The DI Report

Democracy Initiative Update 09.18.20

Friday, September 18, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

KNOW THE RULES, MAKE A PLAN, VOTE EARLY

Even in this climate of the coronavirus pandemic, natural disasters, and rampant voter suppression, voters are poised to turn out to vote in historic numbers. But, with the new safe voting options we have won in many places, combined with opposition attempts to sow disinformation and chaos, Americans across the country need access to good information from leaders and organizations they trust. This is a critically important time for your members to hear from you.

We are asking the leaders of all DI partners to create a simple video with key voter education information and share it with your supporters. To help make that easy, DI staff have created a simple toolkit with everything you need to make and share a great video message.

We've included video instructions, a sample script, and talking points to streamline this process, as well as sample emails and social media posts to help get this information into the hands of your members.

GET THE MAKE A PLAN TOOLKIT HERE

For democracy to work for all of us, it must include all of us. Every vote counts and every vote must be counted.

We make change when we join together. We march. We organize. We make a plan to vote—as early as possible, by mail or safely in person. And. In. Record. Numbers.

We will demand that every vote be counted. Mail ballots can take longer to count, so it's important to be patient while all the votes are counted and stay vigilant right up to when newly elected leaders are sworn in.

The Make a Plan Video Toolkit is designed to help you get this message out to your members, supporters and followers by making a simple video encouraging them to be intentional and early voters and patient for the results.

If you have any questions, please contact DI National Field Manager Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org or Jack Flynn, DI Social Media Manager, at jflynn@democracyinitiative.org.

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS: COUNTING EVERY VOTE

2020 is increasingly appearing as an election unprecedented in American history. With the still-looming coronavirus pandemic leading to a shift toward absentee voting, new and changing voting laws responding to grassroots demand for safe and accessible voting, and blatant attempts to sow confusion and discord among voters, we must be prepared to adjust our expectations to meet the moment. One expectation that needs shifting? Expecting results on election night.

Recent analysis in the Washington Post demonstrates that the primaries, many of which saw a marked increase in the use of absentee voting, are a reliable indication that election results may take as long as a week to be fully reported (the states that heavily used Vote by Mail reported their results in an average of 6.4 days).

We encourage partner organizations to begin spreading the message to their members and supporters, by way of the Make a Plan Video Toolkit or in your own communications, that it is more important to ensure every vote is counted than seeing results quickly.

See the analysis here.

DI BOARD MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

In a recent op-ed penned with Business for American Founder and CEO Sarah Bonk, League of Women Voters of the United States CEO and DI board member Virginia Kase lays out the civics case for emergency relief for the United States Postal Service (USPS) alongside the business case.

The piece reaffirms what has been clear to people since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country in March: the USPS is essential for the functioning of our democracy. USPS does everything from facilitating billions of dollars of commerce to delivering life-saving medications, and performs a critical role in all parts of the democratic process, from voter registration to absentee ballot delivery.

As Bonk and Kase write,

“Just as businesses must react to consumer demand, every elected official — local, state and federal; Republican, Democrat and independent – must respond to the clear demand from voters for safe ways to participate in our democracy.

No voter should have to choose between their health and safety and exercising their constitutional right to vote. And no business should experience the uncertainty — and loss of sales, revenue and equity — that occurs when a collapse of trust in the electoral process drives political instability and then economic instability.”

Read the full op-ed here.

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Democracy Initiative Update 09.11.20

Friday, September 11, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

SEPTEMBER 16 MOBILIZING MEETING: VOTER EDUCATION, USPS, AND SENATE RULES

As we head into the general election season, the DI Mobilizing Meetings will be happening weekly to keep you updated on important developments on voting, inoculation against disinformation, rapid response, and more. RSVP here.

Our agenda will cover the following:

  • Launch of ‘Know the Rules, Make A Plan, Vote Early’ Video Toolkit It is more important than ever to make a plan to vote this election. Democracy Initiative is encouraging principals of partner groups to commit to making a plan for either safe-in person voting or Vote by Mail—and sending their ballot in early—and to share a short video message to members and supporters urging them to do the same. We will share our partner video toolkit next week with sample talking points, video script and instructions, and sample social media for partners’ engagement.
  • #SaveUSPS Fight Update: DI coalition partners are mounting an enormous push this month to get emergency relief for the Post Office and reverse service cuts, as part of the larger effort to save the USPS. We will be joined by Porter McConnell, Campaign Director for DI partner Take On Wall Street, and Debby Szeredy, Executive Vice President for DI partner American Postal Workers Union, to discuss the on the ongoing fight and opportunities for your organizations to plug in.
  • Senate Governance Update: Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice-President of AFL-CIO, will brief DI partners about the current Senate Governance landscape and critical opportunities to move forward on filibuster reform in the coming weeks and months. An issue the DI has worked on since 2009, this Senate Governance update comes at a critical time, as we approach the most important election of our lifetimes and the prospect of governing a country riven by Trump is on the horizon. The growing media coverage of the Filibuster reflects a growing support for serious Senate Rules reform, as the recent pieces in The Atlantic and Washington Post demonstrate. As Tefere said in The American Prospects’ latest,

    “Democracy functions with 50 plus one, but if a senator just files for filibuster everything is killed. Everything dies. A senator should not have the same ability to block legislation when they have less than a million people in their state, as a senator from California, right? In order to pass the PRO Act, in order to get a Green New Deal and so many other things, we have to have senators who are willing and gutsy enough to actually reform the Senate.”

Mark your calendars now for these upcoming DI Mobilizing Meetings:

  • September 28 — Inoculation against disinformation and messaging
  • October 7 — Election Protection Briefing and Engagement Opportunities
  • October 14 — Voter education to engage members and supporters online

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday. RSVP here or email Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org for more information.

TRAINING AND MOVEMENT BUILDING UPDATES

Democracy Initiative Education Fund’s training efforts are continuing full speed with just over 50 days to Election Day. So far, we have hosted trainings for DI partners and allies ACLU of Michigan, A. Philip Randolph Institute, AFL-CIO Texas, Center for Environmental Health, Greenpeace USA, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, March On Harrisburg, NAACP, and UAW Region 9A.

We are offering two trainings for activists this year: a Know the Rules training, with the goal of recruiting poll workers and election protection volunteers, as well as ensuring voters have the information they need to make a plan to vote; and an Inoculation training, which prepares activists to recognize and inoculate against voter suppression and misinformation in their communities.

We are organizing trainings with partners and allies in Michigan. We’re also focusing on the following priority states: FL, GA, MD, MO, NC, NM, PA, VA, and WI.

If your organization is interested in hosting one of these training, please reach out to DI Training and Movement Building Coordinator Brittny Baxter at bbaxter@democracyinitiative.org to schedule a training in one of the following slots:

  • Sundays: 4:00pm – 7:00pm EST
  • Tuesdays 5:00pm – 8:00pm EST
  • Thursdays: 11:00am – 1:00pm EST and 5:00pm – 8:00pm EST
  • Saturdays: 10:00am – 12:00pm EST

If you are interested organizing a joint campaign for trainings and volunteer engagement, please contact Brittny at bbaxter@democracyinitiative.org.

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Democracy Initiative Update 08.28.20

Friday, August 28, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

TAKE ACTION: NATIONAL POLL WORKER RECRUITMENT DAY KICKOFF

Next Tuesday, September 1 is National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, a day of action kicking off a nationwide effort to solve the nation’s pressing need for poll workers.

During a moment when law enforcement’s relationship to the communities they ostensibly serve has been torn apart by police violence, Trump has recently threatened to send sheriffs and police to polling places. In this environment of tension and uncertainty, one of our movement’s foremost priorities is to safeguard the integrity of one of the most important elections of our lifetime. Across the country, however, there is a record shortage of poll workers, which could result in polling place closures, overworked volunteers, and long lines.

DI is an official partner in Power the Polls, a nationwide effort to recruit 250,000 poll workers.

Here’s how to get involved:

  • Take action on Social Media: Power the Polls has created a Poll Worker Recruitment Toolkit, which contains graphics and social media content calling attention to the pressing need for poll workers this year. Please share the toolkit with your social media team.
  • Join the DI and Leadership Conference for a Special Mobilizing Meeting: The DI is holding a special Mobilizing Call on Wednesday, September 2, at 12pm EST in coordination with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights for a discussion on the critical efforts to recruit thousands of poll workers for the 2020 election. David Huynh from Power the Polls will join us to discuss their poll worker recruitment efforts and how DI partners can plug-in to help ensure a safe, fair election for all voters.

Please register here to receive the call-in information for this important Zoom meeting. If your organization has members to activate in Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin, please contact DI National Field Manager Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org. Getachew can help you organize a training designed to recruit election volunteers or get your state affiliates plugged in to local coalition recruitment activities.

