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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 09.20.18

Thursday, September 20, 2018
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Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—Please share widely.

SCOTUS: INVESTIGATE NOW—MEN DON'T GET TO DECIDE

Democracy Initiative Executive Director Wendy Fields on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's accusations against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh:

The Democracy Initiative stands with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and applauds her incredible courage to come forward to speak her truth. We also want to echo Sen. Hirono's challenge:


In light of what's at stake in this #MeToo moment, the DI is providing a few resources for people who want to get involved in the fight against Kavanaugh:

  1. Women's March is planning a nonviolent, direct action in Washington DC on Monday, September 24 to show the Senate #WeBelieveChristine and demand that they #CancelKavanaugh and vote no on his confirmation. Click here.
  2. DI partner Friends of the Earth asks you to tell your senator to stop the vote on Kavanaugh. Sign the petition.
  3. Read President and Executive Director of DI partner Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Kristen Clarke's op-ed with former US District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin on the the ugly double standard over Kavanaugh's so-called youth, discussing the gendered and racial implications of arguments defending Kavanaugh.
  4. Sign DI partner Common Cause's petition to put the brakes on Kavanaugh's appointment.

In Solidarity,
The DI Team

FB LIVE: MOBILIZING FOR LABOR AND VOTING RIGHTS

DI Executive Director Wendy Fields and the AFL-CIO Civil, Human, and Women's Rights Director Nakisha Lewis will join a FB live discussion—hosted by the Declaration For American Democracy coalition—TODAY, Thursday, September 20, at 6pm. They will discuss threats to voting rights, how protecting and improving access to the ballot connects to AFL-CIO’s key issues, and provide key resources for people to get involved.

To watch and join the discussion, visit https://www.facebook.com/DeclarationforAmericanDemocracy/ at 6pm tonight.

NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION DAY TOOLKIT


National Voter Registration Day is less than a week away! Here are some tools to help you organize and spread the word:

SHOW OUR COLLECTIVE POWER: SIGN THE VOTING RIGHTS PETITION!
This November, 26 million young people, women, and people of color who voted in 2016 are predicted to not turn out to vote. We need these 26 million voices to be heard. We need ALL of our voices to be heard. Let’s prove them wrong. In the 21st century, we should have a democracy that is built on the basic principle of maximum participation.

On National Voter Registration Day, we want you to sign and distribute the petition with your members, and join us to stand up for our voting rights and a stronger democracy. Our petition engagement guide can be found here. To get involved, contact Getachew at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

To tweet a link to our petition on NVRD, click here!

VOTER REGISTRATION DAY TOOLSRESTORATION OF RIGHTS MAKES A DIFFERENCE
17 million people with former felony convictions are eligible register to vote right now, but many do not know their rights. DI partner Campaign Legal Center has developed Restore Your Vote to provide information and resources to help those with past convictions reclaim their right to vote. The tool will be updated with information from all 50 states. Share this tool widely to ensure everyone who is eligible can vote. Disenfranchisement affects everybody.

DI PARTNER CORNER

SIGN UP FOR ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE'S LEADERSHIP SUMMIT
Democracy Initiative is proud to join DI partner Arab American Institute (AAI) for their upcoming Fall 2018 National Leadership Summit, Our America: Harness Power, Change Policy. The summit will bring together passionate advocates for civil rights and civil liberties from every community to address policy issues that impact the Arab American and allied communities.
AAI hosts two gatherings: one in Dearborn, Michigan on Saturday, September 22 at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and the second in Atlanta, Georgia on Monday, September 24 at The Carter Center. Democracy Initiative’s Executive Director Wendy Fields will be in Atlanta discussing gerrymandering and its toll on democracy. Sign up here!

VERIZON LEAVES ALEC AFTER COLLECTIVE ACTION
On September 15, Verizon announced that it will be leaving the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, in response to scrutiny generated by a letter from DI partners and allies that denounced ALEC and its association with David Horowitz, famous for bigotry and his platforming of white nationalists.

The letter successfully put Verizon on notice: “Make no mistake, your continued financial support of ALEC is an endorsement of this dangerous vision for our country.” Verizon’s departure from ALEC marks a major victory against special interests, and shows us what we’re capable of when we stand together to pressure the powerful into listening to the people.

Read more here.

DARK MONEY GROUPS NOW MUST DISCLOSE DONORS
The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, September 18 to let stand a lower court ruling compelling political nonprofits to disclose the names of donors who’ve contributed over $200 to groups advocating for politicians. The temporary action likely comes in order to stall while the Supreme Court can reach a final resolution on the case, which is under appeal. But for now, the ruling is a major victory for transparency and accountability.

Read more here.

DI LEADERS ON THE MOVE

ANNIE LEONARD VIDEO INTERVIEW ON CLIMATE AND DEMOCRACY
DI Board Member and Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard was recently in an interview with The Real News Network’s Dharna Noor talking about the crisis facing our climate and our democracy.
“We need to be building power and we need to be getting corporate money out of our political system, because our democracy should be the best tool that we have to advance solutions, and we just can’t use it because it’s been hijacked by special interests.”
—Annie Leonard

You can watch the full interview here.

KNOW A DEMOCRACY CHAMPION? NOMINATE ONE

As we begin planning our Annual Meeting on Wednesday, November 28, we’d like you to be involved. The DI Annual Meeting is an opportunity for us to gather as partners, look back on our successes and challenges in 2018, and develop strategic campaign plans for 2019.
Last year, as part of the Annual Meeting, the DI honored two organizations and one individual with our first ever Democracy Champion awards, given to those who have gone above and beyond in the fight to strengthen our democracy.
This year, we want you to hear from you! Who is a Democracy Champion in your community or organization? Please use this link to nominate an organization or an individual for a Democracy Champion Leadership Award. Include a few sentences in support of your nominee. The deadline to submit nominations is September 21, 2018.
If you have any questions, please contact Elsie Guerrero at 202-567-6101, or eguerrero@democracyinitiative.org

SAVE THE DATE: DI ANNUAL MEETING 2018

 

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 09.13.18

Thursday, September 13, 2018
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Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—Please share widely.

CWA PRESIDENT CHRISTOPHER M. SHELTON JOINS THE DI BOARD

CWA President Christopher Shelton, who is deeply committed to democracy and addressing money in politics, has joined the Democracy Initiative board.
Christopher Shelton was elected president of the Communications Workers of America by acclamation by delegates to the union’s 75th convention on June 8, 2015.

Prior to his election as president, Shelton served as vice president of CWA District 1, representing 160,000 members in more than 300 CWA locals in New Jersey, New York and New England.

Shelton started his union career when he went to work for New York Telephone in 1968 as an outside technician. He was elected a CWA Local 1101 shop steward in 1968 and served Local 1101 in various positions until December 1988 when he joined the CWA national staff.

"I'm honored to join the Democracy Initiative board. CWA members are committed to working to get corporate money out of politics and to making the American political
process work for working families. Restoring our democracy is a core value or CWA members, and it is a core part of what the Democracy Initiative does. Together with our allies, we will fight back against the corporate special interests that have corrupted our democratic process." —Christopher Shelton, President of CWA

SAVE THE DATE: DI ANNUAL MEETING 2018

PRIORITY STATE CAMPAIGNS

BALTIMORE FAIR ELECTIONS CAMPAIGN KICKOFF - MARYLAND

A coalition that includes a number of DI partners and allies, including the NAACP, Maryland PIRG, and Common Cause, and is chaired by Rev. Kobi Little of the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP, is leading the way on the Baltimore City Fair Elections Fund. The Fund, on the November ballot as Question H, would grant matching dollars for small donations to candidates who don't accept large and corporate contributions. The goal of the ballot initiative is to curb the influence of big money in Baltimore City elections. The campaign kickoff will take place on Thursday, September 27th.

For more information, and to RSVP, go here.

VOTING RIGHTS ON THE BALLOT IN NOVEMBER - MICHIGAN
On September 6, Promote the Vote Michigan's voting rights ballot initiative cleared its latest hurdle when the Michigan Board of Canvassers voted unanimously to approve the initiative for the November ballot. Next, Promote the Vote will submit their 100-word ballot description before moving forward with their work to expand the vote for all Michiganders. DI partners at Sierra Club, Flint Rising, and UAW are making phone calls, knocking doors, and organizing town hall meetings in support of voting rights and Promote the Vote.

