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States Refusing to Provide Data to Trump’s Voter Fraud Panel

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Political Editor, LeNora Millen

A growing number of U. S. states are refusing to comply with President Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity request for voter registration data.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the commission, sent the letter as part of the commission’s efforts to investigate the possibility of voter fraud in various schemes, as per the presidential executive order that created the group in May. 

As noted in a PBS reported, “Trump has claimed without evidence since winning November’s election that it was ‘rigged,’ either by voter impersonation or illegal ballots cast by undocumented immigrants. Trump swept the Electoral College in November’s election, but was nearly 3 million votes shy of Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the popular vote.”

Kobach has emphasized, however, that his commission’s goal is in no way to validate or specifically nurture the president’s claims.

Trump Signs Executive Order on May 11, 2017, launching Panel to Investigate Voter Fraud/Photo Credit: Pat Dollard

The requested information includes registered voters’ full names, addresses, birth dates, political parties, a list of the elections they’ve voted in since 2006, whether they’ve registered to vote in other states, their military status, info on any felony convictions, whether they’ve lived overseas, and the last four digits of their social security numbers.

Kobach stated twice in the letter that only “public” information was being requested, and reiterated Friday, “Every state receives the same letter, but we’re not asking for it if it’s not publicly available,” according to a CNN report.

The States that refuse to comply with the Trump election committee request voiced concerns and opposition to providing the information. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY) said that she does not intend to release the data.

“The president created his election commission based on the false notion that ‘voter fraud’ is a widespread issue it is not,” Lundergan Grimes said. “I do not intend to release Kentuckians’ sensitive personal data to the federal government.”

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, (R-MS), didn’t mince his words, emphatically stating he won’t turn over any information to the panel, telling members of the voter fraud commission to, “go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Gov. Tom Wolf, (D-PA), was quick to point out Trump has alleged that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote in November’s election, an assertion for which Trump has offered no evidence. Trump’s claims of voter fraud based on numerous state and academic studies point to a minimal number of improper votes cast in recent elections.

Chief election officials from both Republican and Democrats have expressed concern and skepticism about Trump’s claim of widespread voter fraud.

“In Ohio, we pride ourselves on being a state where it is easy to vote and hard to cheat,” said Secretary of State Jon Husted, (R-OH). “Voter fraud happens, it’s rare, and when it happens, we hold people accountable. I believe that as the Commission does its work, it will find the same about our state.”

Secretary of State, Alex Padilla (D-CA), voiced similar concerns about the letter and voter fraud in his state.

“California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud,”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) said their states would not provide confidential information.

“New York refuses to perpetuate the myth voter fraud played a role in our election,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We will not be complying with this request.”

Amid the pushback from the forty-plus states, a member of the Kobach commission did not hesitate to say her state would also not comply.  Secretary of State Connie Lawson (R-IN), President of the National Association of Secretaries of State, announced in a statement that her state would not release certain information requested by Kobach.

“Indiana law doesn’t permit the Secretary of State to provide the personal information requested by Secretary Kobach,” Lawson said. “Under Indiana public records laws, certain voter info is available to the public, the media and any other person who requested the information for non-commercial purposes. The information publicly available is the name, address, and congressional district assignment.”

Officials in Texas, Colorado, and Wisconsin said their states would release public information, but noted certain data, including Social Security number and full dates of birth, were confidential and would not be released.

North Dakota’s director of elections, John Arnold, said that state law would not allow the presidential commission access to voter information.

“Wisconsin statutes do not permit the state to release a voter’s date of birth, driver license number or Social Security number,” according to Michael Haas, the administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Secretary of state Dennis Richardson (R-OR) said charges for voter information such as names, addresses, and voting history would be at the expense of the commission and they are welcome to pay.

Kobach is secretary of state, will not share voters’ Social Security information with the commission making the following statement.

“In Kansas, the Social Security number is not publicly available,” Kobach told the Kansas City Star. “Every state receives the same letter, but we’re not asking for it if it’s not publicly available.”

Officials in Washington, Utah, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Connecticut, also expressed skepticism stating their states would withhold nonpublic information. North Carolina will provide all but the last four digits of Social Security numbers, dates of birth and driver’s license numbers.

