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    Archive for the
    ‘voter registration’ Category



    The Unsupervised Classroom: Why Changes to the VRA Opened a Can of Worms

    Monday, February 3rd, 2014

    I’ve got good news and bad news…and for the sake of ending on a good note, I’ll start with the bad:

    In the summer of 2013, the US Supreme Court reviewed and phased out section 4b of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). (You can read section 4b of the VRA of 1965 here.)

    If all of this doesn’t seem like a big deal, think again. Say “Goodbye,” to Federal Preclearance and brace yourself for the wrath of States Rights.
    Imagine a classroom full of 5th graders. Now, imagine the teacher leaving the classroom unattended for a few minutes. We’ve all experienced it, the classroom becomes a free-for-all: some kids stand on chairs, some throw paper balls, and others take out snacks to sneak a munch or three. Let’s not apply this analogy too strictly, but in a way, when the Supreme Court eliminated section 4b of the VRA, some states took on the persona of an unsupervised 5th grader. In this situation we have 3 students: Arizona, Kansas and Texas.

    Student One: Arizona. Here, it is now required that citizens submit “sufficient” proof of citizenship in order to vote in the upcoming election. (A list of acceptable documentation for proof of citizenship is here.)

    What does this mean? Voters who register with the federal form, and those who have recently moved (since they will have to register in a new county) will be excluded from voting in the upcoming state/local level elections (Governor, Attorney General, etc…) unless they provide additional/affirmed documentation of citizenship.

    *cough* SHOW ME YOUR FREEDOM PAPERS! *cough* Excuse me.

    Student Two: Kansas, where a similar approach has been taken on, first time voters are being prompted to provide proof of citizenship, in addition to fulfilling the requirements on the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) federal form.

    What does this mean? New registrants cannot vote in federal elections unless they provide proof of citizenship. In the event that the new voter sends in the NVRA form only, he/she will be placed on a “suspense list” and will not be permitted to vote until providing proof of citizenship.

    Student Three (my personal favorite): Gool Ol’ Texas, which is prompting voters to provide a photo ID when voting in person.

    What does this mean? Texas voters are now required to present an approved form of photo identification in order to vote in all Texas Elections. (Here is a list of the acceptable forms of photo ID.) Seems fair enough, but what makes this law particularly tricky is that it disproportionately affects minority voters.

    Since elimination of section 4b interferes with enforcement of section 5, lets just say that the Supreme Court opened a figurative can of worms. And while there is nothing wrong with States’ rights, lest we forget, in the past they have been used to justify some more than questionable policies—such as Jim Crow and discriminatory marriage laws.

    Now here’s the good news:

    It’s up to us as to combat voter disenfranchisement. We can pressure our lawmakers by informing, educating, uniting, writing letters, emails, making phone calls and most of all voting. While we may not have the same views, it is our responsibility to make sure that our voices are heard.

    “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” – Justice Ginsburg

    I have a feeling this is the start of what will be an…interesting few years for voter rights in the upcoming elections. Be sure to stay tuned to Rock the Vote for updates and followups on the VRA and state voter legislation.

    And remember…don’t ditch your water repellant gear just yet, it’s still raining out there.

    Saundrea "Drea" Shropshire
    Bio: Saundrea "Drea" Shropshire is currently a senior at Howard University. Majoring in Political Science and minoring in Swahili Studies, she plans to attend law school in the fall of 2015. An avid biker, knitter, painter, movie enthusiast, music junkie, reader and writer, she takes on all tasks with the utmost tenacity and dedication. She also has many leather-bound books, and her apartment smells of rich mahogany.

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



    Meet Summer

    Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

    What’s the coolest job you can think of? Flight attendant? National Geographic photographer? How about Voter Advocate?

    Rock the Vote — in partnership with the Campus Election Engagement Project — has recruited a team of fellows across Virginia that are working on college campuses to register voters and educate their peers about the upcoming Virginia gubernatorial election. It’s the dream, I know.

    The media have us pegged as lazy, self-centered punks who can’t care about politics — but that’s only because they haven’t met any of our fellows. These fellows are the best of the best. They’re smart, they’re dedicated, they’re passionate, and we love them like family. Over the next few weeks we’re going to highlight some of our fellows and take a few minutes to brag about how cool they are.

    So why don’t we start by introducing you to Summer?

    • Give us a little background. Who are you? Where did you come from? Where do you go to college? What are you studying? 

    My name is Summer Gupta, most know me as Summer Siddiqui. I am from Woodbridge, Virginia. I go to Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia , and I am a sophomore. My major is Political Science and my Minor is International Studies.

    • How did you first get involved with Rock the Vote?

    My best friend told me about it, she saw an email from Rock The Vote and the CEEP. She said she thought it was something I would be interested in so I took a look at the program and loved it so I applied to it!

    • Tell us a little bit about your work as a Rock the Vote fellow. What have you been doing to register voters? Do you have any cool stories to share?

    I have been setting up tabling events, doing class raps, canvassing, and a lot of visibility activities to get Rock The Vote’s name out there. My team and I have gotten several people to register and pledge. We are having a big Halloween party for those have volunteered, registered, or pledged with us here at Old Dominion University. It has been a pleasure working with Rock the Vote at our campus. We have several wonderful volunteers and professors who are engaging and stressing the importance of Voting.

    • Tell us something inspiring about yourself

    I have came along way in my life, with the support my two very amazing parents. they have been my role models, my motivation, and my strength for the past 19 years. I am who I am today because of my parents. My mother has a political and Law based background, I am following her footsteps. I wish to become a very successful political figure in the United States of America.

