Posts tagged with "Register to Vote"

Presidents Illustration for 360 Magazine by Maria Soloman

Safe and Secure Use of Ballot Drop Boxes in CA

California will make ballot drop boxes more widely available in the November 2020 election than in any previous election.California Common Cause supports this unprecedented expansion in voting access because voters in the the November 2020 election must contend with dual threats:

1. The pandemic, which will make many uneasy with voting at a polling place or vote center.
2. Decaying trust in the United States Postal Service and the vote-by-mail process, because of sustained but unsubstantiated attacks from loud voices in our national politics.

Ballot drop boxes solve both problems. They give voters a safe, secure method to return a vote-by-mail ballot that is controlled and operated by the county elections office, without requiring voters to visit an in-person site or use the mail.

California voters should use official ballot drop boxes with confidence. County-run ballot drop boxes are tamper-proof, are governed by a strict set of safety protocols, and are required to meet language and disability access requirements. Ballots picked up from ballot drop boxes are managed with tight chain-of-custody controls.

Voters should look up official, county-operated ballot drop boxes located near them

Unfortunately, the California Repubulican Party has created informal or unofficial ballot drop boxes that may confuse or mislead voters and create distrust in official ballot drop boxes.

Background and context are important. In 2016, California passed a law expanding voters’ ability to transmit their ballot to a third party for return. Previously, only a family or household member could return a voter’s vote-by-mail ballot. Under revised law, any third party trusted by the voter can return the voter’s vote-by-mail ballot, provided that the third party is not paid to do so on a per-ballot basis. A relevant example would be a resident of a care home, who can authorize a trusted staff member of the home to return the resident’s ballot on their behalf. The California GOP has argued that its informal drop boxes are legal under this expanded ballot return law.

More importantly for California voters, informal ballot collection sites that are disguised as official ballot drop boxes may trick community members who wish to return their ballot at an official ballot drop box. These unofficial “official” ballot drop boxes create confusion about and erode trust in voting procedures. Interfering with voters’ ability to cast their ballots is unlawful under California law.

California Common Cause encourages every California voter to:

  • Look up where official, county-operated ballot drop boxes are located near them
  • Sign up for Ballot Trax, to get email and text alerts about the status of their ballot, and to confirm that their ballot is counted

Voters in California have several options for returning their ballots. In addition to using an official ballot drop box, voters can return their vote-by-mail ballots by mail or at any voting site on Election Day or in the early voting period. Voters can also vote in person, on Election Day or in the early voting period. County voter information guides and county elections websites should list in-person voting locations.

Presidents Illustration for 360 Magazine by Maria Soloman

Biden vs. Trump: First Debate

The first presidential debate took place on September 29 and it made waves on social media. The dispute was borderline chaotic with candidates shouting over each other and quite frankly immaturity from each party. 

Moderator Chris Wallace tried to keep things civil, but with minimal success. From coronavirus to white supremacy, topics were covered that everyone should know each candidate’s stance on. Although summarizing the entire debate would be nearly impossible, some of the most notable moments are recapped below. 

One of the most memorable parts of the night was when Trump refused to condemn white supremacy. Wallace asked Trump if he was specifically ready to call out this group of terrorists and Trump said he was prepared to do so but immediately blamed recent violence on “the left-wing.” Wallace and Biden continued to encourage Trump to criticize “right supremacists and right-wing militia” to which Trump responded, “proud boys, stand back and stand by.” This comment only fueled the Proud Boys organization and group lead Joe Biggs commented on the social media platform Parler that the comment “makes me so happy.” 

Biden did not shy away from calling out Trump’s racism. “This is a President who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division,” said Biden. However, supporters of Trump have been brushing the Proud Boys comment off as a misinterpretation. The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr. vindicated his father’s comment. “I don’t know if that was a misspeak, but he was talking about having them stand down,” Trump Jr. explained to CBS News’ Gayle King. 

