Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Twitter is better all around for lawyers at 280 characters than 140

Twitter 280 characters

When I saw that Twitter was considering increasing its character limit from 140 characters, I saw it as a bad thing. A company struggling in the financial community’s eyes making changes for the sake of change – not vision.

I also saw an increase as making for a poor user experience.

People would start to use Twitter for more than it is, short quips with a link for getting more. People who don’t know how to use social media, often marketers and communication professionals, would broadcast more, believing more characters was more, not less. And with longer tweets, the ability to scroll would be harder as columns on Twitter’s home page and lists would be twice as long.

I was wrong. Twitter with the 280 character is a better experience — and more valuable for those looking to learn, share, engage, nurture relationships and build a name. All the stuff smart lawyers and other professionals are after.

Leading technologist and the inventor of the blog, Dave Winer (@davewiner) was right when he wrote two years ago that Twitter needed to increase its character limit. Not to change for the sake of change, but as a defensive move for self preservation.

Winer’s point was that people don’t click on links and keeping the 140 character limit would thus cripple Twitter.

1. Twitter has had real-time news more or less to itself since inception. Facebook was busy doing something else. Apple had the totally wrong idea of how news worked. Google had good products, Google News and Google Now, but they weren’t doing exactly what Twitter does.
2. But things have changed. Facebook and Apple are actively pursuing news, and at least in Facebook’s case, their product works better than Twitter’s. Flipboard has an excellent product, and while they don’t appear to be an immediate threat to Twitter, they could be acquired.
3. News products that are limited to 140 characters have to use pointers to guide the reader to the rest of the story.
4. Key point — the new entrants don’t have a 140-char limit.
5. If you think that clicking on a link to read a story is not a serious disadvantage, then go ahead and keep the 140-char limit. But Facebook claims to have done the research, and my anecdotal experience confirms this: people don’t click links.

Winer was also right that users who loved Twitter, like me, would not be put off by the change, they’d even like it.

It’s easy and non-disruptive for Twitter to ease the limit. The people who really love Twitter as-is will barely notice a difference. Except when they want to read more, they can just click a link, and the full story loads immediately, because the full article is already there, it’s in the Twitter feed, just hidden at first. This is very simple, imho totally non-controversial stuff. Don’t breeze by it, and think the limit is insignificant. It just cripples Twitter in relation to its new competition.

Twitter at 280 is all positive for me.

  • Twitter has become a quasi blogging medium. I love blogging as blogging is meant to be, a conversation. By referencing something someone else has written and offering my take, I am in effect entering into a conversation with them. At 140 characters that was tough to do. 280 makes it possible, while still making me get to the point.
  • I can now get the “money quote” out of a story or post, give the attribute to the source by including their Twitter handle and then sharing my point or take. A miniature blog post.
  • Longer tweets foster more engagement in the form of retweets, likes and replies. The reason is that people get your whole point in one tweet. I agree with Winer that no one clicks on a link to read a story elsewhere. That’s why I share an entire blog post on Facebook.
  • Retweets, likes and replies foster engagement. I end up exchanging notes and in conversation with these folks on Twitter and elsewhere. Content is not the end goal of a lawyer, content is just the currency for building relationships and a name, largely through engagement.
  • Longer tweets become part of the news cycle on Twitter. The stories you share move as more people share the items you’ve tweeted. People share what they know. They don’t know what’s behind a link. Now they can read the whole “story” on Twitter.
  • Whether you share your own blog posts or someone elses, doesn’t matter. Sharing other’s stories and posts is probably better. You are seen as well read, staying up to speed in your industry and an intelligence agent by funneling some of the best from the noise.
  • You build fans among those whose stories and posts you share. More people are seeing their name than ever because your tweets are getting viewed more as more people retweet them. Better yet, these fans get a notice via Twitter each time your tweet (with their Twitter handle included as a result of your attribute) is liked, retweeted or replied to.

Winer was right that early leaders, like Twitter, mistakenly think there’s something magical about their product, like 140 characters.

