Pennsylvania legislators are mulling SB 421, which would enact a number of necessary voting reforms at the state level: it would fund new state voting machines that would actually leave a paper trail; it would move the state voter registration deadline from 30 days before an election to 15; it would extend the deadline for absentee ballots from 5 pm on the Friday before the election to 8 pm on Election Day; and it would allow any voter to vote by mail for the first time. None of these sound particularly sexy, I suppose, and we've fought for more vigorous reforms in Pennsylvania before (i.e., same-day voter registration), but this bill will improve good Pennsylvanians' access to the voting booth, and nothing prevents us from fighting for more vigorous reforms later. And by "later" I might well mean "the day after the bill passes"! Legislators imagine they can earn reprieves from the voters' will, but they can't, ever, because doing the people's will is their job. So both Common Cause and the ACLU help you tell your PA state legislators to support voting rights by passing SB 421.
Meanwhile, CREDO helps you tell big corporations Hilton and Unilever to stop using facial recognition technology in their hiring. This facial recognition technology is actually worse than the Rekogition technology developed by Amazon, which has a tough time telling black folks apart -- the HireVue AI system Hilton and Unilever use purports to analyze diction, facial movement, and speaking voice to tell bosses whom they should hire, but as a science, well, it's about as good as those 300-question "integrity tests" they used to give out in the '80s. Job interviews are highly stressful and artificial situations, after all, so you're not learning much about an applicant if you put the tone of their voice and their eye movements under a microscope -- except that interviews make them nervous, which, like, no shit, Sherlock. Hate to pile on, but the development of this technology represents yet another confession by managerial types that they don't know how to do their job. Seriously, if you need another AI "breakthrough" to help you hire good workers, maybe the problem's you!
In other news, Moms Rising helps you tell your Congressfolk and state Governors to stop the practice of putting kids in jail. You hear people say how kids are so much worse than they used to be, but your parents and grandparents said the same thing, and good kids (who comprise the vast, vast majority of children!) don't get a whole lot of ink from our sensationalist media. And all of that's not even the point! Here's the point: civilized people understand that kids can't make adult decisions, so those kids who go so far haywire that they commit rape or murder represent a profound failure of all their adult caretakers (their parents, their teachers, their community leaders), and what they need most from the adults in their lives is help. You know what they don't need? Being thrown in adult jail with prisoners who'll prey on them physically, emotionally, and sexually. That doesn't help them; it only helps tough-on-crime cowards feel better about themselves. And that feeling doesn't last, either, so they keep looking for opportunities to "be tough." It's a damn vicious cycle, and we should break it.
Finally, speaking of tough-on-crime cowardice, Daily Kos helps you tell your local district attorneys to end cash bail. We know why: it hurts the poor, it wastes taxpayer money, people don't flee over nuisance crimes, and cash bail makes the accused pay for alleged crimes when we should only make the convicted pay for actual crimes. Yes, I hear some police officers say they feel hamstrung by the absence of cash bail, but police officers tend to see bad people everywhere because they tend to deal with people at their worst, so maybe we should take their resistance with a grain of salt on that basis. And maybe we should also examine the experience of our own work lives! We all tend to resist any change to our procedures at work, even if they're good changes. And then, once they work, we tend to forget we ever resisted them! Would it be piling on to mention that slashing cash bail offenses in Philadelphia is actually working? No, it would not.
UPDATE. SB 421 is now Pennsylvania law, as Gov. Wolf signed the bill on October 31. Kudos to you if you pressured your state legislators to pass this bill.