Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 03.16.18

Friday, March 16, 2018


Major victory for the D.C. Fair Elections coalition: Mayor Bowser has signed the Fair Elections Act of 2017, funding the program for the upcoming 2020 elections! The D.C. Council passed the Fair Elections Act unanimously in February.

Fair Elections in DC will give everyday residents to power to shape their local government and policies to reflect their needs, not wealthy and corporate donors. When signing the bill, Mayor Bowser noted that “residents have shown up to share their belief that the Fair Elections Act would strengthen our democracy. I have heard them and I have been moved by their passion.”

The D.C. metro region is standing out for its passion and support for fair elections. Montgomery County, Maryland passed public financing in 2014 followed by Howard County in 2016. Prince George’s County, MD is considering public financing legislation right now. In Montgomery County, 38 candidates are taking advantage of public financing in the first use of system.

“This victory is a testament to the power of grass roots organizing around the issue of democracy,” said Wendy Fields, DI executive director. “People all over the country are mobilizing to eliminate the corrupt influence of big money in politics, so we can have a government that addresses real problems affecting the environment, education, poverty, and injustice”


Thank you to SEIU, New Florida Majority, and Rock the Vote for supporting a critical voter registration drive in Miami! As part of our national Democracy 365 campaign, the Democracy Initiative is excited to partner and support the civic engagement work of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA), which is focused on economic justice by building strong, healthy neighborhoods in urban and rural areas nationwide through affordable homeownership. In addition to making homeownership a reality for low income communities, NACA encourages the hundreds thousands of participants at their conventions to be civically engaged through voter registration and education efforts onsite. The DI connected NACA with DI partners in Miami to register and educate the more than 9,000 attendees during their four-day homeownership event. Building strong connections between economic justice and democracy empowers more people to have a voice in the issues that matter most to their families and communities.


The Maryland State Senate passed the Secure and Accessible Registration Act (SARA), a crucial step forward in modernizing voter registration in Maryland. Congratulations to the Everybody Votes MD coalition as they strive to make sure all Marylanders have the ability to participate in the democratic process. Earlier this month, DI staff along with DI partners testified on a Maryland Senate panel to urge the Senators full support for the Secure and Accessible Registration Act (SARA). In written testimony to the panel, DI Executive Director Wendy Fields said “For DI membership groups, being registered to vote is a critical part to how our members advocate successfully for core issues around climate, economic, and social justice. Our members are determined to hold elected leaders accountable on public policy, but to make that possible we need to vote.”

SARA now goes before the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee, followed by a full vote in the House where the bill is supported by more than 60 members. For more information on the campaign, contact Damon Effingham (



Thanks to the hard work of the Let NY Vote coalition, Governor Cuomo & the Assembly put $7 million in their budgets for early voting — like the people demanded. DI partners helped to amplify the need for early voting during the January day of action. Now the State Senate has to accept it, and the Governor has to fight to keep it in the budget. Join the Rally for Early Voting on Saturday March, 18 at 2pm to make sure our State Senators hear us loud & clear: New York needs Early Voting now!

With money for early voting included in the Governor’s and Assembly Budgets, we’ve never been closer to joining the 37 other states that have Early Voting. Now we need to convince our State Senators to accept the money and include Early Voting in the final State Budget. Negotiations happen throughout March behind closed doors in Albany, so they need to hear from us loud and clear!

We need every concerned New Yorker to come out and join us to be sure our leaders get the message that we expect them to keep money for Early Voting in the budget, and Let NY Vote!

To get involved in the rally visit

Here are some key dates and next steps to engage your members:

Sunday, March 18th Rally For Early Voting
Encourage your members to come out and join other New Yorkers to ensure elected officials get the message that we expect them to keep money for Early Voting in the Budget, and Let NY Vote. Location: Foley Square NYC, 2 to 4 PM.

Monday, March 19th Call-in day
Send an email blast to your members to call into the Governor’s office to ensuring funding for Early Voting in the final budget negations in April.

Tuesday, March 22nd Twitter Town Hall
Join the conversation on Twitter and continue to the drumbeat online.

Tuesday, March 27th National Thunderclap
Join the coalition’s thunderclap to help amplify the need for 21st-century democracy in New York starts with funding for Early Voting.

Wednesday, March 28th Call in Day

Together we can deliver on the promise of a 21st-century democracy in New York. Check out our messaging packet with additional information. If you have any questions feel free to contact Getachew Kassa at or Susan Lerner at



Hip Hop Caucus launched “Think 100%, Coolest Show on Climate Change”, a groundbreaking new radio show and podcast that will harness the power of culture to broaden the climate movement. The show aims to counter attacks on our environment and communities, and advance solutions to climate change that propel a just transition to 100% clean energy for all. The inaugural show aired on Tuesday, March 15 featuring a dynamic conversation with prominent environmental justice leaders including Congressman Donald McEachin (VA-04), the "Father of Environmental Justice" Dr. Robert Bullard, and Dr. Adrienne Hollis from WEACT for Environmental Justice. Check out the new blog for more details.



Imagine a government run by people, not money. Our American democracy and republic are in crisis, and no small measures will do. In every state, Americans are working together to win a Constitutional amendment to stop the big money corruption from super PACs and special interests in our political system so that we the people are back in charge. We need you in the game, and at the National Citizen Leadership Conference, June 22-25, 2018.

After a weekend of inspiration, organizing and citizen training, join a team to meet with our Members of Congress on Capitol Hill to build cross-partisan support for our Constitutional amendment to stop big money corruption of our political system! Lobby Day is included in your low, early bird Conference fee of $125.

Learn more and register at


Mobilizing & Collaboration


Get Engaged - See Latest Updates on the Campaigns Calendar

We are maintaining a DI campaign calendar that will include information on upcoming events and activities. Visit our website to access the calendar.

Contact Michelle ( or Elana ( if you have questions.

2018 Calendar for Mobilizing Working Group Meetings


Bi-Weekly 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!

Next Meetings: March 21

DI Communications Working Group

Monthly on 4th Thursday of every month at 1pm

The communications working group 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:

Next Meetings: March 22

Stay Connected with DI Partners

We invite partners to share a victory, recruit for actions in the fight for democracy or a conference? Email Michelle ( to add an action for the next Weekly Update!

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