Press Release

Would you like your organization to be a part of the Democracy Initiative? Fill out our form to get started!

Join Now

 

DI Statement on passage of H.R. 1, the "For The People" Act

Friday, March 8, 2019

For Immediate Release
March 8, 2019

Contact
Myke Bybee: (202) 567-6103
mbybee@democracyinitiative.org


Statement from Wendy Fields, Executive Director, the Democracy Initiative, on the passage of HR1 in the House:

Today’s passage in the House of H.R. 1, the “For the People Act” is an historic moment for our democracy and a victory that belongs to every American, every organizer, and every coalition that has fought for years to strengthen our democracy. H.R. 1 brings us one critical step closer to repairing our political system, revitalizing our democracy, and fulfilling the promise of our country’s ideals.

Make no mistake: today’s victory began at the grassroots. Last November, a sweeping series of state-level democracy reforms made crystal clear that when democracy is on the ballot, it wins.  Today’s vote in the House is a testament to the thousands of Americans who knocked on doors, made calls, and talked to their neighbors about the threats to our democracy.  Despite a deliberate, organized voter suppression campaign, designed to disenfranchise millions of Americans, and bankrolled by special interests and the wealthy few, the American people are demanding democracy.  

This is our democracy: established on the principle of government for the people, by the people. Together with our 68 partner organizations, we commend the House passage of H.R. 1, but we know our work continues. Our 45 million members are Black, white and brown, families and workers struggling to make ends meet; first-time voters, and citizens returning to society after paying their debts. We refuse to be silenced because we know winning on democracy reforms is not just about democracy as an end in itself; it’s about achieving social and economic justice and building a better world for us all. Now we fight community by community, state by state, in the legislature and at the ballot box to strengthen our democracy. This bill is the new floor, not the ceiling—now we turn to the Senate to continue the fight.

* * *

Statement from Tefere Gebre, DI Board Co-Chair and Executive Vice-President of AFL-CIO:

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

Statement from Karen Hobert Flynn, DI Board Co-Chair and President of Common Cause:

"The For the People Act (HR 1) is an important first step to solidify the people’s voice in our democracy. For the first time the bill brings together pragmatic solutions to strengthen our democracy in one bold, comprehensive package the American people are demanding. One of the best things about the For the People Act is that it is also by the people — the solutions in it modeled on solutions the people have already won locally and proven they work in cities and states coast to coast."

DI Statement on the "For the People Act"

Friday, January 4, 2019

For Immediate Release
January 4, 2019

Contact
Myke Bybee: (202) 567-6103
mbybee@democracyinitiative.org

 

Dear DI Partners and Friends,

Here at the Democracy Initiative (DI), we bring a unique view of national trends and hyperlocal conversations about voting, campaign finance, redistricting, and other core elements of a thriving democracy. Together with our 68 member organizations and 45 million members, we have seen time and again how policy changes to strengthen our democracy unify all of us—black, white, and brown; conservative and liberal.

That’s why we know—reflected in the 116th Congress taking office this week and introducing HR 1 as its first bill—that people in this country are hungrier than ever for a healthy, strong, and fully-functioning democracy. The recent government shutdown is only the latest example of this need. The midterms made this message loud and clear, when bills to make voting more accessible and redistricting less partisan won the day in Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, and more—regardless of who was at the top of the ticket.  

The stakes for HR 1 are terribly high. The proposed historic bill includes many long-sought, critical changes to make our democracy a truly participatory one: where people from all walks of life have maximum access to the time and opportunity they need to cast their votes. The recent government shutdown has shown the need for measures to hold elected leaders accountable. At the same time, the bill outlines vital protections to make our democratic process safe from tampering or threat. There are many foreign and special interests—and elected leaders—who would like to see the whole system wither on the vine.

But as lifelong advocates for democracy, let us be clear: we cannot take too narrow a view of the seismic shifts underway across our country. HR1 is only the beginning of a fight for democracy that demands action at every level of government, 365 days a year. Yes, it is heartening to see a new class in Congress finally stepping up to curb an administration at the edge of chaos. But we must also recognize this moment springs from the actions of the people: the voters from all walks of life who showed us that democracy is the great unifier, regardless of demographic, life experience or issue.

