Gabrielle Gurley

Gabrielle Gurley is The American Prospect’s deputy editor. Her email is ggurley@prospect.org.

Recent Articles

Want Transit? Get It on the Ballot!

A record number of transportation-related ballot initiatives will be before voters this Election Day.

(Photo: AP/Seth Perlman)
Some voters who can’t get there from here may soon be able to. An estimated $200 billion in transportation ballot initiatives go before voters around the country on November 8. The 72 initiatives that will have been put to voters by year’s end represent the highest number of transit ballot questions since the Center for Transportation Excellence began tracking ballot initiatives in 2000. Of those, 44, or about 60 percent, will be decided on Election Day. “Communities are increasingly looking to the ballot box as a tool for transit investment,” says Jason Jordon, the center’s executive director. Transit ballot questions give municipalities the opportunity to get public buy-in (and, in some cases, give politicians a way out of taking a tough tax vote in a hostile anti-tax climate). Local questions appeal to voters who understand how a specific project benefits their city or town, the environment, and their own commute and recreation choices. These campaigns...

Election Protection: Keeping Calm and Carrying On

As Trump encourages intimidation at the polls, a nationwide coalition of voting rights advocates aims to fight back.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Donald Trump has not only challenged the legitimacy of the upcoming presidential election, he has challenged many citizens’ right to vote. In one stump speech after another, he’s called on his supporters, in the name of suppressing all-but-nonexistent voter fraud, to go into cities like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis to eyeball—and if all goes well, intimidate—African American voters at the polls. He’s put Mike Roman, a Republican political operative best known for dialing up fears about the tiny fringe group New Black Panthers during the 2008 election, in charge of his “election protection” effort. But Trump’s threat to voting has galvanized state and local election officials and voting advocates across the political spectrum in a pushback against the most serious voter intimidation effort that the country has faced since the 1965 Voting Rights Act ended the routine denial of the franchise to Southern blacks. Republican...

Massachusetts Charter School Debate Could Turn on Funding

A ballot initiative to expand charters in the Bay State may put fiscal pressure on cash-strapped municipalities.

AP Photo/The Christian Science Monitor, Ann Hermes
In a few weeks, Massachusetts voters will weigh on whether to open more charter schools. Debate on the measure is fierce, as one might expect in a state known for its superior public education system. The pros and cons of charters have been thoroughly hashed and rehashed, but the discussion about how to pay for these new schools, should the question pass, can’t be heard above the siren song of school choice. But fiscal reality bites: The Bay State strains to finance the schools it has, much less batches of new ones. Many local leaders continue to fret about what might happen to their municipal bottom lines if the “Question 2” ballot initiative passes. And they should. The initiative proposes to allow state education officials to approve up to 12 new charters or the expansion of existing charters annually, not to exceed 1 percent of statewide public school enrollment. If the board received more than 12 applications, new charters would go to those districts whose...

Recreational Marijuana Ballot Measures Usher In Next Phase in Drug War

With five states poised to vote on legalizing pot, millennials and minority groups are key voting blocs.

(Photo: AP/Rich Pedroncelli)
The five recreational marijuana ballot initiatives that go before voters next month send the clearest signals yet that the country’s ill-fated drug war has entered a new and potentially decisive phase. Legalization questions appear on ballots in five states: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Recent polls indicate that the measures are leading in all five states, ranging from a high of 60 percent of voters supporting legalization in California (with 36 percent opposed and 4 percent undecided) to 50 percent in Arizona (with 40 percent opposed and 9 percent undecided). But the prospects for passage or defeat will rest with three key groups: millennials, African Americans, and Latinos. Not surprisingly, individual state polls show that young people are the strongest supporters for legalization. In Massachusetts, 81 percent of people ages 18 to 39 support recreational marijuana. In Maine, 69 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds favor it; in Nevada, the figure is 68...

Flying into Transportation Disruption

If you thought drones and self-driving cars were a challenge, just think of the mess regulators will face when driverless flying cars arrive on the scene.

Day Donaldson/Creative Commons
Once the stuff of cartoons and science fiction, flying cars—with or without drivers—may hit the market sooner than anyone is ready for them. Federal officials already have trouble keeping pace with autonomous technologies like drones and driverless vehicles. But self-driving flying vehicles threaten to widen the chasm between innovation and regulatory policy. Technology has long outpaced regulation in transportation, as in many other arenas. Drones, also known as unmanned aerial systems, began attracting widespread consumer interest only in recent years, but the Federal Aviation Administration did not promulgate drone rules until this summer. More than 30 states have statutes covering drone operations, but privacy, security, and safety remain public concerns. Now that North Dakota has become the first state to authorize drones for law enforcement use as “non-lethal weapons” that can fire everything from tasers to tear gas, other federal agencies may have to...

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