Voters across the country trying to cast votes in Tuesday’s elections ran into hurdles erected by Republican legislatures, governors and secretaries of state. Along with mechanical glitches and human error — which occurred in states with leaders on both sides of the political spectrum — voters faced new laws and policies that made it harder to vote.
In Alabama, a last-minute decision by the attorney general barred people from using public housing IDs to vote. Voter ID laws in North Carolina and Texas sowed confusion. Georgia lost 40,000 voter registrations, mostly from minorities. In all, the group Election Protection reported receiving 18,000 calls on Election Day, many of them having to do with voter ID laws. The group noted that the flurry of calls represented “a nearly 40 percent increase from 13,000 calls received in 2010.”
In the presidential election year of 2016, it looks unlikely that those problems will subside — especially if Congress fails to restore the Voting Rights Act. The two states that had the closest vote tallies in the last presidential election — Florida and Ohio — will go into the presidential election year with Republicans controlling the offices of governor and secretary of state and holding majorities in their state legislatures.
In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who won reelection yesterday, will be able to appoint a secretary of state and will enjoy the support of a veto-proof Republican majority in the state House.
In Ohio, controversial Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted won reelection on Tuesday, along with Gov. John Kasich. They’ll be able to work with a strengthened GOP majority in the state legislature.
In North Carolina, where a Republican legislature and governor have cracked down on voting rights, the GOP held onto its majority. Republican secretary of state candidates in the swing states of Colorado, Iowa and Nevada also won elections yesterday.
Two influential elections for voting rights also took place in states unlikely to be presidential swing states. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a national ringleader for advocates of restrictive voting laws, won reelection. In Arizona, which has been working with Kansas to defend their states' respective tough voting requirements, Republican candidate Michele Reagan also won her contest.
One exception to the trend is Pennsylvania, where Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, who backed a harsh voter ID law that has since been struck down in the courts, lost to voting rights supporter Tom Wolf. Although Wolf will contend with a Republican majority in the state legislature, he will be able to appoint a secretary of the commonwealth.
Yesterday, voters in Tennessee approved a ballot measure amending the state constitution to remove all legal protections for abortion rights, paving the way for state lawmakers to pass broad abortion restrictions. At the same time, voters in Colorado and North Dakota overwhelmingly rejected “personhood” measures that would have given the full rights of citizenship to zygotes, thereby criminalizing all abortion along with some forms of birth control. In Colorado, where the nation’s foremost personhood advocacy group is based, it was the third time such a measure had been rejected by voters.
Yesterday’s results are the product of a split among the anti-choice movement about how to achieve the goal of criminalizing all abortions. While most of the movement shares this end-game, its leaders are bitterly divided over the best strategy to achieve it.
The nation’s largest and best-funded anti-choice groups, including National Right to Life, Americans United for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List, favor an incremental approach to chipping away at the protections guaranteed in Roe v. Wade. The incremental strategy has had tremendous success in recent years as measures on the state level have forced scores of abortion clinics to shut their doors. Women in Cincinnati, for instance, still have a legal right to an abortion. But thanks to a recent law aimed at shutting down abortion providers, they may soon lose access to the city’s only clinic that provides the service.
And even in North Dakota, although zygotes won’t be given the legal rights of people (at least for the time being), anti-choice activists are targeting the state’s sole abortion provider, which was struggling to keep its doors open and was recently banned from administering medical abortions.
The personhood movement is angry at mainstream anti-choice leaders for being willing to accept “compromise” legislation that includes exceptions for survivors of rape and incest. But it also thinks that the incremental strategy won’t work. Instead, personhood advocates seek to take advantage of a loophole in Roe v. Wade by which, they believe, if a zygote or a fetus is defined by law as a legal person, Roe’s abortion protections will fall. Groups pushing the so-far unsuccessful personhood ballot measures have allies in this strategy in some far-right judges, most notably on the Alabama Supreme Court, who are trying to build a legal framework for undermining Roe.
On the electoral level, the personhood strategy’s biggest flaw may be it is just too honest about the goals of the anti-choice movement. While Americans are fairly evenly split between those who call themselves pro-choice and those who choose the label pro-life, 70 percent want to keep Roe v. Wade and only 24 percent want to overturn it. Americans have muddled views about circumstances under which they think abortion should be legal, but know that they don’t want it to be completely criminalized.
Groups like Americans United for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List know this and have stayed far away from personhood measures. When a Mother Jones reporter asked AUL for a comment on North Dakota’s measure, a spokeswoman replied, “AUL does not handle personhood issues.”
But other national groups have supported these measures. While National Right to Life’s affiliate in Colorado opposed that state’s measure , saying it would be “immediately overturned in court,” the national group’s North Dakota affiliate backed its state’s even more extreme measure. And while Colorado Republican senator-elect Cory Gardner ran away from the personhood issue, both of North Dakota’s senators supported the ballot measure in their state. The Family Research Council’s North Dakota affiliate also got behind the measure in its state, along with the state chapter of Concerned Women for America and the North Dakota Catholic Conference.
And despite the unpopularity of their bills at the ballot box, personhood advocates still have a strong hold in Congress, where “life at conception” bills have 22 sponsors in the Senate and 133 in the House.
But in the end, even as anti-choice Republicans won handily in Colorado and North Dakota, the personhood measures went down in flames, leading the proponents of the Colorado proposal to rejoice that they at least lost less badly than they had in the past.