…[A] newcomer enters and takes the market because they were wrong about the magic. Users almost always go for new power, esp when it comes to them as performance not complexity. That’s all we’re talking about here. News stories that load instantly as opposed to news stories that require for a new page to load.

Twitter at 280 characters is only a month old. But I am liking everything about it.

As a lawyer, Twitter has now become more valuable for learning, engagement, relationships and building a name. With Twitter likely to grow from the increase, if you are not using Twitter, you’ll only find yourself more absent from the discussion and lacking an online presence.

Wasn’t the first time I was dead wrong and won’t be the last. Twitter at 280 characters is all good,

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A Roy Moore campaign spokesman appeared to be speechless when a CNN host said elected officials don't have to be sworn in on the Christian Bible

Screen Shot 2017 12 12 at 2.46.07 PM

  • A campaign spokesman for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore appeared on CNN's "The Lead" for an interview with Jake Tapper on Tuesday.
  • He seemed to suggest that members of Congress would have had to swear on the Holy Bible and appeared speechless when Tapper corrected him.

As the final hours of Alabama's special election came to a close, Ted Crockett, Republican candidate Roy Moore's campaign spokesman, appeared on CNN's "The Lead" for an interview with Jake Tapper on Tuesday.

Tapper questioned Crockett on several of Moore's controversial statements, including why he believed Muslims would be ineligible to serve in Congress — a topic on which Moore opined in 2006, after Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota became the first Muslim member of Congress and used Thomas Jefferson's Quran for his swearing-in ceremony.

"Because you have to swear on the the Bible," Crockett said. "I had to do it, I'm an elected official."

"You have to swear on a Bible to be an elected official in the [US]," Crockett continued. "He alleges that a Muslim cannot do that ethically, swearing on a Bible."

Tapper responded: "You don't actually have to swear on a Christian Bible. You can swear on anything, really. I don't know if you knew that. You can swear on a Jewish Bible."

"Oh no, I swore on the Bible, Crockett said. "I've done it three times, Jake."

Tapper replied: "I'm sure you have, I'm sure you've picked a Bible. But the law is not that you have to swear on a Christian Bible. That is not the law."

After Tapper's last comment, Crockett did not respond.

Tapper appeared to nudge the interview forward: "You don't know that?"

"I know that Donald Trump did it when we made him President," Crockett finally said.

Tapper replied: "Because he's Christian and he picked it. That's what he wanted to swear in on."

Several US presidents have been sworn in on other sacred texts for their respective ceremonies. For instance, President John Quincy Adams is assumed to have placed his hand on the Constitution.

"Some might care less about making the oath more effective, and more about using the oath to reinforce traditional American values, in which they include respect for the Bible ... over other holy books," UCLA Law professor Eugene Volokh wrote in an op-ed in 2006, amid the backlash from Ellison's decision.

"Yet this would literally violate the Constitution’s provision that 'no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States,'" Volokh continued. "For the devout, taking an oath upon a religious book is a religious act. Requiring the performance of a religious act using the holy book of a particular religion is a religious test. "

Watch the clip below:

SEE ALSO: Veterans are unloading on Roy Moore's comments about military service

Join the conversation about this story »

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Brecknock Wreck Injures Married Couple

Brecknock Wreck Injures Married Couple

Brecknock Wreck Injures Married Couple

Brecknock Wreck Injures Married Couple (Monday December 11, 2017) A Brecknock wreck injures a married couple sending both to the hospital.

While driving their car down New Holland Road, otherwise known as Route 625, Barbara and James Schlouch found themselves in dire circumstances following an accident with another passenger vehicle.

According to a report by The Reading Eagle, the accident happened Sunday, December 10th right around noontime in Brecknock Township.  Mrs. Schlouch was behind the wheel with her husband in the passenger seat traveling southbound on New Holland Road when a car traveling northbound, while making a turn from New Holland Road to Gouglersville Road, collided with their vehicle.

