Voters Cast Ballots On Affirmative Action, Sanctuary Cities, In Off-Year Elections

Voters went to the polls in a number of states Tuesday to decide on candidates and ballot measures.

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Election Night 2019 is in the books. And while much of the focus is on the winning candidates in Kentucky, Mississippi and Virginia and what that might mean for the 2020 presidential election, millions of voters also decided on a range of ballot measures. Here’s a short list of results from around the U.S.

Tucson, Ariz.

Proposition 205: Making Tucson a Sanctuary City fails

While Arizona remains a conservative-leaning state, Democrats control the state’s second largest city. Six years after the City Council designated Tucson an “immigrant welcoming city,” some sought to push that mandate even further by allowing residents to decide on whether it should become a “sanctuary city.”

Given the chance on Tuesday, Tucson residents roundly rejected the measure, with initial results showing more than 70% of voters disapproving. If approved, Prop 205 would have put in place more restrictions on how law enforcement officials there impose immigration laws.

BREAKING #Tucson‘s #Prop205 creating sanctuary city is going down hard. #12News pic.twitter.com/Sfjz8LkSCB

— BrahmResnik (@brahmresnik) November 6, 2019

As member station Arizona Public Media reports, if Proposition 205 had been OK’d, “it would likely have faced legal challenges based on potential conflicts with SB 1070.”

That’s the controversial Arizona law that allows law enforcement officials to check immigration documents if they suspect someone is in the country illegally.

Even Tucson’s newly elected Democratic mayor, Regina Romero opposed the measure, according to Arizona Public Media. Romero made history Tuesday by becoming the first Latina and first woman to win that post — even got a shout out by Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Congratulations to @TucsonRomero on her historic election as the first Latina and first woman mayor of Tucson, Arizona! Regina is a champion for our environment and working families—and I’m looking forward to the big, structural change she’ll bring to her community.

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) November 6, 2019

Colorado

Proposition CC Fails. Proposition DD too close to call

Both these propositions have to do with taxes. Proposition CC would allow the state to take money intended for tax refunds and put it toward education and transportation costs. Proposition DD sought to legalize sports gambling and then use the tax dollars casinos would pay to the state to fund the Colorado Water Plan, a range of projects related to conservation and the environment.

As Colorado Public Radio explains, Proposition CC “would have allowed the state to keep money that would normally be returned to taxpayers because it exceeds revenue caps set in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.” However, voters rejected the measure, according to initial returns tallied by The Associated Press.

Backers of Proposition CC had pledged that future tax refunds from the state “would have gone to transportation, K-12 and higher education,” as the member station reported.

Proposition DD would legalize sports betting and impose a 10% tax on a gambling establishment’s house winnings. As of Wednesday afternoon, the margin between those for and against the measure was separated by about 1 percentage point, with a slight edge in favor.

Jersey City, N.J.

Question 1 [restrictions for short-term rental properties] passes

In what was called “the most expensive municipal referendum” in New Jersey history, Jersey City residents overwhelmingly approved increasing regulations on short-term rentals. The move was widely seen as a blow to Airbnb and VRBO.

Voters said “yes” to limits on what units and properties are eligible for the part-time rentals, as well as capping the number of nights a property can be used as a rental at 60 per year, among other provisions.

According to NJ.com, Airbnb spent more than $3 million to defeat the measure, but the company failed to make much of an impact, as more than 69% of voters said “yes” to Question 1.

Voters in San Francisco rejected Proposition C, which was backed by e-cigarette maker Juul Labs and sought to overturn a San Francisco Board of Supervisors ban of e-cigarettes sales at brick and mortar stores, and barred deliveries of online purchases to addresses in the city.

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San Francisco

Proposition C [on ban of e-cigarettes sales] is rejected

In June, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a ban on the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes in the city until the Food and Drug Administration completes a product safety review. Proposition C, which was supported by e-cigarette maker Juul Labs, sought to overturn the board’s decision before the ban goes into effect at the start of the new year.

The ballot measure failed.

As member station KQED reports, “voters overwhelmingly rejected the referendum, with the ‘no’ side pulling into a strong position just after polls closed Tuesday night and only strengthening its margin of victory as the evening progressed.”

The Board of Supervisors’ ban prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes in brick and mortar stores, and also bars vaping devices bought online from being delivered to addresses in San Francisco. KQED adds that Juul spent more than $18 million to defeat this ban.

Texas

Proposition 4 [state income tax ban] passes

Residents of Texas don’t pay state income tax. On Tuesday night, Texans made sure it stays that way by approving a measure that make it even more difficult to impose such a tax.

As the Dallas Morning News reports, Texas typically promotes the lack of a state income tax as “a conservative bona fide and part of a key attraction for businesses.”

With the passage of Proposition 4, the newspaper notes, “two-thirds of the Texas House and Senate will be required to vote to repeal the amendment.”

If that weren’t enough, lawmakers now also have to schedule a statewide election to implement any state income tax.