An unavoidable debate topic is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the steps Trump has taken to combat the disease. When asked about a reopening plan Biden commented that he “would know what the plan is,” for a safe reopening when the time is right. He was interrupted by Trump who said “he [Biden] wants to shut down this country and I want to keep it open.” Trump continued to bash democratic governors for shutting down states and claimed this was only for political reasons. 

Although Trump has been seen in public various times not wearing a mask, despite the advice of health professionals, during the debate he said “I’m okay with masks. I’m not fighting masks.” Trump also mentioned how Dr. Anthony Fauci agreed Trump saved thousands of lives. Trump continued to attack Biden for all of the losses the country endured during the Swine Flu.

Through the debate, Biden remained composed during Trump’s offense comments and interruptions. Instead of losing it, he made small remarks that established his thoughts on Trump as a candidate. Biden also exchanged a fair share of side glares and head shakes to many of Trump’s points. “You’re the worst president America has ever had. Come on,” said Biden later in the debate. 

One quote by Biden, “Will you shut up man?” was a popular line from the debate that has been reposted on social media. This saying has already been plastered across a t-shirt that advocates for Biden. One post by @thefeministvibe on Instagram received over twelve thousand likes for posting this quote and their opinion on it. 

Another debate topic voters have been eager to hear the two candidates debate is the plan to replace late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Badar Ginsburg. Trump has recently nominated Amy Coney Barrett to take the place of Ginsburg. Nevertheless, there has been controversy surrounding Trump’s selection of a supreme court justice due to the rules implemented when Obama was still in office. 

Biden tried to lead the discussion about the supreme court into a conversation about health care. He mentioned that a Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority would overturn many decisions that have already been made. This includes the Affordable Care Act and Roe V. Wade that made abortion legal nationally. 

The next presidential debate will be at 9 p.m. on Thursday, October 15. There is suspicion that the moderator will be able to cut the microphones of the candidates if they don’t obey the rules. Hopefully, the next debate will be less of a shouting match and a little more contained.

Nicole Salazar Breaking News Illustration

Partners with Pearl Jam’s Vote-by-Mail Initiative Release Exclusive Face Masks

Today, in observance of National Voter Registration Day, People for the American Way, in partnership with Pearl Jam in their “PJ Votes 2020” initiative, are announcing the release of exclusive, limited edition “Vote” masks by women owned business and change makers Resistance By Design.

People For the American Way, along with Resistance by Design, and several progressive organizations, officially joined Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Pearl Jam’s Take-Three Pledge Initiative on September 9, to encourage their fans to join them to “Vote by Mail, Recruit Three Friends and Don’t Wait in this general election.”

People For is actively pushing for election security during the 2020 election season, as well as safe, secure voting alternatives, including voting by mail, to help ensure that all eligible voters can cast their ballots.

“In what is decidedly the most important election of our lifetimes, People For is doing everything in our power to get as many Americans to vote as possible,” said President of People For the American Way Ben Jealous. “We hope that the release of these masks, in observance of National Voter Registration Day, is a reminder to Americans of the power their vote can have.”

“This unique partnership is a testament to the importance of this moment in time to the future of our nation and democracy,” said Alex Posen and Dahna Goldstein co-founders of Resistance by Design. “As purpose driven artists and business women we are proud to join with Pearl Jam, one of the biggest bands of all time and People For, a leader in democratic advocacy, to get out the message and get out the vote. This mask may cover our mouths, but together we are raising our voices in partnership to change the future of our country.”

Resistance by Design inspires civic engagement through the intersection of art and fashion by creating thoughtful designs that empower everyday activists and amplify social justice movements.

Pearl Jam has had a long history of activism and political involvement dating all the way back to 1992 when they hosted the free “Drop in the Park” concert in Seattle that registered thousands of voters. For nearly three decades, the band has played in countless benefit concerts, been outspoken advocates for progressive causes, and raised and donated millions of dollars to local and global non-profits personally and through their Vitalogy Foundation. Pearl Jam was active in the 2018 general election in its Rock2Vote initiative, which registered thousands of voters in Montana and secured commitments to vote.

About People For the American Way

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity and justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunity. Learn more: http://www.pfaw.org.

