Tag Archives: voting

3 Must-Ask Environmental Questions for the Presidential Candidates

The upcoming presidential debates offer the perfect opportunity to implore candidates about their environmental values and potential policies. That’s especially true because throughout the Republican primary process, none of the contenders were asked a single question about how they’d deal with energy, pollution, toxic chemicals, land use, wilderness preservation or wildlife.

Now that the race has narrowed to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it’s important that the debate moderators ask them to reveal not only their economic and foreign policy positions, but their environmental positions as well. Millions of Americans will watch the debates and make their voting decision based on what they hear and see. They deserve to know what Clinton and Trump believe when it comes to protecting the planetor not.

Here is the schedule for the upcoming debates:

Presidential Debates Between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

* September 26, 2016 – Moderator, Lester Holt of NBC

* October 9, 2016 – Moderators, Martha Radditz of ABC and Anderson Cooper of CNN

* October 19, 2016 – Moderator, Chris Wallace of Fox News

There will also be a debate among the candidates for vice president, Democrat Tim Kaine, and Republican Mike Pence.

What are the 3 most important questions about the environment the moderators of the presidential debates should ask all candidates?

Climate Change:If only one question can be asked, it should be about the most pressing environmental issue people on every continent face: climate change. Here are some possible ways to frame the question:

* Do you believe climate change is a serious threat to the environment, our national security and our health?

* Climate change has been directly linked to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. Do you support reducing our use of fossil fuels and accelerating our reliance onand support for renewables like solar, wind and geothermal?

* How would your administration revise current U.S. energy policy so our country could meet the

Paris climate change accords

our government recently agreed to?

Moms Clean Air Force is urging voters to contact NBC’s Lester Holt and tell him to ask the candidates a question specifically about climate change.

Here’s how you can do that, too.Toxic Chemicals

– There are over 80,000 chemicals circulating in our world every day, and many of them are toxic to human health. Though the Toxic Substances Control Act was recently updated and

signed into law

, people are still exposed to dangerous chemical substances on a daily basis.

* If elected, what additional steps would your administration take to protect people from chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, infertility, attention deficit disorder and other health problems?

* Would your administration adoptthe

Precautionary Principle

as the framework for approving or banning new chemicals?

* How would your administration hold the manufacturers of toxic chemicals liable or accountable for the impact they have on human health and the environment?

Air and Water Pollution – We have an inalienable right to drink clean water and breathe clean air. Yet, our communities often suffer through “red alert” air quality alarms because the air is so polluted. The sources of our drinking water are contaminated with agricultural runoff, fire retardants, rocket fuel, arsenic and more.

* What specific public policies or executive orders would you support to reduce air pollution and improve water quality?

* People living in low-income communities are disproportionately affected by dirty air and unsafe water, as we saw recently with the lead-in-drinking-water scandal in Flint, Michigan. What will your administration do to ensure that people, especially children, have access to healthy air and water no matter where they live?

* In some parts of the U.S., the problem is that drinking water is unsafe. In other parts, the problem is that drought and overconsumption have seriously depleted available water supplies. What would you and your administration do to make sure, not only that water is clean enough to drink, but that there is enough water to go around for all citizens of the U.S.?

What questions would you ask the two presidential candidates if you had the chance? Please share!

Related:

5 “Deplorables” That Trump’s Campaign has EmboldenedYounger Americans Vote Pro-Environment…When They Actually Vote

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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3 Must-Ask Environmental Questions for the Presidential Candidates

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Here’s How Ferguson Has Kept Blacks off the Local School Board

Mother Jones

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Black students make up more than 75 percent of students in the Ferguson-Florissant School District in Missouri, but only three of the seven school board members are black. On Monday, a federal district judge in the state ruled that the at-large election system used to choose the school board representatives violated the Voting Rights Act.

“It is my finding that the cumulative effects of historical discrimination, current political practices, and the socioeconomic conditions present in the District impact the ability of African Americans in Ferguson-Florissant School District to participate equally in Board elections,” District Judge Rodney Sippel wrote in an opinion. He added that the process “deprives African American voters of an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice” and that no elections could be conducted until a new system was put in place.

