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Updated: 8 hours 22 min ago

CNN Producer: Russia Narrative Is “Mostly Bulls*** Right Now”

8 hours 27 min ago

CNN Producer: Russia Narrative Is “Mostly Bulls*** Right Now”

Project Veritas released part one of its “American Pravada” series late Monday. The video shows a CNN supervising producer saying the network’s nonstop Russia coverage was about ratings and that it was “mostly bulls*** right now.”

“I think the president is probably right to say, like, you are witch-hunting me. You have no smoking gun. You have no real proof,” says CNN Supervising Producer John Bonifield out of Atlanta.

According to Bonified, President Trump has been good for business, plain and simple.

I think the president is probably right to say, like, you are witch-hunting me. You have no smoking gun. You have no real proof. CNN Supervising Producer John Bonifield

“All the nice cutesy little ethics that used to get talked about in journalism school, you’re just like, that’s adorable. That’s adorable. This is a business,” he says in one clip.

The goal of “American Pravada,” according to Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, “is to expose the real motivations behind the decision making process at our dominant media corporations.” Part I is focused entirely on CNN.

What do you think? Is Project Veritas on to something?

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Thomas A. HawkIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Despite What You’ve Heard, Single-Payer in California is Very Affordable

11 hours 31 min ago

Despite What You’ve Heard, Single-Payer in California is Very Affordable

The California Senate passed legislation earlier this month to implement a single-payer health care system. The bill’s passage was warmly received by progressives, but others have raised concerns about funding.

If we cut every single program and expense from the state budget and redirected it to this bill, we wouldn’t even cover half of the price tag. State Senator Tom Berryhill

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon last week issued a statement saying he would not advance the bill and that it would remain in committee “until further notice.” Rendon cited “financing” as a reason he would not pursue the bill.

Despite wide support among Californians, the bill has been heavily criticized as many say it cannot be financed. State Senator Tom Berryhill recently said, “If we cut every single program and expense from the state budget and redirected it to this bill, we wouldn’t even cover half of the price tag.”

A recent analysis of the bill gave it an estimated cost of $400 billion, which includes an additional $200 billion on top of current spending levels. However, a more recent study conducted by the University of Massachusetts–Amherst shows that a single-payer system in California is actually quite affordable.

One of the researchers behind the study, Tom Pollin, recently wrote in the LA Times:

“Enacting a single-payer system would yield considerable savings overall by lowering administrative costs, controlling the prices of pharmaceuticals and fees for physicians and hospitals, reducing unnecessary treatments and expanding preventive care.” – Tom Pollin

The study concludes that the Healthy California Act would actually produce savings of 18% which when factored into the total cost, brings the price of the bill down to $331 billion.

Pollin notes that currently about 70% of California’s health care spending is paid through public programs, totaling $225 billion. That leaves about $10 billion in additional funds the state would need to come up with to replace private insurance.

According to the study, these funds can easily be achieved by the combination of two new taxes.

The first is a 2.3% gross receipts tax. The tax would kick in after the first $2 million in revenue and would not apply to small businesses.

The second is a 2.3% increase of the state sales tax, with exemptions on housing, utilities, and food. This would be paired with a 2% income tax credit for low income families currently insured through MediCal to offset the sales tax increase.

Overall the study finds that under a single-payer system, most Californians and businesses would save money. Middle income families would see a decrease in health care spending from between 3.4% and 9.9% of their income to just 0.8%.

Businesses as well would see a drop in costs under a single-payer system. Small firms, middle-sized firms, and large firms would see costs fall by 22%, 6.8%, and 0.5% as a share of payroll, respectively.

The study concludes:

“In sum, the establishment of the Healthy California single-payer system will generate financial benefits for both families and businesses at all levels of the California economy.”

Despite the recent concerns by members of both parties that the HCA would be unaffordable, this recent study from UMass provides a clear and affordable path for California to implement single-payer health care for its residents.

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Mac VanandelIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Dear Maine Lawmakers, Your Supreme Court Is Wrong About Ranked Choice Voting

Mon, 2017-06-26 19:02

Dear Maine Lawmakers, Your Supreme Court Is Wrong About Ranked Choice Voting

The Center for Election Science strongly disputes the advisory opinion of the Maine Supreme Court regarding Question 5, the citizens’ initiative that established IRV (Instant Runoff Voting; also called RCV, Ranked Choice Voting) as Maine’s voting system.

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We believe the following:

The Maine Supreme Court is Wrong

Contrary to what the Supreme Court said, IRV is entirely in keeping with the constitutional requirement that the governor, State Senate, and State House be elected by a “plurality.”

The multiple counting rounds of IRV involve the transfer of votes according to the expressed will of the voters. At the end of those counting rounds, one candidate will have a majority of non-exhausted ballots; that is, of those which express any preference between the remaining candidates.

Contrary to what the Supreme Court said, IRV is entirely in keeping with the constitutional requirement that the governor, State Senate, and State House be elected by a 'plurality.'

However, the majority of the non-exhausted ballots may correspond to merely a plurality of all the ballots. Thus, IRV is clearly in accord with the Maine Constitution on this point.

Question 5 Enjoys 'Heavy Presumption of Constitutionality'

A voter initiative like this enjoys a “heavy presumption” of constitutionality, and thus is not unconstitutional unless there is “no set of circumstances” in which it could be read to be constitutional.

The Supreme Court, by ignoring the perfectly reasonable reading suggested above, overrode the people’s will to choose the electoral mechanism for electing their officers; the very heart of their sovereign democratic powers.

ALSO READ: Sen. King to Maine Lawmakers: Let Voters Decide Fate of Ranked Choice Voting

Question 5 Is An Improvement On 'First Past the Post' Voting

IRV is a clear improvement over the prior election mechanism in Maine (and in much of the US), often called First Past the Post (FPTP). FPTP has led to multiple election pathologies in Maine in recent years, and the voters’ decision to replace it was extremely well motivated.

No Constitutional Dispute for US House, Senate Elections

Even if it were unconstitutional to elect the governor, state senators, and state representatives by IRV, it would still be constitutional to elect US senators and members of Congress by that mechanism. Since Maine has an implied severability clause, this portion of the initiative should stand.

