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HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE

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  • February 15, 2024 6:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In the video below, created by Rick Brotman '73, classmate Bill Kristol '73 discusses how the influence of his parents, along with his undergraduate experience, fueled his career and passion for politics and politicians. Having had the chance to look at the workings of our government from “ five to 30,000 feet,” he provides a steady and important view of the state of liberal democracy in our country.

    Click here to watch

  • February 14, 2024 5:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    *note that this event is in person in Cambridge, MA

    ClassACT HR73’s Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program, along with the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs (WCFIA) and the Salata Institute, both at Harvard, will host a daylong in-person Symposium focused on mitigating climate change and its concomitant social inequities through public-private partnerships. We hope you will join us for all or part of the day. Refreshments and lunch will be provided for attendees and there will be a reception at the end of the program.

    The participants include:

    • Ambassador Peter Galbraith AB ’73, Senior Diplomatic Fellow, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

    • Dustin Tingley, Professor of Government, Deputy Vice Provost, Advanced Learning, Harvard University

    • Nazmul Haque, Fellow, Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program, HKS

    • Leigh Hafrey AB ’73, Senior Lecturer, Communication and Ethics, MIT Sloan School of Management

    • Diego Osorio, MC/MPA ’09, Fellow, Weatherhead Scholars Program

    • Hélène Benveniste, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Salata Institute for Climate and Sustainability

    • Michael Hiscox PhD ’97, Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, FAS

    • James Engell AB ’73, PhD ’78, Gurney Professor of English Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature

    • Erum Sattar LLM ’10, SJD ’17, Former Program Director and Lecturer, Sustainable Water Management Program (SWM), Tufts Institute of the Environment

    • Kimball Chen AB ’73, MBA ’78, Chairman, The Global LPG Partnership

    • Peter Tufano AB ’79, MBA ’84, PhD ’89, Baker Foundation Professor, HBS

    REGISTER HERE

  • February 14, 2024 5:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Jim Harbison '73; edited by Ryan O’Connell '73, Jacki Swearingen '73 and Marilyn Go '73

     

    Arizona Demographic Shifts 2010-2022­

    Arizona, with its rapidly diversifying population and large cohort of independent voters, has emerged once again as one of the key battleground states in the 2024 Presidential election. Outcomes in the Grand Canyon state are likely to be even more unpredictable this election cycle because of changing demographics and a surge in voter suppression tactics like intimidation at the polls.

    Until recently, Arizona has been considered solidly Republican. For many decades, Arizona has been a prime destination for retirees migrating to the Sun Belt. The late Sen. John McCain and the late Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor epitomized the sort of traditional Republicans who preferred fiscal conservatism, a strong national defense, and respect for the rule of law. Republicans further to the right like the late Sen. Barry Goldwater also found a place in their state’s GOP.

    However, Arizona has a long border with Mexico, and its Latino population has grown 16 percent from 2010 to 2020, compared to a 10.3 percent growth for the state’s non-Latinos. Latinos now make up nearly one-third of the state’s population. Although Hispanics are often conservative on cultural issues, most have a strong affinity with the Democratic Party. The growth in their percentage of the population has helped turn  Arizona into a “purplish” state. In 2019, Reuters observed that “voting patterns and results from prior elections show the longtime Republican state of Arizona increasingly balanced on a razor’s edge.”

    A Battleground State

    As both Latinos and non-Latinos move to Arizona for its climate and economic opportunities, they have created a new political dynamic where no candidate is assured of victory because of party affiliation. As of 2023, out of nearly 4.2 million registered voters in Arizona, 35% were Republicans, 34% were independents and 31% were Democrats. With such an evenly divided electorate, AZ has become a battleground state.

    Independent voters may play a particularly important role in the 2024 Senate race.  Senator  Kyrsten Sinema, the incumbent, decided in December 2022 to leave the Democratic Party, where she increasingly defied the Senate leadership on key votes and policies.  Sinema now is one of three independents in the Senate who caucus with the Democratic majority. At present she has not yet announced whether she will run for re-election as an independent, and time is growing short for her to decide. 

