In This Episode
- Arizona election officials have referred at least six cases of alleged voter intimidation at ballot drop-off boxes to the Justice Department. The complaints describe groups of people – some armed with guns and wearing tactical gear – harassing and taking pictures of voters.
- Maxwell Frost, who is running for Florida’s 10th Congressional District, is on track to become one of the youngest members of Congress. He joins us to talk about his progressive platform, and what he hopes to accomplish if elected.
- And in headlines: a Russian court rejected Brittney Griner’s appeal of her 9-year prison sentence, Adidas cut ties with Ye amid backlash from his antisemitic remarks, and former Trump aide Hope Hicks met with the January 6 committee.
- Vote Save America: Every Last Vote – https://votesaveamerica.com/every-last-vote/
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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Wednesday, October 26th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver and this is What A Day, the podcast that is also a support group for people looking to reduce their screen time.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, we’re not really sure what else there is to look at aside from your phone or computer. I guess we’ll find out.
Juanita Tolliver: The sky.
Priyanka Aribindi: Maybe.
Juanita Tolliver: Trees? I don’t know.
Priyanka Aribindi: We’re working on it. [music break] On today’s show, Adidas finally dropped its massive partnership with Kanye West over his anti-Semitic comments. Plus, inflation is creeping up on the Halloween candy aisle.
Juanita Tolliver: But first. Oh, there is nothing like pulling up to your polling location to drop your ballot in the ballot box, only to see masked people in tactical gear and some of them holding guns all sitting right next to the drop box, recording your every step and trying to take pictures of your license plate.
Priyanka Aribindi: You are describing a literal nightmare. What are you talking about?
Juanita Tolliver: I mean, it’s horror season, right? But the wild part is that I’m not exaggerating at all Priyanka. This is what some voters have experienced in Maricopa County, Arizona, recently. A reporter for the local ABC affiliate caught up with a few of these vigilantes and asked them what they were doing at the polling locations. And this is what they had to say:
[clip of unnamed drop box vigilante] Well, we’re just out here watching boxes and uh before I make any kind of statement or anything I’d like to, uh getting a suntan, getting some vitamin D.
[clip of unnamed ABC news reporter] So you’re getting vitamin D or you’re watching the drop boxes?
[clip of unnamed drop box vigilante] Both. Yeah.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. Weird afternoon activity. Maybe you should get hobbies.
Juanita Tolliver: But this is voter intimidation and it’s illegal. In the past two weeks, voters who experience these tactics have filed six complaints with the Arizona secretary of state’s office, and those have been forwarded to the Department of Justice for further investigation. Now, if you’re wondering why exactly the DOJ is involved, well, it’s because voter intimidation is not only illegal, but it’s a federal offense. Sadly, none of this will come as a surprise to the DOJ because they recently flagged Arizona as the number one state for election threats this campaign cycle.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, honestly, uh throw the book at these like pseudo vigilantes, please. Like this is definitely a crime. And please do not let them get away with doing shit like this. It’s totally not okay.
Juanita Tolliver: It’s sickening. And as a Black woman in America, this looks all too familiar because this is the type of energy that Black voters faced less than 60 years ago. And here we are confronted with extremists, leveraging one of the oldest voter suppression tactics in the newest ways. These armed vigilantes are motivated by the exact same lies and conspiracy theories spread by Trump and his Republican allies during the 2020 election. And these are the same lies that Trump used to rile up the insurrectionists on January 6th, and to put the cherry on top of all of this, Republican state senators and Republican candidates in Arizona are cheering on these vigilantes while they continue to spread election lies.
Priyanka Aribindi: Disgusting.
Juanita Tolliver: In response to the vigilantes, local sheriffs are increasing security at ballot drop boxes. But let’s be real. That probably won’t make any Black or Brown voters feel any safer. And all of this comes as we’re seeing a surge in early voter data that is heavily driven by, you guessed it, mail in ballots and absentee ballots.
Priyanka Aribindi: Okay. So level set with me here because you said there was a surge in early voters. So how exactly does that look on the state level?
Juanita Tolliver: All right. Well, get this, as of our recording time at 9:30 p.m. Eastern, more than 10.3 million votes have been cast nationally, including 7.5 million mail in ballots which have been returned. That’s ahead of the early vote numbers in 2018, at the same point in the election. But at the state level, for example, in a battleground state like Georgia, where we know the races will be very tight, nearly 1 million people have already cast their ballots early.
Priyanka Aribindi: Wow.