RELIEF FOR COVID & DEMOCRACY: MOBILIZE FOR USPS AND VOTING SUPPORT IN NEXT BILL

On August 16, the entire Democracy Initiative board issued a clarion call for corporate CEOs to join the fight for a fully funded, safe, accessible election and strong United States Postal Service (USPS) in an op-ed published in USA Today. As AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica, CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres, Demos President K. Sabeel Rahman, League of Women Voters CEO Virginia Kase, and UAW Secretary-Treasurer Ray Curry explain the stakes:

"The failure of the U.S. Senate to make a modest investment in our democracy stands in sharp contrast to the huge sums flowing towards those who need it the least. Wealthy corporations have captured a large share of the federal spending that was supposed to help workers and small businesses. Companies are winning trillions in economic aid, including billions in tax breaks for fossil fuel polluters. And now businesses are pressing for protection against liability from COVID-related lawsuits.

In the midst of this maneuvering for private gain, we’re glad to see a segment of the U.S. business community speak for the public interest, with a call for Congress to provide the “necessary funding for safe voting upgrades.” But more private sector voices are needed join this chorus, with the full weight of their lobbying capacity and political muscle.

We are faced with an underfunded electoral system, a deliberate slowdown of the U.S Postal Service, and continued voter suppression. This is unacceptable. No one should let stand overcrowded and unsafe voting places and an untold number of voters disenfranchised – especially in Black and brown communities."

Read the full op-ed here. Click here to retweet our tweet sharing the op-ed.

TRAINING AND MOVEMENT BUILDING UPDATES

100 DAYS OF TRAINING: MAKE A PLAN
Democracy Initiative Education Fund’s training efforts are continuing full speed with less than 70 days to go. We are training activists this year to become VBM Captains, election workers, and poll monitors in key states. Our priority states are FL, GA, MD, MI, MO, NC, NM, PA, VA, and WI. In September, we are partnering with UAW Region 9A to train their members.

NETROOTS NATION PANEL AND TRAINING RECORDINGS LIVE:
Videos of our recent Netroots Nation trainings are available below. Check them out and be sure to sign up for training for your organization here.

DELIVERING FOR AMERICA ACT PASSED BY HOUSE

On August 21, DI co-authored with Declaration for American Democracy a letter urging the House to pass the Delivering for America Act, a critical piece of legislation that would provide $25 billion in immediate support to the United States Postal Service (USPS) and overturn Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s recent operational changes, which have resulted in an unprecedented slowdown in U.S. Mail. As the letter says,

"However, recent efforts by President Trump and his new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have threatened to undermine the USPS at a time when many Americans depend on this vital service more than ever. Tens of millions of Americans will rely on the USPS this year to vote by mail, register to vote, and receive polling information, and it is unconscionable that during a pandemic, Postmaster General DeJoy is decommissioning about ten percent of the USPS’s bulk sorting machines (671 machines nationwide), removing or “re-positioning” hundreds of mailboxes, and instructing mail carriers to leave certain mail behind."

The House passed the Delivering for America Act the following day. Read the letter here.

Our thanks to the 55 organizations who signed on, including DI partners American Family Voices, American Federation of Teachers, Clean Water Action, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Demos Action, Franciscan Action Network, Friends of the Earth Action, Free Speech for People, Greenpeace USA, Jobs with Justice, League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Education Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International, People for the American Way, Progressive Turnout Project, Public Citizen, SEIU, Sierra Club, Small Planet Institute, UnidosUS, United Auto Workers, and Voices for Progress.

DI, alongside partners Arab American Institute, Common Cause, Center for Popular Democracy, Communications Workers of America, Democracy Matters, Franciscan Action Network, Greenpeace USA, Progressive Turnout Project, Public Citizen, SEIU, and Voices for Progress also signed on to a letter authored by End Citizens United urging the Senate to pass the Delivering for America bill, which can be read here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

The Democracy Initiative, a dynamic network of 75 organizations, representing over 45 million members, is seeking a highly energetic and creative Campaign Strategist to build campaign goals, strategies, tactics, and strategically align the engagement of our coalition partners and community allies at the local and state level to mobilize around our Democracy 365 Platform—21st-century voting rights, money in politics, and equal representation.

Working at the DI offers a unique, exciting opportunity to be at the center of intersectional movement building in a fast-paced environment to shift political will by breaking structural obstacles to pass transformational social justice policy.

See the full posting here.

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Democracy Initiative Update 08.10.20

Monday, August 10, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

TUES, AUG 11: #PROTECTOURVOTE VIRTUAL TOWN HALL

People must be able to vote safely in November. Senate Republicans, however, are blocking key funding needed to #ProtectOurVote and ensure all Americans can safely cast their ballots this November. Join us tomorrow, August 11 at 7:30-8:30pm EST for a virtual town hall hosted by the Declaration for American Democracy Coalition featuring:

To RSVP for the call, click here. For partner organizations interested in cross-posting the live event on their Facebook page, contact Aswar Rahman at aswar@dfadcoalition.org.

AUGUST 12 MOBILIZING CALL AGENDA

Join us for our next DI mobilizing call scheduled Wednesday, August 12 at 3:00 pm EST. RSVP here.

Our agenda will cover the following:

  1. Sign up for a Democracy Champions Vote by Mail Training: Our Training and Movement Building Coordinator Brittny Baxter will present on our ongoing 100 Days of Training initiative. DI is on track to train 3,000 activists this year to become VBM Captains, election workers/volunteers, and poll monitors in key states. We are working with partners to schedule trainings to support the grassroots campaigns that demand safe, secure voting options for all. If your organization wants to host a training with your members, or sign up your staff to participate in upcoming Train the Trainers training, we encourage you to come prepared with questions and training asks for your organization.
  2. State Update: Michigan held their Primary Election last week with a record 2.5 million people voting and nearly 1.6 million absentee ballots cast. We will be joined by Loida Tapia with the Michigan Election Protection Program to share some lessons learned from the field and identify support needs for the November election.
  3. Federal Fight: Stimulus 4: As the ongoing Senate negotiations heat up regarding the next federal stimulus package, we will share a legislative update and discuss opportunities to ensure $3.6 billion in funding for election assistance and $25 billion in support for the USPS. We will also share an updated social media toolkit.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday. RSVP here or email Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org for more information.

TAKE ACTION: TELL CONGRESS TO PROVIDE $$ FOR ELECTIONS AND USPS

On Tuesday, July 28, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans revealed their answer to the House’s stimulus package: the HEALS Act, a disgraceful proposal that provisions $0 for emergency election assistance or the besieged U.S. Postal Service.

In a statement released Wednesday, July 29, the Democracy Initiative called on corporate CEOs to use the full weight of their lobbying capacity and political muscle to join the fight for $3.6 billion in emergency election funding. The Senate must follow the House’s leadership and allocate $3.6 billion to pay for election costs and $25 billion for our public Postal Service. The ability of the states and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure a safe, reliable, secure and accessible election in November depends on it.

The need for a strong, unified call from all stakeholders for safe, accessible, and fair elections has never been more important. Now is the time to keep the pressure up by activating your members and taking action on social media:

  • Social Media Tools: Use your social media channels to amplify the call for corporate CEOs to join the fight for the $3.6 billion for election funding and $25 billion for the USPS. We have created a set of plug & play social media tools available here: Corporate CEO Challenge & Election Funding Social Media Toolkit.
  • Activate Your Members: Ask your members in the key states to contact their Senators at 202-224-3121 and urge them to approve $3.6 billion for election administration and $25 billion for the Post Office to help states ensure safe equitable elections this year.

For more information, please contact DI National Field Manager Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

TRAINING AND MOVEMENT BUILDING UPDATES

100 DAYS OF TRAINING: DEMOCRACY CHAMPIONS FOR VOTE BY MAIL
The Democracy Initiative is continuing our training initiative with another Vote By Mail Democracy Champions Train the Trainer (T3) Cohort. We are well on our way to train 3,000 activists this year to become VBM Captains, election workers/volunteers, and poll monitors in key states. Our priority states are FL, GA, MD, MI, MO, NC, NM, PA, VA, and WI. Thanks to our partner A. Philip Randolph Institute, we held a successful T3 in North Carolina with Black Voters Matter.

We are working with DI partners to schedule training to support the grassroots campaigns that demand safe, secure voting options for all. If your organization wants to host a training, or sign up staff to participate in upcoming training, sign up here. Our next T3 is Tuesday, August 18 at 6:00pm EST. For more information, contact Brittny Baxter, DI Training Coordinator at bbaxter@democracyinitiative.org.

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NETROOTS NATION PANELS, TRAININGS AND SCHOLARSHIPS
Netroots Nation is offering scholarships for Black and brown organizers to attend the virtual conference this week, August 13 - 15. If you know an organizer that can’t afford to attend, contact Brittny Baxter at bbaxter@democracyinitiative.org. If you are planning on attending, check out the DI’s events:

Training: Democracy Champions: Connecting Democracy, Power, and Kitchen Table Issues
Time:
Friday, August 14 at 11:00 AM EST
Facilitators: Joanne Antoine, Common Cause; Brittny Baxter, Democracy Initiative

To win on the issues that impact our lives: workers' rights, environmental justice, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, immigration reform, etc. - we must have a base of grassroots activists who are passionate about their kitchen table issues to make the link to democracy reforms. Collectively, we will expand our leadership and capacity for local and state campaigns and build a demand for reform.

