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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Voting rights restoration highlights Super Tuesday vote in MN

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Tuesday, March 5, 2024   

More than a dozen states hold presidential primaries on this Super Tuesday. Minnesota is among them, and the election is seen as a big opportunity for those with a past felony conviction who recently saw an expansion of their voting rights.

Last year, Minnesota approved a law change that allows people with a conviction to register to vote immediately after their release from prison, rather than waiting until their probation is completed.

JaNae' Bates, interim co-executive director of ISAIAH, part of a coalition that pushed for the change, said there's been broad outreach to educate those eligible but acknowledges it can be an uphill battle.

"Even though they are back in community with us -- working, going to school, etc. -- they've largely felt like they've been pushed out and have not often gotten to feel engaged," she explained.

Bates also encouraged friends and family of those formerly incarcerated to make them aware of their voting rights.

The Minnesota Secretary of State estimates the new policy affects nearly 55,000 people. And since Minnesota has same-day registration, advocates encourage those newly eligible to try and cast their ballot during today's primary. Polling locations around the state are open until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Organizers also are looking ahead to the November election to get more people registered under the new law. Bates said there's already a heightened mood of cynicism across the electorate, and that it's important to not let that weigh down the trust they're trying to build.

"We're already learning so much from our formerly incarcerated folks who have been engaged in this work about the mechanisms that help them to make better decisions later and what could have helped before they ended up in the system," she continued.

She said they want to learn even more from people they haven't reached yet, or who are reluctant to embrace the voting process. After its passage, the new policy survived a legal challenge brought by a conservative organization.


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