The victory of the measure in Tennessee — which will allow legislators to broadly cut off access to abortion rights without explicitly criminalizing abortion — shows that, for now, the incrementalists’ strategy is winning. Even voters in dark-red states like North Dakota can’t stomach a bill that outright criminalizes all abortions. But the anti-choice movement’s strategy to approach the same goal through different means is, so far, working.
One influential issue at the ballot box this year is the future of how we cast our ballots. In secretary of state races throughout the country, voters will be choosing who runs their elections — and how open those elections are to all voters.
As Republican lawmakers continue to enact news laws aimed at curtailing the rights of voters, secretary of state elections have taken on renewed importance.
We’ve picked three key secretary of state races that we’ll be watching closely Tuesday and added a few more influential races that are also worth keeping an eye on. (And this isn’t even counting states like Florida and Pennsylvania, where the secretary of state is picked by the governor, leaving the gubernatorial elections will have even stronger voting rights implications.)
Perhaps the hardest-fought and most-watched secretary of state race this year is taking place in the heavily Republican Kansas. And that’s all because of the national profile and extreme agenda of one man: incumbent Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
When Kobach won his job in 2010, he was already a national figure. After a stint in the Bush Justice Department, Kobach joined the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) — the legal arm of the nativist anti-immigrant group FAIR — where he worked with lawmakers to craft harsh anti-immigrant measures throughout the country, including Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, where he helped write the infamous “show me your papers” law SB 1070. After a failed run for Congress in 2004, Kobach set his sights on his state’s elections office.
Kobach has recently gained a prominent place in national Republican politics, serving as an immigration policy adviser to Mitt Romney and working to insert anti-gay and anti-immigrant language into the 2012 GOP platform.
Kobach won his position handily in 2010, but is facing an unexpectedly tough fight to hold onto it. Part of the reason is because he’s kept up his out-of-state anti-immigrant work: He still holds a position at IRLI and jets around the country advising states and localities that have agreed to be his policy guinea pigs, prompting his critics to complain that he’s not spending enough time in Kansas. And part of it is because he’s brought his activism home, using his platform in Kansas to push some of the most extreme voting restrictions in the country by hyping fears that undocumented immigrants are voting en masse in Kansas.
In 2011, at Kobach’s urging, Kansas passed a restrictive voter ID law that included a requirement that those registering to vote provide a passport, birth certificate, or similar “proof of citizenship" to elections authorities. The proof-of-citizenship provision, which took effect this year, has thrown Kansas voter registration into chaos. Less than one week before the election, 22,394 potential Kansas voters are unable to cast ballots because they had not provided an acceptable form of citizenship documentation. In addition, Kobach has placed an estimated 300-400 voters in a special voting rights “tier” in which they can vote only in federal elections and not in state elections. Kobach has proudly reported that of the 200 people who were placed in this special class of disenfranchised voters in this summer's primary election, only one bothered to show up to cast a half vote.
Kobach is also at the helm of Interstate Crosscheck, a faulty program that claims to identify people who are voting in two states at once but in reality has encouraged states to purge eligible minority voters from their voter rolls.
Kansans became even more leery of Kobach’s priorities this year when he spent $34,000 in taxpayer money trying to keep a Democratic senate candidate, Chad Taylor, on the ballot after he dropped out to make way for the independent challenging Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. Kobach only relented when the state supreme court ordered him to, and even then he tried (unsuccessfully) to find a way around the order.
A recent poll shows Kobach tied with his Democratic challenger, Jean Schodorf.
In the presidential swing state of Ohio, the secretary of state is often in the center of national battles over voting rights. Republican Jon Husted has been no exception.
In the lead-up to the 2012 election, Husted stepped in to break tie votes in Democratic-leaning Ohio counties, allowing those counties to eliminate night and weekend early voting hours... even as Republican-leaning counties expanded their early voting hours. In response to a national outcry, Husted enforced “uniformity” by requiring all counties to bring early voting opportunities down to the lowest common denominator, including cutting off night and weekend voting and eliminating early voting in the three days before the election. When a federal judge ordered Husted to reopen voting in the three days before the election, he flatly refused to comply, saying it would “confuse voters.” Eventually he relented, but as the election approached he appealed the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court.
Since the 2012 election, Husted has kept up his efforts to restrict early voting in 2014, fighting to eliminate the so-called “Golden Week” of early voting — in which voters can register and cast their ballots in one visit — and to cut early voting hours, including on Sundays, a time frequently used by African American churches for get-out-the-vote efforts.
Husted faces a Democrat state Sen. Nina Turner, a major critic of his record on voting rights. Although the two were neck-and-neck in an early poll, a recent poll shows Husted with a significant lead.
Before Kansas ushered in its restrictive “proof of citizenship” law, Arizona was already fighting for a similar measure. In 2004, Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, a medley of anti-immigrant and voter suppression measures including a requirement that those registering to vote present one of a narrow set of documents to prove that they are citizens. The Supreme Court struck down the provision in 2013, saying that it was preempted by federal law — but left a loophole, suggesting that Arizona could sue the federal Election Assistance Commission to require that federal voter registration forms used in the state include the extra “proof of citizenship” requirement. So Arizona did just that, joined by Kansas under Kobach.
