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Two new pieces from the President of America Votes

Read Joan Fitz-Gerald's recent Huffington Post blog entries.

Two recent blog entries by America Votes President Joan Fitz-Gerald:

"The Romney Plan: Fake It Till You Make It" was written shortly after the first Presidential debate and describes what former Gov. Mitt Romney's policies could mean for America.

"A Choice That Matters" reflects on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's ever-changing views on a woman's right choose and if he is elected what that could mean in regards to women's rights.


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Voter ID: Why Are Americans Being Denied Their Right to Vote?

With the new voter ID laws, such as the one in Pennsylvania, it seems as though voter particiaption is being prevented more so than voter fraud.


Viviette Applewhite, who cast her first vote for John F.Kennedy some 52 years ago, will be denied the right to vote in November's generalelection unless Pennsylvania's strict Photo ID law is overturned.  

State officials have been unable to find a copy of Applewhite's birth certificate, and she never obtained a driver's license.   Without one of those documents, theCommonwealth of Pennsylvania will not issue her a Voter ID. 

As a result, the 93 year old grandmother from Philadelphia who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is fighting for her rights once again. This time though, she's fighting for a right she already had.  She is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's Voter ID law.  The suit argues the law is "depriving citizens of their most fundamental constitutional right - the right to vote".

Ms. Applewhite's story is not unique.  Dorothy Cooper, a 96 year-old Tennessee woman was denied a Voter ID in October because her name did not match her birth certificate and she did not have a copy of her marriage license.  Another Tennessean, Thelma Mitchell, was unable to obtain a voter ID because she couldn't produce a copy of her birth certificate - she was delivered by a midwife in Alabama in 1918 and never received one.  

Republicans argue that Vivette Applewhite, Dorothy Cooper, and Thelma Mitchell aren't trying hard enough. They say Voter ID's are not difficult to obtain.  One pundit even called Applewhite "lazy and incompetent". 

However, the truth is that these laws erect obstacles to voting for many Americans.  A Brennan Center for Justice survey found that Voter ID laws disproportionately disenfranchise minorities, women, and the elderly.  These groups are more likely to lack the documents required to obtain Voter IDs. They are also more likely to vote for Democrats than they are to vote for Republicans. 

And that's the point. As the Advancement Project points out, the chances of getting struck by lightning are higher than the chances of finding a prosecutable case of voter fraud in this country.  Voter ID laws aren't preventing voter fraud, they're preventing voter participation.  Voter ID is the most effective campaign tactic Republicans have found in years. They don't care about "protecting the integrity of elections"; they care about protecting their jobs. 


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On the Ballot: North Carolina's Amendment One

North Carolina's proposed Amendment One, that will be voted on during the primary, has implications for all unmarried couples, not just same-sex couples.

When North Carolinians head to the polls on May 8th, they will make a decision that will affect the legal rights of many families in the state. Although same-sex marriage and civil unions are illegal in North Carolina, there is a proposed amendment that would remove any chance of civil unions or same-sex marriage ever becoming law.

The proposed amendment states: "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."

The amendment has huge implications for same-sex couples in the state, but there is also a fear about what legal implications Amendment One holds for all unwed couples, regardless of their sexual orientation.

For example, depending on how the court interprets the language of the amendment, it could mean unwed couples having their partners stripped of health insurance coverage if they are on their insurance and the amendment could invalidate things like trusts, wills, end of life directives by one partner for the other.

Read more here.

Also, be sure to check out the Vote Against Project's site, which outlines the implications of the amendment in detail and serves as a forum for North Carolinians and others that are FOR the rights of all families and AGAINST Amendment One to express themselves.

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Utah May Require Welfare Recipients to be Drug Tested

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert currently has legislation on his desk that if signed will result in some welfare recipients being required to take a drug test.

HB155 was recently passed in the Senate with a 23-4 vote and now resides on the desk of Governor Gary Herbert. If the governor does not veto the bill, it will mandate that individuals that recieve cash assistance from the Utah Family Employment program to fill out questionairres. If the responses on the questionairres lead to suspicion of drug use, the individual must be tested for drugs. If an individual refuses to take a drug test or if they test positive and do not go to treatment for their drug problem they will lose their financial assistance.

Some legislators do not think the proposed measures are enough. For example, state Senator Dave Hinkins R-Orangeville, when speaking of the bill said, "It don't go far enough." Hinkins went on to say "It’s a shame that people that want to work for a living has to be … [subjected] to drug tests, but people who want to sit around and go fishing in the afternoons don’t."

A similar bill was recently passed in Florida. In Florida, the law requires all welfare recipients be tested. The first round of drug tests revealed that 96% of the welfare recipients tested were drug free. Only 2% actually tested positive, the other 2% did not go through the drug testing process for reasons that were not specified. Florida's law is currently being challenged in court.


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Planned Parenthood Under Attack in Ohio

New legislation could leave Ohio's 32 Planned Parenthood clinics without funding.

Planned Parenthood's funding is being threatened by legislation proposed by the Republican led legislature of Ohio.

Planned Parenthood is likely being targeted because they provide abortion services. Last year in Ohio, they recieved $1.7 million in public funding and were able to provide care for over 100,000 patients; none of the public money was used for abortions.

The $1.7 million was allocated towards the plethora of other low cost services Planned Parenthood provides, ranging from preventative cancer screenings, contraceptives, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. If the bill does pass, unfortunately for the people that rely on their services, higher costs and extensive waits for services are likely.

The bill passed in the House, but is currently stalled in the Senate.

Read more here.

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America Votes Joins the Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care

The Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care is a coalition of America Votes and many other partners to ensure women's health care is protected. The coalition believes that women should have access to birth control no matter where they work.

In recent days President Obama has been critized for his mandate that all employers, including religious institutions, provide women with access to contraceptives. Today, he announced that employers at religiously-affiliated would not be required to provide women with access to contraceptives, but they would recieve them at no cost from insurance companies.

Although the President may have addressed the issues religious employers had, women's health care is still under attack.  For example, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt who said he will, "... continue to work with (his) colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that (they) reverse this...mandate in its entirety.”

In response to the opposition, America Votes joined the Coalition to Protect Women’s Health Care, which is a coalition with many partners to ensure women's health care is protected.

Please be sure  to check out the website and join the movement:


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