Free Democracy Info for Every U.S. State & Zip Code

Welcome to Democracy by Zip Code

A project of Legal Consumer, the mission of Democracy by Zip Code is to preserve this fragile thing we have called democracy.

It is not a given that democracy will survive. It it up to us to care enough to make it work....

  • by voting,
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  • by caring about who runs things in our communities.

This site is provides Americans the tools they need to understand:

Our data is kept up to date using resources like the Google Civic Information API and the Library of Congress.

A project of Legal Consumer, Democracy by Zip provides the most current information available, including:

Sunday, July 12th, 2020

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Democracy Newsfeed

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Trump just commuted Roger Stone’s sentence

- Vox - Fri, Jul 10, 2020

“Prosecutors made the case that Stone obstructed the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election by lying to the committee about his attempts to contact WikiLeaks, and by intimidating and trying to get another witness to lie for him about those efforts.

During the trial, witnesses such as Rick Gates (a Manafort associate who pleaded guilty in the Mueller probe and cooperated with prosecutors) and Steve Bannon testified that Stone claimed to the campaign that he had inside information about WikiLeaks’ access to damaging information about Hillary Clinton, which Mueller’s investigation found was obtained through hacking by Russian military intelligence.

Prosecutors did not actually prove that Stone had any inside information during the trial. But, as Vox’s Andrew Prokop has written, prosecutors during the trial argued that “Stone’s motivation for his lies and obstruction was that ‘the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.’”

So it’s not a surprise that Trump has closely followed this case — and appeared to publicly pressure the Justice Department to lessen his sentence. In February, as Stone’s sentencing date approached, federal prosecutors recommended that Stone serve between 87 and 108 months (about seven to nine years) in prison, a range prosecutors said adhered to federal guidelines and “would accurately reflect the seriousness of his crimes and promote respect for the law.”

But not according to Trump. “This is a horrible and very unfair situation,” the president tweeted on February 11. “The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!”

Later that same day, the Justice Department began signaling that it would intervene, with an anonymous official suggesting that was not the sentence recommendation that had been briefed to the department. Things escalated from there, as four prosecutors handling the case abruptly withdrew their involvement.

Aaron Zelinsky, who worked on Mueller’s team, filed a memo withdrawing himself from the case. Next came prosecutor Jonathan Kravis, who said he was leaving the team because he had resigned as an assistant US attorney. Two more followed: Adam Jed and Michael Marando said they would also remove themselves from the case.

The mass exodus came as the Justice Department submitted a memo in the Stone case that said its first sentencing statement did “not accurately reflect the Department of Justice’s position on what would be a reasonable sentence in this matter.”

The document said the DOJ believes “incarceration is warranted” but that 87 to 108 months isn’t appropriate and doesn’t “serve the interests of justice in the case.”

If this all gave the impression that the Justice Department had caved to pressure from Trump, and that prosecutors resigned in protest of this interference, well, Trump has done little to dispel that troubling notion.

SCOTUS rules presidential electors must back their states’ popular vote winner

- NPR - Mon, Jul 6, 2020

“WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that states can require presidential electors to back their states’ popular vote winner in the Electoral College.

The ruling, just under four months before the 2020 election, leaves in place laws in 32 states and the District of Columbia that bind electors to vote for the popular-vote winner, and electors almost always do so anyway.

So-called faithless electors have not been critical to the outcome of a presidential election, but that could change in a race decided by just a few electoral votes. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court that a state may instruct “electors that they have no ground for reversing the vote of millions of its citizens. That direction accords with the Constitution — as well as with the trust of a Nation that here, We the People rule.”

The justices had scheduled arguments for the spring so they could resolve the issue before the election, rather than amid a potential political crisis after the country votes.

When the court heard arguments by telephone in May because of the coronavirus outbreak, justices invoked fears of bribery and chaos if electors could cast their ballots regardless of the popular vote outcome in their states.

The issue arose in lawsuits filed by three Hillary Clinton electors in Washington state and one in Colorado who refused to vote for her despite her popular vote win in both states. In so doing, they hoped to persuade enough electors in states won by Donald Trump to choose someone else and deny Trump the presidency.”
No presidential winner on election night? Mail-in ballots could put outcome in doubt for weeks

- USAToday - Mon, Jun 29, 2020

“Burns, a former election official with the New York State Board of Elections, said it can already takes weeks to count mail-in ballots in states where just 5% vote absentee. "Well, if you go and increase the absentee ballots by a factor of 10, you would think it would take that much longer."

He added: "If you're a candidate, if you're an election lawyer, don't make too many plans post election."

Worries about a 'post-election crisis'
The media likes to crown presidential winners as soon as a candidate clears the 270-delegate threshold. Television networks projected Trump the winner of the 2016 election around 2:45 a.m. ET. Barack Obama was declared the winner on election nights in both his victories, around 11 p.m. ET in 2008 and 11:20 p.m. ET in 2012.

