Demographics Drive Democracy

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As World Population Day approaches, Wilson Center consultant and demographer Elizabeth Leahy Madsen says the Arab Spring demonstrates that countries with very young age structures are prone both to higher incidence of civil conflict and undemocratic governance. "Among the five countries where revolt took root, those with the earliest success in ousting autocratic leaders also had the most mature age structures and the least youthful populations," she writes on the New Security Beat . What happens next in EgyptLibyaYemen,and Syria will further test the connection between youth and democracy discovered by fellow Wilson Center consulting demographer Richard Cincotta.
In South Asia, Madsen finds that as Afghanistan and Pakistan's political circumstances have become more entwined, their demographic paths are more closely parallel than expected. "For Afghanistan, given its myriad socioeconomic, political, cultural, and geographic challenges, this is good news. But forPakistan, where efforts to meet family planning needs have fallen short of capacity, it is not," she writes in the first issue of the newly relaunched ECSP Report, "Afghanistan, Against the Odds: A Demographic Surprise."
Other top population issues to watch:
  • New commitments to family planning: An international summit in London on July 11, co-hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK's Department for International Development and supported by USAID and UNFPA, may produce financial commitments toward meeting a new and ambitious goal of generating $4 billion to fund contraceptives for 120 million women in developing countries by 2020.
  • Changing fertility rates in Africa : Contraceptive use over the past five years is growing much faster than the regional average in EthiopiaMalawi, and Rwanda, leading to declining fertility rates. However, contraceptive use in other countries, including Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda, andZimbabwe, are declining or showing only modest increases.
  • Revised global population projections : The 2013 revision of the World Population Prospects will provide a new global population prediction for 2050. This figure can vary dramatically: If the global fertility rate changes by 0.5 children per woman in either direction, the total population could be more than one billion higher or lower in 2050.
Since 1994, the Woodrow Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) has actively pursued the connections between the environment, health, population, development, conflict, and security. ECSP brings together scholars, policymakers, the media, and practitioners through events, research, publications, multimedia content (audio and video), and our award-winning blog, New Security Beat. The Environmental Change and Security Program Report 14 is the latest volume of ECSP's flagship publication. Published since 1996, ECSP Report is now an online series of policy briefs. 
The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world.
Elizabeth Leahy Madsen is a consultant on political demography for the Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program and senior technical advisor at Futures Group.
Richard Cincotta is a consultant on political demography for the Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program and at the Stimson Center.

Gov. Snyder Vetoes Voter Suppression Bills

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today marks a significant step in the right direction to protect democracy from those who would attempt to shut the door in its face. The Detroit Branch NAACP has been very critical of many of the policies of Governor Rick Snyder as it relates to citizen representation and voter participation throughout this state. While we fervently disagree with his policies on the issue of emergency manager laws, consent agreements imposed upon cities and municipalities and what we believe to be diminishing the right to elect our own political leaders – we applaud the Governor's stand today.
When the Governor of the state, in our view, is wrong – he should be called out. When the governor of our state is right, in our view, he should also be called out. Today, we agree with the Governor as he said, "The bills would have created voter confusion among absentee voters." Further, it is our position that these ill-conceived bills would have led to a reduction in the access to the polls of minorities, students and seniors - increasing voter apathy among the poor.  Now is not the time to create hurdles to the polls. Now is the time to build bridges to get to the polls.
"Voting is the most precious and fundamental right we have in a representative Democracy," said Donnell White, Executive Director, Detroit Branch NAACP.  
The NAACP noted that SB 754's training requirement for organizations which conduct voter registration had no funds actually allocated for doing the training, had no administrative standards or instructions to local clerks for how and where the trainings would occur, and were therefore bound to cause confusion, having passed the House and Senate on the eve of an election.
"A Bill very similar to SB 754 was recently struck down by a Florida Federal court and we know it would not have passed legal muster in Michigan either," said Atty. Melvin Butch Hollwell, General Counsel,Detroit Branch NAACP.  "Here it is just one month before the Primary election, and clerks across the state have received no information about how these Bills would work. It was a recipe for disaster at the polls."
The Detroit Branch NAACP believes these bills created just prior to a national election and in a so-called swing state (Michigan) that could possibly determine the result of the presidential election, were most inappropriate.  The NAACP and many other organizations have a long history of voter mobilization and training in the area of voter education. The Detroit Branch NAACP has never believed that it was necessary to create an assault on the right of the voter. We are glad that this assault has, at this time, been stopped in its tracks by the pen of the Governor.
For those who are surprised at this decision, we certainly understand why this might be the case. Let the record reflect, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Society is always taken by surprise at any new example of common sense."
Thank you, Mr. Governor, for demonstrating some common sense. We hope that it might find a contagious community in which to flourish.
SOURCE Detroit Branch NAACP
 CONTACT: LaToya Henry, +1-313-447-6404, or Tonie Bell, +1-313-447-6404, for Detroit Branch NAACP

