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Voting rights group sues Florida over registration process that causes former criminals to fail



A voting rights group is suing the governor. administration of Ron DeSantis (R-FL) for a “Byzantine” voter registration process that resulted in the arrests of dozens of ex-cons who accidentally voted illegally.

A voting rights group is suing the governor. administration of Ron DeSantis (R-FL) for a “Byzantine” voter registration process that resulted in the arrests of dozens of ex-cons who accidentally voted illegally.

The League of Women Voters of Florida on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Florida Secretary of State Kord Byrd (R) for allegedly failing to comply with federal voter registration requirements. Their complaint refers to the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), a 1993 law that sets out the minimum standards for the process of increasing registration and enabling state governments to promote rather than hinder the rights of eligible citizens.

“The State of Florida has decided to challenge this law,” the complaint says. “Florida adopted a Byzantine statutory scheme to re-enfranchise after felony convictions that made it “sometimes difficult, sometimes impossible” for returning citizens (Floridians with prior criminal convictions) to determine their eligibility to vote.”

“But the statement does not provide any explanation as to when the person’s ‘right to vote’ was restored, or any guidance to the voter trying to make such a decision,” the complaint says.

The group argued that, in many ways, Florida’s apps do a poor job of informing potential voters about eligibility requirements that could violate the NVRA.

“For example, it doesn’t say that if you’re convicted of murder, you can’t use that trial,” group president Cecile Skoon told TPM. “It should let people understand it. It’s pretty simple.”

She also pointed out that the statement makes extensive use of legal jargon and excerpts from the Constitution, making it difficult for some to read its rules. “Even educated people don’t know these references,” she said.

“Due to the violation of the state NVRA and the labyrinth of suffrage rules, returning citizens struggled to complete the Application correctly, and voter registration organizations struggled to help returning citizens respond to the Application,” the complaint reads.

“It just needs to be more specific about what exactly you have to do to be able to register to vote,” Skoon said, “instead of just saying if you meet the requirements of article 4, section two … I mean, most people have there is no definite understanding of what it is.”

The League of Women Voters has been helping ex-imprisoned state citizens regain their right to vote since 2015. In 2018, voters voted to restore suffrage for ex-felons in a historic voting initiative known as Amendment 4. After the constitutional amendment was passed, approximately 1.4 million residents were given back the right to vote.

But the state’s Republicans weren’t too happy with the developments and introduced legislation adding new restrictions on when a previously jailed person is eligible to vote in the state. “We had a lot of setbacks — legislators were setting limits and requirements that weren’t specifically mentioned in the amendment — and that created a big mess,” she told TPM.

In 2019, the Florida Republican Party amended the amendment so that it would require returning citizens to pay court-ordered fines and fees before their rights were reinstated, while completely barring former incarcerated applicants who were convicted of murder from voting. or sexual crimes. This set off a lengthy legal battle that made the process so difficult that some people who accidentally voted when they weren’t allowed ended up in jail.

“When these rules were challenged in federal court, Florida election officials swore up and down that they would take responsibility (which lies with them under federal law) for ensuring that new registered voters […] were actually eligible for the new rules,” Blair Bowie, who leads the Campaign Law Center project to end criminal disenfranchisement, told TPM.

State law requires state election officials to notify counties of ineligible candidates. But Maria Matthews, director of the Florida Division of Elections, verified in 2020, her department was left with 85,000 applications that needed to be reviewed to verify eligibility. (A spokesman for Byrd’s office has since told TPM that this figure is out of date, but has not provided us with an updated figure.)

As a result, 20 Floridians were arrested last August for voting illegally, even though they received registration cards and thought they were allowed to vote.

“Florida set a trap for its citizens,” Bowie said.

Read the full complaint below:

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Two army helicopters collided and crashed in Alaska, killing three soldiers



Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Two US Army helicopters collided and crashed Thursday in Alaska while returning from a training flight, killing three soldiers and injuring a fourth.

Two soldiers died at the crash site near Healy, Alaska, and a third died en route to a hospital in Fairbanks, the army said in a statement. The report says a fourth soldier is in the hospital with injuries.

The army said the names of those killed were not released until 24 hours after relatives could be notified.

There were two people on each AH-64 Apache helicopter at the time of the crash, US Army Alaska spokesman John Pennell said earlier Thursday.

The helicopters belonged to the 1st Assault Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment at Fort Wainwright, based near Fairbanks.

“This is an incredible loss for the families of these soldiers, their fellow soldiers and for the division,” Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler, commander of the 11th Airborne Division, said in a statement from the Army. “Our hearts and prayers go out to their families, friends and loved ones, and we provide all the resources of the army to support them.