The most drawn-out – and controversial – election in U.S. history was in 2000, when television networks declared George W. Bush the winner on election night, only to revert to "too close to call" as votes trickled in from Florida. The contest effectively ended five weeks later on Dec. 12 when the U.S. Supreme Court halted a vote recount in Florida.”
Have Questions About Voting? A Law Professor Tells You 'What You Need To Know'

Kim Wehle - NPR - Thu, Jun 25, 2020

“Well, a question I get a lot is about illegal voting. Voter fraud. I think there is a misconception that that is" the "serious problem in our electoral process. And unfortunately, that becomes really politicized — that if you are not concerned about voter fraud, somehow you're, you know, a liberal left wing person and not taking this seriously. There just isn't empirically a lot of evidence of that. Of course, it's really important to have safe and secure elections. But on the other end of the spectrum, the biggest problem really is participation. Not only are there barriers to entry — it can be difficult to not just get yourself registered, but to stay registered for people who don't have a driver's license for example — but also, there's just a lot of belief, widespread belief that votes don't matter, that it's OK to stay home from the polls because the system is rigged.”
'Nonsense': Election experts reject Trump's claim that foreign countries could counterfeit millions of mail-in ballots

- USAToday - Mon, Jun 22, 2020

“President Donald Trump delivered a new line of attack Monday in his crusade against expanded mail-in voting during the November election, warning that it could lead to "foreign countries" printing ballots to undermine results.

Voting experts and election officials swiftly disputed the claim, characterizing the warning as a bogus conspiracy and pointing to safeguards that states use to protect the authenticity of absentee ballots and envelopes.

Thirty-four states and Washington, D.C., already offered absentee voting by mail to all registered voters without an excuse before the pandemic. Citing safety reasons, several states sent mail-ballot applications to all voters in recently held primaries and are considering doing so for November. California will send mail ballots to all voters for the election in November, joining Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah and Hawaii, which conduct their elections entirely by mail.

In several of the 16 states where voters must provide an excuse to receive an absentee ballot – being over 65 years old, out of town during Election Day or in the military, for example – they can now cite coronavirus as a reason. Most states made the change only for the upcoming primary election but could extend that to November.

Trump spreads new lies about foreign-backed voter fraud, stoking fears of a 'rigged election' this November

- CNN - Mon, Jun 22, 2020

“rump tweeted an article highlighting Attorney General William Barr's recent comment that expanding mail-in voting "absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud." (This specific claim has been debunked many times.) Trump added his own commentary to the article, tweeting, "This will be the Election disaster of our time. Mail-In Ballots will lead to a RIGGED ELECTION!"
Trump then tweeted an all-caps missive with many of the debunked claims he's been pushing all year: "RIGGED 2020 ELECTION: MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS WILL BE PRINTED BY FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS. IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!"”
Kentucky braces for possible voting problems in Tuesday’s primary amid signs of high turnout

- Washington Post - Fri, Jun 19, 2020

“Fewer than 200 polling places will be open for voters in Kentucky’s primary Tuesday, down from 3,700 in a typical election year. Amid a huge influx in requests for mail-in ballots, some voters still had not received theirs days before they must be turned in. And turnout is expected to be higher than in past primaries because of a suddenly competitive fight for the Democratic Senate nomination.

The scenario has voting rights advocates and some local elections officials worried that the state is careening toward a messy day marked by long lines and frustrated voters — similar to the scenes that have played out repeatedly this spring as the novel coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the 2020 primaries.”
Whistleblower: TSA Failed To Protect Staff, Endangered Passengers During Pandemic

- NPR - Fri, Jun 19, 2020

“TSA Federal Security Director Jay Brainard is an official in charge of transportation security in the state of Kansas and has been with the agency for almost 20 years.

He told NPR that the leadership of his agency failed to protect its staff from the pandemic, and as a result, allowed TSA employees to be "a significant carrier" for the spread of the coronavirus to airport travelers.

"We did not take adequate steps to make sure that we were not becoming carriers and spreaders of the virus ourselves," Brainard says. "I believe absolutely that that contributed to the spread of the coronavirus."

His allegations include that personal protective equipment was withheld from TSA employees, that local supervisors were not permitted to mandate masks, that the TSA failed to adequately execute contact tracing, and the TSA declined to require that employees change or sanitize gloves between passengers.”
EPA drops regulation for contaminant harming babies’ brains

- Associated Press - Thu, Jun 18, 2020

“Perchlorate from runoff contaminates the drinking water of as many as 16 million Americans, the Obama administration said in 2011 when it announced the EPA would act to set maximum limits for perchlorate for the first time.