Waging a War Against Disinformation and Misinformation: How to Win Using Inoculation and Facts
Time:
Friday, August 14 at 11:00am EST
Trainer: Wendy Fields, Democracy Initiative

This cycle we are witnessing an unprecedented, corporate backed misinformation and disinformation campaign. Lies are being weaponized to stoke fear and uncertainty.These campaigns are designed to sow confusion, and ultimately suppress voter turnout. Our greatest defense will be preemptively arming the public with the truth and tactics to separate real from fake news. Defending our democracy calls for widespread inoculation efforts for the public against this well-funded mis/disinformation campaign. This training will clearly define misinformation and disinformation, provide tips on how to identify trustworthy information sources, and equip participants with the basic steps of a proper inoculation conversation.

Panel: Democracy No Longer Deferred: Following Most Impacted Leaders is a Winning Strategy
Time:
Saturday, August 15 at 11:00am EST
Moderator: Marilyn Carpinteyro, Common Cause
Panelists: Doug Moore, United Domestic Workers of America; Jonathan Butler, Greenpeace USA; Bill Cobb, Formerly ACLU; Maya Berry, Arab American Institute

In our current democracy, wealthy interests disenfranchise, disregard and exploit groups that have historically been labeled as the "Other." Our efforts to achieve a fair, inclusive democracy cannot happen without leadership from these communities. Hear from activists fighting for workers, moms, immigrants, LGBTQ+ and differently-abled folks and against racism, the climate crisis, and poverty on how they are fighting, and winning, for their communities to be represented in our democracy

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BAYARD RUSTIN DEMOCRACY FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
Our Mentoring Program Orientation was a huge success, with an amazing and diverse cohort, but desperately need women of color to volunteer as mentors. If you are willing to mentor a talented young organizer of color or know someone suited to, please sign up here.

TOOLS FOR ELECTION OFFICIALS: COMMS & OPERATIONS

Election officials across the country have been forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to adapt rapidly in their preparations for administering elections this year. In response, many states have moved to expand Vote by Mail (VBM), a system which requires significant planning and resources to equitably implement in time.

Our partners at the National Vote at Home Institute (NVAHI) have developed two tools for election officials to prepare voters for VBM: the Operations Toolkit and the Communications Toolkit. We encourage our partners who have relationships with election officials and clerks to share these resources with their networks.

The Operations Toolkit features the Calculator, an excel spreadsheet tool designed for election officials to consider what staffing, space, and other resources are needed to plan for in serving a large number of mail voters. It allows election officials to input data and simulate multiple scenarios to improve resource allocation. The toolkit also includes a guide sheet and instructional video.

The Communications Toolkit is designed to augment the communications capacity of election offices, providing visuals, sample language, and a communications plan, any combination of which can be plugged into existing efforts to accommodate the influx of mail ballot requests from voters.

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS: STATE UPDATES

MARYLAND
During the state’s June primary election, the rapid action Maryland election officials, community groups, vendors, postal workers, and voters took to ensure voters could safely cast their ballots resulted in the highest turnout Baltimore City had seen since 1987. In a July 8 press conference, however, Governor Larry Hogan announced that the November elections would proceed as normal. COVID-19 cases surged in the state and around the country in the weeks that followed. DI partners from the Everyone Votes Maryland coalition held a critical press conference on Wednesday July 28 to discuss the public health, logistical, budget, and civil rights considerations impacting the administration of the November election. Hogan has implied that he is powerless to change the General Election process, a claim rebuked by legal scholars pointing to his powers under the current state of emergency.

Read more here.

MICHIGAN
Michigan’s primary elections held August 4 decisively broke the state’s record for primary turnout. Nearly 2.5 million people cast their ballots on Tuesday, with 1.6 million mailed ballots making up over 60% of the total votes cast. Michigan voters were able to take advantage of no-excuse absentee voting provision that voters overwhelmingly passed in 2018. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson facilitated voters’ access to the ballot by sending absentee ballot applications to all 7.7 million registered voters. In a statement issued Thursday, she said “What August showed is we can hold safe, accessible and secure elections in the midst of a pandemic.”

Read more.

IOWA
In an executive order signed into law Wednesday, August 5, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds restored formerly incarcerated Iowans the right to vote after completion of their sentences. With this act, Iowa is no longer the only state to categorically revoke the ability to vote from people convicted of felonies. The order will restore voting rights to an estimated 40,000 people who have completed their time, a victory for the grassroots activists and partner organizations who have been working on this issue for several years. Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, said “Now our work is to make sure that people are registered and understand as of today they don’t need to do paperwork, they don’t need to do anything like that. As of today they are allowed to vote.”

Read more here.

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Democracy Initiative Update 07.24.20

Friday, July 24, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

STATEMENT: Trump’s Attempt to Exclude Immigrants FROM THE CENSUS

On Tuesday, July 21, President Trump issued a memorandum calling for the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from the constitutionally mandated count of persons residing in the United States for the 2020 Census. The memo is the latest in a series of attempts to tamper with the Census in order to affect the count that determines Congressional representation and billions of dollars in funding for communities.

Wendy Fields, Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative, gave the following statement:

“Donald Trump doesn’t know how to count. We do.

“Immigrants count, regardless of their immigration status. Black people count. Brown people count. Everyone from historically underserved communities counts.

“The U.S. Census is required to count everyone; there is no provision for excluding people the current president doesn’t like. We stand with our allies in the civil rights community, and we will not allow this administration to disrupt the Census.”

Led by DI partner Common Cause, several advocacy groups filed suit against Trump on Thursday, July 23 in response to the memo. In a statement, Karen Hobert Flynn, DI Board Co-Chair and President of Common Cause, said:

“The Constitution is unambiguous in its requirements relating to the census count and reapportionment of Congressional seats—all persons must be counted. This directive simply ignores those requirements in an unconstitutional attempt to manipulate the process for racial advantage and partisan political gain.”

TAKE ACTION

URGENT ACTION REQUIRED FOR 2020 ELECTION FUNDING

There is still time to take action in support of federal funding for safe and equitable elections!

Many thanks to those of you already generating calls and getting the word out on social media, including DI partners and allies ACLU, AFL-CIO, Brennan Center, Campaign Legal Center, Clean Water Action, Common Cause, Franciscan Action Network, Greenpeace USA, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, League of Women Voters, MoveOn, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, National Action Network, National Vote at Home Institute, NETWORK, New American Leaders, PFAW, Progressive Turnout Project, Public Citizen, SEIU, Sierra Club, and UnidosUS.

If your organization hasn’t sent out an alert yet, now is a good time to do so. We expect Senate Republicans to soon announce a proposal for COVID emergency funding. Even if the first version of their bill includes some election funding, we will need to keep up the pressure as they head into negotiations with the House, who have already passed the HEROES Act, which includes the necessary $3.6 billion for elections and $25 billion for the USPS. We will keep you posted as the negotiations heat up, but please activate your members and social media channels now!

Here’s how you can take action:

  • Take Action on Social Media: Call for the Senate to provide the necessary funding for our November election, and tag the DI (@unite4democracy on Twitter, @democracyinitiative on FB) and key Senate targets. Check out our COVID-19 Voting Social Media Toolkit for sample tweets and FB posts.
  • Activate Your Members: Ask your members in the key states to contact their Senators at 202-224-3121 and urge them to approve $3.6 billion for election administration and $25 billion for the Post Office to help states ensure safe equitable elections this year. Feel free to cut and paste from this email into your own action alert.

We are currently focusing our grassroots efforts on these Senators: Martha McSally (R-AZ), Cory Gardner (R-CO), David Perdue (R-GA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Susan Collins (R-ME), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

These are the key points to make in communications to key Senators:

  • The Senate must approve the House-passed $3.6 billion for expansion of VBM, early voting, and online & same day registration, so that states have enough time to make the necessary changes to expand Vote by Mail and early voting, recruit and train workers, buy equipment, and do outreach to the public about new voting processes.
  • For expanded VBM to work, Congress must also adequately fund the U.S. Postal Service, which has suffered grave revenue losses due to the pandemic. The House-passed HEROES Act includes $25 billion for the USPS. The Senate should follow the House’s lead.

If your organization is taking action please or if you have any questions about this action, please contact DI National Field Manager Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

UPLIFT OUR PARTNERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA

TRAINING AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

DEMOCRACY CHAMPIONS TRAINING

The Democracy Initiative Education Fund (DIEF) has launched its virtual Democracy Champions: Vote by Mail Edition training series. On Sunday, July 26, the DIEF is launching our 100 Days of Training, a massive push to recruit, train, and place a diverse and motivated set of volunteers in key roles. If you have affiliates, activists, or members in FL, GA, MD, MI, MO, NC, NM, PA, VA, and WI, we encourage you to sign up to host a training.

Our standing training dates for the remainder of the cycle are as follows:

Tuesdays: 6:00pm-8:00pm EST
Thursdays: 12:00pm-2:00 pm EST
Saturdays: 10:00am -12:00 pm EST
Sundays: 5:00pm - 7:00 pm EST

We are happy to consider other times if these slots don't work for your members.

