fresh voices from the front lines of change








Steven Rosenfeld

NH Students Fight Voter Suppression With Turnout

By 3:30 p.m. on Election Day 2020, as several town officials stood behind tables in the gym where a trickle of people fed hand-marked paper ballots into an Accu-Vote scanner, a few remarked that the student turnout so far seemed less than in past years. Barely 800 people had shown up to register that day and to vote. Durham officials set up a massive registration operation in a nearby lunchroom, where 12 long tables with two clerks at each awaited walk-ins to help them to register. But two hours before the close of voting, something not evident inside the town’s sprawling setup had shifted. A surge began. A line of mostly students snaked into the same-day registration center. The town’s deputized staff went to work. When the Durham precinct closed, 1,456 people had registered that day and voted—out of 5,583 total voters. Its Democratic primary had 4,922 voters. Its Republican primary had 661 voters. The power of student voting was noted by Republicans who took over New Hampshire’s legislative and executive branches in early 2017. They soon passed a law to suppress student voting with a sly hidden poll tax. It required out-of-state students who voted and drove to get a New Hampshire driver’s license and register their cars with the state within 60 days. The law has been challenged in court, and litigation is ongoing. “The students don’t like this because it is a lot of money in New Hampshire,” said Linda Rhodes, who co-founded New Hampshire’s Indivisible chapter and has been working with a handful of state and national groups to encourage student voting. “So what the New Hampshire Youth Movement and the New Hampshire College Democrats and the NextGen people are doing is giving very clear information to the students. They are saying, ‘Don’t worry. You can vote. Just go vote.’ And you shouldn’t have to worry about this. This law is in the courts anyway.”

Trump Expands Powers Post-Trial

The President's decision to expand his power post-trial has stunned Washington. CNN: "It's time to stop asking whether President Donald Trump will learn lessons from the controversies he constantly stokes -- of course he does. But far from stepping back or opting for contrition as his critics and appeasers hope, Trump draws darker political conclusions. The result is that he expands his own power by confounding institutional restraints and opening a zone of presidential impunity -- while at the same time delighting his political base. Trump's interference in the sentencing of his long-time associate Roger Stone and a post-impeachment retribution splurge reflect a lifetime's lessons of a real estate baron turned public servant. On Wednesday, Trump publicly praised the Justice Department for reversing its call for a stiff jail term for Stone after his own critical late night tweet that laid bare fears of blatant interference in bedrock US justice. He noted that the four prosecutors who quit the Stone case "hit the road," raising the prospect that their protests failed to introduce accountability to the administration and only served to further hollow out the government and make it more pliable to the President. Trump denied that he crossed a line. But his tweet left no doubt about what he wanted to happen. The Stone affair has also added to evidence that Attorney General William Barr is acting more as the President's personal lawyer and less to ensure the neutral administration of justice."

DNC Chair Challenged Over 2020 Rules Changes

Tom Perez gets earful on superdelegates from Progressive Congressional Caucus. The Intercept: "DNC Chair Tom Perez met privately on Tuesday with members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to hear concerns over the nominating process from the party’s left flank. The conversation came in the wake of progressive frustration over the Iowa Democratic Party’s handling of the caucuses last week — in which Sen. Bernie Sanders topped former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, but a series of snafus prolonged and frustrated the process, obfuscated the results, and left Buttigieg claiming a two-delegate victory. Perez, according to people in the room, brought up the debacle himself, criticizing the IDP for its handling of the caucus, promising the limited recanvass Sanders has called for would be carried out effectively and professionally. Last week, Perez had attempted to take belated control of the situation — at one point, he even called for a recanvass of the results — but was rebuffed by Iowa Democratic Party Chair Troy Price, who said Perez didn’t have the authority to do so. 'What happened last week was completely unacceptable,' Perez told The Intercept in a statement. 'We are all in this together. We succeed together, and we all endure challenges together. We’ve been successful in electing Democrats up and down the ballot in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and I think we’re going to win this presidential election in 2020. That’s our sweet spot, and we are building the organizational structure needed to get there. And I think we have to have a conversation, and I’ve said this more than once, about the issue of primaries versus caucuses.'"

Iowa Democratic Chair Resigns Over Bungled Vote Count

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price to resign after caucus chaos. Des Moines Register: "Troy Price resigned his position as chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party on Wednesday as the organization grapples with the fallout of a botched caucus process that has left the party and state reeling. In an interview Wednesday evening with the Des Moines Register, he said there was a lot for Iowa Democrats to be proud of, but that the failures on caucus night were 'heartbreaking.' Price said he will call for an emergency meeting of that committee for 1 p.m. Saturday to elect an interim chair."

Barr To Testify To House Judiciary Committee

Attorney General William Barr to testify before House Judiciary Committee. Politico: "Attorney General William Barr has accepted an invitation to testify to the House Judiciary Committee on March 31, ending a year-long standoff that began when the panel first demanded his testimony in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. The arrangement comes as Democrats have demanded answers about Barr's apparent intervention in the sentencing of President Donald Trump’s longtime ally Roger Stone, who was convicted last year on charges that he lied to congressional investigators and threatened a witness. Hours after Trump railed against Justice Department prosecutors for recommending a seven- to nine-year sentence for Stone, DOJ rebuked its own team and issued a revised recommendation calling for a lighter sentence. The four prosecutors assigned to Stone’s case abruptly withdrew on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, Trump hailed Barr for "taking charge" of the matter, confirming suggestions that it was the attorney general himself who intervened. In a letter to Barr confirming his appearance, the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee indicated they'd press Barr about Stone as well as the removal of the U.S. attorney of D.C. Jessie Liu, who oversaw a slew of sensitive cases that grew out of Mueller's probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, including the Stone case. The committee also foreshadowed pressing Barr on broader concerns about political influence seeping into the Justice Department."

Trump's Bid To Undermine Car Pollution Standards

The Trump administration’s attempt to kill one of America’s strongest climate policies. The Atlantic: "For nearly a decade, the EPA worked closely with a group of engineers in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to write the federal tailpipe-pollution standards, one of the most consequential climate protections in American history. The rules have pushed the average fuel economy—the distance a vehicle can travel per gallon of gas—to record highs. They have saved Americans $500 billion at the pump, according to the nonpartisan Consumer Federation of America, and kept hundreds of millions of tons of carbon pollution out of the air. But the Trump administration has since proposed to roll back the tailpipe rules nationwide, a move that, according to one estimate, could add nearly 1 billion tons of carbon pollution to the atmosphere. Officials have justified this sweeping change by claiming that the new rules will save hundreds of lives a year. They are so sure of those benefits that they have decided to call the policy the Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient Vehicles Rule—or SAFE, for short. SNAFU may be a better moniker. To change a federal rule, the executive branch must do its homework and publish an economic study arguing why the update is necessary. But Trump’s official justification for SAFE is honeycombed with errors. The SAFE study was a turducken of falsehoods: it cited incorrect data and made calculation errors, on top of bungling the basics of supply and demand. Not since 1999—when NASA engineers accidentally confused metric and imperial units when building and navigating the Mars Climate Orbiter, leading to the spacecraft’s eventual destruction—have federal employees messed up a calculation so publicly, and at such expense and scale."

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