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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 04.04.19

Thursday, April 4, 2019

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

LET NY VOTE WINS FUNDING FOR KEY VOTING REFORMS

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



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

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

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

The press release from the coalition can be found here.

MARYLAND STATE UPDATES

EDR IMPLEMENTED IN MARYLAND

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

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



BALTIMORE CITY FAIR ELECTIONS FUND ESTABLISHED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARYLAND LOCAL UPDATES

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

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

IOWA HOUSE PASSES RIGHTS RESTORATION BILL

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

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

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

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

Read more here.

RELEASE THE FULL MUELLER REPORT DAY OF ACTION

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


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

CENSUS 2020 DAY OF ACTION REPORT OUT

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

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



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

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

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

Click here to see the full posting.

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

Click here to see the full posting.

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

Click here to see the full posting.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 03.28.19

Thursday, March 28, 2019

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

RALLY TO END GERRYMANDERING ONCE AND FOR ALL

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



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

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



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

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

PARTNER ACTIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

STATE VICTORIES

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

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

Read the latest here.

RELEASE THE FULL MUELLER REPORT

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

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

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

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

DI BOARD MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

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

 

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

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

Click here to see the full posting.

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

Click here to see the full posting.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 03.21.19

Thursday, March 21, 2019

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

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

COLORADO VOTING MODEL SHOWS THE PATH FORWARD

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

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

PIVOT TO THE SENATE

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

STATE CAMPAIGNS

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

VICTORIES AT THE GRASSROOTS

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

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE UPDATES

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

PARTNER CORNER—TAKE ACTIOn

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

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

Feel free to contact Daily Kos with any questions.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

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

Click here to see the full posting.

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

Click here to see the full posting.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

Feature: Colorado Model is the Path Forward For Reform

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 03.14.19

Thursday, March 14, 2019

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

DI WELCOMEs ERICH PICA TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Statement from Democracy Initiative Executive Director, Wendy Fields:
The Democracy Initiative is thrilled to welcome Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth, to our Board of Directors.
Erich is a nationally recognized environmental and progressive leader, who brings deep expertise in economics, energy, and tax and budget policy. With Erich’s longstanding commitment to connecting racial, economic and environmental justice, the DI board stands to gain another champion for work at the intersections of today’s most pressing issues. What’s more, Erich’s focus on indigenous and grassroots advocacy at Friends of the Earth means he is sure to bring a strong focus on coalition-building to his role with the DI.
Erich’s fellow board members share in our excitement about his appointment. Sierra Club Executive Director Mike Brune said of the new Board Member: "We are excited to welcome Friends of the Earth US and their President Erich Pica to the board of the Democracy Initiative at such a pivotal moment. Together with our allies, we can and will continue the work to safeguard our democracy and in turn tackle the climate crisis, and we welcome this new energy to the Democracy Initiative."
Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Founding DI partner Greenpeace tells us, “We are thrilled to welcome Erich Pica onto the board of directors. Friends of the Earth, under Erich's leadership, has been a powerful voice for not just the environment, but for democracy and justice. He's a perfect addition to the team.”
We also want to take this opportunity to thank Annie Leonard for her years of service to both the DI and the democracy fights, as she rotates off the board. We will miss her fighting spirit but know that Greenpeace will remain a strong partner in the fights ahead.  

YOU WERE THE GAME CHANGERS—H.R. 1 RECAP

Good afternoon DI partners,

On behalf of the Democracy Initiative, I would like to express our appreciation to our coalition partners for your support and engagement on H.R. 1, For the People Act! You are the game changers that led to this historic democracy reform victory. The passage of H.R. 1 last week in the House of Representatives was a result of the hard work in the states by the grassroots to transform our democracy. We should all celebrate our collective power. Over 40 (& growing) of our coalition partners personally shared with us photos and quotes of DI leaders to show their solidarity. If you don’t see yourself represented, it’s not too late to send us your quote and photo. We’ve attached a collage of our leaders who shared their statements on why the victory matters to their members. To date, the DI principals' statement twitter thread has garnered more than 80,000 impressions!

We are so proud that this is one of the most unified and active engagements from DI partners that we’ve experienced in a while. Our work is not over, time to get out of the Beltway and into the states, let’s keep the momentum as we now pivot to the Senate and the states.