    If Sen. Sinema does run, she will likely face Rep. Ruben Gallego, the Democratic Latino candidate, a Phoenix congressman, and a Harvard graduate (Class of 2004). Her Republican opponent in that general election is almost certain to be Kari Lake, an election denier who lost the 2022 Senate race to Democrat Mark Kelly.

    At present, Gallego appears to be the frontrunner for this 2024 race, although the volatility of both Arizona and national politics hampers predictions this far out. The Cook Report calls the race a toss-up at this point.

    A Hotbed of Election Deniers

    Looking at the history of election problems over the last four years, the Brennan Center notes that “Arizona was a locus of election denial and subversion efforts in both 2020 and 2022.” These sustained maneuvers included moves to appoint fake electors, threats to and harassment of local election officials, and unsuccessful legislative attempts to decertify the election. 

    Although Doug Ducey, the Republican governor at the time, accepted the 2020 election results as valid, far-right Arizona legislators still demanded two audits of the ballots cast in Maricopa, the state’s most populous county. The audits were conducted by Cyber Ninjas, a now-defunct Florida company whose methods and lack of transparency drew widespread criticism. Ironically, the audit results released finally by the Republican-led Arizona Senate showed that Joe Biden’s margin of victory was higher than initially recorded.    

    Nonetheless, Lake ran for Governor in 2022 repeating her claims that the 2020 election results were fraudulent. Lake lost to Katie Hobbs, the Democratic candidate who had certified the election results in her role as Secretary of State. Lake has continued to deny the 2020 election results in her current campaign for the Senate.

    Intimidation at Polling Sites

    In another example of the charged atmosphere in Arizona, considerable controversy arose over the actions of some private citizens who claimed to be “monitoring” polling sites during the 2022 election.  Some of the self-appointed “monitors” from a group called Clean Elections USA even wore camouflage and carried weapons when they stood near ballot drop boxes. The League of Women Voters of Arizona and other groups representing voters who claimed the monitors were primarily intent on intimidating voters brought suits in federal court. A U.S. District Court judge appointed by Donald Trump agreed, ordering the monitors to stay at least 75 feet away from ballot drop boxes and not to take photos and videos of voters.

    Election experts have expressed concern that tactics such as aggressive poll monitoring practices may resurface in 2024 to prevent voters from casting a ballot. Unfortunately, much of the infrastructure that provided a bulwark against such behavior has been weakened since the 2020 election. Many election officials, worn down by threats or harassment, have resigned or retired; 15 of 17 counties in Arizona have lost their top officials since 2020. Several of their replacements stand firmly in the camp of 2020 election deniers.  

    Native Americans’ Troubled Access to Voting

    Arizona has a substantial Native American population, which has traditionally had limited access to voting. These citizens were excluded from voting before 1948 and were required to pass literacy tests until the 1970s. Native American voters were even harassed and intimidated by polling officials as late as 2006.

    The erosion of laws to protect election practices in Arizona has compounded these problems on reservations. In the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee (2021), the Democratic National Committee sued Arizona’s Secretary of State (Brnovich). The DNC’s attorneys argued that Arizona state laws created obstacles for minority voters to cast their ballots. The Court ruled for Secretary Brnovich and significantly weakened the protections provided by Section 2 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act by making it harder to bring court challenges against discriminatory voting laws.

    As one example, Arizona banned “ballot bundling”, in which an individual would collect ballots from several Native Americans, often for a fee, and then deliver the ballots to a polling station. The Court ruled that Arizona had reasonable grounds to believe that the practice could lead to voting fraud and that abolishing the practice would not unduly inconvenience voters.

    However, as Justice Elena Kagan pointed out in her dissent, there was little voting fraud in Arizona and no evidence that ballot bundling caused any voting fraud. Furthermore, many Native Americans lived on reservations without polling stations, and they often lacked transportation to voting sites that were in many cases far away.

    Some Positive Trends

    On the positive side, there has not been a rash of anti-voting rights legislation recently, as many had feared. Support for strengthened voter protection measures in Arizona remains quite popular overall, as demonstrated in a recent Secure Democracy Foundation poll.

