Category Archives: Politics

National data release sheds light on past polling place changes

Source: Carrie Levine, Pratheek Rebala, Matt Vasilogambros, Center for Public Integrity and Stateline, September 29, 2020

The first installment of a new national data release that will help journalists and researchers analyze polling place accessibility was released Tuesday as part of an investigative series, Barriers to the Ballot Box, from The Center for Public Integrity and Stateline. The data, posted to Github, includes polling place locations and addresses for 30 states for the 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 general elections, and is aimed at aiding reporting and research on the impact that polling place closures and changes could have on the 2020 election. Data for additional states will be added in the coming weeks.

Polling place reductions and changes can lower turnout by creating confusion and barriers for voters, potentially disenfranchising them. There is no national public dataset of polling place locations and addresses for past federal elections.

…The polling place location information, now in a usable data format, standardized and available to the public, can be used to track the movement and consolidation of polling places. Combined with other data, such as voter file data, it can shed new light on which voters were affected by the changes. …

…U.S. elections are administered by thousands of separate jurisdictions. Every state has different laws and deadlines governing voting, which can include unique requirements for polling places. Local authorities typically choose them based on a variety of factors.

Public Integrity and Stateline filed and tracked roughly 1,200 records requests to assemble the polling place location data.

In 12 states — Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming — data had to be obtained county by county for at least one of those elections….

What Is ALEC? Learn About the Organization Writing Your State Laws

Source: Sophie Hayssen, Teen Vogue, September 25, 2020

The American Legislative Exchange Commission writes “model legislation” that detractors say “sustains corporate power.”

….ALEC has existed for decades, but spent most of its life in the shadows, cultivating a reputation as a conservative organizational powerhouse. On its website, ALEC describes itself as a “nonpartisan” organization “of state legislators dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets, and federalism.” Though that description may appear staid at first glance, its detractors argue that ALEC is central to some of the most profound shifts in American politics over the last several decades. Groups like Dream Defenders and the Center for Constitutional Rights, have accused it of resembling a “shadow-state apparatus” and promoting “legislation that sustains corporate power.”

Here’s what you need to know about the controversial organization…..

Why Public Sector Union Members Support Their Unions: Survey and Experimental Evidence

Source: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Ethan Porter, Social Forces, Advance Articles, Published September 7, 2020
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Despite their decline, unions, and especially public sector unions, remain important civic and economic associations. Yet, we lack an understanding of why public sector union members voluntarily support unions. We report on a field experiment conducted during a 2017 Iowa teachers union recertification election. We randomly assigned union members to receive emails describing union benefits and measured effects on turnout effort (N = 10,461). Members were more likely to try to vote when reminded of the unions’ professional benefits and community—but not legal protections or political representation. A follow-up survey identified the specific aspects of professional identity and benefits that members most valued and why. In a context where union membership and support is voluntary among professionalized workers, our findings emphasize the possibility of training for fostering shared identities and encouraging support for public sector unions. Our results have broader implications for understanding the public sector labor movement in a context of legal retrenchment.

Black Women Best: The Framework We Need for an Equitable Economy

Source: Kendra Bozarth, Grace Western, and Janelle Jones, Roosevelt Institute, Issue Brief, September 2020

From the summary:
This brief explains how centering Black women in US politics and policymaking in the short and long term will bolster immediate recovery efforts, build durable and equitable institutions, and strengthen collective prosperity.

Labor, Poverty, and Power

Source: Cambridge Now Blog, September 3, 2020

Countries around the world are struggling with the economic repercussions of the pandemic, and the United States in particular has recorded levels of unemployment not seen since the Great Depression. While the CARES Act, passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in March, provided $600/week in supplemental income to some workers, this benefit lapsed at the end of July and no replacement program has been enacted, leaving millions in a state of housing and food insecurity. At the same time, states have made cuts or are considering steep cuts to Medicaid and other social safety programs precisely as need surges, with millions of Americans losing health insurance along with their jobs. A disproportionate number of those who are at risk are Black Americans and people of color who worked—or still work, in some cases, but at minimum wage—in industries without organized labor, which has also been in decline over the past several decades in the United States. Indeed, the precarious position of low-wage workers and the unemployed stands in contrast to legislation designed to protect businesses and employers—for example, a $25 billion bailout to the airline industry, or the GOP Liability Shield Bill, which would give employers sweeping immunity against Covid-19 related lawsuits brought by employees.