For this reason, the DI is a proud member of the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD) coalition, where we are working with a diverse coalition to make the most of the “HR1” fight in Congress. Our shared goal is to demonstrate broad public support and political value in strengthening democracy, in order to create demand and push for bold reforms. Many individual DI partners have formally joined the DFAD Coalition and endorsed the ‘Principles.’  We would strongly encourage all of our partners to consider endorsing the DFAD Mission Statement and formally joining the effort!

  • The plan is to proceed quickly to hearings and committee mark-ups, during the first weeks of January.  These hearings, likely to be held in multiple committees of jurisdiction, are opportunities to generate press attention, to provide points of entry for the field and grassroots activists, and to push for the strongest and most meaningful democracy reforms possible.
  • The first Congressional recess is the week of January 21st, MLK Day recess.  During this week, many Members will hold local townhalls or make other public appearances, they will also be available for in-district constituent meetings.

Democracy Initiative Statement on the Midterm Election

Democracy Wins!
Thursday, November 8, 2018
November 7, 2018
For Immediate Release
Contact Information:                                                                                     
Myke Bybee, Campaign Director                                            
(202) 567-6103
 
 
 
 
Democracy wins!
 
Statement from Wendy Fields and the Democracy Initiative
 
Washington, D.C. (Nov. 7, 2018) - Today we celebrate with the millions of hardworking Democracy Initiative partners who came together across the country to strengthen voting rights, increase fair representation, and to restore the checks and balances our nation was founded upon.  The Democracy Initiative is proud to stand with our many partners who worked across race, class and gender lines.  Union members, environmentalists, civil rights activists, and progressives who knocked doors, made millions of phone calls, and stood in long lines to vote.
 
As we reflect on this electoral cycle and look to what lies ahead, we know democracy work is the great unifier; and it is the North Star by which we must navigate troubled times.  After two years of an administration fomenting discord and bigotry, and months of voter suppression efforts, democracy has brought us together. And our resolve is stronger than ever to say the people of this nation are better than hate-filled rhetoric and too smart to fall for fear-mongering lies. 
 
Pro-democracy reforms are grassroots driven, transformative, and will help secure concrete improvements in the lives of all Americans for years to come.  During a divisive election cycle, the desire for a strong and healthy democracy unified people across the country. Unprecedented levels of early voting proved that people will seize the chance to make their voices heard when states make it possible for them to do so. And in states all over our nation, voters refused to let their rights be trampled or curtailed.
 
Our coalition won six ballot initiatives, in four states, handily. Voters overwhelmingly supported them, showing their keen desire for a fairer system where their voices can be heard.
 
  • In Florida, Amendment 4 restored the right to vote to 1.4 million people with prior felony convictions.
 
  • In Maryland, Question 2 established statewide election registration, and in Baltimore City, Question H set up a Fair Elections Fund, which will be used to create a public financing small donor match program for some city candidates.
 
  • In Michigan, Proposal 2 will create a transparent process for drawing voting maps, and limiting gerrymandering. Proposal 3 will safeguard elections and make voting more accessible for Michiganders from all walks of life.
 
  • In Missouri, Amendment 1 will increase transparency, lower campaign contribution limits, and eliminate most gifts from lobbyists to politicians, and gave citizens the tools to challenge unfair voting maps.
 
As we move forward boldly, we must remain laser-focused on the values that unite us: support for clean air, clean water, safe streets and a fair justice system, for wages that sustain families and allow them to build better lives for the generation to come. Now is the time to dig deeper, lean in harder, and channel our energy more than ever before. In 2019 and 2020, nothing short of large-scale reform in every state legislature will bring us an inclusive, 21st century democracy; one in which every eligible voter can cast a ballot, and every vote will be counted; where corporate money plays a reduced role in campaign finances; and all Americans can trust that they are being fairly represented.
 

