I was invited to an interfaith solidarity service. Instead I spent the day reading Congressman John Lewis's graphic novel trilogy about the civil rights movement.
In North Carolina, civil rights leaders are focused on the one political issue that undergirds all others: the right to vote.
I spent last week on a rural island in Wisconsin, where the Century was cosponsoring the Wisconsin Council of Churches' annual summer forum. It was a great event. It was also a pretty momentous news week, and there I was away from the office and mostly offline. Since returning I've been taken aback by just how much more ink the Supreme Court's Defense of Marriage Act decision has gotten than its Voting Rights Act decision.
In November, I had to vote by provisional ballot. Happens to a lot of people, often for no good reason. But if I had stayed closer to home instead of moving across the state line, along with making my parents happy I likely would have avoided this frustrating experience at the polls. Wisconsin doesn't need to use provisional ballots on anything like the level that Illinois does, because Wisconsin has same-day voter registration.
Lots of great moments from the Inauguration. Some of them serious, like Obama's full-throated support for LGBT rights. (Though contrary to some reports, it wasn't the first time he used the Seneca Falls/Selma/Stonewall line.) Some of them fun, like watching the First Family behave like a regular, happy, un-self-conscious family. (It's not likely you missed this, but just in case: Malia Obama's amazing photobomb.) My personal favorite: the president's decision to start using DC's "Taxation Without Representation" license plates on his limo.
In case you missed these when they made the rounds right after the election, the University of Northern Iowa's collection of women's suffrage postcards has some great examples (via Gwen Sharp) of postcards used as anti-suffrage propaganda. A number of them rely on the specter of men left to care for a household while their wives are off voting in luxury.
I got up before dawn today. (My farmer wife does this every day; I try, with mixed results, to keep her hours.) We got to the polls just as they were opening. For the first time in the eight or nine times I’ve voted in Chicago, my name wasn’t on the list. I had my voter registration card with me, so nobody challenged my eligibility. But I did have to cast a provisional ballot, which might or might not eventually be counted.
Politicians and activists were making sweeping accusations about voter fraud during the 2008 election season, warning that thousands of illegitimate registrations had been submitted and that election theft was immiment. Is the registration system vulnerable to fraud? How can it be improved? Tova Wang, a nationally recognized expert on election reform and vice president for research at Common Cause, a citizens’ lobbying group, answers questions about the voter registration controversies of 2008 and discusses proposals for improving the voting process.
In Wisconsin, voter fraud is rampant—or so thought U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic, who began a hunt for fraudulent voters after John Kerry won Wisconsin by just 11,000 votes over George W. Bush in 2004. But by the time he completed his work, Biskupic reported that he had uncovered only 14 illegal votes—and no conspiracy.Lawmakers in many states are saying that there's only one way to stop this epidemic of fraud: have every voter show a state-issued photo ID at the polls. But experts on elections say that voter fraud of the kind that can be countered by ID requirements is rare; what’s more, requiring photo IDs would disenfranchise millions of voters.