Voters in Ferguson had elected school board representatives every year in two or three at-large races, instead of voting for candidates representing specific subdistricts. The case, filed in December 2014 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri and the Missouri chapter of the NAACP, alleged that this practice diluted black voter strength, leaving them “all but locked out of the political process.”

ACLU attorney Julie Ebenstein explained in April 2015 that since black voters in the district as a whole made up less than half the voting-age population, they were “systematically unable to elect” board members of their choice when casting ballots across all board seats. In 12 elections that took place between 2000 and 2015, five black candidates won school board seats out of 24 potential candidates, the judge noted in his opinion. Over that period, 22 white candidates won seats out of 37 potential contenders.

Cindy Ormsby, the school district’s attorney, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the district was “very disappointed in the court’s decision.”

You can read the opinion below:

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NAACP vs Fegurson Florissant Voting Rights Decision (PDF)

NAACP vs Fegurson Florissant Voting Rights Decision (Text)

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Here’s How Ferguson Has Kept Blacks off the Local School Board

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Voting Rights Advocates Score a Huge Win in North Carolina

Mother Jones

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A federal appeals court struck down a restrictive voting law in North Carolina on Friday, ruling that the state legislature acted with the intent to limit African American voting in enacting the measure. The law, which took effect in March, contained provisions that created new ID requirements, eliminated same-day voter registration, reduced early voting by a week, blocked a law that allowed 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, and prevented ballots cast in the wrong precincts from being counted.

The law, originally passed in 2013 after the US Supreme Court gutted a key section of the Voting Rights Act, was immediately challenged by a lawsuit but was upheld at the district court level in April. Friday’s decision reverses the lower court’s ruling.

“In holding that the legislature did not enact the challenged provisions with discriminatory intent, the court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees,” wrote Judge Diana Gribbon Motz for the unanimous three-judge panel. “This failure of perspective led the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”

The court’s decision notes that North Carolina’s law was initiated by state Republicans the day after the Supreme Court gutted a key portion of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. That decision, Shelby v. Holder, ruled that the mechanism used to determine which states needed pre-clearance for voting law changes due to a history of racial discrimination was outdated. This ruling cleared the way for states like North Carolina—which previously had to have all voting law and procedural changes reviewed by the US Department of Justice or a federal judge—to enact any voting changes they wished.

Marc Elias, one of the lawyers who fought the law on behalf of a group of younger voters in North Carolina, told Mother Jones Friday that the decision represented a strong rebuke of race-based voting legislation.

“The Fourth Circuit decision is a milestone in the protection of voting rights,” Elias said. “It is a great day for the citizens of North Carolina and those who care about voting rights. Significantly, the court put down an important marker against discrimination in voting when it wrote, ‘We recognize that elections have consequences, but winning an election does not empower anyone in any party to engage in purposeful racial discrimination.'”

Rick Hasen, a national expert on election law, wrote Friday that the decision reversed “the largest collection of voting rollbacks contained in a single law that I could find since the 1965 passage of the Voting Rights Act.” Hasen noted that this was the third major voting rights victory of the past two weeks. On July 19, a federal court weakened Wisconsin’s strict voter ID law; the next day, a panel of federal judges ruled that Texas’ strict voter ID law violated federal law.

The state of North Carolina could now seek to have the case reheard before the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, or it could appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

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Voting Rights Advocates Score a Huge Win in North Carolina

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Native Americans Are Taking the Fight for Voting Rights to Court

Mother Jones

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On Tuesday night, the long lines of Arizona primary voters highlighted the potentially disastrous fallout from a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The specter of a new disenfranchisement controversy was all too familiar for a group of people who have been fighting for their right to vote in Arizona and much of the West for years: Native Americans. “What’s happening in Indian Country is reflective of what’s happening nationwide,” says Daniel McCool, political science professor at the University of Utah and coauthor of the book Native Vote.

Earlier this month, Indian Country Media Network reported that Native American and Alaska Natives have flagged voting-related problems in 17 states, via litigation or tribal diplomacy with local officials. For example, in Alaska—which will hold its Democratic caucuses Saturday—Alaska Natives scored a victory in September 2014, when a federal judge concluded that state election officials violated the Voting Rights Act when they failed to translate voting materials for Alaska Natives in rural sections of the state. After nine months of talks, they reached a settlement to get election pamphlets translated into six dialects of Yup’ik and Gwich’in through 2020, granting them language assistance ahead of the caucuses this weekend.

