DI Report

Democracy Initiative Update 03.12.21

Friday, March 12, 2021
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement—please share widely.

HR1 PASSES HOUSE, SENATE MUST NOT ALLOW FILIBUSTER TO KILL IT

On March 3, the US House of Representatives passed the For the People Act, a sweeping package of democracy reforms that brings us one critical step closer to repairing our political system, revitalizing our democracy, and fulfilling the promise of our country’s ideals. The House’s passage of HR 1 is the hard work of three years of mobilization and organizing done by grassroots activists and advocates across the country.

The fight now moves to the Senate. A hearing before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration is scheduled for March 24, 2021. But so long as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell can weaponize Jim Crow tools like the filibuster against the full enfranchisement of all eligible Americans in our democratic process, S1 is likely to face the same fate as it did in 2019. As Sen. Merkley recently said at our February 24 Principals Convening, Senators need to hear from the grassroots that McConnell’s deployment of the filibuster is not an excuse; you can save the filibuster, or democracy—you can’t save both.

After the House’s passage of the For the People Act, DI Interim Executive Director Jennifer Lamson said:

We applaud House for moving swiftly and passing the For the People Act (HR 1)—a transformative and crucial step toward realizing the promise of American democracy. All eyes now turn to the Senate. It is critical that Senators move with urgency to prioritize passage of this vital legislation. It is unacceptable to allow backroom maneuvers like the filibuster to stand in the way.

Read the full statement here.

DI distributed a set of talking points for the passage of HR 1 that reflects expertise and messaging guidance from DI partners Greenpeace and Demos and allied coalition Declaration for American Democracy; please feel free to continue lifting up this tremendous win for democracy as we look to continue the fight in the Senate.

We are still collecting DI partner and ally statements on this historic victory; if you do not see your organization’s statement here, email Jack Flynn at jflynn@democracyinitative.org to make sure it’s included. You can access the statements here.

JUST THE FIGHT: FIX THE SENATE NOW – RULES REFORM

As DI has said since its founding in 2012, it is completely unacceptable that a minority of elected officials representing a minority of the country can completely block legislation demanded by the majority, many of which would drastically improve the lives of our country’s most marginalized communities. So long as the filibuster remains on the table, however, essential legislation such as the For the People Act, John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, DC Statehood, the PRO Act, and more will be condemned to McConnell’s legislative graveyard.

DI partner Demos, Just Democracy, and Truth & Conciliation released an incredible new report last week, entitled “End the Filibuster: How a Relic of Jim Crow Could Block Our Progressive Agenda,” that tackles the filibuster’s use throughout history as a tool of white supremacy and explains how, unless we get rid of it, the filibuster will continue to thwart progress on the issues our communities care most about.

AFL-CIO LEADERSHIP AND ACTION ON FILIBUSTER REFORM
The Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act), the most significant pro-worker legislation in decades, passed the House Tuesday, March 9. When brought before the Senate in 2020, McConnell used the threat of a filibuster to prevent it from ever reaching the floor. As DI anchor partner AFL-CIO's Executive Council, including DI board member and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, said in a statement released Thursday, March 11:

“At stake is the urgent work of investing in our country, defending our democracy against those who would take the right to vote away from working people and, most of all—righting the balance of power in our country through the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act—addressing decades of runaway inequality of wealth, income, opportunity and power that have left working people impoverished, silenced and angry.

And standing in its way is an archaic Senate procedure that allows the minority to block the majority—the filibuster. An artifact of Jim Crow. A creature of white supremacy. A procedure that was said to encourage robust debate but has turned into an instrument of government paralysis. A tool used by those seeking to preserve the social, economic and political status quo, that the AFL-CIO has long opposed, as a matter of principle as undemocratic and rooted in racism.

The AFL-CIO calls on the Senate to work with the president and the House to enact a Workers First Agenda—investment, democracy, freedom and dignity in the workplace and justice in our economy.

But if that proves to be impossible under the Senate’s current rules—we call for swift and necessary changes to those rules so that the will of the people of the United States expressed in the 2020 elections can be turned into the progress our country and our people desperately need.”

FRIENDS OF THE EARTH LEADERSHIP AND ACTION ON FILIBUSTER REFORM
The filibuster is also consistently used to block urgent environmental legislation. Thanks to the leadership of DI board member and Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica, over 70 climate justice and environmental groups signed on to a letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that calls for the elimination of the Senate filibuster. The letter, which included signatures from DI partners 350.org, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Oil Change U.S. and Public Citizen, reads:

“On behalf of the climate justice movement, communities on the frontlines of climate change, and our allied partners, we look to you to lead the rehabilitation of our institutions. That work must begin with abolishing the filibuster. Action on the climate crisis in a way that centers environmental justice should not be obstructed by a minority of Senators representing a minority of the country. Neither should progress be blocked by an even smaller minority of fossil fuel executives who have profited off of selecting as, and rendering disadvantaged communities into, sacrifice zones.

The climate crisis is already a daily reality for millions who reside in the United States—one that disproportionately impacts environmental justice communities, who are subjected to heatwaves, wildfires, rising seas, and increased threats to public health. They cannot afford to wait on a supermajority in the Senate. The bold climate agenda we need is incompatible with a regular order that subjects it to interdiction by an obstructive Senate minority.”

TAKE ACTION: Friends of the Earth created a social media toolkit for amplifying this critical letter; please continue to amplify this powerful letter on social media and in your networks.

We cannot expect meaningful progress on voting rights, workers’ rights, racial justice, the environment, immigration, healthcare, fair representation, or any other issue so long as a handful of Senators use the filibuster to protect the interests of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the American people.

