Friday, July 28, 2017

Who’s Who In 2017 NYC Mayoral Race

Real Estate Executive Paul Massey’s exit from the New York City Mayor’s Race positioned State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis [R-64th District] as the leading Rival to New York City Mayor Democrat Bill de Blasio. But technically speaking, it’s not just a two-person Race. In fact, more than 25 Contenders are Campaigning to replace de Blasio. Here’s a rundown of all 28 Candidates currently in the race.

Bill de Blasio – The Democratic incumbent is widely expected to coast to Re-Election. Despite mixed reviews during his first term, his job approval rating recently reached 60% and he has collected a number of key Endorsements and raised Millions in Campaign Funds. He now has $2.55 Million in cash on hand, far more than any other Candidate. Anyone looking to knock him off is facing an uphill battle.

Nicole Malliotakis – The Assemblywoman from Staten Island has capitalized on Massey’s departure, accumulating Endorsements from fellow Republican Officials as well as the Conservative Party. The front-runner in the Republican Primary for Mayor has only $275,000 on hand, although Malliotakis has been keeping pace with de Blasio recently when expected Matching Funds are included.

Richard “Bo” Dietl – Bo Dietl is a former New York City Detective and Media personality who has drawn comparisons to President Trump. He originally intended to run as a Democrat, but was unable to do so due to a paperwork mishap. After giving up on winning the Republican Party’s backing to run on its line instead, he is running as an Independent. He has raised close to $1 Million and has $367,116 on hand.

Sal Albanese – Sal Albanese is a former New York City Councilman who has run for Mayor before, most recently in 2013, when he garnered fewer than 6,000 votes in the Democratic Primary. Albanese, who supports Term Limits and Campaign Finance Reform, is de Blasio’s leading Democratic Opponent. But he has raised just $124,000 and has around $72,000 on hand.


Richard Bashner – Richard Bashner is a Commercial Lawyer and a Member of Brooklyn’s Community Board 6. He promises to make Government more Transparent, extend MTA service, and Support the Movement for a Constitutional Convention. He has raised close to $100,000.

Robert Gangi – Gangi is the Founder of Police Reform Organizing Project, and his Campaign is focused largely on Police Reform as well as Racial and Economic Equality. He previously served as the Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York for nearly three decades.

Neil Grimaldi – Neil Grimaldi is a Lawyer who has ran for a number of Offices, including for President last year and for Mayor in 2013, when he garnered 4,677 votes in the Democratic Primary. He has not reported raising any Funds this Election Cycle.

Collin Slattery – Slattery is a 28-year-old Web Entrepreneur. He says he is running to help make City Housing and Transit more Affordable. He plans on energizing other Millennials in hopes of toppling de Blasio for the Democratic Nomination. He has raised less than $2,000.

Michael Tolkin – Tolkin is a Tech Entrepreneur who has emphasized the adaptability of the New York Economy in the face of continuing Automation and using Technology to improve Government. Tolkin made a $5 Million In-Kind Contribution to his Campaign and Loaned himself another $225,000, which makes up the bulk of his Campaign Contributions.


Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente – Rocky De La Fuente is a Millionaire from California who ran unsuccessfully for President as a Democrat in 2016. Now his hat is in the ring for the GOP Mayoral Nomination in New York City. There has been some debate as to whether his lack of Residency will be an issue or not. He has raised $628,000 and has $213,000 on hand. 

Darren Dione Aquino – Darren Dione Aquino is a longtime Advocate of the Disabled. He has called for improved Police-Community Relations.

Walter N. Iwachiw – A Native New Yorker, Walter Iwachiw unsuccessfully ran for President in 2016 and New York City Mayor in 2013. He has not reported any Fundraising.


Akeem Browder – The older brother of Kalief Browder, who killed himself after serving time at Rikers Island for a Crime he didn’t commit, Akeem Browder has been tapped as the Green Party’s Nominee. Browder’s Primary goal is the Rapid Shutdown of Rikers Island. However, he has had run-ins with the Law that could hurt his already long-shot chances.