Thus the Maine Legislature should, with all due haste, put a constitutional amendment to the voters, to allow them to use their chosen voting mechanism.

In the meantime, Maine legislators should move to implement IRV for electing US senators and members of Congress.

The Center for Election Science did not campaign for Question 5, and has not campaigned for other IRV initiatives that have been put forward in other states or cities. We have typically supported other types of voting method reform.

Thus, our opinion on this matter is not simply a matter of self-interest; we are focused here on the interests of the voters of Maine and of US democracy in general.

Furthermore, we have been consistent in saying that we believe IRV is constitutional in Maine.

Editor’s note: This blog post, written by Jameson Quinn, originally published on the Center for Election Science’s website and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN.

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The Center for Election ScienceIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

New Bill Would Revolutionize US Elections in a Big Way

Mon, 2017-06-26 17:23

New Bill Would Revolutionize US Elections in a Big Way

US Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) introduced a bill that calls for radical changes to the way congressional elections are conducted.

It is called the Fair Representation Act, and it would revolutionize not only the way members of the House are elected, but also how congressional districts are drawn.

Introducing the Fair Representation Act #FairRepAct https://t.co/IeXHiOIJ1u

— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) June 26, 2017

“Our country is divided along class, political, and ideological lines like never before, and frustration with our current brand of politics is at a tipping point,” Beyer says.

“Less than 20 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is doing its job. A big reason for this is the incredible polarization, the hollowing out of the political center that has taken hold of Congress over the last two decades.” – US Rep. Don Beyer

Beyer says the Fair Representation Act, which he introduced with Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), FairVote‘s Rob Richie and Krist Novoselic, and Lanae Erickson Hatalsky of Third Way, can create a healthier political environment for legislating, give voters more choice, and make every election meaningful to every voter.

The Fair Representation Act would:

  1. Implement ranked choice voting for primary and general elections;
  2. Reform electoral districting by using multi-member districts in states with more than one seat;
  3. Use independent redistricting commissions to draw these districts; and
  4. Eliminate winner-take-all in congressional elections to ensure all voters get fair representation.
Get More Info

Learn More About How The Fair Representation Act Works

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Thomas A. HawkIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

The California Travel Ban No One is Talking About

Mon, 2017-06-26 15:49

The California Travel Ban No One is Talking About

The “travel ban” is a clickbait phrase that’s become a popular subject for the 24-hour news cycle. SCOTUS’s decision to mostly reinstate President Trump’s ban is certainly getting most of the attention, but there’s another travel ban that should be making headlines — but has largely gone unnoticed.

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California has banned state-funded and state-sponsored travel to EIGHT states that it says has laws discriminating against LGBTQ groups.

The eight states are: Texas, Kentucky, Alabama, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Tennessee.

AB 1887 bans state-funded or state-sponsored travel by employees of state agencies and departments as well as members of boards, authorities, and commissions. It might also be modified to include universities, bringing sports teams into the equation.

AB 1887 says California is “a leader in protecting civil rights and preventing discrimination,” and should not support or finance “discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

Alabama, South Dakota, and Texas all recently passed legislation that could prevent LGBTQ parents from adopting or fostering children, and Kentucky passed a religious freedom bill that would allow students to exclude LGBTQ classmates from campus groups.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said:

“While the California DOJ works to protect the rights of all our people, discriminatory laws in any part of our country send all of us several steps back. That’s why when California said we would not tolerate discrimination against LGBTQ members of our community, we meant it.” – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra

The state of Kentucky and its politicians are calling California’s reaction extreme.

“I’m sorry California feels that way but it’s their choice,” said Senator Albert Robinson, who sponsored the religious freedom bill. “It’s still overwhelming to me that 1 percent of the population can change the laws against the wishes of 99 percent of the people.”

Alabama, South Dakota, and Texas all recently passed legislation that could prevent LGBTQ parents from adopting or fostering children... Jeff Powers, IVN Author

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said, “It’s fascinating that the very same West Coast liberals who rail against the president’s executive order, that protects our nation from foreign terrorists, have now contrived their own travel ban aimed at punishing states who don’t fall in lockstep with their far-left political ideology.”

And Senator Rand Paul noted, “I thought we fought the Civil War a long time ago. We were going to be one country, not separate countries. Banning travel, I think, is a really really shortsighted response.”

As to the Kentucky legislation in question. Here’s what AB17 reads:

Local boards of education must ensure that “no recognized religious or political student organization is hindered or discriminated against in the ordering of its internal affairs, selection of leaders and members, defining of doctrines and principles, and resolving of organizational disputes in the furtherance of its mission, or in its determination that only persons committed to its mission should conduct these activities.”

LGBTQ critics say this could lead to discrimination. Robinson, however, maintains that his legislation is not discriminatory.

I thought we fought the Civil War a long time ago. We were going to be one country, not separate countries. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

“If students at a school want to have a Bible study group, that would be fine under my bill. I think they would welcome homosexuals to their groups as long as the homosexuals understand that both the Old and New Testament say that homosexuality is a sin,” he said.

Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign in Kentucky, said the California ban is “a very real and unfortunate consequence in passing laws that can even be vaguely perceived as being against the LGBT community.”

There are exceptions to the California travel ban. Travel is granted to maintain grant funding or licensure, or for auditing and revenue collection purposes.

And of course, anyone can travel to any of the states on the list in a personal capacity.

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Jeff PowersIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Efficiency Gap: The Greatest Weapon to Fight Partisan Gerrymandering

Mon, 2017-06-26 13:15

Efficiency Gap: The Greatest Weapon to Fight Partisan Gerrymandering

The fight against gerrymandering nationwide is taking a new turn. Courts are no longer just looking at discrimination based on race, sex, or class, but political discrimination and partisan motives to consolidate power and weaken the voice of voters outside the party in power.

First it was Wisconsin. Then it was Pennsylvania. Now, more states are open to legal challenges against partisan gerrymandering thanks to the “efficiency gap,” the statistical method used in Whitford v. Gill to determine that Wisconsin Assembly lines were so extremely partisan that it constituted a gerrymander and violated the rights of voters outside the Republican Party.