About Resistance by Design

Resistance by Design inspires civic engagement through the intersection of art and fashion by creating thoughtful designs that empower everyday activists and amplify social justice movements. 

Learn more: https://www.resistancebydesign.com/

Mina Tocalini, 360 Magazine, Mail-in Ballots

Rice University × VotingWorks

Rice University researchers are teaming with nonprofit VotingWorks to validate and improve open-source technology for voting by mail, work that will give local elections officials an important option if they’re flooded with applications from voters asking to cast mail ballots in November due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project is funded by a National Science Foundation Rapid Research Response (RAPID) grant that will allow Rice’s team to collect thousands of hand-marked ballots through the mail to field test VotingWorks’ Vote-by-Mail. VotingWorks, the only nonprofit supplier of voting machines and systems, is developing its system as a turnkey offering that local elections officials can quickly adopt to carry out all aspects of voting by mail, including ballot preparation and mailing, collection, signature verification and tabulation.

Rice’s team includes Claudia Ziegler Acemyan, Michael Byrne, Philip Kortum, Robert Stein, Elizabeth Vann and Dan Wallach. The same group was awarded one of the first grants from Rice’s COVID-19 Research Fund in April to survey Harris County voters and poll workers about how likely they are to cast ballots or volunteer for work at polling locations during the pandemic. Harris County elections officials are using the group’s results as they design and evaluate changes to in-person voting for November.

“We want to kick the tires really hard on VotingWorks’ vote-by-mail system to make sure we find any problems well before November,” said Wallach, a professor of computer science, e-voting expert and co-principal investigator on the RAPID grant.

Wallach is on sabbatical from Rice and spending a year working with VotingWorks. Acemyan, Byrne and Kortum are faculty members in Rice’s Department of Psychological Sciences. Stein is Rice’s Lena Gohlman Fox Professor of Political Science, and Vann is the director of programs and partnerships at Rice’s Center for Civic Leadership.

Wallach said the federally funded research will help protect the safety of voters while ensuring a good turnout in November. And because VotingWorks uses off-the-shelf printers, scanners and other equipment, Wallach said it also has the potential to significantly reduce costs for conducting vote-by-mail elections, which could be important given the tight budgets of local elections administrators. 

“Many jurisdictions around the country don’t have the infrastructure they will need to respond to unprecedented demand for vote-by-mail,” said Ben Adida, executive director of VotingWorks and co-principal investigator on the grant. “Rice’s team has an incredible depth of expertise in areas ranging from voter attitudes and behaviors to voting security and voter interactions with technology, the human factors side of technology research. Rice’s help will be invaluable in making sure Vote-by-Mail is ready for the fall.”

Wallach said the project will enroll thousands of volunteers, and Rice undergraduates from the Center for Civic Leadership will play an instrumental role in administering and managing study volunteers. Volunteers will print their own test ballots, fill them out and mail them in. Returned ballots will be used to test VotingWorks ballot-reading hardware and software, and they’ll be useful in other ways as well.

“Having ballots that have been generated and handled by real voters, making their own unique marks, and then returned through the U.S. Postal Service will yield important data that can improve the design of the overall system,” Wallach said. 

The ballots will allow the team to probe a range of questions to evaluate the overall system and see how it compares to other voting technologies. Questions they hope to explore include: Did voters fill out the ballot according to the instructions? Were voters able to accurately vote the slate they were given? Did voters leave some options blank? Did voters accurately follow instructions to sign and return ballots within the specified time period? 

Wallach said the federal grant will allow the team to collect enough test ballots to identify potential problems that smaller scale tests might miss. 

“Scale is important because you need a large number of sample ballots to identify low-probability problems, like ballots getting damaged in the mail,” he said. “That probably won’t happen very often, but if millions of ballots are collected by mail, we want to do a large enough test to see how often it happens and how to best address it.”