DI Endorses Unity Reform Commission Recommendations

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Washington, D.C.

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

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

The URC's recommendations are important to our ability to win on the things that matter most to us. They include: 

* Increased Action on Voting Rights and Reforms: Same Day Registration, Automatic Voter Registration, Early Voting 

* Making primaries and caucuses more open and accessible through opportunities like same-day registration 

* Creating more openness and transparency in processes within the DNC including state party funding, vendor contracts, and other financial decisions. 

As the introduction of the Unity Reform Commission states, Democrats must support voting rights, inclusion, and transparency inside their party as we continue to fight for voting rights and against voter suppression across the country. 

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

You can read the report of the Unity Reform Commission here: https://my.democrats.org/page/-/Unity Reform Commission Report 12.21.17.pdf

DI Statement re: Kavanaugh Nomination

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

 

For Immediate Release
July 10, 2018

Contact
Myke Bybee: (202) 567-6103
mbybee@democracyinitiative.org
 

Dear DI Partners and Friends, 

The nomination of Kavanaugh to SCOTUS continues bold attacks on healthcare, voting and civil rights, the right to choose, immigrants, and working people. Nov 6, is our day to flex our muscle and collectively push back on the attacks. Vote Nov. 6, and engage daily to win on the issues that matter most. #KavanaughSCOTUS

Several of the organizations represented on our Board have released their own statements on the nomination. Links and statements are below.

 

In Solidarity, 

The DI Team

 

https://www.sierraclub.org/press-releases/2018/07/sierra-club-statement-trump-s-nomination-brett-kavanaugh-supreme-court

https://www.naacp.org/latest/naacp-statement-nomination-brett-kavanaugh-supreme-court/  

https://aflcio.org/press/releases/judge-brett-kavanaugh-puts-rights-working-people-serious-risk

https://www.cwa-union.org/news/releases/cwa-opposes-nomination-of-judge-brett-kavanaugh-supreme-court

The People Want to Know Judge Kavanaugh's Views on Our Democracy

 

Sierra Club: 

Today, Donald Trump announced he plans to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s recently vacated seat on the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Kavanaugh was added to Trump’s short list of nominees by extremist right-wing organizations who selected candidates who will pave the way for attacks on the environment, dismantling worker protections, gutting Roe v. Wade, and criminalizing women’s health. 

While on the DC Circuit, Kavanaugh consistently sided with polluters over the best interest of the public and the agencies charged with protecting the public's health, welfare, and the environment. His decisions on the DC Circuit are far to the right. His track record includes attacks on the EPA, workers, women's health, and net neutrality. Judge Kavanaugh presents a great threat to the faithful application of our nation’s bedrock public health and environmental laws should he become a Justice on the Supreme Court. 

The Sierra Club will join others on the steps of the Supreme Court tonight at 9:30 p.m. to rally against Trump’s pick. 

In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement: 

"The American people deserve a Supreme Court justice who is fair, even-handed, and thoughtful, who will act in the best interest of everyone who lives in the United States, not just corporate polluters, right-wing extremists, and the most wealthy. But instead, Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh, an extreme ideologue who has time and again proven himself hostile to commonsense environmental safeguards, women’s rights, voting rights, and the rights of workers. Kavanaugh’s views puts the demands of polluters and big corporations before the rights of people, and he cannot be trusted to protect our communities, our air and water, or our climate. 

“This decision over the next Supreme Court justice is poised to shape the direction of our country. The American people deserve a justice who will put their interests first and not move the court far to the right. Kavanaugh is an extremist who will work only on behalf of the wealthy. We strongly urge Senators, who are elected to represent and protect the American people, to speak up for families across the nation and reject Trump’s nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, full stop.” 

 

AFL-CIO: 

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States: 

Judge Kavanaugh has a dangerous track record of protecting the privileges of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of working people. Any Supreme Court nominee must be fair, independent and committed to protecting the rights, freedoms and legal safeguards of all Americans. Judge Kavanaugh does not meet this standard and must not be confirmed. 