That case is still working its way through the courts, but it’s left a peculiar situation in Kansas and Arizona where Kobach and his Arizona counterpart Secretary of State Ken Bennett have set up dual-track voting systems in their states in which people who register to vote with a federal form but do not provide additional citizenship documents are allowed to vote in federal elections, but not in state elections. As we noted above, of about 200 Kansans on the special limited-rights voting track in this year’s primary election, just one voted. In Arizona, about 1,500 were put on the limited track, and 21 cast ballots.
Bennett isn’t up for reelection this year — he unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor — but the race to succeed him will determine the future implementation of Arizona’s restrictive requirements. Republican Michele Reagan sought and won Kobach’s endorsement, boasting that she voted for the infamous anti-immigrant bill that Kobach helped bring to Arizona. In the state senate, Reagan wrote a bill that, among other voting restrictions, would prevent community groups from collecting and delivering mail-in ballots, a method commonly used in voting drives by Latino groups. When an effort to repeal the bill by referendum started to gain steam, Reagan and her fellow Republicans worked to repeal it first, thus allowing the state legislature to bring back parts of the bill in a piecemeal fashion.
Reagan is facing off against Democrat Terry Goddard, a former state attorney general and mayor of Phoenix. Both candidates have said they want tighter disclosure requirements for “dark money” spending by outside groups. But when the Koch-backed 60 Plus Association bought $304,000 in ads attacking Goddard last week, she refused to distance herself from the dark money effort.
Reagan also struggled this week to explain her vote for Arizona’s so-called “birther bill,” which would have required presidential candidates to prove to the secretary of state that they are native-born American citizens.
Other States To Watch: Colorado, New Mexico, Arkansas, Iowa
In Colorado, Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler — a key Kobach ally and crusader against the supposed scourge of Democratic “organized voter fraud” who last year tried to stop county clerks from sending ballots to voters who had not voted in the the last election — is stepping down this year, having tried and failed to get his party’s gubernatorial nomination. In the race to replace him are Republican El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, described by the Denver Post as Gessler’s “lone public ally” among clerks in the ballot controversy, and Democratic attorney Joe Neguse. The two differ on the sweeping elections overhaul Colorado passed last year, which allows same-day voter registration and requires the state to mail a ballot to every voter.
New Mexico’s secretary of state race has incumbent Republican Dianna Duran pitted against Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a rising Democratic star. Toulouse Oliver is emphasizing “full participation across a wide spectrum of the electorate” in her campaign, while Durran is accusing her of using “community-organizer, consultant-styled rhetoric.” In a TV ad that doubles as a promotion for right-wing myths about widespread voter fraud, Durran accuses Toulous Oliver of “registering a dog to vote.” In reality, a right-wing activist tried to register his dog to try to prove a point; he was caught and Toulouse Oliver referred his case to the proper authorities.
Earlier this month, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down the state’s voter ID requirement, a ruling that Secretary of State Mark Martin is vowing to fight. As the case worked its way through the courts, Arkansas voters got conflicting messages from elections officials under Martin’s leadership. He faces a challenge from Democrat Susan Inman.
In Iowa, outgoing Secretary of State Matt Schultz spent $150,000 in taxpayer money in a quest to root out voter fraud in Iowa…and found none. He also conducted a voter roll purge that critics called an attempt to intimidate Latino voters.” The race to succeed him — between Republican voter ID supporter Paul Pate and Democrat Brad Anderson — is locked in a dead heat.
Phil Burress of the Ohio-based group Citizens for Community Values was outraged last year when Sen. Rob Portman came out in favor of marriage equality, even urging the senator to put his son in ex-gay therapy.
This weekend, while speaking with Mission America’s Linda Harvey, Burress said that if more Republicans announce their support for marriage equality or merely offer muted opposition to marriage rights, then he and other conservatives will leave the GOP.
“You can put a cross on the grave of the Republican Party if they ditch this issue, it would be the same thing with the life issue,” he said. “If they’re not going to stand for life and natural marriage, Huckabee was the first one that came out and said that he would not only leave the Republican Party but he’ll take everybody with him. The Republicans had better take this serious because this is a nonnegotiable issue with us.”
Burress — whose group is the Ohio affiliate of the Family Research Council and of Focus on the Family’s political arm Citizenlink — predicted that Portman will lose his race for reelection because of his marriage equality support: “I find this rather amusing, he stands no chance whatsoever. He’s seen his numbers, he knows what his numbers are and so do we. He is basically lost, he’s not even going to hold his own seat in ‘16.”
“People will vote but they just will not vote for somebody who’s wrong on these nonnegotiable issues. If they’re wrong on life, marriage or religious freedom, they’ll go to the polls and vote but they just won’t vote for them,” he said. “I have been saying this and screaming it from the treetops: If Rob Portman decides to run in the primary in 2016, he is on the ballot in 2016, Ohio will again have two Democratic senators. This is not our fault, this is his fault if we lose this seat.”
Burress warned that if a primary challenger to Portman does emerge, the GOP “will still spend millions of dollars to support him” against an anti-gay opponent.
“Rob Portman stands no chance of being president, this is a hoax,” Burress said of the rumored Portman presidential campaign, adding that “there’s between 24 and 26 percent of the voters that go to the polls in Ohio [who] are evangelical Christians and if you lose that base then you’re dead.”
He attributed Mitt Romney’s 2012 loss in Ohio to the former governor’s “flip flops” on social issues, saying evangelical Christians “did not trust Romney.”