DI PRINCIPALS CONVENING: LAUNCHING THE 2021 DI SENATE RULES REFORM CAMPAIGN
On February 24, more than 60 partners and allies representing more than 35 organizations, including over 20 principal leaders, convened for a critical discussion on what it really takes to ensure the Senate uses the governing mandate it received from voters to strengthen our democracy and govern on the host of issues we all care about. We heard from our powerful guest speakers Sen. Jeff Merkley and New Georgia Project CEO Nsé Ufot on the current challenges posed by the Senate filibuster and how to deliver real change for our communities, as well as several DI leaders on their organizational commitment to ensure a functioning Senate.

Four key messages from Sen. Merkley:

  • The more unequal the power equation comes in this country, the easier it is for the powerful to produce government by and for the powerful. You need to demand that the Senate act—your pressure from the outside is going to be the key to us getting this done.
  • We know McConnell’s theory of power: delay and obstruct. McConnell has known for a while now that the Republicans can change the rules whenever it suits them to pass the priorities of the rich and powerful.
  • If we cannot do something about the filibuster, our base will be dispirited because we failed to deliver, and their votes will be suppressed by Republican anti-voting laws. There’s no other option.
  • It's simply unacceptable for us, as US Senators, to say to the American people: "Sorry, we couldn't get it done because McConnell said no."

Three key messages from New Georgia Project CEO Nsé Ufot:

  • Our robust campaign was driven by Georgians, young people, Black folks that knew deeply that they had the power to hire and fire their elected officials if they did not do the people’s work. And it’s important to remember: we are not doing this for democracy’s sake—democracy is the most accountable vehicle we have to make sure people can live their best lives.
  • We brought a half million people who weren’t in anyone’s database into the electoral process through serious face-to-face interactions. We did it with 2 million knocks on doors, 7 million phone calls and 4 million texts. This is what it takes to develop and sustain independent political power that is accountable to communities and this is how we win.
  • We had a call with Sen. Schumer and we were very clear that we want this legislative filibuster gone. It is profoundly anti-democratic. And we haven’t done enough to make sure the people understand what the filibuster is and how harmful it is to our democratic processes.

Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO: "We’re here to conspire not just about how to win elections but about how we collectively advance our agenda through a Senate operating the way it has. The rules changes that allowed hundreds of stymied Obama appointments to go through in 2013 would not have happened without this multiracial, cross-sector set of constituencies tenaciously mobilizing the field. That’s what it’s going to take for us in 2021."

Larry Cohen, Our Revolution: "What we want to be thinking about is how are we going to mobilize our members, particularly in Arizona and West Virginia? When Senators go back to their home state, they need to hear about not just the filibuster but also governing with a majority."

Gustavo Torres, CASA: "Fixing the Senate is going to impact our communities and our families. CASA is totally ready to organize and mobilize our members so that the filibuster does not stand in the way of meeting this moment and finally passing comprehensive immigration reform.”

Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth: "Friends of the Earth is behind Senate rules and filibuster reform, and we’re working with the rest of the environmental movement to do so. From the climate and energy perspective, we can’t wait. Every day we wait, every year we wait, the crisis gets worse, and we’re running out of time. Delay on Senate Rules reform is delay on our capacity to make a healthier planet. I’d also like to point out that any more delay on democracy reform means that it’s a decade—if we don’t get something done this year, we’re waiting ten years to get something done. Delay is no longer acceptable.”

Virginia Kase, LWV: “Back in 2011, the League supported Senate Rules changes. We recognize the importance of our ability to function as a government. Some of the concerns and questions we have are specifically around the unprecedented use of filibuster and holds. We all recognize transparency and accountability really need to be non-negotiable. We are ready to go all in and throw down on this fight.”

Shane Larson, CWA: "As Sen. Merkley said, we have got to get rid of the filibuster so that we can get HR1/S1 passed. Our ability to maintain the House and expand our majority in the Senate depends on it. And to the idea that Republicans will do bad things if we get rid of the filibuster? They already have, ever since McConnell wrote the rules on the filibuster tactic in 2005, and they’ll do it again if given the chance."

Karen Hobert Flynn, Common Cause: "It’s going to take sustained pressure on the Senate if the House does its job and passes these bills, as we expect it will. Ultimately, it may be that senators will need to decide if they want to protect voting rights and our democracy or if they want to protect the filibuster.”

TAKE ACTION: As the fight over Senate rules ramps up, DI will be sharing actions your organization and membership can take to ensure that Senators know the days of Mitch McConnell’s obstruction are over. To learn more about how your organization can get involved, email Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

TAKE ACTION: STATE VOTING RIGHTS ADVOCACY & DEFENSE

The 2020 election and January 6, 2021 shined a spotlight on critical vulnerabilities in our democracy. Since then, 43 states have already introduced, prefiled, or carried more than 250 bills to restrict or limit voting access this year. intentionally aiming to drown out the voices of voters, particularly Black and Brown voters, who voted in record numbers this past election cycle. Your members’ engagement in these fights to protect and expand upon the voting rights victories won over the past several years could prove to be decisive.

Below are some urgent actions for which state advocates requested support. We encourage you to activate your members in those states to take action for voting rights. If you have any questions, please direct them to Izzy Bronstein at IBronstein@commoncause.org.

