Voter fraud isn't the problem — voter suppression is. Meet the man who wants to solve it.

After four years as a member of Missouri's House of Representatives and another four as its secretary of state, Jason Kander took a chance and ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

While the fresh-faced 35-year-old would ultimately come up short in his bid to unseat incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt in the 2016 election, the race was a whole lot closer than many expected. A Democrat in a traditionally red state, Kander came within just 3 points of Blunt. For comparison, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton lost the state by 19 points.

Though unsuccessful, the campaign helped Kander reach a whole new audience when one of his ads — in which he, a former Army captain and Afghanistan veteran, assembled a rifle while blindfolded — went viral. In defeat, Kander's star only continued to rise.


Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images.

Within days of the election, political insiders began speculating what Kander's next move could be, with some even floating him as a possible presidential candidate in 2020.

But that's not in the cards for him — at least not yet.

In his final days as Missouri's secretary of state, Kander delivered an impassioned plea to the state's lawmakers, asking them to show restraint when it comes to implementing new laws that would suppress voter turnout.

"I'm going to be brief today because I recognize that most of you and your families didn't come here today to listen to me," he said. "And frankly, most of you are not going to like what it is I have to say."

What followed was a powerful case against disenfranchising eligible voters in the name of stopping voter-impersonation fraud, a cause close to his heart that would follow him to his next endeavor.

"We have actually already had this debate in America," said Kander. "American heroes faced down batons and dogs and firehoses to march across a bridge in Selma."

Fresh out of office, on Feb. 7, Kander announced the launch of Let America Vote, a national organization dedicated to fighting voter suppression.

Though those who support voting restrictions such as voter ID laws claim their purpose is to prevent voter fraud, in effect, those laws only make it harder for eligible voters to cast a ballot.

The problem with restrictive voter ID measures goes far beyond Missouri, and Kander knows this. That's why the former chief election official is making it his mission to fight the wave of ongoing voter suppression efforts happening now in at least 20 states. Combine that with the fact that President Trump has made repeated claims that there were more than 3 million ballots illegally cast in the 2016 election (even though the data shows that to be untrue), and it's pretty clear that someone needs to step up to defend the right to vote.

Kander wants to be that someone.

But let's start with the basics. Why are voter ID laws a bad idea?

For one, the type of fraud that these laws prevent is extremely rare. On the flip side, the number of people disenfranchised by these laws remains high.

"The only kind of fraud that a photo ID law can even claim to prevent is voter-impersonation fraud," Kander tells Upworthy. "There's never been a reported case of voter-impersonation fraud in Missouri, and it's so rare nationally that Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than they are to commit voter-impersonation fraud."

In Missouri, Kander points out, there were over 200,000 "eligible, registered, legal voters" who didn't have the specific type of ID that many lawmakers have proposed making a requirement to vote.

It's those kinds of requirements that he says make it clear that voter ID laws are "a policy that is meant to be a solution to an imaginary problem of voter-impersonation fraud — or at least a very, very uncommon problem of voter-impersonation fraud."

Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images.

The people most likely to be negatively affected by voter ID restrictions are people of color, low-income individuals, and students.

Voter ID laws are often coupled with restrictions on things like early voting, automatic voter registration, and same-day registration.

A voter ID law "is a Republican, partisan solution to the problem that certain people are very unlikely to vote for Republicans," Kander says.

He's not wrong, either. Political scientists at University of California, San Diego found that when strict voter ID laws are in place, Democratic turnout drops by an estimated 7.7 percentage points; turnout for Republicans declines by just 4.6 points. When you look at the effect that has on a national scale, it amounts to millions of additional eligible voters turned away on Election Day.

How much potential voter-impersonation fraud does this cut down on? According to a study done by Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School Los Angeles, just 31 cases out of 1 billion votes. Yep, billion. With a B.

The truth is, no matter what your political views are, we should all be able to agree that free and fair elections in which we can all participate are a necessary part of a functioning democracy.

Anything less is, frankly, undemocratic.

"Republican politicians are working very hard to try and have the voter-suppression campaign exist in the mind of Americans in a voter fraud frame of reference, but once you can point out to voters that it actually exists in a partisan wrangling and partisan politics frame of reference, that is when they realize that the true motivations have been exposed, and they're no longer interested in supporting," Kander adds. "They no longer consider it to be anything other than un-American."

Kander backstage during an election night event on Nov. 8, 2016, in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images.

In the past, we could count on the courts to shoot down some of the more egregious attempts at voter suppression. But given the 2013 Supreme Court decision to cut down key elements of the Voting Rights Act, the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, and the president's own belief that there's widespread voter fraud, it's more important than ever for everyday people to get involved in reshaping the narrative around these laws.

