Tag Archives: voting

With presidential pen, Trump could remake Supreme Court agenda

Even before Donald Trump chooses a Supreme Court nominee, the new president can take steps to make several contentious court cases go away. Legal challenges involving immigration, climate change, cost-free contraceptive care and transgender rights all could be affected, without any help from Congress.

The cases turn on Obama administration policies that rely on the president’s pen, regulations or decisions made by federal agencies.

And what one administration can do, the next can undo.

It is not uncommon for the court’s docket to change when one party replaces the other in the White House. That change in direction is magnified by the high-court seat Trump will get to fill after Senate Republicans refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.

“We were hoping we’d be looking forward to a progressive majority on the Supreme Court. After the election results, there is a new reality,” said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center.

The Supreme Court already is set to consider a case involving a transgender teen who wants to use the boys’ bathroom at his Virginia high school. When the federal appeals court in Richmond ruled in student Gavin Grimm’s favor this year, it relied on a determination by the U.S. Education Department that federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education also applies to gender identity.

The new administration could withdraw the department’s guidance, which could cause the justices to return the case to the lower courts to reach their own decision about whether the law requires schools to allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity.

“It is possible, maybe even likely, that if the first question went away, then the court would send case back to the 4th circuit” in Richmond, said Steven Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents Grimm.

Trump already has pledged to undo Obama’s plan to shield millions of people living in the country without documentation from deportation and to make them eligible for work permits. The Supreme Court, down to eight members after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February, split 4 to 4 in June over the plan. The tie vote effectively killed the plan for Obama’s presidency because lower federal courts had previously blocked it.

But the issue remains a live one in the legal system, and supporters of the Obama plan had hoped that a new Clinton administration would press forward.

Now, though, all Trump has to do is rescind the Obama team’s actions, which would leave the courts with nothing to decide.

A similar fate may be in store for the current administration’s efforts to get cost-free birth control to women who are covered by health plans from religiously-affiliated educational and charitable organizations. The justices issued an unusual order in the spring that directed lower courts across the country to seek a compromise to end the legal dispute. The groups already can opt out of paying for contraception, but they say that option leaves them complicit in providing government-approved contraceptives to women covered by their plans.

The new administration could be more willing to meet the groups’ demands, which would end the controversy.

Women’s contraceptives are among a range of preventive services that the Obama health overhaul requires employers to cover in their health plans. All of that now is at risk, since Trump has called for repeal of the health care law.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan, calling for cuts in carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants, also could be rolled back once Trump is in office.

The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., is considering a challenge by two-dozen mostly Republican-led states that say Obama overstepped his authority. The Trump team could seek to undo the rules put in place by the Environmental Protection Agency and it could seek a delay in the litigation while doing so, said Sean Donahue, a lawyer for the Environmental Defense Fund. Trump’s EPA would have to propose its own rules, which allow for public comment and legal challenges from those who object, Donahue said.

Environmental groups effectively fought rules that they said eased pollution limits during George W. Bush’s presidency.

As some issues pushed by Obama recede in importance, others that have been important to conservatives may get renewed interest at the court. Among those are efforts to impose new restrictions on public-sector labor unions and to strike down more campaign-finance limits, including the ban on unlimited contributions to political parties.