You can read more here.

TAKE ACTION

HAVE YOU SIGNED THE PETITION?
We're fewer than 60 days away from the election, and it's more important than ever to stand together for a stronger democracy. It’s crucial that we send a message: “Don’t Mess With Our Vote!”
Sign and distribute the petition with your members. Our petition engagement guide can be found here. To get involved, contact Getachew at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.


RESTORE YOUR VOTE TOOL
17 million people who've served their time are eligible register to vote right now, but many do not know their rights. DI partner Campaign Legal Center has developed Restore Your Vote to provide information and resources to help those with past convictions reclaim their right to vote. The tool will be updated with information from all 50 states. Share this tool widely as we approach these critical midterm elections. Disenfranchisement affects everybody.

DEMOCRACY IS ON THE BALLOT IN 2018
DI anchor partner Common Cause's campaign Our Democracy 2018 continues to use people power to get candidates on the record for democracy reform. Now live in nearly every state, 244 Congressional candidates have responded—209 Dems; 22 GOP. 52 of these responses are incumbents.

Common Cause is gearing up for a Day of Action on October 2 for partners to reach out to their lists to drive traffic to https://democracy2018.org. To take action, visit their campaign website and use their toolkit to send a message to your elected officials.

NEWS FROM PARTNERS

STRIKING PRISONERS WILL CONTINUE TO AGITATE FOR RIGHT TO VOTE
One of the largest national prison strikes in U.S. history ended last week after 19 days. On the prisoners' list of demands, number 10 reads "The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so called 'ex-felons' must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count." Now that the strike has ended, organizers believe the strongest push moving forward will be on this demand for voting rights.

One of the organizers, Eddie, who did not give his real name for fear of facing the reprisals other organizers have faced, said “It lets me know that I’m not truly a citizen. I will have no say in the political process or the direction of the nation.” This prison strike speaks to that for which thousands of people with felony convictions have also raised their voices: the right to vote. All Americans need to exercise their fundamentally democratic right to vote for a strong democracy. Restoring the right to vote to Americans who have served their time is inseparable from the other voting reforms essential to the fight for our democracy.

You can read more here. Our partner MoveOn created this video about the significance of the strike.

Mobilization & Collaboration    

2018 Expanded Mobilizing Meetings

Bi-Weekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST

For the past 17 years, the Election Protection coalition has been mobilizing thousands of volunteers to help voters navigate the voting process and cast their votes without obstruction, confusion, or intimidation. Today, the Election Protection coalition includes engagement from more than 100 national, state, and locally-based organizations around the country that are committed to ensuring access to democracy.

The Lawyers Committee and Common Cause will join us on our next bi-weekly DI Mobilizing Meeting Wednesday, September 19 at 3pm EST to discuss this year's Election Protection program and connect organizations to opportunities to collaborate during the 2018 election cycle.

For more information and to RSVP, contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

DI Communications Working Group

Next Meeting Thursday, September 20th at 1pm.

The communications working group is our collaborative space for message refinement and development for our current field work. We need your skills. These monthly meetings also help to resource partner organizations for ongoing local and national campaigns and coordinate messaging and communications as a coalition.

RSVP to apohl@democracyinitiative.org.

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 08.29.18

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
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Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—Please share widely.

SAVE THE DATE: DI ANNUAL MEETING 2018

A STRONG DEMOCRACY NEEDS A STRONG LABOR MOVEMENT

As we approach the Labor Day Weekend, we at the Democracy Initiative want to take a moment to express our appreciation for the hard working women and men of the labor movement. Our labor partners, with support from many allies, have experienced some recent victories in the face of constant attacks, like the terrible Janus Supreme Court decision. One major win was when Missouri voters overwhelmingly defeated Right to Work, and affirmed the right to organize in their state, including their right to collectively bargain. Also, recently, a federal judge struck down parts of Trump’s executive orders that attempted to weaken and undermine the representation of federal workers. That executive order would have made it easier to fire employees, and would have limited the ability of union members to support candidates who share our values across the country.

We and DI partners share a core principle; we cannot have a strong and healthy democracy without a strong labor movement that can set decent economic standards and safe working conditions for us all. So rest up this weekend, as the fight continues.

JOin FB LIVE ON STATE OF DEMOCRACY in FLINT, MI

Come be a part of the education campaign from the national effort called Declaration For American Democracy (DFAD). We’re helping to build a grassroots effort to highlight a package of democracy reforms solutions we need to fix our democracy.
On August 30 at 6pm EST, we’re supporting a Facebook live on the topic of gerrymandering, voting rights, and how the current state of democracy in Michigan has made it difficult to hold state legislators accountable for the Flint water crisis.
Here is the Facebook page for DFAD, where you will be able to join the Facebook live discussion. Please share this information with your members.

TAKE ACTION

ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE NATIONAL LEADERSHIP SUMMIT
On September 22 and 24, the Arab American Institute Foundation is hosting summits in Detroit and Atlanta to tell the complex story of one America: a country with varying regional, and shared federal, policy challenges. Activists, change-makers, and thought-leaders from various backgrounds and expertise from across the country will come together to produce a definitive shared vision for the future. You can register here. For more information, contact Heba at hmohammad@aaiusa.org.
COALITION ORGANIZES TO PROTECT RIGHT TO PROTEST
DI Board Member Annie Leonard of Greenpeace USA is a leading partner in the Protect the Protest Task Force effort against groups that use legal action and threat of financial risk to silence criticism and protest.

Join us at our bi-weekly mobilizing meeting on Wednesday, September 19; you can learn more information and ways to get involved. RSVP with Getachew at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

DEMOCRACY IS ON THE BALLOT IN 2018
DI anchor partner Common Cause launched their Our Democracy 2018 campaign to ensure that our elected officials protect our democracy.
To take action, visit their campaign website and use their toolkit to send a message to your elected officials.
HIP HOP CAUCUS PLANS FINAL 60 DAY PUSH FOR RESPECT MY VOTE!
DI partner Hip Hop Caucus is launching their final Respect My Vote! voter registration and mobilization on September 6, with a focus on Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, California, Wisconsin, and Ohio. Hip Hop Caucus will be collaborating with influencers to share content on Hip Hop Caucus social media channels. Follow @HipHopCaucus and stay tuned for more information.

RESTORE YOUR VOTE

17 million people who've served their time are eligible register to vote right now, but many do not know their rights. DI partner Campaign Legal Center has developed Restore Your Vote to provide information and resources to help those with past convictions reclaim their right to vote. The tool will be updated with information from all 50 states. Share this tool widely as we approach these critical midterm elections. Disenfranchisement affects everybody.

HAVE YOU SIGNED THE PETITION?

We're fewer than 70 days away from the election, and it's more important than ever to stand together for a stronger democracy. It’s crucial that we send a message: “Don’t Mess With Our Vote!”
Please sign and distribute the petition with your members. Our petition engagement guide can be found here. To get involved, contact Getachew at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.


NEWS FROM PARTNERS

VICTORY IN NORTH CAROLINA AGAINST GERRYMANDERING
Congratulations to DI anchor partner Common Cause and allies on their victory in North Carolina against partisan gerrymandering. A federal court ruled that NC's congressional map violates the U.S. Constitution on three counts. Common Cause v. Rucho also satisfies the standing requirements set out in an earlier gerrymandering case heard by the Supreme Court in June, making it the strongest anti-gerrymandering case going forward. The case will likely be heard in 2019.

Read more.

FLORIDA HAS HIGHEST VOTER TURNOUT SINCE 2002
According to reporting from the Florida Secretary of State's office, voter turnout for yesterday's primaries was at its highest since 2002 at 27.34%. Thanks to effective voting rights policies like early voting, voters had greater access to the polls; the Democrat voter turnout increased by nearly 70% before the polls even opened on Tuesday. The high primary turnout points to historic levels of participation for the upcoming November midterms, and Florida joins many other states this season reflecting the trend towards high turnout.
DI BOARD MEMBER AND DERRICK JOHNSON ON RACISM AND THE MIDTERMS NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED
The Trump Administration's racism will have consequences for the November midterm elections, writes President of the NAACP Derrick Johnson. Johnson put out an op-ed on Monday, August 28 addressing the disparity between whites and people of color on how they view the president's rhetoric and actions; Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native American voters overwhelmingly report feeling hostility from Trump's administration, a feeling not entirely shared by their white counterparts. Despite the administration's "war against civil rights," the people will continue to fight for racial justice, and it starts at the ballot box.

