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How Alabama’s ‘New Poll Tax’ Bars Thousands Of People From Voting

By Connor Sheets for AL - Randi Lynn Williams assumes she will never be able to afford to vote again. The 38-year-old Dothan resident lost her right to vote in 2008, when she was convicted of fraudulent use of a credit card. She was on probation for over two years, then served a few months behind bars ending in early 2011, at which point she would have been eligible to vote in most states. In Maine and Vermont, she would have never lost that right in the first place. But in Alabama and eight other states from Nevada to Tennessee, anyone who has lost the franchise cannot regain it until they pay off any outstanding court fines, legal fees and victim restitution. In Alabama, that requirement has fostered an underclass of thousands of people who are unable to vote because they do not have enough money. For folks like Williams, who said she regularly voted prior to her conviction in 2008, poverty is the only remaining obstacle to participation in the electoral process. "When all this started, the county told me I lost my right to vote and I don't get my vote back until I pay all my fines and costs and get off probation and all that," she said. Alabama's felon disenfranchisement policies are likely unconstitutional, and they have disparate impacts on felons who are poor, black, or both, according to experts.

Pennsylvania Voters Torn Over Calls For A Fracking Ban

By Valerie Volcovici for Reuters - For some Democratic voters in Pennsylvania, Tuesday's primary election will be more than just a chance to pick preferred candidates for public office - it will be a mini-referendum on the future of the state's downtrodden fracking industry. Three candidates on the ballot, including Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and two Democratic U.S. Senate hopefuls, want to ban or pause the controversial oil and gas drilling technique, splitting an electorate in parts of the state concerned about both jobs and the environment.

Message To Democratic Party: It’s Time To Face Reality

The 2014 election was a disaster for Democrats. Any Democratic partisan who tries to explain it away is doing a disservice to their party. When the Maryland’s Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown loses to an unknown Republican in a state where the Democrats have a 2-to-1 registration advantage, the Democratic Party better look in the mirror and ask: Why didn’t people vote for us? And why didn’t the base of people who have voted for us come out to vote? Democratic Party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced that the party will initiate a process to understand why they lost so badly in the recent election. An honest reflection on these questions and an informed shift in strategy would result in a transformation toward a truly populist platform with non-corporatist candidates. That shift would make the Democratic Party the dominant party for decades to come. Failure to face these issues will ensure the Democrats will never play the role of leadership that the country needs at this critical time.

Record Number Of Anti-Fracking Measures On Ballot

Eight towns and counties across the country are taking their health and environmental concerns about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to the ballot boxes next week. That's apparently a record number for a single election day, according to experts who spoke to InsideClimate News. Fracking is "the number one political issue" related to energy this election, said Thad Kousser, a political science professor at the University of California San Diego. The controversial process, which involves pumping a slurry of water, chemicals and sand down a well to crack open shale bedrock and extract oil and gas, has driven a surge in U.S. energy production, enriched property owners and created local jobs. But there's a growing backlash against the industry: Opponents are concerned about air, water, waste, noise and light pollution, and they argue that regulations are too weak.

Why Millennials Don’t Vote and What To Do About It {aTV 007)

On Acronym TV this week, two individuals working to fix our Democracy in crisis. Christina Tobin is the founder and chair of Free & Equal. She has a long history of supporting ballot access, having gathered and defended over 1 million signatures for the Green Party, Constitution Party, Republican Party, Democratic Party, Libertarian Party, Socialist Equality Party and independents. Free & Equal Elections Foundation is a non-partisan grassroots organization, whose mission is to shift the power back to the individual voter through education. Their motto, “More Voices, More Choices.” Daniel Lee is a lifelong activist. He serves on the national leadership team for the group Move to Amend, which is a coalition of hundreds of organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy; Move To Amend is calling for an amendment to the US Constitution to unequivocally state that inalienable rights belong to human beings only, and that money is not a form of protected free speech under the First Amendment and can be regulated in political campaigns.
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