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Where do I register? A how-to on voting this November

To be eligible to vote:

You must be a citizen of the United States
You must be 18 years of age by the time of the general election.
You must not have been convicted of a felony. If convicted, you must have had your civil rights restored.
You must not have been deemed “mentally incompetent” in a court of law.

If you are a resident of Jefferson County:

Residents of Jefferson Co. can visit elections.jeffersoncountyclerk.org and print out a voter registration card. This should then be mailed into the County Clerk’s office or hand-delivered to any of its branches.

If you are not a resident of Jefferson County:

Please contact your County Clerk to find out they’re directions on registering.
If you are already registered in your county, you should contact the county clerk to find out if you are eligible to cast an absentee ballot.

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Three new members to be elected to the JCPS school board

By Noor Yussuf–

The residents of Jefferson County will go to the polls this November to replace three retiring school board members.  According to the Courier-Journal, this election will be the first time in at least three decades that new board members will be elected.

The three retiring board members are, Steve Imhoff in District 2, Larry Hujo in District 7 and Joe Hardesty in District 4. While the other four board members are up for re-election.

So far, 15 candidates have filed for the open positions making it a historic election for the residents of Jefferson County. “The school board election is very critical to the Jefferson County Public School System. The election has the potential to change the direction of the school board and its policies,” said Dr. Dewey Clayton, a Political Science Professor at the University of Louisville.

Explaining the issues that could be at stake this election, Dr. Clayton said, “The school assignment plan and busing system will be an issue.  The tax rate and the recent property tax increase may be an issue.  Graduation rates will be an issue.  Diversity and parental involvement will be an issue that is at stake as well.”

While majority of the candidates will be new to the voters, Mydrin Thompson, a parent and Regional Director (Central States) for the National Family Engagement Alliance, believes that it’s important for voters to do some homework before this November.
“Voters will really have to listen to and educate themselves about people with whom they›ve had no previous relationship or context,” said Thompson.

Next year, when the board starts with 3 new faces, it will be up to them to decide on important issues, such as the busing system, “I certainly hope new and current school board members will respectfully weigh all concerns, but as a community we must be willing to understand that not everyone›s concerns will be met, and some will be dissatisfied by the outcomes,” Thompson said.

On the other hand the JCPS board faces challenges from the community about the controversial student assignment plan, in which the communities are equally divided. The Kentucky Supreme Court decides on the issues on September, “depending on how the courts rule on the current plan, if they rule at all, will have an impact on how the school board approaches the issue,” said Dr. Clayton.

JCPS is the 27th largest school district in the United States, while they are around 100,000 students, 13,000 employees and 155 schools in the district.

news@louisvillecardinal.com

voters

State voter identification laws stir controversy

By James El-Mallakh–

This voting season, one of the most prominent and controversial issues is that of voter identification laws.

Since around 2003, many states started to pass laws that increase the requirements of voting. Legislation like this has increased nation-wide as the general election draws near.

According to the website of the Nation Council of State Legislators, a bipartisan group committed to serving state policy makers, “Twenty-one states have passed major [voter ID] legislation during the period 2003-2011.” This includes swing states like Ohio and Florida, which are considered crucial for winning the general election.”

The debate is about what the goals of the new laws are.

Most republican legislators favor the new laws because they claim that the laws are a reasonable way to prevent voter fraud. Voter fraud is typically an instance in which someone votes under the name of someone else. Assumed identities are usually someone who is deceased or too elderly to go to the polls. Voter fraud is a way that people can cast multiple votes for their favored candidate.

Democrats are generally against the recent voter ID laws and say the laws are merely a way of suppressing voters. The demographic groups that are less likely to have a photo ID are also groups that have traditionally been more likely to vote democrat. These groups include college students, the elderly, minorities and the poor. According to those who oppose emerging voter ID bills, these new laws would make it harder for these demographics to vote. They also argue that voter fraud is a rare occurrence and the new laws would do more to turn away registered voters than it would prevent fraud.

In many states, voters are allowed to give their names, but don’t have to verify their identity with any form of ID.