Brecknock Township police reported the northbound vehicle was driving by Mark Fischer, who is 59 years old from York.  Mr. Fischer, who was injured in the accident, but not seriously was treated on the scene my responding authorities. Mr. and Mrs. Schlouch however were not as fortunate.  The couple was taken from the accident scene and transported to Reading Hospital where they were listed in stable condition.  No information was provided on the nature of their injuries.  The couple are from Lancaster Country, Mrs. Schlouch is 69 years old and her husband 73 years old.

The accident caused the roads in the area to be closed for nearly two hours.  Specifically, sections of Gouglersvillle Road and New Holland Road were affected by these closures as the accident was evaluated by police and cleared.  Police indicated that the conditions of the road did not appear to cause the accident, a full report has not yet been made available nor have they citied either party to this point.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident, you have our deepest sympathy.  Let us help you with the concerns you are certain to have and assist you by ensuring your rights are fully protected.  Please contact us at Edelstein, Martin & Nelson so that we can help you navigate through this difficult time.

Edelstein Martin & Nelson makes every effort to ensure that the accident news that we report about Pennsylvania accidents is correct and accurate however we cannot guarantee that every detail is complete or accurate.  Our information is gathered by secondary sources.  If anything is inaccurate or incorrect, we will make every effort to correct the information as soon as we are notified.

The post Brecknock Wreck Injures Married Couple appeared first on Personal Injury Attorney Philadelphia.

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Conservatives are up in arms about 'chain migration', how they say the NYC bombing suspect entered the US — here's how it works

akayed ullah 2x1

  • Akayed Ullah, the suspected Manhattan bomber, benefited from "chain migration," the Trump administration said.
  • Ullah entered through a family-based immigration category that many conservatives and immigration critics want eliminated.
  • Advocates say the program is a proud part of American history, and takes far too long to be considered a threat.

The attempted suicide bombing in New York City on Monday prompted a fresh wave of condemnation for family-sponsored immigration, which allowed the suspected terrorist to legally enter the United States from Bangladesh in 2011.

Authorities say Akayed Ullah, the 27-year-old suspect, strapped a makeshift pipe bomb to his chest and partially detonated it in a passageway in the heart of midtown Manhattan, mildly injuring three and causing thousands of commuters to flee before the NYPD neutralized him. Federal prosecutors charged Ullah with supporting a terrorist organization and using a weapon of mass destruction.

President Donald Trump, along with scores of conservatives and immigration critics, blamed the attack on what he described as "lax" immigration policies. Some have argued that the attack could have been prevented under the provisions of a proposed bill known as the RAISE Act, which seeks to curb legal immigration to the US by half.

"Today's terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security," Trump said in a statement released by the White House. "America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country … Congress must end chain migration."

What is chain migration?

Donald TrumpChain migration is a term almost exclusively used by immigration hardliners when referring to the family reunification part of the US immigration system.

It lets US citizens or lawful permanent residents (people with Green Cards) to sponsor close family members to join them in the US.

Prominent groups that advocate for stricter immigration policies — like the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA — have frequently denounced chain migration, describing it as a process that admits "indefinite" numbers of unskilled immigrants based on family connections alone. They say it prompts foreigners to view US immigration as a "right or entitlement."

But those criticisms ignore the country's history of immigration, which has always allowed Americans to bring in their relatives, according to Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for American Policy, a non-partisan think tank.

They're not gladiators or something. They're going to have family members.

"The term 'chain migration' is a contrived term," Anderson told Business Insider. "It's just part of every single immigration category in every country in the world, that when the principal person is sponsored, they're allowed to bring their spouse and minor child with them. They're not gladiators or something, they're human beings. They're going to have family members."

Immigration proponents typically describe family-based immigration as essential in helping new immigrants assimilate into US society. The American Immigration Council, for instance, argues that newcomers who can bring family members with them when they immigrate to the US have stronger social and economic support.