Defensive:

  • Arizona: Advocates are asking people to call Arizona State Representatives to vote NO on SB 1485 (purging the Permanent Early Voter List) and 1713 (making it difficult for people without a driver’s license to vote by mail). Both bills passed the Senate and votes in the House may happen in the coming week.
  • Georgia: Unfortunately, both SB 241 and HB 531 crossed over to the other chamber on Monday. Georgia advocates are asking to help Georgians make calls to both their Senator and their Representative to ask them to stop these bills.
  • Florida: Yesterday, legislators amended SB 90 to propose restrictive cutbacks on vote-by-mail access, including getting rid of ballot drop boxes entirely.
    • Take Action: Florida advocates are asking for Floridians to make calls to both their Senator and Representative to protect voting rights. Here is a template email and call script.

Proactive:

  • New York: Advocates in New York are asking the Assembly to pass S830B / A4448A, which would automatically restore the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated citizens upon the completion of their prison term.
    • Take Action: Please send emails to the Assembly (email tool) and make calls with the coalition call line: 1-917-267-0591. Here is a sample email to send to your members. See @LetNYVote for updates.
  • Delaware: Delaware voting rights advocates are working to codify no excuse absentee into law. HB 75 is the last step to pass a constitutional amendment that would eliminate from the Delaware Constitution the limitations as to when an individual may vote by absentee ballot. The bill is currently in the House and needs all the support it can get.
  • Hawaii: Automatic voter registration just passed through the Senate in the Hawaii legislature. SB 159 now moves to the House Finance Committee, where it needs lots of support from the members in Hawaii to ensure it gets out of committee before March 23.

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Democracy Initiative Update 01.29.21

Friday, January 29, 2021
Moving forward, the DI Update will be released on a monthly basis.

Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement—please share widely.

TAKE ACTION: PASS THE FOR THE PEOPLE ACT (HR1/S1)

On December 7, the Democracy Initiative sent a letter to Congress strongly endorsing the “For the People Act,” the transformational legislation passed by the House in March that aims to revitalize our democracy and fulfill the promise of our country’s ideals. Speaker Pelosi has pledged to introduce the For the People Act on the first day of the new

The new administration has quickly begun to govern with the enactment of a series of executive orders aimed at putting our country and our democracy on the path to recovery. With the Senate introduction of the For the People Act as "S. 1," Democrats have demonstrated their collective intention to prioritize the passage of the most significant federal democracy reform package in history. Impeachment proceedings and the consequences of the failed January 6 attack, however, make it likely that we will not see a House floor vote on H.R. 1 until the end of February.

Without structural democracy reform, our nation will remain unable to fully address important substantive priorities for the American people. As organizations on the front lines of economic challenge and racial injustice, DI partners collectively understand that this is not just about democracy as an end in itself, but a necessary step to achieving social and economic justice and building a better world for us all. The For the People Act is a bill that will bring us one critical step closer to repairing our political system, revitalizing our democracy, and fulfilling the promise of our country's ideals.

Despite strong support for H.R. 1/S. 1 in the House and Senate, elected officials need to hear the overwhelming demand for democracy reform from their constituents. They need to hear from the 45 million members of our 75 partner organizations to hold them accountable to the everyday people that placed them in office to govern on their behalf.

Here’s how you can engage:

  • Call-in Day on Tuesday, February 2: Coalition partners are organizing a call-in day on February 2—activate your members/volunteers in these key districts and encourage them to call their Representative at 202-224-3121 to thank them for their past support of H.R. 1—the For the People Act— and urge them to make its passage a priority this year:
    • Axne (IA)
    • Luria (VA)
    • McEachin (VA)
    • Murphy (FL)
    • O’Halleran (AZ)
    • Schrader (OR)
    • Sherrill (NJ)
    • Slotkin (MI)
    • Spanberger (VA)
    • Stevens (MI)
  • Weekly Phonebank: DI partner Common Cause is holding phonebanks, where volunteers will call constituents in key congressional districts to ask them to call their Representative’s office to voice their support of H.R. 1—and patch through constituents that say yes. Phone banks are every week at the times below. Sign up using these links:

Here are resources that will help your organization in your advocacy for this transformational package of democracy reforms:

  • Presentation from Demos on the racial equity impact of some of H.R. 1's voting and campaign finance reforms. Their team has analyzed democracy reform policies contained in H.R. 1/S. 1 that demonstrate how this transformative structural reform will contribute to a more racially equitable, inclusive democracy, which should prove useful for your organization's advocacy.
  • Memo from Campaign Legal Center on the bipartisan lineage of key components of the bill, including modernizing voter registration, voting rights restoration, voting by mail, Independent Redistricting Commissions, transparency in elections (DISCLOSE Act) and transparency for digital political advertising (Honest Ads Act), small dollar public financing, FEC reform, and stopping super PAC-candidate.

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

GET ENGAGED: JOIN SENATE GOVERNANCE & STATE VOTING RIGHTS WORK GROUPS

Senate Rules Reform is one of the democracy issues that brought the DI’s cross-sector coalition together back in 2012 because Mitch McConnell’s out-of-control obstructionism was blocking progress on the issues our partner organization and their members care about. With only a slim minority in the Senate, McConnell is once again in the position to place urgent reforms such as the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and DC Statehood in his legislative graveyard through use of the filibuster. Our movement cannot afford to squander this moment.

Partners interested in staying updated with opportunities to engage in the coming Senate Rules work should join our Senate Governance Work Group here. Organizations with members and local affiliates in the key states of AZ and WV are especially encouraged to join us. To learn more about the DI’s position, you can download the DI’s Fix the Senate explainer here.

Around the country, the opposition is placing anti-democratic bill after anti-democratic bill on the table to continue the last administration’s assault on our elections. If we wish to protect and expand on the historic gains our movement has made in voting reforms over the last several years, it is imperative that we organize to stop these bills. We encourage all of our partners to sign up for the State VBM and Voting Rights Group here.

