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Trump Election Miss Still Costing Gambling Websites in a Huge Way

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 11:48

Hard to predict as well – link

Following the election of President Donald Trump in November, political betting websites in England and Ireland are paying massive payouts to people who placed their bets with President Trump. In the run up to the 2016 election, President Trump was a 25 to 1 odd making him a long shot to win and Hillary Clinton the deceive choice for many betters.

“I was supremely confident. I thought she was going to win by a landslide. When the results were coming in, I was extremely confident,” professional better Paul Krishnamurty said following the results. Krishnamurty lost $15,000 with his bet on Clinton winning the election.

Paul Krishnamurty – link

Many factors played into the upset taking place including President Trump breaking what is known as the “blue wall.” The blue wall a group of states in the upper midwest that have been traditional Democratic strongholds since the early 1990s. President Trump was able to break the wall, winning Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio along with Wisconsin. The winning of those states along with key states in the South, like Florida and Georgia, helped put President Trump over the top in the electoral college even though he lost the popular vote.

Trump won the electoral college with 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232. However, Clinton won the popular vote 48.2 percent to Trump’s 46.1 percent. The electoral college win being decisive gave Trump the victory.

Other factors along with winning those key states played a role in helping Trump pull off what is likely to be the biggest Presidential upset victory in history. One of those instances was the announcement by former FBI director Comey over the summer that Clinton was under possible investigation for wrongdoing by having a private internet server in Colorado. The announcement helped sow further doubt into the American public about the trustworthiness of candidate Clinton who was already seen as untrustworthy by the American people.

“Trump’s win was 1,000 time less likely than Brexit. I was arguing that Trump had no chance,” Krishnamurty continued. Many echoed Krishnamurty’s belief that President Trump had no chance, given all the controversies surrounding him during the primary season and the video that came out during the weeks in the run up to the election, which many thought was the death blow.

It can be said being hit with further accusations of lying and being unfit for office in the run up to the November election cost her the presidency. Clinton’s own self-inflicted wounds combined with a failure of polling in states like Michigan and Wisconsin, possibly because of a hidden Trump vote of people who did not want to admit they were going to vote for the President.

Some websites like Paddy Power in Ireland, made the mistake of paying out prizes weeks ahead of time and they’re payouts totaled $1 million weeks before the election.

Paddy Power storefront – link

“The recent flood of revelations have halted his momentum and his chances of winning now look as patch as his tan,” the website said three weeks prior to the election. The website was referencing the video that was leaked that showed President Trump talking negatively about women and other “scandals,” that surrounded his campaign like a Russia investigation that is ongoing to this day.

Bookies around the United Kingdom and Ireland gave Clinton an 85.7 percent chance of winning. (Political betting is illegal in the United States). 40 percent of betters placed their bets with Clinton, while, approximately, 10,000 gamblers thought President Trump would win.

“If Trump wins we’ll be facing a double payout and left with some seriously expensive egg on our faces,” Paddy Power spokesman Lewis Davey said in an interview a couple weeks prior to the election. The website payed out winnings to approximately 6,000 gamblers prior to the election.

In conclusion, this is a perfect example of the old saying “Don’t count you’re chickens before they hatch,” and it just goes to show that upsets in politics are a real possibility, even when ‘experts’ least expect them.

Links to sources:

  1. CNN Money Link: http://money.cnn.com/2016/10/18/news/paddypower-pays-hillary-clinton-bettors/index.html
  2. Fortune Link: http://fortune.com/2016/11/09/donald-trump-president-gamble/

 

 

 

 

A Look at the Latest Proposals to Fix Pennsylvania Gerrymandering

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 11:23

Land purchases from Native Americans in Pennsylvania (1682-1792) – link

Pennsylvania lawmakers have introduced bills to reform the system that redraws legislative boundaries

Pennsylvania lawmakers have introduced bills to reform the system that redraws legislative boundaries — a system that critics charge is open to manipulation and can give a perfectly legal advantage to one political party over the other. Partisan gerrymandering refers to the drawing of legislative district lines in a specific way in order to pack like-minded…

