TIME 2014 elections

Courts Shoot Down Voter ID Laws in Texas and Wisconsin

A polling location in Lipan, Texas seen during the last presidential elections in 2012.
A polling location in Lipan, Texas seen during the last presidential elections in 2012. Tom Pennington—Getty Images

Some say voter ID laws are discriminatory, while others argue they prevent voter fraud

The Supreme Court and a lower court blocked voter identification laws in Wisconsin and Texas Thursday, clearing the way for hundreds of thousands of voters in both states to have easier access to the polls as next month’s midterm elections loom near. The laws are two of many passed by several states recently in what supporters say are intended to clamp down on voter fraud, but detractors argue the rules are discriminatory and illegal.

The U.S. Supreme Court late Thursday blocked Wisconsin’s voter identification from taking effect, reversing a lower court order to let the law stand during next month’s midterm elections in a 6-3 ruling. Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented, saying it’s troubling that the change comes so close to the midterms. Voter rights advocates, however, praised the ruling, with Dale Ho of the American Civil Liberties Union saying in a statement that it will “help safeguard the vote for thousands of Wisconsinites.” The ACLU is among the groups challenging Wisconsin’s voter ID law.

The Supreme Court’s ruling came down as a district court in Texas found that state’s similar voter identification law discriminated against black and Latino voters, violating the Voting Rights Act. The federal government and a slew of advocacy groups brought a suit to fight Texas’ law, which the state implemented just hours after last summer’s Supreme Court decision striking down a portion of the Voting Rights Act that required Texas and several other states to get federal government approval before implementing new voting laws.

In a statement, Texas National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Gary Bledsoe said voting rights advocates are “greatly encouraged by today’s decision.” However, the state of Texas said it will “immediately appeal” the ruling, according to a statement from the state attorney general’s office.

TIME 2014 Election

Google Just Made It Really Easy for You to Find Out How to Vote

Personalized data at the click of a button

There’s a lot of room for confusion around how to vote this election season, particularly in states where pending and recent court cases are making last minute changes to the process.

To help people interested in casting a ballot, Google unveiled a tool Thursday that will make finding out how to vote in your state as easy as typing in a search.

After noticing an increase in searches for ‘how to vote,” “register to vote” and “where to vote” the search engine launched a series of web tools to streamline and personalize results to certain voting-specific questions.

If a voter in North Carolina, for example, were to type “voter ID North Carolina” into the search bar, they would receive information about what types of identification voters are required to show at the polls in November. (Just an FYI, strict voter identification requirements won’t be in place until 2016 in the Tar Heel state).

Image Courtesy of Google Politics & Elections

The prompt even works for smartphone users with the Google app. If users simply say “Ok, Google. How do I vote?”, information on voter registration , identification requirements, and early voting pops up.

“With so much at stake on November 4th, including the balance of power in Congress, it is crucial that voters have access to all the information they needed to exercise their power to vote at the polls,” Anthea Watson Strong, the elections and civic engagement program manager at Google said in a blog post Thursday.

Google is also compiling politics-specific infographics that will show what searches are trending in the final month leading up to the election. In the coming weeks, Google will also be rolling out a tool that show voters where to vote by mapping out polling locations.

TIME 2014 Election

Poll: About Half of Millennials Will Vote for Democrats in the Midterms

Views Of The U.S. Capitol As Congress Plans To Return Nov. 12
The U.S. Capitol Building stands in this photo taken with a tilt-shift lens in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The bulk of likely voters age 18 to 34 are casting ballots for Democrats this election, with issues like the economy and terrorism driving them to the polls, according to a new survey

About 47% of likely millennial voters are going with Democrats in this year’s midterm elections, compared to 32% who say they’re voting Republican, according to a Fusion poll released Thursday.

Fusion has called its poll the largest survey on Millennials’ voting habits from this election cycle after polling some 1,200 likely 18-to-34 year-old voters. The poll’s authors are pretty adamant about the use of “likely,” too, seeing as less than a quarter of millennials are expected to actually turn out this November, according to a Harvard University poll.

