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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 01.25.19

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

HR 1 SUPPORT SHOWS GROWING DEMAND FOR REFORM

Updates from D.C.—Congress moves forward on HR 1, “For the People Act.”
One of the first items for the new congress was the introduction of HR 1, the “For the People Act,” a bold, comprehensive package of democracy reforms touching on voting rights, gerrymandering, money in politics, and ethics. The legislation enjoys strong support from the House Democrats, with 220+ co-sponsors as of this week.

Looking ahead, the Congress is expected to begin hearings on the bill, beginning the week of January 28. The DI is working closely with our partners at the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD) Coalition to organize events in-district in three weeks at Member offices and town halls during the the President's Day recess on February 18.

Here are a few ways that DI partners can plug in to the HR 1 effort:

  1. Join the Declaration for American Democracy coalition; email Pedro Morillas to be added to the lists: pmorillas@citizen.org.
  2. Share Common Cause’s petition in support of HR 1.
    1. Email Izzy Bronstein at Common Cause if you want to participate in their list swap through the end of this month that’s gathered 160k signatures so far.
  3. Recruit hosts for in-district actions for President’s Day Recess (Week of Feb 18).
    1. With more than a month to plan our next week of in-district action—we hope more groups can get on board with both recruiting hosts and attendees. Email afreechild@citizen.org or rtazewell@pfaw.org to get plugged in.
    2. Host sign-up form and map (updated), process remains the same.
    3. If you recruited event hosts for the January week of action, please make sure to notify Nathan Williams at Town Hall Project right away if events need to come down from the map or be updated.

MOBILIZATION & COLLABORATION

AGENDA FOR JAN 30 MOBILIZING MEETING

Wednesday, January 30, 3PM EST / NOON PST

Join us on the next DI Mobilizing call on Wednesday, January 30 at 3pm EST to hear from Dan Furmansky, Consultant at the Piper Fund, and Sue Udry, Executive Director of Defending Rights & Dissent, who is leading the organization’s advocacy and public education efforts to protect and strengthen civil society and challenge government abuse of First and Fourth Amendment rights.

Dan and Sue will provide a overview of the anti-protest laws introduced across the country and the network of organizations helping organize the national field in response to the challenge.

LABOR UNIONS AND ALLIES OCCUPY SENATE BUILDING

DI partners AFL-CIO, AFT, Center for Popular Democracy, CWA, and SEIU joined AFGE, NFFE, and other labor allies for a silent protest, lasting 33 minutes: one minute for each day the government has been shut down and federal workers have gone without their due pay.

After the rally, union leaders led a handful of federal employees to McConnell’s office in another Senate building. Workers and journalists crowded outside the doorway as labor leaders demanded a meeting. They were told McConnell wasn’t available and that they would have to make an appointment. The group, which included the president of the Union Veterans Council and the National Federation of Federal Employees, refused to leave. They sat down in the hallway instead.

“Folks are hurting!” they shouted. “End the shutdown!”

Capitol Police officers then arrested them, lined them up outside the building, and put them in the back of a van. Read the full story here.

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Caption: 
Every day that goes by without our Members of Congress hearing our outrage is another day we allow our federal workers to be political pawns in a game of Washington tug-of war. We must act now and demand McConnell and the Senate reopen the government.

TAKE ACTION

  • Bird dogging Senators: every day until this shutdown is over, AFGE, their supporters, and partners are going to be "bird-dogging" Senators. Volunteers will stand outside of Senate offices in shifts. As people go in and out of these offices, volunteers will tell them to tell that Senator to end the shutdown immediately. Anytime a Senator comes out, volunteers will follow them, film them on their phone, and push them to promise to end the shutdown. This is a non-arrestable action; volunteers will receive a brief training before joining the action. For more information and to sign up, email Julie Tippens at julie.tippens@afge.org.
  • Sign DI partner NAACP's petition to end the government shutdown today. Petition here.
  • USE THE #STOPTHESHUTDOWN TOOLKIT, COURTESY OF THE AFL-CIO, ACCESSIBLE HERE.

di board members on the move

DERRICK JOHNSON ON TRUMP PACKING THE COURTS

DI Board Member and NAACP President Derrick Johnson's latest column on the Trump administration's strategic creation of a white judiciary:

"Fifty-three years ago, at King’s urging, the first African American woman was appointed to the federal bench. Since then, one might have expected to see remarkable progress to increase representation of all communities on the nation’s courts. But judicial diversity is endangered under the Trump presidency. The administration must do better, much better, to preserve the judicial system’s fairness and integrity. As King said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”


Read the full column here.

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KAREN HOBERT FLYNN ON FIXING VOTING PROBLEMS IN 2019

DI Board Co-Chair and Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn's latest column on a few of the priorities for voting reform facing the country as we head into 2019 and 2020:

"I saw this firsthand during my time at the Election Protection command center in Washington, D.C., where nonpartisan attorneys and trained volunteers took tens of thousands of calls from citizens across the country. Many of the problems reported were things we could—and did—predict were going to happen. Indeed, most of the problems voters reported can be solved with simple, commonsense reforms."

Read the full column here.

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CHRIS SHELTON & CWA ENDORSE HR 1 DEMOCRACY REFORM

DI Board Member and CWA President Chris Shelton on the need for the bold package of democracy reforms proposed in HR 1, the "For the People Act":
"Corporate CEOs and the wealthiest 1% have spent decades rigging the political process to reduce the power of working people. By making it harder for working people to vote, stacking the courts with activist judges who have allowed our elections to be flooded with massive amounts of unreported corporate money, and weakening ethics rules, they have advanced an agenda that has devastated communities across America. The 'For the People Act' is a bold step toward bringing balance to our democracy."

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Have we no decency as a nation?