In peace and solidarity,

Wendy Fields
Executive Director
Democracy Initiative



Following the successful House vote, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) announced he would introduce the House-passed bill in the Senate. All this week, we have been working with our partners at the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD) to gather original co-sponsors on that Senate companion bill. As of today, the Udall bill has collected nearly 40 cosponsors, including almost the entire Democratic Caucus. As momentum builds, the lead sponsors have decided to delay introduction until March 27, to give time for additional Senators to sign on.

The short delay gives us an excellent opportunity to help secure those final cosponsor targets.

TAKE ACTION:

  • This week and next, we are driving calls to the Senate. Stand Up America has set up a coalition number to call the Senate: 888-724-8879.
    • Feel free to use it! Callers will hear a quick recording on the "For the People Act" before being connected to their Senator or the switchboard.
  • The coalition has also drafted a sample email to encourage calls.  

Additionally, we are continuing our social media efforts to keep the issue in the public eye, and to amplify the important House win leading to potential Senate action.

Our toolkit is available on the DI website. Click here!

Please continue to use these social media toolkits from our partners:

DI BOARD MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

SIERRA CLUB EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PENS COLUMN ON POWER OF DEMOCRACY
DI Board Member and Sierra Club Executive Director Mike Brune's latest for Sierra, the national publication of the Sierra Club, is "One Planet, One Vote: protecting our democracy is how we save wild places," a piece that meditates on the always recurring truth that, fundamental to our fight to save our planet and achieve real justice and sustainability, we must build our democracy.
"These attacks on democracy are relevant to the Sierra Club because, of all the tools we rely on to fulfill our mission, the most indispensable is the principle that every citizen can participate in the electoral process. Any assault on our democracy is also an assault on public lands, healthy communities, and a stable climate. If we fail to defend our democracy, then nothing that we hope to protect—and nothing that we've already protected—will be safe."

Read the full piece here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE UPDATES—GETACHEW KASSA

The Democracy Initiative is pleased to announce that Getachew Kassa, our Senior Campaigner, has been promoted to the position of National Field Manager. Getachew has been at the DI for almost two years as Senior Campaigner, after serving as the NAACP's leader for the DI.
Getachew has built many key relationships both at the national level and in the states, and has the respect of many allies and has a deep passion to ensure that state and local initiatives and our partner organizations' members are an integral part of shaping and making decisions around campaigns.
We look forward to the dedication, passion, and expertise we've come to expect from Getachew continuing as he takes on this new role.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

STATE VOICES—SENIOR STATE CAPACITY BUILDING DIRECTOR
State Voices seeks an experienced, innovative organizer with a proven track record of success managing talented staff, developing and facilitating trainings, leading civic engagement and issues campaigns to serve as the Sr. Director of State Capacity Building (Sr.). The Sr. will manage a dynamic team of three capacity building organizers and one deputy director to ensure the department is supporting 23 state partners to strengthen organizational infrastructure, deepen and amplify leadership, and create a thriving and connected network. The ideal candidate will lead with an organizer’s orientation, build strong relationships with myriad stakeholders, implement innovative ideas and bring good energy into this newly redesigned department. Moreover, the Sr. must have a demonstrated track record of and commitment to leading with racial and gender equity principles and practices. The Sr. is an integral part of the State Voices senior management team and will report to the Managing Director.

Click here to see the full posting.

COMMON CAUSEVOTING & ELECTIONS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
The Voting & Elections Program Director will manage overall operations of the Voting & Elections Program, working with state and national staff to develop and implement strategic campaigns that advance priority legal, policy and issue agendas on topics including modernization of voter registration and voting models, restoration of voting rights for formerly-incarcerated individuals, voting system integrity, curbing voter suppression and boosting voter participation.

Click here to see the full posting.

LEAGUE OF CONSERVATION VOTERS EDUCATION FUND—VOTING RIGHTS PROGRAM DIRECTOR

lcvef-logo.png

Caption: 
The League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (LCVEF) works to turn environmental values into national, state and local priorities. LCVEF, in collaboration with our state LCVEF partners, advocates for strong environmental protections, organizes and amplifies the voices of communities of color and other key constituencies who are disproportionately impacted by climate change, air pollution, water contamination and other issues, and engages people in the democratic process in order to enact strong environmental laws.

