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Every election cycle, there’s disinformation put out to suppress the vote or turn a percentage point or two against a certain candidate. These efforts are usually done by shady political operatives or outfits so that politicians can have plausible deniability.
But this year is different. This presidential election, the disinformation is coming from within the White House overtly and consistently, as President Trump, his political appointees throughout the executive branch, and his allies scream about widespread mail-in ballot fraud (UNTRUE!), “deep-state” sedition (ALSO UNTRUE!) and advocating martial law if Trump loses the 2020 election (SO VERY DANGEROUS!).
I know many librarians who are putting together voter guides for their communities (check out this one from the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT)). This is a non-partisan way that libraries have always participated and helped their communities to register to vote.
Given that, I thought our readers would be interested in this anecdote from a friend and fellow government information librarian. She, like so many others, has put together a libguide on voting. She was contacted by this innocuous-sounding group called National Council for Safety, Protection and Wellness (NCSPW) (I won’t link to them since that’s exactly what they want, but you can google them) about adding their page on voting for seniors to her guide. Evidently, the group had also reached out to several faculty at her university in an effort to pressure her to add the link.
I did a little digging and found that this is a nasty astroturf group (I did a whois lookup and their domain was registered by “Domains by proxy LLC” rather than a real person or organization) pushing misinformation about voting and especially vote-by-mail and registration. Just for fun, I looked at their seniors’ guide for CA elections. The NCSPW site states that CA’s absentee ballot request deadline is Oct 27. THIS IS FALSE! The CA secretary of state site says that registration must be post-marked Oct 19 but that you can provisionally register on election day. This site is clearly meant to confuse would-be voters, and even worse, is targeted at seniors who may not have the ability to evaluate or check the information against trusted sources.
So, just a word to the wise. Check any voter information site you’re thinking of linking to in your libguide. Only link to sites from trusted organizations like your state’s secretary of state’s office or the League of Women Voters. Don’t take ANY site at face value. Use your librarian information literacy skills to help everyone in your community vote this November.
This week’s State Agency Databases Project subject highlight is Voting & Elections, featuring 36 states that project volunteers know to have publicly searchable databases in this subject area. Three examples from this compilation are:
Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) Reports Search – Searchable database of Campaign Disclosures and Financial Disclosures for Alaska State Government. Searchable by candidate, officer holder, and contributor. Links to PDF lobbyist directories and reports.
Campaign Finance Database – Search for campaign spending and contributions by All Committees, Expenditures Analysis, Contributions Analysis, Ballot Question Committee, Candidate Committee, Political Party Committee, Independent/Political(PAC)Committee, or Gubernatorial Committee. One can also search for Late Contributions. Information for committees include a Statement of Organization that includes the address information, treasurer information, and more.
Polling Place Locator – Wyoming Secretary of State – Search this site to help determine where you should go to cast your vote for the state’s Primary and General Elections.
For more, see http://godort.libguides.com/votingdbs. If you know of state agency produced databases in the this area, either comment here or use the “Email me” link on the guide to report a database, which will be forwarded to the appropriate project volunteer.
The VlogBrothers Hank and John Green have completed a massive project for the public good. They’ve created short videos explaining how to vote in every state — from registration to voter ID laws to absentee ballots to casting your vote! Find your state at https://www.youtube.com/c/howtovoteineverystate and pass it along to all your friends, family and acquaintances.
Voting is one of our basic rights in the US — though you might not know it from the tragically low turnouts in US elections. Some of that can be blamed on voter apathy, but much can also be blamed on voter ID laws put in place to suppress voter turnout of especially African American and Latino voters. There are currently 33 states with [[Voter ID laws in the United States]]. It should be noted that many voter ID laws were rejected as discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act — which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2012.
In the video below, John Oliver does his homework and shows the hypocrisy and cynicism of voter ID laws.
A new report just released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) entitled “ELECTIONS: Issues Related to State Voter Identification Laws” (GAO-14-634) found that requiring voters to have special ID in order to vote makes voter turnout go down and this disproportionally effects young and minority voters. And you wonder why republicans in states like Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas, Kansas, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania are instituting restrictive voter ID laws — Since the 2010 election, new voting restrictions are slated to be in place in 22 states according to the Brennan Center for Justice report “The State of Voting in 2014.” Rachel Maddow explains (watch the whole segment including the clip of Lewis Black ACLU ad on voter suppression). As Lewis Black says, “Elected officials shouldn’t get to choose who gets to choose elected officials!”
Laws requiring voters to show identification when they cast a ballot have a greater impact on African Americans and younger voters than on other racial and age groups, according to a new analysis.
The report, issued Wednesday by the General Accounting Office, found that fewer African Americans have the types of identification — like a driver’s license or state-issued identification card — required to obtain a ballot than whites. As a consequence, turnout among African American voters fell by a larger percent than turnout among white voters in two states that implemented identification requirements between 2008 and 2012.
Black turnout dropped by 3.7 percentage points more than white turnout in Kansas, and by 1.5 percentage points more than whites in Tennessee after voter ID laws passed. Among 18 year olds, turnout dropped by 7.1 percentage points more in Kansas than it did among those aged 44 to 53 year-olds in Kansas. Turnout in Tennessee fell by 1.2 percentage points more among those aged 19 to 23 than among the older set.