Washington state

Referendum 88 [restricting affirmative action] too close to call

People in Washington state appear poised to send a message to lawmakers: Race, sex and ethnicity should not be factors when selecting a qualified applicant.

Voters banned affirmative action in 1998. Earlier this year, however, lawmakers passed a measure called Initiative 1000 that essentially reimposed affirmative action and allowed the state to weigh certain characteristics when making considerations on employment, contracting and acceptance in schools.

Referendum 88 put I-1000 to a vote — enough “no” votes would keep the initiative from going into effect. As of Wednesday afternoon, the referendum was failing by a narrow margin. Assistant Secretary of State Mark Neary says Washington state is still counting roughly 365,000 mail-in ballots.

As Seattle’s KUOW notes:

“After majority Democrats passed [I-1000] in the final hours of the Legislative session this April, opponents gathered enough signatures over the summer to put the new law to a public vote.

“The opposition effort was led by a group of Asian Americans who said they feared their children would be passed over for university admissions in favor of other racial minorities. …

“A mostly African American coalition delivered Initiative 1000 to the Legislature in January. This fall, a diverse coalition of business, labor and advocacy organizations, known as the Washington Fairness coalition, campaigned to protect the law from repeal.”

The affirmative action vote more than 20 years ago was “emotional and highly charged,” The Seattle Times notes, adding that Tuesday’s vote in essence served as a new “barometer for feelings about the state of equity and discrimination.”

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China Introduces Restrictions On Video Games For Minors

A person holding a PlayStation 4 controller. China is imposing curfews and regulations on video game playing minors.

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Chinese officials are cracking down on youth online gaming, which they say negatively affects the health and learning of minors. Official guidelines released Tuesday outline a new curfew and time restrictions for gamers under 18.

Six measures were outlined in the guidelines, aimed at preventing minors “from indulging in online games.” Among them is a ban on online video games for minors between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. Minors will also be restricted to 90 minutes of game time everyday except national holidays, when they are allowed a maximum of three hours.

Online microtransactions, which many view as lucrative and gouging, are also targeted. These purchases are capped monthly at $28 or $57, depending on a minor’s age.

China’s new directives implicate adult gamers too. A state spokesperson says that everyone, regardless of age, is prohibited from playing games that depict “sexual explicitness, goriness, violence and gambling.”

Chinese officials will also require everyone to register accounts for online games using their real name and phone number, which will help government entities to regulate playing time.

“The State Administration of Press and Publication is working with the Ministry of Public Security to lead the building of a unified identification system, which would provide user identification services to video game companies, so that they can accurately verify the identity of minors,” a government statement said. “We are also going to gradually perfect and enrich the functions of the identification system, to achieve gaming time data sharing across platforms, so we could know and therefore restrict the total time every minor spends on gaming across platforms.”

It is not clear how offline single-player games factor into the new guidelines.

The regulations focus on furthering President Xi Jinping’s continued anti-video game efforts. In 2018, Jinping called for officials to take action on the large amount of nearsighted children. In addition to heavy schoolwork and mobile phones, Jinping blamed video game addiction for the vast number of myopic children.

Video game addiction was officially recognized as a mental health condition by the World Health Organization in 2018. The criteria doesn’t include a certain amount of hours played. Rather, a video game addict is described as someone with an inability to stop playing even though it interferes with other important areas of life.

Market research firm Niko Partners reported that digital game revenue in China will reach $33 billion in 2019, making the East Asian country one of the world’s largest video game markets.

China’s market power was perhaps underscored when Blizzard Entertainment suspended an esports player in October after he voiced support for the Hong Kong liberation protests, prompting many to accuse the American company of pandering to Chinese interests.

NPR’s Huo Jingnan contributed to this report. Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR’s Newsdesk.

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The Man Who Popularized The ‘Deep State’ Doesn’t Like The Way It’s Used

Mike Lofgren is the very definition of a civil servant. He was a congressional staffer for 28 years, with most of that time spent crunching numbers on the Senate and House budget committees.

He’s moderate and mild-mannered, saying, “I was on the Republican side my whole career. I wasn’t a culture wars Republican, basically a fiscal conservative in the manner of say, [President Dwight] Eisenhower.”

Lofgren was turned off by the Tea Party Republicans who came into Congress in 2011, and decided it was time to quit. Three years later, Lofgren wrote an essay called, “Anatomy of the Deep State.”

The essay is not partisan. Lofgren criticizes both parties, along with the national security community, Wall Street and Silicon Valley. And he takes pains to point out that he’s not a conspiracy theorist.

His basic point is that big institutions, inside and outside of government, are so entrenched it’s hard to bring any real change. Political options are limited.

“This is not to say it’s the worst of all worlds,” Lofgren said. “You sort of get a choice between Coke and New Coke.”

His idea first gained traction among progressives who felt Republicans were pursuing a scorched-earth policy to thwart President Barack Obama.