Mobilization & Collaboration    

2018 Expanded Mobilizing Meetings

Bi-Weekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST

On September 5, DI’s next bi-weekly Mobilizing Committee Meeting will continue working on priority state campaigns, with a focus this week on the Promote the Vote and Voters Not Politicians ballot initiatives in Michigan. Todd Cook from Promote the Vote and Katie Fahey will join us with updates on the initiatives’ current progress and offer opportunities for engagement.

For more information and to RSVP, contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 08.22.18

Wednesday, August 22, 2018
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Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—Please share widely.

JOIN FB LIVE ON STATE OF DEMOCRACY: FLINT, MI

The DI is part of a larger national effort called Declaration For American Democracy (DFAD). We’re helping to build a grassroots effort to highlight a package of democracy reforms solutions we need to fix our democracy.

On August 28 at 6pm ET, we’re supporting a Facebook live on the topic of gerrymandering, voting rights, and how the current state of democracy in Michigan has made it difficult to hold state legislators accountable for the Flint water crisis.

Here is the Facebook page for DFAD, where you will be able to join the Facebook live discussion. Please share this information with your members.

RESTORE YOUR VOTE

DI partner Campaign Legal Center has launched an exciting new tool, Restore Your Vote, to help those with past convictions reclaim their right to vote. The tool will be updated with information from all 50 states, so someone can walk through what their past convictions were, and see if they're eligible to vote now. We expect 17 million people—if they know about the tool and can see they are eligible—would be able to register to vote right now. As many as 6 million will be able to see that their crime disqualified them to vote, but it will direct them on how to restore their vote in their state, if possible. Share this tool widely as we approach these critical midterm elections. Disenfranchisement affects everybody.

HAVE YOU SIGNED THE PETITION?

With fewer than 80 days until the election, and new challenges to our voting rights, it’s crucial that we send a message: “Don’t Mess With Our Vote!”
Please sign and distribute the petition with your members. Our petition engagement guide can be found here. To get involved, contact Getachew at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.


TAKE ACTION

SECOND CHANCES FLORIDA: AUGUST 25 DAY OF ACTION & ADOPT-A-DAY
DI ally Second Chances Florida has two opportunities for you to show your support this week:
August 25 Day of Action: This Saturday, August 25, from 1pm–4pm EST, will be the next day of national call parties to talk to Florida voters. We need you help gathering attendees and participants. Join one of 19 major call parties across the country and encourage people to make virtual calls if there's no party near them. Here's a sample recruitment email.

Adopt a day: We need to let Florida voters know why it's so important to vote YES on Amendment 4 this November. Boost Second Chances' phone banking program by adopting one day, once a month, to be your organization's day for remote phone banking to voters. You'll be responsible for filling up the phones on day Mon–Thurs, 5:30pm–8:30pm EST—with the goal of recruiting at least 20 callers for your shift (which means getting 40 to sign up, so that 20 show up). You can do this virtually with your membership or host a call party with your staff. If each partner takes one day we can keep the calls rolling out. Fill out this form to adopt days in the coming month.
CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY HALL OF SHAME

Fill out the ballot for this year's Corporate Accountability Hall of Shame is live, and the competition is fierce.
Nayyirah Shariff, director of DI ally Flint Rising, has put out a call to vote for Nestlé and Veolia due to their privatization and commodification of water at the height of the Flint lead crisis.
Vote now for the companies you love to hate.
UNITE FOR JUSTICE DAY OF ACTION | #STOPKAVANAUGH

DI partner Every Voice and coalition partners are participating in a national day of action this Sunday, August 26, to stop Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.  

We can stop Kavanaugh’s nomination and protect our democracy from big money spending and rolling back of voting rights. Find an event near you and stand up together.

SAVE THE DATE: BLUEPRINT FOR A GREAT DEMOCRACY

The Democracy Initiative is proud to collaborate with Common Cause on their annual Blueprint conference. Click the image to learn more.

NEWS FROM PARTNERS

NC NAACP FILES SUIT AGAINST TOP LEGISLATORS OVER VOTING RIGHTS ATTACK
Voting rights and environmental protections are under attack in North Carolina. Clean Air Carolina and North Carolina NAACP, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, just filed suit Monday, August 21 against the NC Speaker of the House, Senate Pro Tempore, and State Board of Elections due to their efforts to place dangerous initiatives on the November ballot. The coalition objects to the NC General Assembly’s power grab, which designed to secure their own incumbency, disenfranchise voters, and prevent the state from supporting programs that advocate for the poor, communities of color, and the environment.
 

Read more.

* * *

COUNTY ELECTION OFFICIALS IN GEORGIA ATTEMPT TO CLOSE MAJORITY OF PRECINCTS
Election officials from Randolph County, Georgia, have proposed to close seven of the nine polling precincts for the November election. The county election board claims that the precincts fail to satisfy the requirements outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act, but the county election board’s consultant attributed the plan to “consolidation,” a process apparently supported by gubernatorial candidate and current Secretary of State Brian Kemp.          

Local groups and voting rights advocates rightly point out that the move will suppress voter turnout in the county.

In a Washington Post article, president and executive director for DI partner Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke was quoted:

"The more communities mobilize to turn out the vote, the harsher the voter suppression efforts undertaken by officials. We are prepared to use every tool in our arsenal to ensure that African American voters are able to have meaningful access to the polls this election cycle."


Add your name to Common Cause Georgia's petition to stop the attack on voter's rights. Read more on the story here.

Mobilization & Collaboration    

DI Communications Working Group—Next Meeting THURSDAY, August 23rd at 1pm.

The communications working group is our collaborative space for message refinement and development for our current field work. We need your skills. These monthly meetings also help to resource partner organizations for ongoing local and national campaigns and coordinate messaging and communications as a coalition.

RSVP to apohl@democracyinitiative.org.

 

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 08.16.18

Thursday, August 16, 2018
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Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—Please share widely.

ACT NOW: DON't Mess With our vote!

As the country approaches a midterm election projected to have a historically high voter turnout, voters are facing significant obstacles to casting their ballots. Just in the last week, voters in Oakland County, Michigan arrived at precincts without enough ballots, and some had to leave  for work or to return to their children without casting a vote. Newly purchased voting machines in several Michigan counties proved difficult for blind voters to use. Infamous proponent for voter suppression and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach narrowly won a gubernatorial nomination amid conflicts of interest and misrepresented vote tallies. The American people cannot participate in a democracy that works for everyone when their ability to vote is undermined at every turn.

That's why we're asking you to sign Don't Mess With Our Vote!

We know the challenges that face our democracy. It's time to recognize that education about the issues alone doesn’t drive change. Debating the issues doesn’t drive change. Direct , strategic, collective action drives change.

For more info and ways to share the petition, contact Getachew at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

People have raised awareness. It’s time to organize.

Victory: MASSACHUSETTS 14th STATE TO PASS AVR

Congratulations to Common Cause Massachusetts, DI partners, and allies on their efforts to make Massachusetts the 14th state to pass automatic voter registration. The state’s new law registers eligible Massachusetts residents in an opt-out system when they interact with the DMV or MassHealth, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts Pam Wilmot estimates that 500,000 new voters could be registered on the state voter rolls within the next five years.

Read more.

NEWS FROM THE MIDTERM CYCLE

FLORIDA VOTING MACHINE VULNERABILITIES EXPOSED AT HACKING CONVENTION
A strong democracy needs well-funded, secure election infrastructure. We're a long way from achieving that. At the DEFCON 26 hacking convention, an event called “Voting Machine Hacking Village” was hosted for kids aged 8 to 17, where after a quick thirty-minute lesson on SQL injections the 39 participants attempted to hack a 2013 Diebold TSX voting machine—the current machine widely used in Florida. Out of the 39 participants aged 8-17, 35 kids found exploits. The fastest hack was accomplished by an 11 year old in under 10 minutes. The 11 year old hacked a replica of the Florida state website and was able to change the results of the election.