    There are other bright spots as well. A law passed in May 2023 allows police officers, judges, and others in sensitive positions to strike their names and addresses from the public record to ensure their safety and to shield themselves from harassment. This is a good security measure for those individuals, and hopefully the law will make it more difficult for outsiders to interfere with the smooth conduct of elections. In addition, at the end of last year Gov. Hobbs approved a new Election Protection Manual that spells out correct procedures for all of Arizona’s precincts.

    More than 90% of Arizona’s voters voted early, either at a polling place or by absentee ballot. Polls in the state show overwhelming support for absentee voting. However, much of the rhetoric on the far right has sowed the misinformation that this mechanism results in widespread voter fraud. 

    How You Can Help

    The Brennan Center warns that “Given the ongoing level of election denial in Arizona, advocacy groups must remain on alert for intimidation efforts, as they were in 2022.” If you live in Arizona, please consider volunteering as a poll monitor, so you can alert officials of any inappropriate behavior by self-appointed monitors.  

    Now is the time to get involved in Arizona. The Presidential primary will take place on March 19, and Congressional primaries will be held on August 6. There are many ways to get involved, in addition to discussing the candidates and issues with your friends and colleagues and encouraging them to vote. Voter registration drives help all citizens exercise their right to vote.

    Here is a list of non-partisan not-for-profit voting organizations for which you could volunteer or give support: 

    1) Election Protection Arizona is a coalition of frontline organizations that work with communities most subject to voter suppression.  If you are a lawyer, a paralegal, or a law school student, 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. EP provides training and materials on each state’s election laws and procedures that enable volunteers to work digitally from home or office. If you are not a lawyer, you can volunteer with EP to help as a poll monitor.

    2) The League of Women Voters of Arizona has as its top priority this year Voting Rights/ Election Systems (Security and Integrity of Elections).

    3) Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) is deeply involved in registering voters as well as providing ongoing community-based activities, such as seeking fair wages for employees and providing English instruction. In 2022 LUCHA registered 22,000 new Latino voters.

    4) Mi Familia Vota Arizona focuses on registering and Latino voters in Arizona and educating them about the election process. The organization offers roles for volunteers in Voter Registration, Phone Banking and Text Banking.

    5) Protecting Native American Voting Rights in Arizona offers the opportunity to donate in support of efforts to fight the suppression of Native American voters. 

    Be sure to read the article in this issue of the Newsletter on reproductive rights in Arizona and the importance of the upcoming elections regarding that issue.

    And don’t forget to vote!

  • January 17, 2024 12:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    December 26, 2023

    By Sara Arshad

    “Leadership is a commitment to an idea, to a dream, and to a vision of what can be.”

    Perhaps the greatest turmoil faced by a young Pakistan was the execution of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1979 by Military Dictory General Zia ul Haq. To the world’s surprise, the Islamic world welcomed the first female prime minister in 1988 in Pakistan in the form of his daughter Benazir Bhutto and I could see a change in the country. Everyone seemed to cherish her win in elections and getting nominated as first lady stateswoman. Whenever she used to appear on television, the entire country became silent and listened to each and every word of her with great respect. She was full of determination and could see the challenges of the Pakistani public with pure heart.

    December 27, 2007, was a horrible day for the people of Pakistan when she was murdered because her followers considered her the only hope left with them.

    This dreadful and ill-fated day when she was leaving a huge public gathering after delivering her speech in Rawalpindi Pakistan, she was shot and died at the spot. The moment the news of her brutal murder was publically announced, people became enraged and Pakistan witnessed the largest public protests in its history following her murder. That night was eerie and mass protests erupted in all parts of the country unitedly. Several banks, buildings, and ATMs were broken down and destroyed. Means of transportation were burnt. A large number of people took shelter in narrow streets and spent the night under the roof of a cold winter night.

    More than 100 people lost their lives in the incidents relating to mass protests due to shootings by the police or from crossfire between different groups during the last 48 hours. Pakistan lost its bravest leader ever and the loss was beyond comparison.