Perchlorate can damage the development of fetuses and children and cause measurable drops in IQ in newborns, the American Academy of Pediatrics said last August in urging the “strongest possible” federal limits. Studies cited by the doctors’ group included one showing that 9 out of 13 breastfeeding infants were ingesting significant levels of the chemical.

Erik Olson of the Natural Resources Defense Council advocacy group said the EPA’s decision Thursday was “illegal, unscientific, and unconscionable.””
Key revelations in John Bolton's new book about the Trump White House

- CBS News - Thu, Jun 18, 2020

“Here are some of the key revelations and claims from Bolton's book:
Trump supported China's construction of "concentration camps"
President Trump and his campaign have made being tough on China a key campaign platform. But several passages in Bolton's book seem to undermine that argument.
In one of the more jarring passages of the book, Bolton claims the president voiced his support for concentration camps to Chinese President Xi Jinping during the 2019 G-20 world leaders summit.
"XI explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps" for the Uighurs, Bolton writes. "According to our interpreters, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do."”
Purges Will ‘Screw’ 16.7 Million out of their Right To Vote

- Greg Palast - Mon, Jun 8, 2020

“16.7 million men and women have been purged from the US voter rolls in an act which may well decide the 2020 general election for the incumbent US President Donald Trump, according to research and analysis conducted by award-winning investigative journalist Greg Palast.

Mr Palast has covered voter disenfranchisement for many years and his latest book How Trump Stole 2020: The Hunt For America’s Vanished Voters examines the myriad of methods being used to deprive millions of US citizens from exercising their franchise.”
Trump's praise for China over Tiananmen Square years ago was a preview of his support for military crackdowns on the George Floyd protests

John Haltiwanger - Business Insider - Wed, Jun 3, 2020

“Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut on Monday implored his Republican colleagues against allowing their "party's position become pushing for an American Tiananmen Square."

"Turning the army on protestors is what dictatorships do. It's literally the antithesis of America," Murphy tweeted.”
James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution

- Atlantic - Wed, Jun 3, 2020

“In an extraordinary condemnation, the former defense secretary backs protesters and says the president is trying to turn Americans against one another.
“When I joined the military, some 50 years ago,” he writes, “I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.””
Roberts Upholds COVID-19 Restrictions on Churches, Scolds Kavanaugh

- Slate - Sat, May 30, 2020

“ a 5–4 vote, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the liberals. In a pointed opinion, Roberts indicated that he will not join conservative judges’ escalating efforts to override public health measures in the name of religious freedom. Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s dissent, by contrast, falsely accused the state of religious discrimination in an extremely misleading opinion that omits the most important facts of the case. Roberts went out of his way to scold Kavanaugh’s dishonest vilification of the state.”
Facebook Executives Shut Down Efforts to Make the Site Less Divisive

- WSJ - Tue, May 26, 2020

“A Facebook Inc. team had a blunt message for senior executives. The company’s algorithms weren’t bringing people together. They were driving people apart.

“Our algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,” read a slide from a 2018 presentation. “If left unchecked,” it warned, Facebook would feed users “more and more divisive content in an effort to gain user attention & increase time on the platform.”

With An Election On The Horizon, Older Adults Get Help Spotting Fake News

Sam Gringlass - NPR - Wed, Feb 26, 2020

“For example, Nash says the best way to check out a source is to open a new Internet tab and do a deeper search. But if you're new to navigating the Web, just opening a separate tab can be a hurdle.

"The No. 1 recommendation was the No. 1 thing many older people were unable to do," she says.”
More than 2,000 former DOJ officials call on Attorney General William Barr to resign

- ABC News - Mon, Feb 17, 2020

“More than 2,000 former Department of Justice officials are calling on Attorney General William Barr to resign, according to the group Protect Democracy.
"Political interference in the conduct of a criminal prosecution is anathema to the Department's core mission and to its sacred obligation to ensure equal justice under the law," according to the group, which has been critical of the administration in the past.
The nonpartisan, nonprofit group said that the attorney general has "flouted" that fundamental principal.

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  • What is Democracy?

    Democracy is our most basic governmental idea. It is the secular, Enlightenment era exiperiment that our founding fathers embarked upon, that the power of government should derive from "the consent of the governed" as opposed to "the devine right"from "God" that Kings had always asserted as their source of legitimate authority

  • What is representative government?

    Learn the difference between straight democracy and representative government -- and where you fit in.

  • Who makes laws and regulations?

    You've heard the old joke about laws and sausages -- that you don't want to know how they're made? If you disagree, here's what you should know.

  • Laws and regulations: What's the difference?

    Laws and regulations may lead to similar results, but they differ in important ways.

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    Learn about how to file your candidacy for a local or county office.

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