Posts tagged with "Voter Registration"

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.

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.”

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Roots Picnic × Michelle Obama Promote Voting

This year, in partnership with Michelle Obama’s national, nonpartisan nonprofit organization, When We All Vote, The Roots are launching the 13th Annual Roots Picnic as a virtual broadcast experience on Saturday, June 27th, exclusively on YouTube. The event is Executive Produced by Shawn Gee (Live Nation Urban), Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Tarik Trotter (Two One Five Entertainment), and Dan Parise(DPS).

Hosted by Questlove, Black Thought, and Michelle Obama, the picnic will be filled with amazing performances by a diverse group of young highly popular hip hop, R&B, and gospel artists with the goal of engaging and reaching 500,000 eligible voters. When We All Vote volunteers will sign up to text voters throughout the show through Outvote, a web and mobile organizing platform used to reach unregistered voters. Volunteers can sign-up to learn how to reach voters before the event here.

In addition to music, this event will include pre-recorded segments with musicians, athletes, social media influencers, When We All Vote Co-Chairs, and The Roots sharing one simple call to action: register to vote. Fans can subscribe to The Roots Official YouTube Channel and tune into the broadcast stream HERE. Fans can anticipate performances by The Roots, H.E.R., Roddy Ricch, Lil Baby, SZA, Kirk Franklin, Snoh Aalegra, Earthgang, G Herbo, Polo G, D Nice and Musiq Soulchild (backed by The Roots) and appearances by Michelle Obama, Lin Manuel Miranda, Chris Paul, Tom Hanks, Liza Koshy, Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross, Janelle Monáe, and Elaine Welteroth.

“Historically, Questlove & BlackThought have always been very active participants in the voting process; however, I felt that it was imperative that this year I open up both The Roots and my Live Nation Urban platforms as vehicles for both voter education and voter registration,” said Shawn Gee, The Roots manager and President of Live Nation Urban, “Our goal is to aggressively impact change and we’re going to have some fun while doing so. This year, we are incredibly proud to partner with Mrs. Obama’s When We All Vote to ensure our audience has the resources they need to register and vote in November’s election.”

“As we face one of the most challenging years for our nation, we could all use a moment of inspiration and light to help focus on what we can do to take action together – and that action is voting. When We All Vote is on a mission to change the culture around voting and we are committed to closing the age and race gap of those who show up at the ballot box, increasing participation in each and every election,” said When We All VoteManaging Director of Communications and Culture Stephanie L. Young, “To change the culture means we have to be in the culture, and iconic events like The Roots Picnic, a celebration of the most influential artists of today, is just that.”

The partnership comes from a shared ethos of wanting to reach the most underrepresented community of people when it comes to voting, black people between the ages of 21-35. Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote and The Roots have a common goal: to educate and inspire communities to use their voices and vote to make a difference. Starting TODAY and continuing throughout the broadcast, there will be a call to action to allow fans to register to vote at https://weall.vote/rootspicnic or by texting ROOTS to 56005. Throughout the broadcast, this will be available in the form of a link in the live chat section allowing fans to register to vote in real-time while enjoying the show. Additionally, When We All Vote volunteers will work throughout the day and during the show to text and engage 500,000 eligible voters.

This year, with the Picnic in Fairmount Park being postponed until 2021, The Roots are still eager to engage their core audience both in the Philadelphia region and around the world. Over the past 12 years, The Roots Picnic, which is co-produced with Geoff Gordon and the Live Nation Philly team, has become the premier event and hub for culture for the core audience of Philadelphia and beyond. The picnic is an event known to draw a diverse multicultural mix of Gen Xmillennial and Gen Z attendees, and is curated and produced specifically with tier interests in mind.

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About The RootsPicnic

Over the past 12 years, The Roots Picnic has become the premier event and hub for culture for the core audience in Philadelphia and beyond. The Picnic is an event that draws a diverse multicultural mix of millennial and Gen Z attendees and is curated and produced specifically with their interests in mind. The event has grown from 2,500 people in a parking lot in downtown Philly to 40,000 people in Fairmount Park, the largest urban park in the United States. Past performers on The Roots Picnic include The Weeknd, Lil Uzi Vert, H.E.R., Pharrell, Lil Baby, Solange, Janelle Monáe, and many others.

About Live Nation Urban

Live Nation Urban (LNU) is a partnership with Live Nation Entertainment, the world’s leading live entertainment company. Specifically focusing on Hip-Hop, R&B, and Gospel, LNU builds platforms, events, and festivals globally and develops dynamic content strategies based upon the live properties created. Live Nation Urbanconsiders itself the most powerful source for live urban music. For additional information, visit www.livenationentertainment.com.

About When We All Vote

When We All Vote is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit launched by Co-Chair Michelle Obama in 2018 on a mission to change the culture around voting by bringing together citizens, institutions, brands, and organizations to increase participation in every election. They are also on a mission to close the race and age voting gap and empower all eligible voters to cast their ballot by harnessing grassroots energy, establishing strategic partnerships, and implementing digital organizing strategies.