The DI Report

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 06.13.19

Thursday, June 13, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

TAKE ACTION

SHELBY COUNTY V. HOLDER 6TH ANNIVERSARY ACTION

Tuesday, June 25 marks the six-year anniversary of the Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision, which infamously gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, allowing states to implement election laws that erected barrier after barrier for Americans trying to vote.

Our allies at the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights have produced a broad toolkit to help partners and allies commemorate Monday, June 24 to Sunday, June 30  by renewing the call to #RestoreTheVOTE.

We're asking our partners to join us in commemorating the 6th Anniversary of the Shelby County v. Holder decision by taking TWO actions:

  1. Tweet and post on social media, acknowledging the moment's growing demand for reform and articulating why your organization supports the restoration of the Voting Rights Act. Sample tweets and posts are on page five of the toolkit.
  2. Send an action alert to your members, urging them to take action by calling
    members of Congress (202-224-3121) on Monday, June 24 and tell their legislators that our democracy needs a fully restored Voting Rights Act today. A sample action alert is on page ten of the toolkit.

DOWNLOAD THE TOOLKIT HERE

We’ve excerpted the introduction from this excellent resource to echo the importance of commemorating this decision:

In the aftermath of the June 25, 2013 Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision—which gutted key protections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) – states and localities across the country jumped to enact restrictive voting laws, disenfranchising millions of American voters. For six years, civil rights organizations and their allies have been fighting back against these discriminatory laws. But we need Congress to restore the VRA to its full strength to ensure that all eligible voters have equal access to the ballot and that every vote counts.

The toolkit also contains messaging frameworks, pivots to deal with bad faith lines of argument, advice for organizations planning events, and more.

We've reproduced a few sample tweets below for quick access:

  • It’s been six years since #SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights Act. Congress must fix this injustice so that we have the tools to effectively combat current racial discrimination in voting. It’s time for lawmakers to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act to #RestoreTheVOTE!
  • Congress must restore the protections against racial discrimination in voting that #SCOTUS destroyed in 2013. Building a government that is representative of ALL its people is critical to our ability to solve some of our country’s most pressing challenges. #RestoreTheVOTE
  • Without a functional democracy in which everyone is included, heard, and represented, we cannot make real progress on other important civil and human rights issues. That's why Congress MUST pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act to #RestoreTheVOTE.

DOWNLOAD THE TOOLKIT HERE

We need to ensure all Americans have the ability to participate in our democracy. That's why we must demand Congress restore the VRA now.

For further information and questions, contact Jordyn Bussey at jbussey@civilrights.org.

MARYLAND FAIR ELECTIONS—UPDATED EVENT SCHEDULE

UPDATE: The introduction date for the implementation bill of the Baltimore City Fair Election Fund has been moved to Monday, June 24, 2019.

Join us for the kickoff of the Baltimore City Fair Elections implementation bill! The coalition has already won its first victory: the voters of Baltimore City have demanded a program to curb the influence of outside, special interest money in local elections.

Now we must organize to ensure the will of voters is implemented. Help us reach our goal of turning out 60 people for the Monday, June 24 press conference and hearing!

The press conference with Councilman Kristofer Burnett and members of the Baltimore Fair Elections coalition will be happening outside of the Council building at 4:00pm on 100 N. Holliday St. Baltimore, MD 21202. A hearing will follow at 5:00pm.

We're sharing a one-pager and a sample email to assist with engaging your Baltimore City members around the need for a Fair Election Fund and to turn out support at the press conference, courtesy of Baltimore Fair Elections.

JUNE 19 MOBILIZING MEETING AGENDA: BUILDING SMALL DONOR FINANCING IN MARYLAND AND BEYOND

Wednesday, June 19, 3PM EST / NOON PST

Join us on the next DI Mobilizing Call on Wednesday, June 19 at 3pm EST.

Joanne Antoine, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland, will be joining us on next week’s Mobilizing Call. Joanne will discuss the current implementation process of small donor public financing in Baltimore City and provide updates on the press conference introducing the implementation bill happening on June 24.

Now that we are very close to enacting small donor financing in five localities in Maryland, Joanne also will discuss expanding the campaign across the state and offer insight on how the lessons of Maryland can be applied to other states.

