Voting Power 2014

Shirley Chisholm

When Shirley Chisholm broke both racial and gender barriers to become the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968 and later the first Black woman to run for U. S. president, she leapfrogged over more barriers to power than any woman considering a run today can even imagine.

Was she conflicted in her relationship with power? Just the opposite as the quote above indicates. How did she get that way and what can we learn from her on Election Day 2014?

My systematic research into many women’s ambivalent relationship with power began during the 2008 election season, when I wrote an article for Elle magazine about why women do—or as I came to find out, more often don’t—run for office.

Though women constituted 53% of the voters in 2012, Congress is less than 20% female and state legislatures are not much better.

At the rate women are advancing in Congress, it will be 60 years before gender leadership parity is reached. But more astounding is what I found in 2008 that stopped me short: it’s no longer external, structural barriers, though some do still exist, but internal ones that hold women back from fully embracing their political power. And there are far more similarities than differences in how this dynamic plays itself out in the seemingly divergent realms of work, politics, and personal relationships.

Image via Rutgers
Image via Rutgers

The personal is, was, and always will be, political.

I wanted to learn more: to understand what internalized values, implicit biases, assumptions, and beliefs about ourselves we as women haul around, like worthless cargo, hindering the full attainment of our potential as leaders and doers—what intricate personal and cultural constructs of power, the silent sinews that bind not only our political intentions, but our work lives and even our love lives.

vote_todayParadoxically, I’ve spent most of my adult life working for justice and power for others—African Americans, poor kids, other women. Not, as Jerry Seinfeld would say, that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I feel blessed to have been able to make my life’s passion for social justice into my life’s work. And my path is not so different from gendered behavior regarded (and rewarded) as laudable—being nice, putting the needs of others first.

Which is the point. Fighting for others seemed worthy. Fighting for myself, or something I wanted, did not. And many younger women today tell me they experience similar reticence, even as they seek role models and mentors to teach them differently.

Yet all effective leadership is rooted in the language of power and the willingness to embrace the power one has. If women are ever to complete our staccato journey to equality, we must join the discourse and become deliberately fluent in power’s meanings and nuances.

While the men around us operate as though they own the world—because, for the most part, they do—women have to work consciously to assume that place of intentional power and agency. Women’s inner struggles parallel the pushme-pullyou history of our social and political advances.

It’s this relationship with power—almost a spiritual factor, rarely acknowledged by the metrics or even the philosophers, which I’ve witnessed in myself and countless other women—that fascinated me and propelled me to undertake writing my book, No Excuses, ultimately leading me to cofound Take The Lead. For until we redefine our relationship with power, we will stay stuck in our half-finished revolution.

And that matters for two reasons.

First, we will remain able to excuse and justify our lack of progress by pointing outward rather than owning our part of the responsibility to take the harder road of pushing forward courageously as Chisholm did.

Second, until we can stand confidently in our own power, we won’t be able to lead ourselves or others with intention. If we allow that to happen, both women and men will remain constrained within lives of limited gender stereotyped possibilities, lives that keep us all from achieving our full human potential.

The Right Honorable Kim Campbell, former prime minister of Canada (and the first head of that nation’s government), put it this way: “Look, power exists. Somebody is going to have it. If you would exercise it ethically, why not you? I love power. I’m power-hungry because when I have power I can make things happen, can serve my community, can influence decisions, I can accomplish things.”

Why not you, indeed? Why not any one of us?

And if a courageous woman like Shirley Chisholm could blast through seemingly impermeable barriers to run for president half a century ago, surely each and every one of us can at a minimum honor her memory by voting today and every Election Day.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

The Young Politica: Why Be Politically Active After Elections

Now that the election is over, many young voters will likely retire their ‘concerned citizen’ badge until presidential primaries start-up again. Being a politically active young person, however, is more than just voting for a president. There have been dramatic repercussion in the last four years due to youth voter inactivity between presidential elections.

In our own instant gratification generation psyche, many of us thought we had already created change by electing one man into the U.S. presidential seat. When it came to the midterm races in 2010, there was a 60% youth voter decline from 2008.

If more of us would have voted in 2010, perhaps there would have been tremendous changes. Perhaps the youth vote would have decided the election like it did in 2012.