Judge Kavanaugh routinely rules against working families, regularly rejects employees’ right to receive employer-provided health care, too often sides with employers in denying employees relief from discrimination in the workplace and promotes overturning well-established U.S. Supreme Court precedent. 

The current Supreme Court has shown that it will side with greedy corporations over working people whenever given the chance, and this nominee will only skew that further. Recent decisions by the court, often the result of 5-4 votes, have a dramatic impact on the lives of working families and reinforce the importance of the selection of a new justice. We simply cannot have another lifetime-appointed justice unleashed who, as Justice Elena Kagan wrote in her dissent in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, acts as a “black-robed ruler overriding citizens’ choices.” 

Working people expect the Supreme Court to be the fairest and most independent branch of government in America. Any senator who believes Supreme Court justices should protect the rights of all Americans should reject this nomination and demand a nominee who will protect the rights of working people and uphold our constitutional values of liberty, equality and justice for all. Across the country, working people are organizing and taking collective action as we haven’t seen in years, and we won’t stand for any politician who supports justices who put our rights at risk. 

 

NAACP: 

NAACP, the nation’s foremost civil rights organization, issued the following statement regarding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: 

Today, our nation celebrates the 150th anniversary of ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment transformed our democracy by guaranteeing to all persons the right to equal protection under the law. 

150 years after its passage, our nation still struggles to realize the promise of equality under the Fourteenth Amendment. The next appointment to the Supreme Court is pivotal to that struggle. The rights of African Americans to fully participate in democracy and in every facet of social and economic life, on an equal basis, lie in the balance. The next Supreme Court justice will play an outsized role in determining whether African Americans move forward in our journey toward achieving full equality, whether we simply tread water for the next three decades, or whether we slide backward toward our former status as second-class citizens. 

This nomination occurs at a time unlike any other, and it should be considered by a Senate elected by the American people in November. We have a president whose statements and policies are rooted in racism. We have an administration reversing civil and human rights at every turn. We have one justice and dozens of judges appointed because of their proven hostility to civil rights. We have a criminal investigation into the presidency itself. We have radical outside groups pre-selecting nominees to the Court. Nothing about this nomination is ordinary, and nothing about this confirmation is ordinary. These are extraordinary times requiring extraordinary measures. 

Brett Kavanaugh is a dangerous ideologue whose extreme views on civil rights would solidify a far right majority on the Supreme Court. Coming after Neil Gorsuch’s appointment, a Kavanaugh confirmation would re-make the Court in President Trump’s own image. This prospect is unacceptable to the American people, and the NAACP is ready to lead the fight of a generation. 

The NAACP knows Judge Kavanaugh well. We opposed his confirmation to the D.C. Circuit for good reason.  In his 12 years on the bench, he has proven us correct. He has been a strong and consistent voice for the wealthy and the powerful. Over and over again, he has ruled against civil rights, workers’ rights, consumer rights, and women’s rights. 

With a Justice Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, we could see reversals of hard-won gains securing equal opportunity in education, employment and housing.  We could see further exclusion of communities of color from participation in our democracy.  We could see racism continue to flourish within the criminal justice system.  We could see the 

elimination of effective tools for proving discrimination.  We could see the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the guarantee to accessible health care for millions. 

The NAACP has understood the importance of fair-minded justices since 1930 when we helped defeat a Herbert Hoover nominee to the Supreme Court, John Parker. We will fight this Trump nomination with everything we’ve got. Our state conferences, branches and units are fully engaged to tell their Senators that our civil rights hang in the balance and that Kavanaugh must be defeated. 

To each and every Senator, we say: This is THE civil rights vote of your career. We will be watching closely. Make no mistake – we are in the fight of our lives, and we hope you are prepared for battle. 

 

CWA: 

CWA opposes the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and calls on members of the U.S. Senate to reject this nomination. 

Decisions of the Supreme Court can have a dramatic impact on working people's rights, freedoms and legal safeguards, as we saw in cases this past term like Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 and National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil.