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In the simplest of terms, the “efficiency gap” compares the statewide average share of each party’s vote in the districts with the statewide percentage of seats it wins. A consistently large gap between the numbers will indicate a gerrymander has occurred.

New AP analysis using the “efficiency gap” reveals just how extensive the problem of partisan gerrymandering is.

In Indiana, for instance, even though state House Republicans averaged 57.6 percent of the vote, they won 70 out of the state’s 100 seats.

The 'efficiency gap' compares the statewide average share of each party's vote in the districts with the statewide percentage of seats it wins.

In Colorado, a tight battleground state, Democrats took 57 percent of state House seats despite getting just over 50 percent of the statewide vote in November.

Donald Trump took 34 percent of the vote in Maryland, yet only one of its congressional districts is represented by a Republican. This is because Democrats intentionally implemented a 7-1 plan after the 2010 census to ensure they got all, but one seat.

Pennsylvania is considered one of the biggest offenders of partisan gerrymandering, along with Maryland. A new lawsuit shows that even though Democrats made up the majority of the statewide vote in 2012, Republicans took 72 percent of the congressional districts thanks to their 2011 strategy of “cracking” and “packing.”

One district is so bizarrely drawn in Pennsylvania that not only does it look like Goofy kicking Donald Duck, but it is held together in one area only by a seafood shack. Plaintiffs also uses the “efficiency gap” to make their case.

READ MORE: Coalition Sues Pennsylvania over Partisan Gerrymandering

For the first time federal courts are taking on and ruling against state electoral maps, not on the basis of race or other types of socioeconomic discrimination, but on the political motives of the party in power, and it is in large part because of the “efficiency gap.”

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Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

How the Fair Representation Act Would Empower Voters in the Southwest

Mon, 2017-06-26 07:00

How the Fair Representation Act Would Empower Voters in the Southwest

The United States continues to fall short in fairly reflecting its diversity in elected offices. Our widespread use of a winner-take-all rule — that is, one where the biggest group of voters can win 100% of representation — presents a challenge to candidates who are not the preferred choice of a majority of voters.

The problem of under-representation is less acute in the U.S. House than statewide races, but is still significant.

With the upcoming launch of the Fair Representation Act, legislation in Congress to end winner-take-all elections, in the coming week we will examine the state of representation of people of color in the current Congress and how it might change with enactment of the Fair Representation Act.

The first entry in this series discussed African American representation in the South. This installment looks at the Fair Representation Act’s impact on Latino representation in five states in the American Southwest.

ALSO READ: Fair Representation Act: The Best Solution to Ending Partisan Gerrymandering

Current Demographics and Representation

As of the 2010 Census, just over half (53.6%) of the United States’ Latino population lived in five states: California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Collectively, these states send 105 representatives to the House.

The citizen voting age population of these states is roughly one-third Latino (32.4%), so one would reasonably expect their House delegations to reflect that. In reality, however, Latino voters are consistently underrepresented across the region.

Of the region’s 105 representatives, only 22 are Latino (21%).

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Consider Texas.

The most recent census found that Latinos made up 33.6% of its voting age population, but only 9 of the state’s 36 congressional districts (25%) are majority Latino. (A federal court has found that three of Texas’ congressional districts were gerrymandered to dilute Latino votes, but litigation continues).

Latinos hold five of these nine districts, along with one other seat, putting them at just 16.7% of Texas’ House delegation. Only 49% of voting age Texas Latinos live in a district where the Latino Citizen Voting Age Population (“CVAP”) meets the threshold to elect a candidate.

In New Mexico, only one of the state’s three districts (33.3%) has a Latino plurality, even though Latinos make up 42.3% of the state’s CVAP. Just 36.5% of New Mexico’s voting age Latinos live in that district.

In Arizona, where 25% of the state’s CVAP is Latino, two of the state’s 9 districts (22.2%) are majority or plurality Latino, and are home to 46.3% of the Arizona’s Latinos of voting age. Nevada, whose voting age population is 22.3% Latino, has no majority or plurality Latino districts.

The current congressional delegations of these states is more representative of their demographics, which shows the potential for Latino candidates having crossover appeal in this region.

Two of New Mexico’s three representatives are Latino, as is one of Nevada’s four representatives.

Both of Arizona’s two majority Latino districts are represented by Latinos (although no other districts in the state are).

Nevada, whose voting age population is 22.3% Latino, has no majority or plurality Latino districts.

In addition to those five House seats, these states have two Republican governors who are Latino, in Nevada and New Mexico, and a Democratic U.S. senator in Nevada.

In California, however, Latinos make up 33.1% of its voting age population, but are the majority or a plurality in 16 of its 53 congressional districts (30.2%) and hold 11 seats (20.8%). (That number increases to 14 if counting the three Portuguese-Americans who self-identify as Hispanic, bringing the proportion of representation to 26.4%. This would increase the region’s total to 25 Latino/Hispanic representatives, or 23.8% of the representatives from the region).

Unlike Texas, any discrepancies between California’s population and its congressional representation cannot be blamed on a state legislature seeking partisan advantage.

California’s districts are drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, an independent body explicitly charged with drawing districts consistent with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and forbidden from drawing districts with the purpose of favoring or disfavoring particular parties or candidates.

California’s decision to remove the legislature from the redistricting process is an important and welcome step toward fair representation but, as the numbers show, it alone is not enough.

The Fair Representation Act

Since congressional elections are winner-take-all, any demographic group that does not have a majority or significant plurality of a district’s CVAP is unlikely to elect the candidate of its choice, and will see its own political influence limited accordingly.

The Fair Representation Act eliminates this problem through its use of ranked choice voting (“RCV”) and multi-winner districts. Under the FRA, Texas would go from 36 single member districts to eight multi-winner districts – six districts with 5 seats each and two with 3 seats.

The Fair Representation Act eliminates (unfair representation) through its use of ranked choice voting and multi-winner districts.

In one plan generated by Auto-Redistrict, each district has a Latino CVAP over the threshold necessary to elect at least one representative, and in some of these districts the Latino community would be able to elect two or three candidates of choice.

