Julia Harte

Writings & wanderings.

Archive for July 2016

In some U.S. cities, police push back against ‘open-carry’ gun laws

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July 19, 2016, Reuters

Steve Thacker with a rifle and a handgun is surrounded by members of the news media in Cleveland's public square in ClevelandTents, ladders, coolers, canned goods, tennis balls and bicycle locks are banned in the area surrounding the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

But guns are fine.

When Ohio Governor John Kasich on Sunday rejected the Cleveland police union’s request to ban the open carrying of firearms near the Quicken Loans Arena, he weighed into a national debate pitting city authorities who contend with gun violence against state lawmakers who answer to gun-loving voters.

Law enforcement leaders in several major cities say municipalities should have to the power to suspend open-carry laws when needed to protect public safety. Currently, 15 of the 45 states that allow openly carried handguns give cities power to restrict those laws, according to a Reuters review of state statutes.

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Written by juliaharte

July 19, 2016 at 3:58 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

U.S. curtails federal election observers

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July 17, 2016, Reuters

A voter casts a ballot during the Harpswell republican town caucus at the Old Orr's Island School House in HarpswellFederal election observers can only be sent to five states in this year’s U.S. presidential election, among the smallest deployments since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 to end racial discrimination at the ballot box.

The plan, confirmed in a U.S. Department of Justice fact sheet seen by Reuters, reflects changes brought about by the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down parts of the Act, a signature legislative achievement of the 1960s civil rights movement.

Voting rights advocates told Reuters they were concerned that the scaling-back of observers would make it harder to detect and counter efforts to intimidate or hinder voters, especially in southern states with a history of racial discrimination at the ballot box.

The Supreme Court ruling undercut a key section of the Act that requires such states to obtain U.S. approval before changing election laws. The court struck down the formula used to determine which states were affected.

By doing so, it ended the Justice Department’s ability to select voting areas it deemed at risk of racial discrimination and deploy observers there, the fact sheet said.

Eleven mostly Southern states had been certified as needing federal observers by the department.

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Written by juliaharte

July 17, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Changes to North Carolina voting laws could put thousands of 2016 ballots at risk

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July 15, 2016, Reuters

A sign points the way toward the voting booths as voting commences in North Carolina's U.S. presidential primary election at Sharon Presbyterian Church in CharlotteOn Election Day in 2014, Joetta Teal went to work at a polling station in Lumberton, North Carolina. Like all poll workers, she was required to stay until voting booths closed, so she decided to cast her own vote there.

That was a mistake, she later discovered. What she didn’t know was that under a 2013 state law she had to vote in the precinct where she lived. The polling station where she voted was not in her precinct, so her vote was not counted.

A Reuters review of Republican-backed changes to North Carolina’s voting rules indicates as many as 29,000 votes might not be counted in this year’s Nov. 8 presidential election if a federal appeals court upholds the 2013 law. Besides banning voters from voting outside their assigned precinct on Election Day, the law also prevents them from registering the same day they vote during the early voting period.

The U.S. Justice Department says the law was designed to disproportionately affect minority groups, who are more likely to vote out of precinct and use same-day registration. Backers of the law deny this and say it will prevent voter fraud.

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Written by juliaharte

July 15, 2016 at 3:53 pm

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