BAYARD RUSTIN FELLOWSHIP
The application deadline for the Bayard Rustin Democracy Fellowship Program is fast approaching! This year we will be hosting two fellows: A Training and Movement Building Fellow, who will help support the 100 Days training initiative, and a Digital Campaigner, who will support the Vote by Mail campaign’s organizing efforts online. The deadline to apply for either position will close Monday, July 27. If you know of someone who would be good for this position, please encourage them to apply by Monday!

To recommend a fellow, fill out this form.
To sign up to be a fellow, fill out this form.

For questions, connect with Brittny Baxter at bbaxter@democracyinitiative.org.

PARTNER CORNER

DRAD AND NCAC DENOUNCE TRUMP'S DEPLOYMENT OF FEDERAL AGENTS TO US CITIES

In response to the Trump administration’s deployment of federal agents to Portland and other major cities, Defending Rights and Dissent (DRAD) and National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), alongside 50 advocacy and issue groups, issued a statement condemning the action. The Democracy Initiative is a proud member of DRAD, and we have written elsewhere on the importance of defending the right to demonstrate and taking collective action to the democracy movement.

In the joint statement, the groups wrote:

“The use of unidentified militarized federal forces against the wishes of local officials, the exercise of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators and the seemingly arbitrary detention of some of them without a clear reason for arrest are designed to intimidate protesters into surrendering their First Amendment rights.

“We condemn these practices. We call for all unwanted federal forces to be removed from Portland and urge Congress to investigate the pattern and practice of abuses against protesters.”

Liz Butler, Vice President of Organizing and Strategic Alliances at DI partner Friends of the Earth, gave the following statement:

“Friends of the Earth condemns Trump’s authoritarian crackdown in Portland, where unaccountable federal forces are deliberately escalating the situation to justify violence against protesters. It is disturbing to see Trump deploy the brutal tactics of dictators he has publicly praised to stomp out opposition here in the U.S.

Horrifyingly, Trump has stated that his action in Portland is part of a deliberate plan to expand state-sponsored violence in cities across the country. Trump named a number of additional cities he intends to deploy unaccountable federal forces to shortly as a part of ‘Operation Legend.’ This escalation of tactics, targeted at Black Lives Matter protestors, should raise deep concerns for environmental and climate activists and anyone committed to our democratic institutions.

There is cause for hope. Instead of being intimidated, people from across the region, including thousands of moms, have flooded the streets of Portland to defend the right to protest. We will need heroes like this in the coming months to defend our democracy.

The right to protest is fundamental to our efforts and our democracy. We must collectively condemn these violent tactics.”

The League of Women Voters of the United States board of directors and the League of Women Voters Education Fund board of trustees issued the following statement in response to the federal agents’ attacks on protestors:

“The increasing number of attacks on our democracy by some elected leaders and appointed members of our government are violating the first amendment rights of people in this country and requires our organization to speak out against the actions of this administration.

“On Tuesday the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection division confirmed that it deployed officers from three paramilitary-style units to act against protestors in Portland, Oregon. Dressed in unidentifiable military gear, in unmarked vehicles, our government unleashed a wave of fear and intimidation against people executing their Constitutional right of free speech.

“This administration’s tactics all too closely resemble authoritarianism. We have seen out of control leaders, past and present, who have used their power to intimidate, attack, or arrest their opponents in the name of ‘law and order.’ These actions are unpatriotic and un-American.

“The League of Women Voters is calling on the President and his administration to put an end to these unconstitutional acts. We also call on Congress to exercise its power to hold the administration accountable, immediately investigate the Department of Homeland Security and any other government agency involved in these heinous acts, and stand up for American democracy.

“The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan organization whose mission is to empower voters and defend democracy. We neither support nor endorse candidates or political parties. For 100 years the League has stood firm in the belief that government has a responsibility to represent and serve the interests of the people, not individuals in power.”

Read the full letter here.

DECLARATION FOR AMERICAN DEMOCRACY LETTER FOR COVID ELECTION FUNDING
The DI joined the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD), of which we are a proud member, and 30 other partners and allies in calling for the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration—the Senate committee in charge of allocating election funding—to support the $3.6 billion in emergency election funding proposed in the HEROES Act in a letter sent on Tuesday, July 22.

DI partners Common Cause, Franciscan Action Network, Greenpeace USA, League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters of the United States, New American Leaders Action Fund, Progressive Turnout Project, Public Citizen, SEIU, and Voices for Progress also signed the letter.

You can read the letter here.

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Democracy Initiative Update 07.17.20

Friday, July 17, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

TAKE ACTION: URGENT 2020 ELECTION FUNDING

As COVID-19 surges again, and states continue to struggle getting safe election infrastructure in place—especially expanded Vote by Mail (VBM) options supported by the vast majority of Americans—we learned yesterday that the newly appointed postmaster general is telling postal employees to slow down the US mail. In a statement to the press yesterday, Democracy Initiative Executive Director Wendy Fields called out how dangerous this is and how it could interfere with this year’s election. 34 states require ballots to be received—not just postmarked—by Election Day. We are witnessing an all-out assault on our democracy.

One of the most important elections of our lifetimes is four months away. States are still in dire need of federal funding to expand safe voting options like Vote By Mail with prepaid postage. The USPS, critical infrastructure for democracy, is facing grave revenue shortfalls due to the pandemic. We must act now. Important votes are coming up soon in the Senate. It is time to activate your members in the states of key Senators and light up your social media channels!

In March, Congress allocated $400 million in COVID-19 relief funding to help states ensure safe and equitable voting amid the pandemic—falling far short of the $4 billion estimated cost to virus-proof voting this year. In May, the U.S. House passed the HEROES Act, a relief package that includes $3.6 billion more for election administration and $25 billion for the USPS. The Senate has not passed the HEROES Act, but they are returning from recess July 20 and are expected to begin work on a new funding package. It is absolutely essential that the U.S. Senate follow the House’s action on critical funding for election administration and the USPS.

Recently, some Republican lawmakers are indicating an openness to provide more funding for the election, including Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration—the committee responsible for allocating funding for elections. We are focusing grassroots efforts on these Republicans: Senators Martha McSally (R-AZ), Cory Gardner (R-CO), David Perdue (R-GA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Susan Collins (R-ME), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Steve Daines (R-MT), and Thom Tillis (R-NC). They need to hear from their constituents!

Here are the key points to make in communications to key Senators:

  • The Senate must approve the House-passed $3.6 billion for expansion of VBM, early voting, and online & same day registration, so that states have enough time to make the necessary changes to expand Vote by Mail and early voting, recruit and train workers, buy equipment, and do outreach to the public about new voting processes.
  • For expanded VBM to work, Congress must also adequately fund the U.S. Postal Service, which has suffered grave revenue losses due to the pandemic. The House-passed HEROES Act includes $25 billion for the USPS. The Senate should follow the House’s lead.

Here’s how your organization can help:

  • Take Action on Social Media: Call for the Senate to provide the necessary funding for our November election, and tag the DI (@unite4democracy on Twitter, @democracyinitiative on FB) and key Senate targets. Check out our COVID-19 Voting Social Media Toolkit for sample tweets and FB posts.
  • Activate Your Members: Ask your members in the key states to contact their Senators at 202-224-3121 and urge them to approve $3.6 billion for election administration and $25 billion for the Post Office to help states ensure safe equitable elections this year. Feel free to cut and paste from this email into your own action alert.

Drop us a line and let us know what actions you are able to take. If you have any questions about this action, please feel free to contact DI National Field Manager, Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

SCOTUS DISENFRANCHISES HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS

On Thursday, July 16, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 6-3 in favor of disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of Florida voters. The court's decision left in place an appeals court's stay, which was leveled on a trial judge's ruling that Florida's financial restriction on formerly incarcerated voters regaining their rights is unconstitutional. SCOTUS' disappointing ruling is the latest in the long line of court cases arising from Florida lawmakers' decision to override the will of an overwhelming majority of Floridians.

DI Executive Director Wendy Fields gave the following statement:

“With today’s ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has overruled the clear intent of Florida’s voters, who voted overwhelmingly in 2018 to allow formerly incarcerated people the right to vote.

“More than five million Florida voters are right, and a handful of Supreme Court justices are wrong. Those who have completed their prison terms live and pay taxes in their communities and have every right to participate in the decisions that affect their lives.

“Florida voters have every right to make their own laws without interference from Washington DC. In a country where Black people make up nearly 40 percent of the prison population, today’s decision is a stunning and unsupportable act of disenfranchisement and voter suppression.”

Read more here.

TRAINING AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT UPDATES

DEMOCRACY CHAMPIONS TRAINING
The Democracy Initiative Education Fund has launched its virtual Democracy Champions training series: Vote by Mail Edition. As we gear up for the final 100 days in this historic and generation-defining electoral cycle, we are moving initiatives to recruit, train, and place volunteers in key roles. If you have affiliates, activists, or members in FL, GA, MD, MI, MO, NC, NM, PA, VA, and WI, we encourage you to sign up to host a training. We have already hosted Train the Trainer cohorts nationally and in North Carolina, thanks to DI partner A. Philip Randolph Institute.