We spoke to several Cambridge University Press authors and editors about the legal, political, and historical factors that explain these converging crises and make low-income and unemployed Americans especially vulnerable. We also asked about connections between calls to end anti-Black racism and to reinvigorate organized labor, and, more generally, how anti-labor and anti-poor measures have exacerbated the systemic effects of racism.

A Look At Terminations For Protest-Related Activities

Source: Laura Scott, Employment Alert, Volume 37, Issue 19, September 16, 2020
(subscription required)

…Private employers may be wondering whether and when an employee may be fired for engaging in protest-related conduct. The First Amendment protects an individual’s freedom of speech, right to assemble, and therefore the right to peacefully protest. But, it does not guarantee an employee a job.

If an employee is “at will,” an employer can technically end the employment relationship at any time for any reason. But, it’s rarely a good idea to terminate someone “just because.”

Also, depending on the applicable state law, a private employer may be barred from taking adverse employment action against an employee for conduct engaged in at a protest while off duty…..

How to Defeat Trump and Heal America: Deep Canvassing and Political Persuasion in the 2020 Presidential Election

Source: People’s Action, September 2020

From the executive summary:
People’s Action has completed the first-ever deep canvassing political persuasion experiment this month and the results are groundbreaking.

The independent analysis of our deep canvass phone program found that it had a substantial impact on decreasing Trump’s vote margin, estimated to be 102 times more effective per person than the average presidential persuasion program.

Related:
The Best Way to Beat Trumpism? Talk Less, Listen More
Source: Andy Kroll, Rolling Stone, September 15, 2020

This summer, with Americans hunkered down at home as the Covid-19 pandemic raged, teams of organizers located in a half-dozen battleground states made thousands of phone calls and put a theory to the test: Can an empathetic, heartfelt conversation persuade a complete stranger to change their mind about how to vote in 2020?

The experiment was led by People’s Action, a liberal nonprofit that focuses on mobilizing rural and low-income Americans, and it utilized a tactic known as deep canvassing, a form of grassroots organizing that puts more emphasis on listening and finding human connection than the traditional check-a-box door-to-door canvassing done by political campaigns.

The results of that experiment — shared with Rolling Stone ahead of their release on Tuesday — are striking: Even when done by phone, deep canvassing can indeed have a measurable effect on an individual’s voting preference. According to a study conducted by political-science professors David Broockman and Josh Kalla in partnership with People’s Action, this summer’s deep canvassing by phone led to a 3.1-point swing on average in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden. In other words, for every 100 completed phone calls, three votes were added to Biden’s vote margin after they received a deep canvassing call. That number was even higher for independents (5 points) and independent women (8.5 points), according to the study.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back? Gender, Power and Leadership in Troubled Times

Source: Emilia Belknap, Laura Shaw, Meryl Kenny, Political Insight, Volume 11 Issue 2, June 2020

…Why do gender inequalities in political leadership persist? And (why) does it matter? We examine these questions in the context of two recent and pivotal leadership contests: the 2020 UK Labour leadership election and the US Democratic presidential primary. We ask whether these contests represent a case of ‘two steps forward, one step back’ for women, evaluating both the opportunities for, and obstacles to, women’s political leadership. We then evaluate why gender (in)equality at the top matters, assessing the gendered dynamics of political leadership, and evaluating the implications for women’s political participation. We conclude by reflecting on the future prospects for women’s political leadership in troubled times….