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How to Vote in Alaska – Share This Video with All Alaskans!

If you live in Alaska, I want you to share this video with all of your Alaskan friends:

This video was created by the VlogBrothers Hank and John Green. Aside from explaining the voting process here in Alaska, they also link to everything you need to get registered and vote in the primary election.

No matter who is projected to take our three electoral votes, Alaskans should want to vote in this election. Aside from deciding whether Representative Young and Senator Murkowski should return to Congress, a number of state legislative seats are up for election. Also, we’ll be deciding on whether to the Permanent Fund Dividend application to register voters and whether to issue bonds to finance college loans. If you want your voice to be heard, vote!

Voting in Every State

Thanks to VlogBrothers Hank and John Green, I don’t have to cobble together registration and voting information for all 50 states!

I’m going to leave this video and the Alaska specific video at the top of my blog through the November 8th General Election. Check out the video, find out the information for your state, get registered and/or vote!

Court: Feds Cannot Prosecute Medical Marijuana In States Where Legal | PopularResistance.Org

The unanimous 9th Circuit ruling on Tuesday was issued by a three-judge panel, two of whom are Republican appointees with a history of pro-law enforcement opinions.

The U.S. Department of Justice cannot spend money to prosecute federal marijuana cases if the defendants comply with state guidelines that permit the drug’s sale for medical purposes, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

via Court: Feds Cannot Prosecute Medical Marijuana In States Where Legal | PopularResistance.Org

To me, this is a welcome victory for local control and sensible drug policy.

Trade: The wrong conversation

While I have problems with the Trans Pacific Partnership, particularly in the areas of intellectual property and the ability of transnational business panels to override national law, I really feel we’re not having the right conversation on trade.

Attacking any particular multilateral trade deal not only allows proponents to label opponents as “anti-trade” and “isolationists,” it distracts us from what I think is the real conversation we ought to be having on how we write trade deals to begin with.

No one really wants to stop trade. The vast majority of people understand that we live in an interdependent world. No one country has everything it needs for modern life. But how that trade is conducted is important and how trade deals are created is even more so.

In a working economy, the legitimate interests of businesses, workers and consumers are all equally respected. In a capitalist economy you need all three groups to remain healthy or the economy collapses. As a result, in a working economy all three groups should have representation in writing economic rules.

In trade deals, this seldom happens. Whether it’s NAFTA, TPP or some other trade deal, national governments invite industry representatives to meet in secret to hammer out rules that are presented as all or nothing votes to national legislatures. As a result, these deals are usually great for business, occasionally good for consumers but almost never satisfactory for workers in any but the lowest wage countries.

In our discussions on trade, we should agree that trade is a reality, but we should insist on representation for labor groups and the non-profit sector – cultural organization institutions and consumer groups. Potential rules should be weighed for their effects on businesses, workers and consumers at large. And they should be written in public and available for continuous public comment.

This will be a longer process than letting industry write the rules in secret. But the economy belongs to all of us and a more open process will ensure greater buy in for the deals that do ultimately pass. Let’s pass that message on to our elected representatives and hold them accountable for it.

 

Five Votes: Why Voting Matters

Last Tuesday we had a primary election in Alaska that demonstrated why it is important to get out and vote in EVERY election. On August 16, 2016, only 15.4% of Alaska’s 515,714 registered voters went to the polls. The election resulted in seven incumbents being ousted out of the Legislature. I leave it to others to debate whether this was a good or bad thing. What I’d like to talk about today is just how close some of the elections were.

  • In House District 38, Representative Bob Herron lost his seat by 260 votes in a race with substantially better turnout (21.7%) than the state average (15.4%).
  • In Senate District D, Representative Lynn Gattis lost her race for Senate by 148 votes in a race with 12.2% turnout.
  • In House District 9, Representative Jim Colver lost his seat by 95 votes in a race with 17.1% turnout.
  • In House District 40, Representative Ben Nageak lost his seat by just FIVE votes (765-760) in a race with 16.8% turnout.

In each of these races, the winning primary challenger will be the new legislator because the other party did not have a primary in that district. The primary election was the general election in these cases and around 80% of voters missed their opportunity to weigh in. A relative handful of voters in any of these races might have changed the outcome.