INSURRECTION, IMPEACHMENT, AND INAUGURATION

It was only one day after the incredible victory in Georgia—won by the tireless efforts of Black grassroots organizers and activists—that we witnessed the dying gasp of Trump’s tyrannical four-year reign, in which radicalized white supremacists stormed the Capitol in an attempted and unsuccessful insurrection.

Interim Executive Director Jennifer Lamson gave the following statement in response to the events of January 6:

“We strongly condemn yesterday’s violent attack on the Capitol by an armed mob seeking to prevent the orderly transfer of power to the incoming Administration.

“Make no mistake: Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 elections, refusal to accept the results, and ongoing support for white supremacy are the fuel that sparked this dangerous fire. We agree with those across the political spectrum – from Common Cause to the NAACP to the National Association of Manufacturers – who are calling for Trump to be removed from office immediately, before he can do more damage to our democracy.

“Irresponsible politicians like Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and far too many others who have enabled Trump’s increasingly unhinged attempt to overturn a legitimate, democratic election must also be held accountable.

“The American people must have a full accounting of why the Capitol Police were not more prepared for this attack. When contrasted with the overwhelming police presence that Black Lives Matter protesters faced after the murder of George Floyd, the failure of police to stop angry, armed white people from swarming the halls of Congress makes it crystal clear that defeating white supremacy is essential to realizing the promise of our democracy.

“The American people voted in record numbers in the 2020 elections, despite a deadly pandemic and orchestrated mass voter suppression. They made it clear that it is time for the Congress and the White House to govern and solve the public health and economic crisis caused by COVID.

“Democracy Initiative partners work on the front lines of the fight for racial, social and economic justice, and know that inclusive democracy and effective governance are essential to achieving these goals. On their behalf, we demand swift and severe consequences for all those who perpetrated, enabled and incited Wednesday’s shameful attack on our nation."

Coalition members, allies, and others from across the political spectrum joined in denouncing the dangerous attack, and many called for the immediate impeachment of Trump. See some of the collected partner and ally statements here.

After the historic inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, DI partners reacted with hopefulness and renewed determination to fight for structural democracy reform and progress on the issues their members care about.

DI anchor partner statements:

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Democracy Initiative Update 12.16.20

Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Democracy was on the ballot in 2020—and together, we made a difference. Despite continued mass voter suppression, we achieved the largest and most inclusive election in American history. When all the votes are counted, nearly 160 million people will have cast ballots—the largest number ever.

This achievement reflects years of hard work by the overall democracy movement, and by Democracy Initiative partners and allies across the country. You can and should take credit for these accomplishments. To read our year-end action report, click here.

2020 has been a long, eventful, and exhausting year. We would like to wish all of you a restful and reinvigorating holiday season, and we look forward to joining you in 2021 for the work ahead of us.

— The DI Team

DI ENCOURAGES CONGRESS TO PASS THE FOR THE PEOPLE ACT

On December 7, the Democracy Initiative sent a letter to Congress strongly endorsing the “For the People Act,” the transformational legislation passed by the House in March that aims to revitalize our democracy and fulfill the promise of our country’s ideals. Speaker Pelosi has pledged to introduce the For the People Act on the first day of the new Congress. From the letter:

“This past election shined a spotlight on critical vulnerabilities in our democracy. In the face of a deadly pandemic, people voted in record numbers despite orchestrated voter suppression designed to disenfranchise millions of Americans and bankrolled by corporate interests and the wealthy few. No one should ever have to choose between their health and their right to vote. And voters should not have to compete with wealthy corporate interests to have their say.

We need immediate structural changes beginning with those in the For the People Act to ensure that the people have a seat at the governing table and a voice on the essential issues that affect our lives. Without structural democracy reform, our nation will remain unable to fully address important substantive priorities for the American people, such as access to affordable healthcare, protecting the environment, ending racial injustice, protecting the rights of workers and creating millions of good-paying jobs.”

Read the full letter here.

TAKE ACTION: SUPPORT OUR #ELECTIONHEROES

Throughout this historically unprecedented Election Season, election workers did their jobs so that every American could cast their ballots and have them counted accurately. Thanks to these Election Heroes, more Americans than ever before had their voices heard in our democracy.

We are joining DI partners and allies on Thursday, December 17 for an #ElectionHeroes Day of Action to show our appreciation for our election officials. Please encourage your members and supporters to do a 15-second video thanking their local election workers and post it on social media with the hashtag #ElectionHeroes. Make sure to tag us at @Unite4Democracy and we’ll share it as well.

DI partner Public Citizen has provided a sample email invite and text invite to engage your members.

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS

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Democracy Initiative Update 12.03.20

Thursday, December 3, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

ANNOUNCING DI Leadership Transition; NATIONAL SEARCH FOR ED UNDERWAY

The Board of Directors of the Democracy Initiative (DI), a coalition of 75 labor, civil rights and environmental organizations representing more than 45 million people, announced on Monday, November 30 that current Deputy Director Jennifer Lamson will serve as interim executive director, effective December 1, 2020.

The organization will conduct a national search to replace outgoing Executive Director Wendy Fields, who is leaving the organization to pursue new personal and professional opportunities.

“We are grateful to Wendy for four years of dynamic, innovative leadership,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause and co–chair of the DI Board of Directors. “Wendy’s strategic vision built our capacity and grounded our work in the real needs and experiences of the millions of people who are members and constituents of DI affiliates. We could not be prouder of the role DI has played in the growing democracy movement, achieving a record turnout in 2020, the most diverse and inclusive election in U.S. history.”