Read more.
TUESDAY'S PRIMARIES CONTINUE WITH HISTORIC CANDIDATE NOMINATIONS
As we see voter turnout on the rise, progressive candidates who represent our inclusive democracy are winning. The August 7th primaries continue these victories. In Vermont, the Democratic Party nominated Christine Hallquist, the first transgender gubernatorial candidate in US history. Democrats in Connecticut nominated Jahana Hayes, who could be come the state's first Black congresswoman. And finally, Somali-American and Muslim Ilhan Omar received the Democratic nomination for Minnesota's 5th Congressional District.

SAVE THE DATE: BLUEPRINT FOR A GREAT DEMOCRACY

The Democracy Initiative is proud to collaborate with Common Cause on their annual Blueprint conference. Click the image to learn more.

TAKE ACTION

DEMOCRACY IS ON THE BALLOT IN 2018
DI anchor partner Common Cause launched their Our Democracy 2018 campaign to ensure that our elected officials protect our democracy.

To take action, visit their campaign website and use their toolkit to send a message to your elected officials.
CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY HALL OF SHAME
The ballot for this year’s Corporate Accountability Hall of Shame is live, and the competition is fierce. Vote now for the companies you love to hate.
SHINE A LIGHT ON CORRUPTION PETITION
Dark money groups compete to control our democracy, That's why DI coalition partners Corporate Accountability, Common Cause, PFAW, and Daily Kos have joined together in a coalition to work on passing the DISCLOSE Act. Sign their petition here.

Mobilization & Collaboration    

2018 Expanded Mobilizing Meetings

Join a national briefing on the launch of "Restore Your Vote," a new web tool to help returning citizens know their voting rights—Aug. 22nd at 3pm EST/ Noon PST

Join us on our next bi-weekly DI Mobilizing meeting Wednesday, August 22nd at 3pm EST. The DI is collaborating with the Campaign Legal Center and Color of Change on the launch of their new Felony Disenfranchisement web tool "Restore Your Vote," aimed at educating people with felony convictions to know they have the right to vote before the upcoming midterm elections. In fact, up to 17 million Americans with past convictions can vote RIGHT NOW—they just don't know it—because the laws in every state can be confusing.

We encourage both national staff and your state leaders to join us for this briefing. RSVP to Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org

Get Engaged - See Latest Updates on the Campaigns Calendar

We are maintaining a DI campaign calendar that will include information on upcoming events and activities. Visit our website to access the calendar. Contact Elsie (eguerrero@democracyinitiative.org ) if you have questions.

 

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 08.09.18

Thursday, August 9, 2018
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Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week--Please share widely.

Don't mess with our vote! petition

 

The “Don’t Mess With Our Vote!” Petition officially launched on Monday, August 6, the 53rd anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. With dark money groups spending millions of dollars in primaries on congressional candidates, and reports of ballot shortages in Oakland County, Michigan, there has never been a better time to join the fight for election integrity and accessibility.
 


We are working with partners to distribute and get signatures on this demand for the protection of voting rights through September 30, through email and social media. This petition is putting politicians on notice, showing solidarity across democracy campaigns, and educating and agitating members.

We’ve also provided resources to assist with social media and distribution. Please contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org to work with us on this campaign.

important takeaways from tuesday's primaries

MISSOURI COALITION DEFEATS RIGHT TO WORKPhoto Credit: Jeenah Moon for New York Times
Congratulations to DI partners and allies in Missouri on their huge win against the “Right to Work” referendum. In Tuesday’s primary, labor overcame the tactics of dark money groups and anti-union forces attempting to enforce “Right to Work” in Missouri. A coalition of labor groups, spearheaded by Missouri AFL-CIO, reached an estimated 500,000 voters on the ground, and their organizing efforts paid off with 67% of voters choosing to overturn the RTW law. State Republican legislators even attempted to move the vote from the vote from November to the primary in a gamble for a low turnout. Especially after the Janus v. ASFCME assault on labor, the defeat of Proposition A signals a victory for the right to organize, bargain collectively, and improve pay and benefits for all workers.

Read more. Photo Credit: Jeenah Moon for New York Times

* * *

VOTER TURNOUT IS ON THE RISE
According to an article in the Detroit Free Press, “Voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary election in Michigan shattered records going back at least as far as 1978.” Ohio’s special election in the 12th Congressional District drew 19%, an unusually high turnout for a special election. Missouri’s primary, which included a referendum on Proposition A, drew a high turnout of 30%. These recent statistics confirm a larger trend toward increased voter participation across the country, an exciting development that bodes well for the upcoming midterms and demonstrates the success of voting rights victories.

* * *

FROM THE FIELD: VOTERS NOT POLITICIANS' KATIE FAHEY ON MICHIGAN'S PRIMARY

On what Tuesday's election may mean for Voters Not Politicians' fair redistricting initiative, on the November ballot:

Michigan saw a record turnout for a primary election, demonstrating how engaged voters feel across the state. We're focused on harnessing that energy to continue to build on our grassroots momentum to pass Proposal 2 on November 6. Our volunteers filled over 500 shifts outside of 215 of the largest voting locations in the state on Tuesday – that's on top of knocking over 90,000 doors since late March. But there is still more work to do. We know that gerrymandering is a low information topic and we will do all that we can – at the doors, on the phones, through partnerships, online, and over the airwaves – to make sure we get our message out about a transparent, citizen-driven redistricting process. We welcome your ideas and support to make this goal a reality.

* * *

RECORD NUMBER OF WOMEN NOMINATED TO RUN FOR OFFICE
The 2018 midterm election has seen a record number of women running for congressional and gubernatorial races. After Tuesday's primaries, the current total of women representing major parties in gubernatorial races stands at eleven, one higher than last year. In congressional races, 168 women have secured major party nominations, breaking the previous record by one. These numbers are expected to swell as primary season continues, and these new records suggest an encouraging rise of equal representation for women in elected office.

One nomination of note is Rashida Tlaib, daughter of Palestinian immigrants, who won the Democratic nomination in Michigan’s 13th district (formerly John Coyer's seat). She would be the first Muslim woman elected to Congress, and is running unopposed. 

* * *

REFORM IS IN THE AIR: A WIN FOR JUSTICE IN MISSOURI
Ferguson City Council Member Wesley Bell, who ran on a platform of ending mass incarceration and reforming cash bail, beat 27 year incumbent Bob McCulloch, who refused to charge the police involved in the killing of Michael Brown, to become St. Louis County’s top prosecutor. More on Wesley Bell and his campaign here.

 


TAKE ACTION

 

PLANNING FOR NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION DAY 2018
DI partner Nonprofit VOTE is hosting a webinar on Thursday, August 16 at 11am to support groups organizing events for National Voter Registration Day, September 25.

The webinar will cover what you need to know to ensure that your voter registration event is a success. They’ll walk you through the field toolkit, point you to a variety of helpful materials and tools provided by their partners and others, and answer any questions you may have. RSVP here.

CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY HALL OF SHAME


The ballot for this year’s Corporate Accountability Hall of Shame is live, and the competition is fierce. Vote now for the companies you love to hate.

DARK MONEY MOVIE SURVEY
The documentary political thriller Dark Money is out in theaters across the country. The film follows an indefatigable journalist working to expose the real-life impacts of untraceable corporate money on U.S. Politicians and elections.

We want to hear from you! Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

More about the film, including screening locations and times, can be found at https://www.darkmoneyfilm.com/.


Mobilization and Collaboration

Get Engaged - See Latest Updates on the Campaigns Calendar

We are maintaining a DI campaign calendar that will include information on upcoming events and activities. Visit our website to access the calendar. Contact Elsie (eguerrero@democracyinitiative.org ) if you have questions.

2018 Expanded Mobilizing Meetings

Bi-Weekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST

Beginning next week, on June 13th, DI’s bi-weekly Mobilizing Committee Meetings (at 3 p.m. every other Wednesday), will shift their focus to state coordination of priority campaigns, beginning with the Promote the Vote and Voters not Politicians ballot initiatives in Michigan. For more information, contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org

DI Communications Working Group

Fourth Thursday of every month, at 1pm E.T.
The communications working group is a collaborative space for message refinement using feedback from organizations working on the ground. These monthly meetings also help to resource partner organizations for ongoing local and national campaigns and coordinate messaging and communications as a coalition.
RSVP to apohl@democracyinitiative.org

Next Meeting: Thursday, August 23rd


Stay Connected with DI Partners

We invite partners to share a victory, recruit for actions in the fight for democracy, or let us know about a conference. Email Aimée (apohl@democracyinitiative.org) to add an action for the next Weekly Update!