Aaron Commey – Aaron Commey has been selected by the Libertarian Party as its Candidate for Mayor. As a Libertarian, Commey is interested in Reworking the Penal Code to Repeal Drug and Prostitution Laws.

Osborne G. Hart – The socialist activist is one of several candidates running a “small campaign,” which means raising and spending less than $1,000. In the past, he has run for office on the Socialist Workers Party line.

Abbey Laurel-Smith – Known colloquially as “Smithie,” Abbey Laurel-Smith is looking to run on the Working Families Party line. Smith, who also ran for President last year and calls himself a “Radical Republican,” has pledged to Reform the NYPD and Affordable Housing.

Ahsan Syed – Syed is Campaigning to be New York City’s first Muslim Mayor. His self-proclaimed “Theocratic Party” prioritizes Immigrant issues and Religious Freedom.


Eric W. Armstead – A native of East New York, Eric Armstead believes de Blasio is not doing enough in regard to Security. He would push for better Equipment for the Police and Tolls on all Bridges into New York City.

James S. Berry – James Berry has raised $646 but there is little Public Information about him.

Garrett Bowser – Garrett Bowser is a native New Yorker running as an Independent. He would be the first openly Gay Mayor. Among his Goals are Universal Health Care and Legalizing Marijuana.

Robb Gosine – Robb Gosine is an Engineer, Research Scientist and U.S. Navy Officer who is running as an Independent. He is one of several Candidates running a “Small Campaign,” which means raising and spending less than $1,000.

Rosemarie Hameed – Rosemarie Hameed is one of several Candidates running a “Small Campaign.”

Scott Joyner – Brooklyn native Scott Joyner is running as an Independent. His priorities include Revitalizing the MTA and Legalizing Marijuana.

Salvador Morales – Salvador Morales is a “young politician running for mayor,” according to his Facebook page.

Louis Puliafito – Louis Puliafito has pledged to be a Mayor who “serves ALL through ‘LOVE’ not money.”

Eric Roman – Eric Roman is a Staten Islander running as an Independent. The Department of Correction Veteran wants to strengthen the Relationship between the Police and the Mayor.

Eliseo M. Santos
– Eliseo Santos, who grew up in the Bronx and went to Columbia University, is running as an Independent and emphasizing the need for Better Schools and Lower Unemployment.

Karmen Smith – Originally from Texas, the South Bronx Resident is running for Mayor as an Independent. His Campaign focuses on LGBTQ and Racial Issues.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Michigan Governor Signs Bill Removing Party Logos from November Ballots

Thanks to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News for this post.

On July 26th, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed HB 4177, which Removes Party Logos from General Election Ballots.

A Logo is a drawing representing a Political Party. For example, the Republican logo in Michigan is a Drawing of the heads of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

The motive for this Bill is to make it easier for the State to Win the Pending Lawsuit over whether the Straight-Ticket Device should remain on General Election Ballots.

The Legislature had Repealed the Straight-Ticket Device early in 2016. But then some Groups had Filed a Lawsuit to keep the Straight-Ticket Device, and the U.S. District Court Judge issued an Injunction, requiring the State to Retain the Straight-Ticket Device until the Lawsuit is Settled.

That lawsuit is now Undergoing Discovery.

One of the Arguments made by Proponents of the Straight-Ticket Device was that if the Device were Removed, some confused Voters would Draw a Circle around one of the Party Logos, and these Voters would think Drawing such a Circle would be Casting a Straight-Ticket Vote for all that Party’s Nominees.

But, now that Logos are gone, that argument disappears.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Electionline Weekly July-27-2017

Legislative Updates

Federal Legislation: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) has introduced the Democracy Restoration Act of 2017 that would restore Voting Rights to Individuals after they have completed the Terms of their Sentence and returned to their Communities.

Arkansas: The Executive Subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislation Council approved the State Board of Election Commissioners Emergency Rule enforcing the State’s New Voter Photo ID Law.

