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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 05.16.19

Thursday, May 16, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

FEATURED RESOURCE: OUR COMMUNITIES, OUR POWER | DEMOCRACY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

DI partner NAACP recently released an incredible action toolkit, entitled Our Communities, Our Power: Advancing Resistance and Resilience in Climate Change Adaptation. The entire toolkit provides countless resources for organizers and activists, but it also functions as an extended demonstration of understanding the urgent problems our country faces across issue silos.

We wanted to specifically draw on Module 7: Democracy and Governance, and hold it up as a powerful example of democracy reform understood as a bridging device for political change, unifying a diverse and driven coalition to seek political change through the reform movement.

To quote the module’s introduction at length:

Government should be accountable to the people, transparent in practice, inclusive of all people, participatory and accessible, representative of the groups it serves, and responsive to the needs of those people. As it is, many of the institutions that govern our communities—even those that intended to be democratic—do not embody these characteristics. Instead of serving the people they help a small, privileged segment of people and big corporations get richer.

An important part of building community resilience is reforming our systems of governance to reflect a vision of deep democracy that is truly by the people and for the people. Deep democracy is the practice of democracy that recognizes the importance of all voices in a group or society, especially those on the margins. It is about fostering a strong sense of community, inclusion, power, and participation so that people have meaningful control over the decisions that affect their daily lives, including planning for climate change.

We can’t address the root causes of climate change with a “democracy” that’s working for the companies that have caused climate change— like fossil fuel companies. We need government that is truly representative and responsive, where corporate money and power do not reign.

What do we mean by all of this?

  • Everybody in the community should be able to actively contribute to the democratic processes, like voting and providing input on how money is spent.
  • Resources are made available to everyone, not just people with money or other forms of power.
  • People of all ages are seen as community members with value.
  • Election results reflect the consensus among all people in a community, not the people with the most money In this module we outline several strategies to deepen democracy and improve methods of governance in our communities.”

In this module we outline several strategies to deepen democracy and improve methods of governance in our communities.”

You can access the full toolkit here.

If you're interested in joining the DI's Enviro Working Group, contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

WHY WE FIGHT

Two weeks ago, the diverse, young and powerful Sunrise Movement was awarded the Henry Wallace Award by Wallace Global Fund for their decisive advocacy of an environmentally sustainable future for all people, and their role in placing the urgent climate crisis into the center of national discourse.

We're sharing two videos from this event to acknowledge the importance of this moment in our country, where corrosive money wielded by corporate interests continues to win deregulation after deregulation from this administration at the expense of our planet and our future.

The Sunrise Movement reminds us that we cannot fight for a sustainable, healthy environment without a responsive, reflective democracy accountable to the people, not wealthy lobbies. Rev. Barber's timely address reaffirms the history and power of direct action, to win voting rights for all Americans, and to use our power to remake our democracy in the image of a moral, just society.

We also want to highlight that the Sunrise Movement's video and Rev. Barber's speech serve as powerful articulations of the issues that confront all Americans, and the urgency for all of us to rally behind a bold, diverse and unified movement to fight the corporate hijacking of our government and build a sustainable, equitable and democratic future.

* * *

Click on the thumbnail to watch Rev. Barber's speech.

STATE DEMOCRACY ROUNDUP

MICHIGAN—TAKE ACTION NOW

On November 6, 2018, Michigan voters made it clear they want an impartial and transparent redistricting process and fair and secure elections when they voted overwhelmingly to pass both Proposal 2 and Proposal 3.

Now, politicians are trying to undermine the voters by slashing the Secretary of State’s elections budget and decreasing funding for the Commission.

This unprecedented move will jeopardize the security of future elections and the success of Michigan’s new fair, impartial, and transparent redistricting process.

We cannot let politicians continue to go against the will of the people they are supposed to represent. We must stand together and fight back so that our votes count and our voices are heard.

We need your Michigan members to call their state Representative and Senator, before the vote likely to take place any day now. Our allies at Voters Not Politicians have put together a short script to help your members demand accountability from their legislators.

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FLORIDA

 

Congratulations to DI partners Demos, Mi Familia Vota, SEIU, UnidosUS, and coalition allies for their recent victory on behalf of Spanish speaking voters in Florida. Last Friday, May 10, a federal district judge in Florida issued an order granting a further preliminary injunction in the Demos’ ongoing VRA Section 4(e) litigation. Demos, along with LatinoJustice, SEIU, and Altshuler Berzon LLP brought the case to secure compliance with Section 4(e)'s non-discrimination requirement with respect to Spanish-speaking voters educated in Puerto Rico.

By the March 2020 presidential primary, official ballots must be available in Spanish, assistive voting machines for the disabled community must function in Spanish as well as English, all other election related materials, including voter guides, absentee and provisional ballot materials, voter registration materials, and websites, must be available in Spanish, the counties must provide a hotline where voters can get assistance during early voting and on election day, and counties must make best efforts to recruit bilingual poll-workers.

Read more here.

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ILLINOIS

DI partners Illinois Common Cause and League of Women Voters Illinois are hosting a field hearing for H.R. 1 and campaign finance reform on May 19 at 4 p.m. at Cantigny Park’s Visitor Center, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton.

The program will begin with a town hall discussion led by U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, on H.R. 1, the For the People Act. The legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and is designed to modernize the election system, reform redistricting and restore the Voting Rights Act. Former State Sen. Daniel Biss will moderate the town hall.

There will also be a panel discussing about how the national campaign finance reform movement connects with local and state policy in Illinois. Panel members will include Elizabeth Lindquist, the League of Women Voters of Illinois Issues Specialist for Campaign Finance Reform, and Illinois state Senators Laura Ellman, D-Naperville, and Suzy Glowiak, D-Western Springs.

Please register here and encourage your members to attend!

Read more about the field hearing here.

MAY 22 MOBILIZING MEETING AGENDA

Wednesday, May 22, 3PM EST / NOON PST

Join us on the next DI Mobilizing call on Wednesday, May 22 at 3pm EST.

Michael Podhorzer, former political director for the AFL-CIO and current Adviser to AFL-CIO President Trumka, will be joining us and will present key findings from recent polling, focusing on issues related to democracy reforms. He will take us beyond to summaries and share insights into what strategies and narratives work when it comes to making the case for political reform.

This is an excellent opportunity for communications team members, who may not regularly participate in the Mobilizing Meetings, to join us either in person at the DI offices or via video conference.

For more information, email Christopher Honey at choney@democracyinitiative.org.

RSVP HERE

NEW PARTNER STAFF ORIENTATION

You’re invited to the DI new staff orientation!

Do you have a new staff on your team? Does their work intersect with democracy? To get familiar with the Democracy Initiative and how your organization can best work together, we’re excited to extend an invitation for anyone on your team to join our monthly new staff orientation call, a 30-45 minute call (video conference) on the last Thursday of every month. The new staff orientation is open to the point of contacts, communications or any staff that engages our program or campaign efforts around democracy.

The next new staff orientation call is Thursday May, 23.  

For additional information on the new staff orientation contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

DEPUTY DIRECTOR

The Democracy Initiative, a unique, broad coalition of 72 environmental, civil rights, workers’ rights and other progressive organizations committed to strengthening U.S. democracy, is seeking an energetic, creative and entrepreneurial Deputy Director to provide day-to-day management of our organization while assisting the Executive Director in the development and execution of a ground strategy, policy analysis and fundraising efforts.

See the full posting here.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

DI partner Democracy Matters—a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to giving students in pro-democracy issues—is offering paid part-time internships during the academic year from September through May.

See the full posting here.

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 05.09.19

Thursday, May 9, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

DI WELCOMES CASA'S GUSTAVO TORRES TO THE BOARD

As the Executive Director of CASA and President of CASA in Action, Gustavo Torres is a nationally recognized voice on immigrant rights, human rights, voting rights, and all issues facing the Latino community. His organizing background has helped make CASA one of the country's most successful grassroots organizing groups. CASA is the largest immigrants’ rights organization in the Mid-Atlantic region, with offices in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

CASA's work with immigrant and Latino communities to expand voter participation and voting rights demonstrates a strong commitment to our democracy, and he will be a welcome and important addition to our board.

Gustavo Torres gave the following statement upon joining the DI Board:

"I am so happy to join Democracy Initiative Board of Directors because it has a deep commitment to restore the core principles of democracy and political equality.

 

Cesar Chavez once said, '…we don’t need perfect political systems; we need perfect participation.' The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy and a free society with full responsibility and accountability to people. Without a transparent and meaningful vote, there cannot be equal access to justice, no equal opportunity for all and no equality before the law."

Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth and DI board member, praised the new addition, saying, "Gustavo is a prominent national leader on immigrant rights and will bring a vital voice to the work of the DI."

Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause and DI Board Co-Chair, added, "Gustavo puts his emphasis on strengthening democracy by empowering all people to recognize the power they have, organize, and use it. Mobilizing millions is what the Democracy Initiative is all about."

