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upworthy
Democracy

Activist vows to continue after being criminally charged twice for helping voters who can't read

Everyone deserves to cast a ballot.

voting booth, voter supression, olivia coley-pearson

A voting booth in Ohio.

Historically, people who cannot read and write have faced discrimination in the voting booths of America. Before the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, literacy tests were enacted as a way of disqualifying immigrants and the poor, who had less education, from casting a ballot. In the south, they were used to prevent Black people from registering to vote.

According to ProPublica, in 2022, around 48 million people in the United States struggle to read, about a fifth of the adult population. An analysis of voter turnout has found that in countries with lower literacy rates, voter turnout was lower as well.

“How the system is set up, it disenfranchises people,” voting rights advocate Olivia Coley-Pearson told ProPublica. Coley-Pearson is a city commissioner in Douglas, the county seat of Coffee County, Georgia. “It’s by design, I believe, because they want to maintain that power and that control.”


Recent laws passed in the south have made it more difficult for people to assist those who have difficulty reading at the voting booth. In 2021, Georgia passed a law that limits who can return or touch a completed ballot. Florida has made it more difficult for volunteers to ask voters if they need assistance and Texas passed a law prohibiting voters’ assistants from answering questions or paraphrasing complicated language on the ballot.

Fortunately, portions of the Texas law have been struck down.

No one knows firsthand how hard it is for people with difficulty reading to vote in the south more than Coley-Pearson. She’s been charged twice in Coffee County for trying to help people vote. "We're a rural community, there are racial issues, educational issues, employment issues,” she told ProPublica.

"Most of the people who have trouble reading, writing and understanding, they're not going to go vote. If you have a low voter turnout, that's some of the reason why," she told ProPublica.

In 2012, the chairman of Coffee County’s board of elections filed a complaint against Coley-Pearson and three other residents, alleging that they’d assisted voters who didn’t legally qualify for help.

“If someone asks me for help, I feel an obligation to try to assist if I could,” she testified at a 2016 hearing. “Sometimes things are done to try to maybe dis-encourage, or whatever, other people from voting, and I don’t feel like that is fair.”

A local district attorney's office charged her with two felonies for signing a form that gave a false reason for why a voter needed assistance and for improperly assisting a voter. According to BuzzFeed News, there were no allegations that Coley-Pearson had told anyone who to vote for or pressed any buttons on the voting machine for those she assisted.

“This is supposed to cause fear in those who would dare stand up for themselves,” Nefertara Clark, Coley-Pearson’s attorney, said, according to BuzzFeed News.

After six years of having the felony charges hanging over her, in 2018, the trial ended in a hung jury. She was tried again and the new jury acquitted her of all charges. “Next to losing my son, the most horrible thing I’ve experienced in my life,” Coley-Pearson told 11 Alive News.

In October 2020, while assisting someone with low literacy skills vote in the presidential election, she was barred from returning to the polls for allegedly touching a voting machine. Coley-Pearson said she never touched the machine.

The county’s election supervisor, Misty Martin, called the police on Coley-Pearson and they issued a trespass warning barring her from the polls indefinitely. Later that morning, when she returned with another voter, she was arrested and charged with trespassing.

A state judge dropped the charge earlier this year if Coley-Pearson agreed to follow election law. “There was no evidence of any crime here,” Coley-Pearson told ProPublica. “It feels like you’re fighting a losing battle.”

Even though Coley-Pearson has been victorious in court, her supporters tell her they're now afraid to vote because of her struggles. Unfortunately, these are the people who need their voices heard the most. "I say, 'That's exactly why you need to vote so we can stop stuff like that,'" she told ProPublica.

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O Organics make eating organic affordable

True

Friendsgiving might have started as a novel alternative to Thanksgiving, but today it’s an American holiday in its own right.

For many, especially millennials and Gen Zers, Friendsgiving offers an opportunity to get creative with their celebrations without being obligated to outdated, even problematic traditions or having to break the bank.

However, some of us might not want to go to the extreme of only having pizza and beer. What if there were a way to balance the decadence of a traditional Thanksgiving meal while still keeping it easy and laid-back? And could we make it healthy too?

As it turns out, we can.

Here’s a super simple breakdown of what your next Friendsgiving prep could look like. An appetizer, salad, side, entree, and dessert. All done in an hour—even quicker if you assign certain dishes to different partygoers. #spreadsheetsrule

But wait, it gets better—all of these meals can be made organic at an affordable price, using O Organics® at Albertsons. O Organics helps shoppers find quality ingredients at reasonable prices every day of the year. Friendsgiving is no different.

Without further ado, let’s get cooking!

Appetizer: Charcuterie Board


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Nothing quite hits like the fancy, grown-up version of Lunchables. Crackers, meats, cheeses, and various fancy toppings that can be combined in endless ways. The easiest form of culinary creativity there is.

You already know how to make one of these bad boys, but here’s a basic template if you’re needing a dose of inspo:

Meats: Some tasty choices here are salami, prosciutto, sausage, etc. I made a smaller-scale board and decided to go with salami. If you or your friends aren’t a fan of pork, sliced turkey or smoked salmon are some yummy alternatives.