In this plan, the number of candidates Texas’ Latino population would be able to elect would go from 9 to 13, increasing its representation in the state’s House delegation from 25% to 36.1%, an amount much more representative of the Latino share of Texas’ voting age population (33.6%).

Currently, 49% of Latino Texans live in a district where the Latino CVAP is above the threshold to elect a candidate. Under this plan, that would increase to 100%.

Want to know more? Continue reading here.

Editor’s note: This article, written by Rob Richie, originally published on FairVote’s blog. It is part two of a multi-part series on the Fair Representation Act’s impact on minority voters, and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN.

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SURVEY SAYS: Rigged Elections Remain Major Concern

Fri, 2017-06-23 17:20

SURVEY SAYS: Rigged Elections Remain Major Concern

A survey of attendees at the 2017 People’s Summit in Chicago — conducted by members of Independent Voting’s national network — probed:

  1. Whether concern over the process by which the 2016 presidential elections were conducted had faded;
  2. Whether the American people could directly engage the issue of political power; and
  3. If the Democratic Party could be a vehicle to effect empowerment for the American people, or if partisan interests would prevent it from doing so.

The 20-question survey was conducted in one-on-one conversations by a team of independents from Idaho, Ohio, New York, and Illinois who attended The People’s Summit, a magnet for grassroots activists from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

“Senator Sanders put it bluntly last month when he said the Democratic Party will not succeed unless it attracts many, many millions of independents,” said Gwen Mandell, Director of National Outreach for Independent Voting who organized the survey team at the People’s Summit.

“We made it our business to speak to hundreds of grassroots activists about this and to see if they shared the concerns that independent voters have about the political process. They overwhelmingly do.” – Gwen Mandell, IndependentVoting.org

Over 60% of People’s Summit survey takers identified as something other than Democrat or Republican, while a whopping 93% thought the Democratic Party should open its presidential primaries to independent voters in the 2020 election.

In 2016, an estimated 26.3 million independents were excluded from voting in the presidential primaries because they lived in states with closed primaries.

READ MORE: 5 Reasons Why We Must Put an End to Closed Primaries

Among survey takers, 88% were not satisfied with the choice of candidates in the general election, and 89% thought the Democratic Party was “out of touch” with the concerns of most people in the U.S. — only slightly less than the 95% who thought Donald Trump was similarly out of touch.

93% (of survey takers) thought the Democratic Party should open its presidential primaries to independent voters in the 2020 election.

“The opportunity for Democrats to form a new majority coalition with independent voters has been on the table for many years,” said Rick Robol, member of Ohio Veterans for Sanders and Independent Voting’s National Election Reform Committee.

He added, “Support from the grassroots and from independent voters for the Sanders campaign pushed this issue squarely on the table, and we are excited to be engaged in conversation with the base of the party about the bridge-building that needs to take place.”

Of those polled, 97% agreed with the statement that the real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between mainstream America and the ruling political elites.

In addition, 95% felt that in order for the country to prosper and for new coalitions and a new culture of politics to be created, it was necessary to move beyond the traditional categories of “left, center, and right,” divisions that political parties play off of.

When asked to react to the statement, “As a progressive, I see the Democratic Party as our only way forward,” 69% of respondents disagreed.

97% agreed with the statement, 'No American should be required to join an organization on any kind to be able to exercise their right to vote.'

Over 75% wanted to see Sanders run for president in 2020 and 44% want to see him run as an independent.

In response to a question about whether ideology should stand in the way of building a broad coalition, 74% of respondents said they want to see Sanders form a third party that would join forces with other independents from the left, center, and right of the political spectrum.

In response to the statement, “No American should be required to join an organization on any kind to be able to exercise their right to vote,” 97% agreed.

“I found a shared sentiment around changing the way we elect our country’s elected officials,” said Jarrell Corley, an African American and independent voter activist from Chicago.

“Most participants were Bernie fans and are deeply disappointed with the DNC’s rules and their blatant actions to ignore the will of their party’s voters. There is definitely room to come together and fight to change the political system despite ideological differences.” – Jarrell Corley

“The corporate media wants to distract us and keep us separated.  The American people are smarter than this and are ready for a new tone in the political arena,” he added.

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Poll: Americans Want Congress, Media To Move On From Russia

Fri, 2017-06-23 15:59

Poll: Americans Want Congress, Media To Move On From Russia

Perhaps this is not a surprise to most, but the majority of Americans are over the Russia investigations.

The latest Harvard-Harris poll, shows the majority of voters (64%) believe the investigations are hurting the country. And get this, most voters (56%) want Congress and the media to move on to other issues.

According to the poll, Americans are clearly more concerned with healthcare, terrorism, the economy, and jobs.

There is, however, strong support for the independent special counsel investigation of Russia and President Trump. A Harvard-Harris poll released last month found 75 percent support former FBI Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Even so, most voters (73%) are worried the Russia probes have caused the nation’s lawmakers to lose focus on the many issues facing Americans today.

The poll shows strength and consistency along party lines: 81 percent of Republicans, 74 percent of independents, and 68 percent of Democrats agree that it’s time to move on from Russia.

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Jeff PowersIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Independent Maine Rep: Lawmakers Can’t Turn Their Backs on Voters Now

Fri, 2017-06-23 14:50

Independent Maine Rep: Lawmakers Can’t Turn Their Backs on Voters Now

A constitutional amendment to bring the voter-approved ranked choice voting initiative in full compliance with the Maine constitution failed to get the final two-thirds vote it needed in the Maine House Friday. The vote occurred a day after the House gave initial approval for the amendment.

Thousands of Maine voters called, emailed, tweeted, and spoke to state lawmakers ahead of this week, calling on them to respect their vote and not repeal ranked choice voting. As a result, the Senate tabled a full repeal bill Wednesday and unanimously voted to send the constitutional amendment to the House.

Independent State Rep. Kent Ackley (I- Monmouth) made the following statement:

“When Mainers vote they do so deliberately. They don’t just wander into the polling place saying: ‘What’s going on?’ They aren’t going to vote for something unless the value is clear and certain. Who are we to disregard that time and effort? We’ve agreed to abide by the results of votes. Votes count. Like ’em or not.” – State Rep. Kent Ackley

“It makes no sense for duly elected officials to say voters didn’t understand questions on the ballot that elected them. What we cannot do is turn our backs on a legal and binding decision made in a sacred place,” he adds.