Judge Kavanaugh routinely rules against workers and their families and regularly sides with employers against employees seeking justice in the workplace, including CWA members. Just last year, Kavanaugh issued a partial dissent in a case involving more than 300 NABET-CWA technicians at CNN who lost their jobs and the benefits of union representation in the wake of the company’s phony reorganization scheme to get rid of union workers. He concluded that the company was not liable for violations of the National Labor Relations Act and should not have to pay back wages. He has stood with AT&T to prevent CWA members in Connecticut who interact with customers or work in public from wearing union shirts protesting their treatment by the company. He has held that a waiver of a right to picket allowed Verizon to prevent workers from displaying pro-union signs in their cars. 

Judge Kavanaugh's unwillingness to protect workers even extends to life-and-death situations. In a case which involved the death of a Sea World trainer who was working with a killer whale, he dissented from the majority, holding that the Department of Labor lacks authority to regulate activities of participants in sports events or entertainment shows in order to protect their health and safety. 

Working people can’t afford to have Judge Kavanaugh making decisions that without doubt will adversely affect our families and our communities. We need and deserve a Supreme Court Justice who understands and respects the importance of the laws and protections for working people in this country, including the right to form unions, to be free from discrimination, to have a safe workplace, and to be paid for all hours worked. 

Based on his record, we can expect that Judge Kavanaugh will continue to protect the interests of already powerful corporate CEOs instead of working families. 

 

Common Cause:

Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn

With President Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and with so much at stake for future generations, the Senate must focus on core principles of democracy as it decides whether to give its consent to this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.   

As the third branch of our government, Americans expect the judiciary to uphold equal justice under law. The Constitution places the ultimate power in our democracy with the people who, through amendments, have written our voices generation after generation, into an ever-expanding vision of our democracy. American democracy has historically been a beacon of freedom to the world because we have steadily expanded who has a say in the future we create together, extending democracy’s freedom, liberty, and each individual’s pursuit of happiness to more people.

Americans’ trust in the Court, as with other civic institutions, has suffered as a five-justice majority empowered corporations to spend unlimited amounts of their funds to influence elections in Citizens United, gutted the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County, and just last month undermined the collective voices of working families when it overturned decades of well-settled labor law in Janus. These decisions collectively shift power away from the people toward wealthy special interests.

In this moment, the people need to know, and the Senate must press Judge Kavanaugh, on his values, approach to judging, and vision. Among many critical questions, senators should ask: 

  • Can Judge Kavanaugh reassure Americans that they can fairly sit in judgment of President Trump — a subject of ongoing criminal investigations —  and apply the rule that no person is above the law? 
  • Has Judge Kavanaugh pledged a loyalty oath to President Trump? 
  • What is Judge Kavanaugh’s definition of originalism, and does he identify as an “originalist”? 
  • What is Judge Kavanaugh’s view of political equality as a constitutional principle? 
  • What is Judge Kavanaugh’s view of the Supreme Court as a check and balance in our constitutional system? 
  • Did the Supreme Court comport appropriately with the doctrine of stare decisis in Citizens UnitedShelby County, and Janus
  • If confirmed, will Judge Kavanaugh comply with the Code of Conduct for United States Judges? 
  • What is Judge Kavanaugh’s view of the president’s decision to outsource judicial vetting to the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, and why did his name appear on the list of nominees? 

There is no facet of American society that is unaffected by the Supreme Court. Americans deserve to know how Judge Kavanaugh will uphold his obligation to deliver equal justice for all. Common Cause will research the nominee’s record on matters of democracy and press senators to do their job and elicit honest answers before voting to approve a lifetime seat.

Tags: 

Democracy Initiative’s Wendy Fields Joins Mass Civil Disobedience; Demands End to Family Detention-Today

Thursday, June 28, 2018

                                                                                   

Democracy Initiative’s Wendy Fields Joins Mass Civil Disobedience; Demands End to Family Detention-Today

 

Washington, D.C. — Today the Democracy Initiative’s Executive Director Wendy Fields joins thousands of women, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who just won an upset victory in the NY Democratic Primary), and playwright Eve Ensler, in Washington, DC to demand the safety and freedom of immigrant families and children. The Democracy Initiative is a powerful coalition of 69 partner organizations from labor, civil rights, environmental, faith, women’s rights, democracy reform, and other sectors.

