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  • May 17, 2024 2:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Ryan O’Connell; edited by Marilyn Go, Jim Harbison and Jacki Swearingen

    The demographics of Texas are shifting rapidly, as its booming cities draw waves of migrants attracted to the state’s growing economy, low taxes, and warm weather.

    Between 2010 and 2020, Texas’ population grew by about 16% or four million people, and almost all of them (95%) were people of color. The change stemmed from births (50%) and people moving to Texas (50%). Half of the new residents came from other states (particularly California, Florida, and New York), and half from other nations. Mexicans represented 60% of the foreigners who moved to Texas.  

    The main driver was a surge in the Latino population. The number of Texan Latinos rose 21% over that decade, and they accounted for half of the state’s population growth, according to Texas Redistricting and Congressional districts.  In 2020, the Latino share of the population was almost the same as that of whites (40%), and by 2022, it was slightly larger, according to updated figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.  

    Here is the key takeaway: four out of 10 Texans are Latinos. 

    The number of Black and Asian Texans increased rapidly, too, although from smaller bases.  In 2020 those groups constituted 11.8% and 5.4% of the population, respectively.  Meanwhile, the white population grew by only 2% in 2010-20.   

    Source: Pew Research

    Growth is Concentrated in The Big (Democratic) Cities  

    Furthermore, almost 90% of the population growth has occurred in five major metropolitan areas:  Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.  Rural areas and small towns, which tend to be whiter, either have had little growth or have lost population.  Since most Latinos, Blacks and Asians lean Democratic, four of those cities have become solidly blue.  The fifth city, Fort Worth, is an evolving political mix, but has essentially become purple.    

    When Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat,  ran for governor against Greg Abbott in 2022, he carried Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, as shown in the chart below.  Fort Worth voters preferred Abbott to O’Rourke, but in 2020 Joe Biden carried the city by a razor-thin margin. Biden carried the other four cities by wide margins.


    Source:  Dallas County Republican Party

    The voters in these four cities have mostly elected Democratic or progressive leaders to local offices.  The mayors of Austin and Houston are Democrats, while the one in Austin is a progressive independent.  On the other hand, in 2023, the mayor of Dallas switched parties, becoming a Republican.  Fort Worth’s mayor is also a Republican.

    But the Political Landscape Seems Frozen in Time

    Despite these significant population shifts, the distribution of elected officials in the Texas state legislature and congressional delegation remains heavily skewed toward Republicans.  Not surprisingly, the Republican Party has retained its dominance, since the state has a unique political culture, and many rural and suburban areas are bastions of conservatism. 

    There is a strong sense of Texas exceptionalism, shared by Texans of all political persuasions, based on the state’s huge size –it has an area the size of France—and its history as part of America’s frontier. In fact, Texas was a separate country for ten years, from 1836, when it gained its independence from Mexico, until it joined the United States in 1846.

    Texans prize the virtues of self-reliance, independence, and grit.  Although these are admirable traits, the nostalgia for the frontier days and virtues cannot obscure the reality that most Texans live in large cities or the adjoining suburbs.  They work in a complex economy, with large technological and medical sectors as well as more traditional industries like oil and gas.  

    In addition, many Texans are evangelical Christians, who are predominantly Republicans. Furthermore, turnout tends to be lower among Latinos and other minorities than among whites, partly because of obstacles to voting we will discuss below.      

    Nonetheless, one would have expected Democrats to win a larger share of state and congressional districts as the number of Latino and other minority voting-age citizens increased significantly.   

    Why hasn’t this happened?   

    Fighting Demographic Change

    The political establishment, seeing the handwriting on the wall in view of the changing demographic trends, has fought tenaciously to retain its hold on power.  Republicans have relied on two main techniques to disenfranchise minority voters:  gerrymandering and voter suppression laws.     

    The entrenched party has redrawn election districts on a highly partisan basis to stack the deck against its opponents.  Republican lawmakers engaged in very aggressive gerrymandering in 2010 and again in 2021, as described by New York University’s Brennan Center for Law and Justice:

    "Texas also enacted an extreme partisan gerrymander that insulates Republican rule against voter dissatisfaction. Under the new map, Democrats would have to win 58 percent of the popular vote in order to be favored to carry more than 37 percent of the state’s congressional seats. Put differently, even if Texas turned dark blue, Republicans could hold a two-to-one advantage in the state’s congressional caucus." 

    Texas also has a long history of voter suppression and restrictive voting laws.  After the 2020 election its legislature adopted even more stringent measures as it sought to maintain one-party control.   We will discuss these in more detail below.  

