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Joe Donahue:  Veteran political journalist and 60 Minutes Correspondent John Dickerson's new book "The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency", is a deep dive into the history, evolution and current state of the American presidency, and how we can make the job less impossible and more productive.

In the book, Dickerson writes about presidents in history, such as Washington, Lincoln, FDR and Eisenhower, and in contemporary times from LBJ and Reagan and Bush, Obama and Trump, to show how a complex job has been done, and why we need to reevaluate how we view the presidency, how we choose our presidents and what we expect from them once they're in office. John Dickerson is a 60 Minutes correspondent, prior to that he was a co-host of CBS This Morning, the anchor of Face the Nation. And CBS News' Chief Washington correspondent. The new book, "The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency".

David Litt entered the White House in 2011 and left in 2016 as a special assistant to the president and senior presidential speechwriter. He will tell us about his new book: "Democracy in One Book or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn't, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think."

Litt says the democracy you live in today is different—completely different—from the democracy you were born into. You probably don't realize just how radically your republic has been altered during your lifetime. Yet more than any policy issue, political trend, or even Donald Trump himself, our redesigned system of government is responsible for the peril America faces today.

Vote Here sign
WAMC photo by Patrick Garrett

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order this week allowing all New Yorkers to participate in the June 23rd primary via absentee ballot. Advocates want state leaders to take things even further to protect voters in the future.

 NY Attorney General Tish James
Karen DeWitt

New York Attorney General Tish James is calling for a suspension of in-person voting ahead of the state’s April presidential primary.

David Plouffe served as the campaign manager for Barack Obama's primary and general election victories in 2008. He was the architect of the strategy for both elections. Prior to running the Obama campaign, Plouffe served as a leading Democratic Party media consultant from 2001 to 2007, playing a key role in the election of US senators, governors, mayors, and House members across the country.

His new book is "A Citizen’s Guide to Beating Donald Trump." Plouffe’s message is simple: the only way change happens, especially on scale, is one human being talking to another. He says - it won’t happen magically, it won’t happen because of debates and conventions, it won’t happen because of ads. He believes it will happen because citizens take action.

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WAMC

Early voting begins Monday in Massachusetts for the state’s March 3rd presidential primaries.

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At its meeting this week, the Burlington City Council passed a resolution that would allow non-citizens to vote in city elections.

This week is the deadline to register for those who wish to vote in the 2019 election in New York State.  That’s right, a full 25 days before the election is the deadline to register.  In many cases, busy New Yorkers may not be paying attention to the candidates until Election Day gets closer.  For those would-be New York voters, they will be shut out.

Angie Maxwell is the Director of the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society, an associate professor of political science, and holder of the Diane D. Blair Endowed Professorship in Southern Studies at the University of Arkansas. Maxwell and Dean of the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and a professor of political science at the University of Arkansas Todd Shields have written the new book "The Long Southern Strategy: How Chasing White Voters in the South Changed American Politics."

Professor Joshua A. Douglas, an expert on our electoral system, joined us to present an encouraging assessment of current efforts to make our voting system more accessible, reliable, and effective. His new book is: "Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting."

In contrast to the anxiety surrounding our voting system, with stories about voter suppression and manipulation, there are actually quite a few positive initiatives toward voting rights reform. Douglas says regular Americans are working to take back their democracy, one community at a time.

Douglas is a professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law. His most recent scholarship focuses on the constitutional right to vote, with an emphasis on state constitutions, as well as the various laws, rules, and judicial decisions impacting election administration.

Study Finds Voting Machines Need Updating

Feb 15, 2018
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The old lever-style voting machines are gone, replaced with electronic systems including scanners and computers, but a new study contends some of the newer voting equipment is already in need of replacement and upgrades. 

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WAMC

New Yorkers will have the chance to vote on three statewide ballot measures on Tuesday.

Starting tomorrow, the New York State Museum is opening an exhibition celebrating the centennial of women’s suffrage in NY titled Votes for Women: Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial. Monday - November 6th - is the 100th anniversary date of women’s suffrage in NY.

Votes for Women celebrates the centennial of women’s suffrage in New York State and raise public awareness of the struggle for women’s suffrage and equal rights in New York State from the 1848 Seneca Falls Conven­tion through 1917 when New York State granted women the right to vote.

The exhibition also addresses the nationally significant role of New York State leaders in regards to women’s rights and the feminist movement through the early 21st century. 

The curators of the exhibition are Jennifer Lemak and Ashley Hopkins-Benton and they join us in studio.