"It would almost seem opportunistic to use the case of one person out of the millions of people throughout US history who've come in by being sponsored by a family member to try to eliminate a particular category," Anderson said. "Particularly when this individual, from everything we know, did not present any problems at the time they came into the country but became radicalized in the last few years."

How chain migration applies to the NYC bomber

port authority times square nyc explosion

Ullah entered the US in 2011 and received permanent residency under an immigration program known as the fourth family-based preference, Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton said on Monday.

This year, most foreigners immigrating to the US under the fourth preference category waited in line for 13 years to come. But wait times can last as long as 23 years, depending on which country the immigrants are originally from.

It's unclear when exactly Ullah's family first petitioned for their immigrant visas, but it's likely they, too, waited in line for years before their 2011 entry. State Department data show that people who are currently being issued immigrant visas for that same fourth preference category have been waiting in line since at least 2004.

The "preference" in this case refers to the four family-based immigration categories, the last of which allows foreigners to apply for immigrant visas if their sibling is a US citizen.

Because those immigrants are allowed to bring their spouses and minor children, which is how Ullah gained entry, the process is often viewed by critics as allowing a "chain" of extended family members to immigrate to the US.

Millions of applicants and years-long backlogs

NYC bombing December 2017

Immigration hardliners' theory that scores of newly naturalized US citizens are sponsoring endless strings of family members has been roundly criticized by immigration experts.

The US's visa and green-card backlogs alone ensure that many prospective immigrants face painstakingly long waiting periods before being admitted to the country or given permanent residency — a significant barrier in trying to get more family members to join them.

Family-based immigration is not an immediate process, and it can take years or even decades for immigrant visas to be made available and processed.

This is because the federal government applies strict numeric quotas to most family-based preference categories, resulting in years-long line-ups that eligible immigrants must wait in before their applications are approved.

For instance, the fourth preference category that Ullah's family waited in currently only allows 65,000 people to enter per year. Yet there's a backlog of nearly 2.5 million applicants, according to an upcoming NFAP report viewed by Business Insider.

Beyond the issuance of immigrant visas, once an immigrant arrives in the US on a visa, it takes additional time to receive a green card that denotes permanent residency. After that, permanent residents typically have to wait five years before they may apply to become US citizens.

dick durbin lindsey graham dream act daca

The ongoing debate over family-based immigration could signal a bump in the road for any immigration deal between Republicans and Democrats.

The bipartisan Dream Act, reintroduced in Congress in September by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, includes a pathway to citizenship for young unauthorized immigrants, whose protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will be phased out over the next six months.

Immigration critics have argued that any pathway to citizenship offered to those immigrants would inevitably allow them to sponsor relatives — in some cases that could include their parents who first brought them to the US as children.

SEE ALSO: The New York bombing suspect wrote 'Trump, you failed to protect your nation' on Facebook right before the attack, feds say

DON'T MISS: Trump assailed the diversity visa lottery after the NYC truck attack — here's what that is

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Larry King 'unequivocally' denies groping allegation

Larry King

  • Larry King denied a groping allegation made against him by Terry Richard, the ex-wife of singer Eddie Fisher, to The Daily Mail.
  • Richard told the outlet that King groped her on two occasions, in 2005 and 2006. 
  • King denied the allegations as "unequivocally false and defamatory" in a statement sent from his lawyers to the Mail. 


Larry King has denied a groping allegation made against him by Terry Richard, the ex-wife of singer Eddie Fisher.

On Monday, Richard, who was married to the late singer Eddie Fisher from 1975 to 1976, told The Daily Mail that the former CNN host groped her once in 2005 and again in 2006, with both alleged incidents occurring at a photo shoot for a baseball awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

The Daily Mail reported that Richard "said in the first incident, while posing together for a photo, King slid his hand down her backless dress and rested his fingers in between her butt cheeks." Regarding the second incident, the outlet reported, "Richard claims the second time was also while they were taking a photo together, and King, now 84, squeezed her butt so hard that it left a large bruise."