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Socialist Workers Party Publish Their Newspaper Archives Since 1946

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 11:17

The UK Socialist Workers Party is more powerful than its US equivalent – link

The full archives weekly newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party has been put online for posterity. A new post on Ballot Access News by Richard Winger had the story. According to the post, the party “has had more election law cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court than any other minor party”. From the post:

The Militant, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party, can now be seen on-line for all issues 1946 through the present. See this link. In the near future, the issues from 1928 through 1945 will also be posted. The Militant is the only printed weekly newspaper published by a U.S. political party. Most parties that still have print publications only publish once per month, or less frequently.

Between 1969 and 1980, the Socialist Workers Party was the most active party in the U.S. challenging restrictive ballot access laws in court. The issues of The Militant for those years are a valuable resource for anyone researching the history of the fight against such ballot access laws. Leaders of the Socialist Workers Party established a separate pressure group called CoDel (Committee for Democratic Election Laws) to gain support for these lawsuits. Such lawsuits won against various laws in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.

The Socialist Workers Party ran Alyson Kennedy for U.S. president and Osborne Hart for vice president in 2016. According to the party’s page at Rational Wiki:

The Socialist Workers Party in the U.S. party is historically Trotskyist but these days is better described as Castroist. Their party-affiliated book publisher, Pathfinder Press, publishes a number of titles by Malcolm X, who spoke at some SWP forums after his break from the Nation of Islam. They also publish English translations of many books by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, as well as their newsletter The Militant.

About the party from their 2016 election material:

The capitalist economic crisis is battering workers and farmers in the United States and around the world. It’s a slow-burning global depression, and it’s working people who are paying the price. Alyson Kennedy and Osborne Hart, the Socialist Workers Party candidates for U.S. president and vice president, are discussing with workers on their doorsteps and on strike picket lines from small towns to big cities, from coast to coast, how we can organize to overturn the dictatorship of capital, which is at the root of the crisis.

The bosses throw job safety out the window as they impose speedup or slash hours to boost their profits. They scapegoat immigrant workers, seeking to drive down wages and divide the working class. Millions have no jobs, or temporary, part time work at minimum wage. Workers wages are stagnating.

The bosses try to convince us that they’re rich because they’re smart and we’re stupid. And they run the government because they say they know what’s best for us. They have unleashed a propaganda war against the working class, churning out articles saying things like, “the white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin.”

VIDEO: One Man Fighting Canada’s Indigenous Digital Divide

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 10:53

From Al Jazeera:

Maskwacis is an impoverished Canadian community grappling with addiction, unemployment and suicide. Like many other indigenous reserves, it’s a place cut off from the world. There are no landlines, patchy cell service and no affordable ways to get online.

Enter Bruce Buffalo, a local young man who grew up bouncing around foster homes and in and out of jail. Having turned his own life around, he wants to give the First Nations community something millions of other Canadians take for granted: the internet.

Convinced that connectivity will open up new job and education opportunities, Bruce sets about building Maskwacis its own high-speed internet network. But with no backing, piling debt and huge technical obstacles, will Bruce succeed in bringing Maskwacis into the digital age?

Interestingly, the area had recently been renamed in 2013 “Maskwacis” meaning Bear Hills in the Cree language from its old name “Hobbema”, named after a Dutch landscape painter. The Samson Cree Nation writing from Alberta province in Canada posted this information about the name change:

The official name change to “Maskwacis” is seen as a welcome change. It signifies respect for our Cree way of life, our language and our authority over the traditional territories we have historically occupied. The Maskwacis Cree, collectively, and individually known as Samson Cree Nation, Ermineskin Cree Nation, Louis Bull Tribe and Montana First Nation, are a distinct part of the Plains Cree Nation, who have occupied a territory known as “Maskwacis” since time immemorial.