REDISTRICTING VICTORIES AND MESSAGING

We’ve compiled some messaging resources courtesy of DI partner Friends of the Earth on how to make the case for democracy through an environmental lens.

Redistricting email used by Friends of the Earth

We also are including a press release from Friends of the Earth on legislation proposed by North Carolina senators for a citizen-led redistricting commission, which would seek to redraw maps in one of the most grievously gerrymandered state across partisan lines in the country. In particular, the quotes provided by partners and allies compellingly frame democracy reform in terms of community power and environmental concerns:

“North Carolina has become an example of how unjust elections and gerrymandering can literally poison our communities. Far too often, voters who live in gerrymandered districts find themselves face-to-face with a biohazard in their backyard. Redistricting reform is vital to stopping politicians from using election maps as a weapon against the residents of our state.” – La’Meshia Whittington-Kaminski, North Carolina Democracy Campaigner, Friends of the Earth

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Last Friday, May 3, federal district judges in Ohio ruled in favor of DI partners and allies League of Women Voters of Ohio and A. Phillip Randolph Institute, asserting that the Ohio congressional district drawn in 2011 qualified as an unconstitutional gerrymander.

The ruling requires that a new district plan will be drawn by June 14, 2019, in time for the 2020 elections. We want to acknowledge the hard work of our partners fighting for fair representation for Ohio voters. The fight goes on.

Read League of Women Voters’ press release here.

STATE DEMOCRACY ROUNDUP

NEW YORK—TAKE ACTION NOW



In New York, there are over 30,000 people on parole at any given time. Criminal disenfranchisement laws disproportionately impact people of color, removing the voice of entire communities. These laws have been on the books since the Jim Crow Era when they were designed to explicitly take away voting rights from Black men. These effects have persisted to this day.

We need your New York members to call their State Senator & Assembly Member today and tell them that we need them to step up and co-sponsor Senate Bill S1931 & Assembly Bill A4987 granting voting rights to people on parole, and pass it before the end of session.

Our allies at the Let NY Vote coalition have compiled the state legislator switchboards and a short script to help your members take action. Our work is not done if we leave people behind, disenfranchised and unable to cast their votes. Click here to take action now.

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FLORIDA

Last November, over 5 million Floridians stood up for an inclusive democracy and declared unequivocally that when a debt is paid, it’s paid.

But at the end of the Florida Legislature’s most recent session, on Saturday, May 4, the legislature selectively interpreted the initiative language to require returning citizens to pay all financial obligations before regaining their ability to vote—and the governor is expected to sign it.

This interpretation flies in the face of voters’ support for the language of Amendment 4, and effectively institutes a poll tax that disproportionately will prevent Black, brown, and poor voters from exercising their constitutional rights. Our coalition will continue to fight to ensure Florida’s Legislature implements the will of voters over anti-democratic policies.

Read more here.

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TEXAS

On Tuesday, May 7, DI partners and allies Demos, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, ACLU of Texas, and other civil rights organizations settled a lawsuit challenging voter purging in Texas that targeted naturalized citizens. We want to acknowledge the hard work of our coalition allies to defend the voting rights of all Americans, regardless of their status.

Read Demos’ press release here.

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COLORADO

Congratulations to our DI partners and allies Common Cause Colorado and America Votes for their victory expanding automatic voter registration in the state of Colorado.

Last Thursday,  May 2, state lawmakers sent legislation expanding AVR participating entities beyond the DMV to the governor’s desk. On top of Colorado’s already exemplary election system, this latest expansion of Coloradans’ ability to vote will contribute to a strengthened democratic model for elections.

Read more here.

BARR TRIES TO PLACE PRESIDENT ABOVE THE LAW

Attorney General William Barr's delays, omissions and outright delinquency when it comes to transparency and accountability are a threat to a functioning democracy. We need democracy reform that returns power and knowledge to the people and that allows for effective governance and oversight.

On Monday, May 6, Barr missed yet another deadline to give Congress the full, unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence, just after refusing to show up to a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee last week. Now, the President is exercising executive privilege over subpoenaed materials to protect Barr's refusal to turn over the full report after the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt.

This is bigger than partisan politics—the very foundations of our democracy are at stake. Congress has a constitutional duty to hold the executive branch accountable—but the Trump administration is doing everything it can to frustrate and derail oversight of any sort.

Three days ago, over 600 former federal prosecutors who worked under previous Republican and Democratic administrations signed on to a statement claiming that Mueller’s findings would have produced obstruction charges against Trump were he not president. You can see the full statement here.

DI partner NAACP has begun a petition to demand the resignation of Attorney General William Barr, and we need your members to add their voices!

You can find the petition here.

FORMER DI BOARD MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

Former DI Board Member Miles Rapoport's latest with Brian Miller for The Hill: "Same-day registration: A simple solution to protect voter rights”.

“The policy’s effectiveness at boosting turnout is clear. States with same-day registration have a well-documented turnout advantage over states without it — an advantage of 7 percentage points in the 2018 midterm, according to the “America Goes to the Polls” report from Nonprofit VOTE and the U.S. Elections Project. In fact, seven of the 10 highest turnout states in 2018 had same-day registration.

By comparison, eight of the 10 lowest-turnout states went to the other extreme by requiring voters to register four weeks in advance of the election, according to the report. It’s not hard to understand how advance registration deadlines depress turnout. With the busy lives we lead, people often don’t know they need to register until it’s too late. Whether a young voter new to the process, a recently naturalized citizen, or most common of all — a voter who simply moved to a new address — we all need to register, but the clock is working against us.”

Read the full piece here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

DEPUTY DIRECTOR

The Democracy Initiative, a unique, broad coalition of 72 environmental, civil rights, workers’ rights and other progressive organizations committed to strengthening U.S. democracy, is seeking an energetic, creative and entrepreneurial Deputy Director to provide day-to-day management of our organization while assisting the Executive Director in the development and execution of a ground strategy, policy analysis and fundraising efforts.

See the full posting here.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

DI partner Democracy Matters—a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to giving students in pro-democracy issues—is offering paid part-time internships during the academic year from September through May.

See the full posting here.

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 05.02.19

Thursday, May 2, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

SOLIDARITY WITH VICTIMS OF WHITE SUPREMACY

The Democracy Initiative stands in total solidarity with victims of antisemitism, Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry. The root cause that underlies this hatred is white supremacy, and it is on the rise in this country. Once more, we are reminded that our fight for a just and vibrant democracy calls us to resist this hateful ideology in the movement to create an inclusive society for all Americans.
In response to the tragic violence at the Poway synagogue in San Diego, California, our partner Bend the Arc: Jewish Action released the following statement:
Our partners at Arab American Institute released the following statement in solidarity:

"We are heartbroken to learn about today's shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, which has left at least one person dead and multiple wounded. That today marks the end of Passover, one of the most important weeks in the Jewish calendar, makes this attack all the more devastating. News reports indicate this egregious act of violence was yet another hate crime targeting people in a place of worship.

"We mourn with the American Jewish community as they endure the pain of a second violent attack at a synagogue in recent months. The Tree of Life shooting occurred exactly six months ago, to the day. We will persist in our relentless advocacy to end the scourge of hate crime and promote a more peaceful, equitable, and just society."

Wendy Fields, Executive Director of Democracy Initiative, released the following statement in response:

"People should have the right to worship and go about their community without fear of violence due to the rise of White Supremacy. Tragedies like this strike at the very heart of what we stand for and remind us that we have not yet achieved an inclusive democracy. We at the DI seek to create a country where dialogue and democratic freedoms are celebrated."

TAKE ACTION—mueller report validates call for increased election security

Attorney General William Barr's refusal to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, the administration’s attempts to bury Mueller’s damning report, and still unanswered questions around America’s election security once again remind us that a strong democracy requires total transparency and accountability. In fact, Barr's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, May 1 was so inaccurate, news networks fact-checked his lies in real time.
Since taking office, Barr has made it clear that he cannot be trusted to enforce our nation's laws and safeguard our constitutional rights. His egregious mischaracterization of the Mueller report and blatantly false testimony to Congress has placed our democracy and the rule of law in jeopardy. He is simply unfit to serve.
DI partner NAACP has begun a petition to demand the resignation of Attorney General William Barr, and we need your members to add their voices!


We know from the Mueller Report that a foreign government attempted to tamper with the results of our elections. But without sweeping democracy reform efforts such as the For the People Act, the American people lack mechanisms to handle the obstruction and election vulnerability abetted by the Trump administration.

As DI Board Co-Chair and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn states:

"There’s a lesson from the Mueller Report people are still ignoring: our democracy is still at risk and our elections are still not secure. We need elections systems that are secure from outside interference and democracy reform that protects people’s right to vote. Americans across the country are demanding that their vote is protected from foreign tampering, counted accurately, and free from undemocratic barriers to registering to vote and casting their ballot."