“You don’t say ‘goodbye’ to someone like Wendy,” said Tefere Gebre, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO and also a co-chair of the DI. “She is my sister in the trade union movement and a true warrior for social justice. I know for certain that we will be marching together in the future, wherever there is a cutting-edge fight for our democracy, for the rights of workers, and to protect our planet.”

Lamson has served as DI’s Deputy Director since 2019, overseeing the organization’s field organizing and strategic communications activities. She is an experienced non-profit executive, with extensive background in grassroots organizing, strategic planning, communications, and program management.  

Lamson has previously served as a vice president of Common Cause, director of the International Boreal Conservation Campaign at the Pew Charitable Trusts, and as a strategic advisor to foundations, environmental and social service organizations.  

“We don’t have a minute to waste,” said Lamson. “DI partners share a deep commitment to realizing the promise of our democracy by lifting up the leadership of people of color, the working class, and front-line social justice organizations. Together, we can build on this historic election to create a governing agenda that confronts the urgent issues that affect our lives: racial justice, the right to vote, the corrupting role of big money in politics, climate change, and COVID-19 relief.”

Please circulate the Executive Director job description in your networks.

TAKE ACTION: GEORGIA RUN-OFF ELECTION

Nonpartisan Election Protection volunteers are voters’ first line of defense against restrictive election laws, coronavirus-related voting disruptions, or anything else that could silence their voices. The Election Protection coalition is currently recruiting for the follo

The deadline to register to vote in the Georgia Run-off Election is December 7 - only 4 days away, and we need your help to get us to the finish line. Your organization can make a huge difference in this pivotal January 5 run-off election—for not only the state of Georgia but our country in 2021 and beyond.

For a briefing on the 2020 General Election and the importance of Georgia’s January 5 election, check out this recording of New Georgia Project CEO Nse Ufot from our November 12 Urgent Action Meeting call.

Below you’ll find key info and resources for your Georgia members and supporters to make sure they can cast their votes in this decisive election.

KEY VOTING INFORMATION

  • The runoff election is Tuesday, January 5.
  • The voter registration deadline is Monday, December 7. If you are an eligible Georgian and you are not yet registered to vote, click here to register so you can vote in the runoff elections!
  • If you have any questions about registering to vote, call the Voter Protection Hotline at 888-730-5816. Remember, if you are otherwise eligible and you’ll turn 18 by January 5, 2021, you can register to vote, too!
  • Early voting will begin December 14 and ends January 1 (The Secretary of State’s office needs to confirm January 1 date, which is what they have listed, but is obviously a holiday).
  • Request your absentee ballot TODAY as ballots are already being mailed to eligible voters.
  • Request an absentee ballot for the January 5, 2021 Federal Runoff Election here.
  • If you apply for a vote-by-mail ballot, you can check your ballot status on the Georgia My Voter Page or by using the BallotTrax app.

FINDING HELP

  • Election Protection: Need help? Call the Georgia Voter Protection Hotline at 888-730-5816 for any voting questions.
    • Need assistance in another language?
      • Spanish/English: 888-VE-Y-VOTA
      • Arabic/English: 844-YALLA-US
      • Asian Languages/English: 888-API-VOTE
  • Displaced or evicted because of COVID-19? Call 888-730-5816 or contact your county elections office. Click here to get the email and phone number for your county.

VOLUNTEER

  • Election Protection Volunteers: New Georgia Project currently needs at minimum 200 Election Protection Poll Monitors to ensure every eligible voter can cast their ballots safely and have them counted. To volunteer, reach out to New Georgia Project Voting and Election Protection Director Kiddada Asmara Grey at kiddada@newgeorgiaproject.org.
  • To volunteer in one of New Georgia Project's many work groups, fill out this form.
  • If you’re interested in deploying folks in-person to Georgia from out of state to help with Voter Registration (before December 7, 2020) or Election Protection, please complete this questionnaire.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact DI National Field Manager Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org.

JOIN DI AT ROOTSCAMP 2020: MAKING A PLAN FOR 2021

The Democracy Initiative Education Fund is co-hosting RootsCamp 2020 along with Re:Power, New Media Mentors, GAIN POWER and Organizing 2.0 on December 11-12.

RootsCamp is an “unconference” where the content is organized by the attendees. This year's virtual event will bring together a coalition of progressive leaders to debrief the election and dissect what happened—with an eye toward moving forward together and strategizing for 2021 and beyond.

The event will offer workshops, trainings, panel discussions, networking opportunities, visionary speakers, an organization expo, and provocative debates about strategy and best practices.

Ready to get your tickets? Click here to reserve your spot.

This event is the collaborative effort of some great progressive organizations committed to building a progressive vision and moving our collective power.

The goal of Rootscamp is to provide an open, transparent space for conversation around what happened this election cycle and how we move forward in 2021, 2022, and beyond. Together, we'll build community with those who worked hard on campaigns and have a chance to learn from each other and strengthen our movement.

Want to submit a session for Rootscamp? Click here.

And don't forget to get your tickets for Rootscamp December 11 and 12; it's coming up soon! Click here to reserve your spot now.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE: HR1 ACTIVIST TRAINING TONIGHT AT 6PM EST

The Declaration for American Democracy Coalition is hosting the “Power to the People, How to Win Back Our Democracy” activist training TONIGHT, December 3 at 6:00PM EST.

To support the livestream, we’re asking partners and allies to share the live stream from our Facebook page onto their own organization's page.

