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Florida Senate Passes Voter Suppression Bill

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On Monday, Florida’s Senate advanced a new voting bill that includes limits on casting ballots by mail and drop boxes.

What We Know:

  • The legislation was created by the Republican Senate and lists a number of challenges to Florida’s voting laws. The restrictive bill would limit where drop boxes can be placed and would require those casting ballots to show identification to an election official first. If passed, the bill also requires voters to apply for mail-in-ballots more frequently, restricting who can drop off a voter’s ballot at a dropbox and preventing anyone except official election workers from handing out food and water to those waiting in line to vote.
  • According to NBC, Democrats and voting-rights activists say the bill would create significant new barriers to voters. 

“This bill is just a vindictive way of trying to punish people for an election that some people just didn’t like at the national level,” Democratic state Sen. Audrey Gibson said. “Not one indication of fraud, just a lot of folks decided that they were fed up and they wanted to vote.”

  • The Republican-led Senate approved the bill with a majority vote to place new restrictions on voting in a broad effort across multiple states. The reform comes after former president Donald Trump made unfounded claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election. 
  • Those in favor of the new legislation, like Republican state Sen. Joe Gruters, said, “The goal for everyone is to make it as easy as possible to vote and as hard as possible to cheat. And when I hear my colleagues standing up and talk about restrictions and suppressing voters, it’s disappointing because this does nothing to suppress the vote, it does nothing to restrict the vote.”

As of late, it is unclear if the bill will be passed in the House of Representatives.

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black Alerts and the host of Boss Mornings and Unmuted Nation. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

Politics

T.I. Spreads Misinformation Claiming An Atlanta Mayoral Candidate Wants To Destroy The City’s Nightlife

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The Fight For Fibroids Atlanta Awareness Brunch

Source: Paras Griffin / Getty

As Atlanta voters head to the polls Tuesday to select the city’s next mayor, a disinformation campaign has popped up to discredit one of the two contenders. Spread by rapper T.I. on Instagram, an article from MTO News falsely claimed that Felicia Moore wants to close all the strip clubs and bars.  

T.I. claims that people’s livelihood and enjoyment are in danger if Moore has her way. He then tells people to vote for Moore’s opponent Andre Dickens.  

There’s just one hitch; there’s no indication that Moore is trying to destroy Atlanta’s nightlife. A nearly five-year-old video was shared in the egregious article to “prove” Moore’s desire to shut down all the strip clubs, except she doesn’t say what the article claims.  

A quick google search shows several other sites are running with this claim without any attempt to verify the accuracy of the allegation. As recently as Monday night, it was again reiterated that Moore does not want to get rid of Atlanta’s nightlife. In a tweet, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter dispelled the false info.  

‘There are some fake articles/posts going around saying Felicia Moore wants to shut down Atlanta’s strip clubs/restrict their hours… that is false,” J.D. Capeluoto tweeted. “She has said multiple times that she doesn’t support closing clubs.” 

Moore has spoken about staffing up the code enforcement office and other related roles to enforce Atlanta’s laws. In a video posted on Nov. 8, Moore talked about wanting to meet with business owners within her first 60 days so that people are clear on the rules.   

Moore and Dickens advanced to the mayoral runoff election out of 14 candidates, including former Mayor Kasim Reed. But regardless of whether you are Team Andre or Team Felicia, this type of political shenanigans should be called out.  

Think about it. How is this any different from election misinformation shared by former President Donald Trump and his followers?  

There’s something rather selfish about people who only wade into something as serious as an election to post distortions of fact that speak to their particular personal interest. People should talk about issues of concern, but it requires context and facts.

In the 2020 election cycle, Get Your Booty To The Polls was a viral get out the vote sensation. No one should discount the power and importance of any block of voters. But they should be treated with respect and given the correct information to make an informed choice. Not have someone abuse their platform by spreading unverified claims.

Concerns have been raised about both candidates in terms of their approaches to public safety. And some have expressed concerns about Moore’s support in the northern part of the city, including Buckhead, which has a contingent trying to secede. 

The city of Atlanta requires both a functional city council and mayor to run. And part of that functionality requires clear and accurate information and an understanding of how things work. 

On Tuesday, Atlanta has the opportunity to elect a new mayor, several city council members and school board members. Atlanta is not a dictatorship, and no one person can wave a magic wand and disappear any business. Turning out voters and getting support for local elected leaders should focus on what’s good for the city and not simply fear of one’s bank account getting hit. 