“It’s hard to know what the motives are,” said Jason Gainous, an associate professor in the political science department. Gainous says that the debate is really centered around both parties seeking re-election. “[Politicians] are single-minded seekers of re-election… so if they’re trying to make some choice that is directly related to how votes are getting counted, then my guess is it has something to do with how they think that new law is going to affect the outcome of the election.”

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, there may be as many as 11 million eligible voters in the U.S. who do not have a photo ID. The voting rate among eligible voters for the 2008 election was 61 percent, which means less than 11 million would be affected by voter ID laws in the 2012 election. Additionally, voters who are in states that have not passed voter ID laws would be unaffected.

A New York Times analysis found that 86 convictions against voter fraud were carried out by the department of Justice between 2002 and 2007. However, these are only on a Federal level, and the numbers of voter fraud convictions from each state can be higher or lower depending on the state.

“[The voter ID laws] are obviously just ways to disenfranchise certain parts of the population, keep certain people from voting, suppress voters. It’s usually people who have the hardest difficulty in getting an ID,” said Brian Burns, a freshman in the masters program for political science.

“I spent time registering voters [while] volunteering and some of the people I registered couldn’t see the form to write, they were elderly, they were blind, they didn’t have a car, they were legally blind and you’d have to fill out the forms for them.”

A bill in Texas that would require identification for voter registration was just struck down by federal courts. Both Governor Perry and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott have promised that they will appeal this ruling. A panel of three judges ruled that the bill would impose, “strict, unforgiving burdens” on the poor minority voters. This is the first time that a voter identification bill has been struck down.

Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, in a letter to the Courier-Journal, says that claims of voter suppression are wrong, “Most Kentuckians understand that a basic, fair requirement that voters show ID at the polls is crucial to protecting the integrity of our elections.”

Kentucky has not been one of the states at the center of this debate, and Kentucky’s laws pertaining to voter identification were passed in 2002.

To vote in Kentucky, some form of identification is required. This can be a driver’s license, social security card, credit card or an ID card with a picture and a signature. Aside from this, an election officer, who can confirm your identity, will also suffice for proper identification at the polls.

The Kentucky voter ID laws are considered to be middle of the road in terms of strictness for voter ID requirements, according to the NCSL, a bipartisan group committed to serving the interests of state legislatures.

Students may also be affected by the voter ID laws because they are unfamiliar with the voting process. Ashley Wimsett, a freshman in the masters of business program, was working for the U of L women’s center in the SAC and watched the county clerk’s office as they were signing up students to vote. She says many students didn’t know they had to vote in the county they were registered in.

“[The county clerk’s had to continuously tell students they had to change their address from their parent’s county,” said Wimsett.
Aside from changing their registered address, students can also use absentee ballots. U of L students who are from different counties will have to use absentee ballots if they do not return home to vote. In Kentucky, one must request an absentee ballot seven days before the election date and have the ballot mailed back before the end of the election.

U of L’s Student Government Association holds multiple registration drives before an election year. This is done to help students register to vote and help them understand their rights and responsibilities as a voter. This year SGA will hold two registration drives and one more with the Student Activities Board. The drives have not been scheduled yet.

Meghan Waters, junior political science and justice administration major and a political coordinator for SGA, says that they can answer questions from students who are registering to vote. “If this is their first time voting, we can certainly give them some tips and advice on what they should expect at the voting booth.”

The deadline to register to vote for the General election is October 9.

Gainous says that, in the end, the voter ID issue is mostly an issue created by politicians and fought for political gain.

“This is not a Republican/Democrat thing,” Gainous said. “Trust me, if the tides were turned and the rules were going to hurt Democrats, they’d be opposed too. ….both sides, they are going to make the choices that serve their utility.”

news@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy BET.com

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New jury rules ban Twitter and Facebook

By Ryan Considine–

The use of social media devices, such as Facebook and Twitter, has proven to be problematic to the justice system. On August 21, a new set of jury instructions was issued in a Federal Judicial Conference.  Jurors will be told by the judge:

“I know that many of you use cell phones, BlackBerrys, the Internet and other tools of technology. You also must not talk to anyone at any time about this case or use these tools to communicate electronically with anyone about the case. This includes your family and friends. You may not communicate with anyone about the case on your cell phone, through e-mail, BlackBerry, iPhone, text messaging or on Twitter, through any blog or website, including Facebook, Google+, My Space, LinkedIn or YouTube. You may not use any similar technology of social media, even if I have not specifically mentioned it here.”