In response to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 vote today to block early voting in Ohio less than 24 hours before it was set to begin, Ohio members of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council (AAMLC) released the following statement:
“Today the Supreme Court demonstrated, yet again, that it is not interested in protecting the right of everyday Americans to participate in our democracy. From making it easier for the super-rich to buy elections to coming down on the side of those who want to block access to the polls, the conservative majority of the Roberts Court is making it crystal clear that they will not stand up for a democracy of, by, and for the people.
“The right to vote is the most fundamental right, and responsibility, that we have in a democracy. As a country, we should be working to expand access to voting, not making it harder to cast a ballot. We’re deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court has failed to protect voting rights in our state today.”
On September 17, 85 AAMLC members joined with fellow Ohio clergy in meetings with the offices of state House and Senate members to share their thoughts on the importance of protecting, and removing barriers to, the right to vote.
People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council represents an ecumenical alliance of 1,500 African-American clergy working toward equality, justice and opportunity for all.
On his "News With Views" program today, "Coach" Dave Daubenmire asserted that the fact that lots of people do not agree with his right-wing views and positions is a sign that God's judgment is already upon America.
Daubenmire was discussing an ongoing battle between a strip club in Ohio and a local pastor who was been relentlessly working to get it shut down when he marveled that people could actually disagree with the pastor, saying that the only logical explanation for this is that God has sent delusions upon people because this nation has turned away from Him, as stated in 2 Thessalonians.
"Have you ever seen a time in America," he asked, "where common sense was so uncommon? Where people were so willing to look the other way regarding what was right and what was wrong?"
Daubenmire is convinced that this "is the judgment of God that's upon us because we have rejected the truth." God's "hedge of protection" around America has been torn down, he said, and now God's judgment is pouring over the wall and sweeping across this nation.
"It's the natural consequences of rejecting the laws of nature and of nature's God":
Yesterday, Janet Porter hosted her "Appeal To Heaven" rally outside the Ohio statehouse, which is just the latest step in her years-long effort to get the state to pass her radical anti-choice legislation known as the "Heartbeat Bill," which would outlaw abortion within weeks of conception.
Prior to the rally, Porter was joined for a press conference by various state lawmakers who support her bill, at which State Representative Matt Lynch compared the fight to outlaw abortion in Ohio to the fight against ISIS in the Middle East.
In a video posted on YouTube by OhioCapitalBlog, Lynch declared that ISIS beheading journalists and civilians in Syria and Iraq is no different than the practice of legal abortion in Ohio.
The two issues "are not dissimilar," Lynch insisted. "As a nation, as we're aroused literally to move Heaven and earth to combat this evil on the other side of the world somehow we're blind and we're silent to the twenty thousand plus deaths that are occurring, seventy a day, right here in the state of Ohio."
"We have to have the courage," he said, "to understand that the moral right against evil in the mid-east is no different than the moral fight against evil right here in the state of Ohio and that evil is abortion":
Molly Smith, the director of Cleveland Right to Life, lost her group’s affiliation with National Right to Life Committee last year when she criticized Sen. Rob Portman for announcing his support for marriage equality after his son came out as gay.
The national group chided Smith [pdf] for taking on “an advocacy agenda that includes issues beyond the right to life,” but her group pushed back, saying that “any politician, including Portman, who supports the break-up of the American family and supports the denial of a mother and father for children has forfeited the right of support and endorsement of the prolife movement .”
Then, earlier this year, Smith was picked as the head of the National Personhood Alliance, a new group meant to be an even more extreme rival to National Right to Life.
Which is to say, feelings are still raw. The subject came up in Smith’s interview this month with anti-gay activist Linda Harvey, who wholeheartedly agreed with Smith that anti-choice activists must also oppose LGBT rights because, she said, LGBT rights lead to a greater incidence of abortion.
“The Planned Parenthood and anti-life lobby is heavily imbued and connected to homosexuality,” Harvey told Smith. “They’re in favor of opening up the doors and spreading the boundaries of sexuality all across the board. That includes homosexuality. The lines are very blurred, and unless you stand strong on this issue, you’re going to see much more, and you do see much more, out of wedlock sexuality and then of course, more abortion.”
Harvey said that she had seen Planned Parenthood march in the Columbus, Ohio, LGBT pride parade: “Why are they doing that? Because they know, you muddy the water, and you get a lot more of their business, abortion.”
Smith and Harvey then discussed polls showing rapidly increasing support for gay rights, which they decided must be skewed.
“I’m beginning to lose all kinds of respect for these polls,” Smith said.
“Yes, they’re inaccurate, they portray things in the wrong way,” Harvey agreed, adding that if polls gave people “all the information” about LGBT people “they would change their minds” and realize that “maybe these people are defending something that is not defensible and is, indeed, shameful.”
The past week held both good news and bad news for voting rights, depending on your part of the country. On Friday in Ohio, an appeals court declined to put on hold a ruling that expands early voting in the state, a win for those of us who believe that voting should be fair and accessible for all people. But on the same day, an appeals court gave the okay to Wisconsin’s voter ID law — a law that had been blocked months ago by a federal judge who noted that it disproportionately affects Latino and black communities.
Commentators have noted that instating the new voter ID law in Wisconsin so close to an election could cause real confusion for voters, and advocates are asking for a re-hearing. As election law expert Rick Hasen said, “It is hard enough to administer an election with set rules — much less to change the rules midstream.”