If you are not already a subscriber, click here to receive the DI Report in your inbox. And please be sure to follow us on Twitter (@Unite4Democracy), like us on Facebook, instagram (unite4democracy) and subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 08.01.18

Wednesday, August 1, 2018
 

DOn't Mess with our vote: DI Launches petition

 

Today the Democracy Initiative's "Don't Mess With Our Vote" petition has gone live! You can see it, and sign, below. Please join us in pushing back on attacks on our voting rights by distributing this petition to your lists and on social media, either nationally, locally, or in priority states. We will be providing sample tweets and Facebook posts, talking points, a one pager on the organizing value of this petition, graphics, and a sample email to your membership in the coming days. Since zip code information is collected as part of the signature, we will be able to deliver the signatures to state officials signed just by their state residents.

Please contact Getachew at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org for more information and to join the campaign. We will be updating this page on our website as new materials are produced.

Monday, August 6th is the 53rd anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. A great way to celebrate this landmark piece of Civil Rights Legislation is to sign and share this petition!

 

Dear Governors, Secretaries of State, and Election Officials

Everyday people are uniting to stand up to take collective action to build grassroots power and make sure democracy works for all. Election administrators should be on the front lines of our democracy, ensuring that eligible Americans can cast ballots that are counted. As the November 2018 elections approach and you carry out your duties, we write to urge you to protect the voting rights of every American and to spur maximum voter participation. In the United States, everyone should feel confident they can cast their vote and have it counted, no matter who they are or where they live.

Our country succeeds when government responds to the will of the people. Purging voter rolls of eligible voters, or making it harder to vote for anyone who is eligible, flies in the face of this country’s democratic principles. Election systems and security are threatened by a serious, chronic lack of public investment and the threat of interference. As a result, many of us and our families risk losing, or have already lost, the right to have our say. This is unacceptable and un-American.

Our organizing coalition, the Democracy Initiative, is composed of 69 national organizations representing 40 million people. We are advocates for workers, people with disabilities, and the environment; for civil, religious, LGBTQ, and women’s rights; and for democracy reforms. Each of us joined this coalition knowing the resolutions to our individual priorities and issues require a collective effort to improve the infrastructure of our democratic institutions.

Our alliance is powerful. We are black, white, and brown; urban and rural; working class, comfortable, and struggling to get by. We stand ready to act to see our shared principles upheld—in every state, from every candidate for office, in every ballot initiative and every law.

We know that some reforms will need to go through the legislative process to become policy, but there are some actions you can take immediately to increase turnout, improve access, increase confidence and help lead to greater representation in the November midterm elections.

 

 

Today, in this historic moment we must show politicians and elected officials our collective power. Together we are putting them on notice; that we will not allow the coordinated attacks on our voting rights to continue. We oppose efforts to cheat the system and suppress our votes, such as limit voting registration, the purging of millions of eligible voters, and the inadequate response to election security. These attacks disproportionately silence the voices of black, brown, working-class, and under-served communities. This will not be tolerated.

We demand that in time for the November, 2018 election, Governors, State Secretaries and Election Officials must:
 
• Prevent purging voter rolls of eligible voters,
 
• Ensure each polling location is properly prepared for election system failures by having a contingency plan in place that is accessible to all, including back up paper ballots and printed poll books,
 
• Provide an increase in polling places and ensure polling place hours truly serve our communities by extending weekend and evening hours,
 
• Educate poll workers on the voting rights of those on the “inactive voter list,”
 
• Give up to date and thorough training on new laws to poll workers, and,
 
• Hire adequate staff for the administration of the election in polling places.
 
By 2020 we expect and demand:
 
• A 21st Century voting system in which all eligible voters are registered and every vote is counted,
 
• An end to voter suppression laws such as requiring voter id that many people lack,
 
• A voting process that is both efficient and accessible through reforms like same day registration automatic voter registration, accessible and widespread early voting locations, and state wide vote by mail options, and fewer restrictions on absentee ballot eligibility, and
 
• Significant investment in election infrastructure security to reduce the possibility of digital election interference.
 
As officials entrusted with ensuring the quality of full, free, and fair elections, we expect you to be committed to expanding voter turnout, and the reforms outlined above will help accomplish this goal. It is within our collective power to make voting accessible, and to reverse the low turnout trends of the past several election cycles. It is for all our best interests to ensure every eligible voter—60% of whom are from historically disenfranchised communities: women, young people, and people of color—shows up to vote for our future representatives and initiatives. Your proactive policies and planning can pave the way for such a positive change.
 

We are ready, organized, and growing in numbers. We are powered by our commitment to the democratic process—not the interests of the wealthy few. We look to you to share in and act on this commitment, and, if you don’t, you’ll hear from us.  

 

We will be collecting signatures on this petition until September 31st. In October the signatures will be delivered to your Governors, Secretaries of State, and State Election Officials. Click the image above to read the full language of the petition and to see how you can help.

Democracy News

CONGRATULATIONS TO BALTIMORE FAIR ELECTIONS AND ALLIES ON THEIR HARD WORK ON SMALL-DONOR CAMPAIGN FINANCING!

On Monday, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh signed off on a charter amendment proposal establishing a Fair Elections Fund; the initiative will now appear on the November ballot for Baltimore residents. The fund would initiate a program for small-dollar donations for eligible candidates to be matched by the city. The measure aims to increase the accountability of elected officials to voters and not wealthy interests. The people of Baltimore have demanded for their voices to be heard, and the initiative is a crucial step toward getting outside money out of our communities and politics.  

Read more here.  

 

NAACP SUES CONNECTICUT over Prison Gerrymandering, which undermines one person, one vote

DI partner NAACP has sued the state of Connecticut last Thursday over the state's practice of prison gerrymandering, which attributes prison populations' district of residence to the location of the prison rather than their own residence. The NAACP argues that this practice violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. More importantly, the practice often secures funding and electoral weight for the typically white rural districts in which prisons are housed at the expense of poor communities of color.
The NAACP has released a statement about the suit, which can be found here.  

Cheri Quickmire, President of Common Cause CT said the following.

"We welcome this lawsuit by the NAACP against prison gerrymandering in Connecticut. Common Cause in Connecticut is committed to fighting for the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment of U.S. constitution – the principle of one person, one vote. Prison gerrymandering inflates the votes of people who live near prisons and causes the under-representation of those who live in the districts that the incarcerated come from -the districts where they will return."

VOTERS NOT POLITICIANS' ANTI-GERRYMANDERING INITIATIVE GOES TO THE BALLOT-giving voters a say in fair representation!

On Tuesday night, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 vote for the Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission Initiative to appear on the November ballot. The initiative allows for the creation of an independent commission of citizens to draw the state district lines, which will redraw heavily gerrymandered districts previously drawn by Republicans in 2011. The Voters Not Politicians initiative passed through the court despite efforts from moneyed interests such as the astro-turf group Citizens Protecting Michigan's Constitution, a group with ties to the wealthy Koch network and the American Legislative Exchange Council. Read more about the decision here.

Executive Director of Voters Not Politicians Katie Fahey said of the decision,

"Our state Constitution begins with, 'All political power is inherent in the people.' The court's decision upholds our right as citizens to petition our government for positive change."
 

Dark Money, a political thriller, examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. The fair representation of all communities, not just those with money, is key to the democratic process. Our voices need to be heard as loudly as those of wealthy and corporate interests, to create better lives for all. The film takes viewers to Montana — a frontline in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide — to follow an intrepid local journalist working to expose the real-life impacts of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Through this gripping story, Dark Money uncovers the shocking and vital truth of how American elections are bought and sold. The movie premieres in Baltimore today, and in Michigan on August 30th. Find your local screening and more info here.

 

 

 

MObilization & Collaboration

Get Engaged - See Latest Updates on the Campaigns Calendar

We are maintaining a DI campaign calendar that will include information on upcoming events and activities. Visit our website to access the calendar. Contact Elsie (eguerrero@democracyinitiative.org ) if you have questions.

2018 Expanded Mobilizing Meetings

Bi-Weekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST

DI’s bi-weekly Mobilizing Committee Meetings (at 3 p.m. every other Wednesday), will focus on state coordination of priority campaigns, beginning with the Promote the Vote and Voters not Politicians ballot initiatives in Michigan. For more information, contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org

DI Communications Working Group-- Next Meeting Thursday, August 16th at 1pm.