America votes: Scenes on Election Day 2016

A poll worker hands out an "I voted" sticker to a voter during the U.S. presidential election at Potomac Middle School in Dumfries, Virginia, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A poll worker hands out an “I voted” sticker to a voter during the U.S. presidential election at Potomac Middle School in Dumfries, Virginia, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton fills out her ballot at the Douglas Grafflin Elementary School in Chappaqua, New York, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton fills out her ballot at the Douglas Grafflin Elementary School in Chappaqua, New York, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Voters head to the polls during the U.S. presidential election in St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Audette
Voters head to the polls during the U.S. presidential election in St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Scott Audette
A woman holds her children while voting in the U.S. presidential election at Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Virginia, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A woman holds her children while voting in the U.S. presidential election at Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Virginia, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump vote at PS 59 in New York, New York, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump vote at PS 59 in New York, New York, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
People cast their ballots during voting in the 2016 presidential election in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S November 8, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker
People cast their ballots during voting in the 2016 presidential election in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S November 8, 2016. REUTERS/David Becker
Susan Novak scans her ballots after voting during the U.S. presidential election in Medina, Ohio, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
Susan Novak scans her ballots after voting during the U.S. presidential election in Medina, Ohio, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk
Teresa Lesama, originally from Nicaragua, is seen after casting her ballot during the U.S. presidential election at a polling station in the Bronx Borough of New York, U.S. on November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Saul Martinez
Teresa Lesama, originally from Nicaragua, is seen after casting her ballot during the U.S. presidential election at a polling station in the Bronx Borough of New York, U.S. on November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Saul Martinez
Voters register to vote during the U.S. presidential election at a polling station in the Bronx Borough of New York, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Saul Martinez
Voters register to vote during the U.S. presidential election at a polling station in the Bronx Borough of New York, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Saul Martinez
A voter puts on an "I voted" sticker during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
A voter puts on an “I voted” sticker during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
People vote at the Woodman of the World (WOW) Lodge during the U.S. presidential election in Florence, South Carolina, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
People vote at the Woodman of the World (WOW) Lodge during the U.S. presidential election in Florence, South Carolina, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Grace Bell Hardison, a 100-year-old woman recently mentioned by President Barack Obama after attempts were made to purge her from the voter registration list and hence deny her right to vote, receives an "I Voted Today" sticker from election official Elaine Hudnell after she cast her ballot in the U.S. general election from a car in Belhaven, North Carolina, U.S. on November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Grace Bell Hardison, a 100-year-old woman recently mentioned by President Barack Obama after attempts were made to purge her from the voter registration list and hence deny her right to vote, receives an “I Voted Today” sticker from election official Elaine Hudnell after she cast her ballot in the U.S. general election from a car in Belhaven, North Carolina, U.S. on November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
A woman arrives for her voting ballot during the U.S presidential election at the James Weldon Johnson Community Centre in the East Harlem neighbourhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A woman arrives for her voting ballot during the U.S presidential election at the James Weldon Johnson Community Centre in the East Harlem neighbourhood of Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Poll workers distribute voting materials during the 2016 presidential election in San Diego, California, U.S November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker
Poll workers distribute voting materials during the 2016 presidential election in San Diego, California, U.S November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker
Travis Lopes, 30, casts his vote for the presidential election in Manhatta, New York. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz
Travis Lopes, 30, casts his vote for the presidential election in Manhatta, New York. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz
Hundreds of Temple University students wait in an hour-long line to vote during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
Hundreds of Temple University students wait in an hour-long line to vote during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
Hundreds of Temple University students wait in an hour-long line to vote during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
Hundreds of Temple University students wait in an hour-long line to vote during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
A voter casts their ballot at a polling place inside a Chinese restaurant during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
A voter casts their ballot at a polling place inside a Chinese restaurant during the U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Mostoller
A woman drops her ballot during the presidential election at LA County Registrar Office in Norwalk, California, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
A woman drops her ballot during the presidential election at LA County Registrar Office in Norwalk, California, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
A woman drops her ballot during the presidential election at LA County Registrar Office in Norwalk, California, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
A woman drops her ballot during the presidential election at LA County Registrar Office in Norwalk, California, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
People stand in line to vote during the 2016 presidential election at the Anne Douglas Center at the Los Angeles Mission in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
People stand in line to vote during the 2016 presidential election at the Anne Douglas Center at the Los Angeles Mission in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni016

Trump again raises possibility of not accepting election outcome

The long and contentious race for the White House between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump hurtled toward its conclusion on Tuesday as millions of Americans cast ballots, with only hours left to vote.

Clinton led Trump, 44 percent to 39 percent, in the last Reuters/Ipsos national tracking poll before Election Day. A Reuters/Ipsos States of the Nation poll gave her a 90 percent chance of defeating Trump and becoming the first U.S. woman president.

In yet another twist to the race, Trump on Tuesday again raised the possibility of not accepting the election’s outcome, saying he had seen reports of voting irregularities. He gave few details and Reuters could not immediately verify the existence of such problems.

The campaign focused on the character of the candidates: Clinton, 69, a former U.S. secretary of state, and Trump, 70, a New York businessman. They often accused each other of being fundamentally unfit to lead the United States as it faces challenges such as an arduous economic recovery, Islamist militants and the rise of China.

Financial markets, betting exchanges and online trading platforms largely predicted a Clinton win, although Trump’s team says he can pull off an upset victory like the June “Brexit” vote to pull Britain out of the European Union.

Trump’s candidacy embodied an attack on America’s political establishment. Clinton represented safeguarding the political order.

A Clinton presidency would likely provide continuity from fellow Democrat Barack Obama’s eight years in the White House, although if Republicans retain control of at least one chamber in Congress more years of political gridlock in Washington could ensue.

A win for Trump could shake some of the basic building blocks of American foreign policy, such as the NATO alliance and free trade, and reverse some of Obama’s domestic achievements such as his 2010 health care law.

