Amid Long Voting Lines And Claims Of A ‘Rigged System,’ Does My Vote Matter? – PAM FESSLER June 14, 2016 5:00 AM ET

Ohio voters at the polls in Cincinnati for the state's primary on March 15.

Ohio voters at the polls in Cincinnati for the state’s primary on March 15.

John Sommers II/Getty Images

This week, NPR and some member stations will be talking about what the 2016 primary season has revealed about voters’ confidence in the American electoral system.

This year’s primaries have been filled with complaints about the voting process. Voters in Arizona were furious that they had to wait up to five hours to cast ballots. Thousands of New Yorkers had their names mistakenly dropped from voter registration rolls.

Republican candidate Donald Trump called his party’s nominating system “rigged.” Bernie Sanders said the Democrats’ nominating system was “dumb.”

And many state voting laws, like strict new photo ID requirements, faced court challenges by those who said they would block minorities and other voters from participating in the election. Supporters defended the laws as necessary to prevent fraud at the polls.

All this controversy has left many voters uneasy, and raised questions about how confident Americans are that their votes count, and will be counted accurately in November.

Actually, Most Voters Are Pretty Happy

So far at least, voters do seem to have faith that the system works. Most say they’re confident — at least somewhat — that their votes will be counted correctly.

Charles Stewart, a political scientist at MIT, says that’s crucial in a democracy.

“Ultimately the legitimacy of government rests on the belief among the losers that it was a fair fight,” he says.

Stewart has asked voters for years about their experiences at the polls. And he’s found, for the overwhelming majority of voters, things go surprisingly well.

In surveys after the 2012 and 2014 elections, at least 97 percent of voters said their polling places were run “very well.” Most people waited less than 10 minutes to vote. Very few people had problems with voting machines. And 90 percent or more said they were very or somewhat confident that their ballots were counted as cast.

But Stewart says a voter’s view also depends on whom they voted for.

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Hundreds Protesting Political System Arrested On Capitol’s Steps – Peter Overby April 11, 20167:26 PM ET

Power, Money and Influence Correspondent

As NPR’s correspondent covering campaign finance and lobbying, Peter Overby totes around a business card that reads Power, Money & Influence Correspondent. Some of his lobbyist sources call it the best job title in Washington.

Overby was awarded an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia silver baton for his coverage of the 2000 campaign and the 2001 Senate vote to tighten the rules on campaign finance. The citation said his reporting “set the bar” for the beat.

In 2008, he teamed up with the Center for Investigative Reporting on the Secret Money Project, an extended multimedia investigation of outside-money groups in federal elections.

Joining with NPR congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook in 2009, Overby helped to produce Dollar Politics, a multimedia examination of the ties between lawmakers and lobbyists, as Congress considered the health-care overhaul bill. The series went on to win the annual award for excellence in Washington-based reporting given by the Radio and Television Correspondents Association.

Noam Chomsky: “I have never seen such lunatics in the political system” – SIMONE CHUN, ALTERNATE SUNDAY, MAR 13, 2016 01:30 PM PDT

The philosopher and linguist lays waste to the Republican field and sounds the alarm about Hillary’s foreign policy

Noam Chomsky: "I have never seen such lunatics in the political system"
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNetProfessor Chomsky was interviewed in Boston by the writer and activist Simone Chun for the Hankyoreh newspaper. Here is the English translation of the interview, courtesy of Ms. Chun. She was accompanied in her first meeting with Prof. Chomsky in November 2015 (pictured) by Christine Ahn, the founder of Women Cross DMZ, which led a historic march across the North-South Korean border last May (full disclosure, Ms. Chun, Ms. Ahn and myself are all affiliated with the Korea Peace Institute). 

Ms. Chun’s interview recently took place, at Professor Chomsky’s office at MIT. Here is the Q&A. 

Chun: Do you feel that there will be any significant change in the foreign policy of the United States after President Obama?

Chomsky: If Republicans are elected, there could be major changes that will be awful. I have never seen such lunatics in the political system. For instance, Ted Cruz’s response to terrorism is to carpet-bomb everyone.

Chun: Would you expect that Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy would be different from President Obama’s?

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The Hundred Rich People Who Run America – Mark McKinnon 01.05.15

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty

A hundred ultra-wealthy liberal and conservative donors have taken over the political system. Do we have the guts to take it back?

We are well past the point that anyone will be shocked or even surprised by how distorted our system of funding campaigns has become, but thanks to some excellent reporting by Ken Vogel at Politico, we now have some interesting new perspective.

We have reached a tipping point where mega donors completely dominate the landscape. The 100 largest donors in the 2014 cycle gave almost as much money to candidates as the 4.75 million people who gave $200 or less (and certainly that number goes from “almost” to “more” if we could include contributions that are not required by law to be disclosed).