Mike Lofgren, a former congressional staffer, wrote The Deep State in 2016. While the term is now widely in use, it’s not in the way that Lofgren intended. He appears here on a PBS program hosted by commentator Bill Moyers.

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In fact, Lofgren wrote his essay for the website of liberal commentator Bill Moyers, and also appeared on the PBS program he hosted.

The state of ‘deep state’

Lofgren expanded his essay into a 2016 book called: The Deep State: The Fall Of The Constitution And The Rise Of A Shadow Government. The book got some favorable reviews, but didn’t set the publishing world on fire.

Then President Trump took office.

“Unelected, deep state operatives who defy the voters, to push their own secret agendas, are truly a threat to democracy itself,” Trump said at a rally last year, one of the many times he’s invoked the term.

For the president and his supporters, deep state is shorthand for Democratic-leaning bureaucrats who want to undermine Trump.

Breitbart began extensive coverage to “deep state” stories around the time Trump entered office, and others have followed. In a search of TV transcripts, the term “deep state” appeared only 64 times in 2016, the year Lofgren published his book.

In 2017, it shot up to nearly 2,300 mentions, and surged to nearly 5,000 hits last year, many of them on Fox News.

And it’s rarely, if ever, used the way Mike Lofgren intended.

“It’s like I released this species into the wild and what it did, or maybe it’s a Frankenstein, and what it does is not within my control,” he said.

The idea of a conspiratorial deep state goes back centuries. Some trace it to ancient Rome. In recent decades, it has been used to describe countries such as Turkey and Pakistan, where the security forces were seen as dictating orders to elected governments.

Le Carre novel

Lofgren says he first encountered the term in a spy novel A Delicate Truth by John le Carre, who describes the hidden power brokers at work in Great Britain.

Now it pops up everywhere.

“Thank God for the deep state,” said John McLaughlin, the former deputy director of the CIA. He spoke ironically, drawing laughs when he made the remark at a recent panel discussion at George Mason University.

But he was making a serious point as he spoke about government officials testifying before congressional committees at the impeachment inquiry.

“Everyone here has seen this progression of diplomats, and intelligence officers and White House people trooping up to Capitol Hill right now, and saying, ‘These are people who are doing their duty,'” McLaughlin said.

When we caught up with McLaughlin a few days later, he said he had received some blowback for those comments. Then he went on to say:

“I think it’s a silly idea. There is no ‘deep state.’ What people think of as the ‘deep state’ is just the American civil service, social security, the people who fix the roads, health and human services, Medicare.”

Mike Lofgren, now retired at age 66, used to be one of those people when he was a Republican congressional staffer. Today, he says he’s turned his back on the Republican Party.

“I am an independent who will not vote Republican until they demonstrate to me that they’ve purged Trumpism and that they’re a sane party,” he said.

Rachel Treisman is an intern on NPR’s National Desk.

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Kentucky GOP Gov. Bevin Officially Requests Recanvass Of Election Results

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, right, with his wife Glenna, speaks to supporters gathered at the Republican party celebration event in Louisville, Ky., Tuesday. Bevin has requested a recanvassing of the elections results.

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Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is formally asking for a recanvass of Tuesday’s gubernatorial election, in which vote totals show Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear ahead by just over 5,000 votes. A recanvass is a double-checking of the vote totals and rarely produces different results.

In a statement, Bevin’s campaign manager said: “The people of Kentucky deserve a fair and honest election. With reports of irregularities, we are exercising the right to ensure that every lawful vote was counted.”

Bevin and his campaign have provided no details about election irregularities they say took place during the race.

As of Wednesday, the number of election law complaints reported to the attorney general’s office was on par with those made in 2015.

University of Kentucky election law professor Joshua Douglas said that other than a recanvass, Bevin’s option is contesting the election, which would be settled by the Republican-led legislature. Kentucky law has no provision for a recount in gubernatorial races. But Douglas was skeptical a recanvass would make much difference for Bevin.

“Well I think the 5,000 vote differential out of 1.4 million cast, yeah although it sounds small is actually a pretty large amount when it comes to the likelihood of the vote totals changing in any of these post-election disputes,” Douglas said.

Recanvasses are commonly requested in close races in Kentucky, but they have never produced a different election outcome and rarely produce a different vote total.

In 2015, Bevin’s opponent in the Republican Primary James Comer requested a recanvass of the contest that Bevin won by 83 votes, producing no change in vote totals.

In 2016, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders requested a recanvass in Kentucky’s Democratic primary. The process yielded 13 more votes for Sanders.

In a statement, Beshear campaign manager Sam Newton expressed hope the recanvass would be the last step in the process.

“Last night, the people of Kentucky elected Andy Beshear as their next governor. Today, Governor-Elect Beshear is already working on his transition so that he can best serve the people of Kentucky on day one,” Newton said.

The recanvass is scheduled to take place on Nov. 14 at 9 a.m.

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