Voting ends in some states at 7 p.m. Eastern Time, with the first meaningful results due about an hour later. Television networks called the winner of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections at 11 p.m. or shortly after.

Voting appeared to go smoothly despite allegations in recent weeks from Trump that the electoral system was rigged against him. He told Fox News on Tuesday he had seen reports of voting irregularities.

Asked if believed the election would not be over on Tuesday night, Trump said: “I’m not saying that. I have to look at what’s happening. There are reports that when people vote for Republicans, the entire ticket switches over to Democrats. You’ve seen that. It’s happening at various places.”

Local media in Pennsylvania reported that voters in several counties in the pivotal state had reported that touch-screen voting machines had not been recording their ballots correctly.

Republicans in Pennsylvania also complained that some of their authorized poll watchers were denied access to polling sites in Philadelphia, local media said.

The Pennsylvania secretary of state’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump also sued the registrar of voters in Nevada’s Clark County over a polling place in Las Vegas that remained open on Friday during an early-voting period to accommodate people, many of them Hispanic, who were lined up to cast ballots.

A Nevada judge on Tuesday rejected Trump’s request for records from the polling site. At a court hearing, a county attorney said election officials already preserve records.

Trump has vowed to crack down on illegal immigration and end trade deals he says are harming U.S. workers.

Trump seized the spotlight time and again during the campaign with provocative comments about Muslims and women, attacks against the Republican establishment and bellicose promises to build a wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico to stem illegal immigration.

MARKETS UP

The Dow Jones Industrial Average index ended up 0.4 percent as investors bet on a win for Clinton, who Wall Street sees as more likely to ensure financial and political stability. Mexico’s peso hit a two-month high on Tuesday on the expectation of a loss for Trump, who has vowed to rip up a trade deal with Mexico.

Trump was expected to draw support heavily from white voters without college degrees.

Clinton was likely to draw support from college-educated voters and Hispanic and black voters.

Major bookmakers and online exchanges were confident Clinton would win. Online political stock market PredictIt put her chances on Tuesday of capturing the White House at 80 percent.

Trump advisers say the level of his support is not apparent in opinion polls and point out that the real estate developer has been closing the gap with Clinton in surveys in recent weeks.

An early indicator of who might prevail could come in North Carolina and Florida, two must-win states for Trump that were the subject of frantic last-minute efforts by both candidates.

Races in both those states were shifting from favoring Clinton to being too close to call, according to opinion polls.

Democrats also are seeking to break the Republican lock on control of the U.S. Congress.

A strong turnout of voters for Clinton could influence Republican control of the Senate, as voters choose 34 senators of the 100-member chamber on Tuesday. Democrats needed a net gain of five seats to win control. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are being contested. The House is expected to remain in Republican hands.

Trump reveled in the drama of the negative presidential campaign but the spotlight was not always kind to him. The release in October of a 2005 video in which he boasted about groping women damaged his campaign and left him on the defensive for critical weeks

To be decided on Election Day in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Democrats are hoping to keep a presidential winning streak alive and avenge a loss that sent a former longtime senator packing six years ago.

Republicans hope to make Donald Trump the first GOP presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan to win in Wisconsin and are working to send Sen. Ron Johnson back to the Senate in his rematch against former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold.

The presidential and Senate races topped Wisconsin’s ballot Tuesday. Here’s a look at those and other issues on the ballot:

TRUMP VS. CLINTON

Democrats were optimistic that Hillary Clinton would extend their winning streak to eight straight presidential elections. Clinton appeared confident, not campaigning in Wisconsin since losing the Democratic primary in April to Bernie Sanders. She did send running mate Tim Kaine, Sanders and other surrogates to Wisconsin, while Trump personally campaigned despite lukewarm support from high-ranking state officials. House Speaker Paul Ryan canceled a Trump appearance with him in October and said he would not campaign or defend him, causing a rift in the party. But Ryan did campaign days before the election with Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

SENATE REMATCH

It’s 2010 all over again in the U.S. Senate race. This time, Johnson is the incumbent and Feingold is the challenger. When Johnson beat Feingold six years ago, he ended Feingold’s 18-year career in the Senate. Johnson argues that having been fired once by voters, Feingold does not deserve to be sent back. But Feingold, who is counting on high Democratic turnout for the presidential race, says Johnson has not led on the issues Wisconsin voters care about and should not be given a second term.

