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November 5, 2013

Texas town to vote on most expensive high school stadium in the country

  • $69.5M could be spent on a new high school football stadium in the city of Katy, Texas, if a new ballot measure is approved by voters on Tuesday, though it doesn’t actually say that anywhere on the ballot. Registered voters in the town of approx. 15,000 will be asked to vote yes or no on an all-or-nothing bill — that also includes $4.5 million for a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics center — that would see nearly 70 million dollars set aside for the “construction, acquisition and equipment of school buildings in the district.” The new facility would seat roughly 14,000 and be built next to the town’s existing high school stadium, which only seats ten thousand. source
16:46 // 5 months ago
July 25, 2013
18:40 // 9 months ago
July 11, 2013
This is undoubtedly an amusing headline, but it actually touches on a serious issue in democracies: How can policymakers sell and implement necessarily policy when the general public is almost comedically misinformed about what policy is needed? The poll cited showed that Britons believe that 24% of jobless benefits are fraudulently claimed (the actual number is .7%); that violent crime is rising (it’s falling); that immigrants comprise 1/3 of the population (more like 13%); and that teen pregnancy is roughly 26 times higher than it actually is. “Politicians need to be better at talking about the real state of affairs of the country, rather than spinning the numbers,” said one of the pollsters involved. In addition, “the media has to try and genuinely illuminate issues, rather than use statistics to sensationalise.” So, in other words, the incentives structure of politics and the media needs to do a complete 180 from where they are now. Awesome, that should be a quick fix. source

This is undoubtedly an amusing headline, but it actually touches on a serious issue in democracies: How can policymakers sell and implement necessarily policy when the general public is almost comedically misinformed about what policy is needed? The poll cited showed that Britons believe that 24% of jobless benefits are fraudulently claimed (the actual number is .7%); that violent crime is rising (it’s falling); that immigrants comprise 1/3 of the population (more like 13%); and that teen pregnancy is roughly 26 times higher than it actually is. “Politicians need to be better at talking about the real state of affairs of the country, rather than spinning the numbers,” said one of the pollsters involved. In addition, “the media has to try and genuinely illuminate issues, rather than use statistics to sensationalise.” So, in other words, the incentives structure of politics and the media needs to do a complete 180 from where they are now. Awesome, that should be a quick fix. source

20:22 // 9 months ago
June 25, 2013

Here’s what SCOTUS ruled on the Voting Rights Act, in lay terms

  • question The Voting Rights Act mandated that certain jurisdictions in the country with a history of voter disenfranchisement (all in the south) receive pre-clearance from the federal government before enacting any new voting laws. The case on which SCOTUS ruled today questioned whether or not this is constitutional. 
  • ruling The court did not strike down the concept of pre-clearance; rather, struck down the specific formula currently used to determine which states require pre-clearance. So, until Congress can agree on and pass a new formula for this determination, no states will require pre-clearance anymore.

It falls upon congress to decide on a new formula—essentially, to figure out which states should still require federal approval to change their voting laws. Given how congress is these days, we’re exceedingly doubtful that any agreement will be reached anytime soon. source

16:01 // 10 months ago
February 27, 2013
[A] majority of the Court seems committed to invalidating Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and requiring Congress to revisit the formula for requiring preclearance of voting changes…It is unlikely that the Court will write an opinion forbidding a preclearance regime. But it may be difficult politically for Congress to enact a new measure.
SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein earlier this morning. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments today on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states with a history of voter disenfranchisement to obtain approval from the federal government before making any changes to their voting laws. One possible outcome: The court strikes down the criteria used in Section 5, but doesn’t strike down the requirement for preclearance itself. If that happens, a new criteria for preclearance would have to be constructed and enacted. And who would be responsible for that? John Boehner and Harry Reid, of course. Sigh. More on today’s arguments here. source
13:41 // 1 year ago
February 12, 2013
When any American, no matter where they live or what their party, are denied [the right to vote] because they can’t afford to wait for five, or six, or seven hours to cast a ballot, we are betraying our ideals. So tonight I’m announcing a non-partisan commission to improve the voting experience in America, and it definitely needs improvement. …we can fix this, and we will. The American people demand it, and so does our democracy.
President Obama, calling for reforms to the voting process.This was foreshadowed in a single line during his victory speech on election night 2012 (“we have to fix that”), and as Obama explained, attorneys from both his campaign and that of his opponent, Mitt Romney, will participate in the effort.
22:12 // 1 year ago
January 24, 2013

Long lines at voting precincts deterred over 200k Floridians from casting their vote

201,000 Floridians didn’t vote in November because the lines were too long source

18:50 // 1 year ago
We must compete in every state and every region, building relationships with communities we haven’t before…Simple ‘outreach’ a few months before an election will not suffice. In fact, let’s stop talking about ‘reaching out’—and start working on welcoming in.
Planned remarks by Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus for the group’s upcoming winter meeting. Since November, we’ve heard a lot from the GOP about “re-calibrating" its message to appeal to demographics it lost in 2012 (Hispanics, women, young people, African-Americans, LGBT folk, and others). What we haven’t yet heard is how, if at all, those recalibrations will manifest themselves policy-wise. Will Priebus, or anyone else at this RNC meeting, be able to articulate what policies the GOP has to offer the people who voted to reelect President Obama last year and expand the Democratic majority the the Senate? Or will they insist that it’s just a matter of messaging? Speaking of messaging, Priebus probably isn’t too happy about Republican darling Allen West’s latest. source
10:51 // 1 year ago
January 16, 2013
It was not my bill…The Legislature passed it. I didn’t have anything to do with passing it.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, insisting to his state’s Legislative Black Caucus that he isn’t responsible for the voter ID laws the state passed in 2011. Of course, Scott signed the bill into law, and his administration spent more than $500,000 defending it in court once it became law, so this is a spurious claim, to put it nicely. In other news, a new poll suggests trouble for Scott when he runs for reelection next year. source
13:58 // 1 year ago
November 10, 2012
upwithchris:

Which voters waited on long lines to cast their ballots on Tuesday? According to a survey by the AFL-CIO, Obama voters were much more likely to wait on lines longer than 30 minutes than Romney voters, with blacks and Hispanics especially vulnerable.
The long lines were so bad, it took just two minutes for President Obama to mention them in his victory speech on Tuesday, with a rare flash of anger: “By the way, we have to fix that.”

It’s hard to believe that with forethought, planning, and some sort of standardized elections system, our country couldn’t ensure that voting lines and snafus of the kind we saw on Tuesday won’t happen again. It’s a big deal.

upwithchris:

Which voters waited on long lines to cast their ballots on Tuesday? According to a survey by the AFL-CIO, Obama voters were much more likely to wait on lines longer than 30 minutes than Romney voters, with blacks and Hispanics especially vulnerable.

The long lines were so bad, it took just two minutes for President Obama to mention them in his victory speech on Tuesday, with a rare flash of anger: “By the way, we have to fix that.”

It’s hard to believe that with forethought, planning, and some sort of standardized elections system, our country couldn’t ensure that voting lines and snafus of the kind we saw on Tuesday won’t happen again. It’s a big deal.

17:27 // 1 year ago