Kitchen Table Topics - Democracy

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Democrats Abroad wants to know what issues matter to you as a Democrat living abroad. Your input can help shape DA’s 2020 Platform. Run a Kitchen Table Talk - information here - and make your voice heard!  Topics on Democracy included below (scroll for the full list).  Add your own through the Kitchen Table Talk New Topic form. 

Electronic Ballot Return for Americans Abroad

Do you support promoting secure online ballot return in states that currently require postal mailed or faxed ballot returns?

BACKGROUND

  • Rates of ballots returned and counted for voters covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) are well below those of the general population;
  • A sizable population of UOCAVA voters live in countries that do not have a national postal system available to them;
  • In 2018, the most common reason for UOCAVA ballots to be rejected upon return was because they were received at their local election office after state deadlines; 
  • The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) promoted accessibility, including expansion of electronic systems as a means of improving UOCAVA ballot return rates; and as a result more than 30 states currently provide some UOCAVA voters with the option to return ballots using a digital communication method (email, fax, or a web portal); 
  • While documented intrusions into local election offices and political organizations in 2016 have amplified cybersecurity concerns, the risk of adverse impact of malicious tampering that targets a ballot returned by a UOCAVA voter using a digital communication method is minimal; 
  • Most states that offer electronic transmission of ballots limit that transmission to UOCAVA voters, minimizing risk. Current methods support paper balloting systems and post-election risk-limiting audits through ballot duplication:

REFERENCES


Disinformation and Fake News

Do you support strengthened regulation of social media companies, including increasing individual consumers' personal data privacy, pushing social media companies to accept greater responsibility in response to fake news on their platforms, and requiring that they provide further transparency in their policies.

BACKGROUND

  • The term disinformation refers to deliberate attempts to confuse, mislead, deceive, manipulate and polarize people through delivering inaccurate information, such as fake news – news items, stories, videos or hoaxes created to misinform or deceive readers.
  • Technology has transformed the ways in which we access and share information and personal data via social networks and social messaging.
  • Disinformation is particularly effective because automated technology facilitates high levels of organization, capacity to spread inaccurate information widely, and powerful methods of swaying recipients. It facilitates the combination of parallel and intersecting communications strategies with other tactics like computer hacking or blackmail.
  • The perpetrators of disinformation prey on the vulnerability or partisan biases of recipients whom they hope to enlist as amplifiers and multipliers.
  • Disinformation negatively impacts and weakens public attitudes to authentic expertise on health, science and social issues, and impedes intercultural understanding.
  • The impact of disinformation and fake news on the public has the potential to threaten elections and undermine the ideals and reality of democracy.

REFERENCES

  • Journalism, ‘Fake News’ & Disinformation, Handbook for Journalism Education and Training, UNESCO https://en.unesco.org/sites/default/files/journalism_fake_news_disinformation_print_friendly_0.pdf
  • WEAPONS OF MASS DISTRACTION: Foreign State-Sponsored Disinformation in the Digital Age https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Weapons-of-Mass-Distraction-Foreign-State-Sponsored-Disinformation-in-the-Digital-Age.pdf
  • Finland is winning the war on fake news. What it’s learned may be crucial to Western democracy, CNN https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2019/05/europe/finland-fake-news-intl/

Gun Violence Prevention Legislation

Do you support actively prioritizing gun violence prevention legislation? This legislation may include but is not limited to:

  • Banning high-capacity magazines and the manufacture and sale of semi-automatic weapons while introducing programs to manage those already in private hands; 
  • Stricter disarmament of domestic abusers and high-risk individuals, including better coordination between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to those ends; 
  • Fully funding the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research gun violence; 
  • Eliminating Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) restrictions which hinder monitoring of gun sales; 
  • Strengthening universal required background checks on all gun sales including online and at gun shows.

BACKGROUND

  • Every day an average of 100 Americans are killed with guns, and hundreds more are shot and injured; 
  • In the first ten months of 2018, at least 307 mass shootings had occurred in the United States (Gun Violence Archive, 2018); 
  • The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that approximately 40,000 people died in the U.S. by gunshot in 2017, the highest in 50 years ; 
  • Firearms are reported to be the second leading cause of death for American children.