Our standing training dates for the remainder of the cycle are as follows:

Tuesdays: 6:00pm-8:00pm EST
Thursdays: 12:00pm-2:00 pm EST
Saturdays: 10:00am -12:00 pm EST
Sundays: 5:00pm - 7:00 pm EST

We are happy to consider other times if these slots don't work for your members.

BAYARD RUSTIN FELLOWSHIP
We are currently welcoming applications for our Bayard Rustin Democracy Fellowship Program. This year we will be hosting two fellows: A Training and Movement Building Fellow, who will help support the 100 Days training initiative, and a Digital Campaigner, who will support the Vote by Mail campaign’s organizing efforts online. If you know of someone who would be good for this position, please encourage them to apply.

To recommend a fellow, fill out this form.
To sign up to be a fellow, fill out this form.

For questions, connect with Brittny Baxter at bbaxter@democracyinitiative.org.

DI BOARD MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

The Universal Voting Working Group, a joint project of the Ash Center of the Harvard Kennedy School and the Brookings Institution co-chaired by former DI Board member Miles Rapoport, is releasing their report "Lift Every Voice: The Urgency of Universal Civic Duty Voting" on Monday, July 20. The report, the culmination of nearly two years of work by a diverse group of 25 scholars, advocates, and election specialists, examines the idea that the United States should consider participation in elections as a requirement of citizenship.

The Brookings-Ash Center launch event will be held on Monday, July 20 at 1:00pm EST, featuring discussion and commentary on the report by members of the Working Group. You can register for the event here.

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Supreme Court Overrules Florida Voters and Disenfranchises Hundreds of Thousands of Formerly Incarcerated Voters

Thursday, July 16, 2020

For Immediate Release:

Supreme Court Overrules Florida Voters and Disenfranchises
Hundreds of Thousands of Formerly Incarcerated Voters

The following statement is from Wendy Fields, Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative.

“With today’s ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has overruled the clear intent of Florida’s voters, who voted overwhelmingly in 2018 to allow formerly incarcerated people the right to vote.

“More than five million Florida voters are right, and a handful of Supreme Court justices are wrong. Those who have completed their prison terms live and pay taxes in their communities and have every right to participate in the decisions that affect their lives.

“Florida voters have every right to make their own laws without interference from Washington DC. In a country where Black people make up nearly 40 percent of the prison population, today’s decision is a stunning and unsupportable act of disenfranchisement and voter suppression.”

###

The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 organizations with a collective 45 million members fighting for workers, civil rights, social justice and the environment. DI partner organizations are united in their commitment to realizing the promise of American democracy where all people have an equal seat at the governance table.

Democracy Initiative Update 07.13.20

Monday, July 13, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

DI STATEMENT: SCOTUS & TRUMP'S FINANCIAL RECORDS

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on Thursday, July 9 in two cases regarding the president’s continued attempts to avoid releasing his financial records to the American public. SCOTUS ruled 7-2 in both cases that Trump cannot ignore subpoenas of his financial records issued by Congress and from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. SCOTUS’ decisions, however, make it unlikely that Trump’s tax records will be seen before November; rather than to grant the validity of the subpoenas, both cases were remanded back to the lower courts for further proceedings—giving Trump’s lawyers a chance to stall.

Wendy Fields, Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative, gave the following statement:

“It’s good news that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that no one – not even Donald Trump – is above the law. Like anyone else, President Trump is obliged to provide information about his tax returns and other financial records in response to legitimate inquiries from the U.S. Congress and state prosecutors.

“It’s troubling, however, that the president’s lawyers have stated that they will continue to delay these proceedings as long as possible. It is time to stop stalling with lawyering tricks and live up to his commitment to share the taxes. The voters deserve full transparency on his finances. As he runs for re-election, we have a right to know about potential conflicts of interest.

“President Trump is making life and death decisions that affect us all every day. He needs to prove that he makes those decisions based on the best interests of the American people, not for his own personal interests."

GRASSROOTS & COURTS DELIVER SETBACKS FOR FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY; Safe Voting $$ More Important Than Ever

Last week, the fossil fuel industry suffered a trio of stunning setbacks. The striking victories for Indigenous water defenders, grassroots organizing, and environmental justice offer hope that the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on our government can someday be broken. As we’ve written before here and here, achieving a comprehensive, renewable energy economy will require reforming our political system to reduce the power of money in politics and expand voter participation. No one knows this better than DI’s environmental partners: 350.org, Center for Environmental Health, Clean Water Action, Friends of the Earth, GreenLatinos, Greenpeace USA, League of Conservation Voters, National Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, Story of Stuff Project, and Waterkeeper Alliance. Read on for more on the wins and how this fight is inextricably linked to ensuring free and fair elections with safe voting in the face of COVID-19.

In the face of sustained grassroots activism, Dominion and Duke Energy cancel pipeline

US Dept of Energy Secretary Brouillette credited environmental activists for the July 5 announcement by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy to abandon the $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) project. Grassroots organizers pointed to this as a win in the struggle for environmental justice and local communities to have a say in matters that affect their lives. In a press statement, Donna Chavis, senior fossil fuel campaigner for DI anchor partner Friends of the Earth and an elder of the Lumbee Nation, described the magnitude of the (ACP) decision:

"Native American, African American, and other affected communities along the route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline have prevailed in their David versus Goliath struggle against Duke Energy and Dominion Energy. The ACP is now officially dead, and not a moment too soon.

Americans have spoken in the streets, and they have no tolerance for fossil fuel projects that poison the bodies, the land, the air, and the water of Indigenous, Black, and Brown communities."

Standing Rock activists win in court; SCOTUS upholds KXL block

On Monday, July 6, a federal judge ruled that the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) must cease operation and drain the fuel from its pipelines by August 5 due to the failure of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out a complete analysis of its environmental impact. Then on Monday night, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an attempt by the Trump Administration to overturn an April ruling by a Montana judge blocking the Keystone XL pipeline.

The DAPL ruling marks a turning point in a four-year litigation battle brought by Standing Rock Sioux, Cheyenne River Sioux, and others against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As Janet Redman of DI Anchor partner Greenpeace USA said, “The past 24 hours have sent a loud and clear message to fossil fuel corporations still committed to constructing dangerous pipelines—the future does not belong to you.”

The DAPL victory in court could not have happened without the struggle of Indigenous people and their allies for their land, their water, and their communities. As Policy Director Mitch Jones of DI partner Food & Water Watch said:

"The campaign to stop the Dakota Access pipeline, led by Indigenous groups whose water would have been directly impacted by that filthy project, inspired and emboldened climate activists across the country. The Trump White House can boast and bluster all it wants, and corporate behemoths can scheme to take advantage of the administration's fondness for fossil fuels, but they are no match for determined grassroots opposition movements fighting for environmental justice and an end to the degradation of our air, water and climate.”

The critical path to victory: Inclusive Democracy

Energy corporations gaining approval from the government to run pipelines through reservations and invading tribal lands to plunder their natural resources descends from a long history of environmental racism toward Indigenous peoples, both at Standing Rock and elsewhere. Right now, fossil fuel corporations are lobbying hard to take advantage of the pandemic to advance their interests, garnering at least $3 billion in COVID-related funding so far and winning a Trump executive order using the virus as an excuse to allow secret fast-tracking of drilling on public lands.

At the same time, wealthy interests and large corporations are pressuring the Trump administration to endanger the lives of workers by prematurely opening the country. They claim solidarity with Black Lives Matter yet routinely discriminate against Black and Brown people and pay millions of dollars to lobby for the disenfranchisement of those very communities.

Last week’s wins show transformative change is possible, and it comes from the ground up, through sustained pressure. Overcoming voter suppression and corporate political dominance, renewing our democratic institutions, and aggressively expanding civic participation is the path to truly beginning the work of undoing structural racism and enacting transformative climate and energy policies.

TAKE ACTION: SECURE FEDERAL $$ FOR VOTE BY MAIL

Right now, the fight centers around the urgent need for the Senate to ensure our elections are safe and adequately funded. The House-passed HEROES Act includes $3.6 billion to help states expand Vote by Mail and ensure safe in-person voting amid the pandemic. The Senate has not voted on the HEROES Act, but is expected to take up action on a COVID relief package as soon as the week of July 20.

On Thursday, July 2, the DI joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 109 other partners and allies in sending a letter to the Senate calling for Senators support the election provisions of the HEROES Act. The letter calls for Senators to support not only the $3.6 billion in financial assistance to the states but also the policy provisions of the HEROES ACT, including expansion of prepaid postage Vote by Mail, early voting, online and same day voter registration, and voter education.

