History was made on Tuesday.
More than 100 women were elected to Congress, including a pair of Muslim American and Native American women. Massachusets elected its first black Congresswoman. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, who became the face of the young progressive movement after unseating longtime Democratic incumbent and top-ranking House Democrat Rep. Joe Crowley, is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. There were also a historic number of victories for LGBT candidates, including in Colorado, which will have its first openly gay governor.
—@TishJames, first Black woman elected to statewide office in New York
—@sharicedavids and @Deb4CongressNM, first Native American women in Congress
—@vgescobar and @SenatorSylvia, first Latina women elected to Congress in Texas
The future is bright.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 7, 2018
— Emgage (@EmgageUSA) November 7, 2018
Of course, social justice was on the ballot, too. The most notable victory Tuesday evening was in Florida, which overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to 1.4 million residents. Florida is one of a few states that permanently bans people convicted of felonies from voting—not anymore. [We covered the issue in-depth on our podcast. Check it out.] In Louisiana, voters overturned the state’s racist non-unanimous jury law, which was adopted in 1898 in response to the 14th Amendment. That meant for more than a century, juries in Louisiana were able to convict a defendant charged with a felony without a unanimous decision. Currently, there are reportedly 2,000 people in Louisiana, the incarceration capital of the United States, serving life sentences. And last but not least, Colorado abolished slavery. Yep, that happened.
In this video, we talked about how the 2018 midterm elections affected some important social justice issues, many of which we've been covering in past episodes–from felonty dsienfranchisment in Florda and elsewhere, to voter suppression and progressive prosecutors. We were also joined by Sean Morales-Doyle from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law. Catch our conversation from News Beat HQ! (Note, the video freezes up a bit a few minutes into us talking, but it clears up soon thereafter, so don't give up on us, the video is kinda the best part here 🙂
Posted by News Beat Podcast on Wednesday, November 7, 2018
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While voter suppression tactics took center stage this election, especially in Georgia, three states on Tuesday passed ballot initiatives making it easier to vote (what a concept!). At the same time, North Carolina passed a controversial voter ID law, which many civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), generally oppose.
“Voter ID laws deprive many voters of their right to vote, reduce participation, and stand in direct opposition to our country’s trend of including more Americans in the democratic process,” according to the ACLU.
Weed was also at the ballot box, figuratively speaking, of course. Michigan became the 10th state in the nation to legalize recreational weed, and Utah and Missouri supported a measure allowing medical marijuana.
How to enforce drug laws was a significant issue among reform district attorney candidates who offered various ideas about how to decriminalize such prosecutions. Rachael Rollins, who became the first black woman to win the DA race in Suffolk County, Mass., which includes Boston, said she wouldn’t prosecute drug possession crimes.
Speaking of district attorneys. According to the ACLU, more than 1,000 prosecutors were up for election this week. Rollins, Wesley Bell in St. Louis and John Creuzot in Dallas were a handful of candidates who ran on a progressive agenda and won. We highlighted some of those races in our most recent News Beat podcast episode, called “Law & Disorder: Progressive Prosecutors Hope to Dismantle Mass Incarceration, One County At A Time.”
We discussed these topics and much, much more during a special post-election Facebook Live. Check it out. And don’t forget to subscribe to News Beat on Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast app. Rate and leave a review while you’re there.