Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 01.11.18

Thursday, January 11, 2018

It's about all of us.

Democracy works best when everyone has a voice and every vote is counted. It is clear the anti-democracy movement wants to shrink the power of the grassroots to advocate for the issues that matter – workers’ rights, criminal justice, climate justice and more – by attacking our right to vote and using money to influence elections and policy.

It’s 2018 and the days are numbered for those who try to hold power without accountability. It’s time for elected leaders who listen to main street, not Wall Street. It’s time for a democracy that is inclusive, reflective, and functional for all.

That’s why we need your input! Please take a moment to fill out the engagement form to plug into 2018 campaigns and new opportunities. CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT DEMOCRACY REFORM CAMPAIGN SURVEY

Thank you to all those you have already filled out the survey. We have 15% of the surveys submitted! If you have any questions please contact: Getachew Kassa at

ActivistS Rally at U.S. Supreme Court Say: DON’T MESS WITH OUR VOTe

Hundreds of activists came together outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 to rally in support of voting rights for Ohio voters and all Americans across the country. The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, a lawsuit filed by Demos and ACLU of Ohio on behalf of individuals and groups in Ohio who were removed from the rolls for not voting in recent elections even though federal law protects voters from being removed for this reason. Over 500,000 voters in Ohio have been purged for infrequent voting under the direction of Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Many eligible voters -- seniors, low income residents, students, and military members serving overseas -- did not learn they were off the rolls until they tried to vote.

One purged voter that spoke at the rally was Army veteran and Oak Harbor, Ohio Mayor Joe Helle. He tried to vote in 2011 after returning from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Joe was told he was not on the rolls and was removed because he was an inactive voter. He shared with the crowd at the rally how it felt to serve his country and then come home to find out that his right to vote was taken away from him. WATCH Joe speaking at the rally.

No one should be denied their right to vote – it’s time to for the Supreme Court to do the right thing and tell states, “Don’t mess with our vote!”

Purges have real consequences on elections and policies that impact individuals and our communities. In the last three years, 112 elections in Ohio were decided by a single vote or tied.

What’s at stake: Millions of voters across the U.S. could be targets of purging because they are infrequent voters whether it’s because of military service, illness, work, or school. Read AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka's commentary in US News & World Report on why the Supreme Court must protect our right to vote.

Three Ways to Lift up Democracy on Martin Luther King Jr. Day – JANUARY 15, 2018

Dr. King recognized the intersectionality between economic, social, and racial justice and the fight for democracy. As you prepare to remember and honor Dr. King’s life, here are three ways you can highlight the connection between democracy and voting rights to your members. We ask you to choose one (1) and share!

  1. Feature a quote from Dr. King on your website or social media on democracy. For social media, add links to how the fight for democracy connects to your core issues. See sample graphics and text on our website.
  2. Send a message to your members on the importance of participation in democracy. See sample text on our website.
  3. Encourage your members to write a letter to the editor about why democracy matters and link it to a core issue. Ask them to share their letter with you so you can publicize it. View a sample letter to the editor.


MLK Civil & Human Rights Conference

Join the 800 registered participants -- social justice professionals, activists and community leaders -- in Houston for the AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Conference. This year’s theme: Reclaiming the Dream: Strategize, Organize, Mobilize! Is about shifting the rules and building power so that working communities can thrive and families can enjoy the fruits of their labor. Too many of our family members, friends, loved ones and neighbors are overworked, underpaid and underemployed. And far too many are barely making it from day to day. DI senior campaigner Getachew Kassa is speaking on a voting rights panel. Register to attend at


Let New York Vote! National Sign-On Letter & Albany Action Day – January 23, 2018

New Yorkers want to vote and we need voting reforms that make it fair for all of us. Join activists, advocates, community leaders and regular people from across New York State to demand early voting and other reforms that would make voting fairer for all eligible New Yorkers and return the power back to our hands.

Visit for more information.

National Sign-on Letter deadline – Noon on Thursday, January 11. National partners are invited to add their organization’s name to a letter to Governor Cuomo highlighting the need for early voting in New York. Please email Susan Lerner ( and cc Getachew Kassa ( if your organization is signing.


We are one step closer to fair elections in D.C.! On Tuesday, January 9, 2018 the D.C. Council voted unanimously in support of the Fair Elections Act of 2017!

More and more people are clear in the District that fair elections is about a people powered-democracy for all. To get there it’s going to take all of us and the fight in D.C. is not over. There is a second vote in February and the Council will need to secure funding for fair elections once it passes.

