In the News

HAVA also created the concept of "provisional ballots," to be used when voters thought they should be allowed to vote but were not on the list--an important step towards universal same-day registration that is the norm in many democratic countries. Unfortunately, Demos, a leading voting rights organization, found evidence that some states ignored both the spirit and letter of HAVA's provisional ballot requirement.

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"It's discouraging that we can't make our political statements independently," said Stuart Comstock-Gay, executive director of the National Voting Rights Institute. But, he added, placing strict restrictions on political activity is a condition of many organizations, including non-profits, who wish to maintain neutrality.

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"Acceptance of status quo is one of the reasons I wanted to write this book," said Draut, who spends her day job researching economic security and the middle class with Demos, a national think tank in New York City. Draut recognizes that the challenges facing young people are "really at a tipping point where people are realizing it's too much."

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The Mills Campanil

People on the cusp -- of promotion, of unemployment, of being proclaimed the best -- can feel enormous need to prove themselves even if they must sacrifice their integrity to do it and particularly if they think others are playing the same game, Callahan said.

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"Government no longer has our back," explains Tamara Draut, author of the recently published book Strapped, in an email. "Young adults today, working to get into the middle class -- they're being hit by a one-two punch: The economy no longer generates widespread opportunity, and our public policies haven't picked up any of the slack."

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In Conned: How Millions Went to Prison, Lost the Vote, and Helped Send George W. Bush to the White House, Sacramento-based investigative journalist Sasha Abramsky documents the way in which the widespread practice of stripping convicted felons of the right to vote has dramatically contracted the country's pool of eligible voters.

In their own ways, three of the books under review — Class Matters, Inequality Matters, and The Chosen — warn that social barriers in the US are higher and economic inequality is more pronounced than at any time in recent memory.

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"[Th]ese disenfranchisement laws have no place in modern day society," as Abramsky puts it.

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Real Change News

With their arsenal of electronic gadgets, students these days find it easier to cheat.

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So no, Draut assures you, it isn't just a fiction of your imagination that getting a toehold on life today is harder--meaning more expensive--than it was a generation or two ago. It's true, and her book documents it.

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