The communications working group is a collaborative space for message refinement using feedback from organizations working on the ground. These monthly meetings also help to resource partner organizations for ongoing local and national campaigns and coordinate messaging and communications as a coalition.
RSVP to apohl@democracyinitiative.org
 

Stay Connected with DI Partners

We invite partners to share a victory, recruit for actions in the fight for democracy, or let us know about a conference. Email Aimée (apohl@democracyinitiative.org) to add an action for the next Weekly Update!

If you are not already a subscriber, click here to receive the DI Report in your inbox. And please be sure to follow us on Twitter (@Unite4Democracy), like us on Facebook, instagram (unite4democracy) and subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 07.27.18

Friday, July 27, 2018
 

Take ACtion

USE YOUR VOICE: DEMAND A FAIR CENSUS IN 2020- DEADLINE APPROACHING

We need a fair, accurate Census in 2020- ACT NOW.

Our friends over at Common Cause need YOUR help to stop the Trump administration from adding an untested and unnecessary question on citizenship status to the 2020 Census.

Experts warn that this will cause countless Americans -- whether they’re citizens or not -- to refuse to fill out the Census survey. That means the Census data we use to draw legislative districts, make spending decisions, and more won’t accurately reflect our communities.

That’d play right into the Trump Administration’s hands -- skewing our government against communities with high non-citizen populations until 2030. Our Constitution requires the Census to count every person who lives here -- and getting that count right is hugely important for all of our futures.

The Census Bureau is accepting public comments on this dangerous, untested proposal -- can you submit yours today BEFORE August 4th to STOP the citizenship question?

Use your voice and submit your comment here.

SIGN ON LETTER: Tell the EPA to use sound practices in upcoming chemical safety assessment
In June, the EPA released its draft plan for how it will assess the safety of 10 chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The plan excludes analysis of legacy chemicals, and chemical exposures through air, water, and waste disposal -- the primary routes of exposure for most people. The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) developed an organizational sign-on letter calling on new Acting Administrator Wheeler to include legacy exposure of chemicals and aggregate exposures from air, soil, and water in its assessment, and to use the National Toxics Programs protocols for systematic review. Deadline for sign-on is July 30th.

TAKE A STAND AGAINST BIGCORPORATIONS WITH CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY!

Each August the civic organization Corporate Accountability launches its Corporate Hall of Shame - highlighting 10 corporations (ex. Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, etc.) and inviting people to submit votes to decide which organization is the most dishonorable. After the vote is held, Corporate Accountability partners with organizations and take action to reform these unrepresentative corporations. If you are interested in participating in this year’s Corporate Hall of Shame or Corporate Accountability, please reach out to Taylor Leake (tleake@corporateaccountability.org)  

Dark Money, a political thriller, examines one of the greatest present threats to American democracy: the influence of untraceable corporate money on our elections and elected officials. The film takes viewers to Montana — a frontline in the fight to preserve fair elections nationwide — to follow an intrepid local journalist working to expose the real-life impacts of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Through this gripping story, Dark Money uncovers the shocking and vital truth of how American elections are bought and sold. The movie premieres in Baltimore today, and in Michigan on August 30th. Find your local screening and more info here.

FIX DEMOCRACY NOW WEEK!  

Every Voice and allies will hold a “Fix Democracy Now” week of action from July 29 to August 4, in partnership with candidates across the country, to rally support for reducing the influence of big donors, upholding access to the ballot, and drawing fair district lines. Candidates running at every level of elected office are encouraged to campaign that week for a democracy that works for all of us and to #FixDemocracyNow. For more information including toolkits for organizations and candidates with social media guidance, sample email blasts, and more, check out FixDemocracyNow.com or email Every Voice’s Communications Director Adam Smith at adam@everyvoice.org.

Partner NEWS AND UPDATES

BRENNAN CENTER REPORT

One of our partners, the Brennan Center for Justice, a key ally in voting rights, has written a powerful report. The study, published on July 20, focuses on the growing anti-democratic practice of voter purging and its grave threat to our democracy. Areas of our country that are not covered by section 5 of the Voting Rights Act are targeted significantly more for purging. There is no differentiation between those who have committed misdemeanors and those who have committed felonies, disenfranchising millions more. The report points out the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County v. Holder ruling as a significant cause of voter purging’s increasing prevalence, because the decision ended the practice of federal pre-clearance, a practice designed to evaluate potential curtailing of voting rights. The report further details the growing number of aggressive and often illegal purges, along with recommendations for the protection and expansion of our fundamental right to vote. The report can be found here.

 

Free Speech For People and United for a Fair Economy co-released a new report " Blackout in Puerto Rico: How 120 years of corporate dominance and political inequality stifles self-determination today ."

This report discusses 120 years of political inequality and corporate dominance in Puerto Rico, and also analyzes how the current system of money in politics affect s Puerto Rico’s financial crisis and hurricane recovery efforts. In discussing the impacts of money in politics today, this report acknowledges other systems of oppression — in this case, the creation and continuation of political inequality, white supremacy, and colonization — and discusses how money in politics is a tool used to perpetuate these already existing inequalities.

VICTORY! CT JOINS NATIONAL  POPULAR VOTE COMPACT

Connecticut was the most recent of 12 jurisdictions to pass the National Popular Vote compact, a massive victory for supporters of democracy around the United States. Connecticut was the first state to join the compact since the 2016 election. If passed by enough states, each jurisdiction would pledge all electoral votes to the candidate who receives the highest vote total. This success in Connecticut was driven by the organization National Popular Vote - a testament to the effectiveness of grassroots mobilization. For more information about the effort and how to get involved in your state, visit National Popular Vote here.

 
 
 
SACRAMENTO – California Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced that a total of 792,851 voter registration transactions were completed through the Department of Motor Vehicles in the first two and half months since the launch of  California Motor Voter . This activity includes new voter registrations, as well as re-registrations and updated address transactions.
This total includes:
- 259,294 new voter registrations,
 
- 393,020 re-registrations,
 
- 120,016 updates to voter registration address, and
 
- 20,521 online voter registrations routed from DMV website and paper voter registration cards mailed to the Secretary of State’s office.

MObilization & Collaboration

Get Engaged - See Latest Updates on the Campaigns Calendar

We are maintaining a DI campaign calendar that will include information on upcoming events and activities. Visit our website to access the calendar. Contact Elsie (eguerrero@democracyinitiative.org ) if you have questions.

2018 Expanded Mobilizing Meetings

Bi-Weekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST

Beginning next week, on June 13th, DI’s bi-weekly Mobilizing Committee Meetings (at 3 p.m. every other Wednesday), will shift their focus to state coordination of priority campaigns, beginning with the Promote the Vote and Voters not Politicians ballot initiatives in Michigan. For more information, contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org

DI Communications Working Group-- Tomorrow, July 26th at 1 p.m.

The communications working group is a collaborative space for message refinement using feedback from organizations working on the ground. These monthly meetings also help to resource partner organizations for ongoing local and national campaigns and coordinate messaging and communications as a coalition.
RSVP to apohl@democracyinitiative.org
 

Stay Connected with DI Partners

We invite partners to share a victory, recruit for actions in the fight for democracy, or let us know about a conference. Email Aimée (apohl@democracyinitiative.org) to add an action for the next Weekly Update!

If you are not already a subscriber, click here to receive the DI Report in your inbox. And please be sure to follow us on Twitter (@Unite4Democracy), like us on Facebook, instagram (unite4democracy) and subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 07.18.18

Wednesday, July 18, 2018
 

TAKE ACTION!

CONFRONT CORRUPTION AND DEMAND DEMOCRACY

Confront Corruption and Demand Democracy vigils are being held tonight nationwide, and are endorsed by several DI partner groups. The DC event is from 8pm - 9pm at Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House.

To find a vigil near you, go here.

 

TOMORROW: DEMOCRACY CHAMPIONS TRAINING IN DC

We already have nearly 40 participants, including interns from our partner organizations NAACP, Common Cause, Arab American Institute, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Public Citizen, and Every Voice, with more signing up all the time. RSVP now!

