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It’s taking more time to cast a ballot in US elections – and even longer for Black and Hispanic voters

A 2014 US Presidential Commission set a guideline that voters should not have to wait more than 30 minutes to cast their ballots. In some voting districts,…



Voters line up at a polling station in Houston to cast their ballots during the Texas presidential primary on March 3, 2020. Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the November 2020 election brought out about 155 million voters. That represented 67% of Americans over 18, and it was the highest voter turnout of any modern election.

Americans also set records in the percent and number of people voting early and by mail, continuing a decadeslong trend away from voting only on election day.

That was the good news.

The 2020 elections also saw record numbers of Americans forced to wait longer to vote, partly because of the increased number of voters and the difficulties of safely voting during a lethal pandemic. Tellingly, as in the past, if you waited over 30 minutes to cast a vote, you were more likely to be a low-income Black American.

Since 2012, when more than 5 million Americans were forced to wait longer than an hour to cast their ballots, long waits have become a visible indicator of voting problems.

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration stated in 2014 that “No citizen should have to wait more than 30 minutes to vote.”

Eight years later, that goal is further away than before. Where you are and who you are significantly affect how long it will take you to vote. As well as demanding more time and commitment – including arrangements for child care if needed – long waits can discourage future voting.

Increasing wait times

Average waits nationally increased to 14.3 minutes in 2020 from 10.4 minutes in 2016, a 40% jump. These waits were concentrated in poorer neighborhoods with a higher percentage of nonwhite voters.

A further indication that waiting is a growing problem was its addition in 2022 to the voting inconvenience category by the Cost of Voting Index project, which measures the ease or difficulty of voting in individual states.

Hundreds of people dressed in winter jackets wait in line to vote.
Hundreds of voters wait in line at an early voting site in Farmingville, N.Y., on Oct. 27, 2020. John Paraskevas/Newsday RM via Getty Images

While the great majority of Americans waited only a few minutes to vote in 2020, a significant minority did not.

One in 7 voters – 14.3% – waited longer than the 30-minute 2014 goal set by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, compared with 1 in 12 – 8.3% – in 2016. And 1 in 16 voters – 6.3% – surveyed by the MIT Election Data Science Lab waited over an hour.

Twelve states – including Alabama, Georgia, New York, Indiana and Maryland – exceeded that average. In 2020, Delaware voters reported the highest average wait at 35 minutes – up strikingly from 5 minutes in 2016. South Carolina had the second-longest wait at 30 minutes, up from its nation-leading 20 minutes in 2016.

But the time spent waiting in line to cast a ballot is only the most visible cost of voting.

The full cost not only includes the actual vote, but also the time and effort of registration, staying registered and the nonpartisan counting and administration of the vote. Most election administration officials are partisan figures, though they are expected to administer the election in a nonpartisan manner.

Partisan voting laws

Political parties are using the voting process itself as a way to gain advantage.

Researchers have found a correlation between the number of Republican legislators in a state and the greater the cost to vote will be disproportionately to Black voters.

In at least one state, Florida from 2004 to 2016, as the number of Democratic voters increased in a county, so did the number of voters per poll worker, thus increasing the potential for waiting and other delays.

Strict voter identification laws appear to disproportionately affect minority voters but not overall voter turnout, although the full impact of these laws remains uncertain.

In 2021-22, 21 states passed 42 laws making voting more difficult. Some of those laws include imposing new photo ID requirements, limiting Election Day registration and requiring voters to provide identification numbers when they apply to vote by mail.

On the other side, 25 states passed 62 laws making voting easier. In June 2022, for example, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law the landmark John Lewis Voting Rights Act that created new legal protections against voter suppression, vote dilution and voter intimidation.

Despite the greater number of bills that made voting easier, the restrictive laws were more encompassing, often rolling back successful pandemic-based efforts to encourage early and absentee voting. Despite research showing no partisan advantage to early and absentee voting, restrictive laws were passed primarily in Republican states and expansive laws primarily in Democratic states.

A gigantic banner with the words Early Voting hangs on a wall above dozens of people waiting to vote.
Voters line up inside State Farm Arena, Georgia’s largest early voting location, for the first day of early voting in the general election on Oct. 12, 2020, in Atlanta. Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

A question of fairness

The effect of these laws on turnout is uncertain, especially if they inspire a “backlash mobilization” or civic education efforts. Lawsuits may block some laws. In early October 2022, a Montana state judge deemed three laws unconstitutional – one that required additional identification if voting with a student ID, another that halted third-party ballot collection and a third that banned same-day voter registration.

