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    Archive for the
    ‘election reform’ Category

    McCutcheon Who?

    Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

    McCutcheon who? FEC what? What’s this all about?

    You can take my word on it: it’s a pretty big deal. We were hoping our friends on the Supreme Court bench would stick to their democratic principles and rule against McCutcheon. But they didn’t. And the consequences of the decision could fundamentally change the way elections work in our country.

    So who exactly is McCutcheon?

    McCutcheon is basically your run-of-the-mill Rich Uncle Pennybags. He’s a conservative businessman from Alabama who likes to donate thousands of dollars to political candidates. But he was a little sore after the last election when federal authorities told him he couldn’t donate more than the legal limit, which is set at $123,200.

    I know, bummer right? I can definitely relate. NOT!

    These limits, by the way, exist because of a rule in the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974, which aimed to limit corruption in the wake of the Watergate Scandal. In democracy-speak, that’s a good thing. It keeps our leaders honest (somewhat).

    So Mr. McCutcheon decided to take his case to the Supreme Court to overturn these limits. The case went to trial last October and we’ve been waiting since then for news on the Court’s decision.

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court announced its decision in a 5-4 vote to overturn the legal limits on campaign donations. This is a victory for Mr. McCutcheon and a loss for democracy.

    What does this decision mean for young people in America? Actually, quite a lot:
    • Rich people can give more money to help influence the outcome of elections. The wealthiest 1% now has even more power than before to throw money around and influence election outcomes. Is that fair?
    • Those of us (ahem, young people) who don’t have a ton of money will now have an even harder time getting our voice heard. With the youth unemployment rate hovering around 16%, there are few young people who could even come close to the existing donation limit.

    So what can we do about it?

    The Supreme Court overturned the limits because it believes that donating money to a political candidate is an expression of free speech. But if that’s the case, and money really does equal free speech, then doesn’t that suggest that people with more money have more freedom? I don’t know about you, but that sure doesn’t sound like democracy.

    If we stay informed, register to vote, and show up on Election Day, we can reclaim our inalienable right to participate in our democracy and influence our elected leaders. The power shifts to us.

    You with me? Visit www.rockthevote.com and register to vote today.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    Primary Day in New Hampshire

    Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

    It is Primary Day in New Hampshire. The first primary in the 2012 contest. And while voters are heading to the polls for the Democratic and Republican primaries (polls close at 7pm!), some misinformation is being spread about the voting laws.

    So here is the low-down:

    1/ If you are registered to vote already, you do not need to bring ID to the polls.
    2/ If you are not registered to vote, you can do so at the polls today (!) and you must bring proof of who you are and where you live (utility bill, student ID, etc)

    Last year, the state of NH tried to pass legislation that would make it nearly impossible for out-of-state students to vote, end same-day voter registration, and require very specific voter ID at the polls. But students and citizens in NH rallied and won! The measures were all rejected.

    But today there has been a bunch of confusion caused by misinformation about voting rights flying around NH.

    Check out this message from Rock the Vote’s Amanda Brown (who used to be a student voter in NH) as she sets the record straight.

    If you have questions about election information, go to electionland.com for more information.

    And, clearly the attempts to make it harder for students to vote whether through laws or confusion are not going away. Rock the Vote will be fighting back. If you want to help, sign up to join our ‘Rock the Vote, Don’t Bock the Vote’ campaign.


    Heather Smith
    Bio: Heather is President of Rock the Vote.
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    Your vote, your issues: Fair elections

    Friday, September 24th, 2010

    We know that young people are deeply concerned about our political process and how it can be improved. Our new polling data indicates that 59% of young people are more cynical about politics than they were two years ago, and an overwhelming 86% said they are concerned about the influence of special interests and corporations in politics. This week, the Senate made some big decisions on two bills related to this very issue. While the outcome of both bills is uncertain, you can be sure your vote will make a difference in reforming our elections system. Let’s break down the news from this week:

    Many celebrated yesterday as a step towards leveling the playing field in our political process. The House Committee on Administration passed the Fair Elections Now Act, which is intended to curb candidates reliance on special interest contributions and thus give candidates without big time connections more of a chance. The act would require candidates to only receive donations of less than $100 from residents of their state but those funds would be matched at a 4-1 rate with money from the sale of unused broadcast spectrum. Sponsored by Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), the Fair Elections Now Act is intended to create a political climate where candidates focus on campaigning to constituents rather than corporations or lobbyists.