The Democracy Champions Training aims to provide interns with a larger perspective connecting the issues they care about and work on each day with overarching democracy issues. Interns will develop the skills they need to take their DC internship experiences home and create an impact there. With a focus on interpersonal communication, interns will learn how to reach out to people in their communities and get them involved and interested in the issues that matter.  

If you have interns who are interested in attending, please instruct them to RSVP here!

 

USE YOUR VOICE: DEMAND A FAIR CENSUS IN 2020

We need a fair, accurate Census in 2020.

Our friends over at Common Cause are asking for your help to stop the Trump administration from adding an untested and unnecessary question on citizenship status to the 2020 Census.

Experts warn that this will cause countless Americans -- whether they’re citizens or not -- to refuse to fill out the Census survey. That means the Census data we use to draw legislative districts, make spending decisions, and more won’t accurately reflect our communities.

That’d play right into the Trump Administration’s hands -- skewing our government against communities with high non-citizen populations until 2030. Our Constitution requires the Census to count every person who lives here -- and getting that count right is hugely important for all of our futures.

The Census Bureau is accepting public comments on this dangerous, untested proposal -- can you submit yours today BEFORE August 4th to STOP the citizenship question?

Use your voice and submit your comment here.

Support Transparency in Government, with The #CANCERCOVERUP Bill

The following is a message from our partner, the Center for Environmental Health:
Chemical and food manufacturers are up to no good. They just introduced a law in D.C. that would take away your right to know about dangerous chemicals in their products. This law would eliminate state requirements for labeling and disclosure. That’s right, the same labels that let you know if a product has chemicals known to cause cancer, hormone disruption, birth defects, and other serious issues would vanish if this law passes. That’s why we’re calling this the #CancerCoverup bill.

We need to make sure our political leaders hear from us! Click here to tell your representative that you have the right to know what's in the products you use!

Challenges to our Democracy

NC VOTER ID LAW PASSES

Discriminatory anti-Early voting law to take effect for Nov midterms

While the new measure may appear innocent, as it requires every early voting site to stay open 12 hours a day each weekday, its true impact is far more sinister. This change occurs after most counties set their election budgets, meaning these new regulations will force many counties to close their polling locations to avoid going over budget. Even more explicitly anti-democratic is the provision forbidding early voting places from opening the Saturday before elections. Unsurprisingly, a substantial number of minorities, especially black people, voted on this date in 2016. Read more here.

A WIN FOR DARK MONEY IS A LOSS FOR INFLUENCE OF ORDINARY AMERICANS

A midnight announcement from the Treasury Department on Monday indicated the IRS will only require certain tax-exempt groups to report their donors, which significantly does not include dark money groups that engage in political spending on issues and in campaigns. According to Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, “The Treasury Department opened a massive loophole that will, as a practical matter, allow Russia, Russian oligarchs and other foreign interests to launder unlimited amounts of undisclosed, illegal contributions into federal elections.” The more secret money that the corporate and wealthy interests pour into elections, the less we know about who is influencing our elected officials, and the less power we have to win on our issues. Read more here.

STATES SLOW TO PREP FOR HACKING THREATS-WILL OUR VOTES COUNT?

Despite both Congress allocating $380 million to the states in electoral security funding for the 2018 midterms and the recent indictments from the Russia investigation into meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election, states have failed to provide a plan for use of their funds. While a few states are planning to install new voting machines, in general states have failed to correct their most pressing electoral security issues in the months before midterms. States must work quickly to protect voter databases, as they are one of the most vulnerable elements of our electoral system. Do not let our vote go unprotected this November!  Read more here.

Arab American Institute'S #YallaVote Hotline

DI partner Arab American Institute has launched the #YallaVote Hotline for the 2018 election season.

The hotline is staffed by legal experts and both Arabic and English speakers who can answer questions and address concerns on voting day. These experts can also provide legal support to address voter suppression or disenfranchisement in your state.

Please spread information about the hotline widely, so that all voters are given the information and support needed to exercise their constitutional right to vote. The #YallaVote Hotline can be reached at 1-844-YALLA-US, or 1-844-925-5287.

MOBILIZATION & COLLABORATION

Get Engaged - See Latest Updates on the Campaigns Calendar

We are maintaining a DI campaign calendar that will include information on upcoming events and activities. Visit our website to access the calendar. Contact Elsie (eguerrero@democracyinitiative.org ) if you have questions.

2018 Expanded Mobilizing Meetings

Bi-Weekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST

Beginning next week, on June 13th, DI’s bi-weekly Mobilizing Committee Meetings (at 3 p.m. every other Wednesday), will shift their focus to state coordination of priority campaigns, beginning with the Promote the Vote and Voters not Politicians ballot initiatives in Michigan. For more information, contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org

DI Communications Working Group-- Next month's meeting scheduled for Thursday, August 23rd at 1 p.m.

The communications working group is a collaborative space for message refinement using feedback from organizations working on the ground. These monthly meetings also help to resource partner organizations for ongoing local and national campaigns and coordinate messaging and communications as a coalition.
RSVP to apohl@democracyinitiative.org
 

Stay Connected with DI Partners

We invite partners to share a victory, recruit for actions in the fight for democracy, or let us know about a conference. Email Aimée (apohl@democracyinitiative.org) to add an action for the next Weekly Update!

If you are not already a subscriber, click here to receive the DI Report in your inbox. And please be sure to follow us on Twitter (@Unite4Democracy), like us on Facebook, instagram (unite4democracy) and subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 06.27.18

Wednesday, June 27, 2018
 

Supreme Court Rules against Working People, and Democracy

 

The Supreme Court decision in the case of Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 is not only anti-worker and anti-union; it is part of the coordinated national assault on our democracy. The corporate interests behind the Janus case are part of a dark money web that includes the Koch brothers and the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation. These same wealthy interests are bankrolling anti-democracy efforts across the country. Their goal is to weaken the bargaining and political power of workers by limiting their ability to collect fees for the representation that they provide, and limiting the political power of ordinary Americans. Attacks on public sector workers disproportionately affect hard-working women and people of color, who provide some of the most important government services that we all rely on.

 

The right of workers to organize and bargain collectively leads to increased wages and benefits for all workers, whether or not they are union members. When wealthy interests take away workers’ rights to join together and take action, it increases economic inequality in this country, which is itself a threat to our democracy.  

Historically, the labor movement has been the backbone of progressive social movements that expand, protect, and diversify our democracy. By dividing workers and limiting their ability to wield political power, corporate and wealthy interests strengthen their grip on our democratic and economic systems, limit our ability to take collective action, and continue to hold our country hostage.

For all of these reasons, the Democracy Initiative condemns the Janus decision of the Supreme Court. We stand in solidarity with our labor partners. The labor and democracy movements have been assaulted before, and we always come back fighting. We will not allow decades of progress to be lost. No politically motivated judicial decision will stop the work of millions of people standing together for better lives for all Americans, or stop us from reaching our goal of a government of, by, and for the people.  

Statement from DI Executive Director Wendy Fields:

GET INVOLVED: SOLIDARITY ACTIONS

We are asking our friends to do three simple things to amplify our key message that workers are more resolved than ever to stick together and fight back against any attacks that attempt to divide us. That’s because America needs unions now more than ever to fix a democracy and economy rigged in favor of the wealthy and powerful.
 
1. Amplify our message on social media with a Norma Rae-themed action (see samples below).
2. Issue and share a statement that lifts up the value of unions to our communities, calls on our elected officials and candidates to do everything in their power to make it easier for working people to join together in unions and highlights how this attack on unions is an attack on all working people. (For guidance, please refer to the joint statement from AFSCME, AFT , NEA and SEIU ) and attached message materials).  
3. Continue to stand with us in the days and weeks ahead to help drive policy at all levels that make it easier for working people to join unions.
 
