VOTER SUPPRESSION 101

Voter Suppression.

It’s something I hadn’t spent much time thinking about until this election cycle. The GOP has driven so far to the right that their base threw up their hands and went for a non-politician. The Democratic Party also shifted so far to the right that a progressive movement rose up and got behind the campaign of a not-widely known Senator from Vermont.  Big money and Super Pacs have been deciding elections, the mainstream media’s been selling everyone a line and people have finally begun to notice. It’s been like watching the prequel to “A Tale of Two Cities.”  When a country becomes polarized, what comes next isn’t pretty.

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On Election Day in California, I volunteered to be a legal monitor for the Sanders campaign. The reason I did was because I’d read everything that had happened during the course of other states’ elections. Here’s a sampling:

If I keep writing about this, my post will rival War and Peace, so I will stop.

The media was…. crickets. Or spinning and misreporting, until the night before the California election (and the other remaining states that hadn’t voted) they announced that Hillary Clinton had won the Democratic nomination. This was reported despite the fact that superdelegates don’t vote until July 25, 2016.  http://bigstory.ap.org/article/4c9c850385c84b12ad5b85fda49743f9/after-weekend-wins-clinton-cusp-democratic-nomination

The irresponsibility of this act, on top of everything else, made me believe that volunteering was an absolute necessity. I received training late the night before from a hard-working, bleary-eyed lawyer who was trying to get everything coordinated. Around 1 a.m. I received my assignment and credentials. I was assigned to a precinct with an expected high voter turnout near downtown San Diego.

Showing up at 6:30 a.m. with donuts and a 12 pack traveler of coffee from Starbucks for the poll workers, I was still initially viewed with suspicion by them. I was finally allowed to sit quietly on a couch in the room and watch. I had access to an app to check voter registration and a link to a website to check polling locations.

Voters were standing at the door when it opened at 7 a.m. and remained steady throughout the day. As it progressed, I began to see that there was a really large problem occurring: HALF of the people voting were being given provisional ballots.

In California, a provisional ballot is given instead of a regular ballot for a number of reasons. Maybe a voter doesn’t have their mail in ballot to surrender (no, you can’t vote twice), they’re voting in the wrong polling place or they don’t have proof they are registered to vote.  Many people were first time voters and had chosen to register as No Party Preference. They could then choose to vote Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party or No Party Preference. That’s a complicated mess to begin with.

Unfortunately, many of the voters didn’t bring their mail in ballots and didn’t want to go back home get them or hadn’t received their mail in ballots. Some were registered with the wrong party. One young lady was shocked to learn she was registered Republican, when she clearly didn’t fit their demographic. Some didn’t want to walk the few blocks to their correct polling place and some couldn’t get back in time to vote at their regular polling place but felt it was important to vote.  I helped almost every other voter figure out a problem via my app or online. As the man supervising the precinct told me when he got back from making his rounds to the other locations, “It’s Provisional City.”

Why am I telling you this? Why should you care?

Because it’s been announced that Clinton has won California and there’s still 2.6 million ballots that have not been counted, largely provisional. Since the Democratic election was within 450,000 votes between the two candidates, 2.6 million might change things around.  http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/article82909752.html

Again, why should you care? Hasn’t President Obama already endorsed Mrs. Clinton? Isn’t she the nominee? Here’s a recent video by Lee Camp:  http://yt2fb.com/epic-rant-against-media-for-not-mentioning-lawsuit-2/

Not really. She’s the “presumptive” nominee. There’s still that July 25th vote by the Superdelegates to consider. And did you know Washington D.C. still hasn’t voted yet?http://heavy.com/news/2016/06/did-hillary-clinton-win-clinch-nomination-associated-press-ap-delegate-count-bernie-sanders-numbers/

And in case you’re wondering why the Sanders campaign is continuing and his supporters are largely ignoring a call to “Unite Blue,” this is the Pre-K version of what’s been happening. As Americans, we’ve been told our vote matters, that it’s one of our most important rights. From what I’ve seen in this election, if you believe that,  you know about the oceanfront property in Arizona I’m going to sell you.

Wake Up. Get Involved. You Matter.

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As a great man said, “Change starts from the bottom up.”

How To Be a More Effective Communicator Than the President

I’ve been a fan of Marc Maron’s WTF podcast quite awhile and was surprised President Barack Obama had decided to visit Marc’s garage in LA and give an interview.

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Then I listened to it.

And I got annoyed. (And for anyone who thinks I’m going down Politics Road, sorry to disappoint.)

President Obama is known for giving moving and commanding speeches. However, delivering a prepared speech (read from a teleprompter, notes or even from memory) is a lot different than answering extemporaneous questions or giving an interview.

If you want to be a great communicator, you have to think about all areas of speaking and abstain from some of the problems that have crept into the President’s speech.

Avoid Filler Words

Our Needs Improvement Communicator- in-Chief’s words were sprinkled with ums, uhs and you knows. Known as “filler” words, they have no place in your discourse if you want to sound authoritative.

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Here are some examples of things you should work to eradicate from your speaking:

  • Uh, um and er creep into speech when you’re thinking about what you’re going to say next and forget to close your mouth.
  • Like is Valley Girl speak. Or as used by Will.i. am and scolded hysterically by Miriam Margolys in this clip from the BBC’s Graham Norton show
  • Don’t use xerox or repeat words. Here are some examples:  “I-I” or “You know- You know” etc. Just say it once.
  • You know is a phrase that you shouldn’t use unless you need to say “Do you know what you’re doing?” or other appropriate sentences.
  • The words so or and so are unnecessary when you’re transitioning from one sentence to the next.

Don’t Drop Your G’s

Here are some examples of some words ending with g’s: reading, thinking, going, caring, saying…You get it.

Here’s how the President pronounces them: readin’, thinkin’, goin’, carin’, sayin’…

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I don’t know where he dropped his G’s, but I hope he doesn’t have to pay for them to stay  there.  Not completely pronouncing a word is fine for casual conversation, but consistently missing a G doesn’t elevate your level of conversation.

“Folks”

Whenever President Obama refers to people, he calls them “folks.”  If this happened occasionally, it could work. However, he does it all the time, even when discussing serious matters.

Please stop.

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Being A Great Communicator Takes Practice

Once you’ve learned how to listen for filler and crutch words, you’ll notice them everywhere. You’ll hear them used by politicians, professional athletes, actors and anyone who hasn’t practiced speaking in front of the public.

At Toastmaster meetings, where people can learn to become better speakers, a dog clicker is used each time a person slips up.  The once innocuous tool used to discipline pets becomes a dreaded but effective method to eradicate bad habits in speech. Filler words quickly cease.

If you want to be a better speaker, practice eradicating these small problems from your speech and you’ll be able to say that you are a more effective communicator than the President.

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