This year, thanks to the tireless efforts of dedicated advocates and organizations, we’re witnessing a remarkable shift in the political landscape when it comes to expanding and protecting the right to vote for justice-impacted people. Advocacy Based on Lived Experience (ABLE) – an organization dedicated to working to engage people in the democratic process – held several community events across Kentucky, allowing attendees and lawmakers to hold discussions on pertinent issues in their communities, regardless of their political affiliation. Participants frequently discussed state legislation that would restore the right to vote to over 160,000 Kentuckians who are disenfranchised due to their history with the criminal legal system.
A court case heard in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on December 14, 2023, could have a decisive impact on the legal fight to finally put Cop City on the ballot. If successful, the citizen ballot initiative would put a question to voters about whether to revoke the lease of land to the Atlanta Police Foundation to build the massive militarized police training facility, which has seen grassroots resistance reach a fever pitch this year. In Atlanta, for a citizen ballot initiative to be voted on in a general election, petition gatherers must collect signatures equivalent to 15 percent of active registered Atlanta voters within 60 days.
Chief Justice John Roberts has historically not decided cases in a way that protects voting rights. In 2013, he authored Shelby v. Holder, which drove a stake through the heart of the Voting Rights Act. And in 2021, he voted to further weaken the Act in Brnovich v. DNC. But this past month, Roberts surprisingly authored two new Supreme Court opinions that support the right to vote. On June 8, the high court struck down a racist congressional district map in Allen v. Milligan, and on June 27, the court preserved judicial review of state legislative enactments in Moore v. Harper.
Thousands of people have rallied in cities and towns across Australia to back a campaign to recognise the country’s Indigenous people in the constitution in advance of a referendum later this year. The gatherings on Sunday, organised by the Yes23 campaign, were part of a nationwide “day of action” to rally the public after a recent dip in support for the constitutional change. The proposal, which will be put up for a referendum between October and December, seeks to establish an advisory body – the Indigenous Voice to Parliament – to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a direct say in policies that affect them.
Illinois - On election day, Illinois voters approved a constitutional amendment guaranteeing all workers organizing and collective bargaining rights, setting a new high bar for state labor policy at a moment when policymakers should prioritize empowering workers to address historic levels of income inequality and unequal power in our economy. The Illinois Workers’ Rights Amendment adds language to the state constitution affirming that “employees shall have the fundamental right to organize and to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of negotiating wages, hours, and working conditions, and to protect their economic welfare and safety at work.” The new clause also specifies that “no law shall be passed that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively.”
On December 7, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case Moore v. Harper, a case which could effectively eliminate the influence of the popular vote in presidential elections. In Moore, a case which the Court, now dominated by a far-right majority, will likely decide before July 2023, it is possible that justices will rule in favor of allowing state legislatures the authority to decide the outcome of presidential elections, regardless of the popular vote. Peoples Dispatch spoke to Brian Becker, founding member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) and part of the PSL’s central committee, about a pamphlet he authored, titled “The Supreme Court vs. Democracy.” In our conversation, Becker outlined what is at stake regarding the future of democracy in the United States.
A group seeking to place an initiative on the November 2023 ballot to replace Maine’s unpopular investor-owned utilities, Central Maine Power and Versant, with a nonprofit power company submitted over 80,000 signatures Monday, far exceeding the total needed to trigger a referendum. Our Power, the group spearheading the campaign, announced its haul at a press conference at the State House before handing its petitions into the Secretary of State’s Office. That office now has a month to verify the signatures, but with a wide margin over the slightly more than 63,000 signatures needed for a ballot initiative, Our Power’s referendum is very likely to be on the ballot in November 2023. “We have news for you, CMP and Versant, and for your greedy corporate and foreign-government owners. Today, over 80,000 Maine voters are ready to revoke your monopoly privilege,” Andrew Blunt, executive director of Our Power, said at Monday’s press conference.
The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted 3-2 today to subpoena the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for information about its provision of sophisticated campaign software to its legislative members. The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission last July alleging that ALEC’s gift of valuable voter management software, developed by Republican operatives and linked to the Republican National Committee’s voter database, constituted an illegal and unreported in-kind campaign contribution. CMD also filed an IRS whistleblower complaint against ALEC over the controversial program, valued at as much as $6 million per election cycle.