Today, it may be the party you support that benefits most from these laws. But what about a year from now? 10 years from now? A generation from now? What we do now determines what kind of country we aspire to be, and hopefully it's one where we can agree that regardless of one's political views, we all have a right to stand up and be counted.

Kander addresses the Missouri legislature on Jan. 4. GIF from Missourians for Kander/YouTube.

For more information and to get involved, sign up on Let America Vote's website.

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In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

Maybe before the events of 2020, you were taking your toilet paper for granted. But chances are, you aren't anymore. But aside from the shortages earlier in the year, there are larger problems with traditional TP. Specifically, it's pretty bad for the environment. That said, thanks to a company called Reel, it doesn't have to be. That's because their toilet paper is made from bamboo stalks and designed with environmental sustainability in mind.

If you've had any experience with environmentally friendly toilet paper in the past, you might be tempted to stop reading. But contrary to the prevailing stereotypes about eco-conscious TP, Reel is renowned for its quality and comfort -- so much so that the brand has sold more than a million rolls of the stuff and counting. And it's done so without contributing to the monstrous devastation of forests that's associated with the traditional toilet paper industry.

Every roll of Reel toilet paper is made from 100-percent bamboo, and 0 trees. But that's not where the brand's environmental consciousness ends. It even extends to the packaging, which is plastic-free, right down to the tape. No dead trees, no environment-choking plastic, no inks, no dyes, and none of the infamous synthetic compound bisphenol A. Best of all, if you use it, there's no TP-related guilt about the damage your daily bathroom habits might bring to the planet.

Why is using bamboo to make toilet paper better than using trees? For starters, it's the fastest-growing plant in existence, and can grow as much as three feet in just 24 hours. It's harvested once a year and never needs replanting, making it an essentially infinite resource compared to trees, while also using up 30-percent less water. And as you'll feel for yourself once you give Reel a try, bamboo paper is much softer than other papers made from recycled paper or wood fiber, while also retaining bamboo's natural tensile strength, which is said to be even stronger than some types of steel.

Reel Premium Bamboo Toilet Paper

Reel

Reel even has ply-counters covered, too. If you were worried that bamboo toilet paper doesn't give you the thickness and quality you're accustomed to in TP, think again, because each role is generally proportioned with three ply for extra softness. In other words: you're not having to sacrifice comfort for the good of the planet, at least not as far as your toilet paper is concerned.

And Reel's environmental friendliness isn't the only good reason to make the switch. The brand also cuts off a slice of their profits for the funding of sanitation projects in developing nations, so you're helping that important cause with each roll you buy (in addition to helping reduce deforestation and pollution).

Each 24-roll box of Reel premium bamboo toilet paper costs $29.99, but if you're paranoid about running out, they also offer a subscription service that sends a new box to your door automatically every four weeks, eight weeks, or 12 weeks, depending on how often you usually buy. Customers have also reported that each roll of Reel lasts longer than regular toilet paper since it gets the job done with fewer sheets -- another point in favor of bamboo paper..

Your toilet paper doesn't have to kill trees or choke the environment with bulky plastic packaging. There is a better way. To find out more, check out Reel at its official site, and say hello to a new era of environmentally friendly toilet paper that's also comfortable, durable, and a pleasure to have around.

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

True

In 1945, the world had just endured the bloodiest war in history. World leaders were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past. They wanted to build a better future, one free from the "scourge of war" so they signed the UN Charter — creating a global organization of nations that could deter and repel aggressors, mediate conflicts and broker armistices, and ensure collective progress.

Over the following 75 years, the UN played an essential role in preventing, mitigating or resolving conflicts all over the world. It faced new challenges and new threats — including the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, a Cold War and brutal civil wars, transnational terrorism and genocides. Today, the UN faces new tensions: shifting and more hostile geopolitics, digital weaponization, a global pandemic, and more.

This slideshow shows how the UN has worked to build peace and security around the world:

1 / 12

Malians wait in line at a free clinic run by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Mission in Mali in 2014. Over their 75 year history, UN peacekeepers have deployed around the world in military and nonmilitary roles as they work towards human security and peace. Here's a look back at their history.

Photo credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

It sounds like a ridiculous, sensationalist headline, but it's real. In Cheshire County, New Hampshire, a transsexual, anarchist Satanist has won the GOP nomination for county sheriff. Aria DiMezzo, who refers to herself as a "She-Male" and whose campaign motto was "F*** the Police," ran as a Republican in the primary. Though she ran unopposed on the ballot, according to Fox News, she anticipated that she would lose to a write-in candidate. Instead, 4,211 voters filled in the bubble next to her name, making her the official Republican candidate for county sheriff.

DiMezzo is clear about why she ran—to show how "clueless the average voter is" and to prove that "the system is utterly and hopelessly broken"—stances that her win only serves to reinforce.