LCVEF is seeking a Voting Rights Program Director who is a strong base builder, coalition builder, and fierce advocate for equitable and accessible democratic processes at every level of government and in every community. The ideal candidate thrives on building and growing programs and is creative, motivated and inspires leadership and collaboration from partners and peers. They should have a penchant for detail, exceeding expectations and a desire to be a team player in a growing, dynamic organization.

Click here to see the full posting.

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 03.06.19

Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

CELEBRATE OUR COLLECTIVE POWER—H.R. 1 TOOLKIT



This Friday, the House of Representatives is expected to pass H.R. 1, the “For the People Act,” which is the first comprehensive package of democracy reforms to be taken up in Congress, in decades.

We want to acknowledge the hard work of all our partners and allies, including our labor partners and the broader DFAD coalition. We also want to capture the power of this moment for the grass-roots field work that comes next, as we know that this historic moment was because of the culmination of the grassroots democracy reform victories and the momentum that is building across the country to demand transformative democracy change in favor of the people.

Here at the DI, we see this bill as the new floor and not the ceiling. Over the next year, we will take the debate to the streets and ask the grassroots what we need to make this possible and stronger. But this Friday is an opportunity to present a unified front behind democracy reforms that benefit and invigorate all of our organizations' fights.

This toolkit is available on the DI website. Click here!

Here are three easy ways to take action this week and to amplify the win this week:

  • Principal Quote and Picture: We are asking for a quote from your principal and a picture. We will turn the quotes into shareable social media graphics and content.
    1. Please send your principal quotes and picture to Jack Flynn at jflynn@democracyinitiative.org. Here are a couple of examples:
      1. Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause: The For the People Act (H.R. 1) is an important first step to solidify the people’s voice in our democracy. For the first time, this bill brings together pragmatic solutions to strengthen our democracy in one bold, comprehensive package the American people are demanding. One of the best things about the For the People Act is that it is also by the people—the solutions in it modeled on solutions the people have already won locally and proven they work in cities and states coast to coast.
      2. Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace. H.R.1 “For the People Act,” is a bold step toward ending the attacks on voting rights and the influence of big money in our politics. We have ten years to avert a climate catastrophe with ambitious energy policies such as the Green New Deal, including a just transition for workers and communities, that end the era of fossil fuels and put in place renewable energy solutions and H.R.1 helps us get there. It is time to put an end to the corruption and this bill sends a clear message that the voices of the people are strong and ready for a change.
  • Join Congressional leaders for an event on Friday morning at the Capitol steps: In advance of the vote on Friday, we're asking DC based partners to join us and our partners at Common Cause on the steps of the US Capitol building at 9:00am to deliver over 500,000 petition signatures in support of H.R. 1. Click here to RSVP. Non-DC based partners are welcome to amplify the hearing on social media.
  • Show up on social media: Help to amplify the historic victory on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Here is sample content from our partners at Common Cause and ReThink Media.
    1. Common Cause Social Media Toolkit
    2. ReThink Media social media toolkit

We will be driving and tracking social media activity this week and next. Please share your tweets in a direct message to our twitter account (@unite4democracy) and we’ll retweet you. We’re asking all of our partners to send out or retweet at least 3 tweets in support of H.R. 1 on Friday!

If you have any questions contact Getachew at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

This moment is a direct result of the grassroots demand and political momentum built over the past several years in the field, culminating in a sweeping series of state-level democracy reform wins this past Fall. This moment is historic. And this victory belongs to every American, every organizer, and every coalition member that fought for it.

This toolkit is available on the DI website. Click here!

WE NEED YOUR INPUT — MAR 13 MOBILIZING MEETING

Wednesday, March 13, 3PM EST / NOON PST

Join us on the next DI Mobilizing call on Wednesday, March 13 at 3pm EST.

Next week we will host a strategy session during our mobilizing meeting for identifying and amplifying key state democracy reform campaigns. We're inviting state partners to provide overviews of ongoing campaigns on the voting rights front, as well as sharing a larger list of current campaigns across the country.

In addition, we expect to debrief on the anticipated vote in the House of Representatives on H.R. 1—the “For the People Act”— and identify next steps to build further momentum in the Senate and in the states.