Illinois: There is confusion as to whether or not Gov. Bruce Ruaner will Sign the Automatic Voter Registration Bill approved by the Legislature. According to NBC5, the Governor had planned to Sign the Bill during the Rainbow PUSH Coalition Convention, but then did not.

New Mexico: By a 6-2 vote, the Santa Fe City Council has once again voted to Postpone the Implementation of Ranked-Choice Voting.

Texas: A Bill that would increase the Penalties for some Offenses related to Illegally Assisting an Elderly Person with Voting or Illegally Handling or Harvesting a Ballot has been approved by the Senate during the Legislature’s Special Session.

Utah: Democratic Senator Karen Mayne (West Valley) is introducing New Legislation to Review Voter Privacy measures during the next Session of the Legislature. Mayne’s Legislation would make sure that birthdates are automatically Exempt from all Open Records requests. “I think we need to protect or look into how we can protect those voter rights, especially the date of birth, and the month and the day, is concerning to me,” she told KUER. “So we’re going to venture there.”

Legal Updates

Alabama: The Campaign Legal Center is suing Alabama to get the State to Automatically Enroll more than 60,000 Convicted Felons to the State’s Voter Roll who are now Eligible to Vote under a New Law.

Arkansas: A Lawsuit has been Filed against Two Members of the Jefferson County Board of Election Commissioners alleging that the Members are refusing to work with Will Fox, who had been Appointed Election Coordinator by County Judge Henry “Hank” Williams IV in advance of a recent Special Election. The Suit says that refusal “resulted in anomalies in the election. Mr. Fox has attempted to assist in the election process that has occurred this year but Mr. Soffer has threatened Mr. Fox and attempted to have him removed from public meetings.”

California: Activists have Filed Suit in an effort to upend a New Law that revises the Rules for California Recall Elections. The Legislature approved a Provision, added to the State Budget, that extends the amount of time between a Recall Petition effort and an actual Election. The New Law gives Voters the opportunity to Remove their Signatures from Petitions.

Florida: A Trial began this week in the Lawsuit Filed by the American Civil Rights Union against Broward County alleging that the County’s Voter Rolls are filled with Ineligible Voters.

Kansas: U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson Denied Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s request to reconsider a Magistrate Judge’s Sanctions. In her Ruling, Robinson chided Kobach for Habitually making Misleading Statements.

Massachusetts: The Suffolk Superior Court has Ruled that the Statewide practice of setting a 20-Day Voter Registration Deadline is Unconstitutional, Arbitrary, and has needlessly prevent thousands of Residents from Voting. "The court concludes that the Commonwealth has shown no real reason, grounded in data, facts or expert opinion, why election officials need to close registration almost 3 weeks before the election to do their job," Associate Justice Douglas H. Wilkins wrote in his Ruling. "Instead, the plaintiffs have shown that there is no compelling reason for a 20-day deadline that deprives individuals of their right to vote." Secretary of State William Galvin has said he will Appeal the Ruling.

Minnesota: An effort to put Even-Year City Elections on the November Ballot seems to be short of the required 7,011 Valid Signatures. Instead of submitting an additional 1,100 Signatures, the Petitioner has Filed a Lawsuit against the City of St. Paul, City Clerk Shari Moore, and Ramsey County Elections Manager Joseph Mansky.

North Carolina: The State Supreme Court announced that Gov. Roy Cooper isn’t Required to Appoint Members of the State Elections and Ethics Enforcement Board created by a Republican-lead Legislature Pending Arguments before the High Court scheduled for August 28th.

Utah: U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby has ruled that Boundaries for Election Districts in San Juan County are Unconstitutional and Violate the Voting Rights of Native Americans. The County was Forced to Redraw the Maps in 2016, but Shelby recently determined that the New Maps are still Unconstitutional.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Memphis Will Use RCV in City Council Elections in 2019

When Memphis, Tennessee Voters head to the Polls to pick their City Council Members in 2019, they won't have to worry about participating in the Costly, often inconvenient Runoff Election. These Elections are Non-Partisan

Ten years after voters approved Ranked-Choice Voting (RCV), the Shelby County Election Commission plans to begin RCV for Council Elections in October 2019, Elections Administrator Linda Phillips said Thursday. The change means Memphis Voters will Rank their Top Three choices in the General Election, sidestepping a Runoff.