Think about this for a minute. This is consequential. It means that candidates running for office are genuflecting before an audience of 100 wealthy individuals to fuel their campaigns. So, whose bidding do we think these candidates are going to do? Is it any wonder that the interests of large corporations and unions get to the front of the line?

Liberal Democrats like to blow their bugles about how all the big money in politics comes from rich Republicans. Actually, as Vogel points out, 52 of the 100 top donors are Democrats, and the number one donor by far is Democrat Tom Steyer, who chipped in $74 million.

At least we’ve achieved some bipartisanship somewhere in our political ecosphere. Both parties are now equal opportunity offenders when it comes to gaming the system.

But I don’t fault Steyer or the Koch brothers for trying to exert their influence politics and public policy. They have strongly held beliefs and issues they care about deeply, and they are simply spending a lot of their money to try and change things in a direction they believe would be better. Nothing illegal or unethical about that.

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When Will We See A #Millennial Congress? – Linda Killian 12.26.14

Millennials—rich or otherwise—have been notoriously uninterested in politics. So how do you mobilize a cynical generation?

ZUMA Press/Alamy

Whether it is entertainment, consumer goods or almost anything else that can be purchased, viewed or clicked on, Millennials are the most coveted demographic. There are about 80 million Americans between the ages of 18-34 and next year they are expected to spend $2.45 trillion.

But when it comes to politics and national policy they have relatively little clout because most of them don’t reliably vote and aren’t major political contributors. These young adults have voluntarily checked out of a political system they consider corrupt and dysfunctional.

Last month, a Gallup poll showed Barack Obama’s standing with white millennials down to 34 percent, the lowest rating of his presidency among this group, which reflects not only the disaffection young Americans have with the president but also with both parties and politics in general.

Despite being the country’s largest adult demographic the Millennial participation rate in the November midterm elections was the worst of any age group. Only about 21 percent of adult Millennials cast a ballot and exit polls showed that voters 30 and younger represented only 13 percent of the electorate. However, in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections they were the largest bloc of voters.

The unevenness of Millennial political participation is driven in part by apathy and by the belief that politics is not the way to solve problems. This feeling has been exacerbated by the political dysfunction in Washington and by their disappointment that Obama has not delivered on his promise to change the political system.

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Why so many Americans hate politics – By Dan Balz Chief correspondent August 23 at 11:00 PM

In a time of political polarization, one thing still unites left, right and center: the disdain people have for Washington, their elected leaders and the political system.

Everywhere people look, there are reasons to feel shut out, manipulated or deprived of the whole truth. Big money permeates political campaigns. Political rhetoric is frequently a vehicle for half-truths or pure spin. Members of Congress too often posture rather than legislate.

Dan Balz is Chief Correspondent at The Washington Post. He has served as the paper’s National Editor, Political Editor, White House correspondent and Southwest correspondent. View Archive

The impact is all too predictable. Three in four Americans are dissatisfied with the way the political system works, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. More than eight in 10 say they trust the government to do the right thing only some of the time, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

The Pew Research Center recently found that 55 percent of Americans think the current Congress has accomplished less than recent Congresses — a record high. A survey taken at the end of last year by the National Opinion Research Center and the Associated Press found that six in 10 respondents felt generally pessimistic about how their political leaders are chosen.

Gallup reported last week that only a fifth say members of Congress deserve to be reelected, which if it holds through November would be lowest percentage in a midterm year since Gallup started asking the question in 1992.

Election Lab: See our current forecast for every congressional race in 2014

In campaigns, wealthy people with political agendas now speak loudly. The conservative Koch brothers, who will contribute perhaps several hundred million dollars this cycle to try to influence the outcome of elections, have become symbols of the new era. They may be the most prominent practitioners of an accelerating trend, but billionaires large and small, conservative and liberal, all want in on the action.

The Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and other legal decisions triggered the explosion in super PAC spending, as well as the darker expenditures by entities that collect individual contributions in the millions of dollars but aren’t required to reveal their donors’ names.

There are serious legal and philosophical arguments about the role of money in politics, as well as real debate about the actual influence all this spending has on election results. But perceptions matter, and many Americans see favoritism and possible corruption lurking behind the dollar signs.

Some politicians say they are outraged by all this money, but they can be selective about their targets. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has railed repeatedly against Charles and David Koch on the Senate floor and tried to turn them into the bogeymen of politics. Two months ago, Reid explained his animus toward the brothers, telling NBC’s Chuck Todd, “They are in it to make money.”

That is his right to say. But when it comes to the activities of his fellow Nevadan Sheldon Adelson, Reid has a different view. Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate, put about $100 million into the 2012 presidential campaign on behalf of Republican candidates. “I know Sheldon Adelson,” Reid told Todd. “He’s not in this to make money.”

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