Tag Archives: Elections

Not Just GOTV: Getting DC The Right To Vote and Have Elected Representation

During election season, a time when all 50 states are choosing elected officials to represent them on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures, we cannot forget about the constituency denied access to this fundamental right: residents of the District of Columbia, our nation’s capital. The citizens of the District of Columbia lack full representation in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

However, we have reason to hope for change.  For the first time in twenty years, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will be having a full committee hearing on DC Statehood, “Equality for the District of Columbia: Discussing the Implications of S. 132, The New Columbia Admission Act of 2013” on Monday at 3 pm.

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Youth GOTV

Get Out the Vote: A Guide for First-Time Voters

Election Day 2014 (Tuesday November 4) is right around the corner, and we hope that you will exercise your democratic freedom and vote in this important election!

This election cycle, vital political, economic and moral issues of concern to all Americans are at stake. As Jews and American citizens, we have an obligation to vote in the elections to ensure that our country’s policies at the local, state and national levels reflect our commitment to social justice. Every vote counts and plays a defining role in setting policy agendas.

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Barbara Weinstein

This Week at the RAC: Preparing for High Holy Days & Get Out the Vote

The new Legislative Assistants jumped into work this week and are already busy with meetings, research, writing press releases and more. Get to know the class of 2014-2015 before you meet them at the October CSA gathering. I know you’ll enjoy working with them as much as we do.

This morning, the new LAs visited the Israeli Embassy and met with its Director of National Initiatives, a.k.a Katharine Nasielski (RAC LA 2011-2013). The meeting was an excellent opportunity to hear directly from Israel’s representatives in the U.S. about their priorities and interests – and an equally excellent opportunity to show off yet again the fantastic professional successes of former LAs.
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Vote signs, American flags

Congregational Dos and Don’ts for This Election Season

As the full force of the 2014 election cycle begins, we are reminded of the importance of participating in our democracy and making our voices heard on the important policy issues of today. We know that as Reform Jews, we have a unique perspective to share.

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Election Season: Make Your Voice Heard

Election season has arrived! While the general election won’t be held until November 4, most states will be holding primary elections in the next two months, beginning next week with Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio. (You can find out the date of your state’s primary here.) Remember that voting in primaries is just as, if not more important, than voting in general elections! Especially in this era of polarized electoral districts, primary elections play a major role in determining the composition of federal, state and local legislative bodies—and low turnout means that your vote really counts. Read more…

Supreme Court

Supreme Court Happenings

In light of recent Supreme Court decisions, and more opinions expected to come down this morning, it feels like an appropriate time to recap what the nine justices have been working and opining on.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, upholding a constitutional ban on affirmative action in public university admissions in Michigan 6-2 (Justice Kagan recused herself). Interestingly, Justice Stephen Breyer concurred with the conservative wing of the Court. The New York Times notes that “justices in the majority, with varying degrees of vehemence, said that policies affecting minorities that do not involve intentional discrimination should ordinarily be decided at the ballot box rather than in the courtroom.”

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Capitol Hill plaza

Election Commission Releases Recommendations

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration released its final report in late January. President Obama established the Commission by Executive Order on March 28, 2013, after the 2012 elections were plagued by serious voting problems around the country. Co-chaired by the chief lawyers for the 2012 Obama and Romney campaigns, the mission of the Commission was to “identify best practices in election administration and to make recommendations to improve the voting experience.”

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Hand putting stack of dollar bills into ballot box

Citizens United Turns Four: Wealthy Donors and Corporations Celebrate

Last week, the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United “celebrated” its fourth anniversary, and the flood of both undisclosed and independent spending in political campaigns continues to grow.

Citizens United struck down a longstanding ban on corporation and union spending in elections—and since the decision four years ago, money has flowed into elections through political action committees (PACs), which contribute money to candidates’ election campaigns. It is estimated that outside groups spent over $1 billion in the 2012 presidential election. More money was spent by outside organizations, often keeping their donor lists secret, than by either candidates’ own campaign. While the total amount of money spent by candidates increased only marginally from 2008, the amount from outside groups quadrupled – thanks largely to the doors opened by Citizens United.

Of this new money pouring into federal elections, over a third of it is undisclosed, meaning that the donors only know the name of the organization funding an ad, but not the donors behind it. Financial disclosure is the cornerstone of any law intended to prevent abuse of public office for personal financial gain. Additionally, disclosure is the one form of campaign finance regulation that the Supreme Court emphatically said does not violate the First Amendment but efforts to expand disclosure have stalled in Congress.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court seems poised to strike down another campaign finance limit. On October 9, 2013, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which concerns the “aggregate limit,”—or total amount of money—one person can donate to candidates for federal office and any political parties in one election cycle. The limit is currently set at $46,000 for individual candidates and $70,000 for political parties per cycle. If struck down, this law would provide another avenue for the wealthy to influence our politics and will further drown out the voices of millions of Americans who donate small amounts to their chosen candidates and causes.

Jewish tradition recognizes the distorting effect that money can have on a leader’s ability to govern fairly. Deuteronomy 16:19 commands, “You shall not judge unfairly: you shall know no partiality; you shall not take gifts, for gifts blind the eyes of the discerning and upset the plea of the just.” In a modern democracy, it is necessary for elected officials to be accountable to all citizens, not just wealthy and powerful moneyed interests. Please take a moment to tell your Members of Congress to support publically funded elections!