Beyond the practical implications for voters, it’s also important to connect the dots back to how these decisions happened and who was making them. As The Nation’s Ari Berman wrote on Friday night:
[A] panel of Democrat-appointed judges on the Sixth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction from a Democrat-appointed district court judge striking down Ohio’s cuts to early voting. Two hours earlier, however, a trio of Republican-appointed judges on the Seventh Circuit overturned an injunction from a Democratic judge blocking Wisconsin’s voter ID law.
This is why elections matter. And the courts are increasingly becoming the arbiters of who does and does not get to participate in them. [emphasis added]
A few weeks ago, we noted that Janet Porter was organizing "An Appeal To Heaven" rally to take place outside the Ohio Statehouse this month at which she and various anti-choice and Religious Right activists will ask God to help pass Porter's "Heartbeat Bill."
For four years, Porter has been working, unsuccessfully, to pass this legislation in Ohio which, if enacted, would prevent a woman from having an abortion from the moment a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be "as early as 18 to 24 days after conception."
The rally is scheduled for next Wednesday and somehow Porter has managed to get Glenn Beck to film a video encouraging people to attend and participate.
"I hope, by now, your aware the elected officials in Columbus haven't done the things that you've hired them to do," Beck says in the video. "They say they're pro-life, but they have held a pro-life Heartbeat Bill hostage for four years."
"You've called, you've rallied, but it's time to go over their heads," he said, "and I mean way over their heads and make an appeal, not to the courts - your're invited to join pastors and leaders from all around the state for an appeal to Heaven":
This weekend, Linda Harvey welcomed to her radio show Molly Smith, the Cleveland anti-choice activist who’s heading up a new national splinter group that thinks that the major anti-choice groups aren’t extreme enough. One of the issues that separates Smith from the major anti-choice groups is her insistence on linking anti-gay and anti-choice activism, a divide that came to a head when she was rebuked by National Right to Life Committee for attacking anti-choice advocate Sen. Rob Portman when he came out in favor of marriage equality.
Smith and Harvey discussed the Gay Games, which took place over the weekend in Cleveland and which Smith contended were “not gay” but in fact “very melancholy” because they featured participants in a “sad and destructive lifestyle.”
Later in the interview, Smith lashed out at the Cuyahoga County GOP for officially welcoming the Gay Games, saying that opposition to LGBT rights must always be paired with anti-choice activism because homosexuality is an “anti-family lifestyle.”
Since 2011, Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter has been working to get the state of Ohio to pass her "Heartbeat Bill" legislation, which would prevent a women from having an abortion if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, thereby dramatically curtailing reproductive rights by banning abortion "as early as 18 to 24 days after conception."
Now, after three years of failure despite having organized multiple rallies and attention-grabbing stunts, Porter has decided that she is going to take her case directly to God, sending out an email today announcing a prayer rally to be held outside the Ohio Statehouse next month at which participants will launch a direct "Appeal To Heaven" on behalf of her legislation:
We've called. We've rallied. We've lobbied. On September 17th, we're going over their heads!
AN APPEAL TO HEAVEN
Wednesday, September 17th
Ohio Statehouse-High St. Side
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
To pass the Heartbeat Bill
Pastors from around the state will lead us as we go over the heads of the elected officials with an Appeal to Heaven!
People For the American Way Action Fund announced today the endorsements of a slate of dynamic young progressive candidates running for public office across the United States. The endorsees are a diverse mix of candidates 35 and under who are marking a new generation of progressive leadership for the future. These candidates and officials represent a vision that will benefit communities all over the country, as they fight for social, economic, and environmental justice, and equality for all.
The endorsements are part of People For the American Way Action Fund’s Young Elected Progressives (YEP) program. YEP evaluates and endorses young progressive candidates ages 35 and under in their bids for elected office around the U.S. at all levels.
People For the American Way Action Fund is proud to endorse these YEP candidates for 2014:
James Albis – CT House District 99
James Albis is running for reelection to the Connecticut House of Representatives 99th District, representing East Haven. Albis has advocated consistently on behalf of the families of East Haven for better jobs, better schools, and better opportunities. In his second term as Representative, Albis worked to protect the environment, serving on the Speaker’s Task Force on Shoreline Preservation. Dedicated to supporting children and families, Albis has sponsored and voted for numerous laws that would expand family and medical leave, as well as healthcare, and to protect East Haven’s share of state education funding. Visit James Albis’s campaign website for more details.
John Paul Alvarez – FL House District 100
John Paul Alvarez is running for Florida House of Representatives District 100, representing Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Alvarez, a true Floridian born and raised in South Florida, knows first-hand about the issues facing his community and is dedicated to making Florida prosper. As a teacher, mentor, and community leader, Alvarez is a fierce advocate for public education. By fighting for the issues that matter most to students, working families, retired citizens, taxpayers, and South Florida’s most vulnerable citizens, Alvarez is determined to improve his community by creating more jobs, lowering the cost of living, and promoting equality for all. Visit John Paul Alvarez’s campaign website for more details.
Nelson Araujo – NV Assembly District 3
Nelson Araujo is a candidate for Nevada’s Assembly District 3, representing Clark County and Las Vegas. He is a native Nevadan that was born to struggling immigrant parents. Araujo, a determined leader, fought to help his family out of poverty and became the first in his family to graduate high school. As a community leader and elected official, Araujo is dedicated to stimulating job growth, providing greater healthcare access, and making higher education more accessible to everyone. We believe that with his leadership, Nevada will thrive. Visit Nelson Araujo’s campaign website for more details.
