Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 04.12.18

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Maryland is the 11th state to adopt automatic voter registration (AVR) in the U.S. Now more Marylanders will have the opportunity to participate and have their voices heard in our democratic process. The Everyone Votes Maryland coalition has worked tirelessly to build bipartisan support for automatic voter registration by mobilizing members across the state to speak up about why this matters – it’s about creating a 21st century democracy that works for everyone.

In addition, the General Assembly passed Election Day registration (EDR), a constitutional amendment for the November ballot. EDR will allow Marylanders to register to vote at polling places on Election Day, as they do currently during the early voting period. As we make progress towards 20 reforms by 2020, we look forward to working with our partners to educate Marylanders on reforms that increase participation.

We must continue to demand proactive democracy reforms like AVR and EDR across the country. If more states adopted automatic voter registration, it would immediately enable 27 million eligible voters to participate in elections nationwide – that’s grassroots power to make our planet, our people, and our communities thrive.

Check out this video from DI partners MoveOn and Demos on how transformative it would be if all eligible voters could vote.


Water is a major environmental and civil rights issue in Michigan. As residents in Flint continue to deal with the physical and financial costs of lead exposure, we also see families in lower income parts of Detroit facing water shutoffs despite earlier assurances that the city would not do this. When politicians set policies that negatively impact students, families, seniors and more, we need to demand a democracy that works for all where we can hold leaders accountable for their actions.

Michigan was once a leader when it came to voting. The state was a model for voter registration across the country and what we all know now as the “Motor Voter” law. After leading for many years in the 1970s, Michigan has fallen behind with some of the most restrictive processes for voting, and politicians have drawn maps to choose the voters and control government. It’s time to change that. Michiganders have the opportunity this fall to both improve voting rights and achieve fair redistricting for all regardless of race, gender, class, or where they live.

If you have not yet been contacted by one of the DI team members to discuss supporting this campaign, please contact Elana Orbuch, at


Every 10 years, our constitution mandates, a national Census is conducted, counting every person living in the United States at the moment. The Census count determines political representation at the national, state and local level. Our electoral district lines are drawn using Census data. In addition, Census results are used by federal and local governments to distribute over $400 billion dollars every year in much-needed aid to local educational, employment, housing, health care and veteran services.

The Trump administration’s addition of a citizenship status question to the 2020 Census threatens to undermine the count and your representation. The question has received widespread objections from stakeholders, former Census Bureau directors, and career staff at the Census Bureau. We all agree that we need a fair and accurate Census. However, the addition of an untested citizenship question after years of careful, and costly, research, testing, and planning will compromise preparations for the 2020 Census. When we jeopardizing the accuracy of the count it impacts all communities for the next ten years.

SEIU, in partnership with the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, has drafted coalition letters to the committees of jurisdiction (House OGR & Senate HSGAC) calling upon them to promptly hold oversight hearings with regards to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to include a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census.

You can view the OGR letter here and the HSGAC letter here. You can sign your organization to both letters by filling out the form located here. The deadline to sign on to the letters is April 12th, 2018 at 9 A.M. EST. The letters will be sent to the Committees shortly thereafter. If you have any questions, please contact Ashley Dwire at SEIU at or Getachew Kassa at DI


Job Opportunities at the Democracy Initiative

The Democracy Initiative is excited to seek applicants for two new positions that will strengthen our field campaign capacity and support our increasing shift to scaling up the democracy field in terms of organizing and mobilizing: Senior Digital Campaigner and Grassroots Campaigns Director.

As part of our umbrella campaign, Democracy365, we are mobilizing memberships in key states to pass reforms that will strengthen the power of the grassroots to advocate for kitchen table issues at the local, state, and national level. We are seeking to win 20 reforms by 2020 through strategic engagement in democracy reform campaigns where DI partners can leverage our capacity to educate more people about the need for reform as it connects to community issues along with race, class, and gender.

For overall job referrals and questions, please contact Virginia Diamond at 202-567-6105;


Register for the National Action Network’s biggest convention ever! Marking 50 years since the assassination of MLK, we will measure up the state of the Dream and where the movement is going from here. Don't miss out on the biggest civil rights convention in the nation. It is guaranteed to truly be historic.

Register Online:

Registration is free. Please refer back to NAN's website for updates on the schedule, speakers and panelists.



The annual Jobs with Justice Education Fund Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Awards Celebration honors those who follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s powerful example of championing workers’ rights as human rights.

This year, Jobs with Justice will be honoring:

Ullico President and CEO Ed Smith for his visionary leadership and unwavering dedication to working people and unions for more than three decades.

West Virginia Public School Teachers for waging and winning a powerful strike to sustain their families and improve public schools, while inspiring solidarity and activism for public educators nationwide.

Members of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) for their transformative campaign improving working and living conditions for retail janitors.

The evening will also feature the return of our highly-acclaimed silent auction.

Buy your tickets or become a sponsor today!




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



The State Innovation Exchange (SiX) is a national resource and strategy center that supports state legislators in advancing and defending progressive policies across the country, including supporting and advancing the rights of workers and working families, protecting the environment, strengthening our democracy, and defending civil rights. With a long-term vision of building progressive power and infrastructure at the state level, SiX assists legislators who are working to move a progressive agenda forward in the states and it has built a network of more than 1,500 elected officials who represent all 50 states.

The Executive Director (ED) is the key management leader of the State Innovation Exchange. S/he is responsible for overseeing the administration, fundraising, programs, strategic plan and direction of the organization. Other key duties include overseeing marketing to new communities and expansion and support of SiX’s state legislator network. The position works closely with and reports directly to the Board of Directors.

View more details:


Public Citizen seeks a proactive, strategic Campaign Director who can help seize the opportunity inherent in such a democracy crisis or changed Congressional environment and win far-reaching democratic reforms at this “change moment.” The Director will work closely with allies to orchestrate meetings and convenings to create momentum for the work. They will develop content, guide the outreach to widen the circle of engaged organizations (state, local and national), and coordinate Hill outreach, as well as benchmark our overall progress.

For more information and to apply, visit our website.

Farewell to Michelle Whittaker!

Michelle Whittaker, Director of Communications and Digital Media, is moving on from the DI to put public financing into practice with firsthand experience on how democracy reforms can transform local level government and empower everyday people to be advocates for the issues that matter in Montgomery County, MD. Over the last year, Michelle has been a great asset to the DI and we wish her all the best.



Mobilization & 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 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: April 18

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.


Next Meetings: April 26 and May 24

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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