The training will educate activists on the various components of the For the People Act and describe how its passage would transform our democracy. It will also train and inspire activists to take action to help pass the For the People Act.

We’ll be joined by U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, along with DFAD coalition members who will walk activists through the various ways they can take action, including how participate in our national call-in effort, LTE campaign, and how to organize an in-district meeting with their MOC.

The activist training will take place through Zoom and will be live-streamed on Facebook.

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Democracy Initiative Update 10.28.20

Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

RUSHED, SHAM PROCESS TO SEAT NEW JUSTICE

Last Thursday, October 22, the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) rammed through a vote on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett just weeks away before an extraordinarily Election—marked by new voting laws, an ongoing pandemic, and unprecedented voter suppression and disinformation—may end up before the Supreme Court. Barrett was confirmed Monday evening, the first time in a century and a half that a justice was confirmed without the votes of any members of the minority party. His only priority achieved, McConnell adjourned the Senate until November 9, leaving the American people without coronavirus relief.

Democracy Initiative (DI) Executive Director Wendy Fields gave the following statement in response:

“It’s unbelievable that Mitch McConnell can ignore desperately needed coronavirus relief that has been pending for months, then spend just a few weeks ramming through a questionable appointment for naked partisan advantage.

“Amy Coney Barrett, if confirmed, will face an irrevocable conflict of interest. How can she rule impartially on election disputes involving the president who rushed her nomination through—unfairly and without precedent—at the very end of his term in office?

“McConnell and Lindsey Graham have broken the rules of the U.S. Senate and making up new ones as they go along. A sham process to seat a new Supreme Court justice—in the middle of an election, while people are already voting—undermines the legitimacy of the Court and will do lasting damage to our democracy.

“If confirmed, Amy Coney Barrett will be the first Supreme Court justice ever seated so close to Election Day. She will also be the only justice ever nominated and confirmed by a president who lost the popular vote and a Senate ‘majority’ that actually represents a minority of U.S. voters.

“The American people deserve better.”

Read the full statement here. Click here to retweet our statement on Twitter.

TAKE ACTION: RECRUIT VOLUNTEERS FOR ELECTION PROTECTION

Nonpartisan Election Protection volunteers are voters’ first line of defense against restrictive election laws, coronavirus-related voting disruptions, or anything else that could silence their voices. The Election Protection coalition is currently recruiting for the following key positions; please circulate widely in your networks.

  • Hotline Captains: The 866-OUR-VOTE hotline is answered by trained legal volunteers daily who are supported by Hotline Captains through the hotline platform’s chat function. The captain role is critical for the success of the national voter hotline, and Election Protection needs to fill over 1,200 captain shifts between now and Election Day. At this time, Election Protection is only recruiting Hotline Captains from those who already have experience on the virtual hotline. You can find the captain interest survey here.
  • “Hotline Lead”: The Hotline Lead supervises volunteers who answer calls and monitor the hotline call intake platform. Their main role involves rapidly responding to emergent issues, including getting hotline operations information as needed, flagging matters that must be immediately addressed by Lawyers’ Committee staff, and tracking what should be noted and monitored. The current ask is for 20 – 30 hours a week. You can find the sign-up link here.
  • Tech Captains: The new Tech Captain role will allow existing volunteer captains and staff to focus more on the substantive, nuanced issues associated with operating a remote volunteer hotline while ensuring Election Protection can adequately prepare and support volunteers with a variety of technological proficiencies. In this document, you will find training information, additional description of the expectations and a link to sign up for specific shifts between now and November 1.

Additionally, the Election Protection coalition is recruiting volunteers in several key states and counties across the country. Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia are all in need of volunteers. The specific counties in need are:

  • Arizona: Maricopa
  • California: Riverside, San Bernadino
  • Florida: Broward, Miami-Dade
  • Georgia: Chatham, Gwinnett
  • Illinois: Cook, Sangamon
  • Maryland: Baltimore
  • Michigan: Wayne
  • Mississippi: Hind County
  • New Mexico: Cibola, Otero
  • Nevada: Clark, Reno
  • New York: Bronx, Richmond
  • Ohio: Cuyahoga, Hamilton
  • Texas: Harris
  • Utah: Salt Lake
  • Virginia: Norfolk
  • Wisconsin: Milwaukee

Those interested in volunteering and making a major difference for voters in their community can do so here. Volunteers will be supplied with all the information they need to get started.

TRAINING, THE POST-ELECTION & DISINFORMATION

On Monday, October 19, the Executive Council of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), including DI board Co-Chair and AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, released a powerful statement titled America's Labor Movement Will Defend America's Democracy:

We, the elected leaders of America’s labor movement, have a message for anyone who would seek to prevent eligible voters from voting, to prevent our votes from being counted, to prevent the electors we choose from being seated, or to prevent those electors’ choice as president and vice president from being inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021. We will not let you take our democracy away from us. America’s working people are determined and prepared to defend our democracy.

We couldn’t agree more. To stay engaged in DI partners' preparation and response to post-voting state actions, we encourage you to sign up for the DI Rapid Response list here.

As the AFL-CIO statement says, it's up to us to fight for our democracy.

"The lesson of our history is clear. Democracies are not, in the last analysis, protected by judges or lawyers, reporters or publishers. The survival of democracy depends on the determination of working people to defend it."

POLL WORKER AND VOLUNTEER TRAINING
DI is supporting partner efforts to prepare their members for Election Day. Several partners and allies are providing trainings for poll workers, volunteers, and voters. Please check out these trainings and share with your networks.