We've agreed to abide by the results of votes. Votes count. Like 'em or not. State Rep. Kent Ackley

Not only have Maine citizens reached out, but the state’s biggest newspapers, and U.S. Sen. Angus King have called on lawmakers to honor the will of voters and protect Maine ranked choice voting. Even a co-sponsor of the repeal bill had a change of heart after listening to what voters had to say.

Sen. Cathy Breen, who championed the proposed amendment, called the House vote Friday “a setback” to implementing ranked choice voting in Maine.

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Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

WATCH: Dems Want to Fire Nancy Pelosi

Fri, 2017-06-23 13:47

WATCH: Dems Want to Fire Nancy Pelosi

Grabien published a video montage Friday of the Democratic lawmakers who are now calling on US House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to step down or be replaced. In fact, 12 Democrats reportedly met to discuss a “coup” against Pelosi.

These Democrats include Reps. Filemon Vela (D-Texas), Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), and others. US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) even said the Democratic brand has become “toxic” under Pelosi’s leadership.

The calls from some Democrats for Pelosi to step down follow another special election loss Tuesday, in which Democrat Jon Ossoff lost to Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District despite tens of millions of dollars spent — along with other party resources — to propel Ossoff to victory.

In a related note, Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that he hopes Democrats don’t force Pelosi out:

I certainly hope the Democrats do not force Nancy P out. That would be very bad for the Republican Party – and please let Cryin' Chuck stay!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2017

What do you think?

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Photo Credit: Albert H. Teich / shutterstock.com

Thomas A. HawkIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

OPINION: Liberals Must Reflect on Failure with Humility

Fri, 2017-06-23 12:16

OPINION: Liberals Must Reflect on Failure with Humility

Liberals in America have been dealt some heavy blows in the past few decades. The impeachment of Bill Clinton, losing the 2000 election by a Supreme Court verdict, the Tea Party, partisan gerrymandering, and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Largely, liberals have maintained a quiet humility. In the words of Michelle Obama, it has been an “if they go low, you go high” strategy.

Perhaps the election of Donald Trump, over liberal darling Hillary Clinton, was the last straw. Simmering ‘liberal’ aggressiveness built up over decades is taking center stage in the us vs. them — human vs. human conflict, plaguing our country.

The Resistance

Indivisible, a new ‘liberal’ movement with a chapter in almost every congressional district, has literally taken a page from the Tea Party:

“The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party…We saw them organize locally and convince their own MoCs to reject President Obama’s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism— and they won.

“We believe that protecting our values, our neighbors, and ourselves will require mounting a similar resistance to the Trump agenda — but a resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness.

[…]

“To this end, the following chapters offer a step-by-step guide for individuals, groups, and organizations looking to replicate the Tea Party’s success.”

Never mind that the Tea Party’s grassroots organizing was likely a direct response to Obama’s superior ground-game in 2008. Perhaps Indivisible had better guides for political power than than Tea Party? Or maybe they are just angry, and want to fight fire with fire.

Anti-Intellectualism

It is not clear that the liberal ‘left’ are resisting on a platform of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness. Cracks in the highroad have been forming for sometime.

Fareed Zakaria, national news anchor for CNN, gave a scathing speech at Bucknell University, chiding ‘liberals’ for their intolerance of conservatives. He recaps in his What in the World segment:

“There is also an anti-intellectualism on the left. An attitude of self-righteousness that says, ‘We are so pure, we are so morally superior, we cannot bear to hear an idea with which we disagree.’ Liberals think they are tolerant, but often they are not.” – Fareed Zakaria

Let’s not forget the 2012 academic study that labeled conservatives as more psychotic. That study rattled around in academia for 3 years, was cited by 45 other papers, and was used by both liberals and conservatives to demonize the other side, before Penn State and Virginia Commonwealth University researchers, Verhulst, Eaves & Hatemi, issued an erratum:

“Specifically, in the original manuscript, the de-scriptive analyses report that those higher in Eysenck’s psychoticism are more conservative, but they are actually more liberal; and where the original manuscript reports those higher in neuroticism and social desirability are more liberal, they are, in fact, more conservative.”

Never mind that no matter how the data is coded for liberals and conservatives, this paper, and other academic studies find that one’s personality traits don’t cause a person to align with one political ideology or another.

 

Corruption

No party has a corner on corruption, either. In Philadelphia’s District 197, a special election in March 2017 to replace Leslie Acosta’s seat ended up in a lawsuit.

It is not clear that the liberal 'left' are resisting on a platform of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness. Kathryn Bullington, IVN Independent Author

Democrat Leslie Acosta, resigned in December 2016 after it was discovered that she had been stealing money from a local health clinic.

Emilio Vasquez, the Democratic replacement, won the special election, but is now facing a lawsuit from Greens and Republicans. Democrats are being accused of aggressive election interference and voter intimidation.

No one seems to be taking the high road.

Don't Abandon the High Road

My message to liberals: Don’t abandon the high road in the eleventh hour. Do not turn conservatives into scapegoats.

Blaming the ills of our society — from racism, to incivility, to crony capitalism — on conservatives is not fair, it is not inclusive, and it is not tolerant. If liberals want to help lead us out of our cultural mire, and toward a better future, they must look at their own failings. Fess up, stand up, and correct course.

A ‘liberal’ Sanders supporter opened fire on the Republican congressional baseball team last week. The shooter specifically targeted Republicans. He checked to make sure that it was the Republican team practicing that day.

Blaming the ills of our society -- from racism, to incivility, to crony capitalism -- on conservatives is not fair, it is not inclusive, and it is not tolerant. Kathryn Bullington, IVN Independent Author

Afterwards, conservatives echoed Clinton’s campaign slogan of “Stronger Together.” Republican Speaker Paul Ryan said, “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.” He proclaimed that Congress is one big family.

Our political relationships are certainly as complicated as a family’s, and it matters how we treat one another. It matters that we respect others’ intrinsic value — knowledge, ideas, lifestyles, and experiences that inform worldviews.