Friday, January 18, 2019
View / Share Online

#STOPTHESHUTDOWN ACTION

STATEMENT— Wendy Fields, Executive Director, the Democracy Initiative:

"Have we no decency as a nation?  As we celebrate Martin Luther King, how can any of us, in good conscience, sit idly by while our fellow Americans go to work protecting us and our welfare and do not get paid? As the head of a national coalition of advocates for democracy—whose members represent more than 40 million people—I am urging everyone to pick up the phone and call their Members of Congress this weekend. Tell them you will not tolerate 800,000 hard-working people being held hostage to political brinksmanship between an erratic bully and elected leaders too cowardly to call his bluff.
 

Let us be perfectly clear: the government of this country is us. These are every-day, hard-working people who have devoted their lives to advancing our common good. They inspect our food and our baggage at the airport to keep us safe. They monitor potentially life-threatening storms and inspect chemical plants, factories, and oil refineries, where a single mistake or missed data point could put hundreds or thousands at serious risk. We may not have personally made the decisions to shutter their agencies, but every day that goes by without our Members of Congress hearing our outrage is another day we allow them to be political pawns in a game of Washington tug-of war. Let this be a weekend where elected leaders’ phones start ringing off the hook as constituents fed up with inaction condemn a senseless government shutdown; and let those phones keep ringing until we can get people back to paid work.
 

Please tweet at us at @Unite4Democracy telling us you called and shared this action."

TO ACCESS THE TOOLKIT, COURTESY OF AFL-CIO, CLICK HERE.

DEMOCRACY VICTORIES AT THE GRASSROOTS

LET NY VOTE CAMPAIGN PASSES LEGISLATURE

Thanks to the growing demand at the state level for democracy reform, organizers and local communities have put New York on the path to instituting some of the strongest voting laws in the country! Congratulations to the Let NY Vote coalition, DI partners AFL-CIO, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Daily Kos, Demos, Democracy Matter, NAACP, National Action Network, Public Citizen, SEIU, United Auto Workers, Working Families Party, and all allies who worked on this historic campaign!

Last Tuesday, January 15, both houses of the NY Legislature passed a comprehensive package of voting reforms including no-excuse absentee voting, early voting, same-day registration, pre-registration of 16 and 17 year olds, and consolidating state and federal primaries. Now, the campaign needs your help to call Cuomo and tell him to include direct funding for early voting and electronic poll-books in his budget.

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WI JUDGE STRIKES DOWN LAME-DUCK VOTING ATTACKS

Yesterday, Janurary 17, Federal Judge James Peterson ruled that the attacks on voting in Wisconsin passed during the December 2018 Lame Duck session were unconstitutional. Congratulations to our partners and coalition allies for defending the people of Wisconsin from the GOP's shameless power grab. Read more here.

JOIN LABOR UNION WOMEN AT THE MARCH

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 01.14.19

Monday, January 14, 2019
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—Please share widely.
 

WE HEARD YOUR INPUT!

We're making some changes to the Weekly to ensure the Weekly aligns with our aim to provide our partners with the most useful resources and information. Starting with:

  • Shifting to recapping, and giving groups more time to prepare for the next week's actions, so as to be more forward looking​.
  • Focus groups on less actions to increase our collective power, to create a “center of gravity’’ around the campaigns and asks.

FEATURED ACTION LAST WEEK

#STOPTHESHUTDOWN

The federal shutdown has passed three weeks without pay to thousands of federal workers. We have a responsibility to all Americans to demand that the administration open the federal government immediately.



The DI stood in solidarity with our federal workers and our partners at the Rally to End the Government Shutdown on Thursday, January 10, in front of the AFL-CIO and the White House. We want to recognize AFL-CIO, AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, Friends of the Earth, Jobs with Justice, Lawyers Committee, PFAW, Public Citizen, SEIU, Women's March, and all our labor and coalition allies who showed up for the federal workers being denied their pay this Friday.



Statement from DI Board Co-Chair and Executive Vice President of AFL-CIO Tefere Gebre on the government shutdown:
"Hardworking federal employees are struggling to make ends meet while this pointless government shutdown continues with no end in sight. Our members want the government open and they want to get back to work. Instead of focusing in this manufactured crisis and using immigrants as scapegoats, the Trump Administration should work together with the new Congress to allow people to get back to work and earn a living. Working people give their best every day and do their job. Time for our elected leaders to get serious and do their job."

—Tefere Gebre

The government shutdown affects more than just the nearly 800,000 federal workers who are either furloughed or on the job without pay. Americans who rely on the government for social programs such as Indigenous folks, and those who live in poverty, are paying a steep price during the shutdown. Read more about the impact of the shutdown on the most vulnerable.

The DI will be sending out further updates as the shutdown continues, and you can check out our website for developing actions and ways for your members to get involved. Until then, make sure you've signed the NAACP's petition to #StopTheShutdown.

LOOKING AHEAD

LET NY VOTE CAMPAIGN GAINS MOMENTUM

We are excited to learn that the two houses of the NY Legislature, following the increasing demand for democracy reforms at the state level, have proposed to move a package of voting reforms which include many of the Let NY Vote coalition's priorities.

The discussion around democracy reform is an opening for us to push for bold, comprehensive reform, and the coalition has provided ways to plug in, with a January 14 Day of Action; details can be found here.


AGENDA FOR JAN 16 MOBILIZING MEETING

Wednesday, January 16, 3PM EST / NOON PST

We are excited to convene the first mobilizing meeting of 2019 on Wednesday, January 16 at 3PM EST. State legislative sessions are already underway across the country, we will focus on opportunities to work with state and local partners to advance democracy reforms and continue the implementation of 2018 wins.

RSVP to Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

New York has introduced voting reform packages in both houses. We'll hear from Susan Lerner with Let NY Vote on the effort to advance a comprehensive, equitable voting reform and what your organization can do to support next steps.