In this moment, we renew our commitment to fighting for an accountable, responsive, and transparent government, and turn to the states to build the case for rigorous national reform.

partner corner

MICHIGAN VICTORY: FEDERAL JUDGES STRIKE DOWN GERRYMANDERED DISTRICTS
Congratulations to our partner League of Women Voters of Michigan for their victory against Michigan’s gerrymandered districts. On April 25, a third panel of federal district judges ruled that Michigan’s legislative and congressional district maps drawn by the 2011 Legislature constitute an unconstitutional gerrymander “of historical proportions.” At a time when special interest challenges to the historical Voters Not Politicians midterm campaign for independent redistricting reform have mounted, this ruling is a crucial victory for Michiganders, who stood up and demanded that their voices are heard.
“Today is a great victory for the voters of Michigan and for our democracy,” said Judy Karandjeff, President of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. “The state will now draw new district lines before the next federal election, which now will better reflect the makeup of the voters – not the interests of the politicians.”
Read the full statement here.

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66,000 CITIZENS DEMAND EPA STOP CENSORING CLIMATE SCIENCE ON ITS WEBSITE
Tuesday, April 30, we joined DI partners and allies 350.org, Daily Kos, Greenpeace, and Climate Reality Project to deliver 66,000 signatures demanding that the EPA put the facts about the climate crisis front and center on its website. The EPA removed climate change information widely across its website two years ago, citing new priorities under then-Administrator Scott Pruitt.

These "new priorities" come on the heel of over $2 billion in lobbying from the fossil fuel industry from 2000-2016, and $250 million in the last election cycle alone. Until we see sweeping national reform targeting the out-sized influence of money in politics, special interests will continue to hold more power over our democracy than the American people.


The digital campaign to collect petition signatures culminated in a rally and march to deliver the signatures, demonstrating that Americans everywhere are demanding transparency, accountability, and immediate action on climate change now.

* * *

VOTING RIGHTS ADVANCEMENT ACT FIELD HEARINGS: UPDATED INFORMATION
Below, we have updated information on the House Administration Subcommittee on Elections’ field hearings on voting rights and election administration. Our partners Advancement Project and NAACPare providing significant support for the House Administration Field Hearings being organized by Marcia Fudge.

The coalition has launched a website—https://wevotewecount.org/—for people to share stories. They are compiling those into a shadow report that will be filed alongside Cong. Fudge’s report. Advancement Project is lead on drafting the report.

The Leadership Conference has developed invitation language and shareable resources force use in getting turnout and social media engagement. Please engage your partners in the states! Click here for turnout resources.

A list of the remaining dates and states for each hearing is below. Organizers don’t have the exact locations for all yet, but will share that information as soon as we get it.

Field Hearings

  • May 6: Broward County, Florida
    • When: 10:00 a.m. EST, May 6
    • Where: 115 S. Andrews Ave, #421, Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • May 13: Alabama (City TBD)
  • TBD May - Washington, DC

For more information and for ways to engage, contact Sheila Isong, NAACP National Political Director, Civic Engagement at sisong@naacpnet.org.

* * *

NEW REPORT REAFFIRMS CORROSIVE EFFECT OF MONEY IN ELECTORAL & GOVERNING SYSTEMS
Wall Street banks, firms, and other interests spent nearly $2 billion in lobbying and campaign contributions according to a new report by Americans for Financial Reform. It's no accident that the record breaking figure coincides with recent, heavily deregulating legislation and the Trump tax plan.

When reached for comment, DI partner Take On Wall Street's Campaign Director Porter McConnell said:

"Money in politics has thrown our democracy into crisis. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Wall Street purchasing financial deregulation from Congressat the expense of white, Black and brown working families."

Read more here.

MAY 8 MOBILIZING MEETING AGENDA

Wednesday, May 8, 3PM EST / NOON PST

Join us on the next DI Mobilizing call on Wednesday, May 8 at 3pm EST.

Though voters won some amazing victories for state democracy reform through ballot initiatives in the 2018 midterms, lame duck sessions, recent legal challenges and reactionary legislation have threatened to undermine the voices of voters who overwhelmingly demanded democracy last year. As we always say: the fight for democracy goes on 365 days a year. Implementation is part of the reform process.

Next Mobilizing Call, we will discuss implementation of ballot initiatives, as well as opportunities to engage in ongoing implementation efforts in key states.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

DEPUTY DIRECTOR
The Democracy Initiative, a unique, broad coalition of 72 environmental, civil rights, workers’ rights and other progressive organizations committed to strengthening U.S. democracy, is seeking an energetic, creative and entrepreneurial Deputy Director to provide day-to-day management of our organization while assisting the Executive Director in the development and execution of a ground strategy, policy analysis and fundraising efforts.

See the full posting here.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

DI partner Democracy Matters—a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to giving students in pro-democracy issues—is offering paid part-time internships during the academic year from September through May.

See the full posting here.

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 04.24.19

Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

AVR STUDY SHOWS INCREASED VOTER REGISTRATION

In the past five years, 15 states and the District of Columbia have enacted Automatic Voter Registration (AVR), a process that automates and facilitates the registration of new voters when they interact with state entities like the Department of Motor Vehicles or other agencies.


(Photo Credit Brennan Center)


DI partner the Brennan Center for Justice released a comprehensive study of AVR’s impact on voter registration rates.

How has automatic registration worked? Has it, in fact, increased registration rates as its proponents had hoped? This report is the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of AVR on voter registration rates. In the past, individual states have reported increases in voter registration since the adoption of automatic voter registration. But that could be due to many factors, such as compelling candidates or demographic change. Previous analyses have not spoken as to cause and effect or examined the impact of different approaches to AVR.
Is it possible to isolate the impact of automatic registration itself? This multistate analysis leverages low-level voter file data from around the country and cutting-edge statistical tools to present estimates of automatic voter registration’s impact on registration numbers.
The study produced two important findings:
  1. AVR significantly increases the number of voters being registered—increases in the number of registrants ranging from 9 to 94 percent.
  2. These registration increases are found in big and small states, as well as states with different partisan makeups.
The Brennan Center report and its findings has picked up considerable national attention (such as in The Hill and on NPR), helping advance the conversation around the modernization of our elections and cementing AVR as a successful policy to streamline and increase voter registration. Coupled with pro-democracy policies such as EDR and Election Protection work, AVR serves as an essential component of a pro-democracy agenda that ensures all Americans voices can be heard in the political process.
You can read the full report here.

VRAA FIELD HEARINGS – SIGN UP NOW!

The Committee on House Administration Subcommittee on Election is organizing a number of field hearings to focus on voting rights and election administration. This is a prime opportunity for impacted individuals, voters, and state advocates to put a face to the election issues that communities have faced in recent elections. We need to show congress that Americans care about voting issues by getting local advocates to turnout for these hearings, and getting all our organizations to join in lifting up this message! 
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has developed invitation language and sharable resources for use in generating turnout and social media engagement. Click here for turnout resources, and here for messaging guidance on the Voting Rights Advancement Act.
Upcoming Field Hearings
  • May 6: Broward County, Florida
  • May 13: Alabama (City TBD)
  • TBD Date in May – Washington, DC

For more information and for ways to get involved, reach out to the Leadership Conference's Regional Field Manager Jordyn Bussey at jbussey@civilrights.org.

TODAY'S WINS BEGAN AS YESTERDAY'S DEMANDS

We want to acknowledge our partners Daily Kos, Democracy Awakening, Greenpeace, Public Citizen, SEIU, Sierra Club, and Small Planet Institute for joining us in marking the three year anniversary of the historic Democracy Awakening mobilization.
 

Looking back to celebrate the powerful, nonviolent direct action that our partners and countless allies organized, we see the origins of our current moment. Democracy Awakening, a demonstration of grassroots demand for the protection and strengthening of our democracy, puts our recent victories into perspective. The direct line from Democracy Awakening to H.R. 1 shows the power of the grassroots and reflects the demand felt first in the states. Finally, it reminds us that through unified effort from people of all walks of life, we can stand together, demand democracy, and make progress on the issues that matter to all Americans. The fight goes on.

DI BOARD MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

NAACP PRESIDENT BLASTS WOEFULLY DEFICIENT MUELLER REPORT RELEASE
DI board member and NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson, in response to the Thursday, April 18 release of the redacted Mueller Report, released the following statement:

"The report released today by Attorney General William Barr falls woefully short of what is owed to Congress and to the American people. This administration is intent on hiding facts and covering its tracks. Attorney General Barr released only half of the truth, confirming our warning to the Senate that Barr cannot ‘overcome the presumption he was selected to protect Donald Trump.'

We call upon Attorney General Barr to immediately release the complete Mueller report in unredacted, unedited, and unvarnished form. The public has a right to the entire truth. Congress must pursue every course available to secure the entire report and release it [....]”— Derrick Johnson, NAACP President & CEO

Read the full statement here.