Isn’t the rip-and-tear of the House over the past two years, all the ‘gridlock’, worth taking a stance? Inform yourselves about local candidates and then go vote! Standing in line once every two years is not a bad price to pay if it benefits the entire nation.

It is up to us to keep youth’s interests at the forefront of what policy makers in Washington think of first. How do we do this? There is no easy answer or quick solution. However, consistently electing  officials who understand our struggle is key.

We are in the midst of a paradigm shift that will most definitely make the minority voice, the female voice, and the young person’s voice louder than ever (they were the demographics that decided the 2012 election after all); but this shift does not guarantee that this voice will be heard. We must reach gender parity in Washington and we have to continue championing those who play to our interests.

As I have said before, an effort at a grassroots level is also necessary in order to create change. It is difficult to get a meeting in with John Boehner to talk about student loan debt, but it is a bit easier to speak to your local congressman about it, or to start a group that has the same concerns.

In the months I have written this column, I have learned not to take everything at face value. Thorough research on a candidate means doing more than listening to what one news network has to say about them during a broadcast; it means discovering all of the candidate’s positives, negatives, and how they perform in the ‘grey areas’, too. It also means getting past the jargon and excess information, a more difficult task, to grasp how much a candidate’s political stances could affect me and thus, the young, female voter.

Equal representation in politics is a war we need to keep fighting. The young voter cannot sit idly waiting for someone else to make the changes. The young voter must take a stand. And stay actively engaged in the political process until long after we can be called “young.”

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

The Young Politica: The Generational Communication Gap

In recent U.S. presidential elections, there has been a bipartisan effort to engage youth voters. The effort has been seen in candidates’ web/social media efforts, the recent upsurge of multi-party activism on campus, and the growth of youth organizations promoting youth political involvement.

It’s quite a change, given that we college students were more likely to be shooed away from the speaking platform in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

It seems that Democrats and Republicans have reacted quite differently to this paradigm shift. The youth vote comprises of a larger percentage of racial minorities than any older demographic. Sure, younger generations tend to lean left, but (as with most young people) there is room to change. As I said in my last column, the effort could have been increased, but Republicans gave up our voters before the race even began. Democrats are also appealing to our diverse generation by having women and racial minorities make up a collective majority of their party in Congress.

Thanks to the internet and organizations like Rock the Vote, youth activism has reached a new day. In the digital age, our rallies are resonated by re-tweets,  our voices don’t need to be screaming in picket lines, but rather, logically tearing politicians a new one on our blogs. Perhaps my embrace of the passive take on youth involvement is hard to swallow, but today social media activists are often more effective than someone who has no digital reach for their cause.

For our 19% piece of the demographic pie, the fight was won by the group of young people involved in the Young Americans for Obama campaign (circa 2008). Meanwhile, the Romney campaign tried to relate to youth voters by refusing to have anyone under 30 lead the team. It’s amazing how a solid marketing plan really does appeal and engage my commercial generation of instant gratification.

Yes—American politics are currently dominated by old, mostly white, men. But before we nominate Kid President for the 2016 presidential election, let’s see how both parties react to this years race. In 2016, I predict the strongest push by both parties for the youth, minority, and women’s vote. The portrait of the United States as seen by American politicians needs to be drastically altered.

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

The Young Politica: The 2012 Youth Vote

After a low youth voter turnout in 2010, projections for the youth vote in 2012 seemed to be less than that of the momentous turnout in 2008. Democrats made it a point to make the youth vote become an important factor in the 2008 election, but as many students, saw soon after inauguration day, change didn’t come as easily as we had expected. To many voters’ surprise, the youth vote was higher in 2012 than it was in 2008.

Paul Ryan’s dig on fading Obama posters may have been a bit extreme, but it did shed light on the election’s youth voter’s perspective, and the voter climate overall. Would the next four years be worth the another Obama term? Would change for our generation be financially sustainable?

This election was far different from the 2008 election that promised some generic change. It wasn’t about who had the spiffiest graphics or best campaign t-shirts. It was about our future, about how much we would have to pay in loans after college, about what jobs we could find, and about what our futures would shape into.