DI partner organizations stand united in demanding a fully funded safe, accessible, and equitable election in 2020, so that the American people can take their seat at the governing table. Please activate your members this week. Use this COVID-19 Voting Social Media Toolkit to amplify the call for the Senate to provide funding for safe and fair elections. For more talking points, background info, and sample action alerts on the links between climate and democracy, check out the environmental democracy toolkit and letter to Congress spearheaded by some of DI’s environmental partners:

“The dual crises of rapid climate change and the global spread of the coronavirus has made it more clear than ever that proactive measures are needed to ensure that every voice is heard. We do not, and should not, have to choose between public health and a functioning democracy. We must advance our democracy so that it is representative of and responsive to 21st-century issues and all the people that call this country home. This means bold, comprehensive, democratic action to create an inclusive system that’s responsive to all communities, no matter where they come from, how much money they have, and/or the color of their skin. Democracy means a government of, by, and for the people. All people.”

For more information on this call to action, contact DI National Field Manager Getachew Kassa, gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

PARTNER CORNER

TAKE ACTION: NATIONAL DISABILITY VOTER REGISTRATION WEEK WITH AAPD
This week is National Disability Voter Registration Week (NDVRW) organized by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

Every year, the REV UP Campaign coordinates NDVRW to increase the political power of people with disabilities by sharing resources and getting people registered to vote. This year, NDVRW is July 13-17. With an estimated 35 million people with disabilities eligible to vote in 2020, we encourage our coalition partners and allies to participate in NDVRW in order to raise the disability voice and civic participation across the country!

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, AAPD and participating organizations are focusing on supporting the disability vote through digital organizing throughout NDVRW!

Here’s how to get involved:

  • Share AAPD’s Online Voter Registration Portal: Direct folks to AAPD’s custom registration portal at weall.vote/aapd, powered by When We All Vote, where they can register to vote in just a few minutes.
  • Activate your Social Media: Use the power and reach of social media to share AAPD’s online voter registration portal weall.vote/aapd, motivate your network to register and vote, and inform voters on your state’s election rules and dates.
  • Use the NDVRW 2020 Toolkit: AAPD’s Toolkit provides key resources and info to help you engage with NDVRW!

You can access the full suite of AAPD’s NDVRW materials, resources and tools here.

ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: CENTERING RACIAL JUSTICE IN VOTE BY MAIL

On Wednesday, July 10, we were excited to welcome Senior Communications Associate Jeralyn Cave and Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Lai-Peterson of DI partner Advancement Project to share findings from their recently released Vote by Mail (VBM) Messaging Guide and VBM Essay: Voting by Mail in 2020: Panacea or Predicament?. The guide, which focuses on the intersection of race and VBM, and provides recommendations and tools for organizers and advocates on how to counter vote-by-mail disinformation and provide insights on the potential impact of vote-by-mail on communities of color. These materials are critical to our efforts to center racial justice in our work to ensure all voters can safely cast their ballots and have them counted this November. Advancement Project also has made available their Making VBM Work for Communities of Color slides and VBM Social Media Research.

Jeralyn also shared the following information about the Vote by Mail advertisement testing referenced during the meeting:

The group Fellow Americans did message testing on the nation’s decline in social trust and vote-by-mail in the past two weeks. They found that young people, African Americans, and non-college educated voters were among those that had comparatively low social trust. By “Social Trust,” we mean belief that most people can be trusted. They tested videos.

  • Increased distrust: videos with negative framing, like videos that concentrate on people being denied their rights or reminders of leadership failures amidst COVID-19.
  • Things that increased trust: videos that provide history of VBM, such as one ad that explains how VBM was used by soldiers during civil war. This ad provides some data points on VBM [know ¼ ppl vote-by-mail; pointing out that there are millions of seniors, veterans and others who VBM every election].

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS: STATE UPDATES

MASSACHUSETTS

On Monday, July 6, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law an $8 million voting reform bill that allows voters to vote by mail in the state’s primary and general election without requiring an excuse due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other provisions include expanded early voting for both elections—a first for the state—and the establishment of safety protocols for election officials and voters. We acknowledge DI partners and allies ACLU Massachusetts, League of Women Voters, and Massachusetts PIRG for their work in strengthening this bill.

Read more.

MONTANA
The “Ballot Interference Prevention Act” (BIPA) law passed by state lawmakers in 2017 prohibiting the collection and delivery of mail ballots was blocked Tuesday, July 7 by a Montana judge. Several Native American tribes and advocacy groups claimed that the restrictions on ballot collection uniquely and disproportionately impede Native American voters’ ability to participate in elections. In her ruling granting the preliminary injunction, the judge wrote that “The Court finds that BIPA serves no legitimate purpose; it fails to enhance the security of absentee voting; it does not make absentee voting easier or more effective; it does not reduce the cost of conducting elections and it does not increase voter turnout.”

Read more here.

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Democracy Initiative Update 07.02.20

Thursday, July 2, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

HISTORIC HOUSE VOTE FOR DC STATEHOOD

For the first time in United States history, a chamber of Congress has voted for DC Statehood. On June 26, the US House of Representatives passed H.R. 51 on a 232-180 vote to make Washington, DC the 51st state, with two senators and one representative in Congress. The 700,000 people who call the District home live without equal representation and voice in our democracy, and Friday’s vote is the first step toward righting a 210-year injustice.

Before the vote, Democracy Initiative National Field Manager Getachew Kassa participated in a press conference organized by DI partner and longtime leader in the DC Statehood DC Vote and featuring DI Board member Virginia Kase, CEO of the League of Women Voters and Vanita Gupta, President of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The DI is proud to stand with DC Vote and the 700,000 District residents who are fighting for representation and self-governance, and we appreciate all DI partners and grassroots advocates who have worked so hard on this fight for so many years. H.R. 51 now goes to the Senate, and we call on McConnell and all Senators to pass this long overdue bill into law.

The DI issued the following statement in support of H.R. 51:

“There’s a gaping hole at the very heart of democracy in the United States. 700,000 residents of our nation’s capital do not have a voting representative in the U.S. House or U.S. Senate. More than 325,000 of these disenfranchised citizens are Black.

"Black Lives Matter – and Black votes also matter. Everyone deserves a seat at the governing table, and the path to racial justice runs directly through Washington DC. It is simply unacceptable that residents of the District have no vote in Congress – especially when Congress controls the city’s laws and its budget.

“The U.S. Capitol, where the House and Senate meet, was built by slaves. The promise of American democracy will continue to ring hollow until their descendants – and all other DC residents – have a right to send their own representatives into those halls, to vote on the laws that affect their lives.

“The member organizations of the Democracy Initiative fight every day to protect the right to vote for everyone. We strongly support HR 51, because statehood is a practical way to end the disenfranchisement of DC residents. No one should be excluded from our democracy based on how they look – or where they live.”

JULY 8 MOBILIZING CALL AGENDA

Join us for our next DI mobilizing call scheduled Wednesday, July 8 at 3:00 pm EST. RSVP here.

Our agenda will cover the following:

  1. Centering Racial Justice in Vote By Mail: To protect public health and our democracy amidst the coronavirus pandemic, Black and Brown voters are increasingly encouraged to use vote-by-mail as one of several ways to participate in the upcoming election. DI partner Advancement Project will join us for a presentation on their new VBM messaging guide that provides guidance and tools for organizers and advocates on how to counter vote-by-mail disinformation and provide insights on the potential impact of vote-by-mail on communities of color. The presentation will cover critical points including: how to make VBM work for communities of color, essential policy recommendations, examples of where it is working and which states need improvement, and how to ensure communities of color have the information and tools they need to utilize VBM this year.
  2. State Update: Last week, Kentucky held their Primary Election despite the closure of hundreds of polling locations statewide, including in Jefferson county, which had one available polling place. The NAACP Louisville Branch will join us to provide insightful perspective from the field on lessons learned, how turnout remained high, and the challenges and opportunities moving forward for the November election.
  3. Federal Fight: Stimulus 4: As the Senate prepares to take up the HEROES Act in the round of federal stimulus negotiation, we will share a legislative update and discuss opportunities to ensure the $3.6 billion in funding for elections assistance and support for USPS passed by the House remains part of the larger package.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday. RSVP here or email Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org for more information.

TRAINERS IN KEY STATES NEEDED

The Democracy Initiative is kicking off July with our inaugural Train the Trainer cohort for the Vote By Mail Democracy Champions training, a virtual popular education style training for activists and volunteers who want to gain a deeper understanding of Vote By Mail as a democracy reform tool. Participants will use their lived experiences to gain a deeper understanding of collective power, Vote By Mail advocacy and combatting voter suppression. Participants will develop the relational organizing skills to engage on both the technical and practical uses for Vote by Mail. Our first cohort meets Thursday, July 9 for a Train the Trainer session, where you will learn how to facilitate our virtual popular education Democracy Champions trainings. We have an ambitious goal to train 10,000 activists this year to become VBM Captains, election workers/volunteers, and poll monitors in key states. Our priority states are FL, GA, MD, MI, MO, NC, NM, PA, VA, and WI.

We are working with DI partners to schedule trainings to support the grassroots campaigns that demand safe, secure voting options for all. If your organization wants to host a training, or sign up staff to participate in upcoming trainings, sign up here. For more information, contact Brittny Baxter, DI Training Coordinator at bbaxter@democracyinitiative.org.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE LEADERS ON THE MOVE

AMERICANS STAND WITH THE POSTAL SERVICE
On Tuesday, June 23, DI partners American Postal Workers Union (APWU) delivered over 2 million signatures to Congress from Americans across the country in support of emergency pandemic relief for the USPS. DI partners AFL-CIO, AFSCME, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Jobs with Justice, MoveOn.org, NAACP, National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), Public Citizen, and Take On Wall Street joined APWU for an hour long broadcast in support of the USPS.