    In order to mark her 70th birthday Harvard class 73 organized a virtual event where speakers honoured and acknowledged Benazir Bhutto’s legacy. For me, it was a lifetime experience because having heard stories about Benazir from my family and friends or reading history from different books is immensely different from listening to the classmates of Benazir Bhutto of Harvard batch 1973. It was an emotional yet inspiring learning-based event that had a 60-minute time duration about Benazir Bhutto’s life’s personal reflection followed by a Q&A.

    Marion Dry, co-founder and chair of ClassACT HR ’73 shared the story of the creation of the Benazir Bhutto Leadership Program and its impact. She shared her experience that Benazir Bhutto was a friend of many in class 1973. She was introduced to Benazir in her freshman year. At that young age, Benazir left a very strong impression at only sixteen which could equal that of seventy.

    Moving forward to 2013, some students of class 73 created Act 73. It included programs like BBLP (Benazir Bhutto Leadership Programme) that assisted students from third-world countries to gain a master’s degree from Kennedy’s school. Much of BBPL’s ideology related to human rights and peace matches that of Benazir. It especially promotes education in Islamic countries.

    It hardly ever occurs that Benazir Bhutto’s family isn’t present in the talk of her remembrance, even today her sister, Sanam Bhutto along with her husband and son attended. Victoria Schofield, author of “The Fragrance of Tears”, and her friends from Washington attended.

    Benazir became the light of people’s hearts. Peter Galbraith further goes into how young she was at every milestone of her life. Only sixteen years of age while entering Harvard, twenty-four when Z.A. Bhutto was assassinated, and 35 when she became the Prime Minister. Benzair faced a big cultural shock while meeting his parents. Usually, the contrast between a Pakistani family and an American family is significant.

    Even as an undergraduate, she had a strong political sense. But that did not give much fruit when faced with the dictatorship in Pakistan. Several times, she was confined in forms of house arrest, Karachi Central Jail, and Sukkar Jail.

    With democratic relationships and policies almost destroyed, Peter’s meeting with Benazir in 1981 became almost impossible. However, he did manage to send her a note that she replied back to with a smuggled letter. Benazir expressed how the grades and essays, and the talk of politics seemed joyful in Harvard but now she realizes how she failed to fully understand how important they were, as important as the air we breathe and the water we drink. 1987, a supposedly quiet year for Benazir where she got married and started a family, didn’t last long when in 1988 a plane carrying General Zia ul Haqq “literally fell out of the sky and the prospect of meaningful elections became real.” Benazir restored democracy in 1988 after dictatorship and died in 2007 while restoring democracy too. Peter urged her to start a normal life, and though she wanted it, she never acted on the idea.

    Laila Khondkar, funded under the BBLP, did several leadership and human rights courses in her year at the Harvard Kennedy School and continues the legacy of Benazir in Dhaka in the form of trying to make a world where women are treated equally in fields such as politics. She talked about the need for collaboration and contribution of different organizations in order to combat social issues. She also collaborated on a future project for Bangladesh with a member of ACT’ 73 called “ Kids Care Everywhere.”

    South Asian countries have a deep-rooted history of violence that the next generations carry with them. In order to combat this, Laila states, that only law reforms aren’t enough and that social norms play a big role. Disrespect and violence have been normalized throughout history.

    Umar Mukhtar Khan, president of Harvard Club for Pakistan shared a lovely memory with Benazir when she went to his school and he showed her a photo in a photographic exhibition and having met with her at his uncle’s residence. All the speakers had a connection with Harvard University.

    Talking about her democratic reconciliation, her stance against extremism, and her progressive politics was strong. Returning to exile in 1986 and subsequently becoming a Prime Minister in 1988, she brought all the stakeholders in Pakistan’s complex political landscapes together and signed the Charter of Democracy with her arch-rivals. She stood like a rock against extremism despite the fact that her life is in danger still she never became biassed which resulted in her fateful murder on 27th December 2007. She made Pakistan a much safer place before leaving through her policies. She believed in women’s rights, minority rights, freedom of the press, and social issues. She was always found standing in front of protecting vulnerable communities.