Voters will pick Three Candidates as their first, second, and third choice. Election Machines will count the first choices; if no candidate receives a majority of votes, Election Staff will eliminate the Candidate with the fewest votes. Staff will then Recount, adding in the Second Choices of Voters whose first pick was Eliminated. That process will repeat until a Candidate has received a Majority of the votes. After explaining the process, Phillips added: "We're going to have to spend a lot of money on voter education."

Voters Approved RCV in a 2009 City Charter Amendment, but the Commission and its Staff didn't think they had the Equipment to implement the change, not realizing no new Equipment was needed, Phillips said. So the change didn't happen. "I really think it came out of misunderstanding how the process could work — or would work," she said.

Eliminating Runoff Elections was an easy sell to Voters, most of whom don't turn out for Runoff Elections, and is expected to save Taxpayer Dollars. Phillips said the 2015 Council Runoff Cost an estimated $360,000, but only 15,000 of 264,000 voters, 5.8%, turned out. In other words, each vote in that election cost $24 in Taxpayer Money. "That's a pretty staggeringly high cost per vote," she said.

The next step for the commission is to organize a large-scale, internal Mock Election for early 2019 to work out any kinks in the system and give Officials an idea of how long the process will take, Phillips said.

Meanwhile, the City Council will need to approve Ordinances answering a number of Policy Questions, including whether to allow RCV for the Six Super District Races or just for the Seven Single-Member Districts. Another question for the Council is whether a Majority of votes means the Majority of people who Voted, or a Majority of Voters whose Candidates haven't already been Eliminated from consideration

"There's a number of policy choices that have to be decided," Phillip said.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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NYC CFB Votes on 2013 Campaign Enforcement Matters

At today's regularly Scheduled Meeting of the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) determined that Three Campaigns from the 2013 Citywide Election Cycle committed Violations and assessed Penalties for those Violations.

The Board determined that one Campaign is required to Repay Public Funds, and one Campaign is eligible to receive a Post-Election Funds Payment. Additionally, the Board Granted a Petition for extraordinary circumstance in Council District 28, allowing Candidates to file Certifications in the Matching Funds program.

Chairman Frederick Schaffer delivered the following remarks at the Meeting:

Next week, the Board will make the first public funds payments in the 2017 elections. For participating candidates who qualify, contributions from New York City residents are matched at a 6-to-1 rate. The match applies to the first one hundred seventy five dollars, so each city resident’s contribution could be worth a maximum of $1,050 in public funds.

The public matching funds encourage candidates to raise small-dollar contributions in their neighborhoods. This limits the influence of large contributions from special interests and ensure that candidates better understand and address the diverse interests and needs of everyday New Yorkers.

In order to receive public matching funds, candidates must meet a fundraising threshold to show they have public support, and follow the rules of the program. This includes attending at least one training session. CFB staff have held trainings for candidates and campaigns staff regularly since 2014. And Monday, August 7th will be the last day for candidates to attend these mandatory training sessions for the 2017 election cycle.

Violations and Penalties:

Joseph Hayon, [City Council-District #44, 2013], Public Funds Received: $23,100, Penalty = $5,786

1. Failing to report transactions = $99
2. Failing to demonstrate compliance with reporting requirements for disbursements = $500
3. Filing a late disclosure statement = $50
4. Accepting a contribution from a corporation = $1,350
5. Failing to document a transaction = No penalty
6. Failing to demonstrate that spending was in furtherance of the campaign = $977
7. Failing to respond to the Initial Documentation Request and filing a late response to the Draft Audit Report = $2,810

Mark Weprin, [City Council-District #23, 2013], Public Funds Received: $0 (Non-Participant), Penalty = $996

1. Accepting over-the-limit contributions from two contributors doing business with the city = $250
2. Accepting a contribution from a limited liability company = $125
3. Failure to demonstrate compliance with intermediary reporting and documentation requirements = $100
4. Making a cash expenditure greater than $100 = $50
5. Late response to the Initial Documentation Request = $471

