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Besides the obvious presidential election, which I voted early for already, there are a few other elections and states that I’ve got my eye on this year:

  1. Back in May, a California Supreme Court judge ruled their gay marriage ban unconstitutional.  One month later, hundreds of couples (including Ellen Degeneres) got their marriage on.  This, of course, infuriated conservatives, who then garnered enough signatures to take it to the voters, resulting in Proposition 8.  Proposition 8 states that marriage should be between a man and a woman.  This will make for a confusing ballot- those who believe in marriage equality have to vote no on Prop 8, while those who disagree have to vote yes.  Conservatives are pulling out all stops to make this proposition pass, including cyber attacking the No on Prop 8 website.  Check out some awesome videos encouraging people to vote no here.
  2. Another cause near and dear to my heart- animal rights.  Once again, California is taking the lead in reform and has drafted Proposition 2, an animal rights proposition that would outlaw certain types of animal confinement crates, such as gestation crates and battery crates. 
  3. The magic number right now is 60 for the Democratic Party to have a fillibuster-proof majority over the Senate.  There are 12 GOP seats up for election this year, and a few very close races:
  • Ted Stevens, the Republican senator from Alaska, was convicted of corruption charges and ethics violation, yet he still claims to be staying in the race.  Here’s hoping that Alaskans maybe see that whole ethics violation as a bad trait to have in a senator and instead go for Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.
  • Former SNL star and political writer Al Franken is running for a US senate seat in Minnesota against incumbent Norm Coleman and seems to be taking the lead.
  • In North Carolina, incumbent Elizabeth Dole seems to be losing her steam while Democratic candidate Kay Hagan is moving forward.  It’s really tight at this point, but Dole may very well lose her seat.

This is a pretty big election year, for so many obvious and not so obvious reasons.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed for an amazing Election Day and a joyous Wednesday, November 5th.  As for me, I’ll be partying down at Obamapalooza in Grant Park on the night of November 4th.

“Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It’s about making life more fair for women everywhere. It’s not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It’s about baking a new pie.”

Gloria Steinem, Los Angeles Times 9/4/08

Another article worth reading from Salon.com

I’m sure most of you know what today was- the swearing in of the 110th Congress, which is pretty historic in its own right (1st Democratic majority in what, 12 years?). However, the most important part of this day would definitley be the election of Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House (Check out her inspirational speech here). Did anyone catch the fact that she’s the first woman to hold this position?

Guess what that means? That’s right. She’s third in line for the presidency. Now, I know that there has never been an instance where the Speaker has had to assume the position of the President, but with so many organizations formed solely to impeach both Bush AND Cheney, it really makes you think. I know that these organizations have very, very, very little chance in succeeding to impeach both Bush and Cheney, especially with only 2 years left of this reign of terror, but there’s still that question lingering in the air: Is America ready for a female president?

An interesting note: Hillary voted for the war in Iraq. Unlike other Dems like John Kerry, she has never expressed regret over it or a wish to change her vote. Some say that it’s because she’s a woman who may be running for president. If she says she regrets the decision or wishes she could change her vote, that paints her as a big wishy-washy woman. Chew on that.

I’m working on a big Hilary vs. Barack blog, but I’m gonna wait until one (or both) actually declare candidacy. Until then, I’ll leave you with my gut feelings so far: At this point, it’s not a question of whether or not America’s ready for a female president. It’s about whether or not America is ready for Hilary Clinton as president.

We need more PSAs like this

For two years, I lived in a country where corruption ran rampant. Unlike here in the US, it was poorly hidden. Elections were very obvious indicators of this. I was lucky enough to be present during a shot-gun presidential election (the then-president had died tragically in an airplane crash) as well as a parliamentary election AND a referendum. I remember hearing about scare tactics by all parties, extremely biased election judges, and constant ballot box stuffing. While it was disheartening to hear of such raging scandal in a country that I grew to love so dearly, I expected it. It was, after all, a “developing country.”

I now live in Chicago, and we all know the slogan here: “Vote early, vote often!” I had my first experience with the Chicago voting system on Tuesday and was a little surprised at what I found:

I entered the Days Inn Hotel around 12:30 on Election Day, excited to take part in such an important mid-term election. As it was only my second time voting in person, I was a little nervous, but confident that I could maneuver my way around a voting booth. I stepped up to the table, voter card and ID in hand as well as a piece of mail from my current address (my drivers license still has my old ‘burbs address on it). I greeted the kind-looking election judge in front of me, proudly stated my name and extended my hand to give him my voter card.

“Oh no, we don’t need that. You look like an honest face,” the older gentleman told me with a chuckle.

WHAT?! So, does that mean that I could have given any name of anyone that I knew who was registered to vote in my precinct as well as go to any precinct and give any name, as long as I have an honest face? I confusedly took my voter card and proceeded to rock the vote, all the while a little troubled by how easy it apparently is to screw the system.

Funnily enough, it seems as though this election faced the same voting fraud and issues as 2004. Will we hear as much ruckus about it now as we did then? Probably not. Now, don’t get me wrong- I was unbelievably upset at the 2000 and 2004 outcomes and was one of the many liberal voices complaining (although, unfortunately, not doing much else to help solve the problem). Now that the election seems to have gone in favor of the Left, will there be as much of an outcry? Even there is, it doesn’t seem like much is being done about it. In the end, the result was more favorable to the majority, but does that excuse all of the problems that happened on the way to getting that result?

This all begs the question that’s been floating around in my head since Tuesday: Is our voting system really much better than that of the “developing countries” that we dismiss so easily?

I don’t think so.

I go off to lunch, and I come back to see this:

Rumsfeld stepping down

The Republican machine is starting to fall apart. Hallelujah!