For more information, email Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

RSVP HERE

BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR OUR COMMUNITIES

At a time when corporate America controls much of the government, we absolutely cannot allow the administration to get away with stealing billions of dollars in funding and crucial representation from black and brown communities. We must stand together with our communities and demand the citizenship question be dropped.

On Thursday, May 30, The New York Times reported that the a GOP strategist had deliberately crafted the citizenship question to underrepresent nonwhite voters and shift power to Republican strongholds. Evidence of this claim arose after his daughter approached DI partner Common Cause with documents from his hard drives.

Thomas B. Hofeller’s greatest project may be his work on the GOP’s gerrymandering strategy—files submitted to the Raleigh courts pertaining to Common Cause v. Rucho indicate that “North Carolina Republicans misled a federal court to prolong the life of their map of state legislative districts, which had been ruled unconstitutional” according to a Times article released June 6.

More importantly, however, is that the North Carolinian partisan is also responsible for the Department of Commerce's recent push to add citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The citizenship question, according to files on the same hard drive, was conceived of as a way to provide future opportunities to solidify gerrymandered districts in favor of his party.

Right now, our partners and allies at the ACLU and Common Cause are fighting to delay the Census decision from the Supreme Court, which is expected by the end of this month, in light of the evidence gathered from Hofeller’s hard drives.

We must be clear in naming the problem: Hofeller and the Trump administration's ploy is designed to strip immigrant, black, and brown communities of millions of dollars and political representation to consolidate their own power. The data collected by the Census Bureau every ten years impacts the federal resources that communities will receive nationwide, determines how our population will be represented in Congress, and defines how new districts are shaped. Nearly $700 billion in federal government resources are at stake. This is an unapologetic power grab, and we must denounce it as such.

STATE UPDATES: DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS

TENNESSEE—ANTI-VOTER REGISTRATION LAW PASSES

On June 9, Ezra Rosenberg, Director of the Voting Rights Project at DI partner Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law spoke with The Real News Network to discuss the newly signed Tennessee law devised to disenfranchise and intimidate black voters.

The newly signed law, which is in direct response to grassroots organizing that registered tens of thousands of African Americans in 2018 to vote, has three main parts that penalize Tennessee organizers and voters:

  1. All individuals hired by an organization to register people to vote must be trained and registered by the state and criminalizes any organizer & organization who does not comply.
  2. Specific statements (not yet specified by TN Officials) must be made when any person speaks publicly about voter registration status and is subject to criminal penalties if the required disclosures are not stated.
  3. One hundred or more incomplete applications (not yet defined by TN Officials) will result in sever civil penalties for the organization submitting them, up to $10,000.

Essentially, Rosenberg states,

“Taken as a whole, this bill—which is now a law—imposes unconstitutional burdens in violation of the 1st Amendment and the 14th amendment on this simple act of helping people register to vote.”

Listen to the full interview here.

NORTH CAROLINA—ELECTION SECURITY NONEXISTENT

The Mueller Report made one thing explicitly clear: there was conclusive evidence of a foreign country tampering with our elections. With the integrity of elections threatened by corporate-owned politicians and foreign countries, the utter negligence toward election security must end now. We demand adequate funding and security for our elections now, to ensure all Americans' voices can be heard in the democratic process.

On Friday, June 7, following the disclosure of a cyber security risk within the North Carolina Election system, the state’s poor election security became apparent yet again.

Chris Vickery, a cyber security investigator, found a publicly available file within Amazon Web Services that consisted of administrative passwords and access directions for North Carolina State Board of Elections workers responsible for operating voting machines. Additional documents containing directions on how to reset, test and clear ES&S iVotronic touchscreen voting machines were also publicly available online, sometimes in the same file as the leaked passwords.

Read more here.

 

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

DEPUTY DIRECTOR—ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS

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

All applications must be submitted by June 14, 2019.

See the full posting here.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 06.06.19

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

THE DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE CELEBRATES PRIDE MONTH

Happy Pride Month to all our partners, allies, and the entire LGBTQ+ community! We reaffirm the fight for a free, representative, and reflective democracy for all Americans, no matter how we express ourselves. Solidarity is one of our greatest strengths.

"LGBTQ rights cannot be separated from the democracy agenda because there is no true democracy without equality." —Wendy Fields, Executive Director, Democracy Initiative

Feel free to use this shareable graphic in your social media posts!