Mandela Barnes – WI Assembly District 11
Mandela Barnes is running for reelection in Wisconsin’s State Assembly District 11, representing central Milwaukee. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Barnes has done important work for Milwaukee as a community organizer and youth and development specialist. His dedication to creating jobs, reforming public education, and modernizing public transportation will serve the people of Milwaukee and strengthen the community. Visit Mandela Barnes’s campaign website for more details.
Jonathan Brostoff – WI Assembly District 19
Jonathan Brostoff, lifelong resident of Milwaukee’s East Side, is running for Wisconsin State Assembly’s 19th District representing central Milwaukee. Brostroff’s dedication to Milwaukee and experience as a legislative aide will help him lead Wisconsin toward a brighter future. Brostoff is determined to promote equal rights for all, to reinvest in public education, and to improve public transit in Wisconsin. Brostoff is a capable leader, devoted to making Wisconsin thrive for generations to come, whose real-world solutions will create progress in the state. Visit Jonathan Brostoff’s campaign website for more details.
Marina Dimitrijevic – WI Assembly District 19
Marina Dimitrijevic is running for the Wisconsin State Assembly District 19. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Dimitrijevic made history in 2004, when she became the youngest woman to be elected to the Milwaukee County Board. During her 10 year tenure, she has championed legislative victories on equal rights for the LGBT community, environmental sustainability, public transit, and workers’ rights. Dimitrijevic’s experience, leadership, and commitment to winning on progressive issues are exactly what the community of Milwaukee needs. Visit Marina Dimitrijevic’s campaign website for more details.
Justin Chenette – ME House District 134
Justin Chenette is running for reelection to the Maine House of Representatives’ 134th District , representing Saco. Before being elected as state Representative, Chenette served on the Maine State Board of Education, and has carried his passion for education into the state legislature. Chenette sponsored several education-related bills including legislation to promote community service in school and require internship experiences for high school students. Chenette, who was 22 years old upon his election to the House, has already proven himself to be a tireless and dedicated advocate and an important member in the next generation of leaders. Visit Justin Chenette’s campaign website for more details.
Luke Diaz –WI Verona Alder District 3
Luke Diaz is seeking reelection to the Verona City Council’s 3rd District, representing central Verona. Diaz has made it his mission to celebrate the city’s culture by cultivating a thriving downtown in Verona, working to expand jobs, improve transit, and provide important services to the community. An experienced city councilman, Diaz is an accessible leader that is dedicated to listening to the needs of his community. Visit Luke Diaz’s campaign page on Facebook for more details.
Zachary Dorholt – MN House District 14B
Zach Dorholt is running for reelection the Minnesota House of Representatives’ District 14B, representing St. Cloud City, and Haven and Minden Townships. Previously elected in 2011, Dorholt has been a champion for progressive values during his time in the House. He is an advocate for women’s rights and has sponsored bills to equalize pay in Minnesota and lengthen paid maternity leave. Dorholt has also fought for public education funding and is dedicated to creating a pathway to higher education for young Minnesotans. A proven leader, Dorholt will continue to make Minnesota a better and more prosperous place for the entire community. Visit Zach Dorholt’s campaign website for more details.
Crisanta Duran is running for reelection in the Colorado House of Representatives’ 5th District, representing Denver. As chairwoman of the joint budget committee, Crisanta guided the passage of a state budget that helped protect the environment, boost investments in education and job training, provide better women’s health services, help survivors of abuse, and create a better state economy for all Coloradoans. In her position as an elected official, she will continue to build a strong progressive foundation for the state’s future. Visit Crisanta Duran’s campaign website for more details.
Daneya Esgar – CO House District 46
Daneya Esgar is a candidate for Colorado State House of Representatives’ District 46, representing Pueblo. A dedicated public servant and product of Pueblo’s public education system, Esgar has dedicated her career as a television news producer and a community organizer to improving this community. Esgar has a clear vision for the future of Pueblo, and will continue to work toward job growth and improved public education as an elected official. Visit Daneya Esgar’s campaign website for more details.
Ryan Fecteau – ME House District 11
Ryan Fecteau is a Biddeford native running for Maine House of Representatives’ District 11, representing his hometown. Fecteau has a fresh and progressive perspective on the issues affecting Maine today. As representative, Fecteau will bring strong support of public education, women’s rights, and equal opportunity for all Americans by championing for middle-class workers, seniors, and college graduates of his district. Visit Ryan Fecteau’s campaign website for more details.
Joe Fitzgibbon – WA House District 34
Joe Fitzgibbon is running for reelection to the Washington House of Representatives’ District 34, representing Burien, West Seattle, White Center, and Vashon and Maury Islands. Fitzgibbon has been a fierce advocate for undocumented students, voting for both the DREAM Act and for in-state tuition for undocumented students. A champion for equality in Washington, Fitzgibbon has le d efforts to legalize gay marriage and expand healthcare and Medicaid to help ensure safe abortion procedures. Fitzgibbon is a true progressive and will continue to work toward equality for all Washingtonians. Visit Joe Fitzgibbon’s campaign website for more details.