Mercedes Narcisse, [City Council-District #46, 2013], Public Funds Received: $0, Penalty = $10,997

1. Failing to report a merchant account used for campaign purposes = $50
2. Failing to provide bank statements = $500
3. Failing to report transactions = $872
4. Failing to demonstrate compliance with cash receipts reporting and documentation requirements = $960
5. Failing to demonstrate compliance with reporting requirements for disbursements - No penalty
6. Filing late disclosure statements = $875
7. Accepting over-the-limit contributions = $1,650
8. Accepting an in-kind contribution from a corporation = $125
9. Accepting contributions from unregistered political committees = $250
10. Failing to document basic campaign functions = $500
11. Failing to document transactions = $300
12. Failing to demonstrate compliance with intermediary reporting and documentation requirements = $200
13. Failing to demonstrate that spending was in furtherance of the campaign = $2,549
14. Failing to respond to the Initial Documentation Request, and an audit request = $2,166

Public Funds Repayment:

Joseph Hayon, [City Council-District #44, 2013], Public Funds Received = $23,100, Public Funds Repayment = $19,859

Public Funds Repayment:

Mercedes Narcisse, [City Council-District #46, 2013], Public Funds Received: $0, Public Funds Payment = $1,648

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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NY Voting Reform Advocates Say Gov. Cuomo Can Do More Through Executive Order

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo created The State Agency Voter Registration Task Force, comprised of Cuomo’s Counsel Alphonso David, Jamie Rubin, his Director of State Operations, as well as a variety of Agency Commissioners, to explore ways to implement the Reforms laid out in his Executive Order.

The Executive Order Expands the List of New York State Agencies required to provide Voter Registration Assistance and created the task force to oversee Implementation of the Program. While current State and Federal Law requires the Forms to be available at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and certain Social Service Agencies, Cuomo’s new Order mandates that all Agencies that interact with the Public through Professional Licensing, Recreational activities, and other avenues carry the Forms.

The Task Force will also Study the use of Electronic Signatures and how to set up Secure Online Voting Registration systems, similar to the one currently in place at the DMV, through additional State Agencies, according to the Governor’s Office.

Advocates of Voting Reform, who were disappointed by the lack of meaningful Electoral Reform during the 2017 Legislative Session, were buoyed by the news, praising it as an important first step, but they also noted that a lot more can be done to increase access to Registration and Voting. “While we appreciate Governor Cuomo’s intentions, his proposed executive order will do little to address the issues New York State voters face on Election Day. Voter purges, strict registration and party change deadlines, and long lines at the polls cannot be fixed with enhanced voter registration,” said Jennifer Wilson of League of Women Voters in a Statement.

In pointing out that Voter Registration is not the main barrier to voting in New York State, Wilson noted that in 2016 Voter Registration reached a record high, but many newly enrolled Voters faced Barriers to Casting their Ballots. “While we agree that state agencies should take a more active role in voter registration, we would prefer to see an executive order that enacts early voting, alters registration deadlines, or allows for electronic poll books. The only way to truly empower voters and ensure ballot integrity is to make voting easier and more accessible,” said Wilson.

Reinvent Albany, a Government Reform group, issued a Statement saying the Organization is “most excited by the potential to use proven technology to implement fully online voter registration in New York State. State agencies, SUNY and CUNY and Boards of Election should make voting easier by maximizing the use of secure technology.”

“Governor Cuomo’s actions are a helpful step in what we hope is a wider push to update our archaic voting system,” said New York Civil Liberties Union head Donna Lieberman, noting the Executive Action’s timeliness in the wake of the Trump Administration’s request for Voter Information through its newly created voter Fraud Commission, which critics say is paving the way to attempt Voter Suppression, and 44 States, including New York, have refused to comply with, except some will submit Public Data.

The Voter Registration expansion ordered by Cuomo could have a significant impact in places like New York City and Westchester where a considerable number of Voters do not frequently interact with the DMV, because they are not Car owners or are not Licensed to Drive.