The League of Women Voters of the United States is providing a Bearing Witness on Thursday, October 29 at 6:00pm EST training to prepare voters and volunteers to handle voter intimidation at in-person polling sites. Sign up for this training here. The League is partnering with DI, Flint Rising, Greenpeace USA, NAACP, and others to arm participants with the de-escalation skills they will need to be prepared for this cycle.

POST-ELECTION PREPARATION AND RAPID RESPONSE
More than 60 million Americans have already cast their ballots with more than a week to go before Election Day. With new voting laws in more than 40 states making it easier and safer than ever to vote, the country is on track for the transformative 75% voter turnout goal DI partners called for in November 2019.

Despite these promising signs, the 2020 general election will still be among the most challenging in modern history. From conducting an election during a public health crisis, to understanding the Electoral College and the process by which Congress counts electoral votes— the American public needs to be prepared for any problems that could arise along the way.

National Task Force on Election Crises has created a guide to three prospective crises of particular concern, along with recommendations and resources for ensuring a free and fair election. Read the guide here.

To stay engaged in DI partners' preparation and response to post-voting state actions, we encourage you to sign up for the DI Rapid Response list here.

Additionally, the DI is partnering with the Fight Back Table in preparation and response to post-voting state actions in the event of crisis. They have created (c)3 and (c)4 compliant listservs to keep partners in the loop with meetings, alerts, and other urgent information. If you would like to be added to either or both listservs, email Jack Flynn at jflynn@democracyintiative.org.

Protect the Results, a joint (c)4 project by Indivisible and Stand Up America, has created a map of potential events around scheduled for November 4 to mobilize voters to protect and defend the results of the 2020 Election. For DI partners and allies engaging in (c)4 work, check out the map here.

ELECTION DISINFORMATION—TOOLKIT
Through the #Protect2020 campaign, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has worked with national partners to identify, respond to, and mitigate the spread of disinformation (false or misleading information) that may impact the nation’s elections.

Reducing the circulation of disinformation requires engagement of all citizens who are part of the elections process, including you. CISA has produced a messaging toolkit and FAQ designed for election officials and civic organizations working to mitigating the impact of disinformation on the public’s confidence in the 2020 election. Get the toolkit here.

Election officials can help citizens avoid contributing to the spread of disinformation by presenting themselves as the preferred source for election information and instilling a spirit of control, empowerment, and personal responsibility within the electorate. Additionally, election officials can use strategic messaging to inform public communications and increase public access, participation, and trust in our election process.

Get the toolkit here.

ROADBLOCKS & REMEDIES: STATE OF VOTING IN 2020

On Thursday, October 8, DI released “Roadblocks and Remedies: the State of Voting in 2020,” a report that details the democracy movement’s victories over the past decades. As DI Executive Director Wendy Fields said upon release,

“The result is expanded access to the ballot box, so we are more prepared for voting during a pandemic. We’re fighting back against racism and voter suppression, for safe in-person voting on Election Day, and to create a voting system that works for how we live and work in the 21st century.”

The democracy movement has successfully expanded access to the ballot, with more voting options now available than ever before. In 2018 and 2019 alone, voters and/or state legislatures approved voting reforms in 21 states.

Our success has helped prepare the United States for a pandemic election: In response to health risks linked to in-person voting, many states have adopted proven reforms long-advocated by the democracy movement, including Early Voting and Vote-by-Mail (or no-excuse absentee voting).

However, as the report details, roadblocks remain to successful voting. Much of the coverage DI’s report received in the media focused on Mississippi being the only state with in-person voting on Election Day as the only option available to all voters, though the report was covered in Georgia, Michigan, and elsewhere.

Get the full report here.

PRESSURE MOUNTS TO ELIMINATE THE FILIBUSTER

On October 19, progressive leaders in California, including DI partners, sent a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom requesting that, should Senator Kamala Harris become Vice President, she be replaced by an appointed Senator committed to eliminating the Senate filibuster. The labor leaders, who were joined by senior leaders of the California Democratic Party, wrote “The filibuster must either be eliminated or reformed to such a degree that it can no longer block the progress our nation so desperately needs.”

The letter’s framing of the filibuster fight as key to governing effectively in 2021 reflects a growing recognition that our country cannot make progress on the issues we all care about with a Senate rigged for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful. Other voices in the media are beginning to pick up on the message coming from the grassroots:

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Roadblocks and Remedies: The State of Voting in 2020

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Download the full report here.

Roadblocks and Remedies: The State of Voting in 2020
Executive Summary

2020 will be a historic election – with expanded participation driven by the successes of the democracy movement. As many as 160 million Americans are projected to vote in 2020. If achieved this will be the highest turnout in a presidential election in more than 100 years.

The democracy movement has successfully expanded access to the ballot, with more voting options now available than ever before. In 2018 and 2019 alone, voters and/or state legislatures approved voting reforms in 21 states.

Our success has helped prepare the United States for a pandemic election: In response to health risks linked to in-person voting, many states have adopted proven reforms long-advocated by the democracy movement, including Early Voting and Vote- by-Mail (or no-excuse absentee voting).

What we’ve achieved in 2020:

  • Vote by mail is available in 45 states and the District of Columbia (DC).
  • Early Voting is available in 43 states (and DC).
  • 39 states (and DC) offer three voting options: Vote-by-mail, Early Voting, and in-person voting on Election Day.
  • 20 states and DC with Same-Day Voter Registration (including North Dakota, where no registration is required).

Only one remaining state – Mississippi – still has in-person voting on Election Day as the only option available to all voters.