It matters more, perhaps, how we treat those not like us. Blaming, demonizing, and scapegoating conservatives is not a recipe for progress — it is a recipe for disaster.

‘Liberals’ might reflect with humility on where they mirror the very characters they demonize in conservatives, and change their own behaviors. They might also look for the good points in opposing ideas and criticisms.

Liberals cannot lead us out of this cultural pit, if they can’t get themselves out of their own mires.

However, if liberals can reflect with humility on their own behaviors and failings, and figure out how to come out on top of the struggles that we are all facing, they can lead by example — even from behind, on the high road.

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Kathryn BullingtonIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Latest Scandal: A Case for Impeachment?

Fri, 2017-06-23 07:00

Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Latest Scandal: A Case for Impeachment?

At what point will the damaging revelations of the ongoing investigation into Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz‘s congressional office require the constitutional remedy of impeachment?

As the corruption scandal swirling around Wasserman Schultz’s IT staffers unfolds, each new development is more bizarre — and incriminating — than the last.

ALSO READ: Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Guilty of Obstruction of Justice?

Before considering the possibility of impeachment as a legal remedy to this situation, here’s a brief timeline with some updates on the investigation:

Corruption and Data Breaches in Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Other Members’ Congressional Offices

In February, Politico reported that five US House employees were under criminal investigation for allegations they “stole equipment from more than 20 member offices” and “committed serious, potentially illegal, violations of House IT policies.”

As the corruption scandal swirling around Wasserman Schultz's IT staffers unfolds, each new development is more bizarre -- and incriminating -- than the last. W.E. Messamore, IVN Independent Author

The ringleader of the group is Imran Awan, who worked for  Debbie Wasserman-Schultz since 2005, with whom several sources say Awan and his wife have a “friendly personal relationship.”

Following the criminal investigation, Wasserman Schultz kept Awan employed by her office as an “advisor,” a move that has left many perplexed. One Democratic staffer said: “I can’t imagine why she’d be that good of friends with a technology provider. Usually if someone does bad stuff, an office is going to distance themselves.”

Wasserman Schultz Threatened US Capitol Police on The Record for Investigating Her Office

Last month, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz threatened the chief of the US Capitol Police with “consequences” for retaining a computer as evidence in part of the ongoing investigation into the Awan’s activities.

The threat was made on the record and before cameras during a Legislative Branch Subcommittee hearing on the Capitol Police Department’s budget.

I can’t imagine why (Wasserman Schultz would) be that good of friends with a technology provider. Usually if someone does bad stuff, an office is going to distance themselves. Democratic staffer

Pressuring the Capitol Police was at best highly inappropriate, and at worst a very clear cut case of obstruction of justice.

During the exchange, Wasserman Schultz claimed the computer belonged to her:

“If a Member loses equipment and it is found by your staff and identified as that member’s equipment and the member is not associated with any case, it is supposed to be returned. Yes or no?” She demanded.

The police chief responded that it is important to “an ongoing investigation.”

Wasserman Schultz’s Office Uses Voice Modifier When Calling Law Offices

Then in early June, a bizarre incident at the law offices handling the ongoing class-action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee and former chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who worked to undermine candidate Bernie Sanders to the favor of Hillary Clinton.

A court document said that they received a call for information about the case from the office of Wasserman Schultz, and claimed that it sounded like the caller used a voice changer.

According to attorney Elizabeth Lee Beck: “My secretary stated that it sounded like the caller was using a voice changer, because the voice sounded robotic and genderless. The caller concluded with ‘Okey dokey,’ after my secretary gave the caller public information about the case.”

After the call ended, a simple Google search of the phone number ‘305-936-5724’ shows that it is the phone number for US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office.

Are Rogue IT Staffers Blackmailing Members of Congress with Their Own Data?

Of huge significance: More than 20 House members have paid Awan and his three brothers, and two wives $4 million since 2010 for mostly no-show positions on their payrolls.

So, why have there been no arrests with all the mounting evidence against Awan and his family for multiple criminal activities in and outside of Congress?

And how is it possible that Awan is still on the House payroll working for Debbie Wasserman Schultz?

When asked by a reporter last month whether Awan should still be working as a paid advisor on Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s staff while under investigation for these crimes, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi seemed to dodge the question, saying: “I haven’t followed that so closely. We’ve been busy with a lot of other things.”

The Awan brothers, and two of their wives, were employed by dozens of Democratic members of the House of Representatives and had IT access to sensitive data on congressional computer networks, including members’ email accounts.

How is it possible that Awan is still on the House payroll working for Debbie Wasserman Schultz? W.E. Messamore, IVN Independent Author

At this point, with no arrests, with Awan still on Wasserman Schultz’s payroll, and with a criminal investigation that has been kept very quiet by Congress and the press, other House IT aides fear that the Awans are blackmailing House members with their own data:

“Five Capitol Hill technology aides told The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group that members of Congress have displayed an inexplicable and intense loyalty towards the suspects who police say victimized them. The baffled aides wonder if the suspects are blackmailing representatives based on the contents of their emails and files, to which they had full access.” – The Daily Caller

Pat Sowers, who has managed IT for several House offices for 12 years, made this ominous statement: “I don’t know what they have, but they have something on someone. It’s been months at this point. Something is rotten in Denmark.”

Another IT worker, a manager at a tech-services company that works with Democratic House offices, said, “There’s no question about it: If I was accused of a tenth of what these guys are accused of, they’d take me out in handcuffs that same day, and I’d never work again.”

The Daily Caller has an interactive graphic here with the names of all the members and the large sums of money the Awans have siphoned from each member’s office over the past eight years.

Impeachment: Can This Really Wait for an Electoral Remedy in 2018?

The power of impeaching members is given to Congress by the Constitution in Article I, Section 2:

“The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.” – Article I, Section 2, US Constitution

In Article II, Section 4, the Constitution says:

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” – Article II, Section 4, US Constitution

Congress has traditionally almost never impeached one of its own. It’s only happened once, to a US senator, in 1797.

Most of the impeached throughout history have been judges, and most of them were acquitted during the proceedings. Of the two US presidents who have been impeached, the most recent was impeached for lying under oath and obstruction of justice.