    • Name one person who you think is changing the world

    I cannot name one person, I believe that there are several people who are taking the stand and changing the world for the better in several different ways.

    • What is the most embarrassing concert you’ve ever been to?

    I took my little cousin to go watch the Sesame Street concert last year, and I knew every word to every song..that was probably the most embarrassing. 

    • Do you have any unique talents?

    I have major stage fright but when it comes to Indian dance, I forget anyone is watching and just do what I want. It is my ultimate stress reliever and it makes me really happy and feel positive about everything.

    • If you had the attention of the entire population of American youth for 15 seconds, what would you say?

    Do not take your life for granted, make something big out of yourselves. Education is the most beautiful gift you can give yourself. Do something with your life by giving others what they don’t have in their lives. Love, Respect, and Treasure your family, And most importantly, exercise every right you are given.

    austin@rockthevote.com
    Bio:
    @austin_estes
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    Want to Prevent the Next Shutdown? Register to Vote

    Friday, October 11th, 2013

    Walking home from the King Street, Alexandria metro station the other night, I passed a chalkboard street menu bearing the words “Special Deal for Members of Congress: 2X Entire Bill.” This is no anomaly – signs like this are sprouting up all over. I admit they are funny, but there’s no denying the brewing frustration with our government. I mean, come on—Americans currently prefer cockroaches, potholes, toenail fungus, and hipsters to our current Congress (although Congress still trumps Miley Cyrus. Way to go, America. Good job.).

    And yet I remain optimistic that our democracy will recover – even as #furloughbeards approach the tipping point of appropriate public hygiene.

    In just a few weeks, Virginians will head to the polls to elect a new Governor, and much more. The impact of this election will be huge: as chief executive of the commonwealth, the Governor of Virginia will oversee policies and programs from healthcare, to education, to transportation. And the three lucky fellas vying for your vote are Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, and Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis (all listed in alphabetical order by last name to avoid preference).

    But even if you haven’t been closely following this election, the timing of the Virginia gubernatorial could not be better. This is one of our country’s first major elections since the government shutdown, and the outcome could set a precedent for 2014.

    Our democracy was constructed to respond to the will of the people, and when the public gets agitated, our leaders get nervous (and let’s be honest, we’re more than a little peeved). When we stand united, We the People have a voice—and given the state of politics these days, I think it’s about time we use it. Now, more than ever, we need to remember the importance of civic participation, and the consequences of a government that doesn’t act in the interest of the American people.

    In times like these, young Americans are poised to motivate a substantial shift in the attitude of our elected officials—particularly in Virginia. Currently, young people between the ages of 18 and 30 make up 20% of the electorate. That’s one out of every five eligible voters. Right now, thousands of young people across the Commonwealth are registering their friends, knocking on doors, picking up phones. There is power in those numbers, and when we organize, our leaders get scared (Don’t believe me? Remember Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring, KONY 2012, SOPA, The Human Rights Campaign….that list goes on).

    All this is to say that we Millennials have power and, given the right spark, we can set the world on fire (credit to the band Fun. for that line).

    Mission Impossible movies also come to mind. You know when Tom Cruise receives his assignment: “Your mission… should you choose to accept it….” I admit (though it’s hard), I’m no Tom Cruise, but we Millennials have the tools to organize. We have a reason to rally. This is our spark. And the final step is to accept the mission at hand and take action.

    So here’s your mission… should you choose to accept it.

    1) Register to vote (Deadline is Tuesday, Oct 15th. Don’t procrastinate with this one. It takes five minutes)

    2) Register your friends to vote (share this post on twitter or Facebook)

    3) Vote on November 5th (need a reminder? We got your back)

    No matter who you are or who you vote for, this fact remains: we will not have a voice in government unless we raise our voices now. The name of Virginia’s next governor is irrelevant if we don’t hold him accountable and pressure him to serve our interests. Regardless of political affiliation or campaign platform, we want to send the next governor into office with a clear mandate: don’t fuck around with Millennials.

    Our government isn’t exactly working for us right now (or anyone for that matter). How about we change that? Register to vote by Tuesday and join me at the polls on November 5th.

    (This post originally appeared on PolicyMic)

    austin@rockthevote.com
    Bio:
    @austin_estes
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com



    National Voter Registration Day 2013

    Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

    Today is one of our favorite days of the year – National Voter Registration Day!

    We know that voter registration should happen every single day. But, this unofficial national holiday (also known as NVRD) is bringing people together from all over the country to register as many voters as possible in 24 hours. We’re excited about the challenge!

    Volunteers and partners are hosting events all over the country. Make sure that you don’t miss out! You can see a running list of Rock the Vote events online and volunteer to help.

    Remember that today is the perfect day not only for registering voters, but also for talking about important election dates coming up in 2013. I know what you’re thinking: “There are elections in 2013?” The answer is yes! And without casting a ballot you don’t have a voice in electing these important decision makers. Check out if there’s an election in your area by going to Rock the Vote’s Election Center resource.

    Not registered? Register to vote online—Right now, Right here!  http://rtvote.com/register

    Finally, make sure to keep in touch! Spread the word about NVRD to all of your friends by tweeting or tagging us on Facebook using the hashtag #celebrateNVRD.

    Now, get out there and hit the streets (or the web)!

    To learn more about National Voter Registration Day and other events, check-out http://nationalvoterregistrationday.org/

    Rock the Vote
    Bio: Rock the Vote was founded in 1990 to organize artists and fight against censorship of musicians. Since then we've evolved to focus on empowering young people to get involved in the political process. We use pop culture, peer-to-peer organizing, and the latest technology to raise visibility of politics and demystify the process of registering to vote.
    @rockthevote
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com