    Partisan Split in Texas 

    Because Texas state officials do not collect or publish figures on voters’ political affiliation, precise numbers on Democratic and Republican voters are not available.

    However, here is one possible indicator: since 1995. Republicans have won every race for governor, usually by wide margins. However, the close Senate race between Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke in 2018 demonstrated the growing power of Democratic voters.  Cruz won re-election, but only by 2.6 percentage points.  

    Since people of color have accounted for almost all the state’s population growth since 2010, it seems easy to assume that the percentage of Democratic voters has increased.  After all, Latinos still lean heavily toward the Democratic Party, according to Pew Research

    Of course, many Latinos, like other Texans, are Republican, and the GOP may be attracting support from some Latinos concerned about inflation or border issues. But reports of a massive Latino swing toward the GOP in the Lone Star State are probably overblown. Black and Asian Americans remain overwhelmingly Democratic in their political views.    

    Expanded Voting Options During Covid 

    During the 2020 election, local officials in Houston and other metropolitan areas devised creative ways to make voting safer and easier during the Covid pandemic.   They established drive-through polling stations, which allowed citizens to cast their ballots from their cars.  They encouraged early voting and voting by mail as well as providing drop boxes where voters could deposit their ballots.  

    These new options were particularly helpful for minority voters, most of whom were blue-collar and did not have flexible work schedules.  The drive-through polling stations and drop boxes were especially popular, since Houston is a huge, sprawling metropolis and commutes can be time-consuming.  These initiatives helped spur good turnout among voters despite the pandemic.  From a civic-minded point of view, these new approaches were a great success.  

    However, the result did not please the state political establishment, since Joe Biden carried the large Texan cities.  

    Setting The “Gold Standard” for Voter Suppression 

    Many Republican lawmakers raised issues about alleged voting fraud in 2020, and several leading Texas politicians echoed Trump’s claims about a “stolen election”.   In 2021, state legislators enacted Senate Bill 1 (“S.B.1”), which eliminated or imposed severe restrictions on the expanded voting options.  The ostensible rationale for these measures was to protect “election integrity”.   

    However, no significant voting fraud has occurred in Texas in recent years. [1]The goal, and the effect, of S.B.1 are to disenfranchise minority voters, particularly Latinos.  

    The new law created numerous impediments to voting, including  

    The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You

    The last two items are particularly troubling, since Texas has a long history of minority voters being intimidated.   S.B.1 expands poll watchers’ right to move around and observe polling places, including the ballot transfer and tabulation process.  Furthermore, the law makes it a crime for election workers to refuse to accept credentialed workers. 

    In addition, election workers cannot remove poll watchers for violating certain election laws, unless they have personally witnessed the conduct.  So if a partisan poll watcher --perhaps wearing a gun in a state with “open carry” laws-- threatens or intimidates Black or Latino voters and they complain to an election official, an election worker cannot take any action unless he or she sees the intimidation.   

    S.B. 1 had a very tangible negative effect on the conduct of the 2022 primary election.  According to the Brennan Center, 12% of mail-in ballots were rejected for failing to satisfy the new requirements. That was a 12-fold jump in the rejection rate compared to 2020.  In some counties the initial rejection rate reached 40%.  The rejection rate for minority voters was much higher than that for whites.

    Federal judges have already nullified certain provisions in S.B. 1 that pertain to assisting voters and mail-in ballots.  In a lawsuit challenging other provisions of S.B.1, the parties held closing arguments in February after a six-week trial before Federal District Judge Xavier Rodriguez in San Antonio.

    Severe Restrictions on Reproductive Freedom

    Since 2021, Texas has been one of the most restrictive states for reproductive freedoms, after Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation that banned terminating pregnancies after six weeks’ gestation, with rare exceptions that physicians say are unclear.  Doctors who violate the law can lose their medical licenses and face up to 99 years in prison.  This draconian measure exacerbates the state’s pre-existing physician shortage, especially for rural communities that need reproductive healthcare.

    While Texas does not allow ballot initiatives, reproductive health is among the issues for Texans to consider as they head to the polls in November. Senator Ted Cruz, up for re-election, has been a staunch foe of abortion and transgender health care. Cruz supported the failed Life at Conception Act, which would have provided equal protection under the law to “preborn children” from the time of conception.  

    Cruz has received endorsements from the Texas Alliance for Life, the Republican Party and Governor Greg Abbott.  Cruz’ Democratic opponent, Colin Allred, a three-term congressman, has cited freedom as a top issue, including reproductive freedom and freedom to vote. Allred’s endorsers include the Texas AFL-CIO and the Human Rights Campaign

    Candidates’ stances on abortion in down-ballot races appear to conform strictly with their party affiliation, but the polls of likely voters reflect more nuanced views. Democrats  hope that abortion rights will be a winning issue that will drive voters to the polls. However, a recent University of Texas poll suggests that voters may consider border security and immigration more important issues.