More on the name change from the informative article:

As long as Maskwacis Elders can remember, to the present day, this area has been called Maskwacis. Some of this territory would eventually be set aside for the Maskwacis Cree as reserve lands under Treaty. Today, the combined reserve land base of the Maskwacis Cree is comprised of some 319.8 square kilometers located in the area known as Maskwacis and Pigeon Lake.

Reclaiming our traditional names for Maskwacis territory, instills a sense of pride in Cree values, languages, culture and history and a sense of belonging among our Nations, especially our youth. In particular, as the bear is so significant to the history, culture and spirituality of the Plains Cree at Maskwacis.

That article also notes that the Crees of Maskwacis are known individually as:

  • Neyaskwayak (the Northern treeline) or Ermineskin Cree Nation
  • Kispahtinaw (the end of the hill) or Louis Bull Tribe
  • Akamihk (across – the river) or Montana First Nation, and
  • Nipisihkopahk (willow meadows) or Samson Cree Nation

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Some Interesting Local Contests From France’s National Assembly Vote

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 10:39

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France’s newly elected president seems almost guaranteed a majority for his La Republique en Marche

Paris (dpa) – France’s newly elected president, Emmanuel Macron, seems almost guaranteed a majority for his La Republique en Marche (The Republic on the Move, LREM) party in the second round of parliamentary elections on Sunday. Run-off votes take place in 573 single-member constituencies across France. Here are some of the key local contests to look…

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Texas Voter ID Laws Lead to Voters Being Delayed and Turned Away

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 10:19

Confusion created by hastily drawn up voter ID laws have prevented votes from being tallied. A new article by Jeremy Wallace of the Houston Chronicle had the story:

Hundreds were delayed from voting and others nearly turned away entirely during the presidential election because of confusion over the status Texas voter ID laws, a new report from a voting rights advocacy group shows. It’s just one of numerous problems Texas voters — particularly minority groups — faced during the 2016 election cycle, the report from the Texas Civil Rights Project detailed on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, throughout the state, voters faced numerous obstacles that complicated the process,” said Beth Stevens, voting rights director at the Texas Civil Rights Project which put out the report on Thursday. “Through our Election Protection Coalition, we heard directly from thousands of voters about the barriers they faced in our electoral system.”

The first of its kind Texas-based report on voter issues was limited in scope to just over 4,000 incidents that we logged. But Stevens said it’s safe to assume there are many more Texans who experienced similar obstacles in voting that simply did not know who to turn to.

See more on the subject at DC’s Voter ID archive of articles. A recent article on DC, “DMV Hours Slashed At Offices Essential to Obtain Texas Voter ID” had more on the law’s problems. The new hours seem to reflect a disregard for residents to have easy access to obtain their voter IDs. Election expert Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog recently posted, in a segment he titled, “As Texas Defends Its Voter ID Law, It Cuts Hours for Motor Vehicle Dep’t (Essential for Voters to Get IDs)” that he expects “this news will make it into a filing before Judge Ramos in the voter id litigation”. Here is an excerpt from the Houston Chronicle article that broke the story:

Despite a two-year budget of $2.4 billion, the Texas Department of Public Safety, with little notice, has reduced office hours at 11 of the state’s busiest driver’s license offices and plans to lay off more than 100 full-time employees to deal with a $21 million funding crunch.

The statewide police agency’s primary function is to patrol state highways and issue driver’s licenses, but in recent years has spent hundreds of millions on security operations along the 1,200-mile border with Mexico.

