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JournalistI just investigated how Wisconsin’s voter ID law blocked tens of thousands from polls & tipped the state to Trump. AMA • r/IAmA

Oct 19th 2017 by ariberman • 7 Questions • 240 Points

Edit: Okay! Thanks r/IAmA for all your questions, it's now time for us to trudge home. Thank you for having us and we loved answering your questions.

Answering your questions today are senior reporters Shona Ghosh and Sam Shead, who have been following Transport for London’s surprise decision last month not to renew Uber’s license to operate in London. Catch up on all of our Uber coverage at uk.businessinsider.com. You can follow Business Insider UK on reddit, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/iaylqcmp6ssz.jpg

Q:

Is there any proof of the examples you gave being anything more than bad luck?

I'd be willing to bet that the number of people who weren't able to vote because they lost their license is statistically insignificant.

Did you consider other reasons why the vote turnout was low? For example, anecdotally, many people of color that I know were going to vote for Obama because he is black. They also weren't thrilled about Clinton. Or Trump. Anecdotally again, many women that I spoke with were eager to vote for Clinton because of her gender.

Is it possible that voter turnout plunged in predominantly black districts because they didn't feel they had a horse in the race, so to speak?

A:

I just wanted to say how much I miss your show. It seems like after it was cancelled all television kind of went to hell. Any chance we'll ever get to see another sitcom from you?


Q:

When talking to full-time Uber drivers (in a variety of different countries) the general consensus is that to earn a livable wage you've got to be putting in a minimum of 60 hours per week, if not more.

At what point does Uber cease to be a "technological breakthrough" and start to be more of a workaround to circumvent paying livable wages to its employees?

While taxi fares are certainly well above market rates in many places around the world, Uber seems to have gone the other way...instead of being unfair to consumers they are unfair to workers...What do you think ridesharing and the taxi industry will look like 5-10 years from now? There's no doubt that Uber has caused a disruption but how do you see the wage discrepancy correcting itself over time?

Also: Dude...if you want your AMA to take off you've got to be ready to answer the first dozen questions immediately. As in, immediately, as soon as they come in. In real time. The momentum you get (or don't get) in the first hour is crucial.

A:

According to UW study, 1 in 10 people who didn't vote in Milwaukee & Madison cited the voter ID law as a reason. So it definitely contributed to lower turnout. Wrote about that here http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/09/a-new-study-shows-just-how-many-americans-were-blocked-from-voting-in-wisconsin-last-year/


Q:

Yeah, I was in charge of all of it and when I went away everything just sucked. Except for Breaking Bad. Honestly I am working on a new show for me and Billy Gardell and another one called "Devils Music." It's all a crap shoot though.

A:

That is definitely a common narrative, though there are also Uber drivers who will tell you quite spontaneously they love the extra money and flex. It's more difficult to earn a livable wage if you drive for something like Uber Exec though.

In the UK, there are MPs who already think Uber is effectively flouting regulation and worker rights to make money. I don't see the wage discrepancy correcting itself over time; I suspect politicians will step in to force some level of worker rights. That would probably result in Uber raising its prices and looking more like a traditional minicab company. — Shona


Q:

How much of the turnout drop would have still existed if the Clinton campaign actually made an effort to educate low information Dem voters about the law instead of assuming they would win Wisconsin?

A:

Is there any you will ever come back to Montreal ?? I would love to see you live


Q:

Uber drivers who will tell you quite spontaneously they love the extra money and flex

For sure...it's a great situation for those who drive for extra money on the side, in addition to their regular full-time job.

But I'd still argue that this fact further points to wages being low...in any other industry you wouldn't accept "Yeah, the pay is fine as long as you have another job and this one is extra."

In terms of government intervention...how do you see Uber evolving if they are forced to pay wages more on par with regular taxi cabs? (I fully recognize that if you had the right answer here you'd be working in a C-level position at Uber and not writing about them, haha, but for the sake of conversation...)

A:

That would have helped but there still would've been people disenfranchised by the ID law & other changes


Q:

I love the festival I want to go back but Canada needs to have real money first. I love the monopoly aspect of it but it makes me uneasy.