BALTIMORE CITY FAIR ELECTION FUND IMPLEMENTATION

Last year, Baltimore City voters stood together and demanded a fairer election system that's free of the corrosive impact of wealthy special interests and empowers all Baltimoreans to run for offices where they can make a difference in their community. On November 6, they turned that demand into a reality.

Baltimore's democracy has long been dominated by a powerful donor class that has more say than everyday people. In light of the recent scandals and new evidence that further exposes the corrupting influence of big donors flooding elections with money, a Baltimore City Fair Election Fund is more necessary than ever.

The introduction date for the implementation bill of the Baltimore City Fair Election Fund is Monday, June 17, 2019. A press conference with Councilman Kristofer Burnett and members of the Baltimore Fair Elections coalition will be held outside of the Council building at 4:00pm on 100 N. Holliday St. Baltimore, MD 21202.

We're sharing a one-pager and a sample email to assist with engaging your Baltimore City members around the need for a Fair Election Fund, courtesy of Baltimore Fair Elections.

Additionally, DI partner Demos has released a short report entitled "Big Money in the Charm City: the white, wealthy donor class that fuels Baltimore's elections," which approaches the urgent need for small donor public funding of elections through a race/class lens. You can read the report here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE UPDATES

DI WELCOMES BRITTNY BAXTER, TRAINING & MOVEMENT BUILDING COORDINATOR

The DI is excited to welcome a new Training & Movement Building Coordinator, Brittny Baxter. Brittny joins us having organized in various capacities over the past decade. Most recently, she was a Regional/Trainer in Broward County for the coordinated efforts to elect Andrew Gillum and the Winning Ticket. Prior to the 2018 midterm elections, she managed a statewide program in partnership with Re: Power (formerly Wellstone Action) to provide training for progressive Democrats, their campaign managers and grassroots organizers to run and win effective campaigns. She’s a Maryland based Consultant and Organizer.

Brittny hails from the rustbelt city of Buffalo NY, where she cut her teeth on local and state legislative races. She is the former Upstate Legislative Organizer for New York Working Families and fought to mobilize and unite labor, EJ, racial justice and community groups across the state on various bills. She has worked on several issue campaigns, from environmental justice and safe staffing to the Fight for $15 and reproductive rights.

A strong supporter of labor and a former AFT organizer for NYSUT, she is committed to the fight for equity for all.

“I stand with the poor, people of color, LGBTQ folks, immigrants and organized labor, because our liberation is bound together.”

We’re so excited for Brittny to join the DI Team.

DEMOCRACY CHAMPIONS ON THE MOVE

On Wednesday, May 22, 2019, Democracy Champion Awardee and Deputy Campaign Director of Michigan’s Promote the Vote midterm campaign Brandon Jessup published an op-ed in The Detroit News advocating for the bold, comprehensive democracy reform embodied by H.R. 1.

In the piece, Jessup rightly links the effectiveness of H.R. 1’s reform package to the success of bold, citizen-led campaigns in the states:

The For the People Act will curb the big money politics that led to and continues to fuel Flint’s water crisis, putting our elections back in the hands of everyday citizens. The bill will multiply the power of small donors, bring dark money into the light, and strengthen oversight and accountability of public servants.

The bill also builds on decades of pioneers who spent their lives making it easier to vote. More than 40 years ago, Michigan’s first African-American elected to statewide office, Secretary of State Richard Austin, implemented the nation’s first “motor voter” law, allowing citizens to register to vote when applying for a driver’s license. Michigan wouldn’t see another reform like this until last year’s midterm elections, when a near super-majority of voters approved constitutional amendments to end gerrymandering, create an automatic voter registration system, allow same-day registration, and implement no-excuse absentee voting – reforms that are expected to empower 300,000 new voters in 2020.

Read more here.

LET NY VOTE FINAL PRIORITIES—ACTION & SIGN-ON LETTER

Last month, advocates from across New York State stood together at the Capitol three times to support Let NY Vote Coalition's remaining three priorities — Automatic Voter Registration, voting rights for people on parole, and a shorter party enrollment deadline.

With less than three weeks left in the session, leadership is telling the coalition that it’s possible to win these fights if we put enough pressure on our elected representatives.

The advocacy and strength of our coalition has helped to change the conversation in New York and gain more sponsors and more support throughout both houses of the legislature. The session ends on June 19, so this is the crucial last chance for representatives to hear from your members.