The effects of the reduced driver’s license office hours were apparent on Monday morning, where nearly 200 customers formed a long, snaking line outside the large DPS facility at 12220 South Gessner. On June 5, the DPS abruptly scaled back operating hours from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the large centers. The offices are still open after 5 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Only recently Texas has drawn condemnation leading to a different Texas voter ID controversy over protecting the vote. The Justice Department under the leadership of election-protecting Attorney General Eric Holder lead new lawsuit against Texas to prevent its new onerous voter ID requirements from disqualifying huge numbers of minority and poor voters. Ballot Access News, written by Richard Winger, had the latest news in U.S. Government Files New Lawsuit to Invalidate Texas Government Photo-ID Law.  Take a look:

On August 22, the United States filed a lawsuit in federal court in Corpus Christi, alleging that the Texas government photo-ID law passed in 2011 (and not yet implemented) violates Section Two of the Voting Rights Act, and the 14th and 15th amendments. The case is U.S.A. v State of Texas, 2:13cv263. It will go to a three-judge court. Here is the Complaint. The Complaint alleges that some Texas residents who don’t have the needed ID would be forced to make a round trip of up to 200 miles to obtain such an ID. The Complaint also points out that some of the offices that issue state ID’s are not open in the evening or on weekends, so that some applicants would need to miss work in order to obtain Texas Voter ID.

The 2011 law had not been implemented because neither the Justice Department, nor another federal court, pre-cleared the law. Now that the preclearance portion of the Voting Rights Act is effectively no longer workable, the Justice Department is using Section 2 of the Act. Section 2 applies to the entire nation and does not permit any state to pass a law that injures the voting rights of racial and ethnic minorities. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the link.

According to new information from the New York Times, the move by the Justice Department and Eric Holder will be facing some unprecedented barriers to their efforts in protecting voters thanks to the Supreme Court’s dismantling of the Voting Rights Act only months ago.

The Justice Department said it would file paperwork to become a co-plaintiff in an existing lawsuit brought by civil rights groups and Texas lawmakers against a Texas redistricting plan. Separately, the department said, it filed a new lawsuit over a state law requiring voters to show photo identification. In both cases, the administration is asking federal judges to rule that Texas has discriminated against voters who are members of a minority group, and to reimpose on Texas a requirement that it seek “pre-clearance” from the federal government before making any changes to election rules. In June, the Supreme Court removed the requirement by striking down part of the Voting Rights Act.

Holder was not being subtle in his quest for better voting methods either. “We will not allow the Supreme Court’s recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights,” Mr. Holder added: “We will keep fighting aggressively to prevent voter disenfranchisement.” In the Justice Department complaint there was more interesting information on the Texas law and state of elections:

The Attorney General files this action pursuant to Sections 2 and 12(d) of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1973 & 1973j(d), to enforce the voting rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. According to the 2010 Census, Texas had a total population of 25,145,561, with a Hispanic population of 9,460,921 (37.6%) and a non-Hispanic black population of 2,975,739 (11.8%). There is no driver license office in scores of Texas counties, and driver license offices in dozens of additional counties are open only one or two days a week. Each of the documents needed to procure an EIC (state ID) costs money to obtain. A copy of a certified birth certificate from the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics—the least expensive option for those born in Texas—is $22. It costs $345 to obtain a copy of U.S. citizenship or naturalization papers.

A video discussion on Texas Voter ID:

Unresolved Redistricting Lawsuits Have Chance For Big Impact

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 19:49

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Many states are seeing rulings on redistricting cases including at the country’s Supreme Court. From the recent announcement by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law:

At the Supreme Court, the Justices are expected to decide by the end of June whether to hear an appeal of a ruling striking down Wisconsin’s state assembly plan as a partisan gerrymander. Meanwhile, trial begins June 26 in North Carolina in two partisan gerrymandering cases seeking to overturn the state’s 2016 congressional plan, and in Texas, a three-judge court will hold trial starting July 10 on claims that the state’s 2013 state house and congressional plans unconstitutionally discriminated against African Americans and Latinos and violate the Voting Rights Act.

There’s more: In Maryland, plaintiffs have asked the court to issue an injunction blocking use of the state’s congressional map in the 2018 election, and, in Pennsylvania, a new partisan gerrymandering case has been filed challenging that state’s congressional map.