Many trials are being reopened due to this recent ruling. Over 90 verdicts are subject to challenge from 1999 to 2010 because of Internet-related juror misconducts, according to a 2010 Reuters Legal Survey.

According to NBCNews.com, a 40-year-old juror in Britain admitted she used Facebook to contact the defendant in a case because she saw ‘considerable parallels’ between their lives.

“I don’t think they should be allowed, because Facebook and Twitter are huge sources to see current news,’ stated Kara Leeds, a senior Industrial Engineering major.  “On Twitter, if you follow accounts, such as CNN or local news station WHAS; you will see headlines and excerpts from any major cases that are happening in the courtroom.”

Efforts to prohibit jury members from communicating through electronic devices may not be an easy task, especially when it comes to using them outside of the courtroom.

Many jurors may be prone to research their cases before the trial to gain useful insight.  Instead of listening to the experts, they may become their own experts on the matter explained Gerry Oginski, a New York attorney.

In an era where social media is so easily accessible, the judicial system may not be able to completely eliminate all usage of electronic devices.

news@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy social media

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Planned Parenthood takes a hit in Texas

By Genevieve Mills–

The Planned Parenthood program recently took a major hit in Texas, with a new anti-abortion ruling that matches a recent trend in women›s healthcare. August 21st, the 5th Circuit of Appeals Court in New Orleans ruled that Texas Women›s Health Program may «deny WHP funds from organizations that promote elective abortions.» In layman›s terms, this means organizations, such as Planned Parenthood clinics, that, among other things, offer abortions to women, won›t receive any of the state or federal funding from Texas Women›s Health Program.

The state and federally funded Women›s Health Program provides health services to low-income women. It supports hospitals and programs like Planned Parenthood. In April, Planned Parenthood won a ban against the proposed funding cuts, but this ban has now been overturned by the appeals court. The court ruled that the state of Texas had the right to fund, or not fund, health care providers as it saw fit, as it should have control of the content of its own health program.

While Governor Rick Perry said this ruling is «a win for Texas women, our rule of law and our state›s priority to protect life,» protestors gathered outside Texas›s capitol building on the 25th. More than 200 people protested the ruling with the belief that women’s health should not be a matter for politics.

Melaney A. Linton, the president of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Inc., released an official statement that emphasized how Planned Parenthood doesn›t just offer abortions, but instead tries to focus on keeping women and families healthy. «The state›s ongoing efforts jeopardize the health of tens of thousands of Texas women,» the statement read, and went on «it›s about the women who rely on us for basic health care including lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control and annual exams.» However, Planned Parenthood is known as the U.S.›s leading provider of abortions and its most outspoken group for abortion rights.

This ruling might cause the Texas Women›s Health Program to lose much of its federal funding, which is currently 90 percent of its funding. Governor Perry said that the program will be able to survive with the loss of federal funding, and asserted that the federal decision to defund the program is a «disregard for our state law.»

Abortion has become a hot topic for this year›s election. Twenty-one states have laws that limit the right to have an abortion, and changes to the nation›s health care program are consistently debated.

In Kentucky, the statutory definition of a legal abortion is that the «M.D. determines abortion is necessary in his clinical judgment and with second opinion of M.D. and mother supplies informed consent. Permissible during first trimester; after viability of fetus, necessary to preserve life or health of mother.» It›s a narrow definition most Americans have strong opinions about. In general, abortion is not a topic people are ambivalent about.

There are four Planned Parenthood health centers and clinics in Kentucky, and they are funded by Title X Funds, private donations, patient payments and insurance reimbursements. Only two of these clinics offer abortion referrals. As of February, the Kentucky Senate approved a restriction that requires women seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound before the abortion, as well as an informed consent counseling session. Further action hasn’t been taken, as the legislature has adjourned.