To submit campaigns or speakers, get more information, and RSVP, email Getachew at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 02.28.19

Thursday, February 28, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

AFL-CIO ENDORSES THE "FOR THE PEOPLE ACT"

STATEMENT FROM RICHARD TRUMKA, PRESIDENT OF AFL-CIO
On February 26, DI partner AFL-CIO issued a statement of support for HR 1, the massive suite of democracy reforms making its way through the House, and now joins the coalition of DI groups who have fought to improve the bill and continue to push for bolder, more comprehensive reform at the state and national level.

Statement in support of HR 1 from Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President:

“For many years, special interests have used their influence to disenfranchise communities of color and take away their voice and their right to be part of our democratic process. H.R. 1 is a major step toward reducing the influence of big money in our democracy and restoring equal access to the ballot box for all voters.”
—Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President

Democracy Initiative Executive Director Wendy Fields issued the following statement in response:

SAVE THE DATE
Democrats in the House are expected to bring H.R. 1 to a vote in a week, on ​Thursday, March 7.​ Here are a few ways to engage:

  • Prepare statements and amplify the win on all social media channels. 
  • Send us a quote from your principal in support of H.R. 1 and a photo to use in a collage, to bring more organizations to the table and continue to gain momentum for democracy reform. Email quotes and pictures to Getachew at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org​.​
  • DI partner Common Cause is still collecting petition signatures for delivery on H.R. 1, demanding that US Representatives and Senators support a democracy that works for the people, not special interests and entrenched politicians. Sign here.

DEMOCRACY ON THE MARCH

FEDERAL JUDGE BLOCKS TEXAS' SECRETARY OF STATE ATTEMPTS TO PURGE VOTERS  
U.S. District Judge Fred Biery ruled to block an effort by Texas' acting Secretary of State David Whitley launched last month to probe suspected non-citizens on the voter rolls. Whitley’s office publicly announced that 98,000 non-citizens were suspected of being on the voter rolls, 58,000 of whom had voted in an election over a 22-year period. But many of our coalition members and watchdog organizations pointed to the flimsy, racist procedure would wrongfully purge voters from the rolls, as it has in many other counties across the country.

We want to recognize the work of DI partners and allies Demos, Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, League of Women Voters Texas, ACLU of Texas, and others for their fight to stop discriminatory voter purging. Read more here.

ILLINOIS BECOMES FIRST MIDWEST STATE TO PASS $15 MINIMUM WAGE
Congratulations to DI partners and allies AFL-CIO Illinois, Fight for $15, SEIU, and other coalition members for advancing the fight for a livable wage for all workers. On February 19, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a measure to increase the state minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. American workers need 15 and a Union, and this is only the beginning. Read more here.

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 02.22.18

Friday, February 22, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely. Have a nice weekend!

GRASSROOTS MOBILIZATIONS

VICTORIES AT THE STATE LEVEL

COLORADO BECOMES 12th STATE TO PASS NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE COMPACT
Congratulations to DI partners and allies Common Cause Colorado, League of Women Voters CO, National Popular Vote, and others for their success in pushing Colorado to join the National Popular Vote compact. Colorado’s legislature approved a bill this Thursday to join the NPV compact that wants to tie states’ Electoral College votes to the winner of the national popular votea measure that would bring our electoral system closer to the democratic ideal of one voter, one vote. Read more here.

VIRGINIA LEGISLATURE APPROVES LIMITED NO-EXCUSE ABSENTEE VOTING FOR 2020
Virginia lawmakers have approved a week-long no-excuse absentee voting period to take effect in 2020, with the possibility of its effect being bumped to the 2019 election.

This just goes to show: when people stand together and demand bold democracy reform from the grassroots, we have the power to move elected officials to pass reform that benefits us all. We recognize the work of everyday people and tireless organizers in every victory like this one. Read more here.

LET NY VOTE IN-DISTRICT ACTIONS

The Let NY Vote campaign has achieved major steps toward implementing voting policies that expand access to the ballot, but now our coalition needs to show that the pressure is still on for bold democracy reform.

Here's how you can take action; pass this along to your NY members to help continue to fight for voting reform (courtesy of Let NY vote):

HR 1 WEEK OF ACTION

The Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD) coalition is hosting events and town halls  across the country during the President's Day Congressional Recess in a week of action beginning Monday, February 25, in support of the For the People Act (HR 1).

For ways your organization can get plugged into work supporting HR 1, check out the resources below, courtesy of DFAD and the The Leadership Conference:

  • Use these tools for your organization's messaging and social media outreach:
  • Attend Town Halls and other events in-state this week. A list of planned events is here. Sample questions on HR 1 to ask at public events can be found here.
  • Push calls into member offices to share your support for HR 1, or visit your senators and representatives at their in-district offices to share your support for HR 1.