9 Facts that Blow Up the Voter-Fraud Myth

Meanwhile, congressional efforts to protect voting rights for Native Americans and Alaska Natives have come to a halt. Last July, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) announced a bill that would prevent states from moving polling places to inconvenient locations, banishing in-person voting on reservations, and altering early voting locations. The bill, inspired by a voting access case in Montana that compelled three counties to open satellite offices on reservations, has stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Here are a few other cases to keep in mind:

Poor Bear v. Jackson County: In September 2014, members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe from the Pine Ridge Reservation filed a lawsuit against Jackson County, South Dakota, alleging that county officials refused to create a satellite office where Sioux residents could register and file in-person absentee ballots. For tribal citizens, the closest place to submit their absentee ballots is the county auditor’s office in Kadoka, a town that’s 95 percent white and roughly 27 miles away. (Native Americans must travel twice as far as white residents in the county to submit ballots in person, according to the lawsuit.) Voters can also submit absentee ballots by mail, but they have to submit an affidavit to prove their identity if they lack a tribal photo ID card, a potential hardship for Native American voters.

The county commission declined to approve the office because “it believed funding was not available,” despite a Help America Vote Act plan that allowed the county to use state funds to create the office. After residents filed for a preliminary injunction, the commission agreed to open a temporary satellite voting office in the runup to Election Day 2014. Last November, in an agreement with South Dakota’s secretary of state, the Jackson County Commission approved a satellite site through 2023.

Brakebill v. Jaeger: In January, seven members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians filed a lawsuit against North Dakota state secretary Alvin Jaeger, alleging that the strict requirements under the state’s voter ID law imposed a discriminatory burden on Native Americans. When the state enacted House Bill 1332 in April 2015, it limited the forms of permissible identification at voting booths, required forms of identification to display the voter’s home address and date of birth, and eliminated a provision that allowed voters to use a voucher or affidavit if they failed to bring an ID. The lawsuit alleges that the bill “disenfranchised and imposed significant barriers for qualified Native American voters by establishing strict voter ID and residence requirements.”

According to the lawsuit, Native Americans in North Dakota have to travel an average of nearly 30 miles to obtain a driver’s license. The lawsuit also claims that many Native Americans lack tribal government IDs with residential addresses, which is an alternative form of ID under state law. In February, Jaeger tried to get the case tossed out, arguing that the voter ID law was constitutional. The judge has yet to decide.

Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission v. San Juan County: Less than two years ago, prospective Navajo Nation voters in San Juan County, Utah—where Native Americans are nearly 47 percent of the population—had to travel an average of two hours to submit a ballot in the predominantly white city of Monticello, without access to reliable public transportation. That’s because in 2014, according to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and others in late February, the county closed polling places and switched over to mail-in ballots, placing a “disproportionately severe burden” on Navajo residents. The county has yet to respond in court to the case.

It wasn’t the first time San Juan County has been sued for violating the Voting Rights Act. In fact, the Navajo Nation claimed in a previous lawsuit that the county commission “relied on race” when it decided not to change the boundary lines for a largely Native American district in 2011, three decades after they were initially drawn. In February, US District Judge Robert Shelby ordered the county to redraw its election district lines after he ruled that its current boundaries, which were set after a settlement with the Justice Department in the 1980s, were unconstitutional.

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Native Americans Are Taking the Fight for Voting Rights to Court

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Book Review: Give Us the Ballot by Ari Berman

Mother Jones

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Give Us the Ballot

By Ari Berman

FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX

Shark attacks are more common in Florida than voter fraud, yet in 2011 the state cut early voting and shut down registration drives in the name of making elections more secure. In Give Us the Ballot, journalist Ari Berman explores the increasingly sophisticated tricks devised to keep minorities out of the voting booth over the past half century, tracing a path from an era of overtly racist campaign ads—”Suppose your wife is driving home at 11 o’clock at night. She is stopped by a highway patrolman. He turns out to be black. Think about it…Elect George Wallace”—to the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision gutting the Voting Rights Act. With 2016 on the horizon, Berman helps us understand why we’re still fighting over who gets to exercise this most basic of American rights.

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Book Review: Give Us the Ballot by Ari Berman

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