    What Can You Do?  

    S. B. 1 has created a serious risk that Texas election vigilantes could intimidate voters or otherwise disrupt the election in November.  To help ensure that voters are treated fairly, you can volunteer to serve as a poll monitor.  Get in touch with Common Cause Texas.

    You can also volunteer with Common Cause to contact voters who need information and support and to monitor social media, so you can report misinformation and disinformation about election issues.  You can fill the last two roles on a remote basis.  

    You can also join Common Cause in advocating that Texas establish an online voter registration program.  Texas is one of the few states that does not have such a platform, which would make it easier for voters, including minority voters, to register.    

    If you are a lawyer or a paralegal, you can volunteer for Election Protection, which provides advice to citizens who want to register to vote or who may encounter problems when they try to vote.  If you have a relative in law school, ask him or her to volunteer.  You can work from your office or home. EP provides training and materials on each state’s election laws and procedures.  Election Protection operates under the auspices of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a civil rights organization with about 100 partners.

    Disability Rights Texas helps people with disabilities understand their voting rights, surveys polling places for accessibility, and works with election officials to ensure fair voting.

    Mi Familia Vota is a national organization with a branch in Texas that is committed to empowering the Latino community and helping Latinos register and to vote.

    [1] https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/texas-voter-suppression-law-trial
  • May 15, 2024 11:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    REGISTER HERE

    Grant Supremacy: The Art of Proposal Writing and Grantsmanship

    With Linda Jackson Sowell '73

    Wednesday, May 22, 2024

    Securing grants enables organizations to better serve their communities, ensures consistent funding, and builds credibility...but what is the secret to securing the elusive grant? Our classmate and professional grant writer Linda Jackson Sowell can provide some answers.

    During this webinar, Linda will focus on the requirements of a well-prepared grant-seeker, the structure of a grant proposal, the process--relationship building with potential funders ( cultivation, solicitation, stewardship) as well as the communities served, and on how to build a win-win structure between grantmaker and grant recipient for various types of grants.

  • May 15, 2024 11:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    May 21st, 6:30pm ET

    City Winery, NYC


    Remember grooving to the soul music of Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, Aretha Franklin, Staple Singers and Ray Charles?

    Let’s get it on again! Join HR’73 classmates at JusticeAid’s spring concert, “Soul of Justice”, May 21st at the City Winery in NYC for a terrific evening of music, justice, friendship and fun. One hundred percent of ticket sales and all donations go to support the work of JusticeAid’s grantee-partner Black Voters Matter, and their work in the months leading up to the 2024 election.

    JusticeAid has assembled an incredible roster of artists including Lisa Fischer—who performed with The Rolling Stones—Martha Redbone, and 2024 Grammy winner for Jazz Vocal Album Nicole Zuraitis, among others.

    To learn more about the artists, buy tickets or make a donation, click here.

    Doors open at 6:30 pm for cocktails overlooking the Hudson River followed by the concert and dinner.


  • May 15, 2024 11:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Ryan O’Connell; edited by Marilyn Go, Jim Harbison and Jacki Swearingen

    The demographics of Texas are shifting rapidly, as its booming cities draw waves of migrants attracted to the state’s growing economy, low taxes, and warm weather.

    Between 2010 and 2020, Texas’ population grew by about 16% or four million people, and almost all of them (95%) were people of color. The change stemmed from births (50%) and people moving to Texas (50%). Half of the new residents came from other states (particularly California, Florida, and New York), and half from other nations. Mexicans represented 60% of the foreigners who moved to Texas.  

    The main driver was a surge in the Latino population. The number of Texan Latinos rose 21% over that decade, and they accounted for half of the state’s population growth, according to Texas Redistricting and Congressional districts.  In 2020, the Latino share of the population was almost the same as that of whites (40%), and by 2022, it was slightly larger, according to updated figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.  

    Here is the key takeaway: four out of 10 Texans are Latinos. 

    The number of Black and Asian Texans increased rapidly, too, although from smaller bases.  In 2020 those groups constituted 11.8% and 5.4% of the population, respectively.  Meanwhile, the white population grew by only 2% in 2010-20.   