Also, we will be joined Robert Hoffman from ACLU to discuss opportunities to move democracy reforms in other states. We look forward to hearing from you on your individual state priorities as we develop a legislative state plan for the next few months.

 

WOMEN'S MARCH 2019

The DI is proud to announce that we've sponsored the 2019 Women's March, and will be marching in solidarity with women everywhere January 19. The 2019 Women’s March marks two years of resistance to the Trump presidency, two years of training new activists, and two years of building power. And this time, we're coming back with an agenda.

For more information, event details, and opportunities for getting involved, click here.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S MARCH

On January 18, 2019, Indigenous peoples across the World are uniting to stand together to bring awareness to the injustices affecting Indigenous men, women, children & Two Spirits. Indigenous people from North, Central and South America, Oceania, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean are a target of genocide. Currently, many Indigenous people are victims of voter suppression, divided families by walls and borders, an environmental holocaust, sex and human trafficking, and police/military brutality with little or no resources and awareness of this injustice. We Must Unite and Help!

For more information and ways to get involved, contact S.A. Lawrence-Welch at lawrencewelchnw@gmail.com.

NEWS FROM LAST WEEK

DFAD COALITION HOSTS HR 1 PRESS CONFERENCE

The Declaration for American Democracy Coalition, a coalition consisting of more than 120 organizations, held a press conference Wednesday, January 9 in support of the For the People Act (also known as HR1), a legislative package containing a range of proposals including campaign finance reform, voting rights, and ethics reforms. Speakers included DI Board Member and CWA President Chris Shelton, NAACP Senior Vice President Hilary Shelton (pictured), and Sierra Club National Campaign Director Debbie Sease.

DI partners CWA, LGBTQ Task Force, NAACP, PFAW, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, and other democracy allies spoke for the need for a broad coalition of issue groups demanding comprehensive democracy reform; echoing the truth that the only way for all of us to win on our own issues is to strengthen our democracy. You can watch the entire press conference here.

Sign and share DI partner Common Cause's petition in support of the For The People Act.

FORMER BOARD MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

Former DI Board Member Miles Rapoport's latest with Cecily Hines for American Prospect: "A New Playing Field for Democracy Reform: to win substantive reforms, our system is overdue for structural reforms. 2018 creates an opening." 

Link here: https://prospect.org/article/new-playing-field-democracy-reform.

 




 

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Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 12.13.18

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

Today: DI Board & Principals Meeting


For more information, contact Myke Bybee at mbybee@democracyinitiative.org.

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Note: This will be the last weekly update before the New Year. The update will resume on January 9. Please contact Jack Flynn, jflynn@democracyinitiative.org, to submit items to be included.

PARTNER ACTIONS AND EVENTS

Upcoming actions and events from our partner organizations & allies.
  • Declaration for American Democracy is hosting a Facebook live this afternoon, December 13, at 3PM EST highlighting a couple state level victories and urging activists to join December 20 actions in district drop-by actions. The live will feature Ellen Freiden, Campaign Chair of Fair Districts Florida, and Nancy Wang, Board President of Voters Not Politicians. For more information on the action and to hear from the leaders of successful grassroots democracy campaigns, tune into the Facebook Live here.
  • We're marking January 3, first day of the new congress, as an upcoming day of action, the details of which are still being formulated. On-the-ground actions are being coordinated by DI ally Indivisible, the link to which is forthcoming. Organizing for Action has also proposed to set up a tool for a call-in day of action alongside a script and instructions for coalition members. We will provide more information in the coming weeks.

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS

Selected democracy news from the past week.

MORE PICTURES FROM THE ANNUAL MEETING!

Pictured at our Democracy Champion Awards Reception, from left to right: Rev. Kobi Little of Baltimore City NAACP, and Heba Mohammad, Maya Berry, and Haley Arata of Arab American Institute.

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From our DI Principals Breakout Session, left to right: Nancy MacLean, Larry Cohen of Our Revolution, Chris Shelton of CWA, and David Duhalde of Our Revolution.

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>(From left to right): Karen Hobert Flynn of Common Cause, Renaldo Pearson of Democracy Spring, and Frances Moore Lappé of Small Planet Institute at the Principals Breakout.

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(From left to right): Keshia Morris and Tierra Bradford of Common Cause with La'Meshia Whittington-Kaminski of Friends of the Earth during our Democracy Champion Awards Reception.

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2018 Democracy Champion Awardees Nancy Wang (Voters Not Politicians), Brandon Jessup (Promote the Vote MI), Sharon Delonte (ACLU of Michigan), and Maya Berry (Arab American Institute). DI Co-chair Tefere Gebre accepted the award on behalf of the Missouri Labor Movement. DI Executive Director Wendy Fields and Co-Chair Karen Hobert Flynn also pictured.

MOVING ON

Sadly, this week we must announce that our Senior Digital Campaigner, Aimée Pohl, has accepted a new position and is leaving the Democracy Initiative at the end of this week.
 

We want to congratulate Aimée on her new role doing outreach and operations at Jews United for Justice in Baltimore, MD. We know Aimée will tackle this new adventure with the same passion and dedication she has shown here at the DI. Working alongside Aimée this past year has been a great honor and a privilege. From marching in the streets of DC, to local organizing in Baltimore, and national outreach and communication efforts, Aimée has been a great addition to the DI, and she will be missed.

We will miss seeing Aimée each day, but luckily she isn’t going far! Jews United for Justice is a coalition member of our DI partner Bend the Arc, and hopefully will be a new DI partner itself soon! You can check out any time, but you can never really leave. We look forward to opportunities to continue to work together on democracy reforms in Maryland.

Please direct any communications or media related questions to Myke Bybee, at mbybee@democracyinitiative.org.

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 12.6.18

Thursday, December 6, 2018
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—Please share widely.
 