Kudos to DC Fair Elections coalition and the many partners who have worked to move this campaign forward. To date, over 5000 petitions have been delivered, over 80 community leaders and 70 organizations are signed on in support, and we have 13 council members who have said YES to fair elections either by co-introducing, co-sponsoring, or voting to advance the bill.

Contact David Sanchez at for information on how your organization can get involved.

Step Forward for Diversity & History Made in U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee with Appointment of Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris

The Democracy Initiative celebrates this historic step forward for the civil rights community as Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris become the second and third black senators appointed to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Their appointment is needed to stand up in the face of this Administration's ongoing attacks on civil liberties and fundamental human rights related to our workplace, clean air and water, public safety, and more.


the Power of Collective Action Forced President to disband Pence-Kobach Commission -- What’s Next?


On January 3, 2018 the White House dissolved the President’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The commission, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, but led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was a thinly veiled attempt to suppress the power of voters and spread a false narrative of widespread voter fraud.

Read the Democracy Initiative’s statement on the president’s failed commission and the need for 21st century democracy reforms.

The DI will be convening a meeting on next steps shortly. Please contact Getachew Kassa at to stay updated.

Mobilizing & Collaboration

2018 Calendar for Mobilizing Working Group Meetings



BiWeekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST
RSVP to, cc:

Our bi-monthly meetings focus on field strategy with groups working both at the national and state level so we can collaborate and move democracy reforms effectively. All DI Members are welcome. Email with any questions!

Mark Your Calendars: January 24

DI Communications Working Group



Monthly on 3rd or 4th Tuesday or every month

The communications working groups is a collaborative space for message refinement using feedback from organizations working on the ground. These monthly meetings also help to resource partner organizations for ongoing local and national campaigns and coordinate messaging and communications as a coalition.

RSVP to, cc:

Mark Your Calendars: January 24

Popular Education – Democracy Champions Train the Trainers Wanted: Train the Trainer




January 26, 2018
RSVP to, cc:

The DI’s “Democracy Champions” popular education program will launch in early 2018. We motivate, educate, and empower the membership of our partner organizations to support grassroots democracy campaigns to build power and advance our issues. We engage grassroots members around race and class in ways that build solidarity, reduce division, and make the link between kitchen table issues (healthcare, workers’ rights, and environmental issues) and democracy reforms (automatic voter registration, early voting, same day registration, vote by mail, and publically financed small donor elections). Democracy Champions is a key component of building power locally. We are committed to align our popular education training with local and state campaigns.

There are three ways your organization can participate:

  • Train-the-trainer trainings for staff members/activists become Democracy Champions trainers.
  • Host a Democracy Champion training
  • Alignment with existing membership education: I am interested in having a follow–up discussion on aligning the Democracy Champions curriculum with our existing membership education programs.


Please take a couple minutes to fill out the DI engagement survey that will help us assess our collective capacity on trainings and campaigns. Getachew Kassa will follow up one on one with you on engagement opportunities into our trainings and mobilization.

Enviro Working Group





Greenpeace USA and Sierra Club held an initial meeting with environmental groups and some new DI partners prior to the start of the Annual Meeting. The meeting included Greenpeace USA, Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, LCV, Friends of the Earth, Center for Environmental Health, Water Keeper Alliance, and Oil Change International. The group will hold their next meeting in January to identify and collaborate on one or two democracy campaigns as an environmental community.

For more information, please contact David Sanchez ( or Courtney Hight (


Job Announcement

Michigan Time to Care Campaign Manager

MI Time to Care is a Michigan statewide ballot campaign endeavoring to ensure all workers have access to earned paid sick time, an essential policy for helping low-wage workers stay above water financially. Currently, 70% of low-wage workers do not have access to earned paid sick time to take care of themselves or their families when they are sick. This means that when they have to stay home they miss a day’s pay and risk losing their job. It also means that many people go to work sick, which is not only a public health hazard, particularly in the case that they work with children, the elderly, or in the food industry, but also that they cannot recover as quickly and therefore are less productive at work. We are operating a statewide ballot campaign to give voters the opportunity to weigh in on this issue and to make progress for Michigan workers. The campaign is currently in the signature gathering


Stay Connected with DI Partners

Want to share a victory or call to action in the fight for democracy? Email Michelle ( to add an action for the next Weekly Update!

If you are not already a subscriber, click here to receive the DI Report in your inbox. And please be sure to follow us on Twitter(@Unite4Democracy), like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube Channel