California Editorial Rdp

Oct. 10

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat on voter turnout

Teens are registering at unprecedented rates. More than 200,000 have registered since 2016, and there is time for that number to grow even larger before the Oct. 22 voter registration deadline.

It’s not just teens. According to Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a record number of Californians of all ages have registered to vote — more than 19 million according to the most recent voter report. That’s up by 1.5 million from 2014, and the total is an impressive 76 percent of Californians eligible to vote.

While the registration numbers are encouraging, the real test is how many of those potential voters cast a ballot.

Midterm elections generally have abysmal turnout — and turnout by young voters is typically lower than any other group. The 2014 midterms saw the lowest turnout for any statewide November election, a dismal 36 percent. And only 8 percent of eligible 18- to 24-year-olds voted that year.

Americans had a taste of higher turnout this year in the primaries when a surge in voters, especially Democrats, drove rates higher. Turnout was still only a bit more than one-third of potential voters, but that was a substantial increase for primary elections.

The left and young people seem especially motivated this year. The surprise election of Donald Trump in 2016, his abysmal presidency and congressional Republicans’ refusal to do anything to hold him accountable appear to be energizing voters in California and other blue states. Meanwhile, mass shootings such as the one in Parkland, Florida, seem to be motivating teens to get involved. Some recent polling suggests that Republicans are increasingly focused on the midterms, too.

California, which voted 107 years ago today to allow women to vote in state and local elections, has been doing its part recently to encourage more youth to vote. A new program allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register so they’re set to cast ballots when they turn 18.

Some groups are working to make sure California’s young voters show up to the polls. Rise California, a nonprofit working for free tuition at the state’s public universities, has created a peer-to-peer messaging platform, called VoteCrew, designed to help teens convince their friends to vote.

VoteCrew is taking the right approach by focusing on personal contact and motivation from friends, Eric McGhee, a research fellow at California’s Public Policy Institute, told the San Francisco Chronicle. Research has shown that pressure from people you know works to get voters out.

Americans vote at much lower rates than other industrial democracies. When more people participate, elected officials will more accurately reflect the diverse communities of this state and this nation.

Youth — and anyone else — who want their voices to matter must do more than register. They must show up on Election Day


Oct. 8

The San Diego Union-Tribune on an internet bill of rights

The Sept. 28 revelation that Facebook had its largest privacy breach yet was just one more reminder that allowing giant tech companies to warehouse and monetize trillions of bits of personal information about their users has a huge downside. That made the timing right for Rep. Ro Khanna — the Santa Clara Democrat who represents much of Silicon Valley — to introduce a 10-point “internet bill of rights” in an interview with The New York Times.

Some of the 10 points seem duplicative, and some are much weaker or more controversial than others. But the first two are obvious and badly needed. Internet users would have the right “to have access to and knowledge of all collection and uses of personal data by companies,” and consumers would have to affirmatively “opt in” before their information can be collected and shared with third parties.

This would change, not devastate, the business models of companies like Facebook and Google. The companies could simply charge people who didn’t opt in for their services. That’s likely to be a good enough incentive to opt in for tens of millions of Americans who love what the companies provide.

Unfortunately, the tech giants who have reaped fortunes from the online Wild West are sure to be bitterly opposed. Khanna thinks he’s in a fight that will take 15 years to win. Well, let’s get started. If not, online privacy issues could keep getting worse.


Oct. 10

The Los Angeles Times on Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley, who on Tuesday announced her resignation as the U.S. representative to the United Nations, was less strident than the president who appointed her — not much of an achievement, given President Trump’s often reckless rhetoric. Haley also worked with diplomats from other nations to achieve some important objectives, including sanctions against North Korea that pressured Pyongyang into negotiations about a possible end to its nuclear weapons program.

But Haley’s abiding contribution in nearly two years at her post was to defend policies that isolated the United States from the U.N. and the international community — and pushed the job toward irrelevance. In her resignation letter, the former South Carolina governor echoed Trump’s campaign slogan by boasting that “we stood strong for American values and interests, always placing America first.” But like the president, she seems to assume that this country benefits when it refuses to work with other nations. More often, the opposite is true.

In 2017 Haley wielded the U.S. veto to block a Security Council resolution criticizing Trump’s provocative and unnecessary decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step previous administrations of both parties had refused to take because of the feared consequences for the peace process. The resolution was supported by all of the other members of the Security Council, including France and the United Kingdom.

Then there is the Iran nuclear accord, which had been endorsed in a Security Council resolution; Haley took a leading role in publicly laying out the case against it. In May, Trump not only followed Haley’s implicit advice, but he also announced that the U.S. was withdrawing from the agreement and would reimpose sanctions on Iran. That reckless decision has unsettled U.S. relations with its European allies, which continue to support the agreement for the simple reason that Iran is complying with its terms.

Finally, Haley and Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo announced in June that the U.S. was withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council, even though she later acknowledged that that body “has brought the injustice suffered by political prisoners to international attention.” She said that the council’s positive contributions were “the exceptions, not the rule,” and that it had “focused its attention unfairly and relentlessly on Israel.” But rather than try to influence the council to be more even-handed, the administration walked away.

This is not a record of which either Trump or Haley can be proud. Her successor will inherit a much diminished position, answering to a president who seems to doubt that this job matters.

Categories: California News