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by Corey Friedman

       If you share a snapshot from the voting booth, elections officials might scour your social media pages and offer you a choice: censorship or a criminal charge.
        That's what happened to T. Greg Doucette, who cast his ballot Oct. 15 during early voting at the N.C. Central University School of Law. North Carolina is among 15 states that ban photos of marked ballots. Nine other states maintain unclear or conflicting statutes, according to Ballotpedia.
        After tweeting pictures of his ballot before and after voting -- a riff on the "How it started vs. how it's going" relationship meme -- Doucette said a state board of elections investigator phoned him.
        A criminal defense attorney who specializes in First Amendment law, Doucette knew a federal judge in New Hampshire had ruled that state's ballot-photography ban unconstitutional in 2015. After hearing from other voters who were warned to delete their publicly posted ballot selfies, he was ready to challenge North Carolina's law on free-speech grounds.
        "A good number of folks are sufficiently intimidated that they take it down -- it chills their speech," Doucette said. "They asked me to take it down. I told them, 'No, I'm leaving it up.'"
        He also emailed the investigator a written confession along with the original photos from his smartphone and then tweeted screen captures of his email for good measure. While Doucette counsels his clients to never talk to the police or consent to a search, he's ready for his day in court.
        Ballot-photo bans are ostensibly designed to prevent voter fraud. People who sell their votes or are coerced into voting a certain way could provide proof with the click of a shutter.
        But voters involved in such schemes would be more likely to send photos privately than plaster them on social media. People tell the world which candidates they support, because they're proud of those choices and want to persuade others.
        "If someone wants to post it exclusively for political expression purposes, that's the type of stuff the First Amendment has always protected," Doucette said. "And it should."
        U.S. District Judge Paul Barbadoro agreed, striking down New Hampshire's ballot-selfie ban in August 2015. In a 42-page opinion, Barbadoro described the law as a solution in search of a problem, noting that state officials hadn't received any voter-bribery complaints in 40 years.
        The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Rideout v. Gardner ruling in September 2016.
        "New Hampshire may not impose such a broad restriction on speech by banning ballot selfies in order to combat an unsubstantiated and hypothetical danger," Circuit Judge Sandra L. Lynch wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel. "We repeat the old adage: 'a picture is worth a thousand words.'"
        Since the Rideout case began making headlines, seven states have repealed laws against ballot photos or adopted new laws permitting voters' voluntary disclosure of their ballots.
        North Carolina's statute prohibits recording the image of a voted ballot "for any purpose not otherwise permitted under law." Doucette says that clause could be interpreted to allow ballot selfies as a form of self-expression while banning bribery. Political advocacy is lawful, after all, and voter fraud isn't.
        The State Board of Elections would pull a muscle patting itself on the back for its leniency, but pressuring voters to purge their ballot photos from Facebook is an Orwellian maneuver that raises the specter of selective enforcement. What determines who's let off with a warning and who's charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor? Can we be confident that political preference is never a factor?
        As of this writing, Doucette hasn't been charged despite helping election officials build their case against him. The state seems more eager to hassle first-time voters about their social media posts than to fight a losing battle in court.
        "Since I posted that tweet and the state board called me, that actually creates, in my mind, enough of a conflict where we can preemptively sue the board to ask for a declaratory judgment," Doucette said.
        He's also offering pro bono representation to North Carolina voters charged under the ballot-selfie ban.
        Voting rights and free speech rights are constitutional cousins. You shouldn't have to sacrifice the latter to exercise the former.
        Corey Friedman is an opinion journalist who explores solutions to political conflicts from an independent perspective. Follow him on Twitter @coreywrites. To find out more about Corey Friedman and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at