Fusion’s poll also provides insight into the party leanings of millennial demographic groups. Hispanic and black voters, it shows, are more likely to vote for Democrats, as are women. White voters, meanwhile, are more likely to support Republicans.

According to the data, the economy is a top issue driving young voters to the polls this November—which is good news for the White House, which just launched a emoji-laced social media campaign about the economy aimed at millennials. Other issues that are getting young voters riled up include terrorism and national security as well as education.

The millennials surveyed by Fusion also hint at who they would like to see on the ballot in 2016—for Democrats, the favorite is Hillary Clinton, and for Republicans the largest chunk of likely voters don’t know, but more would vote for Congressman Paul Ryan than anyone else.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.83 percentage points. It was conducted via phone interviews Sept. 12 through Sept. 22.

TIME 2014 Election

Comedian Lewis Black on Voter ID Laws: ‘No F***ing Way’

Just one day after the Supreme Court ruled to allow North Carolina’s voting law to stand this November.

Comedian Lewis Black, often outspoken on political issues, has some colorful words for state legislatures passing laws that advocates warn could make it harder for many Americans to vote.

“Look, people marched and fought and died for the right to vote and they want to legislate away that sacrifice to stay in power?,” the comedian screams on a video released by the American Civil Liberties Union Thursday. “Not on my watch, baby.”

Black appears alongside Dale Ho, director of the ACLU voting rights project, who explains some of the many restrictions facing voters this November, including a Wisconsin law requiring government identification that advocates warn 300,000 voters don’t have.

The video comes just a day after the Supreme Court ruled to allow North Carolina’s voting law to stand this November, reversing a lower court’s order allowing voters to utilize same day registration and out-of-precinct voting, which the 2013 law eliminated. Republicans in North Carolina support the law, which they say will help prevent voter fraud.

TIME 2014 Election

President Obama Is Reaching Out to Millennials About the Economy Using…Emoji

Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about jobs and the economy during a visit to Millennium Steel Service as part of Manufacturing Day in Princeton, Ind. on Oct. 3, 2014. Kevin Lamarque—Reuters

With "every single one" of Obama's economic policies on the ballot this November, the White House is using emoji to reach out to young voters

Hey millennials, President Obama wants you to know that he gets you. And to make that message clear, the White House began using emoji in a social media campaign launched Thursday to engage the nation’s largest generation on the President’s economic platform.

The economy has been pretty scummy for the majority of millennials’ adult lives, as a new White House report on the generation born between 1980 and the mid-2000s makes clear. According to “15 Economic Facts About Millennials,” having started out in the workforce during the Great Recession will affect young Americans for “years to come.” Though the unemployment rate for 18-to-34-year-olds has fallen from its peak of 13% in 2010, in the group still faces 8.6% unemployment—notably higher than the national average of 5.9%. And although more millennials have college degrees than any other generation of young adults, they are more likely to accrue student loan debt; such debt surpassed $1 trillion in the second quarter of 2014.

But the Obama administration wants young people to know it’s not all bad. The report finds millennials “value the role that they play in their communities,” are more likely to have health insurance—thanks to the Affordable Care Act—and millennial women enjoy a more level playing field in the workforce.

The highlights from the report will be promoted via the White House’s social media accounts starting Thursday—with animated graduation caps and flexing arms aiming to portray Obama as working hard to make college more affordable and give young people access to health care, as BuzzFeed first reported on Thursday. In an infographic on the White House website, the Obama administration even makes use of some of the more obscure emoji–including the pi symbol and a microscope–to show young people using their access to technology and science education to expand their opportunities.

The campaign is the latest White House maneuver to appeal to young people on the economy, an issue that helped drive young voters to the polls in 2008 and 2012. During a recent speech at Northwestern University near Chicago, the President said his economic policies would be on the ballot this November—a message Republicans have been using against their Democratic opponents in tight Senate races across the country.