MOBILIZATION & COLLABORATION


AGENDA FOR FEB 27 MOBILIZING MEETING

Wednesday, February 27, 3PM EST / NOON PST

Join us on the next DI Mobilizing call on Wednesday, February 27 at 3pm EST.

Next week we will focus on the growing momentum to expand voting rights for the 6.1 million Americans across the country to with a felony conviction. Since the historic victory of Florida’s Amendment 4 in November, the movement towards ending felony disenfranchisement has gotten stronger, with active bills in many states including California, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Virginia, Washington.

The voting rights coalitions in these states, led by returning citizens, are the anchor of this movement. Our next mobilizing meeting will feature a couple of these state efforts including Civic Nebraska's Director of Voting Rights John Cartier and NAACP Des Moines President Kameron Middlebrooks to discuss their campaigns to restore the right to vote for returning citizens in Nebraska and Iowa.

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 02.15.19

Friday, February 15, 2019
This week, we are sending out a streamlined version of the Weekly Update. We will return to a regular Update next week. The DI Weekly Update includes highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

Democracy on the move

Federal Court Dismisses $900 Million Pipeline Company Lawsuit Against Greenpeace

The United States District Court for the District of North Dakota issued a landmark dismissal of all claims against all defendants in the USD $900 million case against Greenpeace and others brought by Energy Transfer.

The decision to dismiss this lawsuit, which alleged Greenpeace engaged in racketeering and defamation, sends a strong message to all companies trying to silence civil society with baseless cases. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson wrote in his order dismissing the case that, “Posting articles written by people with similar beliefs does not create a RICO enterprise,” and that, “Donating to people whose cause you support does not create a RICO enterprise.”

Greenpeace USA General Counsel Tom Wetterer said in response to the decision:

“Justice has been served. This is a huge victory not just for Greenpeace but for anyone and everyone who has ever stood up against powerful corporate interests. Today’s decision to dismiss Energy Transfer’s baseless lawsuit against Greenpeace and others sends a clear message to companies trying to muzzle civil society that corporate overreach will not be tolerated. It is also a check on corporate efforts to silence dissent.

H.R. 1 - FOR THE PEOPLE ACT

The For the People Act is moving! This week, the House of Representatives held two more hearings on the comprehensive package of democracy reforms. Throughout this process the Democracy Initiative has worked to educate our coalition partners, activists, and movement leaders about how democracy reforms impact the kitchen-table issues we all care about. We believe that the legislation and legislative process is being driven by the political demand and recent success in the States. We also believe that those same grassroots leaders need to be at the forefront of our campaign efforts.  

To that end, a number of our DI partner are working to influence the process, improve the bill, and strengthen our democracy in the states and in Washington DC. This week, a number of our partners are testifying in the House Administration Committee. We wanted to highlight two of them

  • Brandon Jessup, Executive Director of Michigan Forward and DI leader, testified in support of H.R. 1, making the connections between Congressional reform efforts and how democracy has impacted him and his Michigan community.  
  • Click here to read Brandon's full testimony:  https://bit.ly/2N59lEQ

DISPATCHES FROM THE FIELD

Let NY Vote!

For years, grassroots activists from all across New York state have fought for meaningful voting reforms. In January, following the historic 2018 midterm elections, the Let NY Vote! Coalition successfully passed the first major voting reforms in New York in more than 100 years!

Drain the Swamp!

Trump just announced he will nominate David Bernhardt, a former high paid oil lobbyist, to run the Department of the Interior. As Secretary, Bernhardt will be responsible for fossil fuel leasing on our public lands and waters.

If confirmed, Bernhardt could use his position to help his Big Oil friends dismantle basic protections like the Endangered Species Act. Instead of draining the swamp, Trump wants to turn our National Parks and wild places over to the swamp monsters. We need your help to fight back!

  • Tell the Senate to reject David Bernhardt!  With the climate under attack, and wealthy fossil fuel interests continuing to deregulate the industry to escape essential environmental protections, we cannot allow an oil lobbyist to run the Department of the Interior! Distribute this petition to your members and tell the administration that the people will not stand for ecocide!

Speak up for Clean Water!