DI Board & Principals Meeting

Thursday, December 13 at 3:30PM EST / 10AM PST

During the DI Annual Meeting, we heard from many of you about the 2019 lay of the land, your organizational priorities, and how we can deepen and strengthen our collaboration in the coming year. Your input and guidance is vital to helping the DI align resources and help to coordinate our collective efforts.

We would like to continue the strategic conversations on Senate rules the Federal Democracy Package Opportunity in our follow-up meeting on Thursday, December 13 from 3:30-4:30PM EST, with the rest of the DI Partners and principals that were unable to attend the Annual Meeting. We will be joined by Our Revolution Chair Larry Cohen.

For more information and to RSVP, contact Myke Bybee at mbybee@democracyinitiative.org.

TAKE ACTION: LAME-DUCK POWER GRAB

On November 6, 2018, voters elected new leadership and overwhelmingly voted for redistricting and voting rights reforms. Right now, in states across the Midwest and the South, lame duck lawmakers are committing outrageous and unprecedented abuses of power to override the will of the people. In Wisconsin, Ohio, and North Carolina, Republican-led legislatures are working furiously to strip power from the newly elected Democrats and undermine the will of voters by weakening or overturning recently approved ballot measures.
In Michigan, state legislators voted to gut pro-democracy ballot initiatives, which expand voting rights and limit partisan gerrymandering. Both proposals were supported by the DI and our partners in Michigan, and easily passed with high voter support.
 
The fact is, we’ve seen dirty tricks like these before, and unless we fight back, we will see them again. And again. People of conscience must speak up and demand that the people’s will not be subverted by political power-grabs.
 
In Michigan: Call your State Representatives at (517)201-2258 and tell them to oppose the bill package (Senate Bills 1238-1242) that threaten their voting rights.

 

For those not in Michigan, please help shine a light on these dirty tricks by sharing information with your organizations and via social media.
 
Finally, sign and share this Common Cause petition to tell State lawmakers to stop their power-grab in Wisconsin!
 
Michigan Coverage

We've also compiled coverage of some of the other attacks on the will of American voters:

THE DI'S RAPID-RESPONSE TOOLKIT CAN BE FOUND ON OUR WEBSITE, SOON.

INCOMING CONGRESS TO ACT ON DEMOCRACY REFORM

 

The Democracy Initiative has signed on the list of principles of a strong democracy of the coalition group, Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD). Those principles are that a strong democracy:
  • Is one where voting is a fundamental right and a civic responsibility;
  • Serves the people rather than the private interests of public officials and wealthy political donors;
  • Is one where our influence is based on the force of ideas, not the size of our wallets;
  • Is one where people know who is trying to gain influence over our representatives, who is trying to influence our votes, and how and why policy is being made; and
  • Works to respond to the needs of all people and their communities, building trust in governance and equity.

At the Annual Meeting, the DI coalition identified opportunities to move democracy reform at the state and national levels. Incoming House Democrats have announced that their first bill in the new year will address the issues outlined in DFAD’s principles of a strong democracy. We expect this bill to be called H.R. 1, and are looking forward to pushing bold democracy reform at the national level by urging Congress to pass legislation that establishes a strong democracy, so that we can win on the issues that matter most to us, such as accessible and affordable healthcare, environmental justice and protections, and workers’ and civil rights.

Tell your members to take action with Common Cause and email their representatives to encourage them to include public financing and independent redistricting commissions in H.R. 1!

DI partner People for the American Way has put together a full suite of materials for activists and members to set up and conducts visits with representatives across the country in support of comprehensive democracy reform.

2018 DI ANNUAL MEETING—INNOVATIVE AND INSPIRING

 
At this year’s Annual Meeting, we brought together a diverse set of organizers, state, local, and national leaders, and partners to the table. We identified needs for sustainable field organizing infrastructure, discussed ways to strategically position the DI to influence and assist 2019-2020 democracy reform campaigns, and thought about ways to expand our work to engage a larger percentage of our 40 million plus members. We also celebrated ground-breaking campaigns in Michigan and Missouri, and the inspirational work of the Arab American Institute with Democracy Champion awards.
A warm thank you from all of us here at the DI, to participants in our 7th Annual Meeting:

We could not have had such a successful Annual Meeting without all of you!

We would additionally like to thank those who attended Monday’s Democracy Champions Train the Trainer session, and to Izzy Bronstein (Common Cause) and Debbie Szeredy (American Postal Workers Union), for helping to lead the training.

REPORTS FROM THE BREAKOUT SESSIONS
Our Annual Meeting attendees participated in one of three Breakout Sessions, based on their interest and specialty in the subject: Messaging, Legislative Strategy, and Corporate Campaigns.

Messaging Guidance, led by Beth Jacob, of Bluestocking Strategy; The group reviewed the most recent Democracy Initiative messaging guide, available here, practiced short “elevator” pitches about how our is/sues connect to the democracy movement, highlighted the importance of using stories in our messaging and discussed the gaps and barriers to having our messages received. See the notes from this session here.

Legislative Strategy, led by Peggy Shorey, of the AFL-CIO, and Tania Maduro of Democracy Spring; This session worked on identifying the most important states and democracy reform issues to focus on in 2019-2020, increasing the number of Democracy Champions trainings, and what we need to get ready for January, 2019. See the notes here.

Corporate Campaigns, led by Shayda Naficy of Corporate Accountability; This breakout identified areas of particular urgency and convergence, including campaigns in the finance, tech/social media, and fossil fuel industries, policy enforcement, narratives to build solidarity, research to support work on the ground, and public education around high-impact sectors like water and transportation. See the notes here.

Additionally, the leaders of several partner organizations and DI Board Members reviewed the Draft 2019 Campaign Plan.