    Her fellow friends of class 73 left a deep impression as Nuala Walsh quoted in her closing remarks that  “old photo never fades.”  Having received the Nobel Prize or becoming the Prime Minister, Peter Galbraith, and Benazir Bhutto are still Johny and Pinky of class 73. Benazir. Her legacy will continue in people like Laila and many who are pursuing her mission. Excellent moderation was done by Lee. Umar shared his experiences of how Benazir chose leadership and unifying spirit.

    Benazir’s job was not easy but she left a strong message to those who are struggling to achieve rights. Her story is shared as a symbol of courage and victory in every corner of the world. Bhutto is another name for courage, determination, and persistence.

    “Benazir’s trade of courage and character are only associated with the finest people.”—Nuala Walsh

    Full Article: Class Act73 continues with Benazir Bhutto’s Legacy (dnd.com.pk)


  • January 16, 2024 11:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Social Media is an essential communication tool for nonprofits looking to raise awareness, build community, and even engage donors. But how to break through the noise to get an accurate and compelling story across? Join ClassACT HR73’s social media manager Katie Marinello, owner of KT World Communications LLC, to learn the basics of creating a digital strategy that bolsters your nonprofit’s mission. If you’ve found yourself confused or intimidated when posting on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more, this is the webinar for you!


    REGISTER HERE

    Katie Marinello is a digital communications consultant with expertise in digital strategy, brand messaging, social media, and email marketing. An early adopter of social media marketing, she started KT World Communications LLC in 2018. Now served by a team of digital experts, KT World Communications has advised nonprofits, small businesses, and artists on how to harness the power of digital media to tell their brand stories. Katie has advised ClassACTHR73 on social media strategy since 2020 and is also Adjunct Professor of Digital and Social Media at Carroll Community College in Westminster, MD. 

    Prior to launching her business, Katie was a teacher in New York City, online product manager for the Brooklyn Cyclones, and worked for various pharmaceutical, finance, and crisis PR agencies. When not consulting, she fosters rescue cats and can be found supporting the performing arts, women’s and voter’s rights, and prison reform.  @ktworldcomm https://ktworldcommunications.com/


  • January 16, 2024 11:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Setting up a 501(c)(3) involves asking a lot of legal questions in order to arrive at the best answers for your organization. Register now for the upcoming ClassACT HR73 Webinar on Wednesday, January 17th at 7pm EST to learn the legal do’s and don’ts from attorney Leonard Easter ’73, who specializes in navigating the nonprofit world. There will be plenty of time for you to ask your specific questions so you will be able to better understand and manage the best course of action for your organization.


    REGISTER HERE

    Leonard D. Easter (Harvard AB cum laude) (Columbia Law JD), a NY attorney specializing in not-for-profit and exemption law with a specific focus on 501(c)(3) formation and operations, for local, state, federal and international arts and cultural institutions and organizations, will lead you through how to form a 501(c)(3) organization.

    Leonard serves on the boards of various institutions and has produced opera, fundraising performances and other artistic presentations. When he has time to breathe, he is consumed with playing the piano.

  • January 11, 2024 12:19 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Ryan O’Connell

    Edited by Marilyn Go, Jim Harbison, and Jacki Swearingen

    With its robust economy, Georgia has grown rapidly, attracting a large influx of new residents from other states. These waves of in-migration have profoundly changed the state’s political make-up over the last two decades because most of the newcomers are African American.  Many of them hold college degrees and are affluent; the largest group has moved from New York State.  Georgia’s Latino and Asian-American communities, while smaller, have also grown significantly. 

    All three groups lean heavily Democratic, and their growth has turned Georgia from deep red into a battleground state. The number of eligible voters in Georgia has jumped 30% over the last 20 years, and Black Americans represent half of that increase. Meanwhile, whites constitute only about a quarter of new voters. 

    Latinos and Asian Americans represent a relatively small slice of the Georgia electorate. However, their numbers have increased significantly; they account for 14% and 8%, respectively, of the growth in the voters since 2010. Hispanic voters increased by 235% and Asians by 245%, compared to 59% for Blacks and 12% for whites. (Black Latino and Asian Americans have been key to Georgia's registered voter growth since 2016). 