A round up of where these and other key redistricting cases currently stand can be found here. Here is some info about the Brennan Center:

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve our systems of democracy and justice. We work to hold our political institutions and laws accountable to the twin American ideals of democracy and equal justice for all. The Center’s work ranges from voting rights to campaign finance reform, from ending mass incarceration to preserving Constitutional protection in the fight against terrorism. Part think tank, part advocacy group, part cutting-edge communications hub, we start with rigorous research. We craft innovative policies. And we fight for them — in Congress and the states, the courts, and in the court of public opinion.

Homeless Political Donors Are Now a Thing in Seattle

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 15:52

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Every Seattle voter now gets four vouchers to donate twenty-five dollars to a political campaign, and even the homeless can participate. A recent article in the American Prospect by its senior editor Eliza Newlin Carney highlights the Seattle program. Thanks to Rick Hasen at Election Law Blog for the link. Hasen has been a big supporter of similar schemes as you can read at his UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper titled, “Clipping Coupons for Democracy: An Egalitarian/Public Choice Defense of Campaign Finance Vouchers”. Take a look at this excerpt from the American Prospect article:

In municipal elections now unfolding in Seattle, by contrast, housing activist Jon Grant is collecting campaign contributions from a very different source—the city’s homeless encampments. Homeless donors are helping power Grant’s campaign for city council thanks to a new public financing program that gives every Seattle voter four vouchers worth $25 each, to hand out to candidates as they see fit.

Such is the dichotomy between the federal campaign-finance system, where unrestricted money reigns supreme, and the experiments in publicly funded, citizen-powered elections that are popping up around the country in cities, states, and municipalities like Seattle, Maine, and Montgomery County, Maryland.

According to that article, 13 states now have some kind of system for public financing of elections. But the voucher system in Seattle is unique and revolutionary as Rick Hasen explains in the abstract of his research paper written in 1996, way before the Seattle system was implemented, but which outlined how such a system could work:

This Article proposes a market-based alternative to our current unpopular regime for financing federal election campaigns. Under the proposal, each voter receives vouchers for federal elections to contribute either to candidates directly or to interest groups; with limited exceptions, only funds from the voucher system could be spent to support or oppose candidates for elected federal offices.

Using public choice theory, Professor Hasen argues that the voucher plan would promote an egalitarian political market in which each person has roughly equal political capital regardless of preexisting disparities in wealth, education, or organizational ability. After demonstrating that the current campaign finance regime favors wealthy and well-organized interests at the expense of the poor and those with diffuse interests, the author identifies four distinct benefits of the voucher proposal.

First, the voucher proposal minimizes the role of wealth in the political process and facilitates the organization of those individuals who currently lack political capital. Second, the proposal is likely to promote a stable transition to a more egalitarian political order and a more chaotic, though fairer, legislative process. Third, the voucher proposal’s market orientation registers the intensity of voter preferences well. Finally, the proposal has a realistic chance of being enacted and of passing constitutional muster.

The author concludes by demonstrating the superiority of the voucher plan under the four criteria to non-voucher public financing of Congressional campaigns, proportional representation, and group-based political solutions.

Turkey Opposition’s March For Justice Hits Third Day

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 15:27

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Erdogan indicated his patience was running out and that judicial steps could be taken against participants

Istanbul (dpa) – As Turkey’s main opposition’s “march for justice” entered its third day Saturday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated his patience was running out and that judicial steps could be taken against participants. “If you are seeking justice, the authority and place to seek justice in Turkey is the parliament,” Erdogan told a meeting of…

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Kalief Browder’s Brother on Green Party Ticket For NYC Mayor

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 15:22

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Taking on the cause of his brother, Akeem Browder has been nominated to run by the state Green Party. The breaking news came out in a new article on the DNAinfo, a neighborhood news source, by Dartunorro Clark had the story:

Akeem Browder, the older brother of Kalief Browder and an outspoken critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio, has thrown his hat in the ring for mayor’s race, he told DNAinfo New York. “I have nothing else to lose,” the 34-year-old said Friday. “They took my mother. They took my brother. To run, even if I lose, it wouldn’t stop me from being an advocate.”