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COMMON CAUSE PRESIDENT PENS COLUMN ON BALLOT INITIATIVES UNDER ATTACK
DI Board Co-chair and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn & Chris Melody Fields Figueredo’s latest for USA Today, entitled “Voters finally found a way to get things done and now politicians are thwarting them,” was published on April 16, 2019. The piece details the shameful attempts to ignore the voices of voters standing together to better their communities, because those attempts often run counter to wealthy interests stranglehold on political power.

"Citizen-initiated ballot measures have proven to be an effective tool for everyday people to advance issues that legislators too often fail to address, so the shameful attacks on the citizen initiative process by partisan politicians and wealthy special interests should not come as a surprise. In 2018, voters across the country used this vital tool to transform our democracy and fight for their communities [...]

The attacks on the ballot measure process are symptomatic of larger concerns about our democracy and a growing awareness that there are powerful political forces attempting to diminish the people’s voice in it. In Florida, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, and Missouri, legislators and wealthy special interest groups have launched attacks to make it harder for citizens to collect signatures to put issues on the ballot. In Michigan, after grassroots volunteers and Michiganders led several successful power-changing ballot campaigns, legislators quickly passed a bill that created more hurdles to participate in the democratic process during the lame duck session."

Read the full piece here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

TRAINING AND MOVEMENT BUILDING COORDINATOR
The Democracy Initiative is a unique, broad and diverse coalition of 70 organizations committed to strengthening U.S. democracy by growing the grassroots activist base. We are seeking a high-energy, creative, experienced leader committed to bottom-up organizing to coordinate our democracy training, leadership development, and movement-building activities.

Click here to see the full posting.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 04.17.19

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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

MICHIGAN CAMPAIGN STATUS AND MESSAGING

Two significant democracy reform ballot initiatives passed in Michigan during the 2018 midterms: Prop 2 and 3. We're taking a look at the status of these campaigns and sharing some materials from the campaigns on how to make the case for democracy in the states.

The Campaigns



Proposal 2, run by Voters Not Politicians, urged residents to vote yes to establish an independent redistricting commission. The Voters Not Politicians solution has a set of strict criteria; including that districts be geographically compact, contiguous, and take communities of interest into account. This set of criteria ensures that the Commission does not manipulate election map lines with partisan bias.
Proposal 3, run by Promote the Vote MI, sought to ensure that every eligible person can vote and every vote will count. The proposal would provide a common-sense approach to remove barriers for working families, safeguard elections and put voters first. Among the specific updates are protections for military and overseas voters to get ballots in time, registration to vote by mail up until 15 days out from an election, no excuse required absentee voting, registration in-person at any time with proof of residency, up to and including Election Day, and a careful auditing process to ensure every vote is counted correctly.
These reforms were opposed by wealthy special interests and politicians who benefited from low turnout and gerrymandered districts.
In the 2018 Lame Duck session, the legislature attempted to water down the landmark initiatives by ramming through legislation to weaken their provisions. DI partner Clean Water Action’s useful 2018 Michigan Legislative Lame Duck Scorecard details some of the worst anti-democratic bills.
Thanks to the efforts of our democracy allies on the ground, the will of Michigan voters was protected. With the new governor demonstrating a willingness to prioritize democracy reform, we now expect Michigan to implement the reforms successfully. The Lame Duck Session fight, however, should remind everyone that the fight doesn’t end the day after the election—the fight for democracy reform is 365 days a year.

Campaign Materials

We've collected a few resources from the campaigns to highlight some of their effective democracy messaging.

Excerpt from Promote the Vote MI's FAQ on automatically registering citizens to vote at the Secretary of State's Office unless the citizen declines:

Automatic voter registration is a small, common sense change that will make registering to vote at the Secretary of State more efficient. By registering more voters at the Secretary of State, local communities will avoid having to process costly paper voter registrations each year, increase the accuracy of the voting rolls by reducing data entry errors and bring Michigan in line with nine other states that have adopted this common sense reform. Even with automatic voter registration, voters always have the right to decline to be registered.

DI PROUDLY WELCOMES FOUR NEW PARTNERS

The democracy movement continues to grow! The Democracy Initiative is excited to welcome our newest partners:

League of Women Voters

Chief Executive Officer: Virginia Kase
The League of Women Voters is a membership-based advocacy organization that focuses on empowering women through voting and shaping public policy since the 1920's. Although the League is a nonpartisan organization, they encourage members to be political themselves and lobby for government and social reform legislation that benefits women. More recently the League has concentrated its efforts towards reforms that restrict access to voting, which particularly affect minorities, elderly, students and rural voters. They have also focused on campaign finance and redistricting measures across the country.

“The League of Women Voters of the US is proud to join the Democracy Initiative at this critical tipping point in the fight for our democracy and to ensure all citizens are able to exercise their constitutional right to vote. The League is committed to working with our partners to champion policies that will reflect a democracy that represents all of the American people, not just those with money and influence. We are eager to add value to the Democracy Initiative’s campaigns by bringing to the table our powerful network of more than 750 state and local affiliates.” — Virginia Kase, LWV Chief Executive Officer

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Take On Wall Street

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Caption: 
Campaign Director: Porter McConnell
The Take On Wall Street campaign was founded in spring of 2016 to go beyond the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act and build a financial system that works for most Americans, not against them. Take on Wall Street is a campaign supported by a coalition of over 50 national organizations—including community-based organizations, labor unions, consumer advocates, faith groups, and more—organized around moving a financial reform agenda to address the predatory economic power of Wall Street banks and billionaires and build a financial system for working families, white, Black, and brown.

"We are thrilled to join the Democracy Initiative. Taking on Wall Street will never be a fair fight as long as the big banks show up with pockets full of cash, and members of Congress feel they have to ration their votes for black, brown and white communities against the financial industry in order to get re-elected."Porter McConnell, Take On Wall Street Campaign Manager

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GreenLatinos

President: Mark Magaña
GreenLatinos is a network based non-profit organization that is made up of a broad coalition of Latino leaders committed to addressing national, regional and local environmental, natural resources and conservation issues that significantly affect the health and welfare of the Latino community in the United States. The group develops and advocates for policies and programs that advance the overall mission of empowering the Latino community through policies addressing intersectional issues.

"GreenLatinos is proud to join Democracy Initiative and be part of a coalition pushing for reforming and improving our democratic process. GreenLatinos is a network of Latino environmental and conservation advocates committed to addressing national and local environmental and conservation issues that significantly affect the health and welfare of the Latino community. The continued effort by moneyed interests to effectively silence the voice and needs of our communities means that now, more than ever, it is imperative that we come together to overcome structural barriers and ensure that no community is excluded from equitably engaging in our democratic processes." Mark Magaña, GreenLatinos President

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VoteRiders

Founder, President, and CEO: Kathleen Unger, Esq.
VoteRiders is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization providing free information, help and services to voters to make sure they have the right kind of ID to vote in their state. They are one of the leading organizations focused exclusively on voter ID services across the country. The groups programs and services focus on three main areas, individual voter assistance, voter ID education and on-the-ground partnerships.

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TAKE ACTION—TELL THE SENATE: REAUTHORIZE VAWA!

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) ran out of authorization Oct. 1, 2018, although funding for its many critical programs continues. However, VAWA’s future is precarious, subject to the whims of government shutdowns and continuing resolutions. VAWA has had a profound impact on survivors’ lives by providing funding for programs and services to support close to 50,000 survivors and provide over a million victim services between 2014 and 2016 alone.

Sign this petition from our partner Daily Kos and support the reauthorization of VAWA!

It’s been seven months since VAWA ran out of authorization, and seven months since vulnerable Americans have gone without crucial support programs. Americans are demanding a Senate that can pass meaningful, well-supported legislation on the issues we care about. We need to break through Senate gridlock and obstruction to build a better democracy for us all.

PARTNER CORNER

ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE FOUNDATION HOSTS 21st ANNUAL KAHLIL GIBRAN GALA

On Thursday, May 2, the Arab American Institute Foundation will celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards Gala at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.

Since 1998, the Gibran Awards has honored those whose work and vision embrace and embody the ideals of the great poet who hails from Lebanon—compassion, justice, and endurance. This year continues in that tradition as we celebrate five extraordinary awardees—RAICES; former Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport; the late Miriam Zayed; Tunisia superstar Emel Mathlouthi; and the BBC’s Lyse Doucet. You can learn more about this year’s awardees here.

Please RSVP to Ana Horn at ahorn@aaiusa.org or 202-429-9210 by Friday, April 5. Gala attire is black tie, and the reception begins at 5:30 p.m., with dinner and the program following promptly at 6:30 p.m.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

TRAINING AND MOVEMENT BUILDING COORDINATOR
The Democracy Initiative is a unique, broad and diverse coalition of 70 organizations committed to strengthening U.S. democracy by growing the grassroots activist base. We are seeking a high-energy, creative, experienced leader committed to bottom-up organizing to coordinate our democracy training, leadership development, and movement-building activities.

