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David Orr

Entries by David Orr

Voting Rights Should Be More Than a 'Dream'

(3) Comments | Posted August 28, 2013 | 4:19 PM

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Dr. King's legendary speech, it is disheartening to see elected officials still promoting laws to prevent mostly poor and minority Americans from voting. By requiring photo IDs in the polling place or proof...

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100 Years Later, Legacy Endures for Suffragists

(0) Comments | Posted June 11, 2013 | 5:46 PM

Martin Luther King, Jr. Medgar Evars. Emmett Till. These martyrs of the American Civil Rights movement remain familiar, although they all died at least 45 years ago. This month marks the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in Illinois, yet fewer leaders of that game-changing...

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Motor Voter Made All the Difference

(1) Comments | Posted May 22, 2013 | 3:48 PM

Twenty years ago, I stood next to President Bill Clinton as he signed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) into law. This monumental legislation made it easier for millions of Americans to register to vote by offering registration at driver's license facilities. Before 1993, registrants had...

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Strengthening the Right to Vote

(1) Comments | Posted December 19, 2012 | 12:05 PM

Today, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will convene to address the state of the right to vote after the 2012 election. Prompted by the long waits President Obama criticized in his victory speech on November 6, the Senate is now the official arbiter of dozens of election reform...

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Protecting Our Future

(3) Comments | Posted November 2, 2012 | 1:35 PM

Regardless of who wins next week's election -- your candidates or mine -- we have a problem. Our democracy is facing a triple threat: money pouring into political campaigns, negative ads blanketing the airwaves and voter suppression measures preventing legitimate citizens from voting. All...

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Get Your Voter Mojo Working

(0) Comments | Posted September 14, 2012 | 11:37 AM

With the conventions behind us and campaigns in high gear, the election season is officially here. And now, for the first time in a presidential election, Illinois voters have a choice of three ways to vote -- by mail, during early voting or on Election Day.

Mail voting is the...

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The Voting Rights Act: Our Last Best Hope

(6) Comments | Posted August 3, 2012 | 7:14 PM

August 6 is a sobering anniversary for those of us who care deeply about the health of our democracy. When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law on that day in 1965, and when President George W. Bush renewed it in

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Weekend Voting Will Work

(1) Comments | Posted March 22, 2012 | 12:53 PM

A new proposal in Congress to shift Tuesday voting to Saturday and Sunday by 2014 is a good idea whose time has come. The Weekend Voting Act, sponsored by Congressmen Steve Israel (D-NY) and John Larson (D-CT), deserves bipartisan support. Weekend voting will finally give busy...

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Tips for Chicago's TIF Panel

(6) Comments | Posted June 23, 2011 | 3:04 PM

Members of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's newly appointed TIF panel will soon roll up their sleeves to start rebuilding city policy on Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIFs). The new mayor has vowed to strip the politics out of TIFs and hold these districts to new job creation and economic...

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Renewed Call for a TIF Moratorium

(2) Comments | Posted April 8, 2011 | 5:14 PM

Back in November 2010, when I called for a moratorium on new Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts in Chicago, the race for Mayor Daley's successor was barely underway. Since then, TIFs have become a regular part of the political debate.

Now, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has turned...

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How the World Votes

(6) Comments | Posted August 5, 2010 | 4:20 PM

As Americans, we are proud of the strides we have made over time to extend the voting franchise to all citizens, however halting these steps may have been. Yet in late July when I traveled to Brussels, Belgium for an international conference of election authorities (no taxpayer money involved) I...

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Is Online Voter Registration the Future?

(3) Comments | Posted July 1, 2010 | 3:22 PM

Each election season my office hires up to a dozen temporary workers to process the flood of voter registration applications that pour in at the last minute. As much as 25% of voters register within the two weeks before the general election registration deadline. This is a good problem to...

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Three Ways to Better Government

(10) Comments | Posted May 4, 2010 | 3:24 PM

There was a time when nobody would order a birth certificate at Cook County Vital Records unless they packed their favorite book and a lunch. They didn't know if it would take an hour, two or more to fill their order. Times have changed. Today, our office gets...

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It's Time to Get Judicial Retention Elections Off the Ballot in Illinois

(2) Comments | Posted November 9, 2009 | 8:52 AM

Now, I have always thought of myself as an advocate for democracy. As Cook County Clerk since 1991, I have spent 18 years pushing measures to improve access to voting. I fought for the Motor Voter law to simplify voter registration. I initiated Early Voting to make it more convenient...

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Shedding Sunshine on Cook County Lobbyists

(0) Comments | Posted September 21, 2009 | 1:56 PM

Over the years, as dozens of elected officials have been indicted and convicted, the voters of Illinois have been repeatedly reminded that in politics, money and favors often exchange hands with no oversight. The key players in these transactions are sometimes lobbyists hoping to influence public officials as they develop...

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Give School Janitors Paid Sick Days

(1) Comments | Posted September 10, 2009 | 4:06 PM

Germs. Yet another thing wrong with privatizing public sector jobs: germs. In 1996, Chicago Public Schools privatized janitorial services. To trim costs, they cut janitors' jobs and contracted them out to a company that doesn't provide paid sick time. Back then, it was a short-sighted way to save money....

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Chicago's Parking Meter Deal a Prescription For Trouble

(9) Comments | Posted June 19, 2009 | 6:36 PM

Caution: Inspector General David Hoffman's report on Chicago's parking meter sales debacle may be hazardous to your health.

Taxpayers who already suffer from high blood pressure shouldn't read his findings. They show that the 'dubious financial deal'--a 75-year lease to a private firm--was struck for at least $1 billion...

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