Yet the millennial vote has skewed Democratic in the most recent contests, and a push to remind young voters of what helped drive them to the polls in 2008 and 2012—jobs, healthcare, student loan debt—may not hurt. That is, if young voters even show up this election—a recent Harvard University poll shows only about 23% of 18-to-29-year-olds said they plan to vote in this year’s midterm contest.

 

TIME History

New York Opens Oldest Known Time Capsule, Dating Back to 1914

The bronze time capsule was originally slated for opening back in 1974

The oldest known time capsule was opened in New York City on Wednesday; its contents date back at least 100 years.

The New York Historical Society, which possesses the bronze capsule and hosted a ceremony for its opening, says the capsule was created in celebration of the tercentennial of the New Netherland Company charter back in 1914. According to a NY Historical Society blog post on the capsule, its original to-open date was back in 1974, but past curators neglected to do so.

In celebration of the opening of the oldest-known time capsule, student-interns at the Historical Society are creating a time capsule of their own—one can only wonder what artifacts they’ll use to represent 2014. A cronut recipe, perhaps? A series of Snapchats? All of which will surely look ancient when the capsule is opened in 2114.

TIME Television

Stephen Collins Loses Another Role Amid Molestation Allegations

Actor Stephen Collins promotes NBC's "Revolution" at WonderCon Anaheim 2014 - Day 1 held at Anaheim Convention Center on April 18, 2014 in Anaheim, California.
Actor Stephen Collins promotes NBC's "Revolution" at WonderCon Anaheim 2014 - Day 1 held at Anaheim Convention Center on April 18, 2014 in Anaheim, California. Albert L. Ortega—Getty Images

The actor will not appear in Season 4 of Scandal

Actor Stephen Collins will not appear in any upcoming episodes of Scandal, ABC said Wednesday, after it was revealed that the actor allegedly abused children.

The former 7th Heaven star confessed to molesting young girls to his estranged wife in a recording released by TMZ Tuesday. Collins is currently being investigated by the New York Police Department.

ABC also said that it “will not be airing any footage with Stephen Collins” in upcoming Scandal episodes, Entertainment Weekly reports. The actor had appeared as a reporter in a 2012 episode of the network’s hit series and tweeted in September that he was filming for the current season.

Collins has also been released from the upcoming Ted 2.

[EW]

TIME 2014 Election

Supreme Court Allows North Carolina Voting Law to Stand in Midterm

A voter displays their "I Voted" sticker on their lapel after voting as others wait in line for the first day of Early Voting on October 18, 2012 in Wilson, North Carolina.
A voter displays an "I Voted" sticker on her lapel after voting as others wait in line for the first day of early voting on Oct. 18, 2012, in Wilson, N.C. Sara D. Davis—Getty Images

Same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting are prohibited in the Tar Heel state this November

Voters in North Carolina will not have access to same-day registration or out-of-precinct voting in this midterm election, after the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked an appellant court order to stay parts of a sweeping voting law that voting-rights advocates say could leave many voters disenfranchised come November.

“We are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s ruling today,” the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, said in a statement. Tens of thousands of North Carolina voters, especially African-American voters, have relied on same-day registration, as well as the counting of ballots that were cast out of precinct, for years.”

The North Carolina State Board of Elections said that in 2010, over 21,000 voters registered and voted on the same day during the early voting period, and just over 6,000 voters were able to have their ballots counted even though they voted in the wrong precinct. During May’s 2014 primary, over 400 voters didn’t have their votes counted because these provisions were removed, Durham-based organization Democracy NC reports.

These measures are just two of many that the heavily GOP-backed law eliminated in 2013, in what supporters called an effort to prevent voting fraud in the Tar Heel state. Several organizations have filed a suit against the voting law in the hope of blocking it before this year’s election.