He filed his candidacy papers with Campaign Finance Board and is running on the Green Party ticket, he and the agency said. His platform is centered on the “criminal injustice” system, he said, adding that it will focus on myriad issues facing New Yorkers, including homelessness, deportation and education.

Some more information from the New York Post:

Activist Akeem Browder — whose younger brother Kalief committed suicide at age 22 in 2015 – crashed a mayoral candidates forum in Harlem Thursday night to announce his candidacy and convinced organizers to let him participate. Browder was quietly tapped as the Green Party’s mayoral candidate last week.

Akeem Browder recently posted on his Facebook page the following criticism of recent mayors including current mayor DeBlasio:

The on going problem with having Mayor after Mayor representing the problems we average NEW YORKERS face is that they are far removed from the problem and yet we the People suffer there rain from above. How can they speak on immigration yet they’ll NEVER experience this or even Er they’ve never fought with us in the trenches of NYC streets!! How can they speak on the criminal injustice system when we, like me and Kalief, are the ones that suffered wrongful charges and are always the demographic to take plea bargains.


Finally, here is a 38 minute discussion on Democracy Now with Akeem Browder. From Democracy Now’s video synopsis:

Today marks two years since Kalief Browder took his own life in 2015 at the age of 22, after being held in jail for nearly three years without trial for a crime he did not commit.

In November, we spoke with Akeem Browder, Kalief’s older brother. He is the founder of the Campaign to Shut Down Rikers. Today we share a second part of his interview that has never been broadcast before. We spoke with him shortly after his family held a memorial service for Venida Browder, who died “of a broken heart” 16 months after her son hanged himself in his Bronx home.

Kalief was just 16 years old in 2010 when he was sent to Rikers Island jail in New York City on suspicion of stealing a backpack. He always maintained his innocence and demanded a trial. Instead, he spent the next nearly three years at Rikers—nearly 800 days of that time in solitary confinement. Near the end of his time in jail, the judge offered to sentence him to time served if he entered a guilty plea, and told him he could face 15 years in prison if he went to trial and was convicted. Kalief still refused to accept the plea deal. He was only released when the case was dismissed. While in Rikers, Kalief was repeatedly assaulted by guards and other prisoners. His brother explains in this interview that he was repeatedly denied food by guards while he was in solitary confinement.

Political Scientist Ranks State Political Polarization in Detail

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 14:58

California is fingered as the second most politicized legislature in the country in unique ranking system. The recent post “Political Scientist Boris Shor Says California is Now Only Second-Most Polarized State Legislature in Nation” was published on Ballot Access News by Richard Winger:

Political scientist Boris Shor, who regularly tallies hundreds of thousands of roll-call votes in state legislatures, and who keeps track of polarization in state legislatures, now says California has been overtaken by Colorado as the most polarized legislature. Here are the new rankings.

The rankings bolster other political science research, which has found no correlation between type of primary system and degree of polarization. Among the seven most polarized states are one closed primary state (Colorado); one semi-closed primary state (Arizona); three open primary states (Missouri, Montana, and Texas); and the two top-two states, California and Washington. Although Colorado has recently switched to a semi-closed primary state, all its legislators were chosen in a closed primary system.

The the American Legislatures project, run by Boris Shur, aims to “measure the ideology of individual state legislators and state legislatures as a whole over the past several decades”. Also, more on Shor’s work can be assessed through links on his bio:

I am an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Houston. Previously, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Government at Georgetown University. In 2011-2013, I was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy, located at the University of California, Berkeley. Before that, I was an Assistant Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy in the University of Chicago.

My CV is here. The major parts of my research agenda are linked above. You can find my Google Scholar citations here, and my SSRN page here (with my working papers). I occasionally blog about issues of the day as they touch upon my research here. Or you can follow me on Twitter.