Richard told the outlet, "Larry King is a groper. He groped me twice. He gets a thrill doing this in front of the camera, knowing I couldn't do anything."

Days before the outlet published Richard's account, an attorney for King sent a denial statement to The Daily Mail,  in which King's lawyers called Richard's allegations "unequivocally false and defamatory."

The statement, which has since been obtained in full by People, reads as follows:

"We represent Larry King. I am informed that you intend to publish a statement by a woman named Terry Richards that, 10 or more years ago, Mr. King supposedly 'groped' her at one or more baseball dinners. That assertion is entirely and unequivocally false and defamatory. Mr. King did no such thing then or ever. Your publishing this false and defamatory statement will be actionable and highly damaging."

King's lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for further comment. 

SEE ALSO: 36 powerful men accused of sexual misconduct after Harvey Weinstein

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The 'Avengers: Infinity War' trailer is finally here

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The NYC bombing suspect wrote 'Trump you failed to protect your nation' on Facebook right before the attack, feds say

akayed ullah 2x1

  • Akayed Ullah was charged by federal prosecutors on Tuesday with terrorism offenses and using a weapon of mass destruction.
  • Ullah allegedly strapped a low-tech improvised explosive device to his chest and detonated it in an underground passageway in Manhattan on Monday.
  • On the morning of the attack, Ullah posted on Facebook, "Trump you failed to protect your nation," according to the criminal complaint.

The man suspected of detonating a makeshift bomb in a busy underground passageway in New York City on Monday faces federal charges for supporting a terrorist organization and using a weapon of mass destruction, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Akayed Ullah, a 27-year-old Brooklyn resident originally from Bangladesh, allegedly posted the message, "Trump you failed to protect your nation" to his Facebook page the morning of the attack, according to the federal complaint.

Ullah's alleged attack occurred in the passageway connecting the Times Square and Port Authority subway stations in Manhattan around 7:30 a.m. local time. The explosion injured just three people in addition to Ullah, who was found lying on the ground at the scene and arrested.

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday also charged Ullah with bombing a place of public use, destroying property by means of fire of explosives, and using a destructive device during a violent crime.

Investigators believe Ullah was first radicalized around 2014, and began conducting internet research on how to build improvised explosive devices roughly one year ago.

The complaint said Ullah viewed pro-ISIS materials online, and watched a video instructing supporters to carry out attacks in their homelands if they were unable to travel overseas to join the terrorist group.

Ullah allegedly carried out his attack "to terrorize as many people as possible," and even chose to attack on a Monday as he believed there would be more people on a workday, the complaint said.

Ullah carried out his alleged attack by affixing a pipe bomb filled with metal screws to his body using zip ties. He detonated it using Christmas tree lights, wiring, and a nine-volt battery, according to the complaint.

SEE ALSO: 'Attempted terrorist attack' in busy New York City transit hub injures 3, suspect in custody

Join the conversation about this story »

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Everyone is focused on Roy Moore's alleged sexual misconduct — but experts warn a bigger issue could decide Alabama's election

roy moore

  • Voting rights activists argue that some black and Latino voters "will be unable to vote" in Tuesday's election in Alabama because of strict voter ID laws and other restrictions.
  • They say the 2013 Supreme Court decision that gutted parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is partly to blame.
  • Alabama election officials dispute this. They insist they do everything they can to protect the voting rights of all eligible citizens.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill didn't mince words when addressing opponents of his state's voter ID law, which requires voters show a government-approved photo ID at the polls.

"People are entitled to their own opinions. But they're not entitled to their own facts," Merrill told Business Insider in October. "Everybody in Alabama that wants a voter ID has one."

Voting rights activists, who have long dismissed voter ID laws as discriminatory tactics that disenfranchise minority voters, disagree. They say the time it takes people to travel to the office where they need to pick up their IDs and the added cost for the underlying documents required to get the ID in the first place are just too burdensome for many voters.