In our realization of disillusionment, we armed ourselves with knowledge instead of immediately changing sides. The vote wasn’t as one sided—60% voted for Obama and 36% for Romney in 2012, versus 66% for Obama and 31%for McCain in 2008. What a surprise, considering that the minority vote shifts to Democrats, and minorities make up the youth vote more than any other age demographic.

Though it may have only been 1% higher than the last election, the increase in youth voter turnout in 2012 was unexpected, at least for me. With less media appearances and less vigor towards chasing the youth vote, both candidates failed to capture the spirit that we saw in 2008. For Romney, at least, it seemed that he could care less about our 19% of total voters who might be able to elect him into the White House. How, exactly, can you break down the Five Point Plan for someone studying liberal arts at Sarah Lawrence? How do you explain that this student would be much better off financially if they put a stopper to their dreams by transferring to a trade school or a community college? It is easier, as the Obama campaign discovered, to appeal to a mass of students by bringing student loans up as a main spoke of the campaign, appealing to college students and recent graduates alike.

Of course, as I said before, fewer students voted for Obama this election season. Overall, however, students still (overwhelmingly) voted him into office.

This election wasn’t filled with as many national media appearances for the POTUS. However, he made the time to seek the youth vote on networks that appealed to the youth demographic. Another strategic way he sought the undecided voter (which makes up a large percentage of the youth vote, as we saw in the 6% Republican shift from 2008 to 2012), he often popped up in local media near swing voting sites, like when Obama called in to local radio stations. Romney focused on older, decided voters and avoided entertainment appearances.

The last four years hasn’t been all catchy t-shirt phrases and idealistic change. However, the POTUS appealed to the youth vote when Romney rarely even gave it a shot. This recent upsurge in student voters may not be because of a resurgence in youth activism, but rather, because of an eager desire to secure our futures. Despite popular opinion, we don’t vote because it’s a trend. We vote for the betterment of our lives.

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

In Which I Answer POLITICO Arena’s Election Day Question: What were the campaigns’ biggest mistakes?

A friend posted a photo on Facebook of a long line at her polling place this morning with the comment that “it’s a good sign when voters are treating an election like Black Friday at Walmart.” Now we have to wait all day to learn which of the candidates brought forth this outpouring of interest: do voters think Obama or Romney is the better bargain?

Both campaigns have made mistakes galore, balancing each other out in about the same horserace numbers as the daily polls have recently shown the race to be. Romney’s worst was hoisting himself on his own petard of Etch-a-Sketch positions, thus eroding voter trust, then nailing his coffin with the deliberately false Jeep ad.

Obama’s worst mistake was four years in the making. He failed to run, as Harry Truman successfully did, against the “do nothing Congress” that is more at fault for the lack of economic progress than the president who at least put forward some ideas. He had to re-energize many discouraged 2008 supporters as a result. But thanks to the Republican War on Women which Romney could not separate himself from, Obama was able to seize a set of issues that resonate with progressive women who make up almost 60% of the Democratic base.

Romney’s mistakes were mistakes of character and likability; Obama’s were mistakes of leadership style.

I’ve walked many precincts knocking on doors and weathered many elections. In the end voters usually go with the person whose character and persona they find more appealing. Those scales weigh in Obama’s favor today. We’ll find out tonight whether that is enough of a bargain to carry the election.

Meanwhile, here’s what I’m posting on social media today:

The ballot box is where we win the #waronwomen. #Vote #Election2112 

I’d appreciate your shares and tweets of that sentiment.

This was originally posted in response to a question in Politico Arena. Find the Arena response here.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

The Young Politica: How to Vote During Hurricane

We Lower-Manhattanites are a scrappy bunch of people. We are starving artists, college students, writers, and Wall Street bankers. This past week, after Hurricane Sandy hit, all of lower Manhattan was out of power for days.

I am writing this after being evacuated from my dorm and living out of NYU’s Kimmel Center for days—a building that offered food, shelter, and power to students. For those not seeking refuge outside of their ‘South of Power’ apartments, I’ve heard stories of raw ramen for dinner and pilgrimages north for cell phone service. Luckily, power resumed for much of my neighborhood recently, so I have a bed to sleep in again.

Rather than thinking about where I would be relocated after the storm on Monday, my concerns shifted to how Sandy would affect the upcoming election. Perhaps my priorities need adjusting.