“In a true and functional democracy, we don’t jail children and brutalize asylum seekers. As an immigrant who came here with my family for a better life, I know that voicing our protest is more than a right, it’s a civic responsibility,” said Fields. “I’m humbled to be able to join people of conscience here today, and take collective action as we demand an end to this administration’s cruel zero-tolerance policy.”

When and where: Thursday, June 28th:

  • 11:45 a.m. -- march departs from Freedom Plaza
  • 12:00 p.m. -- march arrives for an action at the Department of Justice
  • 1:30 p.m. -- march departs DOJ for Congress
  • 3:00 p.m. -- direct action in Congress begins. Limited details available by phone, please call Jacqueline Lara at 240-305-2133 for more information

Social media hashtags for the event are #endfamilydetention and #womendisobey.

Today’s event is organized by The Women’s March and DI Partner Center for Popular Democracy, among other groups. Fields joins fellow activists from all walks of life, willing to risk arrest to show federal officials and lawmakers that they will not abide government-sanctioned cruelty to those seeking refuge and a better life in the United States.

 

“At the DI, our North Star is government that works for the people, regardless of whether they are Black, white, Brown or working class,” Fields said, “And the people have spoken: No more children in jail cells. No more midnight raids and families ripped apart. We’ve waited too long for compassionate, humane immigration reform in this country, and if our elected officials can’t get it done, they’re going to hear from us—not just at election time, but all the time. 365 days a year.”

 

“The DI also knows that we must increase participation in off-year elections, like this one, to show our collective demand for a democracy that reflects the values of inclusion, racial and economic justice, civil and labor rights, environmental protection, and humane immigration policies.”

 

Today’s action is just one example of the DI’s Democracy365 idea: one where civic engagement happens year-round and not just in the voting booth. The DI’s partner organizations—representing 40 million members primed for action—have come together because they know a strong democracy is what makes change possible no matter what the issue is: from human and civil rights to worker protections and the environment.

 

Many of these groups will join actions for immigrant families happening across the United States this weekend to remind federal officials and policymakers that they work for the people, and our voices won’t be ignored.

For interviews and media RSVPs, please contact Jacqueline Lara, 240-305-2133; Inarú Meléndez, 413-331-9530. For more on the DI, please contact Mykel Bybee at mbybee@democracyinitiative.org or 202 567-6103. Event website is https://www.endfamilyseparation.us/

###

The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of organizations launched in 2013 working toward a bright future in which all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process. We believe that the voice of every citizen should be heard and counted, so all of us have an equal say in a democracy that is of, by, and for the people. Our partner organizations pursue a diverse range of progressive goals, including civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, and climate justice, but we know that success in any of these areas depends on reforming our democracy. 

STATEMENT from DI’s Wendy Fields: Supreme Court Fails Ohio Voters

Monday, June 11, 2018

For Immediate Release
June 11, 2018

Contact
Myke Bybee: (202) 567-6103
mbybee@democracyinitiative.org

 

Washington, D.C.- This Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision on behalf of Ohio, allowing its unconscionable and needlessly aggressive voting "purge" to continue. In Ohio, voters who abstain from voting or simply do not vote in a federal election are sent a mailed notice asking them to confirm their residence. If they fail to reply and do not vote for four more years, they are then purged from the Ohio voter rolls. People should have the right to be able to vote whenever they want, even if they have not voted in the past or have missed a few elections. In a country where voter turnout is already low, these kinds of practices simply make it more difficult for those who do want to participate in our democracy. 