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D-RI) highly critical of the commission’s request, said Kobach was unfit to lead the voter fraud panel, given his record of strict voting laws and a recent court fine for failing to produce documents related to a lawsuit over voting laws.

“It is deeply troubling that he has been given oversight of this commission by the president,” Gorbea said.

Officials have raised questions about the commission’s discretion obtaining the confidential documents.

“State statutes permit the [Wisconsin commission] to share confidential information in limited circumstances with law enforcement agencies or agencies of other states,” Haas said. “The presidential commission does not appear to qualify under either of these categories.”

Kobach is an advocate of strict voter identification laws, which he says is necessary to combat fraud. Opponents say those laws hinder access to the polls primarily for elderly and minority voters.

 

 

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Oklahoma Teachers Exercise their Voice

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Oklahoma Teachers Exercise their VOICE!

Oklahoma public school teachers banded together to strike for supplies and better wages

Have you heard the “tea” on the statewide teacher walk-out in the state of Oklahoma and the ripple effect it’s starting in the country? Well, if you haven’t and you’re the kind of person that need numbers and statics, which are important, don’t get me wrong. I hope that this article encourages you to take a deeper look into this now national situation and also, take a deeper look at your education system in your own backyard. However, in this article, I want to give readers a candid look inside of the protest from the perspective of a now local resident and a first time experience of anything like this.

I originally had no intention of attending the walk-out at the state capital here in Oklahoma City. To keep it all the way real, which I wouldn’t have it another way, I didn’t think it would last more than a day if it happened at all. Now I know, some of you are probably wondering why I’m glad you asked… While I’m not a public educator, I’ve lived in Oklahoma City for 10 years now and have worked closely with the public school system for the majority of my time here. Teachers have been complaining about things like lack of fair pay, little to sometimes no supplies and little to no budget to properly serve those with special needs, to name a few. However, even though this is a real problem, the teachers stay for something much bigger than themselves and their personal needs, they stay for the love of the children and communities they serve. Because, I know first hand of the passion and degree of selflessness it takes to continue to work under certain conditions, I didn’t think they would actually follow through with it.

April 2, 2018, was the first day of the protest and over 35,000 we’re said were in attendance. In my gut, I didn’t think it would last but thought they put forth a gallant effort to get the attention of Governor Mary Fallin and legislators. Day 2 a reported 38,000 was reported to have been in attendance, the people weren’t backing down. In fact, they said they weren’t moving until their voices were heard! I had the exhilarating experience of attending Day 3 of the protest at the capital with, again well over 30,000 people in attendance, standing strong. By this time, teachers from Tulsa Oklahoma banded together to make the 107-mile walk to the capital and the public educators in  Kentucky started a protest of their own. I’ve never actually experienced anything like that in my life and I wanted to give you my raw perspective on what it was like up close and personal.  I’ll start by saying that seeing the coverage is one thing but actually being there has had an entirely different effect and perspective for me as an individual.

On my way to the capital, I didn’t know what to expect, it was bumper to bumper traffic down 23rd street. I saw people walking from as far as three miles back with bright signs, picketing on their way to the capital. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t say a little prayer driving past them, just hoping I had a closer parking place just for me… whoa yes! Keep in mind, I just started doing research that morning and even with that, I didn’t know how deep it would be. I found a spot a little under a mile from the action and for that, I was grateful.

  Upon the first exit of my car, I felt an almost magnetic pull in the atmosphere that drew me towards the masses. It was a surreal feeling as if I couldn’t help it. I don’t think I’ve experienced a situation where I was standing near or in the middle of a crowd of people where most of the attendees stood in agreement of what they saw as the greater good for humanity. Sure, this amount of people fill-up arena venues and stadiums all over the world every day with numbers larger than this. However, this was an entirely different energy that surged among the masses.   

Coming alone to something like this definitely has its pros and cons, but I decided to make the best out of this situation and take it all in. I took my time and literally observed everything before I actually arrived and walked straight into the nucleus of the action. To be honest, my mind was blown before I got there. The first thing I noticed was the amount of school age kids that were there to either stand with their parents or support their teachers. I’m not kidding, there was an almost equal ratio of teens to adults. Most made very creative signs that reflected their personal feelings and viewpoints. People of all races, colors, and creeds stood together in unity, standing for what they believed was right. 

