In North Dakota, tribes scramble to clear voter ID hurdle
By BLAKE NICHOLSON
Friday, October 26
BELCOURT, N.D. (AP) — Locating a house isn’t easy on the isolated and impoverished Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in northern North Dakota, and that’s making it more difficult for residents and their counterparts on other reservations in the state to vote this election.
To cast a ballot, they need identification with a provable street address — something that isn’t important to the 19,000 people who live on the remote 72-square-mile block of land where most streets have no signs. In their culture, they’ve never needed them.
Tribal activist Wes Davis, 37, an official at the local community college and a lifelong reservation resident, describes where he lives this way — to the west of a gas station on the east side of town, behind the high school and across the road from another store.
“This is literally how we explain where we live here on the reservation, because that’s the way it’s been our whole lives,” Davis said. “People will understand because whenever we think of physical addresses, we think of infrastructure, or we think of pastures, or we think of families who live in a spot and we live alongside of them, those types of things. We don’t think of streets and avenues.”
The stricter voter ID rules are taking effect for the first time after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this month allowed the state to require street addresses, as opposed to other addresses such as post office boxes. Now tribes are scrambling to make sure everyone on the reservation can vote in the November election, which includes a race that could help determine control of the U.S. Senate.
The skirmish over voter access isn’t limited to North Dakota. Voters in at least eight states will face more stringent laws than they did in the last federal election, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. That includes Georgia, where alleged suppression of minority and women voters has become an issue in a heated governor’s race.
American Indians in North Dakota face a unique situation because the state is the only one in the nation without voter registration, meaning they have never really needed a street address to vote.
Before 2013, people without proper identification were allowed to vote by signing an affidavit attesting to their eligibility. The Republican-controlled Legislature ended that just months after Democrat Heidi Heitkamp won a U.S. Senate seat in 2012 by fewer than 3,000 votes, with strong support from American Indians, who tend to vote Democrat.
Voters must now be able to prove a residential address. That could potentially disenfranchise thousands of voters on the state’s five reservations, according to the tribes.
Republicans argue that Heitkamp’s victory had nothing to do with the legislation, and they’re simply trying to guard against voter fraud that Secretary of State Al Jaeger, himself a Republican, said “should be a concern for every voter.”
State officials note that everyone has a street address via the statewide 911 system and that those addresses are easily obtainable by calling a 911 coordinator in any of North Dakota’s 53 counties.
People on reservations say designated 911 addresses are relatively new and unknown to many, and that just getting an updated ID with an address can be problematic. Many tribal members are homeless, lack transportation, don’t have necessary documents — such as a birth certificate — or simply can’t afford one.
“Fifteen dollars for an ID could mean the difference between a single mother buying milk for her children for three days or getting an ID to go vote,” Turtle Mountain Chairman Jamie Azure said.
The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa challenged the voter ID law in 2016. A district judge ruled that a P.O. box should be OK, but was overruled by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judges there accepted the state’s argument that it could lead to people voting in the wrong districts and to fraud.
Though the U.S. Supreme Court agreed, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in a dissent that “the risk of voter confusion appears severe here.”
With high interest in the U.S. Senate race between Heitkamp and her Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, tribes and advocacy groups are now scrambling.
Tribes are handing out free IDs in advance of the election and at polling sites on Election Day. They’re arranging special events, including a Saturday concert on the Standing Rock Reservation featuring musician Dave Matthews.
On Turtle Mountain, about 100 people are coming in for free IDs each day, said Kandace Parisien, director of the tribe’s motor vehicle department, which is issuing them. Delaine Belgarde, 40, who was among the crowd there Wednesday, called the program “awesome.”
The Lakota People’s Law Project is mounting a ground campaign to educate tribal voters on the ID requirements, and to help those who need it get to the polls on Election Day.
The Four Directions group also is helping Native American voters get the addresses they need.
“There’s a whole lot of baling wire and duct tape being put into place, because the Legislature, attorney general and secretary of state decided they’d try to take out the Indian vote,” said Bret Healy, a consultant for the nonprofit that advocates for Indian voting rights.