Chris Larson – WI Senate District 7
Chris Larson is running for reelection to the Wisconsin State Senate’s 7th District, representing Milwaukee County. In Larson’s first term as senator, he served as the Minority Leader and worked tirelessly to end marriage discrimination in Wisconsin, to promote public education, and to protect the environment. Larson has worked to stimulate job growth and to increase access to health care, proving that he is truly in-tune with the needs of his community. “Larson is a true progressive leader,” PFAW’s Political Director Randy Borntrager said. “He is clearly dedicated to his community and determined to help each person and his community as a whole.” Visit Chris Larson’s campaign website for more details.
Eric Luedtke – MD House District 14
Eric Luedtke is running for reelection to the Maryland House of Delegates’ District 14, representing Montgomery County. Luedtke, who was first elected in 2010, has already made his mark as a progressive representative for Maryland. Luedtke, a teacher by profession, has advocated for public education reform, especially advocating for equality for students with special needs. Committed to families and children, Luedtke has worked on a variety of issues, from promoting easier access to healthcare to sponsoring bills that provide greater aid and support for survivors of sexual assault. Visit Eric Luedtke’s campaign website for more details.
Stefanie Mach – AZ House District 10
Stefanie Mach is running for reelection to the Arizona House of Representatives’ 10th Distric , representing Tucson. Since she was elected in 2012, Mach has proven herself to be a fighter, both professionally and personally. In her time as representative, Mach has worked to improve public education, to make higher education more affordable, to encourage job growth and the expansion of local businesses. An advocate for women and minorities, Mach has demonstrated she is dedicated to making Arizona a prosperous community for everyone. Visit Stefanie Mach’s campaign website for more details.
Marcus Madison – OH Senate District 13
Marcus Madison is a candidate for the Ohio State Senate’s 13th District, representing Huron and Lorain counties. Madison, currently serving as a city councilman in Elyria, has already proven that he is a dedicated public servant. He is the former student body president of Lorain County Community College, and previously served as deputy field officer for Obama for America, as well as Communications Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lorain County. A determined advocate, Madison is committed to improving public education, protecting workers, and providing sustainable jobs that will strengthen the middle class. Visit Marcus Madison’s campaign website for more details.
Aaron Marquez – AZ Senate District 27
Aaron Marquez is running for Arizona State Senate District 27, representing Maricopa County. Marquez, a captain with the U.S. Army Reserve, has been a courageous public servant both overseas and at home. Marquez is a fearless advocate for women’s rights, strong supporter of veterans, and a fighter for public education. A dedicated leader, Marquez will be a force for good in the Arizona legislature. Visit Aaron Marquez’s campaign website for more details.
Andrew McLean – ME House District 129
Andrew McLean is running for reelection to the 129th District in the Maine House of Representatives, representing North Gorham, White Rock, Little Falls, the Village and South Gorham. McLean was previously elected in 2012 and has worked tirelessly to support legislation that would protect the environment, expand healthcare, and reform gun laws in Maine. A resilient advocate, as representative McLean will continue to work on behalf of children and families in his next term and for years to come. Visit Andrew McLean’s campaign page on Facebook for more details.
Matt Moonen – ME House District 118
Matt Moonen is running for reelection in the 118th District in the Maine House of Representatives, representing part of Portland. Moonen has been dedicated to improving healthcare in Maine by sponsoring bills that would prohibit smoking in public places and that would expand Medicaid coverage and eligibility. Additionally, Moonen has been a fierce advocate for raising the minimum wage, passing comprehensive immigration reform, and reforming campaign finance. A true progressive candidate, Moonen will continue to make Maine an accepting and thriving place for all. Visit Matt Moonen’s campaign page on Facebook for more details.
Joe Neguse – CO Secretary of State
Joe Neguse, who is running for Colorado Secretary of State is the right choice for Colorado. Neguse brings with him knowledge and experience as a business attorney, member of the University Of Colorado Board Of Regents, and as a public servant. As secretary of state, Neguse will perform his duties with integrity and transparency, and will work to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to vote in Colorado. Neguse will advocate for everyone, regardless of wealth, age, or social standing. Visit Joe Neguse’s campaign website for more details.
Kesha Ram – VT House District 6-4
Kesha Ram is running for reelection to the Vermont House of Representatives’ District 6-4, representing Chittenden. Ram has worked to promote green job creation, affordable housing, and expanded access to healthcare. Both personally and in her capacity as a representative, Ram has worked to support survivors of domestic violence and is an active advocate for women’s rights. Ram is forward-thinking and dedicated, and her service will help Vermont flourish. Visit Kesha Ram’s campaign website for more details.
Laurie Anne Sayles – MD House District 17
Laurie Anne Sayles is running for Maryland’s House of Delegates District 17, representing Montgomery County. Sayles is a committed parent who has overcome obstacles to become a dedicated public servant in Maryland. A smart and capable leader, Sayles is a determined advocate for affordable healthcare, stronger public education, and accessible public transportation. As an elected official, Sayles will be a truly progressive leader for years to come. Visit Laurie Anne Sayles’s campaign website for more details.
Katrina Shankland – WI Assembly District 71
Katrina Shankland is running for reelection to the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing Stevens Point and its neighboring counties. In her one term as representative, Shankland has become a dedicated advocate for women’s rights and workers’ rights in Wisconsin. Shankland has worked to improve public education opportunities, and has been a fighter for environmental preservation and clean and sustainable energy practices. Visit Katrina Shankland’s campaign website for more details.