This will discourage many people from voting, civil rights defenders say, in the special election on Tuesday for the US Senate seat in Alabama between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones.

While much of the nation's attention has focused on the embattled Moore — whom multiple women have accused of pursuing them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s — there is a much less talked about factor that could end up swaying the race.

John MerrillVoting rights activists say the landmark 2013 Shelby v. Holder Supreme Court decision — which struck down parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) and helped pave the way for Virginia's voter ID law — is what people should really be paying attention to.

"We anticipate that there will be voters who are unable to vote because of the voter ID law and voters who stay home because of the voter ID law. And they will primarily be African-Americans and Latinos," Deuel Ross, a lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), told Business Insider in October.

In 2015, Ross and the LDF filed a lawsuit against Alabama officials, including Merrill. The civil rights group says the state's voter ID law disenfranchises minority voters.

Merrill argues that the law hasn't, in fact, made it harder for certain groups of people to register and vote. Record turnouts in last year's presidential election help his case.

You can register to vote 'on the toilet!'

Alabama has made significant strides in recent years — often at the behest of court orders — to expand voter registration and get more people to vote.

Last year, for example, more than 2.1 million Alabamians took to the polls in what was the highest voter turnout in the state history. Another record: Donald Trump received more votes than any previous presidential candidate to appear on Alabama's ballot.

The number of active registered voters also spiked nearly 9% from 2012 to 2016, even though the state's population only increased by 1.7% from 2010 to 2016.

Merrill says those numbers, coupled with an estimated 2017 budget of $389,000 for total election awareness efforts — including a 30-second ad broadcast on radio and TV — prove voter discrimination does not occur in his state.

He also touts the Vote for Alabama mobile app, which he introduced in May 2016 to make it easier for Alabamians to register to vote. It's so convenient, Merrill said, "you can do it on the toilet if you'd like!"

Civil rights defenders welcome this progress, but note an exception.

"Even if turnout is up overall, it doesn't mean that for certain racial or economic sub-groups that it hasn't been more difficult for them to turn out," said Jonathan Brater, an expert on voting rights at the Brennan Center for Justice.

'Racism is over'

Section 5 and Voting Rights Act

In 2013, the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision struck down Section 4 and invalidated Section 5 of the VRA, which required states to get government approval before changing local voting laws and procedures. Section 5 was written to prevent states from implementing rules, like restrictive voter ID laws, that might discriminate or disenfranchise minority voters.

While the Court ruled that Section 4 was simply outdated, many others interpreted the decision as a declaration that racism in America was "over."

In total, nine states with a history of voter discrimination against minority voters — including Virginia and Alabama — were freed to amend their voting rules without pre-clearance. Parts of six others states covered by the VRA, including California and New York, were also affected.

Merrill praised the SCOTUS ruling.

"I think that rulings that have been made or laws that have been passed in the past need to be reviewed and evaluated from time to time," he said.

Edgardo Cortes

Edgardo Cortés, who as state commissioner is responsible for running Virginia's elections, told Business Insider in November that he thought the decision "was unfortunate."

"The pre-clearance provision had previously prevented changes in a variety of places that would've had a negative impact on voters' ability to participate," Cortés said.

He also thinks Virginia's voter ID law, which was passed by a Republican-led legislature in 2013, is an "unnecessary" requirement that doesn't solve any actual problems. Scientific research has shown that voter fraud is exceptionally rare.

While Cortés must implement the law as it stands, he says he has helped mitigate its impact. And Cortés said Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, has been working on making it easier for eligible people to vote since he became Virginia's governor in 2014.

From extending the voter registration deadline, to restoring the voting rights of more than 200,000 convicted felons, to opposing a proposal requiring voters to show documentary proof of citizenship before registering, Cortés says McAuliffe has "done a lot to simplify and modernize" the voting process.

The 2013 Supreme Court ruling on the VRA, however, ushered in some changes that not even McAuliffe is able to challenge.