2018 Democracy Champion Awardees Nancy Wang (Voters Not Politicians), Brandon Jessup (Promote the Vote MI), Sharon Delonte (ACLU of Michigan), and Maya Berry (Arab American Institute). DI Co-chair Tefere Gebre accepted the award on behalf of the Missouri Labor Movement. DI Executive Director Wendy Fields and Co-Chair Karen Hobert Flynn also pictured.

MOBILIZATION & COLLABORATION

2018 Final Mobilizing Meeting

Wednesday, December 12 at 3PM EST / Noon PST

As the dust settles on the 2018 Midterm elections—and new lame-duck fights erupt—we look forward to reconnecting with folks for our last DI Mobilizing Meeting of the year next Wednesday, December 12 from 3-4PM EST.

Join us to celebrate our collective victories in 2018 and to help shape our coordinated work in 2019. The DI is in the process of making recommendations for priority campaigns for 2019; to that end, we’ve invited Common Cause and State Innovation Exchange to provide an overview of federal and state opportunities to move democracy reform in 2019.

Our hope is folks come to the meeting prepared to discuss their organizational priorities and targeted states in 2019. What big fights are you taking on and where we can collectively align to win?


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

DI JOB OPENING: DIGITAL CAMPAIGNER

Please assist us in circulating and identifying potential candidates for an upcoming job opportunity for Digital Campaigner. You can find the job description here.
Please direct any inquiries to Myke Bybee at mbybee@democracyinitiative.org.

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 11.21.18

Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—Please share widely.

 

DI ANNUAL MEETING 2018

We're looking forward to you joining us for our Annual Meeting! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and safe travels
- Wendy Fields


POWER COMES FROM THE GROUND UP

As we draw near to our 2018 DI Annual Meeting, we wanted to give you a heads-up on all of the exciting, proactive discussions planned. Our diverse, 68 member democracy coalition will convene to appraise the current field for democracy reform and lay out the path forward in tactical, concrete measures for 20 reforms by 2020.
OPENING PANEL

An authentic, pragmatic conversation focused on mobilization infrastructures and cultural competency. Our panel of young diverse grassroots leaders from winning campaigns—such as Nse Ufot, Executive Director of the New Georgia Project, Joanne Antoine, Manager of State Outreach & Engagement from Common Cause, and Haley Arata, Field Organizer with Arab American Institute—will highlight gaps in the field, challenges of race and gender, and offer their insights into practices to strengthen and sustain large-scale, grassroots-led mobilization in the states. Our panel respondents from a winning campaign in Michigan, labor, civil rights, and diverse communities will offer their thoughts and insight into what these crucial insights mean for the field going forward. The best part is that there's more to come—these are only a few highlights.

STRATEGY BREAKOUT SESSIONS

We have heard your feedback, and so we will have three small-group breakout sessions devoted to strategy. The breakouts will go deep into the opportunities to advance our democracy package at the state level. Participants will be asked to identify goals, map strategy, and identify concrete “next steps” for the first quarter of 2019. The three themes of the breakout sessions are: building a powerful legislative policy package; Corporate campaigns and the connection between democracy reform and bad actors in economic and water fightswith Nayyirah Sheriff from Flint Rising; and narrative and messaging around the DI and democracy reform.

AWARD RECEPTION AND SPECIAL GUEST

We're holding the 2nd Annual Democracy Champions Award Reception at the end of the Annual Meeting. The selected honorees were nominated by their peers and colleagues in the Democracy Initiative coalition, for their outstanding efforts to mobilize and organize their members to win for democracy:

  • Missouri Labor Movement— the coalition of DI labor partners and allies’ overwhelming defeat of the "Right to Work" referendum in Missouri represented a huge victory for organized labor and a decisive repudiation by voters of the Supreme Court's ruling against the right to organize with the Janus decision.
  • Kary Moss of the Michigan ACLU for Promote the Vote and Katey Fahey of Voters Not Politicians—Two pro-democracy ballot initiative campaigns in Michigan, "Promote the Vote" and "Voters Not Politicians," delivered a one-two punch for a 21st century democracy. Their success will have a transformative effect on the electoral system in Michigan.
  • Maya Berry, Executive Director AAI—The Arab American Institute marked the 20th year of their voter engagement campaign, Y’alla Vote!, and continued its role as a leader in the election protection program, helping to mobilize and support thousands of voters on Election Day.

Special guest Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, is a minister, community activist and one of the most influential people in Hip Hop political life. Rev. Yearwood is a national leader in engaging young people in electoral activism. He leads the national Respect My Vote! Campaign and coalition. A national leader and pacemaker within the green movement, Rev. Yearwood has been successfully bridging the gap between communities of color and environmental issue advocacy over the past decade.

TRAIN THE TRAINER WORKSHOP

As we prepare for the Democracy Champions Trainings in 2019, we are excited to invite you to a Train the Trainer workshop on Monday, November 26. The goal is both simple and audacious: to create a grassroots force of Democracy Champions who will be inspired, motivated and empowered to take on democracy campaigns across the country in 2019 - 2020.

We will deploy Democracy Champions Trainers to the field to help train members to strengthen democracy reform campaigns as we work to reach our goal of 20 reforms by 2020. And the first toward this goal is to train our 2019 class of trainers.

RSVP here for the Democracy Champions Train the Trainer Session

We would like to invite you to join us! Space is filling fast, but we want you and your organization to be there! If you have organizers in the states you would like to recruit, a limited number of travel stipends and subsidized hotel rooms are available. Trainers are encouraged to stay for Common Cause’s Blueprint for a Great Democracy conference and the DI’s Annual Meeting.

Trainers do not need to be subject-matter experts. They do need to be good listeners, enthusiastic, committed, skilled in 1:1 communication, and able to travel to trainings. Grassroots organizing experience is helpful. Since initial Democracy Champions trainings will be held in the states, trainers from outside of DC are especially welcome.  