    Source: Pew Research

    Growth is Concentrated in The Big (Democratic) Cities  

    Furthermore, almost 90% of the population growth has occurred in five major metropolitan areas:  Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.  Rural areas and small towns, which tend to be whiter, either have had little growth or have lost population.  Since most Latinos, Blacks and Asians lean Democratic, four of those cities have become solidly blue.  The fifth city, Fort Worth, is an evolving political mix, but has essentially become purple.    

    When Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat,  ran for governor against Greg Abbott in 2022, he carried Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, as shown in the chart below.  Fort Worth voters preferred Abbott to O’Rourke, but in 2020 Joe Biden carried the city by a razor-thin margin. Biden carried the other four cities by wide margins.


    Source:  Dallas County Republican Party

    The voters in these four cities have mostly elected Democratic or progressive leaders to local offices.  The mayors of Austin and Houston are Democrats, while the one in Austin is a progressive independent.  On the other hand, in 2023, the mayor of Dallas switched parties, becoming a Republican.  Fort Worth’s mayor is also a Republican.

    But the Political Landscape Seems Frozen in Time

    Despite these significant population shifts, the distribution of elected officials in the Texas state legislature and congressional delegation remains heavily skewed toward Republicans.  Not surprisingly, the Republican Party has retained its dominance, since the state has a unique political culture, and many rural and suburban areas are bastions of conservatism. 

    There is a strong sense of Texas exceptionalism, shared by Texans of all political persuasions, based on the state’s huge size –it has an area the size of France—and its history as part of America’s frontier. In fact, Texas was a separate country for ten years, from 1836, when it gained its independence from Mexico, until it joined the United States in 1846.

    Texans prize the virtues of self-reliance, independence, and grit.  Although these are admirable traits, the nostalgia for the frontier days and virtues cannot obscure the reality that most Texans live in large cities or the adjoining suburbs.  They work in a complex economy, with large technological and medical sectors as well as more traditional industries like oil and gas.  

    In addition, many Texans are evangelical Christians, who are predominantly Republicans. Furthermore, turnout tends to be lower among Latinos and other minorities than among whites, partly because of obstacles to voting we will discuss below.      

    Nonetheless, one would have expected Democrats to win a larger share of state and congressional districts as the number of Latino and other minority voting-age citizens increased significantly.   

    Why hasn’t this happened?   

    Fighting Demographic Change

    The political establishment, seeing the handwriting on the wall in view of the changing demographic trends, has fought tenaciously to retain its hold on power.  Republicans have relied on two main techniques to disenfranchise minority voters:  gerrymandering and voter suppression laws.     

    The entrenched party has redrawn election districts on a highly partisan basis to stack the deck against its opponents.  Republican lawmakers engaged in very aggressive gerrymandering in 2010 and again in 2021, as described by New York University’s Brennan Center for Law and Justice:

    "Texas also enacted an extreme partisan gerrymander that insulates Republican rule against voter dissatisfaction. Under the new map, Democrats would have to win 58 percent of the popular vote in order to be favored to carry more than 37 percent of the state’s congressional seats. Put differently, even if Texas turned dark blue, Republicans could hold a two-to-one advantage in the state’s congressional caucus." 

    Texas also has a long history of voter suppression and restrictive voting laws.  After the 2020 election its legislature adopted even more stringent measures as it sought to maintain one-party control.   We will discuss these in more detail below.  

    Partisan Split in Texas 

    Because Texas state officials do not collect or publish figures on voters’ political affiliation, precise numbers on Democratic and Republican voters are not available.

    However, here is one possible indicator: since 1995. Republicans have won every race for governor, usually by wide margins. However, the close Senate race between Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke in 2018 demonstrated the growing power of Democratic voters.  Cruz won re-election, but only by 2.6 percentage points.  

    Since people of color have accounted for almost all the state’s population growth since 2010, it seems easy to assume that the percentage of Democratic voters has increased.  After all, Latinos still lean heavily toward the Democratic Party, according to Pew Research

    Of course, many Latinos, like other Texans, are Republican, and the GOP may be attracting support from some Latinos concerned about inflation or border issues. But reports of a massive Latino swing toward the GOP in the Lone Star State are probably overblown. Black and Asian Americans remain overwhelmingly Democratic in their political views.    

    Expanded Voting Options During Covid 

    During the 2020 election, local officials in Houston and other metropolitan areas devised creative ways to make voting safer and easier during the Covid pandemic.   They established drive-through polling stations, which allowed citizens to cast their ballots from their cars.  They encouraged early voting and voting by mail as well as providing drop boxes where voters could deposit their ballots.  

