Changing the Game: Voter Registration Drives Reshape the American Electorate

Cross-posted at Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

By Erin Ferns

Monday marked the last day to register to vote before November's presidential election in many states and the conclusion to one of the nation's largest nonpartisan voter registration drives in history. Helping more than 1.3 million of the America's underrepresented young, low-income and minority citizens register to vote, Project Vote and its voter registration drive partner, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), have played a leading role this election cycle in changing the face of the electorate to represent all Americans.

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How Voter ID Laws Unfairly Burden Voters And Skew The Electorate

Cross-posted at Project Vote's Voting Matters Blog

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

By Erin Ferns

With little more than two months left before Election Day, prospective voters are rushing to get registered. And like the way that slugs thrive in moist weather, voter suppression attacks spring up around large-scale voter registration drives. Partisan attempts to shape the electorate, in effect choosing the voters rather than voters choosing their own representatives, seek to impose barriers to voter participation by eligible citizens rather than creating a system that works to facilitate the foundational right of American democracy. Voter ID laws are a particularly favorite weapon in the arsenal of partisans seeking to choose their own voters to the exclusion of other eligible citizens. More than 25 states introduced voter ID bills this year and at least nine have such laws in place for this November's election despite scant evidence of voter impersonation, the ill it is supposed to stop.

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How To Boost The Electorate In Florida: Enforce the National Voter Registration Act

By Nathan Henderson-James and cross-posted at Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters.

A Sunday news story by Catherine Dolinsky in the Tampa Tribune highlights Florida's failure to comply with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and talks extensively about the joint efforts of Project Vote, Demos, and ACORN to force Florida to follow this federal law. Dolinksy quotes ACORN's Florida Head Organizer Brian Kettering on the civil rights implications of Florida's failure,

"Hispanic and African-American communities are being deprived of the opportunity to register to vote at a higher rate than anybody else," Kettenring said. "So this is a fairness issue, but it's also a civil rights issue."

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In These Times Showcases Project Vote's Work To Expand The Electorate

By Nathan Henderson-James

In These Times' July 2008 cover story, Expand The Vote, posted to its website on June 11, prominently features Project Vote's work to create an electorate that is representative of the American citizenry. 

Adam Doster, an In These Times senior editor, frames the article by showcasing Project Vote's 1992 Illinois voter registration drive, directed by young recent law school graduate Barack Obama, and shows the impact that members of underrepresented groups can have in elections, no matter who they choose to support. 


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*Breaking*: Brand New Post Debate Newsweek poll

According to a brand new NEWSWEEK poll, Obama is pulling away....big time.

Despite her campaign's relentless attacks on Barack Obama's qualifications and electability, Hillary Clinton has lost a lot of ground with Democratic voters nationwide going into Tuesday's critical primary in Pennsylvania, a new NEWSWEEK poll shows.

The survey of 1,209 registered voters found that Obama now leads Clinton by nearly 20 points, or 54 percent to 35 percent, among registered Democrats and those who lean Democratic nationwide. The previous Newsweek poll, conducted in March after Clinton's big primary wins in Ohio and Texas, showed the two Democrats locked in a statistical tie (45 percent for Obama to 44 percent for Clinton). The new poll puts Obama ahead among women as well as men, and voters aged 60 and older as well as younger voters. (For the complete poll data, click here).

One of the more devastating results for Clinton was that a majority of all registered voters now see her as dishonest and untrustworthy. According to the poll, just four in 10 (41 percent) registered voters view the New York senator as honest and trustworthy, while 51 percent think the opposite. This compares with solid majorities of voters who see Obama and McCain as honest and trustworthy (both polled 61 percent).

The results suggest that Clinton was damaged more by being caught in a tall tale about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire than Obama has been by his recent controversies, including the firestorm of criticism provoked by the Illinois senator's remarks that blue-collar voters "cling" to religion, guns and other issues because of their bitterness. In addition, over half (53 percent) of voters say they believe Obama shares their values, more than those who say the same thing about Clinton (47 percent) or McCain (45 percent).

Even so, the poll indicates that both Obama and Clinton have been harmed by the fierce attacks they have aimed at each other. While Obama has a 57 percent favorable rating among all voters in the latest survey, that represents a 4 percent drop from March, and his unfavorable rating has jumped from 28 percent to 36 percent. Clinton is viewed favorably by just 49 percent, compared to 56 percent in March, while 47 percent view her as unfavorable, compared to 40 percent in the previous poll. Even so, the unopposed McCain has also suffered a setback: his favorable rating has dipped to 52 percent from 55 percent, while his unfavorable rating has increased to 42 percent from 35 percent.

It is not clear to what extent Wednesday night's debate in Philadelphia affected the overall results. Clinton, aided by debate moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos of ABC, kept Obama mostly on the defensive over his associations with Pastor Jeremiah Wright and Chicago professor William Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground who served on a community board with Obama and once hosted a campaign event for the candidate at his home. Obama was also questioned about his decision not to wear a flag lapel pin. Stacy DiAngelo of Princeton Survey Research Associates, which did the April 16-17 polling, says that of the registered voters who were surveyed 517 were interviewed after the debate and 692 before. She added that the views of those surveyed remained largely constant.

But Obama appears to have the momentum on nearly every front, both among Democrats and general voters nationwide. Clinton's prospects for snatching the nomination from the Democratic front runner at this point depend mainly on her ability to persuade uncommitted "superdelegates"--those who are not bound by particular primary results--that she is more likely to defeat John McCain. But by a large margin (55 percent to 33 percent) Democratic voters now say Obama--not Clinton--is the candidate they believe is more likely to defeat McCain in November. In the March poll Obama's advantage was much smaller (44 percent to 38 percent).

The poll pointed up a trouble sign for McCain as well, which is that no one's forgotten how old he is. While voters have mixed opinions about whether Obama's race will do more to help or hurt his chances of being elected president (20 percent vs. 22 percent, respectively), and Clinton's gender is only somewhat more likely to be seen as a hindrance than a help (27 percent vs. 20 percent), McCain's age may be the biggest vulnerability of all in the eyes of the voters. Nearly four in 10 (36 percent) think the Arizona senator's age--at 71, he would be the oldest president ever to assume office for the first time--will hurt his chances of winning.

From Guns: Well, it is looking better and better for Barack.  Hillary, i hope you and your supporters come back in the fold.  We all respect you, wheter or not some of us are ill-mannered at times.

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