A:

Interestingly, they have (briefly) talked about how their model would need to change with government intervention, at least in the UK. It would look much more like existing private taxi operators, with set shifts (as opposed to the current model where drivers can log in and accept rides at any time) and salaries.

It would also cost them millions of pounds in additional costs though at no point did they say this would force them out of business.

So, I could see a more restricted, more expensive Uber in the not too distant future. It depends on whether new legislation gets passed here or not though. - Shona


Q:

Thanks for knowing all

A:

First off, I’m a big fan!

Your comedy has always been extremely personal in subject matter. This may seem like an obvious question, but has making light of those events in your life made things, for lack of a better word, easier to cope with and process?


Q:

Are there benefits for startups to be based in London? Do they also have unique challenges w UK laws?


Q:

Yep, stopped me from killing a bunch of people in a KFC. ( I used to work there) Once I put all the pain and bull in joke form it became absurd, funny and easier to deal with. My family won't talk to me though... because I have shredded them. I understand.

A:

Yes! Lots. Perhaps two of the main ones are there's plenty of capital and talent in London for startups to tap into compared to other European cities. It's also a pretty fun city to live and work, with good food, nightlife, shops, museums etc. So that helps.

With regards to UK laws, I don't think there are any major challenges for London tech startups. However, that could all change if Brexit makes it harder for founders to hire talent from across Europe. Many of London's biggest and best startups are fuelled by engineers from across the continent. The head of Oxford University's computer science department warned a government committee this month that cities like Paris and Berlin would love to have DeepMind post-Brexit. — Sam


Q:

Hi Ari! I reiterate others' thanks for your work on these issues. I'm a third-year law student who wants to focus on voting rights, election law, campaign finance, etc. My question is, how do you make people really care about this stuff, when they just don't think it's a problem? I frequently run into the problem where, when I'm having conversation with someone about these issues, people say things like "What's the big deal? It's just an ID." or "It doesn't affect me" or "Well people could commit voter fraud, and it's important to stop that from happening."

I can throw out statistics and stories all day, but for a lot of folks, those instincts and beliefs are pretty deeply ingrained. In your experience, what are effective ways of changing peoples' minds about this issue, if they're not inclined to believe it's a problem in the first place?

A:

Hello Mr. Titus! What's the most rewarding thing about a career in comedy?


Q:

Non-London, UK driver here. Do you think that other cities will follow suit if Uber's appeal is unsuccessful?

How much influence have black cab drivers had over TFL's decision? Do they have a "close relationship"?

A:

if 90% of the public has an ID then it's going to be hard to message against this. I think personal stories are effective in breaking through the clutter while also showing that people who want voter ID laws also want to do things like cutting early voting & closing polling places that are very unpopular


Q:

Bitches! Seriously from "Please welcome" To "Thank you goodnight" All the other stuff, travel, hotel beds that 30000 people have slept in and soiled, shitty food. It's all work but the heroin of laughter is the best.

A:

We do. And we're already starting to see early signs that Uber's business across the UK is going to be impacted by TfL's decision. Several other councils — including Oxford and Reading — have refused to give Uber an operating licence after the TfL ruling, according to a report in The Sunday Times earlier this month. — Sam

I think it's fair to say black taxi/union lobbying influenced TfL's decision. It's been very intense, particularly this year. You can tell in emails between TfL staff and Uber staff that TfL doesn't really understand Uber's way of thinking, and it has a much better understanding of the black taxi/traditional cab trade. — Shona


Q:

This is really disappointing but not shocking unfortunately. Thank you for bringing attention to this. Is voter suppression in other states also being investigated?

A:

Bitches love heroin.


Q:

Do you feel there will be a bridge between the crypto community and the mainstream in the coming years?

Have you read anything or wrote anything recently regarding the utilisation of crypto currencies?