Click here to see the full posting.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 04.11.19

Thursday, April 11, 2019

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

FROM #DEMOCRACYAWAKENING TO #FORTHEPEOPLE —HOW THE GRASSROOTS MOVED H.R. 1

CELEBRATING THREE YEARS SINCE HISTORIC MOBILIZATION

Three years ago, a diverse mass mobilization of thousands of activists and advocates from more than 300 labor, environment, civil rights, and faith organizations, descended on Capitol Hill for Democracy Awakening in a brilliant display of solidarity and direct action to demand an equal voice in our democracy and government that is accountable to people.

In the months after Democracy Awakening, the reform movement grew in strength in states all across the country. Fights in the states, led by everyday Americans standing together to demand democracy, culminated in the passage of over 20 pro-democracy referendums in the 2018 midterms. It was the reform fights on the ground that created the demand for national action on reform, and in 2019 we saw the historic passage of H.R. 1—the For the People Act—through the House of Representatives as a direct result.

Now, three years later, we can look back and recognize that today’s gains began as yesterday’s demands.

Help us celebrate this anniversary—and all the progress we have made—by reaching out to your supporters through social media and email and reminding people about this critical event.

Click here to see our social media toolkit.

We are asking partners to use the hashtag #DemocracyAwakening during the three year anniversary of the event, Tuesday, April 16 – Thursday, April 18, and both celebrate the event, as well as draw the connection between that moment and progress we have made.

 

"You can draw a very clear line between the coming together of the Democracy Awakening and the subsequent electoral and legislative successes of the democracy reform movement​and I include H.R. 1, the "For the People Act," among those successes. Without the Democracy Awakening there is no "For the People Act." ​Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth
 

If we take a look at a small sample of the democracy reforms that have passed since the Democracy Awakening, the momentum of people-driven democracy reform is immediately clear:
 
  • 2016: Six months after the Democracy Awakening, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition drafted Amendment 4 and gathered enough signatures to submit the amendment to review by the Florida Supreme Court.
  • 2017: the Howard County Citizens Election Fund campaign, joined by the DI coalition and partners and allies on the ground, culminated in a historic victory on July 3, 2017. The historic Voters Not Politicians Campaign in MI began touring the state and gathering signatures, which were ultimately delivered to the Michigan Secretary of State by December 2017.
  • 2018: Passage of six Ballot Measures the DI worked on, included within the 22 pro-democracy referenda in total passed in the November 2018 midterm elections.
  • 2019: The historic passage of the new floor of democracy reform, H.R 1, alongside passage and funding of Let NY Vote and the suite of voting expansion legislation out of New Mexico.

"The democracy movement that we have seen build in strength over last three years is directly responsible for the ability of the people of Michigan to pass pro-democracy ballot initiatives like the Voters Not Politicians redistricting reform." —Mary Brady-Enerson, Michigan Director, Clean Water Action

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WHAT WAS THE DEMOCRACY AWAKENING?
First and foremost, it was tipping point in the democracy reform movement. From April 16 – 18, 2016, people from all over the country mobilized to fight the power of money in politics on our political system, to protect and advance voting rights, and demand a hearing and vote on the Supreme Court vacancy in the Senate. The weekend-long event consisted of panels and teach-ins, a march on the Capitol, and a non-violent direct action that saw 306 arrests of democracy leaders and activists.

"The Democracy Awakening was a turning point for the progressive movement, when hundreds of leaders and activists realized that, without democracy reform, there could be no lasting change. Since that key moment, we have witnessed a growing commitment to a democracy agenda from groups working on a huge variety of different issues."Joan D. Mandle, Executive Director, Democracy Matters

The Democracy Awakening made one thing very clear: that people across the country are standing up and demanding democracy. It showed that people from all walks of life can agree on one thing: a functioning America requires representative, equitable, and responsive democracy. Most importantly, the Democracy Awakening showed that the movement for a stronger democracy was just beginning.


You can read more in our archives by checking out The DI Report: Democracy Awakening from 2016, and over at the Democracy Awakening website.

VOTING RIGHTS ADVANCEMENT ACT FIELD HEARINGS

The Committee on House Administration Subcommittee on Election is organizing a number of field hearings to focus on voting rights and election administration. This is a prime opportunity for impacted individuals, voters, and state advocates to put a face to the election issues that communities have faced in recent elections. We need to show congress that Americans care about voting issues by getting local advocates to turnout for these hearings, and getting all our organizations to join in lifting up this message! 
The Leadership Conference has developed invitation language and sharable resources for use in generating turnout and social media engagement. Click here for turnout resources. (Note: according to LC, social media content will be added soon!) Also attached are some topline framework messaging on VRAA.
Field Hearings
  • April 16: Standing Rock, North Dakota
  • April 18 at 10:00am: Halifax, North Carolina  
    • Location: The Centre at Halifax Community College (200 College Dr, Weldon, NC
  • April 25: Cleveland, Ohio  
  • May 6: Broward County, Florida
  • May 13: Alabama (City TBD) TBD Date in May – Washington, DC

For more information and for ways to get involved, reach out to the Leadership Conference's Regional Field Manager Jordyn Bussey at jbussey@civilrights.org.  

GEORGIA'S NEW ELECTORAL VULNERABILITIES

GEORGIA BECOMES FIRST STATE TO RELY SOLELY ON ELECTRONIC VOTER MACHINES
By Jose Garcia, DI Grassroots Organizing Intern

Last week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp quietly signed 21 bills passed by the Republican led House and Senate. Included in these bills was HB 316, which made Georgia the first and only State to rely entirely on electronic voting ballot machines, without the use of hand-marked paper ballots. 



The new system would allow voters to mark their selections on a machine and receive a printout that serves as their ballot. Kemp and other Republicans supported the new system as "a more accurate" way to count votes, saying they’re easy to use and provide a paper record to verify vote counts.

However, cybersecurity experts and election integrity advocates have insisted for years that the safest, most secure way to count ballots is by using a hand-marked paper ballot system. Republicans in Georgia have once again looked the other way when it comes to election safety and security. In a letter addressed to the Georgia Secretary of State, 24 of the foremost cyber- and election-security experts detailed concerns that this new system will be prone to several vulnerabilities, including hacking and vote manipulation.

This latest bill must be viewed within the context of Georgia's long history of voter disenfranchisement and voter suppression—including under former Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, who now serves as Governor and was cast as the "architect of voter suppression" in the state. 

These vulnerabilities provide further opportunities to manipulate vote tallies for political gain. Why else would they be so eager to implement a system compromised with so much uncertainty? They've proven themselves to be willing to use these tactics in the past, and they've chosen to continue to use them right before our eyes. 

Read more here.

PARTNER CORNER

ALLIANCE FOR JUSTICE RELEASES TWO-YEAR REVIEW OF TRUMP ATTACK ON JUDICIARY
Alliance for Justice released a new report April 3, 2019 on the Trump Administration’s assault on the Federal Judiciary. AFJ’s report provides an incredibly useful entry point to the discussion around courts and why they matter.

“President Trump sees two purposes for the federal judiciary. One is as a tool to accomplish an anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-health care, anti-LGBTQ, anti-racial justice agenda that is too unpopular to pass through the legislative process. The other is to protect himself from legal jeopardy. Both are undemocratic and unjust goals for a branch of our government that is supposed to uphold the rights of all Americans. Sadly, the damage that this President and administration are doing to our justice system could take a very long time to reverse.” Nan Aron, President of Alliance for Justice

To read the full report, click here. They’ve also provided a social media toolkit to help partners share the report.

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LAWYERS COMMITTEE SENDS LETTER TO TN OFFICIALS OVER ATTACK ON VOTING RIGHTS
This week, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and state partners—the Tennessee State Conference of the NAACP, Democracy Nashville-Democratic Community, League of Women Voters of Tennessee, Urban League of Middle Tennessee, The Equity Alliance, and Tennessee Black Voter Project—issued a letter urging the legislature to reject a proposed bill that would have a chilling effect on voter registration efforts and voting rights across the state.

The bill seeks to impose a range of restrictions on third-party voter registration groups. The bill, if passed, would require organizations that register voters to comply with preregistration requirements or face draconian criminal and civil penalties, including fees in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Read the press release and the full letter here.

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ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE FOUNDATION HOSTS 21st ANNUAL KAHLIL GIBRAN GALA
On Thursday, May 2, the Arab American Institute Foundation will celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards Gala at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.

Since 1998, the Gibran Awards has honored those whose work and vision embrace and embody the ideals of the great poet who hails from Lebanon—compassion, justice, and endurance. This year continues in that tradition as we celebrate five extraordinary awardees—RAICES; former Berkeley Mayor Gus Newport; the late Miriam Zayed; Tunisia superstar Emel Mathlouthi; and the BBC’s Lyse Doucet. You can learn more about this year’s awardees here.