Now it may be a little early to start talking about the election while a few crucial races are still being tallied and, unfortunately, may not be determined until December, thanks to Virgina recount laws. But, here’s my recap of the so-far surprising victories, upsetting loses and everything in between (with a special emphasis on IL):

The House

Congratulations to Democrats for gaining (as of 7:15 am CST) 28 seats, which is well over their needed 15. Hooray for Nancy Pelosi becoming the first female Speaker of the House. You know what that means? Only two higher positions left never to be held by a female: vice president and president. (Hillary 2008, anyone? We’ll save that for another day- I’m still undecided.)

Melissa Bean was able to hold her seat in the IL 08 district, my former hometown district. I was shocked at how close the vote was 2 years ago when she was running against Phil Crane, so I’m equally as shocked to see that it wasn’t as close of a race this time around. Nevertheless, I’m glad to see that she gets another 2 years to prove her worth.

As for the bad, unfortunately Tammy Duckworth from the IL 06 district was unable to clinch a victory for that seat. I thought she was a pretty cool chick, but that was a tough campaign from the start. But, on the bright side, losing by about 4,000 votes is pretty darn close.

The Senate

Not much to say about that for now. Still waiting on Montana and Virginia.

Illinois Gubernatorial Race

I am only slightly glad to see Blagojevich win a second term.

I voted Green on this one. No, I didn’t throw my vote away OR take it away from Blagojevich. It was never his to begin with- it was and always will be my vote to do with it what I want. Obviously, Topinka was never a question for me- she does not represent my beliefs nor do I feel that she is any less corrupt than any other politician in Illinois. That led me, at first, to decide to vote for Blagojevich. He’s done some great things for the state, including universal health care for all children and extending health care benefits to same-sex domestic partners of state employees. However, he is unbelievably corrupt, and I just didn’t feel good voting for corruption. So, after realizing that *gasp* there is another option, I checked out Rich Whitney and was really happy with what I saw: an environmentalist, a human rights activist (he’s a civil rights attorney), a HUGE supporter of LGBT rights and the only candidate who was an active supporter of same-sex marriage. I was absolutely thrilled to see this third option and quickly became a Whitney supporter.

No, I never expected him to win the election, but winning 11% of the vote is pretty freaking awesome for a third party candidate. This also means that he surpassed the 5% minimum needed to have a permanent ballot line in Illinois elections. I see this as a win for multi-party politics.

The Terribly Depressing

I’m going to try really hard not to just go off on America right now. It will take a lot of self-restraint. At this point, 7 of the 8 states with gay marriage bans on their ballots decided that it was a fantastic idea to write discrimination into their constitutions. Thank you Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota (more on you later- we may still be friends), South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and *sigh* Wisconsin for pushing this country even further into the depths of human rights violations. Wisconsin has truly hurt me the most as I thought that there was a very good chance that enough people outside of Dane County (a pretty obvious win) would vote against this terrible ban. I spent some time canvassing in Madison with Fair Wisconsin last weekend and was mistakenly emboldened by the positive support against the ban that was found there. Unfortunately, a state can’t be judged solely by its liberal college town.. The thing that really grills me, though, is that 26% of those who voted in favor of the ban consider themselves liberal. 26%?!?!?!?! I’m sorry, but if you are a supporter of writing discrimination into your state’s constitution, you are not a liberal. I understand that some liberals may have moral objections to same-sex marriage, but there is a difference between moral objections and declaring it illegal.

However, there is one small shining light of hope coming from Arizona. It’s not positive, but with 99% of the vote in, it looks like Arizona could become the first state to successfully defeat a gay marriage ban. You know, all states can’t be as rock star as Illinois, which wouldn’t even stand for the idea of a same-sex marriage ban being put on the ballot.

The Surprisingly Delightful

I can’t even begin to say how surprised and thrilled I am to see that South Dakota rejected the abortion ban on their ballot. I was almost convinced that it would have been passed, but South Dakota has pleasantly surprised me. Way to go!

Of course, this doesn’t mean that a woman’s right to choose is protected. One day after elections, the Supreme Court will hear two different cases regarding “partial-birth” abortions. With the current makeup of the Supreme Court (4 conservative, 4 “liberal” and 1 moderate conservative swing), I’m a little nervous.

OK, folks, that wraps up this morning’s Day-After Election Day thoughts. More will come as we all scramble to get the latest news, by either frantically refreshing the CNN homepage or gluing ourselves to the TV. More to come soon!

Today is the day. Make your voice heard, whatever that voice says. Take advantage of a right that a dispairingly small amount of Americans take advantage of and a disparingly large amount of people in this world don’t have.

Oh, and if you happen to have a broom with you at the polls and take a picture, send it to this guy.

Happy Election Day!!!!

This uncredited quote was at the bottom of an Action for Animals email I received today:

“Take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormenter, never the tormented.”

Less than one week till the election, kids. Take sides.

Not to beat a dead horse, but please please please vote! Here is some vital information for Illinois and Chicago voters:

—> Don’t know where your polling place is? I didn’t either. When I was a resident of Lake County, they printed it on my voting card. Not so lucky in Cook County. Thankfully, the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago can help you here.

—> Wanna know what your ballot will look like? Check out Vote-IL.org for a preview of what will end up on your ballot.

—> Too many referendums to count? This lovely pdf gives you all of the referendums on the ballot for Chicago, and it’s broken down by ward and precinct. If you don’t know your ward and/or precinct, you’ll get that info at the Board of Election Commissioners site.

Big thanks to the unknown guys on the Chicago Critical Mass listserv who sent out this info.

What Is This Girl Talking About??