A:

Thanks for reading. Yes, voter suppression is/was a big issue not just in Wisconsin but also other states. I've been trying to bring more attention to this issue & there are a lot of groups working on it such as ACLU


A:

We're roping our colleague Rob in on this, as he covers crypto. — Shona

On cryptocurrency products generally, I feel like (in developed economies at least) they tend to try and fulfil a need that isn’t really there. In places like the UK, consumer financial products are, generally, pretty good. Ordinary people don’t want an immutable ledger, they just want safe savings and a reasonable rate of return.

Banks and institutions are getting buzzy about the blockchain, but it remains to be seen how much that will translate into real products. This will likely be how ordinary people come into “contact” with crypto products in the next few years — without realising it, as established banks adopt aspects of the tech for efficiency gains. — Rob


Q:

Ari, thank you for all of your work. I feel like many Americans are aware of the tools at the disposal of those who seek to disenfranchise people of color...but the choice of target means many Americans won't care.

Do you have any personal experience convincing someone close to you to see this as a problem? If so how do you normally start that conversation?

A:

Hey Chris! I got into your stand up early on when my dad would play your standup specials late at night. Your film Special Unit resonated with me; my brother has Duchene Muscular Dystrophy and has been wheelchair bound since elementary school. He doesn't let his disability get in the way and we always make sure to treat him equally. Even when he lays a sick burn on me that makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry.

My question is have there been any hecklers in your standup career that have truly rattled you?


Q:

What do you think was the demise of Jinn and how do you think the landscape of the last mile fulfillment industry in London will change over the next few years?

A:

Usually I give them the facts:

this is how rare voter fraud is. this is how many people are impacted by voter suppression. and then I usually tell a story about someone who had problems voting, to show that this is more common than they think.


Q:

Glad you dug the movie. It was a ten year quest. Did your brother see it. He will pee himself. The only heckler I had a moment of fear was in Orlando when a dyde walked to the stage and we were yellng at each other and the bouncers were outside. My wife saw that and stood behind him with an empty wine bottle ready to crack him. Good times

A:

Our colleague James, who broke the news about Jinn shutting down this morning, will take this one.

I think the food delivery industry will end up being the same as the music streaming industry in that there will be gradual consolidation. It's an expensive industry with a high burn rate. — James


Q:

Hi Ari, thanks so much for your tireless coverage of this issue. Given the widening use of voter ID laws by the GOP, what chances do we have to realistically push back against these laws especially in the current environment?

A:

I just wanted to say thank you for making me hyper aware of my inner retard.

Question: Everyone I've introduced to your specials (Norman Rockwel is Bleeding, Love is Evol, Voice in My Head et al) absolutely loved them and asked me, "How come I have never heard of this guy?" Do you think it's an area you could work on, gain more visibility?

I just think it's weird that you have fantastic material and equally great delivery but you aren't as popular as you deserve to be.

I did buy your Right Amount of Wrong Collection recently and noticed it wasn't available on any of the big video distribution platforms (Google, Apple, Netflix etc.). Are you averse to working with or publishing your work with the big guys?

I'm from India btw and we did have Titus in syndication like 15 years ago.


Q:

Is it true that uber isn't in london because of migrant violence on women taking uber or is it because of that lacking of quality which isn't comparable to official london cab drivers that have taken the knowledge?

A:

Thank you! I think that's why it's important to really devote resources to helping people get IDs, like ACLU is doing, because it's going to become harder to fight back against all these laws in the courts


Q:

"Visibility" is something that takes up time. I'd rather make comedy and hopefully the visibility will come. Thanks for the compliment though. I was a big fan of Prince and he took over all of his distribution and production. He didn't sell as many maybe, but made twice the money and the fans knew they were supporting him and not a monster conglomerate. I love that. I've also been reemed a couple times. I may write SLAVE on my face like he did.

A:

I think neither are correct. It's true that TfL is concerned about Uber's record on safety, but there's lots of questions about assault statistics reported about Uber. How many allegations against Uber drivers result in charges? How many perpetrators are misidentified as Uber drivers? But Uber should give better reassurances about keeping passengers safe.

I don't think the Knowledge was a factor in TfL's decision. — Shona


Q:

Hi Ari! What's the next step following Gill v. Whitford? If the court sides with the Wisconsin GOP, how do we stop partisan gerrymandering?