Jaeger vehemently denies that and maintains that voter fraud is a distinct possibility without the requirement. After the 2016 general election, his office studied 16,000 affidavits submitted under the old system and could not verify 3,600 of them.
“It could have been that all 3,600 voters were legitimate voters, but when we can’t find them afterward, that puts a cloud on the election,” he said.
Max Feldman, an attorney in the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program, said the fraud potential that states often cite in passing more restrictive voter laws is actually extremely rare.
“Many of these laws are passed by GOP legislatures with GOP governors,” Feldman said. “They often have the effect of disenfranchising marginalized voters — people of color and low-income voters.”
The voter ID issue in North Dakota has galvanized the tribes, according to Azure.
“It’s unifying the people,” he said. “It’s getting people interested, it’s getting people looking at the issues, looking at the candidates.”
Colten Birkland, 19, who is voting on Turtle Mountain for the first time this November, is one of them.
“In the end, we’re going to do whatever we can to vote, and that’s the bottom line,” he said.
Follow Blake Nicholson on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/NicholsonBlake
Rob Richardson outraises opponent in final filing deadline
COLUMBUS, OH – Today, Democratic nominee for Ohio Treasurer Rob Richardson submitted his final campaign finance filing before the Nov 6 election at $203,886.13. This surpassed his opponent Robert Sprague’s filing of $172,153.11 by $31,733.02. Richardson’s total raise until now comes to $2,094,624.76 with a total of 3,209 individual contributions, compared to Sprague’s total of $1,741,788.75 raised with 1,181 individual contributions.
“We’re very pleased to have maintained our momentum going into the home stretch,” said Campaign Manager Chris Myers. “It’s been a long, hard road getting here and we’re not going to rest on our laurels these last eleven days, but I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. Our numbers suggest we have the support of the people of Ohio behind us, and I think that will be reflected at the polls come Election Day.”
Rob Richardson is a former chairman of the University of Cincinnati Board of Trustees, where he established the U.C. Scholars Academy for students in the Cincinnati Public School District. He also founded the first Next Lives Here Innovation Summit and led the development of the 1819 Innovation Hub where students, faculty, and staff collaborate with entrepreneurs, startups, and others in the private sector.
Richardson has been a longtime advocate for workers as a marketing construction representative. He also serves “of counsel” with the law firm Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings, where he practices in securities litigation.
Florida’s Amendment 4: Restoring voting rights to people with felonies might also reduce crime
October 26, 2018
Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Pittsburgh
Victoria Shineman does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Pittsburgh provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
On Nov. 6, voters in Florida will consider a ballot measure that would restore the right to vote to 1 million citizens who are currently not able to vote because they have felony convictions.
My research finds that when Virginia restored voting rights, ex-offenders became more trusting of government and the criminal justice system. These attitudes are known to make it easier for citizens to re-enter society after being released from prison and decrease their tendency to commit additional crimes.
The results from my study in Virginia might give a glimpse of what would be expected if the Florida measure, called Amendment 4, passes.
Florida’s felony disenfranchisement laws
More than 6 million U.S. citizens do not have the right to vote due to state laws that limit the voting rights of those convicted of a felony.
All but four states automatically restore voting rights to people after they are released from prison, or after completion of parole or probation.
In Florida, however, voting rights are never automatically restored.
They can only be restored by an application to the Executive Clemency Board – a four-member panel including both the governor and the attorney general. Citizens must wait at least five years after completing their sentence before applying. The clemency board is able to reject applications for any reason, including traffic violations.
Under current Gov. Rick Scott, the clemency board approved fewer than 2,000 restorations of voting rights over six years. There is a current backlog of more than 10,000 applications.
Given these strict laws, more than 1.6 million voting-age citizens in Florida do not have the right to vote – including more than 1 out of every 5 black citizens statewide.
Amendment 4 would change the Florida State Constitution. If the referendum passes, voting rights will automatically be restored to all citizens who finish probation. This change would apply to all felonies except for murder and sex crimes.
New research from Virginia
In Virginia, an ex-offender can only regain their right to vote if the governor signs an executive order personally restoring their civil rights.
