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This is all the more distressing because the State Board of Elections was made aware of all these problems after a similar survey three years ago. New promises to look into the matter aren't good enough.

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This is all the more distressing because the State Board of Elections was made aware of all these problems after a similar survey three years ago. New promises to look into the matter aren't good enough.

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The report notes: "What distinguishes low- and middle-income households with relatively high levels of credit card debt from those with lower levels of debt is chance and misfortune."

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The survey was conducted late last year and was a follow-up to one done in 2003. In the first survey, according to the report, more than half the counties in the state demanded that ex-felons produce, as a condition for voting registration, documents that were not required by law. In many cases the documents requested did not even exist, the report stated. The surveys were conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and a group called Demos: A Network for Ideas and Action.

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Economic inequality in America is growing but low-income families are not the only ones affected.

Many middle class families face a financial squeeze.

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"We've had a sea change in public policy without much public debate," she says. "People have to see how this is affecting a whole generation's ability to live."

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"Elections are the backbone of democracy, and New Yorkers should be able to have faith that the people who run our elections are able to fairly and fully apply the law," said Scott Novakowski, program associate in the Democracy Program at Demos. "This report proves that voters are not only misinformed about their eligibility, they are subject to unnecessary, burdensome and illegal documentation requirements for voter registration.

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According to the survey results, workers at 24 of New York's local boards told those conducting the survey that individuals on probation are not entitled to vote, or they stated they did not know if probationers are eligible.

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The study recommends passage of the New York Voting Rights Notification and Registration Act to assist ex-felons through voter registration and absentee balloting, and calls for improved communication among criminal justice and election officials.

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The problem, according to all three books, is that for today's young adults, those lean early years -- the Top Ramen phase -- may never give way to the stability and prosperity enjoyed by their boomer parents. A number of factors are blamed, chief among them student loans, credit cards, wage stagnation, the rising costs of health care and home ownership, the disappearance of pensions and the likely collapse of Social Security under the weight of all those retiring boomers.

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