CONGRESS

The 8th Congressional District in northeast Wisconsin is the only one in the state this year with an open seat. Republican Rep. Reid Ribble is retiring after three terms. Republican Mike Gallagher, a former Marine who helped advise Gov. Scott Walker on national security during his brief presidential bid, is running his first race. He’s challenged by Tom Nelson, the Democratic Outagamie County executive and former state representative. It’s the only congressional race with any intrigue this year. Ryan, who represents the 1st District in southeastern Wisconsin, faces nominal opposition. Ryan had more than 1,100-times more money than his Democratic challenger, Ryan Solen, heading into the election — $9.9 million to $8,500.

STATEHOUSE

Even Democrats don’t think they can win majority control of the state Assembly, where Republicans have a 63-36 majority. Democrats were more hopeful in the Senate, where the Republican majority is a tighter 19-14. Either way, the Republican Walker remains as governor and has broad veto authority.

VOTING

This is the first presidential election where Wisconsin voters are required to show photo identification to cast a ballot. Those who don’t have an acceptable ID on Tuesday can cast a provisional ballot, but they then must take additional steps to get credentials for that ballot to count. Any outstanding absentee ballots must be returned by Tuesday. In previous elections they could be postmarked by Tuesday and counted as long as they were received by Friday. Polls are open statewide 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Early voting turnout broke the previous record set in 2012, and overall turnout was predicted to be near 70 percent.

Patagonia joins companies letting workers off on Election Day

Patagonia is joining other companies that are giving workers a day off on Election Day, saying it wants to encourage its employees to have the time to elect candidates up and down the ballot who will protect the environment.

There’s been a movement called “Take Off Election Day” that has enlisted hundreds of tech companies, mainly smaller ones, to give people Nov. 8 off.

But the move by a company like Patagonia may give other big brands more to think about. The Ventura, California-based retailer says it’s closing its corporate office, customer service and distribution center and all 29 U.S. stores on Election Day for the first time and giving its 1,800 workers a paid holiday.

“There has been so much rancor, but the important issues we are not hearing about,” CEO Rose Marcario exclusively told The Associated Press. “Our point of view is to bring attention to environmental issues on the ticket including climate change.”

The “Take Off Election Day” effort particularly among Silicon Valley companies, lists nearly 320 participating U.S. companies on its website, including Spotify and TaskRabbit. Hunter Walk, a partner at the venture capital firm Home Brew in San Francisco, has been behind the campaign.

Josh Wexler, CEO of RevCascade, a retail technology company with offices in New York and Los Angeles, decided to give all 14 of his employees a day off after seeing tweets from Walk about the issue.

“It really felt that this is an election that it is very important,” said Wexler. “A lot of people can’t vote because they have to go to work.”

Patagonia has launched nonpartisan environmental campaigns for election seasons since 2004. The company’s 2016 Vote Our Planet campaign focuses on educating citizens on using their votes to protect the nation’s air, soil and water. By Election Day, Patagonia will have hosted almost 60 events across the U.S. this year.

Marcario told The Associated Press that Patagonia decided on Wednesday to give employees the day as a paid holiday.

According to time.com, venture capitalist Hunter Walk, a partner at the VC startup Homebrew, gave the idea momentum by tweeting messages over the summer encouraging CEOs to give employees Election Day off. So far, about 300 have responded by allowing workers to take at least some time off on Election Day.

The largest companies that have announced they’ll close shop on Nov. 8 include:

  • Patagonia
  • Spotify
  • Salon
  • TaskRabbit
  • Square Inc
  • Enigma
  • Thrillest Media Group
  • Casper Sleep Inc.
  • Home Brew
  • Survey Monkey
  • com
  • Crisis Text LIne
  • Autodesk
  • Managed by Q
  • Evernote

 

 

Pop consumption falls beyond expectations after soda tax

As voters consider soda taxes in four cities, a new study finds that some Berkeley neighborhoods slashed sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by more than one-fifth after the Northern California city enacted the nation’s first soda tax.

Berkeley voters in 2014 levied a penny-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks to try to curb consumption and stem the rising tide of diabetes and obesity.

After the tax took effect in March 2015, residents of at least two neighborhoods reported drinking 21 percent less of all sugar-sweetened beverages and 26 percent less soda than they had the year before, according to the report in the October American Journal of Public Health.

“From a public health perspective, that is a huge impact. That is an intervention that’s more powerful than anything I’ve ever seen aimed at changing someone’s dietary behavior,” senior author Dr. Kristine Madsen said in a telephone interview.

Madsen, a professor of public health at the University of California at Berkeley, said the drop in sugary drink consumption surpassed her expectations, though it was consistent with consumption declines in low-income neighborhoods in Mexico after it imposed a nationwide tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The Berkeley results also pleasantly surprised Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University.