Please RSVP to Ana Horn at ahorn@aaiusa.org or 202-429-9210 by Friday, April 5. Gala attire is black tie, and the reception begins at 5:30 p.m., with dinner and the program following promptly at 6:30 p.m.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

TRAINING AND MOVEMENT BUILDING COORDINATOR
The Democracy Initiative is a unique, broad and diverse coalition of 70 organizations committed to strengthening U.S. democracy by growing the grassroots activist base. We are seeking a high-energy, creative, experienced leader committed to bottom-up organizing to coordinate our democracy training, leadership development, and movement-building activities.

Click here to see the full posting.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVESUMMER INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
The Democracy Initiative, a dynamic network of 70 organizations, representing 45 million members, is seeking a talented grassroots mobilizing intern to join our team for the summer. Working under the supervision of the campaign team, the Grassroots mobilizing Intern will assist with message development, organizing campaigns, training, and mobilizing democracy issues to our partners. This is a paid internship.

Click here to see the full posting.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 04.04.19

Thursday, April 4, 2019

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

LET NY VOTE WINS FUNDING FOR KEY VOTING REFORMS

Congratulations to the Let NY Vote coalition, whose efforts secured nearly $25 million in funding for key parts of their reform package, with $10 million for early voting operational costs and $14.7 million for electronic poll books.



We also want to recognize the Brennan Center, CPD, Common Cause NY, CWA, Daily Kos, Democracy Matters, Demos, LWV, NAACP (Albany, Brooklyn, NY), NAN, Public Citizen, SEIU, UAW, and Working Families Party for their work in pushing for comprehensive, bold democracy reform for New York. Let NY Vote's victory for Early Voting in particular marks an major step forward for the reform's adoption nation-wide.

While the NY legislature already passed these reforms earlier in the year, the most recent fight was to ensure Governor Cuomo included funding in his budget, which passed on April 1, for key provisions. The following was passed as of April 1:

  • $24.7 million for voting reforms: $10milion for early voting operational costs and $14.7 million for electronic poll books.
  • Uniform polling hours during primary elections: Next year, all New Yorkers will be able to vote from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. during a primary election. Currently, the vast majority of the state can only vote from 12 p.m.  to 9 p.m. during a primary.
  • Online voter registration: Starting in 2021, New York voters will be able to register to vote online through the State Board of Elections website. Currently, New York voters are only able to register or update their voter registration through an online DMV portal if they have a license.

The press release from the coalition can be found here.

MARYLAND STATE UPDATES

EDR IMPLEMENTED IN MARYLAND

Congratulations to our partners in Maryland on the successful implementation of Election Day Registration!

In November 2018, 1,456,168 voters approved allowing eligible Marylanders to register and update their voter registration on Election Day. But the campaign for ballot initiatives doesn’t end after an election; all campaigns need to be successfully implemented to ensure the will of voters becomes a concrete reality—and our partners and allies have just accomplished this. The two bills that compose the Election Day Registration initiative, SB449 and HB286, passed in both the Senate and the House , and now heads to Gov. Larry Hogan’s desk, where he’s expected to sign them into law. We expect EDR to pass in the next few days!



BALTIMORE CITY FAIR ELECTIONS FUND ESTABLISHED

The other midterm campaign the DI coalition worked on, in conjunction with local activists and coalition allies, was the Yes on Question H campaign. Baltimore City voters approved Question H (75.4%), authorizing the Council to establish the Fair Election Fund and commission, to encourage and support local candidates for office not beholden to wealthy special interests.

The need to get money out of Baltimore City politics has never been more clear than now, and the establishment of the Fair Election fund is a crucial step to severing the connection between money and politics and return power to the people.

Charly Carter, Executive Director of Step Up Maryland, gave us the following statement on the timeliness of the Fair Election Fund:

"In a system where the people with money call the shots, it will always be the voters—particularly those from Black and Brown and poor communities—who pay the price. We see it in lack of investment, over-policing, and in the lost faith in our elected leaders & our government. And we wonder why voter participation from these communities is so low.

Our leaders can eliminate the pay-to-play culture that has stifled cities like Baltimore. Policies like the Baltimore Fair Elections Fund, which would replace corporate donations to city candidates with a citizen-funded model can give power back to the voters. NYC, Seattle, Montgomery County, and other cities across the nation have implemented this model with great success. Mayor/Council President Jack Young can demonstrate leadership by passing & signing this legislation."

Emily Scarr of DI partner Maryland PIRG and Baltimore City resident, gave us the following statement on the challenges facing Baltimore City right now with regard to money in politics:

"Our democracy is in a fragile state: here in Baltimore and down the road in DC. Sometimes things have to get bad before they can get better—and I am hopeful we can build the city and country we deserve from the ground up. In the next few months we will have one clear opportunity—debating and passing the Baltimore City Fair Election Fund Program through City Council to ensure everyone has equal opportunity to participate in elections and keep large and corporate contributions out. I hope the entire Council and Ex-officio Mayor get behind this critical reform. I also hope that Baltimore City residents engage in productive conversation and debate on how to fix the City’s problems. Now is the time to engage and confront the challenges before us."

The bill to establish the program will be introduced at the end of April by Councilman Burnett. Currently, we are looking for Baltimore City residents to serve on the commission that administers the program. If you have any recommendations, please send them to Joanne Antoine at jantoine@commoncause.org.

MARYLAND LOCAL UPDATES

Maryland, over the course of the past three years, has led the way on state democracy reforms. With the current progress and the recent win in Baltimore City for the Baltimore Fair Elections Fund, Maryland itself is one step closer to taking on the fight for fair elections statewide. Here's a full update of the progress we've made:

  • Baltimore County Council approved CB 3-19 for the Citizens’ Election Fund (5-2 vote). The charter amendment will be placed on the ballot in 2020. If established, the program will be available for use in 2026.
  • Montgomery County's Public Election Fund was largely a success. Of the 68 candidates that ran for either Executive or Council, 38 filed an intent to use the program, 23 qualified and received matching funds. The County is now in the process of collecting feedback from candidates/the public with a goal of making amendments to improve the program this year. They have also committed to ensuring the program is fully funded before the next election cycle.
  • Howard County has appointed members to the commission that will administer the Citizens' Election Fund. The County Executive has also opened donations to the program, allowing residents to donate when paying their quarterly water and sewer bills. Leaders in the state will be working to ensure the program begins to get funded this year.
  • Prince George’s County Council approved CB-99 (originally CB-4) which established the Fair Election Fund. The program will be available for use in 2026, but leaders in the state will be working this year to try and move up the effective date.

IOWA HOUSE PASSES RIGHTS RESTORATION BILL

The Iowa House overwhelmingly passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would restore voting rights for returning citizens who have completed their sentences, and would come in the wake of the historic ballot initiative campaign in Florida where 64.6% of Floridians voted to restore the ability to vote to returning citizens.

TAKE ACTION: the ACLU of Iowa is asking Iowans to email members of the Senate Judiciary Committee before Friday and urge them to vote YES on HJR 14. The emails of these Senators are available here.

The measure passed the Republican-controlled House on a 95-2 vote Thursday, March 28, and is now eligible for consideration in the Iowa Senate, where it’s expected to face tougher opposition, but first it needs to advance through the Senate Judiciary Committee before Friday, April 5.

The bipartisan vote in the House demonstrates what rights restoration activists have found in states across the country: that all citizens who’ve paid their debts to society deserve the same rights all Americans share, including to be represented in government.

Read more here.

RELEASE THE FULL MUELLER REPORT DAY OF ACTION

As we have said before: democracy demands transparency. Congress and the public must be allowed to see the full findings of the Mueller investigation, to draw their own conclusions and to reinforce the need for election security and infrastructure investment.


The full Mueller report and underlying documents and evidence must be made public, and the coalition is gathering to make sure that happens this Thursday, April 4, at 5 p.m. throughout the nation in more than 200 cities.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, along with 5 other House committee chairs, replied to Barr's letter by reaffirming their expectation for full transparency by April 2nd.
In light of these developments, the coalition is holding a National Day of Action today, this Thursday, at 5pm local time. The #ReleaseTheReport Day of Action, organized by DI partners AFT, American Family Voices, Bend the Arc, CPD, Common Cause, Daily Kos, Demos, Free Speech for People, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Mi Familia Vota, MoveOn, PFAW, Public Citizen, SEIU, Sierra Club, Working Families Party, and coalition allies is planned for this Thursday at 5pm local time.

CENSUS 2020 DAY OF ACTION REPORT OUT

Monday, April 1 was the Census 2020 Day of Action, where DI partners and allies took to social media and events all over the country to educate around the importance of the 2020 Census and its role in ensuring accurate representation and resources for all Americans. We want to acknowledge DI partners Arab American Institute and National LGBTQ Task Force for leading on this work, and for over 25 DI partners for participating in the April 1 day of action.

The work on ensuring everyone counts is only just beginning. For ways to get involved, contact Beth Lynk and Sonum Nerurkar, and direct your members to visit www.censuscounts.org.  



