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With the 2020 Election well under way–as voters around the country stand on long lines to vote early in person and place completed paper ballots into drop boxes and mail slots — eyes are on Maine, which is poised to become the first state to use ranked choice voting in electing the president.
Maine already broke new ground in 2018, when it became the first state to elect its Congressional representatives and a U.S. Senator–Angus King, an Independent–with ranked choice voting aka RCV, which even altered the outcome in one race. Democrat Jared Golden initially trailed Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin by about 2,000 votes in District 2, but ultimately beat him by about 3,000, after picking up roughly 90% of the second-choice votes of the two independent candidates in the race. Aided by RCV, Golden became the first challenger to oust an incumbent in that District in a century.
For this year’s presidential race, Maine’s four Electoral College votes are at stake. That is not many, and it could be as few as 3 because Maine is one of two states where those votes can potentially be split between two candidates. Nevertheless, Maine is considered a swing state and the use of ranked choice voting could determine who gets its 3 or 4 Electoral College votes and conceivably determine the outcome.
Not only that. This election stands a real chance of flipping the Senate from Republican to Democratic control and RCV is even more likely to make the difference there. One of the Republican seats most in play is that of Senator Susan Collins of Maine, whose failure in 2018 to vote against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court exposed the hollowness of her claim to be a pro-choice moderate. Running against Collins are Democrat Sara Gideon and two independents, Lisa Savage a former Green, and Max Linn, who has run in the past as a Republican. Recent polls show Gideon with a slight lead over Collins, close enough that reallocated votes could make the difference. As of Oct. 28, one poll had Savage at 4.7% and Linn at 1.7%. With RCV, those Savage votes are likely to go to Gideon, bolstering her advantage over Collins.Continue reading RANKED CHOICE DEBUTS IN MAINE VOTE FOR PRESIDENT
The Appleseed Network celebrates the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling on Thursday morning, June 18th, in favor of blocking the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Court found that the Trump administration’s September 2017 move to terminate the program was “arbitrary and capricious,” and that the impact of the program’s termination on DACA recipients – at least 650,000 young immigrants brought to the US as children – was not properly taken into account.
DACA is a program initially announced in 2012 by former President Barack Obama that allows undocumented young people across the country to harness their skills and education to work and contribute to their communities. Dreamers (those protected under DACA) are able to enroll in college, obtain driver’s licenses, and continue their careers in the place they know as home. Under President Trump’s termination of DACA, new applications to the program were no longer accepted. Thursday morning, the Court’s positive ruling reaffirmed that DACA recipients will continue to be able to live in the US without fear of deportation, as well as pursue higher education and gainful employment.
DACA recipients are highly involved in communities throughout the US, practice political and civic engagement, and have been woven into the economic fabric of America. The Center for American Progress reported that DACA recipients and their households contribute $5.7 billion in federal taxes and $3.1 billion in state and local taxes annually. Additionally, according to the Migration Policy Institute, “55% of DACA recipients are employed, amounting to 382,000 workers [and] 62% of those not in the labor force are enrolled in school.” During the current COVID-19 crisis – which has taken the lives of at least 120,000 people in the US – it is crucial that we acknowledge the 29,000 Dreamers who are working as health care workers and home care providers on the frontlines, and the more than 150,000 Dreamers who are essential workers providing education, growing and producing food, and keeping shelves stocked. Appleseed works to promote equity, security, and justice for children and families across the US and Mexico, and we applaud the DACA program as both a pathway for young undocumented immigrants to achieve their educational and economic goals as well as a recognition of immigrants’ inherent human rights, no matter their citizenship status.
While the ruling is a huge win for immigrants and immigration justice activists around the nation, it is only the first step in securing permanent protections for Dreamers. The American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, passed by the House of Representatives in Spring of 2019, would provide these protections and create a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients. We urge the Senate to pass this bill in order to recognize the right of Dreamers to live free of fear and to pursue their dreams on American soil.
The Appleseed Network stands in solidarity with immigrants when we say, #HomeisHere.
We condemn in the strongest terms the murder of George Floyd, who was suffocated to death last week by a Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he gasped for breath and pleaded for mercy, as well as the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, chased and shot by vigilantes in Georgia for jogging while black, and Breonna Taylor, shot by police in her own Louisville home. The list of people of color who have been wrongfully killed, mainly by police who typically do so with impunity, goes on and on and it has to stop.
We stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and every other group and individual who share that belief and have been exercising their First Amendment rights to proclaim it. The mass protests throughout the United States and around the world over the past week give voice to the anger and anguish of those whose cries for justice have gone unanswered for far too long. In a few instances, remarkably few given the provocations, both recent and historical, understandable frustration has boiled over into violence and property damage.
For the most part, people have stood, knelt and marched peacefully, keeping their eyes on the prize and demanding justice. In a number of instances, including some here in New Jersey, police have joined with protesters, marching and even kneeling alongside them. In too many places, however, most notably Washington D.C., in the shadow of the White House, protesters have been met with tear gas, rubber bullets, flash grenades and other forms of police violence, which we condemn as strongly as we do the murder of George Floyd. It is not only an egregious violation of the rights of the protesters but a betrayal of our values as a nation and a stain upon our country.
In our home city of Newark, NJ, where the beating of a black taxi driver by police in the summer of 1967, sparked four days of riots that left 26 people dead and hundreds injured, the past was not prelude. That was, at least in part, thanks to Mayor Ras Baraka who called a press conference on the steps of City Hall to express support for the protest, marched in the front lines and spoke before the crowd about his own experiences as a youth protesting the deaths of black people at the hands of police. The City’s top police officials likewise voiced support and denounced police brutality and the “senseless murder” of Floyd. Much credit also goes to the organizers, People’s Organization for Progress, and its long-time leader, Larry Hamm.
For our own part, NJ Appleseed will continue to be part of the long-term, big-picture solution as we work to change institutional structures and public policies in areas that disproportionately impact low-income communities of color, including affordable health care, voting rights, community and environmental infrastructure and preserving public ownership or access to essential resources like water systems and hospitals.
Now is the time to move forward and demand structural change; we cannot return to the pre-Trump status quo. The United States must face the ravages wrought by capitalism, and work toward establishing a just social and political order.
NJ Appleseed has been working for many years to protect the integrity of the voting process and continues to do so.
It played a key role in the passage of a 2008 bill requiring that election results be audited to insure that they are correct. That law has never been implemented because audits require paper ballots and until 2019, all but one county in NJ used purely digital paperless voting machines.
More recently, NJ Appleseed has supported replacing those digital machines with a system that voting security experts tells us in the most secure: auditable paper ballots that are hand-marked by the voter, rather than the machine, and read by optical scanners, to reduce the risk of tampering.
NJ Appleseed was part of a campaign in Essex County, led by the grass roots group SOMa Action (from South Orange and Maplewood), that recently succeeded when the Freeholders voted in January to approve the purchase of such a system, the first in New Jersey. It will be in place for the 2020 primary and general election.
The next step will be to try to persuade other counties to do the same. Here is my op-ed on the subject, which was recently published in the Star Ledger and posted on its website.