The last two laws would have adversely affected Native Americans, who might live 50 miles from a polling place.

In September 2021, the GOP-controlled Texas legislature passed a new election law that restricted early voting, tightened absentee voting, instituted new rules for voter assistance and added criminal penalties for some violations.

One ramification occurred during the 2022 primary, when Texas election officials rejected over 12% of absentee ballots, a huge increase from the normal 1% to 2%.

While rejections equally affected voters in Republican and Democratic Texas primaries, strict rules about who could vote absentee meant most of those disqualified voters were over 65 or had disabilities.

Depending on who was the majority party, Texas Democratic and Republican politicians have long led the nation in making voting difficult for Black citizens since the end of the Civil War, and more recently once Republicans gained power in the 1980s.

In 2020, Republican Governor Greg Abbott restricted ballot drop boxes to only one per county, giving the 4.7 million people in the 1,778 square miles of Harris County, which is 20.3% Black, the same ability to drop off their ballot as the 10,500 people in the 275 square miles of Franklin County, which is 4.8% Black.

Before the ban, Harris County intended to provide 11 ballot boxes for easier access. Abbott claimed he was increasing ballot security, but the reality was that he increased the difficulty for city dwellers, who increasingly lean Democratic and nonwhite, to vote.

Perhaps the country’s most restrictive election law, Georgia’s Election Integrity Act of 2021, reduced mail and early voting while making the State Election Board a more political office. Fulton County, the largest county with over a million people and is 44.7% Black, will be limited to eight ballot drop boxes – all indoors – instead of the usual 38 outdoor drop boxes. In addition, the law banned the county from using mobile voting buses.

Media attention, however, focused on a ban on offering food or water to voters within 150 feet of a polling place or within 25 feet of voters waiting in line. An exception was made for poll workers and election judges who can provide water to voters.

Just as some nonprofits have helped states improve the clarity and legibility of their ballots, so too could similar nonpartisan expertise of resource optimization and supply chain management improve the administration of elections.

Like other state governments, Georgia could minimize the time needed to vote if it provided the resources, training and communication to its staff that administers elections, and thus encourage American citizens to exercise their ability to vote.

“A cornerstone of our election process is fundamental fairness,” Matthew Weil, the Bipartisan Policy Center Elections Project director, stated. “If different people are experiencing the election system, the voting experience, quite unequally, that’s a problem – full stop.”

Jonathan Coopersmith is a Democrat and has contributed to numerous campaigns, causes, and organizations, including the Brennan Center. He prefers to vote early.

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Tesla rival Stellantis unveils its lowest price electric vehicles

The Big Three automaker unveils details on its low-priced electric vehicles that will be delivered over the next two years.



Electric vehicle manufacturers have realized that the prices of their cars are making it more difficult for many of them to compete against makers of lower-priced internal combustion engine vehicles.

Tesla saw its third quarter deliveries fall below market estimates, prompting Elon Musk's company in early October to lower the list price of the Model 3 from $40,240 to $38,990 and its industry leading seller Model Y has recently fallen from $47,740 to $43,990.

Related: Tesla Japanese rivals debut concept vehicles in latest challenge

Tesla top rival Ford already cut the price of its all-electric Mustang Mach-E by up to $4,000 in May and its F-150 Lightning by about $10,000 in July.

Stellantis revealing entry-level electric cars

Stellantis  (STLA) - Get Free Report has been busy revealing low-priced entry-level electric vehicles that it plans to begin selling in 2024 to compete with French automaker Renault in Europe as well as Chinese EV companies. The company in August said it would unveil a second new entry-level Fiat-branded electric vehicle in July 2024 that will be priced less than €25,000 or about $27,390. The company, however, didn't say when the vehicle might be sold in the U.S.

The company said in June that it will deliver the new Citroën e-C3 electric car to Europe in early 2024. The Citroën e-C3 was expected to have a range of 186 miles on a charge and would be among lowest priced EVs on the market. Stellantis had already said it would bring Fiat's best-selling EV, the Fiat 500e, to the U.S. market in 2024 to compete against Tesla and the growing U.S. EV market.

Citroën e-C3 all-electric subcompact hatchback.