REFERENCES

  • "Gun Violence In America - Everytownresearch.Org". 2019. Everytownresearch.Org. https://everytownresearch.org/gun-violence-america/. 
  • Nearly 40,000 People Died From Guns In U.S. Last Year, Highest In 50 Years". 2019. Nytimes.Com. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/18/us/gun-deaths.html.

National Census

Do you support urgent action to support, fund and execute a census count that accurately counts all people residing in the US? 

BACKGROUND

  • The 2020 population count will shape how political power and federal tax dollars are shared in the U.S over the next 10 years;
  • The number of congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state is allocated are determined by census numbers;
  • The Census guides how an estimated $880 billion a year in federal funding is distributed for schools, roads and health services and other public services in local communities;
  • The Trump Administration has threatened and will continue to advocate for a questioning of citizenship on the Census, thus jeopardizing its numerical accuracy (with the unintended consequence of an undercount) and potentially the immigration status of participants;
  • The Census provides the numerical data for States to re-district and potentially gerrymander districts, thus challenging or inhibiting the voting rights of thousands if not millions of potential voters.

REFERENCES

  • Hansi Lo Wang, ‘2020 Census Could Lead to Worst Undercount of Black, Latinx, People in 30 Years’, NPR, 4 June 2019. https://www.npr.org/2019/06/04/728034176/2020-census-could-lead-to-worst-undercount-of-black-latinx-people-in-30-years 
  • Hamby, Chris. ‘Disinformation: Why Experts Are Worried About the 2020 Census’, NY Times, 3 July 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/03/us/2020-census-digital.html 
  • Cobb, Jelani. ‘Stacey Abrams’s Fight for a Fair Vote’, The New Yorker, 12 August 2019. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/08/19/stacey-abrams-fight-for-a-fair-vote

Prison Gerrymandering

Do you support the Census Bureau and states counting incarcerated individuals at their last home address, rather than the address of their prisons, during the 2020 and all future Censuses to more accurately reflect urban population and avoid artificially inflating rural district population numbers? 

BACKGROUND

  • The U.S. Census Bureau counts prisoners as residents of the (often rural) locations where they're imprisoned rather than the (often urban) areas from which they came, even though the average felony sentence is only approximately three years; and
  • Census data is then used by States in determining legislative districts, which artificially inflates the apparent population of rural districts, while diminishing the apparent population of urban districts; and
  • 48 States do not allow those prisoners convicted of a felony to vote, thus giving extra voting -weight to non-prisoners in rural districts, and reducing the voting -weight of urban residents, in violation of the constitutional principle of “one person, one vote”; and
  • Prison gerrymandering violates the Constitutional guarantee of “one person one vote”. The Supreme Court of the United States has held that voting districts should contain roughly equal numbers of people to ensure the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal rights for all, and “one person, one vote”.
  • Prison gerrymandering also violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which provides that minority voters must have an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice, which can’t be achieved if the voting power of the majority is inflated by prison gerrymandering.
  • The Census Bureau states that for the 2020 Census they will continue to count prisoners as residents of prisons,  but have agreed to allow states to request individualized Census counts that reallocate incarcerated populations to their home addresses, for their own use.

REFERENCES

  • What is Prison Gerrymandering? https://www.prisonersofthecensus.org/impact.html
  • State legislation https://www.prisonersofthecensus.org/legislation.html#pending 
  • H.R. 1 Section 2701 (g)(1) provides: “Effective beginning with the 2020 decennial census of population, in taking any tabulation of total population by States under subsection (a) for purposes of the apportionment of Representatives in Congress among the several States, the Secretary shall, with respect to an individual incarcerated in a State, Federal, county, or municipal correctional center as of the date on which such census is taken, attribute such individual to such individual’s last place of residence before incarceration. https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1/text#toc-H1A2DB57FE627439BAF8FCDA7D46EA01A