Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 10.25.19

Friday, October 25, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

#FIREDRILLFRIDAY—VOTE. SPEAK. ACT.

Two weeks ago, Wendy joined Jane Fonda, Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA, Stephen Kretzmann, Founder & Executive Director of Oil Change International, and other visionary activists by taking direct action on the steps of the Capitol, the first of a series of actions known as #FireDrillFridays.

As one of sixteen activists who were arrested for refusing to step down after three warnings, Wendy put herself on the line and was arrested because this is a fight that clearly illustrates how powerful corporate interests are using their wealth and political influence to destroy our planet for huge profits. The transformative changes we need now will not come as a result of debate or the usual tactics.

Democracy Initiative Executive Director Wendy Fields published a blog post reflecting on her experiences taking direct action with Jane Fonda and the #FireDrillFriday group taking a stand for the environment. The piece makes clear the connection between climate change and democracy:

Our democracy has been deliberately broken. We will not succeed in moving to a renewable energy economy if we don’t win the fight for clean, fair elections, and a government that works for all of us. It will take all of us showing up for democracy to confront and prevail against this kind of power. It will require a bottom-up, grassroots demand from environmental, labor unions, civil rights, and social justice sectors, particularly those affected most: workers, marginalized communities of black and brown people, and those in urban and rural poverty.

Restoring the promise of our democracy means protecting and expanding voting rights to achieve at least 75 percent voter turnout in 2020 and in every election going forward. It means stopping the flow of corporate money and dark money into our political system. It means stopping the abuse of power in the Senate that enables the wealthy to get their tax cuts while critical priorities like immigration, gun control, worker’s rights, and more don’t even get a vote.

Please share this important account of the action with your colleagues and members on social media.

We encourage our DC-area partners to get inspired and take action with Jane Fonda #FireDrillFriday each Friday until January 10, 2020, from 11am - 12pm on the Capitol Lawn. Tune in and share the Thursday Teach-Ins on Facebook. Join activists and leaders at a rally with expert and celebrity speakers, and then an optional civil disobedience. You can learn more here.

It will take all of us showing up differently and creating a bottom up, grassroots demand from environmental, labor, civil rights, and social justice activists. 

2019 ANNUAL MEETING—BUILD TOWARD 75% TURNOUT

Imagine a world where every election reaches consistent 75% voter turnout. Imagine the transformational change we could bring about on all the issues our coalition's members care about. Building toward consistent 75% turnout will help us set the table for real, structural reform in 2021 and beyond. Join us on November 12 at the Annual Meeting to discuss our plan to get there and more.

We are now accepting RSVP’s for the 2019 DI Annual Meeting! Partner organization principals and key staff are encouraged to RSVP now! Contact Christopher Honey at choney@democracyinitiative.org for more information.

TAKE ACTION WITH LOCAL CAMPAIGNS

VOTE BY MAIL—WASHINGTON, DC
The Washing DC Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety are holding a hearing for the Vote By Mail Amendment on October 30 at 10am in Room 123. The legislation would require the Board of Elections to offer paper ballots for all elections to be mailed or dropped off at designated locations, increase the ease and accessibility of voting, and improve turnout in the District.

ACTION:

  • Encourage your staff and members in DC to show up in support of the VBM Amendment on October 30!
  • We encourage DI partners willing to give testimony to do so at the hearing next week. The sign up form to be a witness can be found here.

RANK THE VOTE—NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
On Tuesday, November 5, New York City voters will have the opportunity to update and reform local elections by voting Yes on 1 and bringing Ranked Choice Voting to New York. Starting in 2021, voters would be able rank up to 5 candidates in primary and special elections to give every New York City voter more voice and more choice. Early voting starts in 5 days on Oct 26!

ACTION:

DEMOCRACY DOLLARS—ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO
Democracy Dollars gives the power back to the people—at no extra cost to the taxpayer—by letting public candidates raise small contributions from regular people who normally wouldn’t participate in funding campaigns. Early voting has already started.

ACTION:

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS

FLORIDA—JUDGE OVERRULES LAW REQUIRING RETURNING CITIZENS TO PAY COURT FINES BEFORE VOTING

On Friday, October 19, returning citizens in Florida took another step toward regaining their full ability to vote. A federal judge ruled that the state can’t prevent formerly incarcerated individuals from voting based on their ability to pay court-ordered fines and fees. The ruling is an important step forward after Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a law in June requiring newly enfranchised Floridians to pay all fines and fees before they’re able to vote—a reaction to 65% of Florida voters overwhelmingly supporting restoring the vote to 1.4 million returning citizens.

Desmond Meade, 2017 Democracy Champion and President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, said:

“We’re steadily moving forward, focusing on registering returning citizens and helping folks with fines and fees to remove that barrier.”

Read more here.

INDIANA—PAPER BALLOTS ADVOCATES CLAIM STATE MOVING TOO SLOW TO REFIT VOTING MACHINES

According to the nonprofit Indiana Vote by Mail, Indiana is not moving fast enough to secure its voting machines against election interference ahead of the 2020 election. The state currently relies on “direct recording electronic” (DRE) voting machines in 58 of 92 counties, machines which leave no paper trail.

Indiana secretary of state Connie Lawson allocated $6 million to retrofit the machines to produce voter-verified paper audit trails, but the solution only would fix 10% of the affected machines. An earlier attempt to secure $75 million for the project was denied by governor Eric Holcomb. Lawson recently claimed the DRE machines were immune to hacking because they aren’t connected to the internet. In a test conducted earlier this year, volunteer hackers successfully gained access to every state voting system they chose to target.

Read more here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE—CAMPAIGN ORGANIZER

The Arab American Institute (AAI) is hiring a Campaign Organizer to lead AAI’s issue-based campaigns in 2019 & 2020. The Campaign Organizer is tasked with ensuring the broad participation of Arab American community members, stakeholders, allies, policy makers, and advocates to meet the goals of the campaigns. To learn more about AAI, the position, or how to apply, please visit our website or contact National Field Coordinator Heba Mohammad at hmohammad@aaiusa.org.

Established in 1985 and based in Washington, DC, the Arab American Institute is a non-profit, nonpartisan national leadership organization created to encourage, recognize, and celebrate Arab American participation in American civic life.

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