    The legislation now heads to the floor, so be sure to stay tuned for updates!

    In other election reform news, the DISCLOSE act failed to pass by a 59-39 vote, with Senate Republicans filibustering the bill. The legislation is aimed at increasing transparency in campaigns and would require corporations, special interest groups, and unions to offer more details about their political contributions. Advocates of DISCLOSE say that voters have a right to know who is bankrolling candidates while opponents say it is merely an attempt to silence Republican-leaning business groups. The act was created in response to a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which found that corporations had the same rights as individuals to make political statements and contributions. This being the second time DISCLOSE has been defeated in the Senate, we’ll have to wait and see what happens to the bill.

    Tom Yarnell
    Bio: Tom is a former Rock the Vote communications team member who now works for an intellectual property law firm in DC. He loves sports and coming back to blog for RTV!
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    Party for Prop 15

    Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

    California Common Cause is throwing a big event on June 1st at the Echo in Los Angeles to rally support for Proposition 15, the Clean Elections Law. In addition to California Common Cause, Prop 15 is being supported by, the AARP, California Nurses Association, California Church IMPACT, NAACP, League of Women Voters of California, California Clean Money Campaign and hundreds more organizations, elected officials and community leaders.

    Prop 15 intends to get money out of the political system by providing a public finance system to qualified candidates for offices instead of the current system which forces candidates for office to be beholden to private donors who fund their elections. But you can learn all about it at the Yes on 15 website.

    So back to the event!  DJ Jeremy Dawson of Shiny Toy Guns will be spinning, White Apple Tree will be there too and so will Buddy Akai. It’s going to be an amazing show and it’s only $8 if you buy your tickets in advance here. It’ll be $10 at the door…so why not save yourself $2 and click here.

    Here’s where you can learn more about CA Prop 15. You can even read the argument for and against the propositions so you can make up our own mind.

    Here’s an image of the event’s flyer:

    Common Cause June 1st at the echo


    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    Voting Constitutional Amendment?

    Monday, July 6th, 2009
    supreme court

    On June 30th a few of the Rock the Vote interns attended a conference in Washington D.C. on voting rights and we wanted to relay the highlights. The New America Foundation joined with fair elections advocates FairVote to organize “The Future of the Voting Rights Act” conference in which some of the nation’s top voting rights experts came together to review the NAMUDNO case (Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District v. Holder) and its impacts, and also to think more comprehensively about voting rights.

    The Supreme Court on June 22 upheld a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in the NAMUDNO case. The Court in an 8-1 majority, ruled  that a full and equal right to vote is at the core of our democracy. Although the United States has made significant progress in protecting voting rights, discrimination still requires attention and enforcement. The experts at the conference believed that this ruling should inspire further action to enhance protections of the right to vote, and gave proposals like universal voter registration, proportional voting systems and a constitutional right to vote.

    The Constitutional Right to Vote was a major topic of discussion. The panelists believed the right to vote should be the foundation of any democracy. Yet, most Americans do not realize that we do not in fact have a constitutional right to vote. Because there is no right to vote in the U.S. Constitution, individual states set their own electoral policies and procedures in areas such as ballot design, polling hours, voting equipment, voter registration requirements and ex-felon voting rights.

    The proposal for adding a Right to Vote Amendment to the U.S Constitution would:

    • Guarantee the right of every citizen 18 and over to vote
    • Empower Congress to set national minimum electoral standards for all states to follow
    • Provide protection against attempts to disenfranchise individual voters
    • Ensure that every vote cast is counted correctly

    For more information on all things voting rights, head over to Fairvote’s Website: http://www.fairvote.org/

    We would like to know what you think about this issue. Should Rock the Vote support the proposed implementation of  a constitutional amendment for the right to vote?


    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com