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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 09.13.18

Thursday, September 13, 2018
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Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—Please share widely.

CWA PRESIDENT CHRISTOPHER M. SHELTON JOINS THE DI BOARD

CWA President Christopher Shelton, who is deeply committed to democracy and addressing money in politics, has joined the Democracy Initiative board.
Christopher Shelton was elected president of the Communications Workers of America by acclamation by delegates to the union’s 75th convention on June 8, 2015.

Prior to his election as president, Shelton served as vice president of CWA District 1, representing 160,000 members in more than 300 CWA locals in New Jersey, New York and New England.

Shelton started his union career when he went to work for New York Telephone in 1968 as an outside technician. He was elected a CWA Local 1101 shop steward in 1968 and served Local 1101 in various positions until December 1988 when he joined the CWA national staff.

"I'm honored to join the Democracy Initiative board. CWA members are committed to working to get corporate money out of politics and to making the American political
process work for working families. Restoring our democracy is a core value or CWA members, and it is a core part of what the Democracy Initiative does. Together with our allies, we will fight back against the corporate special interests that have corrupted our democratic process." —Christopher Shelton, President of CWA

SAVE THE DATE: DI ANNUAL MEETING 2018

PRIORITY STATE CAMPAIGNS

BALTIMORE FAIR ELECTIONS CAMPAIGN KICKOFF - MARYLAND

A coalition that includes a number of DI partners and allies, including the NAACP, Maryland PIRG, and Common Cause, and is chaired by Rev. Kobi Little of the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP, is leading the way on the Baltimore City Fair Elections Fund. The Fund, on the November ballot as Question H, would grant matching dollars for small donations to candidates who don't accept large and corporate contributions. The goal of the ballot initiative is to curb the influence of big money in Baltimore City elections. The campaign kickoff will take place on Thursday, September 27th.

For more information, and to RSVP, go here.

VOTING RIGHTS ON THE BALLOT IN NOVEMBER - MICHIGAN
On September 6, Promote the Vote Michigan's voting rights ballot initiative cleared its latest hurdle when the Michigan Board of Canvassers voted unanimously to approve the initiative for the November ballot. Next, Promote the Vote will submit their 100-word ballot description before moving forward with their work to expand the vote for all Michiganders. DI partners at Sierra Club, Flint Rising, and UAW are making phone calls, knocking doors, and organizing town hall meetings in support of voting rights and Promote the Vote.

You can read more here.

TAKE ACTION

HAVE YOU SIGNED THE PETITION?
We're fewer than 60 days away from the election, and it's more important than ever to stand together for a stronger democracy. It’s crucial that we send a message: “Don’t Mess With Our Vote!”
Sign and distribute the petition with your members. Our petition engagement guide can be found here. To get involved, contact Getachew at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.


RESTORE YOUR VOTE TOOL
17 million people who've served their time are eligible register to vote right now, but many do not know their rights. DI partner Campaign Legal Center has developed Restore Your Vote to provide information and resources to help those with past convictions reclaim their right to vote. The tool will be updated with information from all 50 states. Share this tool widely as we approach these critical midterm elections. Disenfranchisement affects everybody.

DEMOCRACY IS ON THE BALLOT IN 2018
DI anchor partner Common Cause's campaign Our Democracy 2018 continues to use people power to get candidates on the record for democracy reform. Now live in nearly every state, 244 Congressional candidates have responded—209 Dems; 22 GOP. 52 of these responses are incumbents.

Common Cause is gearing up for a Day of Action on October 2 for partners to reach out to their lists to drive traffic to https://democracy2018.org. To take action, visit their campaign website and use their toolkit to send a message to your elected officials.

NEWS FROM PARTNERS

STRIKING PRISONERS WILL CONTINUE TO AGITATE FOR RIGHT TO VOTE
One of the largest national prison strikes in U.S. history ended last week after 19 days. On the prisoners' list of demands, number 10 reads "The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so called 'ex-felons' must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count." Now that the strike has ended, organizers believe the strongest push moving forward will be on this demand for voting rights.

One of the organizers, Eddie, who did not give his real name for fear of facing the reprisals other organizers have faced, said “It lets me know that I’m not truly a citizen. I will have no say in the political process or the direction of the nation.” This prison strike speaks to that for which thousands of people with felony convictions have also raised their voices: the right to vote. All Americans need to exercise their fundamentally democratic right to vote for a strong democracy. Restoring the right to vote to Americans who have served their time is inseparable from the other voting reforms essential to the fight for our democracy.

You can read more here. Our partner MoveOn created this video about the significance of the strike.

Mobilization & Collaboration    

2018 Expanded Mobilizing Meetings

Bi-Weekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST

For the past 17 years, the Election Protection coalition has been mobilizing thousands of volunteers to help voters navigate the voting process and cast their votes without obstruction, confusion, or intimidation. Today, the Election Protection coalition includes engagement from more than 100 national, state, and locally-based organizations around the country that are committed to ensuring access to democracy.

The Lawyers Committee and Common Cause will join us on our next bi-weekly DI Mobilizing Meeting Wednesday, September 19 at 3pm EST to discuss this year's Election Protection program and connect organizations to opportunities to collaborate during the 2018 election cycle.

For more information and to RSVP, contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

DI Communications Working Group

Next Meeting Thursday, September 20th at 1pm.

The communications working group is our collaborative space for message refinement and development for our current field work. We need your skills. 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 apohl@democracyinitiative.org.