    A graph of numbers and a number of people Description automatically generated with medium confidence

    Source: Pew Research 

    These shifts have radically altered the state’s demographic and political mix. In 2000, white voters overwhelmingly dominated the electorate, representing almost 70% of potential voters.  However, over the next 20 years, white voters’ share dropped by 11 points to 58%. Black Americans’ share rose five points, to 33% of all eligible voters. Hispanics and Asian Americans’ shares increased more modestly, to 5% and 3% of eligible voters, respectively.  

    In total, the three minority groups rose to over 40% from about 30% of eligible voters over those ten years.  While white voters grew modestly, to 4.4 million from 4 million, minority voters shot up to 3 million from 1.7 million. This trend has created the potential for a significant shift in the balance of power between whites and minorities in Georgia.    

    A graph of the electoral results Description automatically generated with medium confidence

    Source: Pew Research 

    Voters in the metropolitan Atlanta region, which is mostly Democratic, now represent 54% of the state’s voters. Other metropolitan areas such as Savannah, Macon, and Augusta also lean Democratic.  

    In 2018, Stacey Abrams, a Black woman, came very close to winning the race for governor.  Then, in 2020, a political earthquake shook Georgia, as a Democratic Presidential candidate won the state for the first time since Bill Clinton carried it in 1992.  Georgians also elected two Democrats as Senators, one of whom, Raphael Warnock, is African American.  

    A History of Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression 

    On the surface, Georgia, a state with a long history of voter suppression, seemed to embrace multiracial democracy at last.  But the reality is far different; old habits die hard. 

    Georgia is a highly gerrymandered state, and state officials continue to use numerous techniques to diminish the power of minority voters. The state is probably balanced between Democratic and Republican voters at this point. Nonetheless, Republicans hold about 60% of state Senate seats and state House seats. Georgia’s Congressional delegation is also lopsided, with nine Republican-controlled districts and only five Democratic-controlled ones.   

    Federal Judge Ordered Georgia to Redraw Maps 

    In October 2023, a federal district judge in Atlanta ruled that Georgia’s electoral maps violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by diluting the power of Black voters. Judge Steve C. Jones of the Northern District of Georgia ordered the state legislature to redraw the maps for state and Congressional districts. The legislature did so at a special session beginning November 29, and Governor Brian Kemp signed new electoral maps into law on December 8.  

    The new maps created an additional majority Black congressional district, as the judge ordered.  However, Democrats and Black voters who had brought this case (as well as two other lawsuits challenging State Senate and House maps) objected to the new maps. They criticized the congressional maps for shifting Lucy McBath, a Democratic congresswoman, into a mostly Republican district. Nonetheless, Judge Jones ruled that the redrawn maps complied with the Voting Rights Act and his previous order that an additional majority Black district be created (Georgia Republicans Add Majority-Black Congressional District at Expense of McBath).  

    Judge Jones observed that “redistricting decisions by a legislative body with an eye toward securing partisan advantage do not alone ’violate’ the Voting Rights Act.” On this issue, Judge Jones cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in Rucho v. Common Cause (2019) that disputes  involving possible partisan gerrymandering (as opposed to racially based gerrymandering) are not within the purview of Federal courts.  

    Under the revised maps, Republicans are likely to maintain their 9-5 majority in Georgia’s congressional delegation.

    African Americans are severely under-represented in government on the county level. The deck is stacked against them because of electoral practices and the legislature’s “unprecedented efforts to intervene in local redistricting,” according to the Brennan Center for Law and Justice at New York University (Local Lockout in Georgia).    

    Large Voter Purges 

    While Brian Kemp was Secretary of State and preparing to run for Governor, he purged 1.4 million citizens from Georgia’s voter rolls over the course of eight years.  In 2017 alone, Kemp knocked 750,000 people off the rolls, knowing that Stacey Abrams would run against him for Governor in 2018.  

    Some of the purges may have been routine, but many of those eliminated were Black voters. The purges may have been an important factor in the gubernatorial race, which Abrams lost by only 55,000 votes.   

    New Voting Law Targets Minorities, City Dwellers

    The 2020 election triggered a strong counter-reaction in Georgia. In March 2021, the Republican-dominated state legislature rushed through a bill in record time that was designed to suppress the votes of minorities and urban Democrats. The Republicans called the bill, SB 202, an “election integrity law”, even though state audits determined there was virtually no fraud in the 2020 election.  