A:

Titus given how everythign turned out with your ex-wife, do you l ever watch the old show and think god was I naieve?

Also given how many issues of yourwith your ex-wife mirror wat happened between your father and your mother, did that give you empathy and a closer relationship with your father? Did he see it coming and help you through it or just let you figure it out.

BTW. I loved your show. I wish there cold be a miniseries intersplicing clips of your old show with you talkign to yourself knowing what you know now.


Q:

It's going to be very difficult to challenge partisan gerrymandering in courts if court sides with Wisconsin GOP. That's why case so important

A:

No, I knew at the time but I was always trying to placate her. I've learned now that life is to short to be with a Life Vampire. My life has paralleled my Dad's in a bunch of ways. My kids even did the same thing to me I did to him. Great idea for a show. If I could tell myself what I know know when I was 12, I would be John Titor.


Q:

Do you think that Scott Walker has been left in Wisconsin instead of joining the administration to protect the suppression and gerrymandering?

A:

Been a fan of your standup and your show ever since I first saw it in 2012. I love doing a little bit of standup here and there, myself, and I was just wondering... how do you go about your writing/scripting process? Do you write the jokes first, then weave them together, or just kind of see where it goes, adding that big punch at the end (that's really my favorite part of every show)? Thanks for your time, keep up the good work!


Q:

Don't know why he didn't get job with Trump but voter suppression will be one of his main legacies in WI

A:

Go to Bert Kreishers Podcast. I did a whole thing on how I break down a real story from your life and turn it into a 12 minute bit. Every sentence is just a setup for a punchline...except for this one.

EDIT: Here it is - http://bertcast.com/?p=408


Q:

So between Russian collusion and voter suppression the election was basically stolen?

A:

I notice a lot of comedians, yourself included, voicing strong opinions about Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment and rape on twitter, but most comedians are mum on a certain fat ginger with a goatee whose harassment is an open secret.

Do you think it's hypocritical to be outraged over Weinstein but quiet about about a sexual predator inside your inner circles?

I'm not saying that you necessarily know about the man, but Tig Notaro is the only big name I see addressing the issue at all.


Q:

Put it this way: I think the rules of the election were manipulated by GOP & Trump campaign for their own benefit

A:

Usually it gets around if its a problem. I heard about Cosby when I started. Louie has been around forever and I never heard weirdness. Not questioning Tig, she's nothing but honest. It was just never talked about inside until lately. I still haven't heard but then again i'm a bit of a loner.


Q:

Did...you really pee on your dad's dead body?

Also, Fetus is a fantastic foil to you on the podcast. Love it.

A:

NO, but my father really did say that was how he wanted to be buried.


Q:

Are there any plans for a Killer Klowns From Outer Space sequel?

A:

I've been hearing about it for years but i died in that movie... so fuck em.


Q:

Hey Titus! My question is how true to life was your show? Was it based on your life growing up at all? Do you hate to be called Titus?

A:

Almost every story on the show was based on a real story from my life. A few we manufactured and those have a ring of fake. I prefer Titus and will respond faster. Also Numbnuts...I miss my dad


Q:

Missed your show in Syracuse, NY at the Funny Bone! :(

Will you be coming back to the Central/Upstate New York area anytime soon? PLEASE COME BACK!

A:

Going back in December unless the movie makes billions then I'm buying a plane and hiding out until Trump blows this bitch up. Then I will BE Mad Max


Q:

Who is your favorite stand up comedian?

A:

Carlin and Williams, also Pre-Serial rapist Cosby. I guess there is no Pre-serial rapist Cosby. Lets just say "before we knew."


Q:

Is he the one who tormented the waitress? That is still one of my favorite stories.

She DID deserve it.

A:

Agreed.


Q:

If you were to make your TV show now, would you do it the same way, with the look of a traditional sitcom, or would you go for something more modern and/or experimental?

A:

I'd really always like to try to just be laugh out loud funny. If something crazy adds to that then hell yeaH. If it detracts, nope.