    These new options were particularly helpful for minority voters, most of whom were blue-collar and did not have flexible work schedules.  The drive-through polling stations and drop boxes were especially popular, since Houston is a huge, sprawling metropolis and commutes can be time-consuming.  These initiatives helped spur good turnout among voters despite the pandemic.  From a civic-minded point of view, these new approaches were a great success.  

    However, the result did not please the state political establishment, since Joe Biden carried the large Texan cities.  

    Setting The “Gold Standard” for Voter Suppression 

    Many Republican lawmakers raised issues about alleged voting fraud in 2020, and several leading Texas politicians echoed Trump’s claims about a “stolen election”.   In 2021, state legislators enacted Senate Bill 1 (“S.B.1”), which eliminated or imposed severe restrictions on the expanded voting options.  The ostensible rationale for these measures was to protect “election integrity”.   

    However, no significant voting fraud has occurred in Texas in recent years. [1]The goal, and the effect, of S.B.1 are to disenfranchise minority voters, particularly Latinos.  

    The new law created numerous impediments to voting, including  

    The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You

    The last two items are particularly troubling, since Texas has a long history of minority voters being intimidated.   S.B.1 expands poll watchers’ right to move around and observe polling places, including the ballot transfer and tabulation process.  Furthermore, the law makes it a crime for election workers to refuse to accept credentialed workers. 

    In addition, election workers cannot remove poll watchers for violating certain election laws, unless they have personally witnessed the conduct.  So if a partisan poll watcher --perhaps wearing a gun in a state with “open carry” laws-- threatens or intimidates Black or Latino voters and they complain to an election official, an election worker cannot take any action unless he or she sees the intimidation.   

    S.B. 1 had a very tangible negative effect on the conduct of the 2022 primary election.  According to the Brennan Center, 12% of mail-in ballots were rejected for failing to satisfy the new requirements. That was a 12-fold jump in the rejection rate compared to 2020.  In some counties the initial rejection rate reached 40%.  The rejection rate for minority voters was much higher than that for whites.

    Federal judges have already nullified certain provisions in S.B. 1 that pertain to assisting voters and mail-in ballots.  In a lawsuit challenging other provisions of S.B.1, the parties held closing arguments in February after a six-week trial before Federal District Judge Xavier Rodriguez in San Antonio.

    Severe Restrictions on Reproductive Freedom

    Since 2021, Texas has been one of the most restrictive states for reproductive freedoms, after Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation that banned terminating pregnancies after six weeks’ gestation, with rare exceptions that physicians say are unclear.  Doctors who violate the law can lose their medical licenses and face up to 99 years in prison.  This draconian measure exacerbates the state’s pre-existing physician shortage, especially for rural communities that need reproductive healthcare.

    While Texas does not allow ballot initiatives, reproductive health is among the issues for Texans to consider as they head to the polls in November. Senator Ted Cruz, up for re-election, has been a staunch foe of abortion and transgender health care. Cruz supported the failed Life at Conception Act, which would have provided equal protection under the law to “preborn children” from the time of conception.  

    Cruz has received endorsements from the Texas Alliance for Life, the Republican Party and Governor Greg Abbott.  Cruz’ Democratic opponent, Colin Allred, a three-term congressman, has cited freedom as a top issue, including reproductive freedom and freedom to vote. Allred’s endorsers include the Texas AFL-CIO and the Human Rights Campaign

    Candidates’ stances on abortion in down-ballot races appear to conform strictly with their party affiliation, but the polls of likely voters reflect more nuanced views. Democrats  hope that abortion rights will be a winning issue that will drive voters to the polls. However, a recent University of Texas poll suggests that voters may consider border security and immigration more important issues.

    What Can You Do?  

    S. B. 1 has created a serious risk that Texas election vigilantes could intimidate voters or otherwise disrupt the election in November.  To help ensure that voters are treated fairly, you can volunteer to serve as a poll monitor.  Get in touch with Common Cause Texas.

    You can also volunteer with Common Cause to contact voters who need information and support and to monitor social media, so you can report misinformation and disinformation about election issues.  You can fill the last two roles on a remote basis.  

    You can also join Common Cause in advocating that Texas establish an online voter registration program.  Texas is one of the few states that does not have such a platform, which would make it easier for voters, including minority voters, to register.    

    If you are a lawyer or a paralegal, you can volunteer for Election Protection, which provides advice to citizens who want to register to vote or who may encounter problems when they try to vote.  If you have a relative in law school, ask him or her to volunteer.  You can work from your office or home. EP provides training and materials on each state’s election laws and procedures.  Election Protection operates under the auspices of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a civil rights organization with about 100 partners.

    Disability Rights Texas helps people with disabilities understand their voting rights, surveys polling places for accessibility, and works with election officials to ensure fair voting.