The appeal court›s ruling is one of the many changes that have happened in women›s health care lately. The Affordable Health Care Act offered many new benefits to women, but this act has been challenged by many states. Many states are attempting to follow in Texas›s footsteps and limit the amount of funding this act provides to programs that offer abortions or are changing the definition of a legal abortion.

news@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo courtesy Planned Parenthood

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U of L offers new Latin American and latino studies major

The Latin American and Latino Studies program educated students attending the RSO Fair.

By Nathan Douglas–

As of this academic school year, students have the option to major in Latin American and Latino Studies, a new program in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Rhonda Buchanan, the director of the LALS program, along with the members of the LALS steering committee, have been preparing a Bachelor of Arts degree for LALS. The board of trustees approved the degree this July.

The program was designed to pair well with another major, enabling students to broaden their horizons with ease. “It’s an interdisciplinary degree,” said Buchanan, who encourages students to obtain an additional major or minor. The core program is 36 hours and includes many classes that will overlap with most of the majors in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The new LALS major seeks to “examine the historical, social, economic and political structures of the Caribbean, and Central and South America as well as areas of study concerning Latinos in the United States, such as immigration, equality, social justice, multiculturalism, identity and culture.” The new B.A. degree will join the existing minor among other programs, which have been earned by many students since the program’s debut.

As a part of the LALS program, internships are available for students. Matt Smith, a student in the LALS program, has used his knowledge gained through the LALS courses to better understand the Latino presence in Louisville. He is spending this semester volunteering at the Kentucky Racing Health Services Clinic, which treats Latinos working with horses who do not have healthcare. “My experiences at the clinic have helped me understand in a real world context some of the issues facing healthcare in our community for both patients and physicians,” said Smith.

There are also several study abroad opportunities in the program, giving students the ability to earn credit hours while traveling in a foreign country. The Panama Scholar’s program, for example, is in its 11th year and has seen many students.

Those wishing to know more about the LALS program can find more information on the U of L website or from Dr. Rhonda Buchanan, the program director.

news@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo: Rae Hodge/The Louisville Cardinal

9th dangerous university

U of L ranked 9th most ‘crime-rattled’ campus in the US

 

Blue light stations around campus are meant for convenient emergency communication.

By Michelle Eigenheer–

Newsweek magazine’s website, The Daily Beast, released a report this summer of the “25 Most Crime-Rattled Colleges,” which listed the University of Louisville as No. 9.

The study was done using the college crime data that is available through the U.S. Department of Education. In accordance with the Jeanne Clery Act, universities are required to track and submit publicly available crime statistics of reported incidents.

Newsweek looked at four-year nonprofit private colleges and four-year public colleges with more than 6,000 total students. From there, it analyzed the numbers of murders, negligent murders, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries, car thefts and arson cases between 2008 and 2010. These crimes were analyzed on a scale based on the idea that not all crimes hold the same weight. Murder, for instance, is weighted 20 times more than burglary. These statistics were then put up against the total enrollment to come up with a percapita ratio. These numbers were used to rank the colleges from 1 to 25.

According to The Daily Beast, U of L reported two murders, 47 robberies, 53 aggravated assaults, 124 burglaries, 62 car thefts and six cases of arson between 2008 and 2010.

The University of Alabama, Huntsville ranked most crime-rattled in the U.S. Other schools on the list include, Yale University, Harvard University, Mississippi State University, University of California in Santa Barbara and Duke University.

“I’m surprised. I guess because I haven’t been exposed to it yet, as a freshman,” said Alyssa Gillenwater, a freshman pre-engineering student, “I feel safe when I walk around U of L, but I guess I wouldn’t expect that much crime to be happening.”

University officials have attributed U of L’s ranking to the death of two young children by a reckless driver, a few years ago.

As of Sept. 1, 2012, the U of L Department of Public Safety has reported 49 incidents in its online crime log since the semester started on August 20. These range from driving under the influence, to stolen property, to criminal mischief and terroristic threatening.

Newsweek’s Top Ten:

10. California State University, Bakersfield
9. University of Louisville
8. University of Connecticut
7. Tennessee State University
6. Morgan State University
5. University of Central Arkansas
4. Northern Illinois University
3. University of San Francisco
2. Johnson & Whales University, Providence
1. University of Alabama, Huntsville

news@louisvillecardinal.com
Graphic by Kassie Roberts/The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L parking overflow causes problems at The Province

Very few parking spots can be found a The Province since the implementation of the overflow lot.