Big Three automaker unveils its low-priced electric vehicles

Stellantis on Oct. 17 revealed its updated all-new, all-electric Citroën e-C3, which is its first European-designed, European-built B-segment, or subcompact, EV hatchback. The new vehicle is now estimated to have a 199-mile range, charging 20% to 80% of capacity in as little as 26 minutes. The EV accelerates 0 to 62 mph in 11 seconds with a provisional top speed of 84 mph for everyday driving and traffic in urban and suburban areas.

The company estimates that the vehicle will be priced below £23,000 ($27,900) in the UK. No word yet if the Citroën e-C3 will roll out in the U.S.

In 2025, Stellantis will offer a Citroën e-C3 with a 200 km- or 124-mile range and priced at €19,990 or $21,068, the company said. That price would be lower than any new EV sold in the U.S. today. General Motors  (GM) - Get Free Report Chevy Bolt's lowest manufacturer suggest retail price is $26,500, while the 2024 Nissan  (NSANY) - Get Free Report Leaf has a starting price of $28,140.

The new Citroën e-C3 will be available in three versions You, Plus and Max. The You version's standard equipment includes LED headlights, Citroën Advanced Comfort Suspension, Active Safety Brake, the new Citroën Head Up Display, ‘My Citroen Play with Smartphone Station’ for infotainment, electric door mirrors, auto lighting, rear parking radar, rear spoiler, cruise control, manual air conditioning, and six airbags.

Plus vehicles include 17-inch alloy wheels, Citroën’s two-tone paint with contrasting roof, decorative roof rails, front and rear skid plates, the 10.25-inch color touchscreen with smartphone mirroring, Citroën Advanced Comfort Seats, auto wipers, power-folding and heated door mirrors, leather-effect steering wheel, 60/40 folding second-row seat, and driver seat adjustment.

The premium Max version additionally has LED rear lights, rear privacy glass, enhanced seat textiles, automatic air conditioning, 3D navigation, wireless charging, rear camera, electrochrome rear-view mirror, and rear power windows.

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Putin, Xi In Beijing Pitch For ‘Alternative World Order’ As Biden Departs A Burning Middle East

Putin, Xi In Beijing Pitch For ‘Alternative World Order’ As Biden Departs A Burning Middle East

As a Rabobank note has highlighted, the main…



Putin, Xi In Beijing Pitch For 'Alternative World Order' As Biden Departs A Burning Middle East

As a Rabobank note has highlighted, the main theme on display during Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin's Wednesday talks in Beijing was one of "common threats" bringing the two "dear friends" closer, according to a press readout. Observed Rabobank earlier in the day, "Meanwhile, as the Middle East rages and the West recoils, Xi Jinping welcomes Russia’s Putin and a host of Global South leaders, ex-India, to his Beijing Belt and Road Forum to talk about what an alternative world order might look like. The ‘global’ Western press mostly failed to even cover it."

Putin said at a media briefing following the meeting with his Chinese counterpart, "We discussed in detail the situation in the Middle East." He added: "I informed Chairman (Xi) about the situation that is developing on the Ukrainian track, also quite in detail." The Russian leader then emphasized: 

"All these external factors are common threats, and they strengthen Russian-Chinese interaction."

AFP/Getty Images

CNN subsequently called it a "pitch for a new world order" at a moment crisis has gripped the Middle East.

Yet, almost simultaneously, Bloomberg reported that Biden is overseeing a fast unfolding disaster in the Middle East:

President Joe Biden’s 7.5-hour trip to Tel Aviv signaled full US backing for Israel but fell short on another key goal: winning over Arab leaders.

Amid growing signs the conflict may be spinning out of control, Biden made plain that the US will protect its ally, sending a clear message to rivals in the region like Iran to stay out of the fight. With one US aircraft carrier in the area and another on the way, Biden promised a new package of “unprecedented support.”

The Bloomberg headline aptly reads, "Biden’s Whirlwind Israel Trip Fails to Calm Fears of Wider Middle East Conflict." At this time, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt are on edge - with Western and Saudi embassies reducing staff and issuing travel advisories. 

Meanwhile, related to Xi's Belt and Road (the purpose of the gathering in Beijing), Putin praised the potential for it to usher in a "fairer, multi-polar world" as Moscow and Beijing grow closer based on "deep friendship"

In his speech at the opening ceremony, Putin hailed Xi’s flagship foreign policy Belt and Road Initiative as “aiming to form a fairer, multi-polar world,” while touting his country’s deep alignment with China.