    Mi Familia Vota is a national organization with a branch in Texas that is committed to empowering the Latino community and helping Latinos register and to vote.

    [1] https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/texas-voter-suppression-law-trial


  • April 25, 2024 5:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University:

    Nazmul Haque, a current Mason Fellow in ClassACT HR73’s Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program at the Harvard Kennedy School, has a long history of developing public-private partnerships in response to climate change in his home country of Bangladesh. His experience was a case study for a recent symposium, “Climate Change, Public-Private Partnerships, and Social Equity: Lessons from Bangladesh” – also co-sponsored by the Weatherhead Center and the Salata Institute – in which Harvard practitioners and professors gathered to examine and enlarge upon the examples offered by Nazmul’s career. We spoke with him about his commitment to sustainability, and what the symposium meant for him. 


    Read full article
  • April 25, 2024 12:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    REGISTER HERE


    James Engell AB ’73, PhD ’78, Gurney Professor of English Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, Inaugural Member of the Faculty Advisory Committee for the Salata Institute

     Please join us for the second of ClassACT HR73 Environmental/Climate Change Workgroup’s “Learn at Lunch” series of seminars. Classmate Jim Engell will discuss how  values from his field, the humanities, are changing traditional environmental economics and altering concepts of international and national energy security. Significant transformations in several fields are needed to avert additional tragic consequences of an energy transition that is too slow.  

    Slashing emissions, taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and, yes, geoengineering are all required, but essential to their success is a broad mass movement of the kind that propelled civil rights, women rights, and the rights of labor. In addition, central to formulating all climate policies is an awareness of the glaring moral inequalities of climate disruption—wealth inequalities both among and within each nation, as well as issues of intergenerational justice. 

     Following Jim’s introductory remarks, there will be time for Q/A and discussion.

    Here are some resources that Jim recommends:

    • The Climate Book compiled by Greta Thunberg. “I know of no single book more comprehensive and accessible on almost all aspects of the climate crisis.” 
    • Laudate Deum, a short, pointed 2023 version of the Papal Encyclical of 2015.
    • Article by Nicholas Stern, Joseph Stiglitz & Charlotte Taylor on new approaches to environmental economics

     Contact information:  jengell@fas.harvard.edu

  • April 24, 2024 12:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    You are ready to move beyond the idea and the planning meetings for a new nonprofit. In this webinar, we will highlight key next steps, best practices and resources for launching your nonprofit. 

    This webinar is led by Martha Stone-Martin, VP of Marketing and Administration for Charles River CFO (CRCFO). CRCFO provides outsourced CFO, accounting and HR services to nonprofits, biotech and technology firms. She has over 30 years of experiencing developing web presences for small firms.

    Join us today at 7pm ET - register here!

    If you missed our previous webinars, take a look at the recordings below!

  • April 12, 2024 11:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Jacki Swearingen and Vivian Lewis

    Edited by Jim Harbison, Ryan O’Connell and Marilyn Go


    With each election in recent years Florida has turned redder. In 2018 its voters elected one of the nation’s most conservative governors. However, this November’s outcome is a little less certain because of a recent decision by the Florida Supreme Court that allows a measure to ensure reproductive rights to be on the ballot this fall.

    While President Joe Biden is still unlikely to garner Florida’s 30 electoral votes, a surge in voters determined to overturn one of the nation’s strictest abortion bans could benefit Democratic candidates further down the ballot. Although voter registrations for Democrats now trail those of Republicans by four percent, Democrats hope that they can convince the growing number of independents to vote for their candidates this November. Nonetheless, Democrats still face the possibility of reduced turnout because of strict voting laws Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature put in place over the last three years.

    Demographic Changes

    Just as in Georgia and Arizona, demographic changes in Florida have been accompanied by increased calls from Republicans to stamp out voter fraud. The 2020 U.S Census showed that among Florida’s population of 22 million residents, non-Hispanic white residents decreased to 51 percent from 58 percent in 2010. Hispanics, the fastest growing sector, grew to 27 percent from 22 percent ten years earlier. Floridians who are non-Hispanic African Americans decreased to 14.5 percent from 15.2 percent, and Asian-Americans increased to 3 percent from 2.4 percent. 

    Voter registration trends show that Florida is not easily pigeonholed into a red or blue niche, despite the outcomes of recent elections. More than one-third of the state’s registered voters are now non-white. The largest segment of Latinos remains Cuban-Americans who have overwhelmingly voted Republican since the first émigrés arrived in Miami in the 1960s. But Puerto Ricans, the second largest group, are more likely to vote Democratic. Indeed, the majority of Florida’s Hispanics are now registered as Democrats or independents, according to the James Madison Institute.