Our partners at Common Cause put together a video on why the Citizenship Question, a racist ploy by voter suppression architect Kris Kobach and the former White Hosue adviser and fascist Steve Bannon to strip political representation from our immigrant communities, must be resisted. You can download the video to share by clicking here.
 

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

TRAINING, DEVELOPMENT, AND MOVEMENT BUILDING COORDINATOR
The Democracy Initiative is a unique, broad and diverse coalition of 70 organizations committed to strengthening U.S. democracy by growing the grassroots activist base. We are seeking a high-energy, creative, experienced leader committed to bottom-up organizing to coordinate our democracy training, leadership development and movement-building activities.

Click here to see the full posting.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVESUMMER INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
The Democracy Initiative, a dynamic network of 70 organizations, representing 45 million members, is seeking a talented grassroots mobilizing intern to join our team for the summer. Working under the supervision of the campaign team, the Grassroots mobilizing Intern will assist with message development, organizing campaigns, training, and mobilizing democracy issues to our partners. This is a paid internship.

Click here to see the full posting.

The Democracy Initiative is also seeking a talented communications intern to join our team for the summer. Working under the supervision of the Communications Strategist, the Communications Intern will assist with message development and implementation, social media engagement, and online mobilizations for our diverse issue partners. This is a paid internship.

Click here to see the full posting.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 03.28.19

Thursday, March 28, 2019

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

RALLY TO END GERRYMANDERING ONCE AND FOR ALL

On Tuesday, March 26, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from Rucho v. Common Cause (brought by DI partners & allies Common Cause and League of Women Voters), which challenges the Republican gerrymandering of North Carolina's congressional districts, and Lamone v. Benisek, which challenges Democratic gerrymandering in Maryland's 6th Congressional District.



Both cases present the opportunity for the Supreme Court to strike down partisan gerrymandering as unconstitutional for good, enshrining in the Constitution once and for all that gerrymandering suppresses the voice of the people by allowing politicians to choose their voters rather than the voters choosing their politicians.

To read more about the cases, check out this great resource from Common Cause that explains the arguments and stakes: Gerrymandering Gazette: SCOTUS at last.
 



Common Cause and League of Women Voters also organized a rally where DI leaders, activists, and elected officials spoke on the urgent need for independent, fair redistricting reform, including DI Board Co-Chair and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn and DI Board Member and Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica.

We appreciate Arab American Institute, Brennan Center, Common Cause, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Lawyer's Committee, League of Women Voters, PFAW, Sierra Club, and other coalition allies for coming out in support of redistricting reform. The corrupt practice of handpicking voters and silencing the voice of the people must end now.

PARTNER ACTIONS

TAKE ACTION—FLORIDA AMENDMENT 4 UNDER ATTACK
Florida voters and returning citizens need your help to protect Amendment 4, which restores the ability to vote to 1.4 million Floridians who had paid their debt to society. Here are a few ways to engage right now:

  • Sign this petition to demand that Florida legislators stop attempting to subvert the will of the people.
  • If you have members in Florida, please keep driving calls to state legislators demanding that they oppose the recent legislation in the Senate and House designed to subvert the original ballot initiative. Here's a sample email approved by FRRC courtesy of DI partner Public Citizen.

Last November, Floridians overwhelmingly voted in support of rights restoration for returning citizens, allowing 1.4 million Floridians who have paid their debt to society reclaim their ability to vote. But now, legislators are attempting to weaken the amendment, throwing up barriers to returning citizens already struggling to navigate a broken system, and subverting the will of Florida voters.

TAKE ACTIONSTAND WITH WORKERS, $15 PER HOUR FOR ALL
Right now, there's a new bill in Congress that will gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. This is an easy and necessary way to lift millions of working people out of poverty and get our economy moving. As we all know: democracy means the right to a fair wage.

ACT NOW: share this tool with your members, courtesy of our partners at AFL-CIO; it will automatically connect them to their representative.

This is our chance to make a $15 per hour minimum wage a reality for ALL workers. Tell your congressperson that raising the wage is a win-win for workers and the economy. Raising the wage will mean our neighbors can worry less about where their next meal comes from or how to pay for rent. And it will improve the local economy and help small businesses.

STATE VICTORIES

WISCONSIN JUDGES BLOCK LAME DUCK POWER GRAB
As of Tuesday, March 26, two Wisconsin judges have issued injunctions that invalidate the sweeping legislation and appointments made by the lame duck legislature pushed through in a blatant power grab by WI Republicans after the 2018 midterms. On March 21, the Dane County Circuit Court ruled that the laws were passed during an unlawful "extraordinary session."

A second Dane County judge blocked a measure that was designed to hamstring Tony Evers' administration by arguing it violated the separation of Executive and Legislative powers, thanks to a union-brought suit against the session. We appreciate the hard work of League of Women Voters of Wisconsin and other democracy allies for fighting this shameful power grab by elected officials in a session that did not represent the will of voters.

Read the latest here.

RELEASE THE FULL MUELLER REPORT

Attorney General William Barr's summary letter sent to congress is not the full Mueller report. Instead, it's yet another instance of the administration attempting to pass off partisanship and unquestioning loyalty to the President as legitimate carriage of justice.

The DI joins many of our partners in demanding that the full report be released. A fair, representative, inclusive democracy demands transparency, and in keeping with this the American people must be free to draw their own conclusions.

Looking forward to the next election, the public must know whether our elections were compromised; our electoral infrastructure is woefully underfunded and out of date, and our fight for a 21st century democracy means we must demand increased security and funding to ensure our elections fully and fairly represent the will of the American people.

Share DI partner Common Cause's petition that the full report be made available to Congress and the public.

DI BOARD MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

Former DI Board Member Miles Rapoport's latest for American Prospect: "Election Reforms Really Mattered in 2018: a new report analyzes the features that define states with high turnout rates."

 

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVESUMMER INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
The Democracy Initiative, a dynamic network of 71 organizations, representing 45 million members, is seeking a talented grassroots mobilizing intern to join our team for the summer. Working under the supervision of the campaign team, the Grassroots mobilizing Intern will assist with message development, organizing campaigns, training, and mobilizing democracy issues to our partners. This is a paid internship.

Click here to see the full posting.

The Democracy Initiative is also seeking a talented communications intern to join our team for the summer. Working under the supervision of the Communications Strategist, the Communications Intern will assist with message development and implementation, social media engagement, and online mobilizations for our diverse issue partners. This is a paid internship.

Click here to see the full posting.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 03.21.19

Thursday, March 21, 2019

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

This week we're introducing the first column of what will be an ongoing series, where we share best practices—reforms at the state and local levels, reforms that work, and reforms that point the way forward for the democracy movement. We're accepting topics & interviews from our partners; contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org for pitches.
 

COLORADO VOTING MODEL SHOWS THE PATH FORWARD

Recently, we talked with Colorado Deputy Secretary of State and former Common Cause Vice President of State Operations Jenny Flanagan about Colorado’s voting model to learn more about the system, what works well, and what lessons can be lifted for other states.
Colorado has been called “the safest state for voting,” and boasts some of the most reliably high voter turnout of any state. The state’s reputation for strong elections stems from its long history of frequent, robust reform, with early voting starting back in 1996, and no-excuse absentee ballots as far back as 1980. But the current version of Colorado’s voting model really crystallized in 2013 with the passage of the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act, which instituted a broad suite of reforms including election-day registration and a bipartisan elections modernization task force to propose election security and access reform.

H.R. 1 PIVOT TO THE SENATE AND STATE CAMPAIGNS

PIVOT TO THE SENATE

  • The anticipated date for introduction of the Senate version is March 27th, after the Senate recess.
  • The list of senators cosponsoring the bill continues to grow. Aaron Scherb at Common Cause has shared a link to the current list of supporters.
  • This week is congressional recess, so now is the time to make calls to Senators who have not yet sponsored the Senate bill.
  • TAKE ACTION:  This week and next, together with the DFAD coalition, we are driving calls to the Senate. Stand Up America has set up a coalition number to call the Senate: 888-724-8879.
    • The coalition has also drafted a sample email to encourage calls.
    • Callers will hear a quick recording on the "For the People Act" before being connected to their Senator or the switchboard.
       

STATE CAMPAIGNS

  • A small group is developing a democracy reform state campaigns tracker tool for partners. Tool will go public soon.
  • The Brennan Center released their 2019 Voting Laws Round Up this week. Here is a link to the update.

VICTORIES AT THE GRASSROOTS

NEW MEXICO PASSES A SUITE OF DEMOCRACY REFORMS
Congratulations to Brennan Center, Common Cause New Mexico, Working Families New Mexico, and all coalition allies for their work to make New Mexico the 17th state to pass Election Day Registration. NM lawmakers also passed automatic voter registration, national popular vote, expanded the campaign public financing program, and other reforms. The bills now head to the governor's desk, and are expected to be signed.
 