“I hadn’t expected the effects to be so dramatic,” she said in an email. “This is substantial evidence that soda taxes work.”

The soda industry has spent millions of dollars defeating taxes on sugary drinks in dozens of U.S. cities. But the tax passed easily — with 76 percent of the vote — in Berkeley. In addition to soda, the measure covers sweetened fruit-flavored drinks, energy drinks like Red Bull and caffeinated drinks like Frappuccino iced coffee. Diet beverages are exempt.

In June, the Philadelphia City Council enacted its own tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax is set to take effect in January, although soda trade groups have sued to try to block the measure.

Meanwhile, voters in Boulder, Colorado and the Bay Area cities of San Francisco, Oakland and Albany will vote on whether to tax their sugary beverages on Nov. 8.

San Francisco voters also considered a soda tax in 2014, but it failed to garner a two-thirds majority needed for approval.

Public health officials and politicians point to the Berkeley study as proof of the power of an excise tax to wean people off sweetened drinks.

“The study is another tool highlighting how effective a tax on sugary beverages will be on changing the consumption rate,” San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen told Reuters Health.

“Just like tobacco, these are commodities we can live without that are killing us,” she said. Cohen wrote the San Francisco ballot measure.

Researchers surveyed 873 adults in Berkeley and 1,806 adults in nearby San Francisco and Oakland before and a few months after imposition of the soda tax.

Sweetened beverage consumption increased slightly in San Francisco and Oakland at the same time it dropped in Berkeley, the study showed. In Berkeley, water consumption spiked 63 percent, compared to 19 percent in San Francisco and Oakland, after the tax took effect.

The researchers attributed the surge in water consumption to a heat wave. But the American Beverage Association saw it as example of the study’s flaws.

In a statement, Brad Williams, an economist working for the trade group, criticized the research for using “unreliable and imprecise methodology” and producing “implausible” results.

The association’s criticism may hold grains of truth, Nestle said. But she largely dismissed it. “Obviously, the ABA is going to attack the results. That’s rule number one in the playbook: cast doubt on the science,” she said.

Public health experts believe soda helped drive American obesity rates to among the highest in the world. The U.S. spent an estimated $190 billion treating obesity-related conditions in 2012.

Diabetes rates have almost tripled over the past three decades, while sugary beverage consumption doubled.

Millennials showing up in 2016 election could decide races

Millennials get a bad rap. They’re labeled narcissistic, self-absorbed and apathetic. (Just look at their nicknames: the selfie generation, generation me, the unemployables.)

And they’re the least likely generation to turn up at the polls this November.

However, many young Americans do care about politics. They may just show it differently than their parents.

At a recent Black and Brown Vote event at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, many of the attendees were active in student politics and protest movements. L. Malik Anderson, a 21-year-old journalism and communications arts major, helped organize the Oct. 12 panel discussion to encourage people his age to register and vote.

“A lot of (young) people are feeling hopeless, like this election won’t make a difference in their lives,” Anderson said.

Sean Medlin, a 23-year-old recent graduate of UW-Madison who hails from Arizona, said that as an African-American, he is motivated to vote in November — mostly out of fear.

“I think that the presidential race is terrifying,” Medlin said, adding that he believes both major party presidential candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, harbor some measure of racism.

“I feel compromised,” he said. “I don’t want to not vote, and I don’t want Trump to win. So I’m voting for Hillary.”

Jessica Franco-Morales, a 21-year-old student activist from Green Bay, expressed a similar sentiment: “I would say people are not enthused about the presidential election — more like agitated and motivated to vote.”

A self-described “older millennial,” panelist Matthew Braunginn, 31, urged the audience to “get over your apathy” and vote in the upcoming election.

“Ya’ll almost got Bernie Sanders — a quasi-socialist, let’s get real about that — nominated,” said Braunginn, a student engagement specialist with the Middleton-Cross Plains School District. “We (millennials) have a lot of power to really push things in a direction. It takes being involved. It takes voting.”

U.S. Census Bureau figures bear that out. As of April, there were an estimated 69.2 million millennials, roughly defined as Americans age 18 to 35, in the U.S. electorate, according to a Pew Research Center study. This group makes up about a third of the voting-age population, matching the baby boomers.

But millennials consistently have the lowest election turnout among all generations. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 17.1 percent of 18- to-24-year-olds voted in 2014, compared with 59.4 percent of those 65 and older.