  I was overwhelmed by the number of people that wanted to be a part of my candid coverage for Exposure Magazine. I walked next to different groups of people and gained many different perspectives, from both sides, although mostly from one, how affected the public education community and the children that are in it really are. Because people were literally standing there ALL DAY there were food vendors who volunteered their foods and services to the cause. Other services that we might not think of like water and restrooms were also provided and school-aged kids 18 and under had everything provided for them free of charge, from snacks, water, meals and even some local events were held around the city, and childcare in some places as well.

The photo (on the left) depicts not only the unity but the faith exercised by some of the teens in attendance at the protest rally. However, I must acknowledge some of the views from the opposing side as well. People were concerned that a rally like this could cause an uproar in not only the state of Oklahoma but the country as a whole, which could threaten not only overthrowing the government at a state level but eventually the country. There were also some angry parents across the state that were concerned that, they weren’t properly informed or considered during the uprising in standing against both local and state officials. Parents that are accustomed to their children going to school all day. The walkout could cause other unforeseen charges such as childcare, extra food, and transportation expenses. Some parents are concerned, if this goes on much longer, they too, are at risk of not having a job.  Some people think this entire protest can help create a lose/lose effect on children both home and at school. I completely understand and see this side clearly. Seeing this side so clearly made me want to take a deeper look at another viewpoint, just to even out the playing field so to speak.

 

As I walked through the massive amounts of people, reading the signs, listening to conversations and observing the different emotions throughout the capital, I found myself almost at the front of the stage which to me, served as the nucleus of the protest. This is where I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing teacher of Del City school district Joy A. Glenn Ahmad. She has been a teacher since 1976 and explained her viewpoint with literal tears in her eyes. Ahmad explained that the teachers demanded 200 million dollars from local and state officials which would cover a $6,000 raise to teachers, some whom haven’t seen a raise for over a decade and some who are only making it with the help of there spouses income to sustain their own family. The rest of the money would be used for much-needed supplies and educational material for the 700,000 students the public school system serves.

Students stand together and pray with teachers during Oklahoma Teacher Walkout 2018

Teachers voices were in fact heard and they were granted 50 million dollars, a quarter of what they were asking, which only would cover the much-needed raises for the teachers. This offer was rejected by the teachers and the strike continued as planned. Teachers claim that this was less about them and more about the students they serve and they refused to take a raise and leave the students needs out. To give me a clear perspective she shared the picture with me you see to the left.

The book cart shared among teachers and students

  I know, it seems like a cart with books on it, what’s the big deal, right? I thought the same thing until she explained to me that this was the cart of books shared between classes for teaching materials for both students and teachers. This cart is the only access to educational materials for the entire high school. I was shocked, to say the least, I couldn’t help but wonder if the parents who are against the protest are aware of the true condition of their children education. Were they aware that this was perhaps the reason for Oklahoma having the lowest test scores and reading scores in the country? Or, does the need to survive and provide for their families now take precedence over the future of their children and possibly the future of the leaders of the state of Oklahoma. This is obviously an “elephant in the room” that couldn’t be ignored anymore. What do you think? Are you aware, truly aware of your education system in your own backyard? This movement that now, has national attention will continue for week 2 in the state Oklahoma. Teachers claim, they will not back down until their voices are heard! This protest has potential to change the education system not only in the state but in the country. Don’t forget to keep up with both local and national news for up close and personal coverage. 

#thatsall 

 

-Deonna Marie

 

Deonna Marie | The Gift of Voice, Professional Classical Singer, Vocal Coach, and Speaker

Facebook: @thegiftofvoice

Instagram: @thegift_ofvoice

Email:  deonnamarie2003@gmail.com

Youtube: Deonna Marie Cattledge

 

 

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The Former President Barack Obama Speaks: In your own ability to make a difference in your community and your country.

The Former President Barack Obama Speaks:

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Friend —

A little over a year ago, at my farewell address in Chicago, I asked you to believe. Not in a candidate, or a politician, or a party — in yourself.