Room for abuse

alabama votes 2016

For decades, the US Department of Justice deployed election observers to states to monitor potential voter discrimination or intimidation.

But after Shelby, the DOJ could no longer send nearly as many observers to protect minority voters who might have otherwise been harassed at the polls.

In Alabama alone, from 2000 to 2012, the DOJ sent trained, federal election officials to counties across the state 20 times, amounting to 233 observers, because it feared there would be discrimination against African-Americans.

The US Office of Personnel Management, which the DOJ tasked with deploying observers before 2013, confirmed to Business Insider in November that it would not be sending officials to Virginia or Alabama to monitor elections. But the DOJ did not confirm whether its Civil Rights Division, which deployed more than 500 personnel in the 2016 election, would be sending observers to either state.

If states like Alabama and Virginia don't have those officials specifically monitoring incidents of discrimination or intimidation anymore, the only recourse for voters facing problems on election day in those states would be to call a government complaint hotline or to reach out to a civil rights defender willing to take legal action.

While there will still be poll workers employed by the state at the local level to make sure elections run smoothly, the lack of federal oversight has left more room for abuse, according to an elections expert at Georgetown University.

"We do a very good job across the country of having lots of observers and fairly trained people watching and making sure nothing goes wrong," Hans Noel told Business Insider in October.

"But I do worry that in some places the only people that are going to be monitoring are local, and if they collectively want to do something about disenfranchising a certain group, they can even inadvertently make that happen."

'Rules that wouldn't have been acceptable before'

voting rights act

Like clockwork, many southern states moved to pass stricter voting regulations following the Shelby decision, citing concerns about voter fraud and election integrity. These included bans on same-day registration, voter roll purges, a reduction in early voting periods, and massive cuts in the number of polling locations.

States don't have free range to enact potentially discriminatory laws carte blanche. Section 2 of the VRA still stands. It allows the DOJ to sue states that discriminate against voters on the basis of race, color, or language.

But since states no longer had the federal government weighing over their decisions, they could proceed with legislation that had previously been blocked or delayed.

"It's now possible for those states to pass rules that wouldn't have been acceptable before," Noel said.

Just hours after the ruling, Texas officials, for example, said they would begin enforcing a strict photo ID law that was previously found to be discriminatory against black and Hispanic voters. Officials in Mississippi, Virginia, and North Carolina made similar moves.

Alabama made an even more aggressive push, implementing the voter ID law that Merrill now supports. The state's Republican-dominated legislature passed the measure in 2011, and was finally able to enforce it in 2014 after the Shelby ruling.

texas voter ID lawEarlier this year, the LDF commissioned Zoltan Hajnal, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, to investigate whether Alabama's voter ID law hurt minority turnout in the 2016 presidential race.

Hajnal found that it did. Turnout in minority communities fell 4.1 points more in Alabama than in similar states around the country, according to his study.

Researchers in other states, including Wisconsin and Texas, have also found voter ID laws make it harder for minorities to vote. In 2016, 300,000 eligible voters in Wisconsin lacked valid state photo IDs before the election.

Some are calling for reform, including Loretta Lynch, the former Attorney General under President Barack Obama. In a speech last year, Lynch criticized the Shelby decision and urged Congress to restore the VRA to "its full effect."

But that won't be easy, says Noel, the Georgetown professor.

"The Congress with the current majority probably is not going to prioritize trying to replace the elements of the Voting Rights Act that the court eliminated," he said. "Politically, I don't see Congress wanting to do that."

If you face any issues trying to vote in Tuesday's election, contact the Department of Justice Civil Rights Department by phone (1-800-253-3931), email (voting.section@usdoj.gov), or submit a complaint on their website.

You can also call the non-partisan voter protection hotline (from groups including the ACLU and Rock the Vote) at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) if your rights have been violated, or you saw someone else's were.

SEE ALSO: Wisconsin's voter ID law was insurmountable for many voters in 2016

DON'T MISS: These are the races to watch on Election Day 2017

Join the conversation about this story »

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