Juanita Tolliver: In Pennsylvania, where anyone can request a ballot to vote by mail, 635,000 people have voted. And in Michigan, 789,000 people have voted. And in states that have party registration data available, nearly half of those votes were cast by Democrats and 30% by Republicans. So Democrats have a clear advantage here, and Republicans are trying to undermine that advantage with calls to end vote by mail programs, including efforts by Trump.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, so of course he is involved here. So what election scheme is he working with these days?
Juanita Tolliver: Girl Trump is back on his voter suppression and election interference grind, trying to lobby Pennsylvania legislators to get rid of their no excuse vote by mail program, which allows any voter to request a mail in ballot. According to reports, Trump has had meetings at Trump Tower about this effort, and he’s made calls to Pennsylvania allies about repealing the vote by mail law. Trump and all of his petty sore loser anti-democracy energy is committed to punishing voters, and this is another way he’s already working to undermine the 2022 and the 2024 elections. What is clear is that when people have greater access to the polls, they vote at higher rates. And when more people vote, Republicans lose. So Republicans resort to rigging the system and voter suppression. We saw it all through 2021 when voter suppression laws were passed in 18 states and counting. And with these latest schemes, it shows that it won’t be stopping anytime soon.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I certainly don’t imagine that it will be stopping, but at this point we all know why they are doing this. And it is because if you vote they will not win. So please get yourself to the polls. Please vote however you can. This is what we’re up against. So from one midterm story to the next, it is Wednesday, WAD squad. And as you know, on Wednesdays leading up to the midterm elections that are just two short weeks away, we do a little segment on this show called WAD The Vote.
[Theme music for WAD the Vote] WAD the Vote.
Priyanka Aribindi: [laughter] It’s a vibe. It is a vibe.
Juanita Tolliver: Oh my gosh. I was just telling you, I need a reel of all the shimmies that I’ve done hearing that track because it’s so good.
Priyanka Aribindi: We can have that. We can arrange that for you.
Juanita Tolliver: Please and what are we talking about today Priyanka?
Priyanka Aribindi: So yesterday I got the chance to speak with a rising star in the Democratic Party. 25 year old activist Maxwell Frost is on his way to becoming the youngest member of Congress. Back in August, Frost stood out in a crowded field of candidates to win the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 10th District. This is a solidly blue district covering Orlando and central Florida and previously was represented by Val Demings. But she left the seat to challenge Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
Juanita Tolliver: So aside from his age Priyanka, what makes Maxwell stand out as a candidate?
Priyanka Aribindi: So far, Frost has received endorsements from progressive heavyweights like Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. And before throwing his hat in the ring for this congressional seat, he worked both as an organizer for the ACLU and March for Our Lives, which is the gun violence prevention group created by students who survived the Parkland School shooting. And if he’s elected, he will not only be the latest Gen-Z House member, but he’ll be the sole Afro-Cuban member of Congress as well. This was a really great conversation. I loved talking to Maxwell. He is really exciting and inspiring, honestly. And I started by asking him to walk us through what he hopes to accomplish if he is elected.
Maxwell Frost: So I’ve been seeing what’s been going on on the right, and I just want to make sure that for Democrats and as people who are actually for working class people that are actually about the movement, that are actually about organizing, that we stay true to those values. And part of that is campaigning on what I’m going to do in D.C., but also what I’m going to do here at home as a leader in our community. Organizing to ensure we’re getting people elected down ballot. Doing everything I can to demystify the process of running for office, standing with our unions right, not just fighting for people, but fighting with people. So that’s one part. The second part, which is the part you actually asked for like legislatively.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right.
Maxwell Frost: I think is number one you know, we understand that we work in a system that is very slow.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Maxwell Frost: I obviously believe in an agenda that says healthcare is a human right. Housing is a human right. Because I want people at the end of the day to live in a world where they’re able to live their best lives. And so I know that we’re not going to have universal health care tomorrow or maybe even in my first term. But I do believe we can have it in this decade. And the way we do that is strengthening what we have. Strengthening Medicare, strengthening Medicaid. Showing people that government can work for them and government can solve problems. And I think that’s the way we get to achieve these you know bold, progressive ideas that really get the bold, transformational change we’re going to need.
Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. Um another big issue for voters right now is rising cost of living. I know you’ve spoken about driving Uber to get by during your campaign process. You know, meanwhile, there are bunch of Republicans running on this message where they’re just kind of blaming Democrats when it comes to the economy. How do you plan to help your constituents during this time of high inflation or, you know, if our country goes into a recession? Have you been thinking about that?