Typically, previous governors waited for people to apply and considered individual applications for restoration with varying scrutiny. But in 2016 and 2017, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe made the unprecedented move to proactively restore voting rights to more than 150,000 ex-offenders – more than any other governor in U.S. history.
I went to Virginia during the November 2017 statewide election, shortly after many new restoration orders had been processed. I recruited a sample of 93 citizens with felony convictions to complete two surveys – one before the election, and one after.
More than 70 percent of these individuals already had their voting rights restored by the governor, but many of them were not aware of their newly restored rights.
I randomly divided them into groups. After the first survey and before the election, individuals in one group were informed about whether their voting rights had been restored. Individuals in another group were not provided with this information. I then compared the attitudes within the two groups before and after the election.
Since many subjects were unaware that their voting rights had already been restored, the study randomly increased information about their voting rights. Because the two groups being compared are similar in every way – except for the information they received about voting rights – I am able to measure the effects of learning that your right to vote has been restored.
Citizens who were told whether their voting rights had been restored became more trusting of government and the criminal justice system compared to those who were not provided with this information. They also viewed the U.S. government as more fair and representative. And they became more trusting of the police and more willing to cooperate with law enforcement.
These findings corroborate results from another study I conducted in November 2014. The earlier study similarly informed some citizens with felony convictions in Ohio that their voting rights had been restored. Compared to another group who was not provided with this information, subjects who were informed that their voting rights had been restored reported higher trust in the government and the police.
These trusting and pro-democratic attitudes are known to help citizens reintegrate into their communities upon release from prison.
Research suggests citizens returning from prison reintegrate more successfully if they are able to transition from an identity as a “criminal” to an identity of a “law-abiding citizen.”
Not being allowed to vote creates a lasting stigma that makes it harder for them to see themselves as valuable members of society. On the other hand, being encouraged to vote causes people to become more informed and more trusting.
Research on crime also suggests that people are more likely to obey laws when they believe those laws were created through a fair process. Individuals who were informed about their voting rights also perceived the government as more fair and representative. Thus voting rights might make it easier for returning citizens to reintegrate into society, while also reducing the incentives to commit further crimes.
Lessons for Amendment 4
Policies regulating the voting rights of ex-offenders have historically been a partisan issue, with Democrats supporting voting rights and Republicans supporting voting restrictions.
But Amendment 4 has had strong bipartisan support. One argument that increases support on both sides is that restoring voting rights would decrease crime.
There are other studies that have found a relationship between voting rights and lower crime. But none of them have yet been able to test whether restoring voting rights causes crime to decrease as mine does.
My research provides the first causal evidence that restoring voting rights causes ex-offenders to the very develop attitudes and behaviors that make them more likely to successfully reintegrate into society and avoid returning to crime and prison.
Amendment 4 could not only affect voter turnout and electoral outcomes – it could also decrease crime and the costs of the criminal justice system.
Kiki Jewell, logged in via Google: What important research! These are very exciting results! I’ve sent the article to my mom who will be voting in FL. Keep up the great work, changing lives for the better.
How the devastating 1918 flu pandemic helped advance US women’s rights
March 1, 2018
Christine Crudo Blackburn
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University
Gerald W. Parker
Associate Dean For Global One Health, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; and Director, Pandemic and Biosecurity Policy Program, Scowcroft Institute for International Affairs, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University
Research Fellow, American University
The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Texas A&M University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
When disaster strikes, it can change the fabric of a society – often through the sheer loss of human life. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami left 35,000 children without one or both parents in Indonesia alone. The Black Death killed more than 75 million people worldwide and more than a third of Europe’s population between 1347 and 1351.
While disasters are by definition devastating, sometimes they can lead to changes that are a small silver lining. The 2004 tsunami ended a civil conflict in Indonesia that had left 15,000 dead. The 14th century’s plague, probably the most deadly disaster in human history, set free many serfs in Europe, forced wages for laborers to rise, and caused a fundamental shift in the economy along with an increased standard of living for survivors.
One hundred years ago, a powerful strain of the flu swept the globe, infecting one third of the world’s population. The aftermath of this disaster, too, led to unexpected social changes, opening up new opportunities for women and in the process irreversibly transforming life in the United States.