When Republicans blocked the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act on January 19, 2022, they removed the last safety net preventing the U.S.’s plummet toward authoritarianism. As a result, we are at this moment in a state of free-fall, the culmination of a state-level Legislative And Enforcement Landscape that directly mirrors Jim Crow — or as fascism scholar Jason Stanley recently put it, “America is now in fascism’s legal phase.” Although we do have ways of fighting back, the situation is dire. We often hear that the U.S.’s founding documents, courts and institutions make it immune to despotism, but this claim is simply false and erases our country’s troubling history with white supremacy — one the GOP is poised to reinvigorate.
A poll taken in December 2021 reflecting that a majority of “Americans” now “believe that democracy in the United State is in danger of disappearing” accommodates the bipartisan erasure of those colonized by US settler colonialism. Several US news outlets have reported that the Schoen Cooperman Research poll on “U.S. Perceptions of Government” reflects the opinions and concerns of “Americans” at large. The poll reflects that 51-percent of respondents agree with the statement that democracy in the US is at risk of extinction, a position shared almost equally between party affiliations. The sentiment is most acute among the younger generation. However, there is a deeply flawed premise in not just the poll itself but likely in the respondents to it as well.
A New York City law granting more than 800,000 lawful permanent residents the right to vote in local elections took effect Sunday after the recently elected mayor, Democrat Eric Adams, declined to veto it. The New York City Council had voted 33-14—with two abstentions—for the measure to allow noncitizens who have resided in the city for at least 30 days to vote for mayor, council members, and other municipal offices beginning next year. "The New York City Council is making history," declared Ydanis Rodríguez, the former council member who sponsored the bill, last month. "New York City must be seen as a shining example for other progressive cities to follow." Rodríguez—an immigrant and naturalized citizen from the Dominican Republic who is now the city's Department of Transportation commissioner—added Sunday that "we build a stronger democracy when we include the voices of immigrants."
Detroit voters favored launching a reparations commission Tuesday, and a proposal to decriminalize psychedelic plants passed by a wide margin. Another, Proposal S, failed with 53.9% voting no to amending a section of the city charter to allow voters to push ordinances that include appropriating money. More than 80% of voters said yes to Proposal R, which calls for the launching of a reparations commission, while 61% of voters said yes to decriminalizing psychedelic plants. Another ballot proposal to amend the city charter to allow for citizen-driven ballot initiatives tied to city spending, Proposal S found no support among nearly 54% of voters, while 46% voted yes. Proposal R asked whether Michigan’s largest city should form a committee to consider reparations for residents, 77% of whom are Black.
Last year after George Floyd’s murder, community organizers spurred a national conversation on the role of policing and public safety. The collective outrage and sustained protests led to democracy in action. In Tuesday’s election, Minneapolis voters have a chance to change the way the city handles public safety. Organizers like Miski Noor want voters to embrace the opportunity to change how the city deals with public safety and vote in favor of the public safety amendment known as Question 2. Noor, an organizer with Black Visions, spoke with NewsOne over the weekend in between get out the vote events. Reflecting on the energy of early voters in line to cast their ballots Saturday, Noor says Minneapolis has been waiting for this change.
Raleigh, NC — Tens of thousands of North Carolina residents convicted of felonies but whose current punishments don’t include prison time can register to vote and cast ballots, a judicial panel declared Monday. Several civil rights groups and ex-offenders who sued legislative leaders and state officials in 2019 argue the current 1973 law is unconstitutional by denying the right vote to people who have completed their active sentences or received no such sentence, such as people on probation. They said the rules disproportionately affect Black residents and originated from an era of white supremacy in the 19th century. In a brief hearing following a trial last week challenging the state’s voting restrictions upon felons, Superior Court Judge Lisa Bell said two judges on the three-judge panel have agreed they would issue a formal order soon allowing more felony offenders to register.
On March 3, 2020, former Vice President, Joe Biden, to the euphoric pleasure of Democratic Party elites, was brought back from near political death. After terrible showings in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, Biden was on the verge of receiving his "last rights" as a corporate politician.