By Tyler Mercer–

Scheduled to open in the fall of 2013, the University of Louisville’s new student recreation center has begun construction. This construction has directly affected residents of both University of Louisville Properties housing and those of the Province. Students, who would normally have parked in the lot next to Kurz Hall, are now being forced to park in a new student parking lot that was opened this semester at the Province.

Students must now use the Province’s bridge to access their vehicles and because of this, safety has become a concern for both sets of residents. Amanda Puckett, a freshman psychology major at the University of Louisville, said, “I always feel a little bit weary when I have to walk over to my car. I would think that a lot of students feel that way. In the back of their minds, I’m sure there is some worry that something will happen to them or maybe even their car if it’s parked off campus.”

A representative from the University of Louisville housing department reported that there are blue lights stationed in the new lot along with a security guard near the pedestrian bridge and walking security guards in the parking lot itself.

With this increase in foot and vehicle traffic, residents of the Province are noticing more activity in their own neighborhood. Commuter students, who normally would have to park a good distance from campus, have started to use the Province’s parking lot because it is not patrolled.

“No one checks these lots for passes so students can park here for free without fear of a parking ticket,” said Jessica Bartlett, a resident at the Province, “I don’t feel safe when I have to park a building or two away at night when the lot at my building is full, and I have to struggle back to my apartment with my backpack and groceries.”

Bartlett also voiced concerns about her personal safety at the Province. “Someone was robbed at gunpoint in my good friend’s building. I know these things can happen regardless of the new parking, but with the new lot there are more people in and around the complex.”

Students from U of L, who now park at the Province, should keep this information in mind when deciding when they travel to their vehicles and what exactly they feel safe leaving inside them.

“I probably wouldn’t walk around alone at night,” says Grace Thoeny, a resident at the Province, “but I wouldn’t do that anywhere in Louisville.”

The safety of everyone involved is very important. For questions about safety while living here at U of L, contact University Police at (502) 852-6111. In the case of an emergency, call 911.

news@louisvillecardinal.com
Photo: Rae Hodge/The Louisville Cardinal

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President Obama takes questions on Reddit AMA, talks internet freedom

By Rae Hodge–

In an unexpected use of social media, President Obama made an unprecedented appearance on Reddit.com at 4:30 p.m. on August 29 to answer questions from the public in a Reddit AMA.

Obama responded to a number of Reddit users on a wide variety of current campaign issues and policy questions. Particular to the appearance itself, Reddit users expressed concern over legislation concerning Internet Freedom and access to the internet.

“We know how Republicans feel abut protecting Internet Freedom,” asked one user, “Is Internet Freedom an issue you’d push to add to the Democratic Party’s 2012 platform?”

Obama responded “Internet freedom is something I know you all care passionately about; I do too. We will fight hard to make sure that the internet remains the open forum for everybody – from those who are expressing an idea to those to want to start a business. And although their will be occasional disagreements on the details of various legislative proposals, I won’t stray from that principle – and it will be reflected in the platform.”

The Louisville Cardinal will continue to cover this story as more information becomes available.

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In the news: What you missed while you were in class

Shooting occurs at Empire State Building

A shooting outside the Empire State Building August 24th resulted in two deaths, including that of gunman Jeff Johnson. Eight others were injured by what New York Mayor Bloomberg has stated was a workplace related shooting.

Neil Armstrong dies at age 82

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, died August 25th at age 82. The United States icon died of complications from a recent surgery from heart bypass surgery earlier this month.

Lance Armstrong may lose Tour de France titles

Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner, has been accused of doping by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for many years. Now, Armstrong is giving up the fight, calling it an “unconstitutional witch hunt.” As Armstrong walks away from the case brought against him, he may also be walking away from his titles.

Hurricane Isaac approaches

Hurricane Isaac, expected to intensify to a category 3 or higher, may affect the Republican National Convention being held on August 27-30, in Tampa. Warnings have been issued from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.

news@louisvillecardinal.com