The Let NY Vote coalition needs your state based members to take action this week to help pass their remaining priorities!

We’ve already won historic voting reforms this year because of the actions taken from people like you. Let’s make history again.

The Let NY Vote Coalition is also seeking signatures of organizations to support their call for the NY Legislature to end felony disenfranchisement altogether.

You can view the sign-on letter here.

For more information or to add your organization's signature, contact Isabel Zeitz-Moskin at IsabelZM@nationalactionnetwork.net.

STAND WITH DC AGAINST POLICY RIDERS

DI partner DC Vote is circulating a sign-on letter standing against policy riders and Congress using the budget process to override the will and interests of Washington, D.C. residents. Join DC Vote in standing against the usurpation of DC residents' autonomy.  

For more information or to add your organization's signature, contact Barbara Helmick at bhelmick@dcvote.org.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

DEPUTY DIRECTOR

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

All applications must be submitted by June 14, 2019.

See the full posting here.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 05.30.19

Thursday, May 30, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—please share widely.

Polling & Political Reform Resources

Over 25 groups attended the most recent Bi-Weekly Mobilizing Meeting on messaging; we want to thank all of our participants for great turnout via video and in person. It's clear to us that there's a demand for co-creation of messaging and organizing materials, and we're looking forward to reconvening and continuing the conversation on Wednesday, June 5 at 3:00pm.

Our most recent Mobilizing Meeting featured an insightful presentation from special guest Michael Podhorzer, Senior Adviser to the President of AFL-CIO and former AFL-CIO Political Director, on recent polling on political reforms and its implications for the way we talk about the democracy agenda.

In particular, research from Navigator’s latest report illuminates certain pitfalls in boilerplate progressive narratives that arise from the distance between democracy advocates and the American public’s awareness and knowledge of reforms. Podhorzer’s presentation focused on those gaps and walked us through the essential takeaways of the report.

We’re sharing the presentation, courtesy of Michael Podhorzer, as a companion to the report and to serve as a useful resource in developing effective reform messaging that meets people where they are, providing real opportunities for education and tools for organizing their communities to build demand for change.

You can download the slides here. Download the meeting recording here.

BREAKING NEWS: CITIZENSHIP QUESTION IS A PARTISAN POWER-GRAB

According to an article released Thursday, May 30, the citizenship question was deliberately added as a means to shift power to Republican strongholds. A North Carolinian partisan named Thomas B. Hofeller, responsible for the state's grievously gerrymandered maps, conceived of the citizenship question as a way to provide future opportunities to solidify gerrymandered districts in favor of his party. After his recent death, documents recovered on personal hard drives reveal that he also directly supplied the Justice Department with the defense it needed to justify adding the citizenship question: opportunistically claiming it was necessary to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  

DI Board Co-Chair and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn issued the following statement in response:

“The evidence reveals that the plan to add the citizenship question was hatched by the Republicans’ chief redistricting mastermind to create an electoral advantage for Republicans and non-Hispanic whites. This contradicts testimony by Administration officials that they wanted to add the question to benefit Latino voters, when in fact the opposite was true.”

With the addition of the Citizenship question formally added by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, there is a high possibility that the population data of the 2020 census will drastically under represent immigrant communities. The deliberate move to under count these communities diminishes their representation and their political power.

The data collected by the Census Bureau every ten years impacts the federal resources that communities will receive nationwide and defines how our population will be represented in Congress. Census data collected in 2020 will determine how more than $675 billion in federal government resources will be distributed each year until 2030. It determines how much federal funding public schools will receive; where new roads will be built, or old ones be improved; how much federal funding will go to local Medicare and Medicaid programs; and will predict where the private sector will potentially build new homes and businesses.

More importantly, this data will define how many congressional seats each state receives and how those new districts will be shaped. The census can be the catalyst for a fairer system of political representation in congress or an obstacle to it if an accurate count is not achieved.

We cannot allow this to happen, especially after the ploy has been revealed as an undemocratic plot to secure power at the expense of the people.

We should not anticipate the Supreme Court to rule against the Secretary, but rather prepare a strategy of education and outreach that will combat the fear that will be stoked in immigrant communities, should the question be left on the final census form.