If you have questions, feel free to follow up with Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

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The Democracy Initiative is still accepting responses to our 2018 Annual Meeting invitations!

RSVP HERE

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 11.16.18

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

 

DEMOCRACY WINS!

(But the fight is not over!)

15 BALLOT INITIATIVES SHOW THAT DEMOCRACY UNIFIES

The overwhelming success of the ballot measures in Democracy Initiative’s priority states is only part of a greater win for democracy on November 6. In California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and more, voters rallied to pass democracy measures that expanded access to the ballot, drew fairer and independent voting maps, and strengthened money-in-politics and ethics regulations. Despite the dangerous rhetoric, voter suppression, and untold amounts of dark money flowing into elections, everyday American people voted and fought back (read the DI statement here).

One of the most important outcomes of the midterm election is that state and local ballot initiatives as a vehicle for democracy reform is gaining national attention as a movement. As Common Cause President and DI Board Co-Chair Karen Hobert Flynn attests:

"It is clear when you put democracy reforms on the ballot, those measures win overwhelmingly."

And thanks to the Democracy Initiative's diverse coalition of issue groups representing the interests of everyday Americans, and the mobilization of thousands of partner organization members, all six of the DI Priority Ballot Measures passed.

Our draconian electoral system was put on display for all to see. We now have a critical opportunity in front of us to transform our democracy. The powerful gains we made this election serve now as the foundation upon which we’ll continue the fight for an inclusive, 21st century democracy. The first step to seizing our opportunity is happening at the Strategy Session at the Democracy Initiative's 2018 Annual Meeting

JOIN US AT THE DI ANNUAL MEETING 2018

SAVE YOUR SPOT AT THE DI ANNUAL MEETING IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY

Sign up and join the 60 people who have already reserved their places—spots are filling up! Don't miss the chance to participate in the DI Strategy Session, where principals and members of our diverse coalition of 69 organizations set the course for victory in 2019 and 2020.

Reflecting on this past year, and especially on the midterm elections, the DI is proud and inspired by our partners' and allies' commitment to a stronger, more inclusive democracy. At our Annual Meeting, we are honoring Democracy Champions who mobilized their members and organized several of these hard-won fights:

  • The AFL-CIO's exciting defeat of the "Right to Work" referendum in Missouri,
  • The two exceptional pro-democracy ballot initiative campaigns in Michigan: Promote the Vote and Voters Not Politicians, and
  • The Arab American Institute's extraordinary commitment to democracy with their contributions to election protection and mobilizing the Arab American community.
And don't forget, during the week of the Annual Meeting, you also have the exciting opportunity to attend a Democracy Champions: Train the Trainer session! Democracy Champions is the foundation of our grassroots engagement program, and our Train the Trainer session will provide you with the tools to train other Democracy Champions! To RSVP to the Train the Trainer session and the Annual Meeting, click here.
 
Finally, we need your help! Our Senior Digital Campaigner Aimée Pohl is requesting any and all photos of leaders, organizers, and members mobilizing in the field, so that we can reflect the beautiful diversity of our coalition at the Annual Meeting. Please send any submissions to apohl@democracyinitiative.org.
 
The Democracy Initiative is partnering with Common Cause for the 6th Annual Blueprint Conference: Mapping the Path for A 21st Century Democracy. For more information about the Blueprint conference, please contact MCarpinteyro@commoncause.org.

TAKE ACTION: #USMAILNOTFORSALE

FROM DI PARTNER AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION:

Have you heard about the White House’s plan to sell off the U.S. Postal Service (USPS)? Sounds crazy, right? But it’s true.

A corporate post office would be bad for all of us. It could mean you don’t get your mail every day—maybe only every third day—even for critical deliveries like medicine or other packages. You could pay a lot more, too, especially for mail coming to or from rural areas. Universal delivery to every address in the country? Likely gone.

There’s a new video that lays out the stakes—will you watch and share with your friends? Help us tell the White House that the U.S. Mail is Not For Sale!

#USMAILNOTFORSALE

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS

Further reflections on the outcome of the midterms:

MOBILIZATION & COLLABORATION

Job Posting: DC Fair Elections Program Manager

The District of Columbia is hiring a Program Manager for the launch of the DC Fair Elections Small Donor Public Financing Program with the DC Office of Campaign Finance.

The DC Office of Campaign Finance hopes that an energetic, committed person applies who is passionate about getting big money out of politics, racial equity and empowering voters and small donors.

Application link here.

* * *

The Democracy Initiative is accepting responses to our 2018 Annual Meeting invitations!

RSVP HERE

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 10.31.18

Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—Please share widely.

DEMOCRACY ON THE

BALLOT: SPECIAL EDITION

SUPPORT BEND THE ARC JEWISH ACTION'S FIGHT AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACIST VIOLENCE

STATEMENT FROM WENDY FIELDS ON RECENT WHITE SUPREMACIST VIOLENCE
Our partner and ally Bend the Arc Pittsburgh, alongside Pittsburgh Jewish Leaders, sent an open letter to President Trump denouncing his dangerous and white supremacist rhetoric, and its contribution to the murders of the past week. Bend the Arc is also asking those standing in solidarity to add their signature to the Pittsburgh Jewish Leaders' list of demands.

TELL YOUR MEMBERS: VOTE ALL THE WAY

Our priority campaigns are polling at unprecedented levels of support—its crucial that you tell your members to VOTE ALL THE WAY down the ballot.
  1. The DI has begun compiling a host of resources, actions, and events from partners and priority campaigns, which will be updated as we draw closer to the midterms.
  2. Democracy is on the Ballot BISC report on ballot initiatives: 20% of voters drop off before voting the whole ballot. Tell your members to VOTE ALL THE WAY. ALL THE WAY DOWN THE BALLOT. It has never mattered more.