Among likely Wisconsin voters ages 18 to 29, the Oct. 12 Marquette Law School Poll found 46 percent planned to vote for Clinton and 33 percent for Trump but were more likely than other age groups to support third-party candidates. Twelve percent said they planned to vote for neither candidate. Another 6 percent said they planned to vote for Independent Gary Johnson, while 3 percent remained undecided with the election one month away.

Clayton Causey, 30, of Madison, said he is turned off by the negative tenor of the presidential campaign and is not sure whether he will vote. Causey said people his age appear to be turning away from the two-party system, and he expects some will vote for Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

While millennials have the potential to influence upcoming elections — even the fate of political parties — the question is, will they? Here’s what you need to know about millennials and voting.

 

Millennials are different socially and politically

Millennials are more diverse than any generation before them. According to 2014 census data, 44 percent of them identify as nonwhite.

Elli Denison, director of research for the Center for Generational Kinetics, a Texas-based consulting firm that specializes in generational research, said millennials have grown up with diversity and celebrate it.

Mike Hais, co-author of the book “Millennial Majority: How a New Coalition is Remaking American Politics,” agreed. He said this diversity has led to the generation being more accepting, which affects their political views.

“They tend to be the most socially tolerant generation in America,” Hais said. “Immigration, gay rights and the like, for all these reasons, their attitudes tend to be progressive and tolerant. They really are, in that sense, a very distinctive generation.”

Those distinctions don’t always correlate along party lines, either. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, 44 percent of millennials identify as independents, while 28 percent identify as Democrats and 19 percent Republicans.

Hais also called the millennials “the most female-driven generation in American history” thanks to high enrollment numbers for women in college. In 2015, about 11.5 million women were expected to attend colleges and universities, compared with 8.7 million men, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Joan Kuhl, founder of the site WhyMillennialsMatter.com, said the millennial generation is “the most educated generation yet.”

On the personal front, millennials are waiting the longest of any of the grown generations to get married and have their own home. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center study and census data on millennials, 32.1 percent lived with their parents, and 57 percent were married by age 30. In comparison, in 1975, 90 percent of 30-year-olds lived on their own, and 89 percent had married.

 

They vote less often than other generations

Why do so few millennials vote? Some experts on the generation said one of the most prevalent reasons is that millennials tend to move around — a lot.

At some point in their lives, 51 percent of millennials moved for employment, 46 percent moved for or to find a romantic partner, and 44 percent had moved for family, according to a study of 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 35 from the moving company Mayflower.

This constant moving around often means re-registering to vote or requesting absentee ballots. However, the 50 states and thousands of counties have different rules, which can lead to confusion.

Some states also passed legislation that seems to target millennials, said Russell Dalton, a political science professor at University of California-Irvine, and author of the book “The Good Citizen: How a Younger Generation is Reshaping American Politics.” This includes forcing people to register in person the first time, shortening registration windows, refusing to accept student ID cards or rejecting certain documents as proof of residency.

“There is a whole set of institutional reforms that if politicians wanted to get young people to vote, they could,” Dalton said. “But politicians are happy with the status quo.”

However, even when states and jurisdictions do make it easy to register and vote, it doesn’t necessarily mean millennials will make it to the polls. Millennials often describe themselves as disillusioned and distrustful of the political system.

According to a 2016 poll by the Harvard University Institute of Politics, 47 percent of millennials feel that America is heading on the wrong track, and 48 percent agree that “politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing.”

Millennials also lack faith in the traditional two-party system, which is why so many are independent.

Political strategist Luke Macias, CEO of Macias Strategies LLC, said millennials just aren’t as connected to local governments as older generations, so they don’t see the value in voting. But, said Macias, “Baby boomers were apathetic at 18 too,” and he predicted their involvement will grow as they age.

 

They care about a wide range of issues

Because millennials tend to distrust politicians, they often pay more attention and spend their time on issues rather than parties. Maurice Forbes, the youth vote director for NextGen Climate in Nevada, said he sees this trend with college students.

“I hear a lot from theses campuses across Nevada that ‘I care about these specific issues that are going to be affecting me and less so about a particular candidate that is expressing their views on that,’ ” Forbes said.

But it’s not just two or three main issues that stand out to millennials. They feel passionate about a wide range of issues.

Millennials don’t necessarily consume news and information the same way previous generations did — from the nightly broadcast news or the daily newspaper. But that doesn’t mean millennials don’t care about the world, according to a study by the Media Insight Project.

In fact, the study suggested that millennials’ access to technology and social-media platforms has actually widened their awareness of issues.

Nevertheless, recent national polls have indicated millennials often care most about the same issues other generations do: No. 1 being the economy, including jobs, minimum wage and paid leave, according to a USA Today/Rock the Vote poll.

