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This week in wins: South Dakota is trying to make voter registration way easier

In a week of rough news, progressives still scored a lot of wins.

By Dan Desai Martin - August 16, 2019
Voters at a polling place

Families across the country may be squeezing in a vacation before school starts, but victories for progressives take no vacations.

Here is some good news for the week.

South Dakota wants to make voter registration easier

If the Board of Elections gets its way, residents of South Dakota will be able to register to vote online in time for the 2020 election.

According to the Aberdeen News, the board on Tuesday approved four bills to recommend to the state legislature related to elections. One would allow voters to register online, so long as they have a valid state-issued ID. Those without such an ID would still have to register in person.

The board also approved plans to update voting equipment in 36 counties. The state’s other 30 counties already updated their voting equipment before the 2018 election.

Stacey Abrams launches massive voter protection effort

Stacey Abrams wants to make sure every person can vote and every vote counts. On Tuesday, the former Georgia nominee for governor launched Fair Fight, a 20-state voter protection campaign, to ensure “every eligible American who should cast a vote will be able to,” according to the Washington Post.

“We’re going to have a fair fight in 2020 because my mission is to make certain that no one has to go through in 2020 what we went through in 2018,” she said. In 2018, Abrams narrowly lost the election, in large part because of voter suppression efforts by her opponent, Brian Kemp.

The effort will focus mostly on states in the midwest and south, and will cost between $4 million and $5 million.

Illinois students will start learning LGBTQ history

Students across Illinois will soon learn about the roles and contributions of LGBTQ people, thanks to a new law signed last Friday.

Illinois joins California, New Jersey, Colorado, and Vermont as requiring LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum, according to ThinkProgress.

“One of the best ways to overcome intolerance is through education and exposure to different people and viewpoints,” state Sen. Heather Steans, a sponsor of the bill, said on her website. “An inclusive curriculum will not only teach an accurate version of history but also promote acceptance of the LGBTQ community.”

Pennsylvania governor tackles gun violence with executive orders

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed an executive order on Friday to combat the growing gun violence epidemic.

“Too many Pennsylvanians are dying from gun violence. We need to fix our weak gun laws and pass reforms focused on increasing safety and reducing danger to our citizens,” Wolf said during the Friday signing even, according to his office. “The action I am announcing today includes provisions for Pennsylvanians of all walks of life and looks at gun violence from all angles.”

The order creates an Office of Gun Violence Prevention within the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency , and a Division of Violence Prevention within the states Department of Health.

In the statement about the orders, Wolf acknowledges more needs to be done and called on both the federal government and state government to enact gun safety legislation.

New York has sweeping new workplace sexual harassment law

Workers in New York will have an easier time making claims of sexual harassment in the workplace, thanks to a new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Among the changes, the statute of limitations is extended from one year to three years, and the bill eliminates a requirement that workers must prove the harassment was “severe or pervasive.”

“Every single person has the right to a workplace free of sexual harassment and violence,” Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas said. “It has been a long time coming, and I am proud that the foundation upon which sexual harassment has festered in our workplaces for generations has been demolished.”

Delaware becomes first ‘no kill’ state in the nation

Animal lovers across the country have reason to celebrate Delaware, which became the first state in the nation to earn the title of a “no kill” state, according to CBS News.

“When every shelter in a community achieves a 90% save rate for all cats and dogs, that community is designated as no-kill,” the nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society says on its website. Delaware has a 92.9% save rate.

“Delaware put a policy emphasis on animal issues,” Holly Sizemore, chief mission officer of Best Friends Animal Society, told CBS News. “There are some terrific organizations working collaboratively there and the residents care deeply about the issue and have stepped up to help.”

Come back next week for more good news.

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