    More people aged 60 to 69 moved to Florida than any other age cohort over the last decade. However, those aged 18 to 53 now outnumber Boomers in Florida. More and more of these younger voters are registering as “No Party Affiliation,” which helps to make independents the fastest growing group of Florida voters. Unaffiliated voters constitute 27 percent of registered voters while Republicans make up 37 percent and Democrats 33 percent.

    Florida had some of the nation’s closest election outcomes in 2018 – a governor’s race DeSantis won by only 0.4 percent and a Senate race fellow Republican Rick Scott won by a mere 0.12 percent. However, the Covid pandemic contributed to a surge in Republican voters when DeSantis’s stand against lockdowns and other restrictions drew supporters from across the country. As DeSantis moved Florida further to the right on issues ranging from abortion to higher education, he also helped to bring into the GOP some long-time residents, particularly in North Florida who had regularly voted Democratic

    Voter Suppression

    Anxiety about the fragility of Republican victories as well as hopes of securing his party’s presidential nomination may have led Gov. Ron DeSantis to introduce strict voting control measures in 2021, which the Republican-led legislature speedily enacted. Law SB 90 limits where drop boxes for ballots can be placed, and it requires that the boxes be staffed during hours of operation. The law also restricts who can drop off a ballot for someone else, limiting this role to family members and caregivers, a change that voting rights advocates say places burdens on the disabled and seniors. Voters are also required to provide photo ID, a demand that the late Rep. John Lewis once likened to “a new poll tax.”

    DeSantis and others claimed that they were tightening voting laws to combat voting fraud. However, a 2023 Brookings Institution report concluded:

    “In Florida, there were nine cases of election fraud between the 2020 and 2022 elections but many of those involved individuals who were confused over whether or not they had the right to vote.”

    Despite lack of evidence of any significant voter fraud, DeSantis signed a law in April 2022 that established a new state security office to investigate claims of voter fraud and arrest those charged with it. The new “election police force” ended up arresting only about 20 people in 2022 for casting illegal ballots. Nearly all those accused were shown to lack criminal intent and their cases were eventually dropped.

    These arrests stirred fears in some voters that they might be apprehended for voting in error. Many of these citizens were former felons whose right to vote was restored in 2018 by an amendment to the Florida Constitution that 65 percent of voters approved. Nonetheless, DeSantis and the legislature have undermined the amendment by enacting a law that prohibits former felons from regaining their right to vote unless they have paid off fines imposed by the courts as part of their conviction. 

    The Brennan Center and other voting rights groups challenged this law as unconstitutional, but the US Eleventh Circuit Court has allowed it to remain in place. In the 2024 election cycle an estimated 935,000 Floridians who have completed their sentences but not paid their fines will be unable to vote, according to the Sentencing Project.

    Redistricting

    DeSantis and the Florida legislature have also drawn fire for enacting a 2022 redistricting map for Congressional districts that voting and civil rights advocacy groups say is racially discriminatory. The reconfigured maps, they argued after the 2022 election, were designed to ensure the defeat of three-term Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat, as well as to dilute the power of Black voters in other districts by moving many of them into overwhelmingly white and conservative districts. Their challenge wended its way through the courts until February of this year, when the Florida Supreme Court issued a one-sentence order saying that it would not speed up consideration of the case in time for the 2024 election. The contested maps will remain in place.

    Voter Registration Obstacles

    Law SB 7050, which allowed DeSantis to run for president without having to resign as governor, also builds on the changes to Florida election law enacted in 2021. The latest law imposes stringent new requirements on third-party voter registration organizations and quintuples the maximum fines these groups can incur. The measure bars non-citizens from handling or collecting voter applications as part of an effort by a third-party group to register voters. The new restraints have drawn the ire of Hispanic and Black voter advocacy groups, which argued that non-white voters often rely on their organizations to help them register.

    Increasing the obstacles to mail-in voting, the new law mandates that voters can pick up a mail-in ballot only if they are unable to vote in person at an early voting location or at their assigned polling place on Election Day. Only family members can now request a mail-in ballot on behalf of a voter. 

    Finally, critics of SB 7050 maintain that the new law will cause more registered voters to be purged from the rolls. Election officials can decide to remove a voter based on any “official” source rather than relying solely on ID sources specified in existing law. The new law also accelerates the process of removing voters from the rolls. 