As Sonum Nerurkar, Get Out the Count Manager of the Leadership Conference Education Fund, attests:

“The 2020 Census is less than a year away and it is critical that all communities get counted. At its core the census is about money, power, people and information. The census, a headcount of every person in the United States that happens once every 10 years, and is the foundation of our democracy. By allocating the number of seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives, the census determines how much of a voice each state has in Congress. The data collected also guides how federal money that goes to our communities is distributed—including money for schools, hospitals, and critical programs like SNAP and Medicaid. Communities of color, renters, young children, and immigrants are a few hard-to-count communities that are missed every census. That means these communities are deprived of the resources and representation they deserve."

"With the Trump Administration’s continuous attacks on immigrants and communities of color, including the addition of the untested citizenship question to the 2020 Census, census advocates have an uphill battle ahead of us to ensure our communities are counted."

DI partner Arab American Institute has compiled an issue brief that both handily summarizes the key parts of the fight for a fair census, and identifies priorities for local, state, and national level advocates in their preparation for the 2020 Census.

Download the brief here.

With the Supreme Court's ruling on the citizenship question expected to come down in the next two weeks, it's more important than ever to educate members on the ground on how to organize themselves to ensure everyone is counted. All Americans deserve to receive full political representation and the resources they need to survive and flourish.

To learn more and to find ways to engage, you can visit CensusCounts.org.

STATE DEMOCRACY ROUNDUP

MARYLAND

On Friday, May 24, the will of Maryland voters finally became law. Last November, voters overwhelmingly passed an initiative allowing voters to register to vote on the day of the election.

The bill that lays out the procedure for Election Day Registration in Maryland just passed into law last Friday, without the signature of Governor Hogan. We want to acknowledge all the work our partners and allies Common Cause Maryland, Indivisible, League of Women Voters of Maryland, Maryland PIRG, Represent Maryland, SEIU, Working Families Party and others accomplished, without which truly transformative reforms like election day registration would not be possible.

Read more here.

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TEXAS

Texas Secretary of State David Whitley resigned Monday, May 27, after serving a brief tenure marked by his attempt to illegally purge Texas voters from the rolls by flagging 98,000 names for citizenship checks after stoking fears of mass voter fraud.

In April, the state ceased its review after swift legal challenges from DI partners League of Women Voters of Texas, Mi Familia Vota Educational Fund, UnidosUS, and other allies, as well as local communities and organizations on the ground; over the course of the legal challenge and through the state's settlement it became clear that at least a third of these names were flagged by error or due to their status as naturalized citizens.

Read more here.

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NEVADA

Wednesday, May 22, marked an important victory in the fight to ensure all Americans have a voice in our democracy: the Nevada State Legislature passed a bill restoring the ability to vote to citizens who have completed their prison sentences. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk, who’s expected to sign the bill into law. Congratulations to the state coalition.

Read more here.

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NEW HAMPSHIRE

Last Thursday, May 23, the New Hampshire Senate unanimously passed legislation creating a bipartisan redistricting commission for the drawing of state district maps. While the original bill proposed an independent commission, this compromise bill will nevertheless make it more difficult for partisan gerrymanders to occur.

Read more here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

DEPUTY DIRECTOR

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

All applications must be submitted by June 14, 2019.

See the full posting here.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 05.23.19

Thursday, May 23, 2019

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

WHEN DEMOCRACY WINS, ALL OF OUR ISSUES CAN WIN

We sat down with Hilda Nucete, Deputy Director of Civic Engagement at the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, to talk about how Colorado’s robust and exemplary voting model has facilitated work on the issues that LCV members care about: conserving and defending the environment. These comments were edited slightly for clarity and concision.

On the importance of democracy reform to LCV and LCVEF's work, Nucete said:

"Well, one of the biggest ideas we increasingly understand is that those folks who are most disenfranchised in our political system are the ones suffering the most when it comes to environmental injustice and environmental degradation. There’s a clear connection between those individuals who have been historically disenfranchised and those neighborhoods that have been historically polluted and dumped on. Industries have believed that those individuals don’t have a voice and they won’t be represented, and their community won’t show up.

That is why it is so important that we’re building a full cycle of civic engagement, like with our CHISPA program at LCV, where we have a program that is civic-engagement based with community engagement and organizing."

It's clear that when our voting laws provide accessible entry points for all into the democratic process, communities are able to act on the issues that matter most to them. Nucete adds:

"This past cycle in 2018 we did a lot of voter registration work. We actually registered over 10,000 voters in the Denver metro area and Pueblo county. Pueblo is one of the communities that doesn’t get a lot of civic engagement support—not a lot of money is invested in those communities to turn out and vote, so it was such a great experience to be able to go into that community and create connections.

