Democracy Initiative Update 08.10.20

Monday, August 10, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.


People must be able to vote safely in November. Senate Republicans, however, are blocking key funding needed to #ProtectOurVote and ensure all Americans can safely cast their ballots this November. Join us tomorrow, August 11 at 7:30-8:30pm EST for a virtual town hall hosted by the Declaration for American Democracy Coalition featuring:

To RSVP for the call, click here. For partner organizations interested in cross-posting the live event on their Facebook page, contact Aswar Rahman at


Join us for our next DI mobilizing call scheduled Wednesday, August 12 at 3:00 pm EST. RSVP here.

Our agenda will cover the following:

  1. Sign up for a Democracy Champions Vote by Mail Training: Our Training and Movement Building Coordinator Brittny Baxter will present on our ongoing 100 Days of Training initiative. DI is on track to train 3,000 activists this year to become VBM Captains, election workers/volunteers, and poll monitors in key states. We are working with partners to schedule trainings to support the grassroots campaigns that demand safe, secure voting options for all. If your organization wants to host a training with your members, or sign up your staff to participate in upcoming Train the Trainers training, we encourage you to come prepared with questions and training asks for your organization.
  2. State Update: Michigan held their Primary Election last week with a record 2.5 million people voting and nearly 1.6 million absentee ballots cast. We will be joined by Loida Tapia with the Michigan Election Protection Program to share some lessons learned from the field and identify support needs for the November election.
  3. Federal Fight: Stimulus 4: As the ongoing Senate negotiations heat up regarding the next federal stimulus package, we will share a legislative update and discuss opportunities to ensure $3.6 billion in funding for election assistance and $25 billion in support for the USPS. We will also share an updated social media toolkit.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday. RSVP here or email Getachew Kassa at for more information.


On Tuesday, July 28, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans revealed their answer to the House’s stimulus package: the HEALS Act, a disgraceful proposal that provisions $0 for emergency election assistance or the besieged U.S. Postal Service.

In a statement released Wednesday, July 29, the Democracy Initiative called on corporate CEOs to use the full weight of their lobbying capacity and political muscle to join the fight for $3.6 billion in emergency election funding. The Senate must follow the House’s leadership and allocate $3.6 billion to pay for election costs and $25 billion for our public Postal Service. The ability of the states and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure a safe, reliable, secure and accessible election in November depends on it.

The need for a strong, unified call from all stakeholders for safe, accessible, and fair elections has never been more important. Now is the time to keep the pressure up by activating your members and taking action on social media:

  • Social Media Tools: Use your social media channels to amplify the call for corporate CEOs to join the fight for the $3.6 billion for election funding and $25 billion for the USPS. We have created a set of plug & play social media tools available here: Corporate CEO Challenge & Election Funding Social Media Toolkit.
  • Activate Your Members: Ask your members in the key states to contact their Senators at 202-224-3121 and urge them to approve $3.6 billion for election administration and $25 billion for the Post Office to help states ensure safe equitable elections this year.

For more information, please contact DI National Field Manager Getachew Kassa at


The Democracy Initiative is continuing our training initiative with another Vote By Mail Democracy Champions Train the Trainer (T3) Cohort. We are well on our way to train 3,000 activists this year to become VBM Captains, election workers/volunteers, and poll monitors in key states. Our priority states are FL, GA, MD, MI, MO, NC, NM, PA, VA, and WI. Thanks to our partner A. Philip Randolph Institute, we held a successful T3 in North Carolina with Black Voters Matter.

We are working with DI partners to schedule training to support the grassroots campaigns that demand safe, secure voting options for all. If your organization wants to host a training, or sign up staff to participate in upcoming training, sign up here. Our next T3 is Tuesday, August 18 at 6:00pm EST. For more information, contact Brittny Baxter, DI Training Coordinator at


Netroots Nation is offering scholarships for Black and brown organizers to attend the virtual conference this week, August 13 - 15. If you know an organizer that can’t afford to attend, contact Brittny Baxter at If you are planning on attending, check out the DI’s events:

Training: Democracy Champions: Connecting Democracy, Power, and Kitchen Table Issues
Friday, August 14 at 11:00 AM EST
Facilitators: Joanne Antoine, Common Cause; Brittny Baxter, Democracy Initiative

To win on the issues that impact our lives: workers' rights, environmental justice, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, immigration reform, etc. - we must have a base of grassroots activists who are passionate about their kitchen table issues to make the link to democracy reforms. Collectively, we will expand our leadership and capacity for local and state campaigns and build a demand for reform.

