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Oregon's governor just did a thing that could change everything for voters if other states copy it.

Just because it's been a confusing headache in the past doesn't mean it has to stay that way. At least according to visionary Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

Oregon's governor just did a thing that could change everything for voters if other states copy it.

Low voter turnout is a big problem.

Across the U.S., only 36.4% of eligible people voted in 2014.


That is the lowest number seen since WWII.

Some people are cool with that. They like it when only super-engaged people vote because it cements their interests instead of what's good for the broader public.

But those who want to see democracy work for ALL of us recognize that the key to a truly representative government is getting as many citizens as possible to participate.

Being able to vote is KIND OF A BIG DEAL!

Back in 2013, Oregon's then-secretary of state, Kate Brown, introduced what some deemed a radical bill to make registering to vote super easy. Here's the gist of it:

Instead of having to register yourself BEFORE the day of voting — thereby reducing the likelihood of people doing it — you're just automatically registered to vote in Oregon when you get a driver's license or ID.

So now in Oregon, instead of having to schlep to a registration site to opt in, you're automatically in the in-club. Which sure beats waiting in line!

Not to mention the unreasonable burden separate registration puts on the elderly and the disabled.

Such a simple reversal changes the game.

Fast-forward two years. That secretary of state is now Oregon's GOVERNOR. The bill passed the House and Senate and came across her desk for her official sign-off. Which, of course, she DID.

Oregon is now the first state to implement Awesome Automatic Voter Registration (just a branding suggestion I have), but Minnesota almost did in 2009 before then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed it. Let's all chant a little chant that Minnesota revisits it now, and that this begins a wave of automatic registration in every state.

Could automatic voter registration, if used across the U.S., create a chart that looks more like this in 2018?


Democracy works best when more people get in the game.

Go, Oregon!

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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