    The new law made registering to vote and voting more difficult for minorities and city-dwellers by:    

    • Imposing tougher voter ID requirements 

    • Restricting the availability of mail-in ballots and shortening the deadlines for submitting them

    • Reducing the number of drop-off boxes for mail-in ballots in Atlanta and other cities

    • Cutting back the hours for using drop-off boxes 

    • Prohibiting the use of mobile voting buses 

    • Allowing private citizens to file an unlimited number of challenges to voters’ registrations 

    • Banning anyone except poll workers from handing out water and food to voters standing in line

    Why the last prohibition? Voters in Atlanta, especially in mostly Black neighborhoods, often must wait for hours in the blazing Georgia heat to cast their votes.  The legislature clearly intended to discourage these minority citizens from casting their votes. 

    Before the 2020 election, Georgia’s Secretary of State supervised most aspects of elections, including tabulating votes and resolving disputes about voting.  Secretary Brad Raffensberger, a Republican, discharged his duties honorably and refused Donald Trump’s request that he “find 11,720 votes” to swing the election in Trump’s favor.  

    However, In SB 202, the legislature drastically cut back the Secretary’s authority over elections and created opportunities for other elected officials to intervene in election disputes. The Secretary of State is no longer the head of the State Election Commission.  Instead, Georgia legislators appoint the chair of the commission.  These changes could allow interference by partisan actors in contested elections.   

    Frivolous Challenges to Voters’ Registrations 

    Activists have abused their new power to challenge voter registrations under SB 202.  A handful of conservative activists--six--filed a total of 100,000 challenges in 2022, according to ProPublica (Close to 100,000 Voter Registrations Were Challenged in Georgia). Many of the challenges were frivolous and poorly researched.  

    These challenges have been used to harass and intimidate voters.  And election officials have complained that they must spend a great deal of time reviewing the challenges, which often contain factual errors or focus on minor deficiencies.  

    What Can You Do?  

    Even if you don’t live in Georgia, you can help  make Georgia’s elections fairer, despite the obstacles created by the legislatures.  Helping Georgians to register to vote and monitoring polls are two particularly important ways to help.    

    The Georgia primaries for Presidential candidates will be held on March 12. The primaries for state and Congressional races will take place on May 21. Early voting for those races will begin on April 29 and last until May 17.   

    You can volunteer to monitor polls, monitor social media, and contact voters who need information and support.  You can fill the last two roles on a remote basis.  Get in touch with Common Cause Georgia (https://www.commoncause.org/georgia; 404-524-4598).  

    If you are a lawyer or a paralegal, you can volunteer for Election Protection (https://866ourvote.org/volunteer), 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.  

    If you are not a lawyer, you can also volunteer to serve as a poll monitor with EP.  

    Election Protection operates under the auspices of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a civil rights organization, and it has about 100 partners, including Common Cause.  

    The Brennan Center has outlined several steps that Georgia and other swing states should take to ensure that their 2024 elections are conducted fairly and smoothly (Are Swing States Ready for 2024?).
  • December 21, 2023 10:43 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Highlights Include:

    - ClassACT HR73 welcomes three new bridges

    -ClassACT HR73 @50 Video Project: Meet Sylvester Monroe '73

    - Pensylvania Supreme Court Keeps Gerrymandering At Bay, by Jim Harbison '73

    Read
  • December 14, 2023 5:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This month’s @50 Video Project features Sylvester Monroe, one of the 139 Black students who arrived at Harvard in September 1969. In this powerful video, produced and edited by classmate Rick Brotman, you hear Vest’s discussion of how he ended up at Harvard and his journey in his successful career as a Black journalist, always with an undercurrent of the “dull pain of cultural isolation.” Vest covered stories about such major figures as Rodney King, OJ Simpson and Barack Obama for Newsweek, Time and Ebony, but there were also important stories that were never brought to light. He provides thoughts on how  journalism as “the first draft of history” has omitted the Black perspective.

    CLICK BELOW TO VIEW VIDEO


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