First on my list of concerns: my vote. Along with local businesses and city parks, the postal service was out of operation in my area for a few days. It wasn’t good news for an absentee voter, like myself.  However, Uptown mail services were functioning as usual. That’s where I headed to get my ballot sent. As of Wednesday, USPS is up and running.

Another slew of worries deals with voter turnout. The eastern seaboard states affected by Sandy were mostly blue states. Many of the people who will not make it to the polls because of the storm will be similar to those who are also shut out of the system that attempts to instill Voter ID Laws—citizens who need transportation to get to their voting site like the poor and the elderly; and mail-in voters who cannot make it to the polls like those with illness. Even voters who can drive to their polling sites may not be able to get there because of the gasoline shortage.

Some experts are even reasoning that the election might be swayed by way of the president’s approval rating post-Sandy. Even though the situation down here was quite the opposite of the negative national event that was Katrina, a natural disaster like Sandy during any administration’s reign can be a game changer.

No matter who wins, I just hope it’s a fair fight; not one skewed by a tragic event such as this. If we can survive without power for almost a week, we can walk to polling stations to cast our ballot. I hiked up 45 blocks to get my ballot sent, for Pete’s sake. No matter where you are, please vote.

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

If Obama Wins Ohio, Fair Voting and Jennifer Brunner Get Credit

My grandparents were all immigrants from tyrant-ruled Eastern Europe during the early decades of the 20th century. They treasured their voting rights as only new citizens can, and they instilled in me their almost sappy love of the American ideals of liberty, justice, and fairness.

Having struggled to get to their promised land, they considered voting their sacred duty. Every election, no matter what. They weren’t naïve about politics, nor did they expect their favored candidates to win every time. They just wanted their votes counted honestly and their voices heard fairly.

They would have loved Jennifer Brunner, Ohio’s first female Secretary of State who served from 2007-2011. She’s a true American hero for cleaning up the state’s election system after its 2004 debacle, one that is remembered as one of the most sordid chapters in our nation’s history.

Ohio is a perennial battleground state. It has been pivotal to the outcome of every presidential election in recent history.  And since 1944, as Ohio has gone, so has the nation with only one exception, when voters chose Nixon over Kennedy in 1960.

Most elections are won or lost with a mere 2 percent swing. So the consequences of even a scintilla of voter suppression or a few malfunctioning voting machines can turn an entire election and change the course of history.  That’s why fair and honest elections are so incredibly important to American democracy.

In Brunner’s forthright memoir, Cupcakes and Courage, for which I was honored to write the foreword, you see firsthand the qualitative difference between a mere politician determined to stay in office even if it means jiggering the electoral system and an elected official who is first and foremost a public servant.

Brunner tells an inspiring story, full of juicy anecdotes that illustrate the power of the individual to make a difference. But unlike the single frosted cupcake on its cover, Cupcakes is not an individualistic story—far from it. Deeply rooted in values of family and social responsibility, she took those communitarian values into public service and audaciously trudged through bi-partisan criticism to protect the rights of the individual voter.

Brunner’s unwavering focus on fairness and transparency brought major changes to Ohio’s 2008 electoral processes, which in turn helped to restore voter confidence.  Her unflinching description of what she did and why after the 2004 presidential election turned on the shifting sands of Cuyahoga County’s voting irregularities deserves to be a political science class staple.

“Many have questioned the efficacy of our [2004] presidential election in Ohio,” says Brunner. “I simply questioned its fairness of process.”

Voting rights—yes, even in my grandparents’ rosy view of America—can be as fragile and as fleeting as they are in non-democratic nations around the globe. As a girl growing up in Texas, I heard the rumors of Lyndon Johnson stuffing ballot boxes in Jim Wells County with ballots of dead people. We might think those poll taxes, literacy tests, and other Jim Crow laws instituted in the South after the Civil War, and lasting well into the mid-20th Century, are well behind us.

But history is repeating itself this year in the wave of voter suppression initiatives sweeping the country. Just as a house that has been cleaned can become a mess again in record time, so the Ohio voting process that Brunner cleaned up—or any state that falls prey to divisive, partisan abuse of power—can, and in many battleground states, is faced with the risk of corruption and the contortion of the voice and will of its people.

As it has ever been historically, minorities often receive the short end of the voting rights stick. How tragic, considering that this country is the product of minorities, like my patriotic grandparents, at its core.