SEVEN Days Until the Midterms—Commit to Taking and Sharing One of These Actions Today!

TAKE ACTION WITH OUR PRIORITY CAMPAIGNS

EVERYONE VOTES MARYLAND & BALTIMORE FAIR ELECTIONS

  1. We need 500 volunteers for Everyone Votes Maryland and Baltimore Fair Elections to phone-bank, poll watch, and more!
  2. Visit the campaigns social media pages to share and boost their work.
    1. Everyone Votes Maryland: Twitter| Facebook;
    2. Baltimore Fair Elections: Twitter| Facebook.

CLEAN MISSOURI

  1. Recruit members to join one of the Clean Missouri coalition's virtual phone banking events by visiting this site for a brief training:
    1. Saturday, November 3, 5:00pm-8:00pm CST
    2. Sunday, November 4, 2:00pm-5:00pm & 5:00pm-8:00pm CST
    3. Monday, November 5, 2:00pm-5:00pm & 5:00pm-8:00pm CST
    4. Election Day, November 6, 2:00pm-6:00pm CST
  2. Clean Missouri needs volunteers: can you commit your state members to volunteer? Click here for the coalition's sample volunteer email.
  3. Use this toolkit to recruit volunteers and promote Amendment 1 on social media.

In related news, a ruling this morning by the Missouri Court of Appeals is another victory in the Clean Missouri Coalition's ongoing fight against Missouri’s photo ID law.

PARTNER ACTIONS & TOOLS FOR THE MIDTERMS

ELECTION PROTECTION OPPORTUNITIES

VOLUNTEER—HELP US REACH 100 ELECTION PROTECTION VOLUNTEERS BY MONDAY
With just one week left until the midterm election, we are again calling on our partners and allies to spread the word to their members: The Election Protection Coalition urgently needs poll monitors during early voting and on Election Day, and volunteers with legal experience to work the hotline.
 
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, with other DI partners and allies, are leading the Election Protection Coalition's work with the Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE). We also need partners and allies to boost these volunteering opportunities and share this resource on social media; the Election Protection Coalition has provided sample emails and social media graphics.
 
 
HAVE YOU SIGNED THE "DON'T MESS WITH OUR VOTE" PETITION?
Voter suppression is surging across the country, as corrupt politicians and wealthy interests realize that their only chance to seize power is through the silencing of American voices. We need partners and allies to send out our voting rights petition link alongside any actions that you send to your members.
 
While voting this November offers an important opportunity to fight back, it's not enough on its own. That's why we're organizing around our voting rights petition as a center of gravity for our anti-voter suppression work going forward. You can sign out petition telling elected officials "Don't Mess with our Vote!" here, and access our engagement guide here.

DEMOCRACY NEWS UPDATES

* * *

The Democracy Initiative has begun accepting responses to our 2018 Annual Meeting invitations! RSVP here.

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 10.25.18

Thursday, October 25, 2018
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—Please share widely.

DEMOCRACY ON THE

BALLOT: SPECIAL EDITION

ANOTHER VICTORY FOR DEMOCRACY IN MARYLAND

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY THIRD TO ADOPT PUBLIC FINANCING
Victory in Maryland! Congratulations to DI partners and allies Common Cause Maryland, Maryland PIRG, Maryland PIRG Students, Our Revolution Prince George's Chapter, Progressive Maryland, and Sierra Club Prince George's County; Prince George’s County has become the third county in Maryland to pass small-donor public financing for local candidates, joining Montgomery and Howard counties.
Candidates who enter the program commit to accepting donations not exceeding $250, with donations smaller than $150 being matched by the election fund. Now, with Question H on the ballot this November, Baltimore City is poised to become the fourth county to adopt small donor public financing—an incredible tool to put the power back in the hands of the people.

 

MARYLAND ELECTION DAY REGISTRATION KICKOFF PRESS CONFERENCE
Early voting kicks off in Maryland today. The DI wanted to give you a quick update on the great kickoff event yesterday for the Maryland statewide Election Day Registration proposal (EDR).
In the past weeks, the DI and AFL-CIO partnered on a great EDR lit piece for neighborhood canvassing. Join PFAW and Sierra Club for using our Democracy is on the Ballot toolkit to email their Maryland members in support of EDR. The DI and NAACP Baltimore City Branch coordinated to write and pitch an op-ed in support of the democracy reforms in Maryland—share this op-ed with your members in Maryland.
Common Cause Maryland and the NAACP Baltimore Branch organized a press event to highlight the EDR proposal and urge voters to take advantage of early voting. Rev. Kobi Little led a great list of speakers that included:

It was a great pleasure to partner with the Fair Election Coalition on this diverse press conference hosted by the Baltimore City NAACP. The coalition's Damon Effingham and Yaheiry Mora are both featured on local NPR coverage; you can listen here.

ACTIONS YOUR MEMBERS CAN TAKE RIGHT NOW

ELECTION PROTECTION

HELP US REACH OUR GOAL OF 100 VOLUNTEERS BY FRIDAY 10/26
The Election Protection Coalition urgently needs poll monitors during early voting and on Election Day, and volunteers with legal experience to work the hotline. We're asking all our partners to commit 100 members to volunteer with the Election Protection Coalition by FRIDAY 10/26.
DI partner Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, alongside other DI partners and allies, are leading the Election Protection Coalition's work with the Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE). Additionally, we need partners and allies to boost these volunteering opportunities and share this resource on social media; the Election Protection Coalition has provided sample emails and social media graphics.
DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE "DON'T MESS WITH OUR VOTE" PETITION
As the effort to suppress votes ramps up around the country to keep entrenched politicians and wealthy interests in the driver's seat of our democracy, we need partners and allies to send out our petition link alongside any actions that you send to your members.
The Democracy Initiative has created a voting rights petition as a center of gravity for our anti-voter suppression work. You can sign out petition telling elected officials "Don't Mess with our Vote!" here, and access our engagement guide here.