Decades of privatization attempts, economic strain from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the administration’s opportunism have placed crosshairs on the US Postal Service (USPS) at a time when their essential services are keeping the country afloat. In a recent article from Associated Press, APWU President Mark Dimondstein said the administration is “shamefully trying to use the crisis to carry out an agenda [of privatization, which would] break up the Postal Service and sell it." Commenting on the critical importance of getting COVID relief funding to the USPS and their central role in our elections in the same article, DI Executive Director Wendy Fields said, “what we don’t need is more chaos in the chaos.”

The fact that postal workers are poised to ensure the integrity of the 2020 elections through handling the increasing number of mail-in ballots reflect that Trump’s attacks in recent weeks on the USPS are part of his multi-pronged assault on our democracy. That’s why we must stand with one of the oldest and most trusted US institutions. We encourage our partners to share our Save The Post Office tool with their members, which allows them to send a letter to their Senators calling for them to support the USPS with emergency pandemic relief.

GETTING REAL ON RACE: NETWORK NOVA’S WOMEN’S SUMMIT 2020 PANEL
DI Executive Director Wendy Fields spoke last Thursday, June 25 at Network NoVA’s Women’s Summit 2020, joining a powerhouse of women leaders (Karen Boykin Towns, NAACP; Marjorie Velazquez, Community Leader; and Dr. Melvena Wilson, Center for Advocacy and Research on Health Equity; with moderator Krysta Jones, Vote, Run Lead) for a discussion of systemic racism and the path to dismantling it in our own communities. We strongly encourage you to watch and share this powerful conversation. You can watch the full panel here.

TAKE ACTION: ORGANIZING FOR DEMOCRACY AND #UUTHEVOTE
Last Wednesday, June 24, DI Executive Director Wendy Fields joined Showing Up for Racial Justice and Puente Human Right Movement to host an 800-person training at the Unitarian Universalist Association’s 2020 General Assembly to host a training on Organizing Your Congregation to #UUTheVote. The panel spoke to the urgent need to fight for justice in the streets in support of movement demands, and at the ballot box, as well as ways participants can combat voter suppression, protect our elections, and have values-based conversations about racial injustice as a core piece of our electoral organizing. We encourage your organizations to make use of this training. You can view the training here.

VIRTUAL MORAL MARCH: 2.5 MILLION STRONG

The winds of change are blowing. In a powerful demonstration of American’s hunger for real democracy, more than 2.5 million Americans from across the country participated on Saturday, June 20 in the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington. In addition to the event’s massive turnout, more than 42,000 people uploaded selfies and stories to the Poor People’s Campaign’s website and nearly 300,000 people sent letters to their elected officials insisting they implement the policy agenda of the Poor People’s Campaign.

We want to acknowledge DI partners and allies 350.org, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, AFT, APWU, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, CASA, Common Cause, CPD, CWA, Daily Kos, Demos, Food & Water Watch, Franciscan Action Network, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA, Hip Hop Caucus, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, League of Women Voters, NAACP, NAACP LDF, NEA, National LGBTQ Task Force, People’s Action, SEIU, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Auto Workers, UFCW, United Steelworkers, and others for engaging and turning out your members to this event.

Watch the full event here.

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS: STATE UPDATES

KENTUCKY

Despite significant polling place closures in the state, Kentucky voters nearly matched the state’s primary turnout record with 28.87% of voters participating on June 23, due in large part to 100,000 early votes and 75% of the 1.1 million votes being cast through mail-in ballots.

MICHIGAN
The state of Michigan has seen an historic surge in voter registration and absentee ballot requests in the month before their August 4 primaries. According to recent data from the Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office, election officials have received more than 1.3 million requests for mail ballots, an increase of 250% since the last presidential cycle. Benson is currently working to send every one of the state’s 7.7. million voters a ballot. Absentee voting in Michigan has increased significantly since voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure supported by the DI and our partners in 2018 that allows no-excuse absentee voting.

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Democracy Initiative Update 06.19.20

Friday, June 19, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

TAKE ACTION: JUNE 20 MORAL MARCH ON WASHINGTON

Across the country, in every state, people are rising up to demand justice and transformation in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless others. Now, with the intersection of police brutality, systemic racism, the COVID-19 pandemic, and economic devastation, it is clear that we are in the midst of a moment of national reckoning.

Today is Juneteenth, and we know this weekend will see historic demonstrations of collective action. Since June 19, 1865, the date of emancipation of the last Black slaves in Texas two years after it was officially enacted, Juneteenth has been celebrated as a day marking end of slavery and the fight for freedom for Black Americans. Democracy Initiative is proud to affirm in words and in action on Juneteenth and every day that Black Lives Matter, and that the fight for a truly representative, inclusive, and equitable democracy requires full participation and justice for all Black people.

In honor of Juneteenth, we encourage all Democracy Initiative partners and allies to invite their members, families and friends to join us at the Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington, a digital justice gathering on June 20. On Tuesday, June 16, Poor People’s Campaign Co-Chairs Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Rev. Liz Theoharis and DI Executive Director Wendy Fields joined with Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson, Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica, CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres, Demos President K. Sabeel Rahman, League of Women Voters of the United States President & CEO Virginia Kase, and Secretary-Treasurer of United Auto Workers Ray Curry to invite all DI partners to join us at Saturday’s event.

Many of our partners are also supporting mobilizations across the country all weekend to stand together and #DefendBlackLives; to find an event near you this weekend, click here. We strongly encourage all participating in public or semi-public actions to practice social distancing to the greatest degree possible, stay safe, and wear a mask.

As you know, the Poor People’s Campaign has been organizing poor and low-wealth people over the last two years around the interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, militarism and the war economy, ecological devastation, and the distorted narrative of religious nationalism. Core to the Campaign is the belief that poor and dispossessed people, and all those at the receiving end of injustice, can be agents of social change, not just subjects of a cruel history. The aim is to build moral fusion—organizing across the lines that divide us—to shift the narrative about what is possible and necessary, register poor and low-wealth people for a movement that votes, and build long-term power for our communities.

In the midst of these explosive times, the conditions are ripe to move transformative change, but that is only possible when we take action together in new and bold ways.

We encourage all DI partners to sign up with this Partners Form. You can further amplify the event by:

  1. Send an email to your supporters and network promoting June 20th event which will be broadcast on Saturday, June 20th at 10am EST, 6pm EST and Sunday June 21st at 6pm EST.
  2. Promote the event on social media and cross-post the livestream using this digital toolkit.

If you have any questions about getting involved, please direct them to Noam Sandweiss-Back, noam@poorpeoplescampaign.org.

THE WINDS OF CHANGE ARE BLOWING

BLACK VOTES MATTER
On June 14, DI Executive Director Wendy Fields’ Letter to the Editor “Black Votes Matter” was published in the Washington Post:

“E.J. Dionne Jr. was right: Unless we step up our game, the 2020 election could be a disaster for our increasingly fragile democracy [“The last thing we need is a disastrous Election Day,” op-ed, June 8]. That’s why the $3.6 billion included in the House-passed Heroes Act is essential. These funds are desperately needed to expand voting by mail and provide state and local officials with updated technology and resources. We cannot afford an election in which the results are disputed because members of disadvantaged communities were turned away at the polls or did not have their votes properly counted.

Many corporations are using ads and social media to denounce racism. In the coming weeks, we will challenge these companies to use their power and influence to protect our right to vote. Black Lives Matter — and black votes also matter.”

As the fight to secure essential and urgent funding for fair and equitable elections ramps up, we must place pressure on corporations rushing out to affirm the worth of Black lives to back that up with money and advocacy for adequate election funding. It has never been more important. We encourage our partners to use Wendy’s LTE and recent statement as the foundation for a framework oriented toward making those demands.

Retweet the op-ed here.

VOTE FOR OUR LIVES TOWNHALL
Last Tuesday, June 9, DI Executive Director Wendy Fields spoke during the Declaration for American Democracy and Leadership Conference on Civil and Human RightsVote For Our Lives virtual rally.

Wendy spoke alongside:

Wendy’s remarks focused on the need for a massive push for a transformative 75% voter participation and holding corporations accountable by pressuring them to match their words with action. You can find a recording of the rally here. Wendy’s remarks begin at 1:01:30.

LGBTQ WORKERS RIGHTS AFFIRMED BY SCOTUS
The Supreme Court of the United States issued on Monday, June 15 an historic ruling in protection of LGBTQ workers rights. The decision protects gay and transgender workers from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; prior to Monday, this form of workplace discrimination was legal in more than half of all states. The 6-3 ruling is a landmark ruling that finally enshrines long overdue protections for millions of workers across the country.

DI Executive Director Wendy Fields issued the following statement:

“We’re overjoyed to celebrate today with LGBTQ people and all Americans. Validating the tireless efforts of advocates and activists, the Supreme Court has ruled that no one can be fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Period.