Since leaving office, Brunner started Fair Elections Ohio, a group that successfully fought back harmful Ohio voter suppression legislation, keeping 2008 voting rules in place for 2012.

In 2004, “Cuyahoga County” became a household term, and thus entered the political junkie’s lexicon as a metaphor for voter suppression.  If President Obama wins Ohio, it’s likely that he will win a second term as president. If so, he will have Brunner to thank—not for manipulating voting mechanism to favor him, but simply to allow the people to speak through their votes, the franchise of a free nation.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

The Young Politica: Do the Presidential Candidates ‘Walk the Walk’ on Student Issues?

If you watched the presidential debate this past week, you probably remember Jeremy Epstein, a 20-year-old college student who attends Adelphi University. He opened up the town hall question session by asking:

“Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. Can — what can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?”

This question is the basis of concern for many young Americans. And it correlates to other questions we have about student loans and the economy. In 2008, 51% of young voters came out to the polls and helped swing the vote. An overwhelming amount of students—68 %—voted for Barack Obama.

Now that there is some unrest on how he has handled the economy over the past four years, recognizing the student vote on both sides should be key to snagging the presidency. Here are some issues the candidates need to address:

Degree-Requiring Jobs

Most students out of college are either unemployed or work at jobs which do not need a degree. While both candidates focus on the generalization of ‘more jobs’, they are not necessarily adding more to degree-requiring jobs to the market. Romney addresses these concerns by emphasizing his administration’s take on education—bring more students to technical, vocational, and trade schools. Obama has added jobs, but they are mostly an effort to continue to emphasize his desire to return factory jobs to American workers.

Climate

There is some hope that the candidates will address climate change at the upcoming debate. The President has obviously softened on his need for environmental improvements after Solyndra’s downfall. And Romney is still mocking him for it. But neither candidate has addressed the issue directly within recent weeks.

The Youth Vote

It seems that there have been some belated efforts, but snagging a large percentage of youth votes may be too late. Unlike Barack Obama, Mitt Romney has avoided sitting down with television hosts (wish I could say the same for Ann ) and his social media presence is sub par in comparison to Obama’s. At the same token, Romney might not see benefit in the youth vote; but Obama is definitely not as hip as he was in 2008, as Paul Ryan noted.

After the town hall debate, Jeremy Epstein spoke to NBC New York to discuss the debate. He said that he made his voting decision, but kept it confidential. After the debate, Epstein spoke with both candidates:

“I asked [Romney] if he’s gonna give me that job in two years and he said ‘Maybe,'” Epstein said. “Then I was speaking with President Obama asking how his Chicago Bulls are gonna do, because they lost their MVP Derek Rose, and he said that I could not beat him in one-on-one, but I disagree with that.”

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

Debate #2: Crowley Wins It, Binders of Women New Mitt Meme

Candy Crowley was the biggest winner in last night’s Town Hall for her real time fact checking on Libya. She also asked follow up questions that forced the candidates to clarify their positions. She is, however, wrong in saying that it doesn’t matter that she’s a woman. It matters a lot that other women see they can aspire to moderate a presidential debate if that is their aspiration. And I suspect having a female role model gave permission, conscious or not, to female questioners who asked about such issues as equal pay.

President Obama snatched victory from the jaws of his first debate defeat, while Mitt Romney snatched defeat from the jaws of his previous winning performance by being, well, Romney.

The optics revealed two alpha males, each determined to prevail. However, Romney’s body language was stiff and menacing, reeking of privilege, whereas Obama seemed comfortable and nonthreatening in his leadership responsibility as president and commander-in-chief.  As Keli Goff observed, Romney not only appeared on the brink of losing his cool several times, but the way he brushed off Crowley was a turn off to women whom both candidates acknowledge are key to the election.

Obama skillfully skewered Romney on the economy with his one-liner characterizing Romney’s economic policy as a “one-point-plan” and saving the 47% moment to the end after Romney set his own trap.

Rivaling his Big Bird gaffe which rapidly became a social media meme, Romney stepped into the biggest pile of goo ever with his “binders of women” comment. Meant to puff up his creds with the ladies, poor Mitt only succeeded in showing

a) he himself apparently knew no qualified women despite having been in business for decades and

b) the Democrats are accurate in saying Romney lies; it turns out he didn’t request those binders.

