Since the Bush administration first recognized the genocide in Darfur, over 250,000 men,
women, and children have died. This number does not count the countless
women and children that have been raped or attacked as a result of the
Sudanese government's campaign to kill and drive out Darfur's ethnic
African populations. The violence and genocide is now spilling over
into Chad and the Central African Republic. Yet, even with such
horrifying statistics, the situation deteriorates day by day.
One of the biggest challenges in raising voter turnout is address the
rate of voter registration. The vast majority of states have
registration deadlines weeks before Election Day. The schedule poses
problems for busy Americans who simply forget to register or
re-register and find themselves unable to vote on Election Day. During
the 2000 Presidential election alone, nearly 3 million voters were disenfranchised due to registration problems. Luckily, a simple solution is available: Election Day Registration (EDR).
The Millenials are with us. America's youth -- the biggest generation
since the Baby Boom -- are voting more frequently than Generation X and
are voting far more progressively than the Reagan-raised generation
that proceeded them. You have probably already heard one of the most
impressive stats: young voters
went for Democrats by a margin of 60%-38% according to exit polls and 2
million more turned out to the polls than in 2002 -- the last mid-term
Even with the good news that came last Tuesday, all too much evidence exists that the basic machinery of democracy in America is broken. Election Day is like Groundhog Day and the first stories of problems with voting machines, long lines, or voter intimidation hit the wires in the early A.M. Fortunately, with progressives in control in more states than ever before, we have an opportunity to get the machinery working, so that the engine of democracy starts humming again.
It's a big year for ballot issues. Mid-term elections, when no
President is being elected, typically see less activity on the ballot
issue front than Presidential years, but 2006 is proving to be an exception. Eighteen states will consider 76 ballot issues this fall, as high as its been since 1914 for a non-Presidential year.
Someday soon, we will all be experts in Ohio election law. The
state's rules are under fire yet again. This time, a labor union and an
advocacy organization for the homeless have teamed up to file suit regarding the state's new ID rules, which the plaintiffs say are being enforced differently county by county.
Nearly 200 Wal-Mart workers spontaneously walked off the job
in Florida this week in response to new rules that even two department
managers leading the walkout deemed "inhuman." Not only were hours cut
for all full-time workers -- from 40 hours a week down to 32 hours, but
employees were required to be available for any shift around the clock.
By voting for Proposition 87, California voters have the
opportunity to join a growing number of states in investing in clean
energy. Backing the proposition are more than just environmental
groups. Unions, civil rights organizations, health workers, and many
others have joined in the fight for clean energy. The proposition
would tax companies drilling for oil in California and set aside the
money collected in a fund for loans, grants and subsides to promote
alternative fuels and more energy-efficient vehicles. In addition to
the environmental benefits, it will decrease dependence on foreign oil.
In one of the stranger corruption tales to emerge this year, Colorado Rep. Bill Berens took a gift of $20,000 from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, nominally for a "hole in one prize." Gifts of over $50 to legislators are illegal under Colorado law. Asked by email to explain the gift, Berens simply said that it wasn't a gift and said a Democrat at the event would vouch for him.
It's a weird answer, but, when approached, his colleague Rep.
Some conservatives in Colorado appear to think they are above
the laws. In the past several weeks, Colorado's largest rightwing 527
has been caught in the middle of what appears to be a giant money
laundering scheme and the Secretary of State has been called out for
failing to enforce a new law stepping up lobbyist disclosure, even
while trying to create new rules to hamstring unions and other large