Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 12.20.2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Democracy 365

It is clear that in every election and in every council meeting  – every vote counts .

In Virginia, control of the House of Delegates is being determined by one individual’s vote. This is a great reminder to all who think their vote does not matter, it is about participation. It makes the difference in who determines the values in our policy debates. Making sure that every eligible voter is registered and able to participate and that their vote is counted is one piece of the reform fight.

Another key reform fight in our democracy is building on the public financing wins across the country. In Suffolk County, New York legislators passed a public financing program with a 4-to-1 match on small donor contributions by an 11 to 7 vote – winning by two crucial votes . It is a reminder of how important it is that participation in democracy goes beyond an election to holding elected officials accountable to stand up and fight for the issues that matter most in the community.

While the fight may not be over in Virginia, we salute all those who engaged voters and to the Suffolk chapter of the League of Women Voters, the Long Island Progressive Coalition and Common Cause New York for their great work on passing fair elections in Suffolk County!



Thanks to the more than 95 leaders who attended the 6th Annual Meeting to discuss opportunities to build power and take collective action to win in 2018 and beyond through local and state voting rights and money in politics reforms. Democracy Initiative leaders set the vision for expanding voting rights and breaking the power and influence of corporate money in our policies and politics. Collectively, we agree that, now more than ever, if any of us are to advance our missions then we must make a deeper commitment to act collectively.  

Mobilizing the grassroots to take action and build solidarity across race, class, gender, and sexual orientation is key to transforming our democracy.

We’re deeply appreciative of our host  AFL-CIO President Trumka with his inspiring words of welcome via video. It was great to have U.S. Representative Keith Ellison fire up the attendees and congratulate Larry Cohen as a Democracy Champions honoree.


Over the next year, the DI will continue to collaborate on aligning campaign efforts, scale up the field campaigns to meet the goal of winning 20 democracy reforms by 2020. This means ramping up the popular democracy trainings to recruit and train thousands to be key leaders and the muscle on the ground on current local active campaigns and priority campaigns in, Missouri, and Michigan.
Courtney and Marilyn Fill Out DI Engagement FormMoving to Action: If you have not already, 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.

WATCH: Marilyn & Courtney are ready to mobilize millions for democracy!

If you have any questions please contact: Getachew Kassa at
All groups that missed the meeting, David Sanchez, Outreach and Engagement Coordinator will contact you for follow up discussion.


The Democracy Initiative honored Founding DI, Chair Larry Cohen, Just Democracy Illinois represented by Tuyet Le of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago and Brian Gladstein of Common Cause Illinois, and Floridians for a Fair Democracy represented by Desmond Meade for their outstanding work to advance democracy in 2017. Special guest presenters included founding DI members Ben Jealous (former NAACP president and CEO) and Phil Radford (former Greenpeace USA executive director).



We have a chance to bring fair elections home to the nation’s capital with the 1st vote on Tuesday, January 9, 2018! While the U.S. Congress passes a tax bill to benefit big donors, corporations and billionaires, let’s make sure the DC Council stands up for the kitchen table issues that matter most to DC residents.

The Fair Elections Act of 2017 will have its first reading and vote on January 9, 2018. It needs 7 votes to pass. Let’s pack the room.

This week we saw Suffolk County empower its 1.5 million residents and move to fair elections. And we have new voices running for office (and winning) in Seattle, Washington and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

It’s time for a people-powered democracy in DC. Contact David Sanchez ( for more information about how you can get involved on January 9, 2018.




Join hundreds of activists on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to stand up for the right to voting in Ohio and across the country. In 2014, Ohio stripped millions of legal voters of their ability to vote. It was a targeted attack on democracy to shrink the power of everyday people and punish registered voters who did nothing wrong.

For more details about the rally and case, contact Getachew Kassa ( or Izzy Bronstein (


MLK Civil & Human Rights Conference

Hundreds of social justice professionals, activists and community leaders will join together 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


Name it & Take the Pledge

We haven’t heard much from the Pence-Kobach Commission but don’t think for a minute that the commissioners aren’t moving forward with trying to shrink the power of our grassroots in cities, counties, and state governments across the country.

Let’s stand together for our democracy! Take the pledge to make democracy an everyday activity so all Americans vote, all votes are counted, and leaders are held accountable to the people they represent - everyday Americans.


Mobilizing & Collaboration

2018 Calendar for Mobilizing Working Group Meetings


BiWeekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST
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All DI Members are welcome. Email with any questions!

Mark Your Calendars: January 10 and January 24

DI Communications Working Group


BiWeekly on Tuesdays at 4:15pm EST / 1:15 PST
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Mark Your Calendars: January 16

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



January 26, 2018
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Democracy Champions Train the Trainer

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 (


Message from Executive Director Wendy Fields:

On Behalf of the DI board and Staff, I want to wish you and your families a safe and happy holiday season. We thank you for all the great work and look forward to continuing the fight in 2018.

Peace and Solidarity,

Wendy Fields
Executive Director
Democracy Initiative

The DI office will be closed December 22, 2017 thru January 1, 2018.

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!

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