Maxwell Frost: Central Florida has one of the worst affordable housing crisis in the country. So it’s like two pronged thing, right? It’s the what we do about it and it’s the way we talk about it. Because I do think the way we talk about it’s very important. Our culture is obsessed with finding people to blame on everything. And I think it’s important because that helps us figure out, like, how we move forward. But people will pay be paying more at the gas pump and automatically blame the president. And look, the government has a role to play in that. But also, oil companies were making record high profits at a time where families were losing money at the pump. So a lot of it has to do with corporations and the greed and then price gouging and taking advantage of inflation to continue rising costs. Meanwhile, they’re lining their pockets. So–
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally.
Maxwell Frost: –That’s a really important thing to tell the people. Now, what do we do about it? We have to rein in affordable housing, especially here in central Florida. And I’m excited to work with my municipal and local government here because they really want to tackle this problem. But the statewide government is preempting almost everything that they can do. You know, we have a rent stabilization bill that’s on the ballot here that’s going to help make sure people stay in their homes. I think it’s important that that passes. But what I need to do is make sure that I’m fighting for money to come directly to the municipalities and our countywide government. So we have the resources necessary to encourage and also build affordable housing and mixed income housing to ensure that people have places to live. And here’s the thing. We don’t have a housing problem because you could go out 2 hours from Orlando and find tons of affordable housing. The problem is we want people to be able to have a house where their home is. It’s about affordable housing near opportunity.
Priyanka Aribindi: Right. Have you encountered voters who have been hesitant about supporting you because of your age? And I’m curious how you respond if that comes up with people.
Maxwell Frost: Yeah, I have. At the beginning of the campaign, um I was you know speaking with members of the community and I came up to this lady a lot older and I said, hello, ma’am, my name’s Maxwell Alejandro Frost. I’m running for Congress here in Orlando. And she was like, boy, how old do you have to be to run for Congress? And I was like, well, you know, it says 25 years old in the Constitution. And then she looked at me and she smiled and then she said, well, it seems like you’re just on time. [laugh] Uh and I always think about that. But I think that a good amount of folks are generally excited by having young people involved in our political process. I think there’s–
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Maxwell Frost: –Major movements that we see that almost every major movement in this country was led by young people, from the civil rights era to march for our lives. I think that people see that in the movement side. They want to see it translated into our government and into politics. The last thing I’ll say is in my primary, I was the only candidate to be endorsed by current members of Congress. I was endorsed by three U.S. senators, over a dozen members of Congress and two major congressional Democratic caucuses. So something I’d always say, if I needed like a quick quip, I’d be like, I’m the only person endorsed by someone doing the job right now.
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah.
Maxwell Frost: And I think that says a lot.
Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. How do you think your activism experience will come to play on Capitol Hill?
Maxwell Frost: I have the experience of sitting in meetings with legislators, them consoling, crying with us over gun violence and then going in the next day and voting the way they’ve always voted. Um I’ve had the experience of being on the ground, working in organizing and wanting to really have a partner on the elected side and not really having that. And so what I’ve been telling people, as we hopefully will when our general is, make a list of all the things you wish your member did and all the things you wish they didn’t do and send it to me. A lot of this is making process to prevent us from falling into the same pitfalls and making the same mistakes. And the time to think about that process is November 9th the day after Election Day to January 3rd when we’re sworn in. And so we’ve been doing a lot of work now to figure out what are those pitfalls, how can we work with the community? What is this term of co-governance? Right. What does that really mean to govern with your community, not just for them?
Priyanka Aribindi: That was my conversation with Florida House candidate Maxwell Frost. I really enjoyed chatting with him and I’m so excited to see where he goes from here. We’ll keep following all things midterms on the show, but that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads.
Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines.
Priyanka Aribindi: An air raid targeting one of Myanmar’s largest ethnic separatist groups earlier this week killed dozens of people and injured at least 100 others. Members of the Kachin Independence Army had gathered at one of their bases on Sunday to celebrate the anniversary of their founding. When two fighter jets opened fire on them. The group said that most of the casualties were civilians. But the military junta called those reports, quote, “fake news”. Ethnic groups in Myanmar have long sought autonomy, though clashes have intensified since the ruling military government came into power last year.