Waging a War Against Disinformation and Misinformation: How to Win Using Inoculation and Facts
Friday, August 14 at 11:00am EST
Trainer: Wendy Fields, Democracy Initiative

This cycle we are witnessing an unprecedented, corporate backed misinformation and disinformation campaign. Lies are being weaponized to stoke fear and uncertainty.These campaigns are designed to sow confusion, and ultimately suppress voter turnout. Our greatest defense will be preemptively arming the public with the truth and tactics to separate real from fake news. Defending our democracy calls for widespread inoculation efforts for the public against this well-funded mis/disinformation campaign. This training will clearly define misinformation and disinformation, provide tips on how to identify trustworthy information sources, and equip participants with the basic steps of a proper inoculation conversation.

Panel: Democracy No Longer Deferred: Following Most Impacted Leaders is a Winning Strategy
Saturday, August 15 at 11:00am EST
Moderator: Marilyn Carpinteyro, Common Cause
Panelists: Doug Moore, United Domestic Workers of America; Jonathan Butler, Greenpeace USA; Bill Cobb, Formerly ACLU; Maya Berry, Arab American Institute

In our current democracy, wealthy interests disenfranchise, disregard and exploit groups that have historically been labeled as the "Other." Our efforts to achieve a fair, inclusive democracy cannot happen without leadership from these communities. Hear from activists fighting for workers, moms, immigrants, LGBTQ+ and differently-abled folks and against racism, the climate crisis, and poverty on how they are fighting, and winning, for their communities to be represented in our democracy


Our Mentoring Program Orientation was a huge success, with an amazing and diverse cohort, but desperately need women of color to volunteer as mentors. If you are willing to mentor a talented young organizer of color or know someone suited to, please sign up here.


Election officials across the country have been forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to adapt rapidly in their preparations for administering elections this year. In response, many states have moved to expand Vote by Mail (VBM), a system which requires significant planning and resources to equitably implement in time.

Our partners at the National Vote at Home Institute (NVAHI) have developed two tools for election officials to prepare voters for VBM: the Operations Toolkit and the Communications Toolkit. We encourage our partners who have relationships with election officials and clerks to share these resources with their networks.

The Operations Toolkit features the Calculator, an excel spreadsheet tool designed for election officials to consider what staffing, space, and other resources are needed to plan for in serving a large number of mail voters. It allows election officials to input data and simulate multiple scenarios to improve resource allocation. The toolkit also includes a guide sheet and instructional video.

The Communications Toolkit is designed to augment the communications capacity of election offices, providing visuals, sample language, and a communications plan, any combination of which can be plugged into existing efforts to accommodate the influx of mail ballot requests from voters.


During the state’s June primary election, the rapid action Maryland election officials, community groups, vendors, postal workers, and voters took to ensure voters could safely cast their ballots resulted in the highest turnout Baltimore City had seen since 1987. In a July 8 press conference, however, Governor Larry Hogan announced that the November elections would proceed as normal. COVID-19 cases surged in the state and around the country in the weeks that followed. DI partners from the Everyone Votes Maryland coalition held a critical press conference on Wednesday July 28 to discuss the public health, logistical, budget, and civil rights considerations impacting the administration of the November election. Hogan has implied that he is powerless to change the General Election process, a claim rebuked by legal scholars pointing to his powers under the current state of emergency.

Read more here.

Michigan’s primary elections held August 4 decisively broke the state’s record for primary turnout. Nearly 2.5 million people cast their ballots on Tuesday, with 1.6 million mailed ballots making up over 60% of the total votes cast. Michigan voters were able to take advantage of no-excuse absentee voting provision that voters overwhelmingly passed in 2018. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson facilitated voters’ access to the ballot by sending absentee ballot applications to all 7.7 million registered voters. In a statement issued Thursday, she said “What August showed is we can hold safe, accessible and secure elections in the midst of a pandemic.”

Read more.

In an executive order signed into law Wednesday, August 5, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds restored formerly incarcerated Iowans the right to vote after completion of their sentences. With this act, Iowa is no longer the only state to categorically revoke the ability to vote from people convicted of felonies. The order will restore voting rights to an estimated 40,000 people who have completed their time, a victory for the grassroots activists and partner organizations who have been working on this issue for several years. Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, said “Now our work is to make sure that people are registered and understand as of today they don’t need to do paperwork, they don’t need to do anything like that. As of today they are allowed to vote.”

Read more here.

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