National Voter Registration Day is on Tuesday, September 26th this year. Organizations all over the state will be participating in the event day by holding voter registration drives. 

The League of Women Voters operates a non-partisan electronic ballot website www.vote411.org. The ballot site provides non-partisan election information about all the candidates New Yorkers will be voting on in November.

We welcome Jennifer Wilson - Program and Policy Director for The League of Women Voters of New York State and Kathy Koebrich from the Saratoga League and Patricia Sibilia of the Albany League. 

Matt Taibbi, author of the New York Times bestsellers The DivideGriftopia, and The Great Derangement, is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone and winner of the 2008 National Magazine Award for columns and commentary.

The 2016 presidential contest as told by Taibbi, from its tragicomic beginnings to its apocalyptic conclusion, is in fact the story of Western civilization’s very own train wreck. Years before the clown car of candidates was fully loaded, Taibbi grasped the essential themes of the story: the power of spectacle over substance, or even truth; the absence of a shared reality; the nihilistic rebellion of the white working class; the death of the political establishment; and the emergence of a new, explicit form of white nationalism that would destroy what was left of the Kingian dream of a successful pluralistic society.

Taibbi's new book is Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus.

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As part of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposals for the new legislative session, the Democrat aims to reform the state’s election system.  Cuomo is pushing early voting, same-day and automatic voting registration, catching New York up to surrounding states.

In Strangers in Their Own Land, sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country—a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.

Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead, Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream—and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in “red” America.

Need to find your polling place? Use the app below!

Voter Registration Deadlines Nearing

Oct 13, 2016
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Tomorrow is the deadline to register to vote in New York in time for Election Day; Massachusetts' deadline is next Wednesday. People in more than 30 state can go to a federal website to be directed to the state vote registration systems. It's called vote.gov, and it's been up and running for about a year. Meghan Daly is with the U.S. General Services Administration and oversees vote.gov.

Blair Horner: The Sad State Of Voting In New York

Sep 12, 2016

This week, New Yorkers will vote again – for the third time in six months – in primary elections. Yup, that’s right, New Yorkers vote in, and pay for, two primary elections, and this year a Presidential primary as well.  In June, New Yorkers enrolled in political parties, voted in Congressional primaries and this week they voted for state legislative candidates.

Connecticut residents will soon be automatically registered to vote when they apply for a driver's license.

  Countless books have been written about the civil rights movement, but far less attention has been paid to what happened after the dramatic passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed. In this groundbreaking narrative history, Ari Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the VRA and the counterrevolution that has sought to limit it from the moment the act was signed into law.

Give Us the Ballot by Ari Berman offers the first comprehensive history of its kind, and provides new insight into one of the most vital political and civil rights issues of our time.

  In our Ideas Matter segment we take time just about every week to check in with the state humanities councils in our 7-state region.

Today, we will learn about the political impact of millennials and about a public lecture happening in August in Charlemont, MA, on the profound demographic transformation happening today, as characterized by the Millennial and Boomer generations.

We are joined today by Pam Porter, of The Charlemont Forum, and by Paul Taylor, who is the former Executive Vice President of the Pew Research Institute and the author of The Next America: Boomers, Millennials and the Looming Generational Showdown Paul will be speaking at the Charlemont Forum in Charlemont, MA, on Wednesday, August 10th. 

The New York attorney general's office plans to operate a complaint hotline to address voter problems in Tuesday's congressional primaries.

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Early voting for Vermont’s primary begins Friday.

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The state attorney general has opened an investigation into New York City's Board of Elections and complaints about voting irregularities in Tuesday's primaries.

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An advisory committee in Connecticut has released its second report on civic and public participation in the state showing how publicly involved people are. The information is a mixed bag ahead of a major election year.

Last week, advocates across the nation celebrated “National Voter Registration Day.”  In New York, there was little to celebrate.

  Countless books have been written about the civil rights movement, but far less attention has been paid to what happened after the dramatic passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed.

Ari Berman is a political correspondent for The Nation and an investigative journalism Fellow at the Nation Institute. His writing has also appeared in The New York Times and Rolling Stone, and he is a frequent commentator on MSNBC and NPR.

In his book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, he charts both the transformation of American democracy under the VRA and the counterrevolution that has sought to limit voting rights, from 1965 to the present day.

Jim Levulis / WAMC

It’s Election Day, and once again the question is how many people will go to the polls. With the governor's seat up for grabs and four ballot questions to decide, early voter turnout in Pittsfield, Massachusetts is surprising some.

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