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by Walter E. Williams

    I was a teenager, growing up in the Richard Allen housing project of North Philadelphia, when Emmett Till was lynched in Money, Mississippi, on Aug. 28, 1955, and his brutalized, unrecognizable body later recovered from the Tallahatchie River. From 1882-1968, 4,743 lynchings occurred in the United States. Roughly 73%, or 3,446, were black people, and 27%, or 1,297, were white people. Many whites were lynched because they were Republicans who supported their fellow black citizens and opposed the lawless act of lynching. Tuskegee University has the best documentation of lynching. It records an 1892 high of 69 whites and 161 blacks lynched. By the 1940s, occurrences of lynching fell to single digits or disappeared altogether.
    At the time of my youth, today's opportunities for socioeconomic advancement were nonexistent for black people. For all but a few, college attendance was out of the question because of finances and racial discrimination. If you were not admitted to the black colleges of Lincoln University or Cheyney State College, forget about college. I do not know of any student of my 1954 class at Philadelphia's Benjamin Franklin High School who attended college. Though the quality of education at Benjamin Franklin is a mere shadow of its past, today roughly 17% of its graduating class has been admitted to college. The true hope for a youngster graduating from high school during the 1950s was a well-paying and steady job. My first well-paying job was as a taxi driver for Yellow Cab Company.
    Younger black people today have no idea of and have not experienced the poverty and discrimination of earlier generations. Also, the problems today's black people face have little or nothing to do with poverty and discrimination. Political hustlers like to blame poverty and racism while ignoring the fact that poverty and racism were much greater yesteryear but there was not nearly the same amount of chaos.
    The out-of-wedlock birth rate among blacks in 1940 was about 11%; today, it is 75%. Black female-headed households were just 18% of households in 1950, as opposed to about 68% today. In fact, from 1890 to 1940, the black marriage rate was slightly higher than that of whites. Even during slavery, when marriage was forbidden, most black children lived in biological two-parent families. In New York City, in 1925, 85% of black households were two-parent households. A study of 1880 family structure in Philadelphia shows that three-quarters of black families were two-parent households.
    There's little protest against the horrible and dangerous conditions under which many poor and law-abiding black people must live. It is not uncommon for 50 black people to be shot over a weekend in Chicago -- not by policemen but by other black people. About 7,300 black people are murdered each year, and not by white people or racist cops, but mostly by other black people. These numbers almost make our history of victimization by racist lynching look like child's play.
    The solutions to the many problems that black Americans face must come from within our black communities. They will not come from the political arena. Blacks hold high offices and dominate the politics in cities such as Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans. Yet, these are the very cities with the nation's worst-performing schools, highest crime rates, high illegitimacy rates, weak family structure and other forms of social pathology.
    I am not saying that blacks having political power is the cause of these problems. What I am saying is that the solution to most of the major problems that confront black people will not be found in the political arena or by electing more blacks to high office.
    One important step is for black Americans to stop being "useful tools" for the leftist, hate-America agenda. Many black problems are exacerbated by guilt-ridden white people. Often, they accept behavior and standards from black people that they would not begin to accept from white people. In that sense, white liberal guilt is a form of disrespect in their relationships with black Americans. By the same token, black people should stop exploiting the guilt of whites. Let us all keep in mind that history is one of those immutable facts of life.
    Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

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by Walter E. Williams

        President Donald Trump is not the first president to be hated by a large segment of the American population. In more recent times, there was considerable hate for President Ronald Reagan. Even though the Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill and Reagan were polar opposites in their politics, they could be friends. Once, when Reagan confronted O'Neill about nasty things that he said about him in a newspaper, O'Neill replied, "That's just politics, after 6 o'clock we're buddies -- we're friends." Politics today has become something not seen in our history. The true tragedy is that many Americans have bought into the hate, destructiveness and plain nastiness and are seemingly ignorant or uncaring about its long-term consequences for our nation.
        Democrats say that if they win the presidency, they would increase the size of the U.S. Supreme Court by appointing justices who would do their bidding -- packing the court. One wonders whether they think that a future Republican president would simply ignore what they have done. I doubt it. A future Republican president would resort to the same tactic and appoint justices that would do his bidding. The U.S. Supreme Court would become no less than a super-legislature, subject to the will of politicians.
        Last June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill in favor of D.C. statehood. The measure was dead on arrival at the Republican-controlled Senate. But should Joe Biden win the presidency and bring with him majorities in the House and Senate, he would make statehood for D.C. -- and Puerto Rico -- a political priority. That would give the Democrats four more seats in the U.S. Senate, therefore guaranteeing them a solid majority. But would Republicans accept that without a response? What about splitting up strong Republican states, such as Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. For example, create a West Oklahoma and East Oklahoma or a North Utah and South Utah. That would give the Republicans four additional senators thereby offsetting the new Democratic senators.
        You say, "Williams, dividing up states to get greater representation in the House of Representatives and the Senate would violate the Constitution." The fact of the matter is that making Washington, D.C., a state would violate the Constitution. Article I, Section 8, clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution provides explicitly for a national capital that would not be part of a state nor treated as a state, but rather a jurisdiction under the exclusive authority of Congress, a neutral "district" in which representatives of all the states could meet on an equal footing to conduct the nation's business.
        So, far as dividing up states, Article IV of our Constitution, in part, says, "but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress."
        By the way, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln, who claimed that he was fighting against secession, violated the U.S. Constitution when he proclaimed the admission of West Virginia into the Union. The Virginia state legislature did not vote to support West Virginia's secession from Virginia.
        The bottom-line question is whether our nation can survive the divisions that we see today. Too many people want to blame it all on Trump. How much blame can be put on Trump for the riots, looting and, as Axios estimated, the close to $2 billion in losses from property destruction? What about the murder and shooting of civilians and law enforcement officers? What about the tearing down of monuments, not only those of Confederate generals but of Abraham Lincoln, Christopher Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and abolitionist Frederick Douglass?
        Perhaps the most tragic aspect of today's division is that much of it is a byproduct of our education system where young people are taught to hate our nation's founders and founding principles. However, it is these principles, though practiced imperfectly, that have created the freest and richest nation in mankind's history. The question is if our nation can survive the widespread anti-Trump hate.
        Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