See Also:  

Ohio Organizer Offers Lessons From Municipal Elections Ahead Of 2022 Midterms 

Republicans Rigged Congressional Maps To Take Lucy McBath’s Seat So She’s Running In A New District 

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Ohio Organizer Offers Lessons From Municipal Elections Ahead Of 2022 Midterms

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Cleveland City Hall, Cleveland, Ohio, United States, North America

Source: Douglas Sacha / Getty

Often overlooked, odd-year elections are equally important as even-year federal election cycles. This year has been full of important local elections, but they rarely yield the same attention and coverage as Congressional elections. While pundits predict that the upcoming midterm elections will be a “blood bath,” there is still some room to learn lessons from the 2021 local election cycle.  

Recent elections in Cleveland and Cincinnati are two examples of significant wins that offer a glimmer of hope going into the new year. Speaking with NewsOne, Keizayla Fambro talked about her organizing work on a Cincinnati mayoral campaign and Stand Up For Ohio, the 501(c)(4) affiliate of the Ohio Organizing collaborative. 

Fambro shared that it was essential to center the voices of people directly impacted by the issues at hand in both elections. As political director for Cincinnati Mayor-elect Aftab Pureval, Fambro highlighted the importance of communicating with Black voters in an authentic way that isn’t just checking off boxes.  

“He had a very Black and people of color center campaign,” Fambro began. “And he talked a lot about racial equity. He talked a lot about police accountability.”

When her candidate was attacked with false claims that he wanted to defund the police, he didn’t backtrack on his message but stuck to his guns. It’s the kind of clarity and commitment that could be important for candidates in the upcoming cycle.

In Cleveland, Fambro’s organizing primarily centered around the passage of Issue 24, a measure that will create a new pathway for transparency and police oversight. Stand Up For Ohio was a partner in the Citizens For A Safer Cleveland coalition that pushed for passage of Issue 24. 

“My primary goal was to make sure that we knew the end was to win, but also to change people’s lives in Cleveland,” Fambro said. “But this is a beginning and a right step for Cleveland and a direction for all Black and brown people to get home safely.” 

Issue 24 passed with an overwhelming majority in the Cleveland election earlier this month. Local news reported that the provision did the best in the home ward of the outgoing mayor, who opposed the issue.  

Without increased voter engagement, Issue 24 likely would not have passed. It can be tricky turning out voters outside of presidential election years, but Fambro suggests voter turnout requires helping people understand why sustained engagement is necessary.  

“When you disengage in any aspect of politics, that means someone else is making a decision for you,” Fambro explained. “I remember the first time I had a conversation with one of my canvassers, and they were like ‘well, I’m just not politically active.’ And I say, ‘you’re not politically active, but your landlord is, your the person who owns your bank is the person who sets your school policy is like every piece of your life, someone is politically engaged. And if you are not, you’re allowing them to dictate and set the choices of your life.’” 

Fambro credits Stand Up For Ohio’s communications director Maki Somosot for converting the voices of impacted families and the 16-page ballot language into voter-friendly guidance. The group prioritized capturing the stories in a way that centered on affected families and was respectful of their grief and advocacy.  

Like the charter amendment fight in Minneapolis, organizers spent time informing voters about the proposal’s components and how it would benefit communities in the future. Highlighting the experiences of people directly impacted by this issue was a vital part of the strategy.  

“We don’t hear from families and the people who are directly impacted by police brutality on a day-to-day basis,” Somosot said. “Especially not in Cleveland. Because I mean, aside from Tamir Rice, there’s been other horrible deaths that have happened, but people just sort of tune it out.” 

According to Fambro, newly elected Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb was also a supporter of the charter amendment, standing in opposition to many members of the Cleveland political establishment. Fambro said there was a lot of misinformation during the campaign, and while they addressed some things, they couldn’t respond to everything.  

But the group did not let slide when outgoing Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson attacked those who lost loved ones to police violence.  

“We did address certain things like when Frank Jackson called the family members who were behind the ballot initiative, tragedy pips,” Fambro explained.

During a press conference, family members of people killed by police, including Tamir Rice’s mother Samaria Rice, demanded an apology from Jackson but also used the opportunity to plug Issue 24 and ask the community to support the cause. 

Winning Issue 24 was also a fantastic victory for families left without any recourse after Cleveland police killed their loved ones.  