In response to the ruling, Wendy Fields, Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative, issued the following statement:

 

This Supreme Court decision highlights the need to continue fighting for voting protections across the country, especially for young people and college students, poor families, and communities of color. As Justice Sotomayor writes in her dissent, the decision '...entirely ignores the history of voter suppression against which the National Voting Rights Act was enacted and upholds a program that appears to further very disenfranchisement of minority and low-income voters that Congress set out to eradicate.' Nationally, six other states — Georgia, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — have similar practices that target voters for removal from the rolls for not voting, but Ohio’s is the most extreme. In the face of these continued attacks on millions of voters, the DI and our allies will increase our efforts in the national Election Protection and proactively fight for 21st century voting reforms in order to increase ensure that every American can vote and have their vote counted. Voting is how everyday people can hold elected officials accountable, and have an equal voice in the decisions that matter most to our families, our communities, and our future.

Related Resources: Join the movement for a democracy that is of, by, and for the people at http://www.democracyinitiative.org/take-action/democracy-365-campaign

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Myke Bybee at mbybee@democracyinitiative.org or (202) 567-6103.

###

The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of organizations launched in 2013 working toward a bright future in which all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process. We believe that the voice of every citizen should be heard and counted, so all of us have an equal say in a democracy that is of, by, and for the people. Our partner organizations pursue a diverse range of progressive goals, including civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, and climate justice, but we know that success in any of these areas depends on reforming our democracy.

 

STATEMENT from DI’s Wendy Fields: Democracy Reforms Must Top House and Senate Dems’ Agenda

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

 

For Immediate Release
May 22, 2018

Contact
Myke Bybee: (202) 567-6103
mbybee@democracyinitiative.org

Washington, D.C. — This Monday, House and Senate Democrats introduced a package of policies to fight legalized corruption in our democratic process, put voters’ needs first and keep wealthy special interests from rigging the rules of the game. Voters have long demanded voting rights, ethics, campaign finance reforms and limits on lobbyists’ as well as corporations’ financial influence in politics. Now, with recent evidence of meddling in elections, they are hungry for a crackdown on dark money and foreign influence. The House and Senate Democrats’ plan includes a much-needed comprehensive policy response to these chilling effects on the U.S. democracy, along with supports for small donor “citizen-funded elections;” automatic voter registration; stepped up efforts to fight gerrymandering; and improvements to election security. These are fundamental protections for a thriving democratic society that everyday Americans and Democracy Initiative members have sought for years.

In response, Wendy Fields, Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative, issued the following statement:

The people are sending a strong message at the local level, and Democratic leaders are listening: Our communities want a government that works for them, and it’s time to stop wealthy special interests from cheating us out of active participation in our political process. For too long, the greedy few have had too much influence on elections, stymied voter participation, and poured money into politics to get their way. With 69 member organizations representing 40 million U.S. residents, the DI knows our democracy thrives only when it’s clear our government will fight corruption, promote fair representation, and demand elected leaders play by the rules.

We are making progress—and scoring wins—at the state and local level on issues like small donor funded elections and automatic registration. We look forward to continuing to mobilize our members and work with elected leaders to ensure we enact strong reforms nationally so that we can focus on the issues that matter to all of us—black, white and brown—like good jobs and higher wages. This package is a critical step toward restoring power to the people and making government work for us.

Related Resources: Join the movement for a democracy that is of, by, and for the people at http://www.democracyinitiative.org/take-action/democracy-365-campaign

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Myke Bybee at mbybee@democracyinitiative.org or (202) 567-6103.

###

The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of organizations launched in 2013 working toward a bright future in which all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process. We believe that the voice of every citizen should be heard and counted, so all of us have an equal say in a democracy that is of, by, and for the people. Our partner organizations pursue a diverse range of progressive goals, including civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, and climate justice, but we know that success in any of these areas depends on reforming our democracy.

Democracy Initiative Lauds Final Passage of D.C. Fair Elections Act

Statement by Wendy Fields, Executive Director
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Getachew Kassa, Senior Campaigner
gkassa@democracyinitiative.org / 202-394-2388

 

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE LAUDS FINAL PASSAGE OF D.C.
FAIR ELECTIONS ACT

Statement by Wendy Fields, Executive Director

WASHINGTON, D.C. - “The Fair Elections Act is a major step forward towards strengthening our democracy by reducing the power of big money in politics,” said Wendy Fields, Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative (“DI”).