Pennsylvania Urged To Delay Voter ID Law

PHILADELPHIAJuly 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A growing broad-based coalition of 100 statewide, regional and local organizations today strongly urged Governor Corbett to delay implementation of Pennsylvania's new voter ID law, which requires all state voters to show photo identification each and every time they go to the polls.
Speaking on behalf of several members of the coalition, Barry Kauffman, Executive Director of Common Cause PA, said the plea for delay follows this week's stunning revelation that 9.2 percent of the state's 8.2 million registered voters – nine times more than state officials originally estimated – do not have photo identification cards issued by the state Transportation Department (PennDOT), the most common form of identification voters will bring to the polls on November 6, when the law goes into full effect. 
In Philadelphia, 18 percent, or nearly one in five (186,830) of the city's just over one million registered voters, do not have PennDOT-issued photo identification cards. Between 10 percent and 12 percent of voters in nine other Pennsylvania counties are similarly impacted. County-by-county data is available at:
Kauffman also expressed deep concern that state lawmakers who passed the voter ID law in March relied upon inaccurate information that 99 percent of voters would not be negatively impacted.
According to Elizabeth McElroy, Secretary-Treasurer of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, the 100 members of the PA Voter ID Coalition are conducting an aggressive non-partisan statewide campaign to educate voters about the voter ID law and to help them obtain acceptable forms of photo identification. "The new data shows there is a significant hurdle to over three quarters of a million Pennsylvanians who do not already have valid forms of photo identification," said McElroy.  
Olivia Thorne, President of the League of Women Voters of PA, added that urging Governor Corbett to delay implementation of the law – at least for one year – will give state and local officials sufficient time to ensure that the dramatically higher number of affected voters will not be stripped of their fundamental right to vote.
Kauffman, McElroy and Thorne underscored that the new voter ID law impacts all state voters, regardless of party affiliation or the candidates they support. "Every voter in Pennsylvania needs to know what the new law requires," Kauffman concluded. "But four months until the presidential election in November is a very short time frame to reach what we now know are hundreds of thousands of voters who will actually need to get photo identification in order to vote."
This press release is endorsed by:
Advancement Project, Rich Robinson, Communications Manager for Voter Protection, (202) 728-9557, ext. 338 (office); (202) 696-3406 (cell)
ACLU of PA, Sara Mullen, Associate Director, (215) 592-1513, ext. 122 (office) 
Philadelphia AFL-CIO, Elizabeth McElroy, Secretary-Treasurer, (215) 665-9800 (office); (267) 455-8191 (cell)
Committee of Seventy, Ellen Mattleman Kaplan, VP and Policy Director, (215) 557-3600, ext. 102 (office); 215-470-8316 (cell)
Common Cause/PA, Barry Kauffman, Executive Director, (717) 232-9951 (office)
League of Women Voters PA, Olivia Thorne, President, (610) 212-5111 (cell) 
SOURCE Committee of Seventy
CONTACT: Ellen Mattleman Kaplan, VP and Policy Director, +1-215-557-3600, ext. 102, +1-215-470-8316 (cell)