Follow Rice University: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Moving to a New State With a Car? Here Are 7 Tips to Have a Smooth Transition

According to the American Moving & Storage Association, 11.2% of Americans moved in 2015-2016. That comes out to 35.1 million, or 15.3 million households with 2.3 persons per household. If you’ve ever moved, you know how hectic it can be: packing, unpacking, and getting settled in. It can be even more stressful when you’re moving to an entirely new state. On top of moving and getting acquainted with your new home, you also have to apply for a new driver’s license, update your auto insurance, and register your vehicle. You also need to know when to renew your driver’s license in your new state. To help make the transition as smooth as possible, here are seven tips you should know when moving to a new state.

1. Find Your New State’s DMV. If you move to a new state, you must apply for a new driver’s license. Most states require you to apply for a new license within 30 days of becoming a resident. If you are a student, however, you most likely do not have to apply for a license in the state where your college or university is located because you’re not considered a resident. Because you’re a new resident, the state will probably require you to visit the DMV in person. To save yourself time, you can go online and find your local DMV branch. There, you can locate basic information, including the address, office hours, services offered, how many days you have to apply for a driver’s license, when you’ll need to renew your license, and what documents you’ll need to apply for a new license. To save you even more time, some states, such as Washington allow you to pre-apply for a driver’s license online.

2. Apply for a New License. Once you’ve found your local DMV, you’ll need to apply for a new license. In most cases, this is a simple trip to the DMV where you have your picture taken and pay a small fee, as long as you have the following.

  • Your valid out-of-state license that contains a picture. If your license is suspended or revoked in another state, you can not apply for a new driver’s license
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Proof of residency (a utility bill or bank statement)

Some states also require that you take a vision test or written exam on state driving laws. Again, visit your state’s DMV website to find out the exact documents andrequirements you need to obtain a new driver’s license.

3. Register Your Vehicle in Your New State. While you’re at the DMV, you might as well go ahead and register your vehicle in your new state. If you own your vehicle, this shouldn’t be a hassle. Simply bring your title and proof of insurance, and pay a small fee. Other states do require that your vehicle pass an emissions test and vehicle safety inspection.
If you’re financing or leasing a vehicle, this can be a little more complicated since you don’t have the title. In this case, you need to contact your lender and ask them to mail the title to your local DMV. After they register your vehicle, the DMV will mail the title back. Because each state has different laws, visit your state’s DMV website to locate the specific process for registering your vehicle.

4. Update Your Auto Insurance Policy. Insurance requirements vary from state-to-state. Most require you to have minimum coverage, while some allow you to pay an uninsured motorist fee. Regardless of the exact laws, if you want to avoid any financial or legal repercussions, make sure to call your current insurance company to update your policy. Your insurance company should be able to connect you to an agent licensed in your state to help you determine the right policy you’ll need.

5. Register to Vote. If you want to participate in elections your new home area, you’ll need to register to vote. Thankfully, when you’re at the DMV, you can also register to vote in your new state.

6. Surrender Your License Plates. When moving to a new state, your previous state might require you to surrender your license plates. You can do this by dropping them off at the DMV or mailing them back to the DMV. This ensures that you don’t have to pay extra in property taxes. In some situations, you might also be able to receive a refund for any overpaid taxes and registration fees, but you’ll need to contact your county clerk to handle the matter.

7. Renew Your Driver’s License in Your New State. Now that you have your new license, the driver’s license renewal process in your new state is fairly straightforward as long as don’t let your license expire or have it suspended.
Depending on the state, your new license will be valid for 4 to 8 years. If you aren’t sure of the exact date, you don’t need to panic because you’ll receive a renewal notice in the mail. After you’ve received the notice, you have the option to renew your driver’s license in person, by mail, or online by providing the same documents you used to apply for your new license. If you’re in the military and stationed out of state, you can renew your license by phone or by asking for an Extension of License for Person in Armed Forces card. And, don’t forget to have a credit or debit card or check to pay the driver’s license renewal fee. The amount varies from state to state, but your renewal notice should state the amount you owe. If not, contact your state’s DMV.

For more info visit http://www.moving.org/newsroom/data-research/about-our-industry/