Russia and China share an “aspiration for equal and mutually beneficial cooperation,” which includes “respecting civilization diversity and the right of every state for their own development model” – he added, in an apparent push back against calls for authoritarian leaders to promote human rights and political freedoms at home.

This is at a moment Putin is "wanted" by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and shunned and sanctioned by the West, while at the same time Global South countries are expressing growing anger at Israel's unrelenting bombing of the Gaza Strip, as the Palestinian death toll soars into the thousands.

Directly related to this, a Thursday UN Security Council resolution brought by Brazil and seeking a ceasefire in Gaza was shot down, given the US was the only "no" vote.

Also missed by the mainstream media was the following pro-China sentiment expressed by a top Palestinian official over a week ago:

China will soon lead the world, and it supports the “Palestinian position, whatever it may be,” according to Fatah’s Central Committee member Abbas Zaki.

In a public address that aired on Palestine TV on Sept. 29, Abbas Zaki called on the United States to “reconsider its stance” with regard to Israel or risk becoming irrelevant. The Israelis, he said, were “sons of bitches,” “murderers” and agents of instability, while the Palestinians are “messengers of peace.”

“I know that there is serious change in Europe and even in the United States,” said Zaki.

But, he added, “do not forget the emerging camp, which is on your side—the Chinese camp. China is going to lead the world, and it proclaims: ‘There can be no stability and progress without the liberation of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.'”

Putin too, has expressed more sympathies with the Palestinian side, days ago warning Israel of the "catastrophic" death toll its attacks on Gaza will result in. He has also held calls with Arab leaders, seeking to mediate peace and a possible two-state solution.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/18/2023 - 19:40

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Survey delivers bleak news for remote workers

Remote work is increasingly under fire.



Covid-era alternative work solutions have come under fire as businesses increasingly deploy a carrot-and-stick approach to convincing employees to return to offices.

Technology titan Meta Platforms  (META) - Get Free Report, which owns Facebook, threatened poor performance reviews if workers failed to attend offices three times weekly. JP Morgan Chase  (JPM) - Get Free Report CEO Jamie Dimon recently suggested workers uncomfortable with returning to offices should look for employment elsewhere.

Workers don’t like the idea of giving up the flexibility afforded by remote work, but a recent survey shows that these workers may face an uphill battle if they hope to continue working from home.

A woman working on a laptop in a cafe, on Sept. 14, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto/Getty Images

Remote work loses its luster

Companies big and small rushed to offer flexible alternative work schedules like remote and hybrid work during Covid. Remote work quickly became a key benefit used to fill jobs created by those who took early retirement and newly created positions in response to demand growth fueled by easy-money policies.

Related: Facebook issues more tough-luck news to workers

Remote work initially appeared to be a win/win for companies and employees. It allowed businesses to source job candidates nationally rather than locally and sometimes save money by closing expensive offices. Meanwhile, workers could live in the suburbs rather than crowded cities and save money by eliminating expensive childcare costs.

Unfortunately, the love affair with remote work has soured over the past year.

Businesses, from technology to financial services, have rolled back remote work, citing a need for increased collaboration and greater productivity. Many companies have likely sought to reduce the number of remote workers as part of layoff plans or to fill otherwise vacant office spaces.

Businesses are winning the return-to-office battle

Worker surveys suggest employees prefer remote work. However, they’re losing the battle with employers demanding more office face time.

The Census Bureau’s latest Household Pulse Survey shows remote work has reached a new post-pandemic low, with declines seen in all 50 states, reports Bloomberg.

More Jobs:

The survey showed that fewer than 26% of households include someone who works remotely at least one day weekly. That’s a significant drop-off from the high of 37% in 2021. A total of 31 states had remote work rates above 33% at the peak. Now, only seven states exceed that hurdle.

States with the highest percentages of remote workers are typically Democratic states, mainly on the east and west coasts. Middle America and the South boast some of the lowest rates of remote work.

There’s also a more significant push for a return to office (RTO) in major metro markets where office building valuations are tumbling because of empty offices. During its recent quarterly conference call, Goldman Sachs  (GS) - Get Free Report told investors that it reduced valuations on office properties in its portfolio by 50%.

The impact of lower valuations on financial companies could contribute to the stricter return to office demands. Big banks like JP Morgan have been among the most vocal in demanding RTO, and they’re also heavily exposed to commercial real estate.

For instance, in addition to loans held on commercial properties, JP Morgan is building a new multibillion-dollar headquarters in New York City.

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