“The Fort Wainwright community is one of the most close-knit military communities I have seen in my 32 years of service,” he continued. “I have no doubt that they will rally in this exceptional time of need and comfort our families for our fallen.”

The Army said the cause of the crash is under investigation and more details will be released when they become available.

This is the second plane crash involving military helicopters in Alaska this year.

in February, two soldiers are wounded when an Apache helicopter overturned after takeoff from Talkeetna. The aircraft was one of four bound for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage from Fort Wainwright.

in March, nine soldiers were killed when two US Army Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopters crashed during a routine night exercise about 30 miles northeast of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Healy is about 10 miles north of Denali National Park and Preserve, about 250 miles north of Anchorage.

Healy is a community of about 1,000 people located on the Parks Highway in the interior of Alaska. It is a popular place where people spend the night while visiting the nearby park, home to Denali, the continent’s highest mountain.

Healy is also famous for being the city closest to a former bus that was abandoned in a remote area and popularized by the book Into the Wild and the movie of the same name. The bus was removed and delivered to Fairbanks in 2020.

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Nebraska 6-week abortion ban fails in Legislature



LINCOLN, Nebraska. An attempt to move a bill to ban abortion around the sixth week of pregnancy fell short of one vote to break piracy in the Nebraska Legislature on Thursday.

That means the bill is unlikely to pass this year, despite Republican Gov. Jim Pills publicly calling for just that. The Legislative Assembly adjourned immediately after the failed vote and will not meet until Tuesday.

For the second year in a row, attempts to limit access to abortion in the state have failed. Nebraska currently bans abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, a law in place since 2010.

Pat Neil (left) and Ann Fintell, both from Lincoln, celebrate Thursday in the rotunda of the Nebraska Capitol in Lincoln after the failure of a bill to ban abortion around the sixth week of pregnancy.Margery Beck/AP

The bill would ban abortion if cardiac activity was detected.

On Thursday, a vote to end debate so the bill could make it to the final round of debate fell 32–15. This required 33 votes.

Applause erupted outside the doors of the Legislative Chamber as the final vote was cast, with opponents of the bill waving placards and chanting “Whose house? Our house!”

Among them was Pat Neil, 72, of Lincoln, who has fought for abortion rights since she had an abortion in 1973, when the US Supreme Court ruled Roe v. USA. Wade’s decision guaranteed the right to abortion throughout the country.

“I was 11 weeks pregnant and in the middle of a divorce,” Neil said, noting that she was terrified of her husband, a Vietnam War veteran who “had some kind of demons in him.”

Neil, like most of the crowd, was shocked at the failure of the vote.

“It gives me hope for the future,” she said. “It gives me hope that the direction we’re seeing – across the country – can change.”

The bill did not receive a decisive 33rd vote when Senator Merv Ripe abstained. He co-sponsored the bill, but earlier this year raised concerns that a six-week ban might not give women enough time to even know they’re pregnant.

Ripe, a former hospital administrator from Ralston, on Thursday introduced an amendment that would extend the proposed ban to 12 weeks and add any fetal anomalies deemed incompatible with life to the bill’s exception list.

As his fellow Republicans reacted to the amendment, Ripe took to the microphone to warn his conservative colleagues that they should heed signs that abortion would encourage women to vote for their removal from office. He cited his own last year’s election as an example, noting that in a four-man race, he won about 45% of the vote in the May primary and beat his nearest rival by a whopping 27 points.

But since the Supreme Court ruled in June to fire Rowe, his lead in the general election over the same challenger — a Democrat who has made abortion rights a centerpiece of his campaign — has fallen to just under 5 percentage points.

“We must embrace the future of reproductive rights,” he said.

The failed Nebraska bill included exceptions for rape, incest, and medical emergencies that endanger the life of the mother, and made specific exceptions for ectopic pregnancy and IVF procedures. It is also allowed to extract a fetus that died in the womb. It did not provide for criminal penalties for either women who have abortions or doctors who perform abortions. Instead, it would subject doctors who perform abortions in violation of this measure to professional discipline, which could lead to the revocation of their medical licenses.

Opponents appeared poised to support Ripe’s amendment by the end of the debate, but focused mostly on concerns about the bill, saying it was controversial and could lead to criminal penalties for medical professionals—specifically, a 1977 state law that mandated abortions are performed outside generally accepted medical standards. criminal procedure.

“Physicians will not have an adequate opportunity to know what’s going on with this law,” said Senator John Cavanaugh.

The bill’s sponsor, Thurston, Senator Joni Albrecht, dismissed the argument, saying it was “the most life-friendly bill” for the medical community. But she rejected a compromise bill introduced by Omaha Senator Jan Day that would explicitly exempt women and healthcare workers from abortion-related criminal penalties.