Critics of the law had cause for hope when an appellant court ruled last week that parts of the law should be blocked in November, but the state quickly appealed to the Supreme Court.

In an interview with TIME on Monday, Penda Hair, co-director of the Advancement Project which is representing the North Carolina NAACP in the case against HB 589, said they would “continue to fight this case” which goes to full trial next summer.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure voters do get registered and do get to the right precinct,” Hair said. “But, the problem is issues sometimes slip through.”

Early voting begins Oct. 23 in North Carolina. The voter registration deadline is Friday, Oct. 10.

TIME Crime

Boston Police Show Racial Bias in Stops and Searches, Report Finds

A police officer salutes during the National Anthem before the first game of a doubleheader between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 5, 2014 in Boston.
A police officer salutes during the National Anthem before the first game of a doubleheader between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 5, 2014 in Boston. Jim Rogash—Getty Images

The ACLU found that police gave little-to-no justification for 75% of more than 200,000 encounters

The Boston Police Department has engaged in racially biased policing, often stopping black civilians in the city with little justification, a new report by the Massachusetts branch of the American Civil Liberties Union shows.

About 63% of the Boston Police Department’s encounters with civilians between 2007 and 2010 targeted African-Americans, according to the ACLU’s Black, Brown, and Targeted report released Wednesday. The data is based off a preliminary analysis of 204,000 of the BPD’s “Field Interrogation, Observation, Frisk and/or Search” reports between 2007 and 2010.

The report found that police gave little-to-no justification for 75% of more than 200,000 encounters examined by the ACLU—listing the cause as “investigative person” most of the time. These encounters involved stop-and-frisk, searches, interrogations, and observations, the ACLU said, but most did not result in an arrest and only in about 2.5% of the total cases did officers seize contraband.

According to data provided by the Boston Police Department, about 23% of the police department is black, a number close to 2010 Census data on the black population of Boston (24.4%). The police department released its own preliminary findings on Wednesday and said in an emailed statement that the data released by the ACLU doesn’t paint the whole picture.

“When the final report is complete, the BPD will seek the advice of an outside consultant to advise on whether there are further steps the Department can take to ensure officers are appropriately conducting FIO’s,” the BPD statement said. “Until then it would be irresponsible and inflammatory to promulgate study findings out of context.”

The report comes on the heels of civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, one of several tumultuous events over the summer that highlighted tensions between urban and African-American communities and the officers that police them.

TIME Companies

Chobani Founder to Donate $2 Million to Aid Syrian Refugees

Hamdi Ulukaya, a billionaire and founder, president and chief executive officer of Chobani Inc. in London on July 17, 2013.
Hamdi Ulukaya, a billionaire and founder, president and chief executive officer of Chobani Inc. in London on July 17, 2013. Bloomberg/Getty Images

“We should consider Kobani the way that we helped Somalia and other places in need”

The Turkish founder of a company that sells a popular brand of Greek yogurt has pledged to donate $2 million to aid refugees in areas around his home country that have been seized by Islamist militants.

Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, who was born in Turkey and now lives in the U.S., donated the funds to help people in Kobani, a town bordering Syria and Turkey that has been besieged by Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

The businessman told Turkish media outlet the Hurriyet Daily News that he is “not interested in the political aspect of the situation” there, but rather wants to help the citizens effected by the turmoil. “Either we will be watching the massacre there and will live on with a guilty conscience or we will save people,” he told the Daily News.

The funds will reportedly go to an aid organization in the region, though Ulukaya has not identified which one yet; he is currently accepting applications from local NGOs. The 42-year-old is encouraging others to donate as well saying, “We should consider Kobane the way that we helped Somalia and other places in need.”

Ulukaya is the mastermind behind Chobani, one of the U.S.’s largest snack companies. Though its known for its Greek yogurt, “chobani” is a Turkish word. The company has also been scrutinized for being “junk food;” it was sued in June for not being as healthy as some consumers thought.

[Hurriyet Daily News]

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