In a blog post published on Friday, DiMezzo explained how she had never tried to hide who she was and that anyone could have looked her up to see what she was about, in addition to pointing out that those who are angry with her have no one to blame but themselves:

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Growing your own organic herbs, vegetables, and fruits is a great way to eat healthier and, at the same time, do something good for the environment. Unfortunately, a lot of people assume they can't grow a garden because they don't have enough space, time, or know-how. But that's not actually the case. Or at least, it's not any more. Thanks to an amazing high tech gadget called the Click & Grow Smart Gardens, these days anyone can grow their own organic produce with the touch of a button, no matter where they live.

Fully Automated Gardening? Yes Please

What exactly is the Smart Garden? Click & Grow calls it the Keurig of plants. And that's actually a pretty great description.

The Click & Grow Smart Garden is a fully automated gardening system that lets anybody grow herbs, fruits, vegetables, and flowers year round, in any environment, with absolutely no effort or horticultural knowledge. Like a Keurig coffee maker, all you have to do is insert a pod, fill the tank with water, and press the button. Technology takes care of the rest.

Click & Grow has over 50 different pre-seeded 100-percent biodegradable plant pods to choose from, including tomatoes, peppers, arugula, green leaf lettuce, basil, chives, cilantro, petunias, pansies, lavender, and so much more. You can also buy "blank" smart soil pods and use your own seeds to create your own custom plant pods. The possibilities are almost endless.

You don't have to know anything about gardening to use the Click & Grow Smart Garden. However, if you'd like to learn, the Click & Grow companion app can make you a plant expert. Simply check in with the app daily and it will explain exactly what's happening during each stage of the growing cycle.

How Does It Work?

The Click & Grow Smart Garden uses advanced horticultural technology specifically designed to speed up growth and maximize yields. This technology includes:

  • Biodome Sprouting: lids cover the seed pods during the initial growing phase, creating a greenhouse effect that induces faster sprouting.
  • Grow Lights: professional grade LED grow lights with enhanced light spectra bring about faster germination. These lights turn on and off automatically to mimic the natural light cycle, making sure plants get the exact amount and type of light they need to thrive.
  • Automatic watering: sensors detect moisture levels and automatically water your plants when needed, with each reservoir tank refill lasting about one month.
  • Smart Soil: instead of regular soil, Smart Garden seed pods use a proprietary nano material created by Click & Grow. This material keeps soil pH balanced, automatically releases nutrients in sync with the plant life cycle, and contains micro oxygen pockets to give plants ample breathing room and nutrients when the smart soil is wet.

All this tech wouldn't be very appealing if it cost an arm and a leg to run. Luckily, the Click & Grow Smart Garden is incredibly efficient. It uses 95-percent less water than traditional agriculture, while producing faster growing cycles without toxic pesticides or fertilizers. Meanwhile, the Smart Garden's efficient LED grow lights cost roughly $5 to $15 per year to operate. That's probably less than you'd spend on gas going back and forth to the nursery to get supplies for a traditional backyard garden.

Of course, not every prospective indoor gardener has the same needs. Some people just want a minimalist countertop unit to grow their favorite herbs. Others want a full-blown indoor farm. That's why Click & Grow created several different Smart Garden models with variable grow capacities.

Click & Grow Smart Garden 3

As the name suggests, the Smart Garden 3 is capable of growing three plants at a time. Measuring just 12 inches wide and 5 inches deep, with a max height of 19 inches, this model fits almost anywhere. That makes it perfect for anyone with extremely limited space, or who isn't quite ready for a bigger indoor garden.

At just $99.95, the Smart Garden 3 is the most affordable of Click & Grow's automated gardening systems. It's available in four different colors and comes with the companion app as well as a complementary set of three basil plant pods.

Click & Grow Smart Garden 27

For those who live by the motto "go big or go home" there's the Smart Garden 27. Though, in this case, "big" is a relative term. Consisting of three Smart Garden 9 units plus a stylish pine plant stand, the Smart Garden 27 is capable of growing a whopping 27 plants at a time. However, it barely takes up any room. The entire system has a footprint of 26 inches by 10 inches, and it stands just 47 inches tall. So it's roughly the size of a small bookcase.

The Smart Garden 27 is certainly a more significant investment than the Smart Garden 3. However, if your household consumes a lot of fresh organic product, it won't take long for the Smart Garden 27 to start paying for itself. It's available in three different colors and comes with the companion app as well as a complementary set of nine basil plant pods, nine lettuce plant pods, and nine tomato plant pods.

Good For You AND The Planet

Eating local and organic helps you reduce your carbon footprint and cut back on the amount of harmful chemicals that wind up in our watershed. And that used to be pretty expensive. But thanks to the Click & Grow Smart Garden, we can all grow affordable organic produce right in our own homes with just the touch of a button.

If that sounds good to you, click here to learn more about Click & Grow Smart Gardens, today.

*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.