At what point does a case like the one outlined above become so egregious, do the details speak so resoundingly of massive corruption, that it’s not a question of political differences for voters to decide in the ballot box, but a matter of protecting the US? And for Congress a grave and urgent threat to its integrity, independence, and legitimacy?

I don’t know what (the Awans) have, but they have something on someone. Pat Sowers, IT staffer

What more do the Awans have to do to be taken off the House payroll and arrested as a flight risk for the remainder of the criminal investigation?

And why hasn’t Congress taken a more active role in policing its own members and deliberated initiating impeachment proceedings against Wasserman Schultz for obstruction of justice following her seemingly desperate and impulsive move to interfere in the Capitol Police Department’s investigation during a budget hearing?

How much worse does it have to look before congressional leadership takes the possibility more seriously that members have been compromised, and investigate what it is that some are so desperately trying to hide? To find out what has cost millions of dollars to keep secret?

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W. E. MessamoreIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Mexico’s Cultural War on Drugs Takes a Major Step Forward

Thu, 2017-06-22 19:56

Mexico’s Cultural War on Drugs Takes a Major Step Forward

Mexico has decriminalized marijuana for both medicinal and research purposes.

About two months ago, Mexican legislators approved the proposal by an overwhelming majority in both chambers. President Enrique Peña Nieto published the law in the “Diario Oficial de la Federación” Thursday, which officially brought the bill into effect.

Mexico’s new law decriminalizes the consumption and cultivation of marijuana for both medicinal and research purposes, as well as production and distribution with the same intent. Legislators expect the law will help introduce new therapy and treatments for health issues such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.   

A Conservative Culture

To better understand the impact of Mexican legislators legalizing the consumption of medical marijuana, you have to understand Mexican society.

Mexico’s new law decriminalizes the consumption of marijuana for both medicinal and research purposes.

Mexico is in general a conservative, catholic, patriarchal society, which for years and years has resisted addressing some liberal issues like abortion, gay marriage, and drug consumption.

Even though the country has had a strict separation of Church and State policy since the times of Benito Juarez, the Church still plays a strong role in education – with some of the biggest private educational institutions being controlled by religious organizations – and as such, it has a major role on social issues.

Mexico’s War on Drugs

Most importantly, Mexico has fought a long, costly, and deadly battle against drugs. Mexico’s role has evolved from being a transit country, where the flow of narcotics moved from South and Central America, to having some of the most powerful drug organizations in the world.

While the citizens of Mexico are not a traditional consumer society, the more restrictive border controls implemented at the US-Mexico crossing have caused the Mexican cartels to create a consumer market inside the country. It’s a phenomenon that has boosted this need to legally regulate drug consumption.

Even though Mexico’s lawmakers took a big step by legalizing the use of medical marijuana, it is highly unlikely they will consider legalizing its use for recreational purposes anytime soon.

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Photo Credit: Lukasz Stefanski / shutterstock.com

Debbie BenreyIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Maine House Passes Constitutional Amendment to Protect Ranked Choice Voting

Thu, 2017-06-22 17:44

Maine House Passes Constitutional Amendment to Protect Ranked Choice Voting

The Maine House gave initial approval Thursday for a constitutional amendment to implement ranked choice voting. This follows shortly after the Senate gave unanimous approval for the constitutional amendment Wednesday.

ALSO READ: Maine Lawmakers Face Massive Will of the People to Protect Ranked Choice Voting

Speaker Sara Gideon released the following statement:

“Mainers asked for election reform and it is our responsibility to respect their wishes, while upholding our duty as legislators. Today, the House took the first steps in amending the constitution to allow full implementation of ranked choice voting. While this process is ongoing and we still have many votes to take, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation and send it to voters for approval. “ – Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon

The constitutional amendment now needs final approval from two-thirds of the Legislature, and if it gets that it will be sent to voters for approval.

It appears, though, that voters had a huge impact on this development for Maine ranked choice voting.

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Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Georgia Special Election Swarmed by Special Interests

Thu, 2017-06-22 16:30

Georgia Special Election Swarmed by Special Interests

Take Back Our Republic Executive Director John Pudner released the following statement about this week’s special election in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District:

“Negative TV commercials finally stopped running in Atlanta this week, with the election of Republican Karen Handel over Democrat Jon Ossoff. Take Back Our Republic does not take positions on elections, but now that this election is over, we can comment on the millions of dollars that flooded this district through unverified credit card contributions.

“Voters have no way of knowing for sure who made these contributions because the bank wasn’t allowed to verify their identity. Many of the other commercials were run by third parties – negative commercials that the candidate did not have to take responsibility for.” – John Pudner

“The real loser is our current campaign finance system that allows these practices that make American voters the real losers,” Pudner adds.

This special election served as an extreme example of several campaign finance-related issues that Take Back is working to solve.

Unverified Credit Card Contributions

According to the Federal Election Commission, Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff’s campaign accepted at least $14.8 million through an organization called “ACTBLUE” – which reportedly raises most, if not all of its money through unverified credit card contributions.

The real loser is our current campaign finance system that allows these practices that make American voters the real losers. John Pudner, Take Back Our Republic

The bipartisan practice of avoiding industry-standard fraud prevention measures was condemned in a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Institute.

ACTBLUE reports it has raised over $1.7 billion online, to date. It was cited by the Government Accountability Institute as “lack[ing] industry-standard anti-fraud credit card security features to block fraudulent and international donations.”

Take Back supports a bill now pending in the US Congress that would require political committees to use those industry-standard security measures when accepting online contributions: HR 1341 was sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and it has bipartisan support.

Spending by “Dark Money” Groups that Don’t Reveal Their Donors

According to the FEC, groups with names like “America First Policies” and “Ending Spending, Inc.” spent millions of dollars on media buys to influence the election. But whose money were they spending on all those ads?

Take Back believes that when organizations are acting like PACs, they ought to be required to disclose their donors like PACs do.

The Flood of Outside Money Drowns Citizens’ First Amendment Rights

According to the FEC, outside groups spent more than $28.7 million to influence this special election – more than $40 per person who lives in the district! How are the concerns of an individual constituent supposed to be heard above the noise of all that money?

