Real vs. Fake Voting Issues May Mean Paper Ballots and Hand Counts Again

Casablanca   Hillary Clinton on a book tour and Donald Trump on his maiden voyage at the United Nations where he could take advantage of the opportunity to plug one of his branded properties across the street and threaten to annihilate a small country, reminds all of us that the American election was nearly one year ago last November. It’s officially fall again on the calendar no matter how warm it seems in country after country.

Amazingly, we are still talking about the election. For many it seems just like yesterday. Special Prosecutor and former FBI chief Robert Mueller is starting to let subpoenas fall like so many leaves all over Washington, D.C. as he tries to determine the impact the Russians had on the election and how deeply connected they were to the Trump campaign apparatus. In fact just yesterday, a year too late, the Department of Homeland Security alerted twenty-two states that they had reason to believe that their voting systems were being hacked before the last election. The twenty-two states that were confirmed by the Associated Press through calls to all 50 state election commissions were the battlegrounds of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

Meanwhile the President quickly tweets that none of this had any effect on the election. Who knows, maybe he’s right, but rather than spending his time tweeting about it, maybe his energy would be better spent at this point making sure election systems are protected and secure. Instead, he has an Election Commission ostensibly chaired by Vice-President Pence but really nothing more than another platform for Krazy Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State and putative gubernatorial candidate there to claim there was voting fraud in order to prevent more people from having their constitutional right to vote in the future. Something is just plain backasswards about all of that.

Kobach and his fake election integrity commission just got caught in one of his standard partisan stunts when they held a hearing in New Hampshire where he then unilaterally preempted the outfit before they could meet by claiming that there were over 5000 fraudulent voters that were sufficient enough to have theoretically made the difference in both the last Senate and Presidential outcomes in that state. When pulled short by the Election Commissioner in the state and the outrage in his own fake committee because he was discounting the fact that students are allowed to register and vote in New Hampshire since they spent the majority of their year there and almost all of votes he was claiming to be illegal were in college towns, like a schoolboy he essentially just said, “my bad.” What a farce!

We need a real election commission to look at real problems like how to secure and protect the ballot, not the Trump-Kobach program of how to prevent people from voting. Let the Russians play with that, while Americans figure out how we get the maximum votes and make sure they are counted fair and square. Some states have canceled contracts for new computer voting systems. Are we going to end up going back to paper ballots and hand counting, while Trump tweets and Kobach acts out for the headlines, and no one pays attention to the real problems in protecting our elections and voting systems?

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ACORN a Major Force in Voter Registration for Tenants in United Kingdom

New Orleans   Your mind just did a double take, right? ACORN and voter registration in the same sentence, that’s so 2008, right? Well, yes and no, but screw your head on tighter and focus, focus, focus, because now we’re talking about ACORN as a force for voter registration, and the setting is the United Kingdom. What’s up?

The snap election called by British Prime Minister Theresa May is coming soon, and voter registration has become more difficult in the UK. Until recently the head of a family with one swoop could register everyone in the household, now everyone must individually register. Other new rules that fit in with the global voter suppression efforts of conservatives impact potential young voters because universities, for example, are barred from registering students, largely to keep them from creating a voting block in the towns where they are located.

The other huge group that is being disenfranchised now in the UK is tenants, and ACORN’s base in England and Scotland is significantly composed of tenants, given the housing affordability and access crisis which has swept the UK. The Guardian quoting an ACORN report, noted that “ 93% of property owners are registered to vote but only 63% of renters.” Others say the number may be as low as 59%.

In a more recent article in The Guardian, the case was even clearer that ACORN is working to register and bring attention to millions of tenants being disenfranchised. The Guardian reported:

Campaigners have also warned that another high-risk group is the more than 3 million private renters in England. Generation Rent and ACORN, both pressure groups for renters’ rights, estimate that about 1.8m private renters have moved home since the 2016 referendum and must therefore register again.

Private renters are typically on tenancy agreements of no longer than 12 months and are six times more likely to move in a given year than homeowners, the groups said. A further 1.6 million private renters are estimated not to have been registered in the first place.

ACORN’s national organiser, Stuart Melvin, said renters’ rights were dependent on registering to vote. “Renters need a government that will reform the housing market to protect them from unfair evictions and rising rents, and we won’t get one unless we vote for it,” he said.

Before renters can do that, they need to make sure they’re registered, and when you are on the register it is too easy to fall off it when you move.”

Buzzfeed was even more specific on the importance of ACORN’s efforts noting that “research from Renters Vote, a campaign from renters rights groups ACORN and Generation Rent… say 1.8 million renters who are eligible to vote moved home since the EU referendum in June 2016 and will need to reregister in their new address, while a further 1.6 million renters were unregistered to start with…Renters move home six times more often than homeowners on average, due to the widespread use of 12-month assured short-hold tenancy agreements, meaning they have to register each time they move.”

This is a major issue given the upcoming election, and the clock is ticking. Despite the efforts of ACORN and our partners, a huge number of tenants will be left voiceless in this election, as ACORN’s national organizer, Stuart Melvin noted. There isn’t much doubt that that was the point of these voter suppression efforts.

One bright light for the future was included in the recommendations by a Guardian columnist of what needed to be done to fight this problem in the future, which we totally embrace:

6. Unionise

Official recognition for tenant unions, such as Acorn, Living Rent [ACORN’s affiliate] in Scotland, Tenant Voice and Generation Rent. Include them in discussions, invite them to select committees, listen to what they say.

Amen to that!

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