By Doug Porter
San Diego legislators at both the federal and state level are working to remove barriers limiting voter participation.
California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla are proposing to register every eligible resident who goes to a DMV to get a license or renew one, with the ability to opt out. In Washington DC, Congresswoman Susan Davis has introduced legislation ending constraints on voting by mail.
Research recently published in the Oxford Political Analysis Journal indicates that as many as an additional four million Americans wanted to vote in the 2012 election , but were stymied by restrictions on voter registration. California currently ranks 38th out of the 50 states in voter registration.
The California New Motor Voter Act, which will be considered by the Legislature as Assembly Bill 1461, could bring as many as 7 million Californians who are eligible to vote but unregistered onto the voter rolls.
AB 1461 is modeled after the recent “New Motor Voter” law in Oregon, allowing data already collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles to be provided by the Secretary of State to verify a resident’s eligibility to vote.
After determining a resident to be eligible to vote, the Secretary of State then provides the information to county Registrars of Voters who maintain each county’s voter rolls. Those residents who are eligible to vote would be contacted by the Secretary of State with the option of declining registration or adopting a political party affiliation.
“The California New Motor Voter Act provides an opportunity to bring millions of eligible voters into the electoral process,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said, via press release.
“Our democracy is stronger when more people in the community have a voice at the ballot box. Even as some states are becoming more restrictive in guaranteeing the public a voice in our democracy, California should do everything it can to ensure people’s right to be a voter.”
The bill would continue to protect those covered by existing confidentiality policies, and voters would retain their right to cancel their voter registration at any time.
Congresswoman Susan Davis is behind the Universal Right to Vote by Mail Act, would end restrictions many states impose on a person’s ability to vote absentee. Twenty-one states have a variety of limitations on absentee voting, including requiring a doctor’s note, the details of a religious obligation, latest pregnancy status or details of a vacation destination.
From the Times of San Diego:
“There’s really no excuse for the government to demand the private details of a person’s life just so they can vote,” said Davis, who represents the 53rd District, which includes La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and parts of San Diego, El Cajon and Chula Vista.
“Voters should not have to put their life on display or jump through hoops just to participate in one of the most hallowed acts of a democracy – voting. And no one should be denied the chance to vote because they don’t have the proper excuse.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that her bill would cost the federal government no money. The bill has twice passed the House Administration Committee, which has oversight of federal elections.
A Not-So-Good Time for SeaWorld
While the SeaWorld theme parks were busy launching a new national advertising campaign aimed at improving their image recently, other not-so-good things were happening.
From USA Today:
SeaWorld has been under fire from animal rights groups and the public since the popular 2013 documentary Blackfish explored the impact of the company’s captivity of orcas.
This new campaign comes the same time as former Seaworld trainer John Hargrove‘s book launch. The book condemns the company’s treatment of killer whales.
The timing of the ad campaign and Hargrove’s book was coincidental, SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs told USA TODAY Network in an e-mail.
This isn’t SeaWorld’s first attempt to refute some of the claims of Blackfish. In late 2013, after CNN broadcast the film, SeaWorld launched a similar campaign, running a full-page open letter in newspapers to tell what it said was the “truth” about Blackfish.
This new campaign goes a step further, directly naming and attacking SeaWorld’s leading critics…
…As SeaWorld rolled out the new ad campaign, its critics got a boost from one of the theme park’s former trainers. John Hargrove has been all over the media following the publication of a memoir critical of SeaWorld and its treatment of killer whales.
On WHYY’s Fresh Air, he talked about why, after decades of working as a trainer, he changed his thinking on SeaWorld.
“As I became higher-ranked, I saw the devastating effects of captivity on these whales,” he said. “And it just really became a moral and ethical issue.”
The SeaWorld ad campaign launch was accompanied by an advertorial in UT-San Diego:
We’re glad to hear SeaWorld is fighting back against PETA with an advertising campaign that provides a more accurate view of how it operates.
While SeaWorld was advertising and the UT was blustering, local students were telling the Board of the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) about what they are learning in school in regards to the treatment of animals, what is humane and what is not.