Money issues also play a big role in their lives, and college affordability and student debt was the second most popular answer. Other top issues included foreign policy and terrorism, health care, guns and climate change, according to the poll.

 

They can change American politics

Historically, millennials have not shown up to vote. But that does not mean the generation hasn’t influenced political institutions.

The millennial population overtook baby boomers as the largest generation in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In Utah, the millennial generation has been larger since at least 2000, according to the Utah Foundation, a public policy research firm.

Salt Lake City is home to the second-highest percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds in the country among major cities — second only to Austin, Texas. And the city’s politics reflect its young population.

The city has long been a left-leaning island in the middle of historically conservative Utah, but the city’s politics are becoming even more progressive — and election data show the liberalism is slowly spreading to nearby counties.

Last year, Salt Lake City elected an openly lesbian mayor, Jackie Biskupski. And this year, the city rallied around Bernie Sanders.

Experts said these changes would not have happened without millennials.

“The place has just become increasingly more progressive, as people from outside of Utah move to Utah,” said Pamela Perlich, the director of demographic research at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

Millennials define citizenship not as voting, “but being concerned about other people,” Dalton said. And they often show that concern by volunteering.

“Millennials are probably the most involved generation in history in causes and nonprofit endeavors and community involvement,” Hais said.

He predicted that when millennials begin to take office, the hyper-partisan nature of politics will shift to something more compromise driven.

“What we see now is terrible gridlock because of that baby boomer division,” Hais said. “They can’t see eye to eye, but millennials will be different. Millennial Democrats and millennial Republicans are closer together.”

ON THE WEB

Information about all of the requirements to register and vote in Wisconsin’s Nov. 8 election is available at www.gab.wi.gov/voters.

EDITOR’S NOTE

Sean Holstege of News21 and Dee J. Hall and Alexandra Arriaga of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism contributed to this report. This report is part of a project on voting rights in America produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 program. The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism distributed this report. For more from this collaborative series, see http://wisconsinwatch.org/series/voting-wars-by-news21/

ABOUT THIS PROJECT

This report is part of the project titled “Voting Wars – Rights | Power | Privilege,” produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, a national investigative reporting project by top college journalism students across the country and headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

PHOTO

University of Wisconsin-Madison students register to vote on Oct. 12 at the Multicultural Student Center. The registration drive was part of the Black and Brown Vote event aimed at urging millennials to vote in November.
Credit:Alexandra Arriaga/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Fair Elections warns: Thousands of Wis. absentee ballots at risk of rejection

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and the Fair Elections Legal Network are calling on the Wisconsin Elections Commission to take swift action so thousands of absentee voters are not disenfranchised in the Nov. 8 election.

As of last week, about 400 completed ballots in Milwaukee and 200 in Racine were at risk of not being counted because of an “incomplete” witness address — often because the municipality was not recorded.

The confusion stems from legislation passed last year, Act 261, which requires the rejection of absentee ballots with a missing witness address on the certificate envelope.

The legislation does not define a “missing address.”

An Oct. 4 memo the Wisconsin Elections Commission sent to local election officials stated a witness must include a street number, street name and municipality, but the absentee ballot certificate and instructions did not inform absentee voters that technical errors such as omitting a municipality would result in rejection.

This new complete address policy was sent to the local clerks after absentee voting was already under way, so absentee voters were not given notice, according to watchdog groups.

These groups cautioned that the number of ballots with witness addresses that contain a street address but no municipality likely will increase and it is up to local clerks to voluntarily contact voters to correct their absentee ballot submission.

“This is a challenge because most voters do not provide phone numbers or email addresses and mailing the absentee ballots back to voters will delay notification and corrections,” the groups stated in a news release.

Also, ballots could be received up until Election Day, leaving little time to contact absentee voters — and many of them could be away from home.

The groups want the elections commission to adopt a new policy for witness addresses on absentee ballots and accept submissions that include a residential street address but lack the municipality name.

They said a lawsuit is being prepared in case the Wisconsin Elections Commission does not take action this week. The commission is set to meet on Friday.

On the Web

The letter to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Elections official concerned WDOT can’t get voting credentials out on time

An election official expressed concern that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation might not be able to get voting credentials to people who lack photo identification on Election Day in time to ensure their ballots will count.

Republican legislators imposed a requirement on voters in 2011 to produce photo identification at the polls.

The mandate has survived several court challenges and will be in place for the Nov. 8 general election.