“It just isn’t necessary,” Albrecht said. She also rejected Ripe’s amendment, opposing giving pregnant women 12 weeks to have an abortion because her 6-week proposal “was a big compromise” compared to the total ban on abortion, which had no exceptions for rape or incest, which she introduced. but did not receive. passed last year.

“This bill is about one thing,” she said. “It’s protecting babies with beating hearts from elective abortion.”

Nebraska has the only chamber, officially nonpartisan legislature in the United States. But each of its 49 legislators identifies as a Republican or Democrat and tends to propose and vote for legislation along party lines. Republicans hold 32 seats and Democrats 17 seats. Although bills can be introduced by a simple majority vote, a supermajority of 33 votes is required to end debate and overcome the filibuster. Thus, a single legislator moving away from the party line can decide whether the bill moves forward or dies this year.

The close division played a big role in the failure last year of Albrecht’s so-called trigger bill, which would have automatically banned almost all abortions in the state once the US Supreme Court struck down Roe’s case. Wade, who guaranteed the right to abortion across the country for nearly five decades. This bill fell by two short votes.

In voting on the abortion bill earlier this year, Senator Mike McDonnell, a Democrat, voted with the Republicans. The reason for this, he says, is that he is a devout Catholic who has always stood as an anti-abortion candidate. McDonnell voted to end debate on Thursday, while another Democrat, Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne, abstained.

Pillan, the newly elected governor who was keen to sign the bill, issued a statement calling on Ripe to reconsider voting for the bill, but the statement was released after the legislature had already adjourned. It is unclear whether Ripe will even be able to propose that his decision be reconsidered when the body reconvenes.

Jo Giles, executive director of the Omaha Women’s Fund, was brought to tears outside the legislative chamber after the vote.

“Wow!” – she exclaimed. “It was unexpected, but we are very happy with this victory. We fought so hard. This bill is not what most women in this state wanted.”

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Russia may have a new missile tactic to bypass Ukraine’s air defenses: ISW



According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the Russian military may have successfully changed tactics to prevent Ukraine from detecting missile attacks.

A report A report published by a US think tank on Thursday noted that four Russian Kalibr missile strikes successfully hit the city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine in the early morning. The attacks, which allegedly hit an apartment building and houses, left at least one person dead and 23 others injured. according to to Reuters.

This is stated in the message of the operational command of Ukraine “South” in Facebook. mail that the missiles eluded detection due to tactics that included the use of “location features and trajectory changes”. This was reported by the Russian Ministry of Defense in Telegram. message that the “concentrated strike” inflicted from the Black Sea, managed to hit “all given objects.”

ISW has hinted that these attacks may herald the resumption of Russia’s “missile campaign to destroy Ukraine’s unified energy infrastructure”, with Russian forces previously “abandoning the effort” due to it having “definitely failed”.

The remains of a Russian rocket recovered from the water, March 31, 2023, Zaporozhye region, Ukraine. According to the Institute for the Study of War, the Russian military may have an improved strategy to prevent detection of Ukrainian missile attacks.
Elena Tita/Global Images Ukraine/Getty

“Russian forces retain the ability to resume their missile campaign if they wish, and Russian forces can use this tactic to preserve their stockpile of precision-guided missiles in the event that the missile campaign resumes,” ISW said.

Newsweek emailed the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.

during his night telecast Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged on Thursday that Russian missiles had hit Mykolaiv, saying the shelling “damaged dozens of ordinary houses and two educational institutions.”

“In Nikolaev, debris was removed from the site of the rocket attack that took place last night,” Zelensky said. “More than 20 people were injured, one person died … My condolences to family and friends.”

The President of Ukraine also said that a separate missile attack on civilian homes in the Donetsk region.

“In the evening, another rocket attack was carried out on Konstantinovka, Donetsk region,” Zelensky said. “The school, hospital and residential buildings suffered. Unfortunately, there are casualties.”

Last week, Ukraine appeared to be beefing up its ability to defend against Russian missile strikes by announcing shipments of Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems from Western allies.

Patriot systems, designed to intercept incoming missiles and missiles, consist of a radar installation, a battle control center, missile launchers, and Patriot missiles.

It is not clear if Ukraine has attempted to use any of the new systems to threaten recent attacks. The Ukrainian Air Force put at least part of the systems into combat service within a day after their arrival, according to at Kyiv Independent.

In recent weeks, the Russian military has stepped up its air attacks on Ukraine. Rocket attacks are just one element of the overall assault.

So-called “glide bombs” – standard bombs with extra wings and navigation systems that allow them to glide towards targets – are increasingly being used to carry out what are called “destructive” attacks.

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