Monday, October 27, 2014

Voting miscellancy

As we come up on what, nationally anyway, seems likely to be a depressing election (but do vote!) various interesting tidbits float by.

Republican attempts in states they control to make voting harder for young people and people of color are the big story, but there are also the usual sprinkling of significant sub-themes in this year's contest.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has issued an interesting snapshot of Muslim voters in California, New York, Illinois, Florida, Texas, and Virginia. It looks as if this is yet another hard-working immigrant constituency that Republicans have managed to alienate.
You just don't leap in line with people who treat you as if you were the plague. (Hey, Chris Christie, remember that before you beat up on altruistic nurses.) Sixty-nine percent of eligible Muslims surveyed say they'll vote this year; their top issues were combating Islamophobia and civil liberties along with the economy.

Since the Census does not count religious affiliations, there are no certain numbers for how many Muslims are citizens. Estimates for this population run about 2.6 million; that makes it likely that there are at least one million voting eligible Muslims in play, clustered largely in the states CAIR surveyed.
This video was put out in 2012, but it is always pertinent for transpeople whose IDs may not match the gender appearance they present.
Here in California we are voting on a sensible state initiative, Prop. 47, that will begin to undo the crazy mass incarceration our pols gave us in response to a real crime wave in the 1980s and to a some particular outrages. We've begun to notice that locking up non-violent, low level offenders for long sentences merely creates what amount to community colleges of bad behavior as well as decimating the neighborhoods these (mostly) young men derive from. The initiative will save the state bundles of money on prisons by making these offenses misdemeanors instead of felonies, using the savings for programs that build the life chances of individuals and communities. Let's hope we can let go our fear to enact this sensible measure.

A little noted side benefit of reducing the felony sentencing binge will be to make voting seem a more possible collective mode for redress of community grievances than it has been. California is actually fairly liberal about the voting rights of people sentenced for crimes: people convicted of misdemeanors have never been prevented from voting; felons are only barred when actually in prison or under parole or other state supervision. But in communities where many, many young people carry a felony record, a belief that voting is "not for us" takes hold. Yet, as the summer's events in Ferguson showed, these are exactly the communities where people need to seize the leverage afforded by the ballot. Prop. 47 is a step in this direction.

1 comment:

Hattie said...

It's a shame. The picture the mass media are painting of American Muslims is distorted. It's defamation, and Muslims are reacting as one would expect.

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