A recent Study by the New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG), which has been pushing for all Agencies to make Voter Registration Forms available, found that fewer than 50% of people who are of Voting Age living in Brooklyn or the Bronx possessed Driver’s Licenses, while in Queens, 64% of those Residents were Licensed, and in Manhattan, 54% of those Residents were licensed. Eighty-three percent of Voting age Staten Islanders were Licensed, and in Westchester, 88% of those Residents were Registered with the DMV.

The Analysis also found disparities between men and women who interacted with the DMV in New York State; there were 300,000 fewer Female Licensed Drivers than Male Drivers, though there are 600,000 more Women than Men in the State. The NYPIRG estimates are based on 2010 U.S. Census data.

Cuomo has also ordered SUNY and CUNY to conduct a full Investigation of their Campus Voter Registration practices in order to ensure that required steps are being taken to increase Voter Registration rates among Young Voters on the State's Public College Campuses. State Law requires SUNY and CUNY Campuses to provide all Students with Voter Registration Forms at the beginning of each School year, as well as in January of each Presidential Election year.

Finally, Cuomo directed the DMV to send Information referencing its Online Voter Registration application in all emails reminding New Yorkers to Renew their Licenses, Identification Cards, and Vehicle Registrations, in order to maximize New Yorkers' awareness of the Electronic Voter Registration Application.

Since the launch of Online Voter Registration in 2012, there have been over 921,922 Online Voter Registration Applications, including 430,886 who identified themselves as first-time Voters, according to Cuomo’s Office.
Reinvent Albany called on the new Cuomo Task Force, and CUNY and SUNY, to hold Public Hearings around Improving Voter Registration.

Earlier this year, as part of his State of the State and 2017 Policy Book, the Governor proposed "The Democracy Project," a Legislative Package to further Modernize and Reform New York's Voting System. The Bills were comprehensive, including Early Voting, Same-Day Voter Registration, and Automatic Voter Registration, but the Governor was criticized for Failing to see any of those Measures passed during the Budget or subsequent Special Legislative Session, which ended in late June.

When asked about the failure to pass these Reforms, Cuomo said there was “no appetite” in the Legislature. "There is more to do; there is no political will to do it. Otherwise we would have done it in the budget," Cuomo said of the Reforms.

Chisun Lee, Senior Counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, noted that while an Executive Order has its Limitations, the Governor could direct his Task Force to “study the benefits of and best practices for implementing opt-out automatic registration — a reform that would move New York from the back of the pack to the vanguard of pro-voter states.” Under this Program, all eligible Voters would automatically be Registered unless they proactively Declined. “Today’s order is a good step forward, though more can and should be done to replace New York’s archaic, paper-based registration system with a modern, electronic one that increases efficiency and improves accuracy of our registration rolls,” Lee said in a Statement.

A Spokesperson for Cuomo’s Office said the Governor will continue to push for the Reforms introduced in his 2017 Agenda, but did not elaborate about how.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Feds Withholding NYPD Funds Over Immigration

President Trump’s War on so-called Sanctuary Cities is no longer in the realm of rhetoric.

It’s now Costing the Nation’s best Police Department and foremost Terror-Fighting force real Money to do its job.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions just announced that the Feds will withhold $4 Million in Edward Byrne Memorial Grants from the NYPD, on the grounds that the City will not give the Feds full access to its Detention Centers, Share the Immigration Status of all Arrestees, and give Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Officials 48 hours notice before releasing Detainees.

Adding insult to injury, the Grants are named after the rookie Queens Cop gunned down in 1988 protecting an Immigrant witness who was cooperating with Cops against Drug Dealers.

In the past two decades, New York City has driven Crime down to record lows even as it has welcomed Immigrants by the hundreds of thousands.

City Hall currently hands the Feds everything they need to Deport a wide range of genuinely dangerous Illegal Immigrant Felons.

It just isn’t going to serve up otherwise Law-Abiding Undocumented Immigrants for gratuitous Deportations.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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