    Outraged by these new rules, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the ACLU and other voting advocacy groups filed two separate lawsuits. The League of Women Voters in Florida said in a statement released the day DeSantis signed the bill:

    “The law, Senate Bill 7050, directly targets and drastically restricts the ability of nonpartisan civic engagement organizations, like the League of Women Voters of Florida, to engage with voters, violating their right to freedom of speech and association.”

    On March 1 Obama-appointed Chief US District Judge Mark E. Walker struck down the provision in the law that prevents non-citizens from collecting or handling voter registration applications on behalf of third-party organizations. Judge Walker ruled that the prohibition violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. However, Judge Walker’s decision only prohibits Florida’ secretary of state from enforcing that part of the law; he did not prevent the state’s attorney general from applying it. A second trial is now underway in Tallahassee before Judge Walker in which voting rights organizations seek to extend that prohibition on enforcement to the state attorney general as well.

    Voter registration advocates who argue that SB 7050’s restrictions and penalties have already depressed 2024 voter registration drives continue to face challenges in overturning the measure. After Judge Walker’s ruling, Florida officials appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Tallahassee. That case is still pending.

    Abortion Rights

    In recent weeks the Supreme Court judges, all appointed by Republican governors, have played a pivotal role in the fight over abortion rights. The Florida State legislature passed several bills in 2023 that affect reproductive freedom, including the Heartbeat Protection Act that restricts access to abortion after six weeks’ gestation. The controversial legislation prompted a grassroots effort to mount a ballot initiative to amend the constitution, which garnered almost a million signatures. Proposed Amendment 4 to the Florida State constitution would preserve the right to abortion until 24 weeks. The Florida Supreme Court allowed the six-week ban to go into effect and approved the final language of the ballot initiative on April 1.

    For the amendment to become part of the constitution, 60% of voters must approve it. Backers of the proposed amendment include Floridians Protecting Freedom, Planned Parenthood, League of Women Voters Florida and  the SEIU (Service Employees International Union). Florida Voice for the Unborn and Florida Council of Catholic Bishops are among opponents to the proposal. Of note, this amendment may not settle the issue as Florida Supreme Court justices have signaled a willingness to separately consider  the issue of fetal rights.Down-ballot primaries in August will also provide an opportunity for voters to learn the national and state candidates’ positions on a host of issues affecting reproductive freedom, including access to gender-affirming care, bathrooms and in vitro fertilization. 

    Important Down Ballot Races

    While the presidential election will be at the forefront this November, Florida has a number of down ballot races that could also affect the nation as well. Democrats will select a candidate in the August 20th Florida primary to challenge Republican Rick Scott, the former governor who was elected to the Senate in 2018. Scott is regarded as one of the most vulnerable Senate incumbents in this election cycle in part because of his stance on Social Security, Medicare and abortion. Twenty-eight House seats will also be up for grabs, including a new one awarded to Florida after the 2020 Census. Finally, Floridians will have the chance to vote on Amendment 3 to the state constitution, which would legalize the use of marijuana for adults 21 and older.

    Get Out the Vote

    What role can you play? Take part in this election by registering voters, phone banking and canvassing. Sign up as a poll worker. Help cure mail-in ballots to prevent a ballot from being discarded because of an error that could easily be fixed.

    Florida lawyers can lend their skills to organizations like Florida Election Protection Coalition that aids voters who find their right to vote challenged at the polls.  Lawyers can also help assess accessibility at polls before voting occurs.

    These organizations are also playing an active part in working for free and fair elections in Florida:

    League of Women Voters of Florida “registers, empowers, and educates voters” as well as advocates for fair voting laws.

    Common Cause Florida advocates for fair voting laws and helps voters with individual questions. Both Common Cause and America Votes helped cure Florida mail-in ballots in the 2020 election.

    Black Voters Matter works in Florida and 24 other states to register voters and get them to the polls. Their “We Fight Back” bus tour is headed to Florida May 16 to May 20. 

    Movement Voter Fund helps support Florida voter organizations that focus on Latinos. 

    Equality Florida focuses on the LGBTQ community to register, educate, and transport voters to the polls.

    The Andrew Goodman Foundation seeks to increase voter registration among college students and inspire them to get out the vote.

    The Florida Justice Center helps former felons regain their right to vote.


  • April 05, 2024 1:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We can't believe it's been ten years! Take a look back at this fabulous video created by Rick Brotman '73, which highlights some of the projects ClassACT HR73 has created, organizations we've supported, and most importantly, people we've worked with during the ten years since our inception. 

    10 Year Anniversary Video

    CLICK to watch!

    The ClassACTivism Timeline:

    Accompanying the video is a detailed timeline our milestones from the last decade.

    CLICK for timeline!

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