Visit the American Legislatures website, which has my state legislative ideology data for all 50 states–at the state and individual legislator level–for 1993-2014. A new data release was posted on June 2015, extending and cleaning the data substantially. You can also download my scores for the 2012 congressional candidates.

Posted by Boris Shor – link

Study: TV Habits Played Role in Trump’s Election Success

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 14:35

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Heavy exposure to television can shape your views on violence, gender, science, health and more

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Many gallons of ink (and megabytes of electronic text) have been devoted to explaining the surprise victory of Donald Trump. Reasons range from white working-class resentment, to FBI Director James Comey’s decision to reopen the Hillary Clinton email investigation, to low turnout. All likely…

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With Handshake, Rivals Agree to Hold Vote to End Albanian Crisis

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 14:27

Country of 2.8 million has been trapped in the throes of a serious electoral crisis since February

On a humid summer morning in Tirana, Albania, two veteran political adversaries stood, side-by-side, at the Palace of Congress, to explain the deal they’d reached to end the country’s electoral crisis. As governing Prime Minister Edi Rama and opposition party leader Lulzim Basha outlined the framework for a resolution, the two leaders shook hands. Some of…

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How Registering Voters Automatically Affects Turnout

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 14:20

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Oregon’s success with an automatic voter registration system has led to a wave of new legislation. A great article by Robert Griffin and Paul Gronke at the Washington Post had the story:

We analyzed Oregon’s automatic voter registration system — a result of the 2015 law known as Oregon Motor Voter (OMV). We found that in less than a year, OMV registered over 270,000 new voters, and more than 98,000 of them voted in the 2016 election. Compared to citizens already registered, these automatic registrants were significantly younger and lived in places that had lower incomes, lower levels of education, more racially diverse populations and lower population densities. And while programs that register more voters are usually thought to benefit Democrats, we found that wasn’t entirely the case.

I definitely recommend reading the full article but the conclusion is stark:

We don’t know yet whether Oregon’s results represent automatic voter registration systems everywhere. If they are, then we can expect increased voter registration, resulting in an electorate that better represents U.S. citizens as a whole.

For more information on why states should implement automatic voter registration, see the Case for Automatic Voter Registration by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. For in-depth answers describing how states can use existing technology to implement automatic registration, see Automatic and Permanent Voter Registration: How it Works. According to the most recent update on June 12 by the Brennan Center:

Automatic voter registration, a new reform that will modernize voter registration and dramatically increase registration rates, is gaining momentum around the country. Eight states and the District of Columbia have already approved the policy, and Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected to sign an automatic registration bill that the legislature passed in May. So far in 2017, 32 states have introduced legislation to implement or expand automatic registration (and one more state has an AVR bill that carried over from 2016). A full breakdown of these bills, as well as those introduced in 2015 and 2016, is available below.

Automatic voter registration makes two transformative, yet simple, changes to voter registration: Eligible citizens who interact with government agencies are registered to vote unless they decline, and agencies transfer voter registration information electronically to election officials. These two changes create a seamless process that is more convenient and less error-prone for both voters and government officials. This policy boosts registration rates, cleans up the rolls, makes voting more convenient, and reduces the potential for voter fraud, all while lowering costs.

Congolese Artists Rely on Unusual System of Political Patronage

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 14:04

Why Congo’s poor musicians name-drop powerful people like politicians in their tracks

Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo – JC Kibombo, aka Professa Zikfull, a 32-year-old rumba singer and songwriter, was paying tribute to Congolese music legend Papa Wemba at a bar in this eastern city last year when he noticed a familiar, and powerful, figure watching him. Josue Mufula, a politician who plans to run when, and if,…

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Local Maine Green Party Candidate Wins Nonpartisan Election

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 13:57

It has proven extremely difficult for third parties to succeed even locally, but the Maine Green Party found a way. A recent comment titled, “Green Party Member Wins Non-Partisan Election in Maine” posted on Ballot Access News by Richard Winger had the scoop:

On June 13, the town of Standish, Maine, held an election for its own officers. Peter Starostecki, a registered Green Party member, was elected to the Town Council from area 2. Standish is in Cumberland County, the same county that contains Portland. Thanks to Michael for this news.