On Tuesday, the Board voted unanimously 5-0 in support of a resolution introduced by Trustees Kevin Beiser and Richard Barrera to “encourage Sea World to explore animal sanctuaries for their animal entertainers”.
Hoosier Hate and Other Banalities
The GOP crazy train pulled into Indiana this week, bringing with it the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, legislation giving bigots the right to cite religious beliefs as a defense in lawsuits.
From Amanda Terkel at the Huffington Post:
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party. But many opponents of the bill, which included business leaders, argued that it could open the door to widespread discrimination. Business owners who don’t want to serve same-sex couples, for example, could now have legal protections to discriminate.
“Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith,” Pence said in a statement Thursday. “The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.”
A boycott of the state by businesses and organizations appears to be gathering steam. Stay tuned, as the Righteous Right meets the Free Market.
Meanwhile Arizona, longtime leader in legislative lunacy, passed a law barring women from buying insurance on the health care exchanges that provides coverage for abortion. And it also requires doctors to tell women that they may be able to reverse an abortion induced through medication, something not supported by medical evidence. (Republi-Science ™)
“This is a great day for woman in Arizona who are considering getting an abortion to get all the facts they need and a great day for Arizona taxpayers,” Cathi Herrod, president of the conservative Center for Arizona Policy, which pushed for the law, told the Associated Press…
…the bill requires abortion providers but no other doctors to release private information to the Arizona Department of Health Services, where it could then be posted online — a frightening prospect for abortion providers, who have long been targets of harassment and violence.
Roundup on the Rocks, Anybody?
From SM Gibson at The Antimedia.org, we learn about an apologist for Monsanto who got called out for the oft-made claim that the Roundup weed-killer was so safe you can drink it.
French television station Canal+ recently sat down with Dr. Patrick Moore for an upcoming documentary. Dr. Moore, who claims to be an ecological expert and is currently the frontman for Ecosense Environmental, stated to the interviewer that Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup was not responsible for skyrocketing cancer rates in Argentina.
This claim comes on the heels of last week’s World Health Organization report citing the weed killer as a probable cause of cancer.
Soon after the interview began, it took a turn for the surreal.
Dr. Moore insisted that Roundup is safe to drink, at which point the interviewer did the only logical thing one could do in that situation. He offered the doctor a glass of the weed killer to allow him an opportunity to back up his statement. The following is the text from that exchange.
Dr. Patrick Moore: “You can drink a whole quart of (Roundup) and it won’t hurt you.”
Canal+: “You want to drink some? We have some here.”
Moore: “I’d be happy to, actually…. Uhh…Not.. Not really. But I know it wouldn’t hurt me.”
Canal+: “If you say so, I have some glyphosate, have some.”
Moore: “No. I’m not stupid.”
Canal+: “So, it’s dangerous, right?
Moore: “No, People try to commit suicide with it and fail; fail regularly.”
Canal+: “Tell the truth, it’s dangerous.”
Moore: “It’s not dangerous to humans.”
Canal+: “So, are you ready to drink one glass?”
Moore: “No, I’m not an idiot. Interview me about golden rice, that’s what I’m talking about.”
Canal+: “We did.”
Moore then abruptly ends the interview by calling the host a “complete jerk” and storms off.
A study published this week in the American Society for Microbiology Journal suggests glyphosate use also may contribute to antibiotic resistance. And that’s on top of recurring claims about the active ingredient in Roundup’s role as endocrine disrupter.
While the FDA is currently re-evaluating the efficacy of glyphosate, the discussion about its safety crosses the nexus of science and politics.
I’ve been reading lately about how the real danger in genetically modified organisms (GMOs) may not lie in the DNA tweaks, but rather in that many GMO’s are tweaked to allow increased use of chemical agents like Roundup. It makes sense to me that it’s possible so many of the adverse effects attributed to GMO’s could be chemically induced.
(Before you send me hate mail on this, you should know that as far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out on GMOs)
On This Day: 1860 – The corkscrew was patented by M.L. Byrn. 1904 – Mary Jarris “Mother” Jones was ordered by Colorado state authorities to leave the state. She was accused of stirring up striking coal miners. 1946 – Four-month long strikes at both General Electric and General Motors ended with wage increases.
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