 
DELAWARE BECOMES 13TH STATE TO SIGN NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE COMPACT
Congratulations to ACLU, Common Cause Delaware, League of Women Voters of Delaware, and all coalition allies who worked to pass this crucial bill to revitalize democracy.
 
 
BILL TO REPEAL CITIZENS UNITED PASSES NEW HAMPSHIRE HOUSE
Congratulations to American Promise and the volunteer citizen leaders, activists, and allies that worked to pass HB 504, an incredible opportunity to make New Hampshire the 20th state calling for the historic 28th Amendment. Now, activists turn to the Senate and are driving calls to NH Senators to support the Senate version of the bill.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE UPDATES

DI WELCOMES CHRISTOPHER HONEY, COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST
The DI is excited to welcome a new Communications Strategist, Christopher Honey. Christopher joins the DI on April 1, most recently working as Communications Director for SEIU Local 500 in Gaithersburg, MD. Christopher is a talented communications professional bringing more than 20 years of experience to the DI, ranging from labor, enviro, and political strategy. During those two decades, he has worked for a number of non-profits and advocacy organizations including Sierra Club in Florida, as the California State Political Director for Progressive Majority, and for Revolution Messaging.
As Communications Strategist, Christopher will be tasked with working to update our overarching democracy messaging frame, manage and maintain our website and social media channels, and most importantly working to support the DI network and our partners’ communication efforts. This critical role includes developing and adapting coalition messaging to connect with our DI partners’ issue priorities, as well as helping to uplift and amplify our partners’ voices in the press and online. We’re excited for Christopher to join the DI Team.
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DI BIDS FAREWELL TO MYKE BYBEE, CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
While we welcome in new staff, we also must say goodbye to our current Campaigns Director, Myke Bybee. Over the past year, Myke has worked to organize and manage the coalition. He played a key leadership role in supporting our DI partners and local stakeholders to secure important democracy wins in Michigan, Maryland, Florida, and Missouri. In the past several months, Myke has worked with DI partners to strengthen and ultimately support the historic passage of H.R. 1.
Myke is moving back to the parks and public land space, as Legislative Director at the Trust for Public Land. We’re appreciative of his work and leadership over the past year, and we wish him well on his next adventure at the Trust.

PARTNER CORNER—TAKE ACTIOn

TAKE ON WALL STREET RELEASES NEW FINANCIALIZATION EXPLAINER VIDEO
Check out this new, informative 5 minute video that tells the stories of white, Black, and Brown working families who have paid the price for Wall Street buying our democracy in the form of rent hikes, toxic mold, and layoffs.
Spread this video or the shortened version on social media using this toolkit.

DAILY KOS COALITION ACTIONS
Daily Kos is looking for coalition organizations to partner with some of the Actions they're runninghere's the current list:

Feel free to contact Daily Kos with any questions.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVESUMMER INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
The Democracy Initiative, a dynamic network of 71 organizations, representing 45 million members, is seeking a talented grassroots mobilizing intern to join our team. Working under the supervision of the campaign team, the Grassroots mobilizing Intern will assist with message development, organizing campaigns, training, and mobilizing democracy issues to our partners. This is a paid internship.

Click here to see the full posting.

The Democracy Initiative is also seeking a talented communications intern to join our team. Working under the supervision of the Communications Strategist, the Communications Intern will assist with message development and implementation, social media engagement, and online mobilizations for our diverse issue partners. This is a paid internship.

Click here to see the full posting.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

Feature: Colorado Model is the Path Forward For Reform

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

This week we're introducing the first column of what will be an ongoing series, where we share best practices—reforms at the state and local levels, reforms that work, and reforms that point the way forward for the democracy movement. We're accepting topics & interviews from our partners; contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org for pitches.

Recently, we talked with Colorado Deputy Secretary of State and former Common Cause Vice President of State Operations Jenny Flanagan about Colorado’s voting model to learn more about the system, what works well, and what lessons can be lifted for other states.

Colorado has been called “the safest state for voting,” and boasts some of the most reliably high voter turnout of any state. The state’s reputation for strong elections stems from its long history of frequent, robust reform, with early voting starting back in 1996, and no-excuse absentee ballots as far back as 1980. But the current version of Colorado’s voting model really crystallized in 2013 with the passage of the Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act, which instituted a broad suite of reforms including election-day registration and a bipartisan elections modernization task force to propose election security and access reform.

One of the unique programs that came out of this process is Colorado’s mail ballot delivery approach. “We created a model where everyone gets their ballot by mail but they can return it in many different ways, and that’s where the convenience for the voter comes in,” said Flanagan.

The second was the creation of Voter Service and Polling Centers, or “polling centers” as they’re known. “These locations are our polling places that are open during early voting and on Election Day,” said Flanagan, “they can do anything they need to do in these Voter Service and Polling Centers; it’s like going to your county clerk’s office.”

The results of Colorado’s policies speak for themselves. These reforms, along with a wide array of voting reforms including AVR, same day registration, no excuse absentee, and others, have improved Colorado’s turnout and civic engagement dramatically. “In the year 2000, Colorado was nineteenth in the nation in terms of turnout. In 2018, Colorado was second. In the 2018 midterms, the national average turnout stood at roughly 50%. Colorado’s midterm turnout reached 63%,” said Flanagan.

The key, Flanagan claims, is constant, sustainable, and collaborative reform efforts that reflects and reacts to the latest experiences and challenges facing voters. The development of Colorado’s robust model “happened over the course of time, and the combined effort and sustained reform made the difference.” In fact, much of the strength of Colorado’s voting model can be attributed to its attention to voter experience; their design and implementation reflect data collected from Colorado’s communities themselves. During the reform process, leading groups on the ground, such as Flanagan’s former organization Common Cause, made sure to bring local communities, election officials and grassroots groups to the table: “I think it was the relationships, the coming together of the key stakeholders that made it possible. Whomever is engaging the citizenry needs to be at the table because they know the experience of the people they’re trying to mobilize,” said Flanagan.

The collaboration and data collection of the advocacy community primarily occurred through the national Election Protection program. “The Election Protection program, which many states participate in, supports voters and tracks issues that arise during elections. That’s where we understood where long lines were happening, where voters were having problems, having their vote by mail ballots or absentee ballots rejected, whether it was a signature problem; it’s through the work that the civic engagement or voting rights community is doing that we gather data interfacing with voters” said Flanagan. Centering the experiences of Colorado’s communities produced reforms that address the real problems that face voters.

The model also supplemented its dataset with information from the other key stakeholders: election officials. “Election officials are similarly collecting data, and they’re interfacing with voters, and they’re experiencing data collection of their own, in what they perceive voters to be experiencing,” said Flanagan. The combination of these data sets produced a common set of data, Flanagan said, “it’s a basis on which to solve [the] problem.” This basis is crucial to creating meaningful, comprehensive reform. The shared dataset created room for dialogue that produced a model that prioritizes accessibility for Colorado’s voters, and ease of administration by continuing to facilitate accessibility for voters while instituting reforms proven to increase new voter participation.

When asked about the cost to the state of Colorado of implementing these reforms, Flanagan responded that “there are cost to consider, but these are investments we need to make, and as policy makers and election officials, we have to serve our voters. And I think that’s very consistent across the board from the message I hear from election officials who are there to serve voters.”

Fortunately, in most cases, Flanagan said that “what we’ve seen is that the reforms we’re talking about will reduce costs, even if there’s upfront costs that have to be factored in. Electronic poll books, for example, might cost money up front but will reduce your costs down the road—because you’re going to have better information, your voters are going to move through, you’re going to have less provisional ballots, and you’re going to get people in the right place voting on the correct ballot. If we approach things holistically, I think we’ll find that many of these election reforms are saving us money down the road.”

Colorado’s voting model serves as an example to many states, and its continued success sets the benchmark for what’s possible for reform at the state level. “When you’re looking at increasing access to vote by mail, whether that’s through an absentee balloting process or through permanent absentee options, we’ve been doing it for a long time, as has Oregon and Washington, and there are lessons to be learned about how to verify ballots, how to guard against fraud in mail ballot—which people are concerned about. Let’s talk about how we’ve addressed that in a state that’s been doing vote by mail for decades, as more states are trying to move that as an option for voting” said Flanagan. Further, Colorado’s registration system, with modern electronic databases and automated updates, provides concrete examples of election “There are lessons that I think can apply whether or not you adopt the whole model” Flanagan said.

As we fight to establish a 21st century democracy, the Colorado model increasingly appears like the future of elections. Thanks to the constant work of the voting rights community and the grassroots, Colorado has created a model that strengthens our democracy and empowers voters. Colorado has and continues to lead the way on this reform. The biggest takeaway, according to Flanagan, “is that we can create voter-centered elections. It’s been proven that it can be done, and it enables more people to participate. And that’s what we should be in the business of doing, as election administrators. That’s our job: to make elections something that people can trust in.”

For further reading on the impact of the Colorado model's policies, check out Nonprofit Vote's 2018 report.