Cheese: The possibilities are endless here. You can even opt for a dairy-free cheese option!

Bread or Crackers: Artfully arranged. Speedily snacked upon. Some O Organics options here and here.

Fillers: this is where the charcuterie really shines. Fill in the spaces with splashes of color and flavor. Be sure to go for both savory and sweet. That means olives, sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, nuts, and a vibrant array of fresh or dried fruit. A yummy fruit spread doesn’t hurt either.

Time: 5 min

Salad: Squash And Feta Salad

Ingredients:

(3-4 servings)

1 small red onion (O Organics sells them in a bag)

1 bag O Organics frozen Butternut Squash

6 cups fresh O Organics spinach, arugula, kale, or whatever salad green you like

1/4 cup O Organics pecans

1/4 cup O Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil

O Organics Lemon and Olive Oil Salad Dressing

CrumbledO Organics Goat Cheese

Salt and pepper

Chop some onions. Sautee them in olive oil. Add a bag of frozen squash. Dress some salad greens with dressing. Add the onions and squash. Top with pecans, cheese, salt and pepper. Badda bing badda boom.

Time: 10 minutes

Side: Autumn Seasoned Air Fryer “Roasted” Potatoes

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As any millennial will tell you, we love our air fryers. Nothing quite ticks all the quick, easy and healthy boxes quite like one. And if you haven’t yet had a perfectly crispy on the outside, buttery soft on the inside air fryer potato, then what are you waiting for?

Ingredients:

One 3 pound bag of O Organics red or russet potatoes—honestly any potato will do

2 Tablespoons O Organics olive oil

1 tsp Italian Seasoning

That’s it. No really.

Cut potatoes into one-inch pieces. Coat with olive oil. Sprinkle seasoning. Cook in an air fryer at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Toss the potatoes in the basket and continue to cook for 8-10 minutes or until tender and crisp.

Time: 20 minutes. TOPS.

Entree: Coconut Chicken Curry

cravingsomethinghealthy.com

Because who needs turkey? This one pot piéce de rèsistance is the very essence of Friendsgiving—unique, versatile and not without a little spice.

Being the entree, this dish calls for a few more ingredients, but is honestly not much more demanding. You’re basically looking at 15 minutes for prep, and about 30 minutes to simmer.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon O Organics olive oil

1 medium onion diced

2 teaspoons ginger minced

2 teaspoons green curry paste

2 teaspoons curry powder

2 cups O Organics Thai Style Curry Chicken Broth

1 large sweet potato peeled and cut into 1-inch dice

1 15-ounce can O Organics full-fat coconut milk

2 ½ cups O Organics cooked chicken breast

1 8.8 ounce package O Organics 7 Grains & Lentils Blend

1 16 ounce bag of O Organics frozen peas

½ teaspoon salt or to taste

Lime juice

Cilantro

Chopped O Organics cashews to garnish

Using a Dutch oven (or large pot with a lid), saute the onion and ginger in olive oil over medium heat, for about 4 minutes. Add the curry paste and curry powder and saute for one more minute.

Add the Thai Style Curry Chicken Broth and the diced sweet potato. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and catch up with friends for 20 minutes while the dish simmers.

When the sweet potato is tender, shake the can of coconut milk well and pour it into the pot. Add the chicken, 7 Grains & Lentils Blend, and peas. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and let the curry simmer for another 10 minutes.

Congrats! You are finished. You can add salt, lime juice, cilantro, extra curry powder/paste, or garnish with roasted cashews. Each bowl is customizable.

Time: 40 min

Dessert: Holiday Kettle Corn Bark

onbetterliving.com

Of course, you can always opt for pie, but sometimes people might want to opt for something a bit more bite-sized when it comes to desserts—especially after a hefty meal. This sweet and salty finger food does the trick quite nicely.

Ingredients:

1 bag (6 oz) O Organics Kettle Corn Organic Popcorn (about 9 cups)

1 bag (10 oz) O Organics Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

8 oz white chocolate, broken into small pieces

1 cup pistachios, roasted and salted

2/3 cup O Organics Dried Cranberries

2 tbsp O Organics Organic Coconut Oil

1 tsp salt

Line a 12x17-inch baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Spread kettle corn on the lined baking sheet in one thin single layer. Put the semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Drizzle the melted chocolate evenly over kettle corn, reserving about a 1/3 cup for finishing touches. Sprinkle the pistachios and cranberries over the kettle corn evenly.

Follow the same melting instructions for the white chocolate, then drizzle evenly over the kettle corn. You can follow with any remaining semi-sweet chocolate for a layered effect. Let the kettle corn stand for 5 minutes.

Place the kettle corn bark in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden. Once the bark has hardened, break into pieces.

Time: 20 minutes.

OR…if you want to make life even easier…just grab some pints of ice cream and call it a day. No judgment here.

Time: literally a few seconds to open the freezer and grab some bowls.

And there you have—a no muss, no fuss, healthy and affordable Friendsgiving spread. Spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your chosen family.

Get to your nearest Albertsons today and find everything you need to make these yummy dishes! No Albertsons in your area? You can also find O Organics products exclusively at Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, ACME, Shaw’s, Star Market, Tom Thumb, Randalls, and Pavilions.

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