SAMPLE SOCIAL MEDIA
 
Twitter:
This case was an attack on unions and an attack on working people & the causes we fight for every day. We stand with our union brothers & sisters. No court case will stop our movement. #Union.
Show your solidarity with working people by tweeting your “union” photo with #Union. [ Click here for image ]
Unions sustain our families and make our communities stronger. Working people will stick together and organize to fight back against any attempt to divide and weaken us. #union
Unions are the best way to unrig our economy and democracy. We’re calling on our elected leaders and candidates to do everything in their power to make it easier for working people to join unions. #Union
 
Facebook:
#Unions are one of the most effective vehicles to move people into the middle class, especially for women and people of color. We must organize, hold our elected leaders accountable, and fight back against efforts to divide us and weaken the strength in numbers we need to sustain our families and make our communities stronger.
Today, the Supreme Court ruled on a well-funded case attacking workers’ power in unions. Let’s show that America needs unions now more than ever. Share this image or a photo of yourself with a “union” sign using #Union to show we’re sticking together. [ Click here for image ]
 
 

Spotlight on DI PRIORITY STATE CAMpaign: Missouri

One of our state campaigns, CleanMissouri, is hard at work getting money out of state politics! We’ve partnered with DI members Common Cause, Sierra Club Missouri, AFL-CIO Missouri, AFSCME, Demos, NAACP, and SEIU, along with other allies, to blunt the influence of moneyed interests on politicians. The Clean Missouri Initiative, on their website, lays out their goals:

1. Legislative records must be open to the public

2. Politicians must wait two years before becoming lobbyists

3. Banning any single lobbying gift more than $5

4. Lowering campaign contribution limits: $2,500 for state senate, and $2,000 for state house

a. Eliminating legislative fundraising on state property

5. Nonpartisan-drawn legislative district maps, reviewed by a citizen commission

a. Protecting the political power of minority communities against voter suppression

As of May, CleanMissouri volunteers turned in 347,000 signatures to the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office, more than twice the number needed for a proposed amendment to appear on the statewide November 6 ballot, collected from all 114 counties and the city of St. Louis.

Report Back From Flint

On June 23rd, the DI successfully launched the first Democracy Champions training of 2018 in Flint, Michigan. Thank you to the organizations who turned out members for participants at the training; Flint Rising, the NAACP, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Michigan Voices, Clean Water Action, the UAW, Promote the Vote, and Voters Not Politicians! And thank you to the the UAW for hosting us! We welcomed community leaders to speak on the issue most impacting the state and local communities.
 
At the conclusion of the training, Promote the Vote and Voters not Politicians, which are working to expand voting rights and create an independent citizens redistricting commission through ballot initiatives in Michigan, led participants through a mini-briefing of the campaigns. The group then went canvassing in support of the ballot initiatives.

Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission Initiative has gotten on the ballot.

On Wednesday, June 19, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers approved Voters Not Politicians’ initiative, the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission Initiative, for inclusion in the upcoming November 6 ballot in a 3-0 vote. The initiative would alter the state’s constitution to set up an independent redistricting commission in time for the next scheduled redistricting after the 2020 Census is released. Read more here.

(to the right: Nayyirah Shariff of Flint Rising)

 

Take ACTION To end family detention of migrants

On Friday, June 22, Dallas News reported that “One of the country’s largest operators of private immigration detention facilities has made significant contributions to several Texas members of Congress.” The largest recipient is Houston Republican Representative John Culberson, accepting $32,900 from GEO Group’s PAC. GEO operates many of the private detention centers used by ICE to house immigrant families since implementation of Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” policy. The ACLU has accused GEO of denying detainees food, water, and bathroom access.

The administration needs more room to hold all of the children they have separated from their parents, and are investigating the possibility of creating additional “tent cities” on military land. But according to a press release from DI partner the Sierra Club, the water at several of these potential build sites contains chemicals, effectively poisoning it. Evidence of the contamination was buried for six months by Pruitt’s EPA “for fear of a ‘public relations nightmare,’ according to the New Republic.” The exposure to these chemicals (PFAS) links to kidney/testicular cancer and thyroid disease. Children are particularly vulnerable, and even low levels of exposure can weaken their immune systems.

The depravity with which the Trump administration treats these people becomes more evident with each passing day as a slew of investigations bear fruit. Let us be clear: beyond the continued existence of xenophobia and racism in our country, the situation at the border is a direct consequence of our weakened democracy. So long as people are denied their constitutional rights to vote and govern free from wealthy, corrupt, bigoted politicians, the situation can only grow worse. A reflective, representative democracy is a matter of life and death.

Sign on to DI partner Sierra Club’s petition.

TOMORROW, JUNE 28th, the organizers of the Women's March are hosting a mass civil disobedience in DC to End Family Detention. We are participating and will share reports via social media. Sign up for more information and to join here.

Join the #FamiliesBelongTogether mobilization in Washington, D.C. on June 30th, or find one in your area. Thousands have already signed up to go to the White House on June 30th to tell Trump and Jeff Sessions to end their policies that break apart families. If you can't make it to DC, there will also be local events across the country. To learn more, click here.

 

Democracy initiative endorses recommendations to reform the Democratic Party

 

The Democracy Initiative is proud to communicate that we endorse an historic set of democratic reforms for the Democratic Party, recommended by the DNC Unity Reform Commission and supported by Chairman Perez, and Vice Chair Keith Ellison.

These proposed reforms and the internal debate about the Democratic Party rules are coming at an important moment as we face extraordinary challenges. Many of you are hearing clearly the demand for change from your rank and file members, the resistance movement, and activists from black, brown, and working class communities. In 2016, I was joined by many of our leaders in the DI and democracy movement, including Public Citizen,Our Revolution, and Every Voice, to name a few, to testify at the DNC platform committee to ensure that key democracy reforms on Voting Rights, Getting Money out of Politics, andRedistricting Reform must be a high priority on the platform and program.

Now we urge you to share information with your membership and engage in the debates currently happening. The full DNC will vote on the proposal from the Rules and Bylaws Committee, based on the Unity Reform Commission report, on August 25th in Chicago. We call on the members of the DNC to support transparency and increase the influence and power of the grassroots members.  We will share the exact language of the final proposal as soon as it is made public.

You can read the report of the Unity Reform Commission here: (copy and paste the link into a browser)

https://my.democrats.org/page/-/Unity%20Reform%20Commission%20Report%201...

 

Tomorrow: Democracy Behind Bars, COMMON CAUSE

DI Partner organization Common Cause is releasing a new report on June 28th entitled Democracy Behind Bars. In prison, on probation, and on parole, 6.7 million people live under court-ordered supervision. The mass criminalization and incarceration of our communities, disenfranchises and disempowers millions of Americans, and undermines the legitimacy of our democracy. The Democracy Behind Bars report represents an effort to build on Common Cause’s longstanding commitment to serve as a watchdog on government, defend and strengthen voting rights, and ensure that the power of ideas rather than that of monied interests counts most in our democracy.

Arab American Institute'S #YallaVote Hotline

DI partner the Arab American Institute has launched the #YallaVote Hotline for the 2018 election season.

The hotline is staffed by legal experts and both Arabic and English speakers who can answer questions and address concerns on voting day. These experts can also provide legal support to address voter suppression or disenfranchisement in your state.

Please spread information about the hotline widely, so that all voters are given the information and support needed to exercise their constitutional right to vote. The #YallaVote Hotline can be reached at 1-844-YALLA-US, or 1-844-925-5287.

MOBILIZATION & COLLABORATION

Get Engaged - See Latest Updates on the Campaigns Calendar

We are maintaining a DI campaign calendar that will include information on upcoming events and activities. Visit our website to access the calendar. Contact Elsie (eguerrero@democracyinitiative.org ) if you have questions.

2018 Expanded Mobilizing Meetings

Bi-Weekly on Wednesdays at 3pm EST / Noon PST

Beginning next week, on June 13th, DI’s bi-weekly Mobilizing Committee Meetings (at 3 p.m. every other Wednesday), will shift their focus to state coordination of priority campaigns, beginning with the Promote the Vote and Voters not Politicians ballot initiatives in Michigan. For more information, contact Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org

DI Communications Working Group-- This month's meeting RESCHEDULED for Thursday, July 9th at 1 p.m.

The communications working group is a collaborative space for message refinement using feedback from organizations working on the ground. These monthly meetings also help to resource partner organizations for ongoing local and national campaigns and coordinate messaging and communications as a coalition.
RSVP to apohl@democracyinitiative.org

 

Stay Connected with DI Partners

We invite partners to share a victory, recruit for actions in the fight for democracy, or let us know about a conference. Email Aimée (apohl@democracyinitiative.org) to add an action for the next Weekly Update!

If you are not already a subscriber, click here to receive the DI Report in your inbox. And please be sure to follow us on Twitter (@Unite4Democracy), like us on Facebook, instagram (unite4democracy) and subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

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