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by John Stossel

        Worried about Tuesday?
        Remember: The most important parts of life happen outside politics.
        Love, friendship, family, raising children, building businesses, worship, charity work -- that is the stuff of life! Politicians get in the way of those things. But despite the efforts of power-hungry Republicans and Democrats, life gets better.
        You may not believe that. Surveys show most people think life is getting worse.
        But it isn't, as Marian Tupy and Ron Bailey point out in their new book, "Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know."
        "Child labor was once ubiquitous. Now it's limited to a few countries in Africa. Women did not have a vote (until New Zealand granted it at the end of the 19th century). Today, women vote everywhere except for the Vatican," Tupy reminds us.
        "Gays and lesbians, persecuted for millennia, are free to marry. Slavery was universal; now it is illegal. The world has never been more peaceful, more educated and kinder."
        But the nastiness of today's politics may stop progress! Make life worse!
        It's possible, but "worse" compared to what?
        I've lived through the Vietnam War, a military draft, 90% income tax rates, price controls, indecency laws, widespread racism and sexism, Jim Crow, the explosion of crime in the 1970s...
        Overall, life got better.
        With Donald Trump and Joe Biden claiming the other will destroy what's good, it's hard to see improvement. But the world has made progress, largely thanks to libertarian ideas.
        "For millennia the world was marked by despotism, slavery, hierarchy, rigid class privilege, and literally no increase in the standard of living," says Cato Institute Vice President David Boaz in the May/June 2020 Policy Report.
        "Then libertarian ideas came into the world. Of course, they weren't called that at the time. ... (T)hey were the ideas of human rights, free markets, property rights, religious toleration, the value of commerce, the dignity of the individual - life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
        These ideas created a wave of progress unlike anything in history.
        "Look at the chart of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, or any measure of economic growth," adds Boaz. "It looks like a hockey stick: flat for almost all human history, and then it rockets upwards."
        The media shriek hysterically about every problem, and we have problems: pandemic, lockdowns, unemployment, wildfires, bad cops, violent riots, crime...
        But no matter who wins on Tuesday, life will probably get better.
        Entrepreneurs will invent cool things.
        This year, while Democrats and Republicans fought, the private sector found cheaper and better ways to send people into space.
        The World Bank complained about governments not providing all people clean drinking water. So private companies are doing it. A billboard in Peru turns humidity into potable drinking water. A drinking straw, LifeStraw, removes bacteria and parasites from water.
        Forests are expanding because modern farming uses less land, allowing the forests to regrow.
        Thanks to often-despised free markets, poverty continues to decline. In 1981, 42% of the world lived in extreme poverty. By 2018, only 8.6% did. Do politicians ever highlight those gains? No.
        Probably because most of those good things happened in spite of them, not because of them.
        Most good things do.
        Yes, we still have lots of problems: trillion?dollar deficits, mental illness, crushing regulation, endless wars (although fewer of them), criminal injustice, inequality, climate change...
        But it's always been that way. Evolution programmed humans to focus on problems. Our ancestors survived in a very dangerous world. If they weren't hypervigilant, they wouldn't have lived long enough to give birth to the people who gave birth to us.
        I obsess about problems. But I try not to let that distract me from the big picture:
        More people in more places enjoy prosperity, religious freedom, personal freedom, democratic governance, largely equal rights, civility, better health and longer lives.
        Neither Trump nor Biden is likely to destroy that.
        John Stossel is author of "Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit

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by Taylor Kovar (

Hey Taylor: Have you heard of the Buy It for Life movement? My friends keep talking about it, and it seems like it’s just about buying expensive things. Can you explain? - Liza

Hey Liza: I’m happy to explain this “movement,” though it seems like you’ve pretty much got it figured out. The idea is to buy expensive things that will last as a means of avoiding constant replacements and repairs that really add up. Great in theory, but does it actually work in practice?

For some products, this is a no brainer, especially with bigger purchases. Always pay more for good home renovations, a decent vehicle, maybe a computer if you need it for work. Now, when I say “always pay more,” I’m not suggesting you have to pay for the most expensive brand on the market. However, anytime you go with the cheapest option for something like a new roof or a new laptop, you can expect to be shopping for a replacement sooner than you’d like.

My issue with the Buy It for Life idea is that it doesn’t stop at big-ticket items. There’s an expensive option for every type of purchase, and that isn’t always necessary. I bought a cheap sleeping bag in a pinch 15 years ago and it’s still holding up just fine; I own a few second-hand tools that cost very little and still work great; I’ve had friends pick up roadside couches that have then stayed with them for years.

The point is, if you see yourself as part of a movement and get too enamored with buying expensive things, I guarantee you’ll spend unnecessarily. You’ll start paying more for accessories you don’t actually need, like coffee makers that also toast your bread and salt shakers made of crystal. Sure, you’ll have a durable salt shaker, but you might not be able to afford the salt that goes in it.

Are some smaller items worth the extra money? Absolutely. Durable jackets, sturdy mattresses, quality knives and dozens of other household items can make great one-time buys that will save you money in the long run. If you know you’re going to use something forever, go ahead and spend a little extra. That said, I would encourage you to think long and hard before handing over your cash. Don’t make big purchases if you’re about to move, and don’t buy something you don’t actually need. A good, expensive cooler might last forever, but what’s the point if it’s never going to leave your garage?

Those are my thoughts on the Buy It for Life concept. It’s important to buy quality products, but it’s just as important to avoid overspending. Keep shopping smart and thanks for writing in!