Alonzo Washington – MD House District 22
Alonzo Washington is running for reelection to the Maryland House of Delegates’ District 22, representing Prince George’s County. Washington, who has served in the House since 2012, already made a name for himself as a fighter for progressive values. He has sponsored and voted for bills that will increase the minimum wage, expand access to higher education, and strengthen public schools. As an important leader for Maryland’s future, Washington has and will continue to support progress in Maryland. Visit Alonzo Washington’s campaign website for more details.
Faith Winter – CO House District 35
Faith Winter, running for the Colorado House of Representatives’ 35th District to represent Westminster, is the right choice for Colorado. Winter has dedicated her life to public service, previously serving as a city councilwoman, mayor pro tem, and as the Emerge Colorado’s Executive Director, supporting women running for public office. In these capacities, Winter worked to create long-term jobs, expand affordable housing, and increase usage of sustainable energy in Colorado. Visit Faith Winter’s campaign website for more details.
A Wall Street Journal story last week on a new set of PACs seeking to influence secretary of state races reported that the new conservative PAC, SOS for SOS, will be led by former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.
"We are no longer going to let the left decide the size and dimensions of the playing field," Blackwell told WSJ.
It wasn’t long ago that Blackwell himself was deciding the size and dimensions of the electoral playing field in Ohio by, among other things, dictating the size and dimensions and paper stock of mail-in voter registration cards.
Leading up to the 2004 elections, Blackwell became notorious for administering elections rules that made it a lot harder to vote. The most colorful of these was a last-minute regulation on the size and paper quality of printed voter registration cards. Rolling Stone explained:
To further monkey-wrench the process he was bound by law to safeguard, Blackwell cited an arcane elections regulation to make it harder to register new voters. In a now-infamous decree, Blackwell announced on September 7th -- less than a month before the filing deadline -- that election officials would process registration forms only if they were printed on eighty-pound unwaxed white paper stock, similar to a typical postcard. Justifying his decision to ROLLING STONE, Blackwell portrayed it as an attempt to protect voters: ''The postal service had recommended to us that we establish a heavy enough paper-weight standard that we not disenfranchise voters by having their registration form damaged by postal equipment.'' Yet Blackwell's order also applied to registrations delivered in person to election offices. He further specified that any valid registration cards printed on lesser paper stock that miraculously survived the shredding gauntlet at the post office were not to be processed; instead, they were to be treated as applications for a registration form, requiring election boards to send out a brand-new card.
Blackwell's directive clearly violated the Voting Rights Act, which stipulates that no one may be denied the right to vote because of a registration error that ''is not material in determining whether such individual is qualified under state law to vote.'' The decision immediately threw registration efforts into chaos. Local newspapers that had printed registration forms in their pages saw their efforts invalidated. Delaware County posted a notice online saying it could no longer accept its own registration forms. Even Blackwell couldn't follow the protocol: The Columbus Dispatch reported that his own staff distributed registration forms on lighter-weight paper that was illegal under his rule. Under the threat of court action, Blackwell ultimately revoked his order on September 28th -- six days before the registration deadline.
Other Blackwell projects in the lead-up to the 2004 election included making it harder to cast a provisional ballot and keeping urban precincts low on electronic voting machines, resulting in long lines. A report from Democratic Rep. John Conyers found that “actions by Mr. Blackwell, the Republican Party, and elections officials, disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Ohio citizens, predominantly Minority and Democratic voters.”
Blackwell’s partisan bent was never a secret. After losing his campaign to be Ohio’s governor in 2006, he moved on to work for the Family Research Council and tried to angle himself into the job of chairman of the Republican National Committee.
In other words, Blackwell is the perfect person to lead the Right’s new effort to elect Republican secretary of state candidates in the mold of Kansas’ Kris Kobach, who see their jobs not as encouraging and facilitating voting, but making it harder...especially for certain Democratic-leaning constituencies.
Mission America host Linda Harvey is overjoyed that some Muslim taxi drivers, while “sometimes kind of scary,” are refusing to drive cabs with advertisements for the upcoming Gay Games in Cleveland. But at the same time, Harvey continues to warn that gays and Muslims are working together to push an anti-Christian agenda.
“I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s going to be a big gathering of homosexuals in the city of Cleveland in August for what is called the Gay Games,” Harvey said. “Yes I know, it seems that these folks can’t stop proclaiming in public the sinful behavior they’ve told us for years they wanted to keep private.”
“About twenty-five cab drivers who are Muslims are refusing to drive cabs that display the Gay Games promotional signs. And you know what, I totally agree with them, good for them for having the courage to stand up and do this.”
She went on to allege that the “homosexual community” is silent on the issue, even though many gay news outlets covered the story. Harvey blamed the purported silence on “fear” of the Muslim community.
“Unlike Christians that the LGBT folks keep trying to paint as haters and harassers, Muslims really are sometimes kind of scary or they have scary friends,” she said.
Moments after saluting this anti-gay move by a group of Muslim taxi drivers, she then alleged that Muslims and gays are working together to bring down Christianity.
“But there’s something else. Could it be that the two groups have a common denominator that transcends the homosexuality issue, and that is they both essentially despise Christians?” she explained. “Sadly, I believe that gets to the heart of what is going on, whether these folks admit it or not.”