In your own ability to make a difference in your community and your country.

For eight years in the White House — and long before that — I’d seen it happen time and time again: ordinary people who got involved, stayed involved, and pushed for a better future for this country we love.

That’s how change happens.

And this November, we have a chance to make that change happen in local and federal elections across the country. We cannot squander it.

Commit to vote in November 2018. Say you’ll fulfill your duty as a citizen, and that you’ll keep pushing for progress.

That faith I placed all those years ago in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change — that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined.

In the past year, I saw people like Kim, an OFA volunteer in Virginia, bravely share her story during the health care fight — of how, before Obamacare, her 13-month-old son Isaac was on the verge of being kicked off insurance as he went through surgery after surgery. She spoke up, and helped save health care for Isaac and millions of Americans.

I saw folks in South Carolina identify a problem with their town’s outdated, dangerous school buses — then roll up their sleeves, do some organizing, and get the statehouse to fund new buses for Charleston’s kids.

And I saw a new generation of young leaders grab clipboards, collect signatures, and decide to run for office themselves.

Throughout 2017, I saw Americans all over the country step up, have the tough conversations, and speak out about the issues affecting us all. We have to keep it up in 2018 — because every ballot measure, every election, every conversation on an issue we care about — it all matters.

There are no do-overs.

So right now, I’m asking you to make a commitment: Seize the power you have. Speak up. Make this democracy work. Do not succumb to cynicism. And say you’ll vote in 2018 — there’s too much at stake this year to sit this out.

I’m in

Thank you,

Barack Obama

Reported by Tam Lawrence

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Former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Fired by Morgan Stanley for Alleged Misconduct

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Harold Ford Jr., a former congressman, was fired by the financial services firm Morgan Stanley following allegations of misconduct, NBC confirmed on Thursday.

Morgan Stanley declined to say specifically what prompted the firing. The allegations were presented after a woman who was not employed at the firm accused Mr. Ford of acting inappropriately in a professional setting.

Mr. Ford’s termination reported by HuffPost as an exclusive has been challenged by the former Congressman as “false claims.”

Harold Ford Jr., a former congressman, was fired from his position as a managing director at the financial services firm Morgan Stanley for what the company described as behavior “inconsistent with our values.”CreditMike Groll/Associated Press

In a statement provided by his lawyer, Mr. Ford denied the sexual harassment allegations, stating in a tweet on Thursday that he will be bringing legal action against the reporter, for making false claims against him, as well as Morgan Stanley for wrongful termination.

“This simply did not happen,” Mr. Ford wrote. “I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life.” He added that socializing with members of the press was part of his job, and said that “false claims like this undermine the real silence breakers.”

Mr. Ford served five terms in Congress as a Democrat representing a Tennessee district after first being elected in 1996—serving as Congressman from 1997 to 207.

He joined Morgan Stanley as a managing director and senior client-relationship manager in 2011 as a vice chairman and senior policy adviser at Bank of America.

Amid the heightened scrutiny of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior toppling key figures in the entertainment and political arena, Mr. Ford is the latest high profiled man to lose his job in recent days for similar allegations.

Time magazine on Wednesday named the “Silence Breakers” its Person of the Year. They shared personal stories about harassment and assault and sparked the #MeToo movement.

According to Time, the #MeToo became a hashtag, a movement, a reckoning. But it began, as great social change nearly always does, with individual acts of courage.

In a tweet acknowledging his thoughts on the “Silence Breaker” quite pointed in his statement, Mr. Ford said the following in regards to news of his firing on Thursday, “This simply did not happen.  I have never forcibly grabbed any woman or man in my life.”

In another tweet, Mr. Ford spoke about his professional demeanor and his tremendous respect for the brave women speaking out “in this important national dialogue.”  Mr. Ford was pointed in stating that false claims alleged against him “undermine the real “Silence Breakers.”

Mr. Ford appeared as a frequent guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” MSNBC – which is owned by NBC 4 New York’s parent company.

“We are looking into the report about Harold Ford Jr.,” a spokeswoman for MSNBC said. “During that time he won’t be a guest on MSNBC.”

LeNora Millen            12-7-17

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