The binders were prepared in advance of the election by a nonpartisan women’s coalition for whomever would become governor.

This has already spawned a “Binders Full of Women” tumblr and a whole slew of Democratic fundraising appeals playing off of Romney’s amazing tone deafness with the reality of women’s lives today. (Really? Only women want to go home for dinner with their families?) My favorite is the one pointing out that there are ballots full of women we can vote for this year.

I wanted Obama to say more, lots more, about the peril to women’s reproductive rights and health should Romney win, and to make more of a point that contraceptive coverage is in fact an economic issue. But there again, Romney managed to do himself in by dancing an inauthentic two-step as he tried to satisfy his anti-birth control base with their favorite code words while not frightening off the 99% of Americans who use birth control at some time during their lives.

So we go into the final debate with a tie score, each candidate having won one and lost one. The last lap of this election promises to continue to be a see-saw. Every vote cast will make a difference.

This post originally appeared in response to a Politico Arena question. Find the original publication here.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

The Young Politica: A Sudden Change in Voter’s Rights

Over the past six years, a new string of Voter ID laws has been pushed to legislation in 31 states. These laws require voters to show up with a valid ID at the polls. Voter ID laws, along with laws that allow those in the military to vote early, have been under the national spotlight in recent months, despite being practically invisible to the media when they were first proposed. These laws are ever-transforming and some are still being amended—less than a month before the presidential election.

There has been a recent push to delay Voter ID laws in many states until after the November election. It has been argued that this is the work of the Democratic Party’s agenda, because delaying these laws makes voting more accessible to the poor and the elderly; two groups which tend to vote Democrat.

Where are these changes happening and how will you be affected?

OHIO:

The most recent change in voting rights comes from the notorious swing-state of Ohio. A new voting right allowed all Ohioans in the military to vote early. On Friday, an appeals court ruled that there was no compelling evidence supporting that the military should be able to vote three days before elections if all other citizens could not.

A federal judge also deemed all votes cast in the right polling location but the wrong precinct should be counted.

SOUTH CAROLINA:

The state’s Act R54 requires all voters to show up at voting polls with a driver’s license, state-issued photo ID, passport, federal military photo ID, or a photo voter registration card in order to vote. While this has been ‘precleared’ by the federal government, it will not go into effect until 2013—after the presidential election.

TEXAS:

The Lone Star State is known for attempting to instill some of the nation’s strictest Voter ID laws. It would require a photo ID at the polls. Acceptable forms of ID included a state-issued driver’s license or identification card, a military photo ID, a passport, a U.S. citizenship certificate with a photo, or a concealed-carry handgun license. However, in late August, a federal judge overturned the law.

PENNSYLVANIA:

Similar to South Carolina, a Pennsylvania judge blocked a part of the state’s Voter ID law, saying that there had not been enough done to make sure all voters had access to photo ID. On October 2nd, it was decided that the new law would not be enforced for the upcoming presidential election. There is, however, a dilemma. As of yet, voter education efforts have focused on showing their ID’s at the polls. Since there is not too much time to promote their new strategy, the lack of information may discourage those without ID from showing up to vote.

WISCONSIN:

While a Voter ID law is in place, it will not go into effect until after the presidential election. However, there are ongoing efforts to reinstate the Voter ID laws before November 6th.

FLORIDA:

Floridians who do not bring ID to the polls must sign a provisional ballot envelope.

VIRGINIA:

The Department of Justice will allow for the state’s new Voter ID law to go into effect in time for Election Day. While it does not require a photo ID, it closes a provision that had allowed for citizens to cast their votes without showing any sort of ID.  The law previously allowed for those without ID to vote if they signed a sworn statement saying that they were who they claimed to be. This new law requires those who sign such a statement to later provide ID via fax or email in order to have their vote counted.

KANSAS, GEORGIA, INDIANA, AND TENNESSEE:

In these States, a photo ID is required in order to vote.

Depending on where you’re voting this November, know what form of ID to bring. Even this late in the game, politicians are still aiming to amend or repeal these laws before the big race. Check out this “Voting Laws Roundup” for a comprehensive overview of voting laws around the country.

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com