You Might be Eligible to Vote and Don’t Know it
With elections fast approaching, it seems like a good time to get the word out about voting reform in our state. In 2009 a bill was passed that restored the right of convicted felons to vote. More than three years later many citizens are unaware of this fact and still assume that they cannot register.
The reform measure made it possible for individuals who are no longer in prison (and are no longer under state-supervised parole or probation) to vote. Even if the individual still has a debt to repay, he or she is automatically eligible. If you are unsure whether you are able to register you can take an online quiz on voting rights at http://aclu-wa.org/quiz-voting-rights.
The Legislative Director of ACLU-WA, Shankar Narayan, stated that “[p]eople who vote are at less risk of reoffending, and that leads to safer communities for us all.” So help spread the word – and happy voting!
“People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote – a very different thing.” Walter H. Judd
Seahawks v Packers: American Justice?
No one who was watching the game this past Monday thought that the Seahawks were going to win. With the Hawks lagging behind 12-7 and down to their final play, it seemed like a sure thing for Green Bay. Then quarterback Russell Wilson threw a desperation pass all the way to the end zone and suddenly there was hope for Seahawks fans. Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings and Seahawks receiver Golden Tate both jumped for it in a seemingly simultaneous catch, although it was difficult to ascertain who had control of the ball. The ruling on the field was in favor of the Seahawks. Upon review, the officials upheld the on-field ruling. The next day the NFL reviewed the ruling again, and again confirmed the previous rulings.
Why do we have this method of review? In a sense, it mirrors our court system. The lowest court acts as the referees on the field, observing the actual players, taking in the facts. It can seem as if one side has it “won,” when suddenly a witness introduces new evidence that makes the judge or jury start to scratch their heads. Once the facts have been presented (or the play has come to an end) a ruling must be made. If the decision is sent up for review to an appellate court, the acting judge is no longer on the “field.” He or she does not hear actual testimony, but simply reviews the previous decision and the facts as they were gleaned from the lower court. The original ruling is either upheld or overturned. The theory behind multiple levels of review is that with more scrutiny, the closer we can get to truth and justice. That said, the process can sometimes seem unfair. Judges (and referees) have varying levels of expertise, and different judges can view the same facts in a different light, making the ultimate decision depend upon which judge heard the case last. As Green Bay Packers fans, and many participants in the American legal system know, it is an imperfect system!