The DOT offers free photo IDs for voting, but Democrats have complained that people who lack the proper documents, such as birth certificates, can’t obtain them.

The DOT responded to those complaints in 2014 with a process that allows people to petition the agency for a free ID.

Petitioners must show documents proving their identity and Wisconsin residency; if the agency determines the petitioner is an eligible voter he or she gets an ID.

Last year, the DOT modified the process to allow anyone who enters the petition process to vote using a special credential issued through the mail.

Ann Jacobs, a member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said during a meeting in late August that people who enter the petition process on Election Day likely won’t have their votes count because credentials won’t arrive in time.

They can cast a provisional ballot without credentials, but they would have only until the Friday after the election to satisfy the identification requirement.

Since the credentials likely wouldn’t arrive in the mail until the following week, their provisional ballots would be invalidated, Jacobs said.

“Someone who lacks ID on Election Day can’t vote,” she said.

Jacobs suggested that the DOT issue credentials to petitioners over the counter.

Commission spokesman Reid Magney said the DOT doesn’t do that because it needs several days to try to verify the documents petitioners provide.

DOT spokeswoman Patricia Mayers had no immediate comment on Jacobs’ concerns.

Commission Administrator Mike Haas said his staff plans to communicate with the DOT about how it will handle Election Day petitioners. But he cautioned that all the commission can do is communicate the DOT’s position to the public.

Jacobs is an injury lawyer with a background in election law. Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, a La Crosse Democrat, appointed her to the Elections Commission.

Wisconsin election observers welcome but must follow rules

By Andrea Kaminski

There has been a lot of talk lately about the role of election observers. While some think poll monitors will root out corruption at the polls, others are concerned that the presence of aggressive observers could intimidate voters.

In Wisconsin, election observers are an important part of the election landscape.

People who go to the polls expecting to stop illegal voting might not find the excitement they seek. A recent, extensive study found only 31 credible allegations of fraud out of more than a billion votes cast nationally between 2000 and 2014.

As for intimidation, Wisconsin has excellent procedures that welcome observers but do not allow them to disrupt voting. Polling places are covered under our open meetings laws. Anyone may observe, but there are rules in place to protect the voting process.

Election observers are nothing new.

Candidate campaigns and political parties have long sent observers to the polls to note whether their supporters have voted so they can make targeted reminder calls by late afternoon. Advocacy groups send observers to ensure that polling places are accessible to people with disabilities.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin has been placing volunteer observers in polling places around the state since 2010. Our volunteers know their role is to observe, not to interfere. If they have concerns about something they see, they follow a procedure to have the problem addressed. The league’s observers submit written reports to our state office following the election, providing valuable data to strengthen the league’s advocacy for free, fair and accessible elections.

In May, I testified in a federal trial challenging several recently enacted election laws in a case filed by One Wisconsin Institute and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund. I was pleased to share relevant data gathered by hundreds of diligent league volunteers. The state attorney, in defending the restrictive voting laws, sought to have my testimony dismissed because, he pointed out, I was not personally in 200 polling places on Election Day. But the judge said he wanted to hear what I had to share. Indeed, the league’s observation reports in the past five years reveal a systematic clampdown on people’s ability to register and vote in our state.

In Wisconsin, election observers must sign in with their name, address and affiliation, if any, when they get to the polling place. They must stay in a designated area three to eight feet from the table where voters check in or register. Observers may not wear buttons or clothing referring to a candidate or party. They may not speak to voters or interfere with the voting process. If they have a concern, they are to address it with the chief inspector. If that does not resolve the problem, our league observers have numbers they can call or text for assistance. They have to leave the polling place to make a phone call. The chief inspector has the authority to limit the number of observers and to require disruptive observers to leave.

Anyone planning to challenge an individual’s right to vote should know that in Wisconsin the burden of proof is on the challenger. You will have to state under oath what specific information you have indicating that the individual is not qualified to vote. Charges such as “she looks too young” or “his name sounds foreign” are not acceptable.

We believe if more people spent time in the polls, they would be very impressed — as our volunteers are — by the high level of professionalism of our election officials and the excellent safeguards that ensure an orderly and fair election. They would see how hard it would be to cheat in Wisconsin.

We welcome anyone to volunteer as an observer with the league this November, as long as you are willing to be trained, to show up for your shift, to follow the rules and to submit your report at the end of the day. You can sign up on the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin website at www.lwvwi.org.

Andrea Kaminski is executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. The league welcomes women and men across the state as members. With 18 local leagues in Wisconsin and 800 affiliates across the county, the league is one of the nation’s most trusted grassroots organizations. Follow @LWV_WI on Twitter.