“The right to secure employment is a bedrock civil right. At a time when our country is often divided, today’s sweeping 6-to-3 decision expands American democracy. Liberals and conservatives on the Court agree: LGBTQ people are included in our nation’s civil rights laws and have the same right to earn a living as anyone else.

“Sadly, Donald Zarda and Aimee Stephens, two of the plaintiffs in the cases decided today, are no longer alive to see the result of their courage and hard work. Their legacy will live on, along with the work of plaintiff Gerald Bostock. Our thanks go to all of them, for taking a stand and making our country a better place.”

Retweet our statement here.

DI partner National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey released this statement following the Title VII Supreme Court decision:

“At this most challenging time for our community, the country and the world, it is heartening to see the Court decision bolstering fairness and equality in this country by affirming that LGBTQ+ people are protected from employment discrimination under federal law. Every person celebrating this ruling has decades of work by Black and Brown trans members of our community, in particular, to thank for the ability to work free from discrimination. And while this is a watershed moment for fairness and equality, our struggle for LGBTQ liberation, we still have work to do.

We must close critical gaps in nondiscrimination protections. For example, it is still legal to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in federally funded programs, including hospitals, colleges, and adoption agencies, as well as discriminate against LGBTQ+, women, and others in public accommodations, including hotels and restaurants. Congress must join with the Supreme Court and the overwhelming majority of Americans to pass full federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people.

As we face so many critical, life-saving issues, this decision indicates that we can indeed come together and protect all in the workplace. Given the challenging health and economic crisis the U.S. is currently experiencing, and the ushering in of a worldwide movement calling for racial justice, it is more important than ever to protect workers—from nurses and doctors to those working in restaurants and hotels.”

Retweet National LGBTQ Task Force’s statement here.

Read more about the decision here.

WE HAVE A DREAM, AND DREAMERS ARE A PART OF IT
In a 5-4 split decision, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday, June 18 against the Trump administration’s attempts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a major win for immigrant families across the country and for our communities. The ruling responds to sustained efforts by the Trump administration stretching back over two years to end the program. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Roberts and joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, echoed the findings of lower courts in ruling that the administration did not follow the procedures required by law to end the program.

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, DI Executive Director Wendy Fields released the following statement:

“For the second time this week, we’re delighted to celebrate a Supreme Court decision which affirms the rights of vulnerable citizens and expands our democracy.

“We have a dream, and Dreamers are part of it. The United States is a multi-racial, multicultural society, stronger and more secure because people from every corner of the globe contribute their skills, culture and ideas. The Dreamers who grew up here, went to school here, and served in our military belong here.

“Today’s decision turns on specific legal issues, but let’s be clear: The winds of change are stronger than ever. Sixty-one percent of Americans agree that immigrants who came here as children deserve to stay. The courts, Congress and the president must follow this mandate.”

Retweet our statement here.

Read more about the decision here.

TAKE ACTION: JUNE 23 SAVE THE POST OFFICE

On June 23, postal workers and supporters will join collective actions across the country to demand Congress save the Postal Service. Together with allies in the labor movement and other community organizations, a postal workers caravan in Washington, DC will deliver over two million petition signatures of postal customers demanding Congress pass the emergency relief the Postal Service needs. Postal workers union officials are planning events across the country in support of the petition’s demands. You can find more information here or email: ncc@apwu.org.

The USPS is critical infrastructure for democracy, including—but not only—Vote by Mail. We are all depending on the USPS during this pivotal election year to be there as they always have been—carrying voter registration materials, mail ballots, census info, and so much more that undergirds our democracy. DI partners have been rising in strong support of federal relief funding for the United States Post Office. Partners including APWU, AFL-CIO, APALA, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Daily Kos, Franciscan Action Network, Free Speech for People, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace League of Women Voters, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and their affiliates Black Youth Vote, Black Women’s Roundtable, Move-On, NALC have recruited more than 314,000 individuals to communicate their support for the USPS. Let’s collectively get that to 600,000—one for every postal worker!

If you haven’t done so yet, please activate your members by asking them to send an email to their Senators urging them to support the USPS with $25 billion in COVID relief funding included in the House-passed HEROES Act. We’ve created a simple tool to allow your members to quickly send a pre-written letter to their Senators. Only the information necessary to send the letter to the correct Senators is required, and none of your members’ data will be captured for our use. It is especially important for Senators in the following states to be educated on this: AZ, CO, IA, KY, ME, MO, KY, TX WY.

Let us know if your organization has taken action so we can include you in this round up!

PARTNER CORNER

ADVANCEMENT PROJECT VOTE BY MAIL COFFEE CHAT

UNION LEADERS JOIN TOGETHER TO DEMAND RACIAL JUSTICE AND SAFE ELECTIONS
On June 16, DI labor partners and allies joined SEIU in sending a letter on behalf of millions of working people across the country to House and Senate leaders articulating the deep connection between racial justice and democracy, and urging Congress to “act swiftly to pass legislation that ensures every eligible voter is able to participate in the 2020 elections amid COVID-19."

“Voting rights and the fight for racial justice are deeply interconnected. The Labor Movement has long served as a bridge, not just between Black, Brown, White, and AAPI communities but among fair access to the ballot box and equal justice for all...

The U.S. Congress has the opportunity to stand with the American people in this time of great unrest and uncertainty by immediately passing legislation that would provide states with the resources to administer the 2020 elections in a safe, fair, and accessible manner during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is imperative that states are able to offer voters a range of options through which to submit completed ballots, in order to have equal access to the ballot box and the promise of a government that reflects and addresses the needs of all people.”

The letter was signed by:

  • A. Philip Randolph Institute;
  • American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE);
  • American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME);
  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT);
  • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA);
  • Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU);
  • Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW);
  • Communication Workers of America (CWA);
  • International Assoc. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM);
  • International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT);
  • International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE);
  • Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA);
  • Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO;
  • National Association of Government Employees, SEIU (NAGE);
  • National Education Association (NEA);
  • National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE);
  • Pride at Work; SEIU;
  • Transport Workers Union of America (TWU);
  • UAW;
  • United Food and Commercial Workers International Labor Union (UFCW); and
  • United Steelworkers (USW)

Read the full letter here.

HISTORIC HOUSE VOTE ON DC STATEHOOD ANNOUNCED FOR JUNE 26
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) recently announced that the House will hold a vote for the first time in decades on DC Statehood next Friday, June 26. We currently expect an overwhelming majority of Democrats to pass the bill, which would mark the first time in our nation’s history that a bill on DC Statehood passed a chamber of Congress.

The recent mobilization and occupation of federally controlled military and law-enforcement personnel in response to peaceful protests over George Floyd’s death has made need for full statehood and autonomy all the clearer. On June 15, DI joined our partner DC Vote and nearly 100 partners and allies, representing millions of members across the country, in calling for congressional support of the DC Admissions Act (H.R. 51). We stand with the 700,000 residents of DC denied full representation in Congress and support their right to full participation in our nation’s democratic process.

Read more here.

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS: ROUNDUP

ARIZONA
Democratic Party organizations from both the National and State levels are suing state election officials in federal court to ensure Arizona voters who submit a mail ballot without a signature to rectify the error.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
The city council unanimously passed a suite of police reforms last Tuesday, June 9, including a provision to restore the right to vote to people currently incarcerated for felonies. Incarcerated people serving time in federal Bureau of Prisons facilities would not be included, however.

FLORIDA
On Sunday, June 14, a federal judge refused Governor Ron DeSantis’ request for a stay in implementing the court’s decision to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated Floridians convicted of felonies. DeSantis is attempting to fast track his appeal process in order to restore the state’s illegal poll tax in time for the 2020 general election.

GEORGIA
Georgia’s recent election proved beyond a doubt that voter suppression is the Republican 2020 strategy, according to a recent op-ed by Rev. Dr. William Barber II and Tom Steyer. Numerous stories that captured the essence of such a strategy emerged from the June 9 primary, but one of the most horrifying remains the fact that the “Christian City” polling location was set in a nursing home. One-third of all coronavirus deaths as of May 11 have occurred in nursing homes.

KENTUCKY
Several voters and a Republican state representative have filed a lawsuit against state election officials, claiming that limiting counties to a single in-person polling location risks disenfranchising thousands of Kentucky voters who live in heavily populated localities.

IOWA
The state’s Senate Judiciary Committee passed a constitutional amendment to end felony disenfranchisement at the beginning of the month. Republicans have recently offered to approve the measure on the condition that they implement a poll tax.

MAINE
Maine Governor Janet Mills issued an executive order at the beginning of the month extending the deadline to register for Vote by Mail by two weeks. The new deadline to register is July 7.

NEW JERSEY
According to a report by NJ Spotlight released Wednesday, June 10, state election officials rejected nearly 1 in 10 mail ballots due to signatures being missing or mismatched with the state’s records. DI partners League of Women Voters of New Jersey and NAACP New Jersey State Conference have filed a lawsuit to prevent the same rate of disenfranchisement occurring in the upcoming July 7 primary.

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