Juanita Tolliver: A Russian court rejected Brittney Griner’s appeal yesterday, upholding her nine year prison sentence. Griner has been living behind bars ever since she was arrested in February at a Moscow airport. She was convicted of drug smuggling after authorities found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. President Biden reaffirmed his commitment to bringing home Griner and other Americans imprisoned in Russia in light of Tuesday’s ruling. Here’s what he told reporters:
[clip of President Joe Biden] We’re in constant contact with the Russian authorities to get Brittney and others out. And so far, we are not meeting with much uh positive response. We’re not stopping.
Juanita Tolliver: Griner’s lawyer said they are currently discussing their next steps. All I got to say is bring home BG. That’s what I’ve been saying this entire time. And I’m glad that the president and the White House are still working on this as hard as they are.
Priyanka Aribindi: Adidas announced on Tuesday that it has officially cut ties with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, over his anti-Semitic remarks. This comes after the sportswear brand said that it was reviewing its decades long partnership with the rapper after facing intense backlash. And the lost deal will reportedly cost the company over $240 million dollars this year. But that is nothing compared to the price that Ye is paying. Forbes reported that the breakup will cost the rapper $1.5 billion dollars of his net worth, officially disqualifying him from the publication’s list of billionaires. Listen, I feel bad for neither Adidas nor Kanye West. Kanye for very obvious reasons.
Juanita Tolliver: All of Trump’s friends continue hanging out with him at various meetings and depositions with the House January 6th Select Committee that is. Trump’s former communications director, Hope Hicks, sat for a transcribed interview with the committee yesterday. It’s not known what she said, but of note here is Hicks’s role in the White House in late 2020. According to several books written about Trump’s last days in office, she told Trump bluntly and repeatedly that he had lost the presidential election.
Priyanka Aribindi: Listen, she’s not great in no stretch of the imagination, but that image in my brain will never not be funny.
Juanita Tolliver: Look, the other part of this, I feel like if they’re just now sitting down with Hope Hicks, throw out any hopes that you had for them sitting down with Trump or Pence or anybody else, because they’re at the end of the line with this investigation. The clock is running out and they’re just now getting to Hope Hicks. So–
Priyanka Aribindi: –Yeah.
Juanita Tolliver: There you go.
Priyanka Aribindi: Not great. And unfortunately, some news that takes the fun out of fun sized Kit Kat bar. Because of inflation, it’ll cost more than ever this Halloween to give out candy for free. According to the Labor Department, overall, candy prices are up 13% from a year ago. The largest single year jump for candy on record. Contributing to these hair raising prices are elevated costs of flour, sugar and labor, according to candy makers. Senator and treats for all advocate Bernie Sanders had the definitive take on the issue last week. He tweeted, quote, “While the cost of Halloween candy has surged more than 13.1% since last September, the Mars Candy Bar family has become 44% richer during the pandemic, increasing their wealth by $32.6 billion dollars. Do you know what’s scary? Corporate greed.” He is relentlessly on message. It seems like you could have probably kept your prices the same. I mean, everyone was going to buy it for Halloween anyways. It doesn’t really seem like you’re not making money. I think you’re fine.
Juanita Tolliver: We can’t have nice things because corporations take advantage of consumers. They jacked up prices when we try to find one morsel of joy in the beautiful, lusciousness of a chocolate bar. Well, [laughter] I think that’s what they’re coming after. They’re literally attacking Halloween. Like what?
Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. This is the war on Halloween, everybody. You heard it here first, and it’s being waged by corporations. Take that one to the polls. And those are the headlines. One more thing before we go. You should know by now that Election Day is coming up and Vote Save America is here to get you ready. If you’re struggling to make sense of all the issues on your ballot. Check out their online tool to help you learn about every candidate and measure that you’re voting on to use as a handy cheat sheet. They can also help you find your polling place or other options for early voting. Remember, November 8th is your last chance to vote. So head to VoteSaveAmerica.com to make your plan now. It is so super helpful. Go read up. [music break] That is all for today.
Juanita Tolliver: If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Break up big candy and tell your friends to listen.
Priyanka Aribindi: And if you’re into reading and not just transcribed interviews with Hope Hicks like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m Juanita Tolliver.
Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi.
[spoken together] And support treats for all.
Juanita Tolliver: One bright spot on this is that thanks to Democrats and Joe Biden, those corporations are going to have to pay their fair share of taxes. So giddy up, y’all pay up.
Priyanka Aribindi: [laugh] Giddy up. You heard her.
Juanita Tolliver: I’m from the South. I don’t know where that came from. [laughing] [music break]
Priyanka Aribindi: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.