The winning candidate Peter Starostecki is from Steep Falls, Maine. Founded in 1984, the Maine Green Independent Party is six months older than the National Green Party, and is therefore considered the oldest state Green party in the the country. The party “achieved ballot status on December 21, 1998, after having received 6.6% of the vote in the 1998 gubernatorial election”.

The party witnessed a major split earlier in the year and defections to the Socialist Party USA, another third party. Take a look at this January article on the split from the Portland Press Herald:

The appearance at an inaugural event of the middle and high school marching band from Madawaska has fractured the leadership of the Maine Green Independent Party and driven two of its most prominent members to defect and declare themselves socialists.

The reason? The director of the marching band, Ben Meiklejohn, also happens to be the secretary of the Maine Green Independent Party. And some former Green members from Portland don’t think Meiklejohn should be doing anything close to supporting the inauguration of Trump.

Some more details from the article:

Former Green Party candidates Tom MacMillan and Seth Baker announced their resignations from the party this week and said they will change their voter registration political affiliation to Socialist Party USA. MacMillan is a past chair of the Green Party in Portland and ran for mayor there in 2015, and Baker was a Green candidate for a Portland state Senate seat last year.

The Upside to Dennis Rodman’s North Korean Adventures

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 19:09

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Former NBA star Dennis Rodman landed in Pyongyang on Tuesday on his fifth visit to North Korea

MA XUEJING/CHINA DAILY Former NBA star Dennis Rodman landed in Pyongyang on Tuesday on his fifth visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since 2013 and his first since US President Donald Trump assumed office. Not surprisingly, Rodman’s visit has triggered fresh discussions: Is he the right man to break the ice between the DPRK…

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For Second Time, Russian Youth Protests Are Challenging Putin

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 19:04

The Kremlin is failing to suppress a new more resilient wave of youth protest and marching

This week, more than 1,700 people have been arrested in Russia for taking part in anti-corruption protests. The geographical scope of the protests was vast – there have been arrests in dozens of Russian cities, from Vladivostok in the Far East to Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea. Beside its breadth, what is also significant about this…

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Utah Green Party Looks to Make Inroads in Senate Election

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 18:35

The Green Party in Utah is seeking to become qualified to be on ballot for the first time since 2012. Richard Winger of Ballot Access News had the scoop:

The Utah Green Party is mostly finished with its party petition, and expects to submit the petition during July. This will be the first time the Green Party has been a qualified party in Utah since 2012.

Only one statewide race is on the ballot in Utah in 2018, U.S. Senate. This means the party must poll 2% for that office in 2018, or it won’t remain on the ballot for 2020. Utah elects all its statewide state offices in presidential years. If a party gets 2% for a statewide office, it remains on the ballot for the next two elections, so generally it is better strategy for a newly-qualifying party to qualify during a presidential year, when it is far easier to poll 2% for one of the five or six races up. However, the Green Party didn’t petition in Utah in 2016; instead it put Jill Stein on the ballot as an independent candidate.

See more at the Utah Green Party website. The 2017 Green Party of Utah State Convention will be held on June 24th where they will be electing party leadership. According to the party, “these leaders determination and vision will carry the Green Party of Utah into a new era of politics”.

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Jill Stein on the Green News Network

LIVE now, Jill Stein interviews Green Party candidates Jabari Brisport in NYC and David Kulma in South Carolina!

Posted by Jill Stein on Thursday, June 15, 2017

Grammy Awards Online Voting Experiment Takes Flight

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 17:19

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The Grammy Awards are transitioning to online voting and updated rules for its top category

NEW YORK – The Grammy Awards are transitioning to online voting and have updated rules for its top category, album of the year. The Recording Academy announced changes on Wednesday, including its official switch to online voting for its 13,000 members. Voting for the 2018 Grammy Awards will take place in the fall and will include…

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