On Valentines Day, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its proposed rule to slash federal clean water safeguards. Trump’s Dirty Water Rule is a radical reinterpretation of the Clean Water Act that ignores science and broad support from the public. It would eliminate protections for rain-dependent streams, which feed drinking water sources for millions of people. And it would put at risk more than half of our nation’s wetlands, which filter pollution and protect our communities from flooding.

Click here to learn more, and to tell the Trump administration to to defend clean water:  http://cleanwater.org/defendwater

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 02.08.19

Friday, February 8, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

GRASSROOTS MOBILIZATION

LET NY VOTE!

For years, grassroots activists from all across New York state have fought for meaningful voting reforms. In January, following the historic 2018 midterm elections, the Let NY Vote! Coalition successfully passed the first major voting reforms in New York in more than 100 years!

But there is still much to do, and the grassroots is taking the reins again, planning actions and events around the state in support of voting reform in New York. Here are several quick ways for your organizations and members to take action:

  • Write a Valentine's Day Card to Governor Cuomo: Governor Cuomo has until next Thursday, February 14 to amend his budget to include needed funding for Early Voting to succeed in New York. Write Governor Cuomo a card today and let him know that you expect him to fund Early Voting in his budget Amendments. Click here.
  • Promote the Feb. 12 Mobilization and Lobby Day in Albany: Lift up the action on social media and send an email to your NY lists to invite them to join! You can find promotional materials in this google doc.
  • Join the Fair Elections Petition list swap: Share this petition with your members to support Fair Elections in NY (click here for sample email). Contact Laura Friedenbach (lfriedenbach@fairelectionsny.org) to participate in the list swap.
  • Participate in upcoming events with Let NY Vote: Join many of the DI's partners and coalition allies for events and mobilizations, including Common Cause NY, Jamaica NAACP, League of Women Voters Buffalo, and more! Event schedule can be found here.

MARYLAND MOVES TO IMPLEMENT STATEWIDE ELECTION DAY REGISTRATION

The people of Maryland overwhelmingly voted Yes on Question 2 last November, one of the campaigns the DI and our coalition allies supported to institute Election Day Registration statewide. Now, the Maryland Legislature has introduced the EDR legislation, and is holding their first hearing February 12. We need show our collective power to ensure EDR gets implemented. The Everyone Votes MD coalition is putting together testimony for the hearing, including testimony specific to your organization. Allies are also welcome to join Common Cause Maryland for verbal testimony at the hearing.

Also, the Maryland Senate's Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee is holding a hearing on February 14 about an Article V Convention, one of the gravest threats to our democracy today. Common Cause Maryland is heading up testimony against the Article V Convention, and is looking for groups to provide additional testimony and support to kill this resolution.

For more information on either or both hearings, and to get plugged in, email Damon at DEffingham@commoncause.org.

NEBRASKA CAMPAIGN LAUNCH FOR RETURNING CITIZENS' VOTING RIGHTS

On Monday, February 4, Civic Nebraska kicked off its new campaign to restore the ability to vote for returning citizens. Civic Nebraska is looking for social media amplification to get the message out, even from out-of-state groups. It's clear that demand for ending felon disenfranchisement is growing at the state level across the country!

Here's a link to their Facebook post, YouTube video, and blog post. Share widely!

DI BOARD MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

COMMON CAUSE PRESIDENT TESTIFIES FOR ETHICS REFORM
DI Board Co-Chair and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn testified on Thursday before the House Committee for Oversight and Reform on the Ethics components of HR 1, the House Democrat's legislative package of democracy reforms.

During her testimony, Hobert Flynn laid out the case for bold and comprehensive ethics reform, and identified that the demand for these reforms is coming from the grassroots:

"Americans have not been waiting for Washington to fix what ails them in our democracy. We've been working at the state and local level, with many other groups, to pass significant pro-democracy reforms. This is the second consecutive election cycle where voters have passed 95% of the democracy reforms on the ballot. In 2018, voters in 20 red, blue, and purple states and localities have passed democracy reforms with strong support from Republican, Independent, and Democratic voters." 

A short clip of an exchange between Hobert Flynn and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez went viral on twitter, demonstrating the clear and growing support for ethics reform among everyday Americans tired of corporate interests hijacking our democracy. A longer version of the clip can be found below. The entire hearing can be viewed here.

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