign to put up the biggest sign that they had on her property.

After a while her real estate agent called and told her that no one could see the “For Sale” sign on the house. The woman told me that she then replied, “I don’t care if I have to pay a few more months of the mortgage if it means that Steve Beshear gets elected.” She then offered to come to our office or to a Labor Walk and bake us all chocolate chip cookies for our important and hard work.

Paid for by AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education Treasury Fund.

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Brand new voter

by Jake Sinderbrand—Minnesota

While canvassing in St. Paul, I knocked on the door of a high school student who had just turned 18. He was concerned about the job market but had no idea about the candidates or the upcoming election, or how to make a difference. After talking about the issues for a while, he found that he agreed with the labor-supported candidate, Melvin Carter, on almost everything. Now, he is proud to be able to cast his first vote for Melvin Carter.

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