Take Back supports a change in the Constitution to allow reasonable limits on political money.  Read John Pudner’s op-ed about this in The Daily Caller.

Take Back Our Republic did not comment during the campaign despite concerns about third-party funding of commercials supporting Handel, and questionable online contributions flooding into Ossoff’s campaign. But now that the election is over, it’s time to take a closer look at what happened during the campaign – and how it harms voters’ confidence in our government.

It’s time to start fixing the problems and Take Back Our Republic so our government will serve citizens, not special interests.

Please don’t sit on the sidelines watching the problem get worse with each election.

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Photo Credit: Reuters

Take Back Our RepublicIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Illinois Out Of Control: Gearing Up For Chapter 9?

Thu, 2017-06-22 16:03

Illinois Out Of Control: Gearing Up For Chapter 9?

For the first time in history, a state might file for bankruptcy protection.

That’s what happens when you operate three years without a budget.

Illinois has a full-fledged financial crisis on its hands. Not even the lottery is safe.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner went so far to say Illinois is entering “banana republic” territory.

With billions in unpaid bills and pension obligations, the state has a cash crunch, the likes of which has never been seen.

Illinois has a full-fledged financial crisis on its hands. Not even the lottery is safe. Jeff Powers, IVN Author

Rauner has called for a special session of the Democratic-led General Assembly to pass emergency legislation.

If not, Illinois will – literally – lose the lottery and bus services, among other things.

The state’s problems are years in the making. Beginning with a poorly-funded pension system, Moody’s downgraded the credit rating to the lowest of any state.

Illinois has $130 billion in unfunded pension obligations.

A backlog of unpaid bills worth $13 billion.

The state could be the first to attempt to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy — but under the law, that’s impossible unless Congress gets involved.

“Nobody here in Illinois is considering bankruptcy—first of all, it’s not allowed,” said Steve Brown, press secretary for Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. “Second of all, it would damage the reputation of the state and it’s just not necessary.”

Rep. Peter Roskam from Illinois was more pointed and political in his criticism.

“Illinois is the fiscal model of what not to do, this avoidance in behavior toward dealing with our challenges is what leads to the devastating impacts we are seeing today,” he said.

Illinois has a deadline looming. If the General Assembly cannot find common ground and pass a budget package, a compromise could be devastating for the state.

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Photo Credit: Donald Walker / shutterstock.com

Jeff PowersIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

SCOTUS: Unanimous Ruling Protects Immigrants Who Lie

Thu, 2017-06-22 14:38

SCOTUS: Unanimous Ruling Protects Immigrants Who Lie

The Supreme Court unanimously decided in Maslenjak v. US to limit the government’s ability to remove U.S. citizenship from immigrants who lie during the naturalization process.

The justices ruled in favor of an ethnic Serb from Bosnia who lied about her husband’s military service.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote that false statements can lead to the revocation of citizenship only if they 'played some role in her naturalization.'

Divna Maslenjak and her family were granted refugee status in 1999 and settled in Ohio in 2000. Maslenjak became a citizen in 2007. She initially lied to immigration officials that her husband did not serve in the Bosnian military. She later admitted that was a lie.

The lower courts held a criminal conviction against her. The conviction automatically revoked her citizenship, and she and her husband were deported in October.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote that false statements can lead to the revocation of citizenship only if they “played some role in her naturalization.” The court rejected the position that minor lies can lead to loss of citizenship.

Maslenjak was convicted by a jury that was told even an inconsequential lie was enough for a guilty verdict.

Read More Articles by Jeff Powers

Photo Credit: J Main / shutterstock.com

Jeff PowersIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Maine Lawmakers Face Massive Will of the People to Protect Ranked Choice Voting

Thu, 2017-06-22 14:23

Maine Lawmakers Face Massive Will of the People to Protect Ranked Choice Voting

There was a huge update with Maine ranked choice voting Wednesday.

The State Senate tabled the bill that called for full repeal of the voter-approved initiative, and voted unanimously (without a roll call tally) to send a constitutional amendment to the State House that would bring the ranked choice voting statute into compliance with a state constitutional provision that affects three state elections.

This is the result of thousands of Mainers calling, emailing, and talking to their state representatives and senators to protect the will of the people and reject full repeal of ranked choice voting.

It is the result of all the Maine voters who packed hearing rooms to voice their support for ranked choice voting — even bringing around a co-sponsor of the full repeal bill.

Read more about the massive response from voters here. Get Up To Speed

Read IVN's Full Coverage of Maine Ranked Choice Voting

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Shawn M. GriffithsIVN.us - Independent Voter Network: Unfiltered News

Wisconsin Rep Says Districts Serve Parties, Not Voters

Thu, 2017-06-22 13:30

Wisconsin Rep Says Districts Serve Parties, Not Voters

I’m not sure there should be any restrictions whatsoever, because I don’t think it is the court’s business to draw lines. There are many rules right now — that the courts have laid out — that if you want your redistricting map approved you have to meet.” – US Rep. Glenn Grothman

That was the response US Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) gave on the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the partisan gerrymandering case, Whitford v. Gill. Grothman made these comments in an interview with Matt Kittle of the MacIver Institute

It is the first case in which a federal court ruled that a state’s electoral maps were unconstitutional not on the basis of race or sex or class discrimination, but because they discriminated against voters based on party affiliation.

The lawsuit raised the fundamental question: does drawing districts for purely partisan reasons violate the fundamental right to vote for everyone else?

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Grothman defends the districts, saying that state lawmakers followed all the rules set forth by the court when drawing the maps in 2011.

But these rules do not consider the partisan motives that go into drawing electoral maps, including efforts to pack voters outside the party in power into a small handful of districts to reduce the power these voters have in elections.

That is what is being challenged in Whitford v. Gill. But Grothman doesn’t see a problem here. In fact, he doesn’t think there should be any restrictions on gerrymandering, and the courts should stay out of it.

Listen to the interview (Gerrymandering discussion begins at 11:45):

Get Up to Speed

Read IVN's Full Coverage of the Partisan Gerrymandering Case

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