In general, when there are more ways for everybody’s voices to be represented, we really do have a better democracy and environment. One of the biggest values, independent of political parties, is the Great Outdoors. And it's a kind of third political rail that no one touches in Colorado because it has such great value to Coloradans. So we understand that when our community is more active and voting, the environment wins."

We’re also sharing LCVEF’s Why Voting Rights Matter document, an excellent messaging example of articulating the value of democracy advocacy through an enviro lens.

To download the resource, click here.

SHIFTING NARRATIVES: DEMOCRACY ON THE OFFENSIVE

DI partner ReThink Media has released an exciting new narrative guide: “From Defense to Offense: Shifting the Narrative on Voting Rights,” intended for all voting rights advocates and organizations seeking guidance on how to incorporate a democracy rap into their own issue campaigns. ReThink’s new guide offers the latest in message guidance, narrative tips, and data from multiple research projects.

The vast majority of Americans understand that we can only have free and fair elections if all eligible voters have equitable access to the franchise. As advocates, we know how to make this a reality. But we could better frame the fight to undo barriers to the ballot.



To quote their shorter, public version of the guide at length:

While advocates have seen success in the courtroom, the state legislature, and the ballot box, we have had less success shifting public opinion and engagement. For the past several years, the movement has been playing defense and delivering our messages on the opposition’s terrain. A ReThink analysis found that discussion of vote fraud, voter ID, and efforts to limit and make voting more difficult made up about 40% of news coverage in 2016 and 2017—far more than discussion of pro-voter policies. And because Voting Rights advocates are used to fighting legal and legislative battles to defend rights, our messaging is too often defensive. We also spend a lot of time refuting our opponents’ disinformation and the resulting negative public perceptions, which leads to adopting our opposition’s language and repeating and reinforcing their negative frames.

This guide will help you do just that. In it, ReThink breaks down key challenges we face in messaging our voting rights efforts and offers a variety of solutions to better set the narrative. There are also policy-specific examples, both for proactive and reactive proposals.

To download the full message guide, email Emma Weinstein-Levy at emmaw@rethinkmedia.org.

STATE DEMOCRACY ROUNDUP

FLORIDA—TAKE ACTION NOW

On Wednesday, May 8, Florida Governor Rick DeSantis announced that he intends to sign into law a bill that requires returning citizens whose ability to vote was restored to pay all financial obligations before voting. The change, which some are calling a modern poll-tax, was passed by Florida lawmakers as a reaction to 5.1 million Floridians voting to restore the ability to vote to returning citizens who had completed their sentences, leading to the largest re-enfranchisement measure in decades.

Right now, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and DI partner League of Women Voters are working on organizing and coordinating lawyers around strategy and assisting returning citizens with navigating the new changes instituted after Amendment 4's passage.

For more information and ways to get involved, contact Al Barrentine at al@floridarrc.org.

 

Desmond Meade, Executive Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and a key Democracy Champion in the fight for voting rights, recently made the following statement on next steps:

What is most important is that we roll of our sleeves now and get behind Florida Rights Restoration Coalition’s expansive effort that will involve state and national support to register not just these individuals, but those in the communities most impacted who are often not registered. —Desmond Meade

 

* * *

MICHIGAN

Misinformation about voting is a serious problem. The ACLU of Michigan, leaders on the Promote the Vote MI campaign in the 2018 midterms, is putting out a call to report any and all outdated and incorrect information around voting policies that have changed since the passage of Prop 3.

Last week, the ACLU of Michigan contacted the Michigan Secretary of State regarding the widespread problem of misinformation on local city and township websites and in some cases, in written material. In a very small review of websites, they found instances where voters were told they had to register thirty days prior to an election or needed an excuse to vote absentee, both of which are no longer true after the passage of Promote the Vote.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections recently admonished all clerks to remove inaccurate info from their websites! But this is just the first step in ensuring voters have accurate information.

If you see misinformation about voting in Michigan, please report it to Sharon Dolente, Voting Rights Strategist, ACLU of Michigan at sdolente@aclumich.org.

Meanwhile, state legislators continue their efforts to undermine the will of voters by attempting to use the state budget to gut the Independent Citizen's Redistricting Commission established by voters last November.

