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Weekly Update 02.21.18

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


The Democracy Initiative (DI), a grassroots coalition of labor, environment, civil rights, and good government groups calls on our leaders from the White House to state houses to take immediate actions to protect the integrity of our elections. We demand common sense measures to regulate political ads, expand voting to more eligible Americans, and update our voting infrastructure to ensure that every vote counts and that everyday people have their voices heard.

Making our elections work for the American people should be the priority of every elected official. The indictment of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for conducting a coordinated attack on the 2016 U.S. elections is a clarion moment for action. Now is the time to protect the security and integrity of our elections and create a 21st century democracy for all.   Read full statement


Thank you to all the partners that joined us for the national briefing on Promote the Vote, a grassroots initiative to win voting reforms to expand access to voting. We were grateful to have ACLU Michigan's Kary Moss and Sharon Dolente to discuss the campaign and opportunities for state and national partners to engage.

Michigan lags behind many states when it comes to voting access. Absentee ballots are only available to seniors over 60 years old and the deadline to register to vote is two months before the election.

The Democracy Initiative is proud to endorse the Promote the Vote campaign as one of our priority campaigns under the Democracy 365 umbrella to achieve increased access and participation in democracy across the United States. This campaign is a major opportunity to support communities in building power and ensure that every person has the ability to advocate for kitchen table issues in their community!  

Here are the key ways DI Partners can help mobilize to win in Michigan:

  • Endorse the campaign. As issues groups, it's important to show why voting is key to moving the core issues we work on everyday. Once your organization endorses the campaign, we will follow up with you on your level of engagement.
  • Signature Gathering & Field Operations. The campaign is ramping up its outreach to communities across the state with 29 house parties (tonight) and signature collection Day of Action on March 3.  
  • Education Voters. We have the chance to engage with people on the ground and connect kitchen table issues with the ability to vote. Along with voter education, the DI will host Democracy Champions trainings to build a field of advocates for 2018 and beyond.
  • Participate in local meetings. For partners with state affiliates, the DI will coordinate in-state meetings to help build our movement for success and identify emerging leaders. The DI will align allies that can help support efforts on the ground and bring new people into the democracy movement.

To get involved, email Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.



A Call to Action for the Democracy Reform Community; Stand and be Counted at the Working People’s Day of Action – February 24, 2018

Winning the fight for a strong labor movement is critical to winning the fight for a healthy democracy.

On February 24, join thousands of working people and our allies and stand up for strong unions. Send a message to corporations that the right to organize and collectively bargain is a core democratic principle and right. It is a checks and balance on corporations in the quest for a good family wages, healthcare, quality schools, vibrant communities and a secure future for all of us. It is also a powerful voice in overcoming the influence of wealthy interests in our election system and voter suppression.

If you are in the fight to win reforms on money and politics, expand and protect voting rights, redistricting, and ethics reform join us on February 24 and demand an end to a system that’s rigged against working people.

Find a local event at http://www.itsaboutfreedom.org.

Download the toolkit for the day of action via Dropbox.

Solidarity Mobilization on Janus v. AFSCME – February 24-26, 2018

DI partners will be mobilizing to stand in solidarity with public sector unions that are under attack. Anti-democracy forces are attempting to curtail freedom of association and the right to organize for millions of hardworking people. When one of us is under attack, we are all under attack. This is our opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with the labor movement to ensure all Americans can freely organize and advocate for economic and social justice in the workplace and our communities.

To get your organization involved and to learn more about the Supreme Court case, contact Getachew Kassa gkassa@democracyinitiative.org. We will send out a special notice with the full toolkit and messaging material.



We are excited to be launching the Democracy Champions program in 2018. The goal is both simple and audacious: to create a grassroots army of Democracy Champions who will be inspired, motivated and empowered to take on strategically-targeted democracy campaigns across the country.

Our first Democracy Champions Train the Trainer will be held on Sunday, March 4th to Monday, March 5th, 2018. The training will start Sunday evening and conclude by 2pm on Monday.

We still have space for additional trainers! Were you still thinking about sending someone from your organization to the training? Great! RSVP to join us for our Democracy Champions Train the Trainer here: http://bit.ly/DemocracyChampion.

Trainers do not need to be subject-matter experts. They do need to be good listeners, enthusiastic, committed, committed to 1:1 communication, and able to travel to trainings. Grassroots organizing experience is helpful. Since initial Democracy Champions trainings will be held in Michigan, Maryland, Missouri and Florida, trainers from those states are especially welcome.

Do you have questions about the training? Feel free to also email Getachew Kassa, gkassa@democracyinitiative.org with any additional questions.


Thanks to the efforts of the diverse grassroots coalition of unions, civil rights, and good government groups led by Let NY Vote, Governor Cuomo added funding for early voting in his 30-day budget amendments. Many national DI partners participated in actions to encourage support for funding through the state to ensure counties can implement early voting successfully.

Now the Senate and Assembly are finalizing their “One House Budgets” over the next week. State legislators need to hear from you! Here are two ways you can help:

  1. Engage 12 key Senate Republicans through engaging members in their district directly and through virtual phonebanking (see below for details).
  2. Participate in the call-in day next Tuesday, February 27 by asking your members to call their Senators. Use Let NY Vote sample email blasts and social media for you to share here.

Contact Jonah Minkoff-Zern (jzern@citizen.org) for more information.


Free Speech for People has released a short video celebrating the grassroots activists who organized to pass legislation to abolish super PACS and corporate money in local elections. The video includes interviews from organizers and activists who talk about the need to make sure the voices of everyday citizens are not drowned out by big money interests.

To win on our kitchen table issues, we must have a reflective government where elected leaders respond to the people, not big donors.

Kudos to all those who were part of this victor in St. Petersburg!

WATCH the video

Sample social media:

We can do this! In St. Petersburg, grassroots activists organized to get big money out of politics. See how they did it! @fsfp #fightbigmoney https://youtu.be/7x1w05_cu7A

“Government should be the product of the will of the people, not the few who have money.” Mayor @kriseman @fsfp #fightbigmoney https://youtu.be/7x1w05_cu7A



The DI has received a number of requests from filmmakers to host and share movies. As we do not have the capacity to take on this coordination. We are looking for an organization to work with us on coordinating and assessing interest in groups hosting a film screening. As you know, movies about democracy can be great way to engage members or participants at a conference/convening.  If your organization can provide some support, please contact Elana Orbuch at eorbuch@democracyinitiative.org.

Mobilizing & Collaboration

Where Can Your Organization Lean In for 2018? Take Our Democracy Reform Survey!

Our engagement on priority democracy reforms in the states is ramping up. We need input from you on how your organization can lean into move reforms as the local and state level! Take a moment to fill out the engagement form to plug into 2018 campaigns and new opportunities. Your input will guide the resource and engagement decision-making process. Add You Input – Democracy Reform Survey

If you would like to fill out the survey with assistance, please contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org


2018 Calendar for Mobilizing Working Group Meetings


Bi-Weekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST
RSVP to gkassa@democracyinitiative.org, cc: eorbuch@democracyinitiative.org

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 gkassa@democracyinitiative.org with any questions!

Next Meetings: March 7 and 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 mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org, cc: eorbuch@democracyinitiative.org

Next Meetings: February 22 and 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 (mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org) to add an action for the next Weekly Update!

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