Extremely light turnout and lack of party competition at the primary level are not unique to Alaska and these factors are having federal effects. As David Wasserman of Five Thirty Eight puts it:

Primaries have become the new general elections — The Cook Political Report currently rates just 37 of 435 House seats as competitive this fall, less than 9 percent of the House. As a result, primary elections have become tantamount to general elections in the vast majority of seats. Because primaries are held on many different dates, they tend to generate less national attention and attract disproportionate shares of hardcore, ideological party activists to the polls.

In 2014, only 14.6 percent of eligible voters participated in congressional primaries — a record low, according to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate. That means a tiny fraction of voters who are the most hardened partisans are essentially electing more than 90 percent of members of Congress. And these low-turnout primaries are often easy prey for ideological interest groups who demand purity.

In Alaska’s most recent election, news media has noted that both major political parties targeted a few of their own incumbents this time around, with mixed results.

This might all sound depressing to you. It did sound depressing to me at first. But we don’t have to accept things as they are. We can make the primary electorate bigger. We can work to put more candidates on the ballot, either in a primary or for a different party. And here in Alaska, we can vote knowing that until we can persuade more of our friends and family to vote, our votes will have outsized influence.

Get off the sidelines this November. Vote. Then keep voting and take your registered friends to the polls in EVERY election. Don’t let another legislator or ballot issue get decided by a handful of votes.

Not sure how to register or vote? Check out this video:

References:

2016 Primary Election Report (Alaska Division of Elections) – http://www.elections.alaska.gov/results/16PRIM/data/results.htm

Voter Registration by Party and Precinct (Alaska Division of Elections)  – http://elections.alaska.gov/statistics/2016/AUG/VOTERS%20BY%20PARTY%20AND%20PRECINCT.htm

Seven incumbents out of Legislature after low-turnout primary by Lisa Demer and Zaz Hollander, Alaska Dispatch News,  8/17/2016 – http://www.adn.com/alaska-news/2016/08/17/seven-incumbents-out-of-the-legislature-after-low-turnout-primary/

The Political Process Isn’t Rigged — It Has Much Bigger Problems by David Wasserman, Five Thirty Eight – http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-political-process-isnt-rigged-it-has-much-bigger-problems/

 

Working Economy: IMF – Tax Cuts No Way to Grow

In a working economy, the economy would grow and gains would be shared by labor and capital as both have a role in production.

Back in 2015 the International Monetary Fund (IMF), known mostly for its austerity driven policies looked at the effects of tax cuts for the wealthy and raising incomes at both the top and bottom levels of income. They studied 150 countries and came to the following conclusions:

The researchers calculated that when the richest 20% of society increase their income by one percentage point, the annual rate of growth shrinks by nearly 0.1% within five years.

This shows that “the benefits do not trickle down,” the researchers wrote in their report, which analyzed over 150 countries.

By contrast, when the lowest 20% of earners see their income grow by one percentage point, the rate of growth increases by nearly 0.4% over the same period.

 

Sources:

The ‘trickle down theory’ is dead wrong by Alanna Petroff (CNN Money)
June 15, 2015: 12:35 PM ET (http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/15/news/economy/trickle-down-theory-wrong-imf/)

Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality : A Global Perspective    (https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/cat/longres.aspx?sk=42986.0)

 

Voter Registration in Arkansas – Register by October 9th!

Am I registered to vote when I send in my voter registration form?
No, submitting your voter application at a state agency, in a voter registration drive or through the U.S. Postal Service does NOT guarantee your registration. You should follow up on the status of your registration just as you would on any other personal business matter. Before considering yourself a registered voter, you must receive an acknowledgment of your registration from the county clerk.

Unfortunately each Election Day, many would-be first-time voters in Arkansas do not have their votes counted because they are not actually registered to vote. Many believed they had registered months before, but failed to follow up when they did not receive a voter ID card from their county clerk. The process of voter registration is convenient, but it also places responsibility on the registrant to ensure the process is completed.

Follow up on your Voter Registration before election time!

via Arkansas Secretary of State: Voter Registration FAQs

Since the Arkansas voting office is so stern about confirming voter registration, I’m quoting their FAQ.

Further down it says you be be registered 30 prior to the general election to be able to vote. 30 days before the election is 10/9/2016, but of course I say the earlier, the better.

You can check your voter status with Arkansas’ Voter View. If you’re not registered, use their voter resources page to get registered. Then be sure and vote on November 8th.

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