Voters Not Politician's Executive Director Nancy Wang condemns this power grab, because it clearly "defies the will of the 2.5 million Michiganders who amended the state Constitution specifically to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians and [who] placed it with an independent citizens’ redistricting commission."

Read more here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

DEPUTY DIRECTOR

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

See the full posting here.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 05.16.19

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

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

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

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

To quote the module’s introduction at length:

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

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

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

What do we mean by all of this?

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

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

You can access the full toolkit here.

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

WHY WE FIGHT

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

STATE DEMOCRACY ROUNDUP

MICHIGAN—TAKE ACTION NOW

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

FLORIDA

 

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

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

Read more here.

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ILLINOIS

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

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

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

Please register here and encourage your members to attend!

Read more about the field hearing here.

MAY 22 MOBILIZING MEETING AGENDA

Wednesday, May 22, 3PM EST / NOON PST

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

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

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

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

RSVP HERE

NEW PARTNER STAFF ORIENTATION

You’re invited to the DI new staff orientation!

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

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

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

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

DEPUTY DIRECTOR

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

See the full posting here.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

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

See the full posting here.

* * *

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 05.09.19

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

DI WELCOMES CASA'S GUSTAVO TORRES TO THE BOARD

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

REDISTRICTING VICTORIES AND MESSAGING

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

Redistricting email used by Friends of the Earth

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

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

* * *

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

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

Read League of Women Voters’ press release here.

STATE DEMOCRACY ROUNDUP

NEW YORK—TAKE ACTION NOW



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

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

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

* * *

FLORIDA

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

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

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

Read more here.

* * *

TEXAS

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

Read Demos’ press release here.

* * *

COLORADO

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

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

Read more here.

BARR TRIES TO PLACE PRESIDENT ABOVE THE LAW

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

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

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

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

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

You can find the petition here.

FORMER DI BOARD MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

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

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

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

Read the full piece here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

DEPUTY DIRECTOR

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

See the full posting here.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

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

See the full posting here.

* * *

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 05.02.19

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

SOLIDARITY WITH VICTIMS OF WHITE SUPREMACY

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

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

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

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

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

TAKE ACTION—mueller report validates call for increased election security

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


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

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

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

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

partner corner

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

* * *

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

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


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

* * *

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

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

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

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

Field Hearings

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

Read more here.

MAY 8 MOBILIZING MEETING AGENDA

Wednesday, May 8, 3PM EST / NOON PST

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

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

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

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

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

See the full posting here.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

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

See the full posting here.

* * *

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 04.24.19

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

AVR STUDY SHOWS INCREASED VOTER REGISTRATION

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


(Photo Credit Brennan Center)


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

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

VRAA FIELD HEARINGS – SIGN UP NOW!

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

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

TODAY'S WINS BEGAN AS YESTERDAY'S DEMANDS

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

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

DI BOARD MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

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

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

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

Read the full statement here.

* * *

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

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

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

Read the full piece here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

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

Click here to see the full posting.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

* * *

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 04.17.19

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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

MICHIGAN CAMPAIGN STATUS AND MESSAGING

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

The Campaigns



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

Campaign Materials

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

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

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

DI PROUDLY WELCOMES FOUR NEW PARTNERS

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

League of Women Voters

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

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

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Take On Wall Street

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

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

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GreenLatinos

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

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

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VoteRiders

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

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TAKE ACTION—TELL THE SENATE: REAUTHORIZE VAWA!

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

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

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

PARTNER CORNER

ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE FOUNDATION HOSTS 21st ANNUAL KAHLIL GIBRAN GALA

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

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

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

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

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

Click here to see the full posting.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 04.11.19

Thursday, April 11, 2019

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

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

CELEBRATING THREE YEARS SINCE HISTORIC MOBILIZATION

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

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

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

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

Click here to see our social media toolkit.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

VOTING RIGHTS ADVANCEMENT ACT FIELD HEARINGS

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

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

GEORGIA'S NEW ELECTORAL VULNERABILITIES

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

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



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

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

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

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

Read more here.

PARTNER CORNER

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

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

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

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

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

Read the press release and the full letter here.

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

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

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

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

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

Click here to see the full posting.

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

Click here to see the full posting.

DI partners are encouraged to recommend qualified, diverse candidates!

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