The virus disproportionately affected young men, which in combination with World War I, created a shortage of labor. This gap enabled women to play a new and indispensible role in the workforce during the crucial period just before the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women suffrage in the United States two years later.
Why did the flu affect men more than women?
Known as the Spanish flu, the 1918 “great influenza” left more than 50 million people dead, including around 670,000 in the United States.
To put that in perspective, World War I, which concluded just as the flu was at its worst in November 1918, killed around 17 million people – a mere third of the fatalities caused by the flu. More American soldiers died from the flu than were killed in battle, and many of the deaths attributed to World War I were caused by a combination of the war and the flu.
The war provided near perfect conditions for the spread of flu virus via the respiratory droplets exhaled by infected individuals. Military personnel – predominantly young males – spent months at a time in close quarters with thousands of other troops. This proximity, combined with the stress of war and the malnutrition that sometimes accompanied it, created weakened immune systems in soldiers and allowed the virus spread like wildfire.
Overcrowding in training camps, trenches and hospitals created an ideal environment for the 1918 influenza strain to infect high numbers of people. In fact, the conditions of war helped the virus perfect itself through several waves of infection, each more deadly than the last.
Many troops were doomed before they even reached Europe, contracting the flu on the packed troop ships where a single infected soldier could spread the virus throughout. When soldiers returned to the U.S., they scattered to every state, bringing the flu along with them.
It was more than just male conscription in war, however, that led to a greater number of men who were infected and died from the flu. Even at home, among those that were never involved in the war effort, the death rate for men exceeded that of women. Demographic studies show that nearly 175,000 more men died than women in 1918.
In general, epidemics tend to kill more men than women. In disease outbreaks throughout history, as well as almost all of the world’s major famines, women have a longer life expectancy than men and often have greater survival rates.
The exact reason why men tend to be more vulnerable to the flu than women continues to elude researchers. The scoffing modern term “man flu” refers to the perception that men are overly dramatic when they fall ill; But recent research suggests that there may be more to it than just exaggerated symptoms.
Flu brought more women into the workforce
The severity of the epidemic in the U.S. was enough to temporarily shut down parts of the economy in 1918. In New England, coal deliveries were so severely affected that people, unable to keep their homes heated, froze to death at the height of winter. During the 1918 flu outbreak, researchers estimate businesses in Little Rock, Arkansas, saw a decline of 40 to 70 percent.
The worker shortage caused by the flu and World War I opened access to the labor market for women, and in unprecedented numbers they took jobs outside the home. Following the conclusion of the war, the number of women in the workforce was 25 percent higher than it had been previously and by 1920 women made up 21 percent of all gainfully employed individuals in the country. While this gender boost is often ascribed to World War I alone, women’s increased presence in the workforce would have been far less pronounced without the 1918 flu.
Women began to move into employment roles that were previously held exclusively by men, many of which were in manufacturing. They were even able to enter fields from which they had been banned, such as the textile industry. As women filled what had been typically male workplace roles, they also began to demand equal pay for their work. Gaining greater economic power, women began more actively advocating for various women’s rights issues – including, but not limited to, the right to vote.
How the flu helped change people’s minds
Increased participation in the workforce allowed many women to obtain social and financial independence. Leadership positions within the workforce could now be occupied by women, especially in the garment industry, but also in the military and police forces. The U.S. even got its first woman governor, when Nellie Taylor Ross took her oath of office, in 1923, in Wyoming. An increased ability to make decisions in their personal and professional lives empowered many women and started to elevate their standing.
With the war over and increased female participation in the labor force, politicians could not ignore the critical role that women played in American society. Even President Woodrow Wilson began to argue in 1918 that women were part of the American war effort and economy more broadly, and as such, should be afforded the right to vote.
Outside of work, women also became more involved in community decision-making. Women’s changing social role increased support for women’s rights. In 1919, the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs was founded. The organization focused on eliminating sex discrimination in the workforce, making sure women got equal pay and creating a comprehensive equal rights amendment.
The 1918 influenza pandemic was devastating. But the massive human tragedy had one silver lining: It helped elevate women in American society socially and financially, providing them more freedom, independence and a louder voice in the political arena.