“This victory is a testament to the power of grass roots organizing around the issue of democracy,” said Fields.  The DI participated in a coalition of more than 70 organizations that delivered over 5000 petitions to elected officials.

“People all over the country are mobilizing to eliminate the corrupt influence of big money in politics, so we can have a government that addresses real problems affecting the environment, education, poverty, and injustice,” said Fields.

The law passed the D.C. Council unanimously, and Mayor Bowser signed it yesterday. It follows on a similar law passed in Howard County and Montgomery County, Maryland. A public financing bill is currently under consideration in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

The measure provides public matching funds to candidates who only accept small contributions, leveling the playing field and reducing barriers of entry to candidates who are not beholden to wealthy donors.

“The fair elections program will return power to the working people of D.C., so they can begin to transform the system,” said Fields. More than 60% of election contributions in D.C. currently come from corporations and non-DC residents.

The next step is to fully fund the program and make sure that it works for D.C. residents.

Congratulations to the organizations and DI Partner groups that worked on this campaign including Common Cause, Communication Workers of America, Greenpeace, NAACP, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, American Postal Workers Union, Demos, Every Voice, Food and Water Watch, Jobs with Justice, Service Employees International Union, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Working Families Party, and more.  

The Democracy Initiative Board includes:

Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause President, Co-Chair

Annie Leonard, Greenpeace USA Executive Director, Co-Chair

Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director

Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President

Derrick Johnson, NAACP President CEO

#####

The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of organizations launched in 2013 working toward a bright future in which all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process. We believe that the voice of every citizen should be heard and counted, so all of us have an equal say in a democracy that is of, by, and for the people. Our endorsing organizations pursue a diverse range of progressive goals, including civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, and climate justice, but we know that success in any of these areas depends on reforming our democracy.

United by a shared vision for a political process that counts every voice and every vote equally, we are mobilizing members of Democracy Initiative organizations to ensure that all Americans can vote, diminish the influence of corporate and special interests, and halt the obstruction that has thrown our Congress out of balance. Together, we can break down these barriers and protect our democracy from the systematic effort to shift power from the many to a wealthy few by silencing our voices in the workplace, in the ballot box, and in the offices of our elected officials.

 

STATEMENT: The Freedom to Organize is Fundamental to Democracy

Monday, February 26, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Michelle C. Whittaker
Director of Communications
mwhittaker@democracyinitiative.org / 202-567-6103

The Freedom to Organize is Fundamental to Democracy

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 26, 2018) - The Democracy Initiative stands with all workers to exercise their democratic right to organize and collectively bargain. Union members have been central to many of the economic and social movements of the last century and are the backbone of our economy. The Janus v. AFSCME case before the U.S. Supreme Court represents an attack on the freedoms of hardworking Americans across the country seeking to build a better life for themselves and their communities.

"I know firsthand the importance of a union," said Wendy Fields, executive director of the Democracy Initiative. "I am the proud daughter of a nurse and grew up in a single parent home. It is because my mother had the right to form a union and collectively bargain that our immigrant hardworking family had a middle class life. We all must be able to fulfill and live the promise of democracy. The Janus v. AFSCME case is a blatant attempt by corporations and wealthy interests to block the opportunity for millions of people to have a doorway to the American dream."

The Democracy Initiative, a dynamic coalition of 64 groups representing more than 40 million members from the civil rights, labor, and environmental movements, is committed in its work to mobilize millions for a representative democracy. Central to our work is preventing attacks by corporate and wealthy interests that attempt to shrink the power of the grassroots in our workplace and the halls of power. As millions of union workers rally across the country, our partner members stand side by side to defend a democracy that works for all.

 

###

The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of 64 organizations representing more than 40 million members working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process. Learn more at www.democracyinitiative.org.