“For 14 years, the heartaches and pain I have endured since the murder of my son Angelo, our struggle for change, all the times we were told that we couldn’t, and all the people who pressed on with me and the families,” Alicia Kirkman said. Police killed kirkman’s son Angelo Miller in 2007 at the age of 17. “We can make change, I thank God for Issue 24 passing, and I thank our community for coming out and trusting in Issue 24.”  

LaTonya Goldsby, a cousin of Tamir Rice and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Cleveland, called the passage of Issue 24 a new beginning.  

“This is the dawning of a new era of policing in Cleveland,” Goldsby said. “With the passing of Issue 24, we have the opportunity to create transformative police reform and real police accountability. The citizens of Cleveland have advocated for police accountability and civilian oversight for the past 100 years, and today, through the work of families who were directly impacted, it became a reality. We want to thank the residents of Cleveland for their vote and support in passing Issue 24.” 

 

See Also:  

After Voters Rejected Replacing Cops, What’s Next For Police Reform In Minneapolis? 

Adam Toledo’s Killing Reaffirms Chicago’s Demands For Community-Driven Police Accountability 

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Republicans Rigged Congressional Maps To Take Lucy McBath’s Seat So She’s Running In A New District

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Medicaid Saves Lives Act

Source: Bill Clark / Getty

Set on regaining a one-time Republican stronghold, new maps developed by Georgia Republicans just changed the makeup of a once competitive district held by Rep. Lucy McBath. Instead of facing the challenging task of re-election in her current district, McBath announced Monday that she would seek the Democratic nomination for the neighboring 7th Congressional District. 

Switching districts set McBath up to primary freshman legislator Carolyn Bordeaux who currently represents the 7th Congressional District. In a statement posted to Twitter, McBath did not mention her colleague opting instead to frame her run for the 7th Congressional District as a part of a promise made to her son Jordan who was murdered in late 2012.   

“After my son’s death, I made a promise to him,” began the statement. “I  promised him that, for as long as I am alive, I will do every single thing in my power to keep what happened to our family from happening to others.”

McBath narrowly beat the incumbent, former Rep. Karen Handel, with less than 4,000 votes in 2018. Handel came back to challenge McBath in 2020 and was easily defeated. Citing an analysis from FiveThirtyEight, Axios reported the newly constituted 6th Congressional District would lean heavily Republican and reach into a “deeply conservative” portion of North Georgia. 

McBath was the first Democrat elected to the 6th Congressional District in decades, in a seat once occupied by Newt Gingrich. According to Ballotpedia, the district shifted from a Republican stronghold in 2012 to more Democrat-friendly in 2020. 

Bourdeaux being primaried is no surprise considering the recent pushback she received from local groups over support for Biden’s Build Back Better plan.

The same groups who helped set the stage for Bourdeaux to flip a Republican-controlled district demanded she stand firm in supporting the President’s popular agenda.  Bourdeaux was among the nine moderates who held up movement on the House side during the summer. 

McBath isn’t the only Democrat challenging Bourdeaux. State Rep. Donna McLeod also announced her attention to run Monday. According to McCleod, she has been a resident of the district for over 20 years.  

McBath is one of many Democratic elected officials being pushed out of their seats by Republican-led redistricting efforts. As previously reported by NewsOne, a redistricting proposal for Gwinnett County, Ga. could impact several seats on the local school board. 

Across the country, Republicans are using redistricting to further restrict the political power displayed in the 2020 election and the country’s country’s growing diversity. Advocates in states like Texas and Ohio have been sounding the alarm about the dire midterm situation resulting from heavily partisan maps that benefit Republican candidates. In many instances, the maps are not reflective of the demographic shifts over the last ten years. 

The redistricting ploy is in some ways an extension of the power grab that began with the passage of Georgia’s unnecessary change to election administration based in part on Trump’s “Big Lie.” In a CNN interview back in March, McLeod called out the white supremacy present under Georgia’s Gold Dome after the arrest of her colleague Rep. Park Cannon.

“Instead of embracing diversity, they have basically said they don’t want it,” McLeod said. “That is unacceptable to us. And that’s why we will be pushing back and fighting back. Diversity should be a strength, it shouldn’t be looked at as a weakness.”

See Also:  

Ohio Republicans Ignore Opportunity To ‘Restore Voters’ Faith Democratic Process’ In Passing Highly Partisan Congressional Maps 

Announcing His Retirement, Rep. Butterfield Rips New’ Racially Gerrymandered’ Congressional Redistricting 

Georgia Lawmakers Propose Redistricting Plan That Could Disrupt State’s Largest School District

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