DI PRIORITY CAMPAIGNS NEED YOUR SUPPORT

SECOND CHANCES FLORIDA

  1. October 27: Day of Action! Returning Citizens Lead Voters to the Polls and Nationwide Call Parties. Join one of more than 100 events nationwide. Here are sample recruitment materials.
  2. November 2-6: Get Out The Vote For Those Who Can't! Help recruit call party hosts, attendees and virtual phone-bankers. Use this link to recruit attendees and this one to recruit hosts.

VOTERS NOT POLITICIANS & PROMOTE THE VOTE MICHIGAN
DI allies Voters Not Politicians and Promote the Vote MI are requesting that DI partner organizations direct their members to the campaign action pages to support Proposals 2 & 3 in Michigan this November.

  • Click here to visit Voters Not Politicians' action page to support a citizens redistricting commission.
  • Click here to visit Promote the Vote MI's action page to support a broad package of voter reforms.

TOOLS FOR THE LAST TWELVE DAYS

We've assembled a collection of helpful resources and tool-kits from across the fight for our democracy for you and your members.

  1. DI partner NAACP has composed an incredible midterm election messaging guide for Black voters.
  2. The Appeal's Political Report has created a map of democracy referenda around the country (see below).
  3. DI partner Common Cause has prepared a report on pro-democracy referenda around the country for the 2018 midterm elections.
  4. The Union of Concerned Scientists have released an accessible report detailing the links between voting rights and environmental justice.
  5. The DI has begun compiling a host of resources, actions, and events from partners and priority campaigns, which will be updated as we draw closer to the midterms.
  6. Democracy is on the Ballot BISC report on ballot initiatives: 20% of voters drop off before voting the whole ballot. Tell your members to VOTE ALL THE WAY. ALL THE WAY DOWN THE BALLOT. It has never mattered more.
     

PARTNER NEWS

PROMOTE THE VOTE MICHIGAN RELEASES NEW TV AD
Our friends over at Promote the Vote Michigan have released their newest ad, currently running Michigan.

* * *

The Democracy Initiative has begun accepting responses to our 2018 Annual Meeting invitations!

RSVP HERE

Democracy Initiative Weekly Update 10.18.18

Thursday, October 18, 2018
Our highlighted issues, actions, and events in the democracy movement this week—Please share widely.

WHAT YOUR MEMBERS CAN DO NOW

VOTER SUPPRESSION

We're asking partners to distribute our "Know Your Rights" Georgia one-pager to combat rampant misinformation and ensure all Georgians have a voice this November.
With just three weeks to go until the midterm elections, Republicans are ramping up their voter suppression efforts. Attempts to systematically silence black and brown voters have a long history in US politics, from Jim Crow to recent methods including voter ID, racial and partisan gerrymandering, and voter roll purges. This year, we are seeing an unprecedented Republican effort to purge voters directly in response to the major GOTV effort sweeping the country. The coordinated and well-funded attacks on our voting rights are sponsored by the same people who want to roll back our rights on the other issues that matter to us.
One of the worst examples of racist voter suppression occurring right now is in Georgia, where Secretary of State Brian Kemp is in a close race for governor against Stacey Abrams. Today, less than a month before the election, Kemp is blocking 53,000 voter registrations, 70% of which are from black voters!
Elsewhere, the Supreme Court upheld a North Dakota court ruling that effectively disenfranchises large swaths of the Native American population, and recent investigative journalism by Greg Palast uncovered a postcard purging scheme that dropped 90,000 Nevadan voters a week before the voter registration deadline.
Longtime democracy advocate Miles Rapoport offers a snapshot of the current state of voting rights, and a crucial overview of recent victories, in his latest for American Prospect.

CAMPAIGNS


Below are important ways for you to help in Florida, from your own couch!

  1. Help spread the word about our Yes on 4 Early Voting Ice Cream Socials in partnership with Ben & Jerry's.
  2. Recruit people to attend the Super-Saturday canvas day this Saturday, October 20.
  3. Recruit remote callers, based anywhere in the country, especially for the October 27 Day of Action Call Parties.
  4. Amplify the campaign’s social media posts on Twitter and Facebook.

To date, the Second Chances Florida campaign has contacted more than 1 million voters, via text, phone calls, and at the door. Vote-by-mail in Florida has started! Early voting starts as early as next Monday in many counties. With just three weeks left until Election Day, here are ways that we can all help ensure that Second Chances Florida passes Amendment 4—to restore the eligibility to vote to 1.4 million people.

VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT

ELECTION PROTECTION HOTLINE | 866-OUR-VOTE
We're asking our partners to urge their members to get involved in Election Day organizing in their communities, like volunteering with the Election Protection Coalition as a poll monitor.
  • Sample recruitment emails can be found here. Everyone that signs up will get a follow up email listing upcoming trainings, legal command center information, and confirmation of election day assignments.
  • You can download social media graphics are available here.

SIERRA CLUB MICHIGAN CANVASSING
Sierra Club Michigan and Fems for Change are planning a day of canvassing for Proposals 2 and 3 on Saturday, October 20, from 1-4pm EDT. Sign up here.

Sierra Club is also pushing a Tuesday, October 23 Phone Banking event for Proposals 2 and 3 in Michigan from 6-8pm EDT. Sign up here.

NEWS FROM OUR PARTNERS

SIERRA CLUB UNVEILS GET OUT THE VOTE VIDEO WITH GEN Z ACTIVISTS
DI partner Sierra Club partners with filmmaker Darren Aronofsky to produce a GOTV video that asks 15 Generation Z activists what they're voting for this election. Share the video on all social media channels as you prepare to mobilize your lists!