Roadblocks remain to successful voting: Common voter suppression tactics include ballots delayed by purposeful slowdown of the US mail; closed polling places, purged voter rolls, restrictive voter ID laws, ballot drop boxes decommissioned, and litigation to limit ballot access. In addition, those using a new voting option for the first time may confront an information gap about rules, deadlines, times and locations for Early Voting and Vote-by-Mail.

Remedies to assist voters: Many common roadblocks to voting can be overcome by a common remedy. Know the Rules, MAKE A PLAN and Vote Early. Additional resources for voters include:

  • tracking mail ballots and ensuring that ballots are signed, sealed and delivered
  • information about times and locations for Early Voting and vote-by-mail
  • planning to vote safely if voting in-person on Election Day
  • accurate and trusted information about election results, which will likely not be available on Election Day or the morning after. 2020 will have an election period, rather than an Election Day. Getting it right is more important than getting it fast.
     

Roadblocks and Remedies: The State of Voting 2020
Key resources for voters and field workers

Vote411.org: Starting at this site, voters can check their registration status in any state and link to quick and easy online voter registration, where available.

HealthyVoting.org: Starting at this site, voters can check key voting information in any state, including:

  • registration deadlines
  • times and dates for Early Voting
  • deadlines for applying for a mail ballot
  • deadlines for returning a mail ballot
  • ballot tracking information where available.

Secretary of State websites for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Local election officials in cities, towns and counties in all 50 states and DC. Information on early voting centers and where to drop off mail ballots is available from local election officials.

The Election Protection Center, at 1-866-Our-Vote (866-687-8683), for any roadblocks or problems that might prevent a successful vote during Early Voting, vote- by-mail, or in-person voting on Election Day.
 

Download the full report here.

Democracy Initiative Update 10.02.20

Friday, October 2, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

TAKE ACTION: KNOW THE RULES, MAKE A PLAN, VOTE EARLY

The stakes have never been higher for our democracy.

The 2020 General Election has already begun, with voters across the country casting their ballots. As we’ve seen recently in the first debate and elsewhere, the combination of new voting rules in many places and ongoing attempts to sow chaos and fear make it more important than ever for voters to know the rules, make a plan, and vote early.

We are asking the principal leaders of all Democracy Initiative (DI) partners to create and share with your members a simple video with key voter education information. To help make that easy, DI staff have created this simple toolkit with everything you need to make and share a great video message. Porter McConnell, Campaign Director of DI partner Take On Wall Street, has recently created an excellent video to use as an example.

DI partner organizations are leaders and trusted voices in the fight for social justice and our democracy. In this unpredictable election season, in which counting votes may continue for days or weeks beyond November 3 due to the surge in mail ballots, which just take longer to process, it is critical to provide key information for our collective 45 million members and supporters.

Please reach out to Getachew Kassa, National Field Manager, at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org or Jack Flynn, Communications Associate, at jflynn@democracyinitiative.org with any questions.

TAKE ACTION: BE AN #OCTOBERVOTER

Over 60 partner organizations and allies participated in the October Voter launch yesterday, a social media initiative designed to encourage our members and supporters across the country to join the over 2 million Americans who have already voted this general election season. With new voter laws in effect in response to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s never been a better time to make a plan to be an #OctoberVoter.

The DI Make a Plan social media toolkit includes an #OctoberVoter graphic for Facebook/Instagram and Twitter. In addition, we have collaborated with Declaration for American Democracy, Election Protection, and the Leadership Conference on this shared toolkit of #OctoberVoter sample posts and graphics.

FIGHT THE POWER-GRAB AND FIX OUR BROKEN SENATE

On Wednesday, September 30, DI board members Tefere Gebre (AFL-CIO Executive Vice-President), Derrick Johnson (NAACP President & CEO), Erich Pica (Friends of the Earth President), and Gustavo Torres (CASA Executive Director) joined Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and other speakers at the “Trump-McConnell Attack on Our Democracy and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Senate” live-stream event which has garnered nearly 180,000 viewers.

The speakers made the case for the elimination of the filibuster to put an end to partisan gridlock in the Senate in order to begin the work to restore our democracy and make progress on critical issues facing our country, like the climate crisis, racial justice, immigration, healthcare, income inequality and more. We’ve reproduced key remarks of Tefere, Derrick, Erich and Gustavo below:

Tefere Gebre:

“There is much that needs to be done. From the perspective of working people, this has been going on for decades and decades. In the early 1990s we were told that if we elect progressives to the House and Senate, we would get anti-strike replacement legislation. It never happened. The excuse was the filibuster. Again in 2009, a year of hope and change, we never got the Employee Free Choice Act that would have leveled the playing field for working people. Again because of the filibuster and fear of the filibuster. Sisters and brothers this is serious [...] what is the point of winning elections if we can’t govern after we win? This is what this fight is about. For us that means activating the movement within the labor movement and that is our labor councils. And, I am proud to say [...] we have a bunch of labor councils who are ready to go to work.”

Derrick Johnson:

“Senate Rules have long been used as a tool to impede progress, primarily by southern Senators who’ve seen threats where there are no threats, particularly giving rights to African Americans. [...] It was the Senate Rules that weakened the Civil Rights Act and prevented the Voting Rights Act from moving forward. The filibuster has been a tool to impede progress on civil rights for African Americans, to impede progress on making sure this is a more inclusive democracy that is representative of all of our interests. That’s why we must revise the rules—the king of which is the filibuster—so we can stop the block of the South from creating an unequal nation, so we can get to a more perfect union where equal protection under the law is afforded to all citizens.”

Erich Pica:

“We’ve had Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, flooding in the Midwest, droughts in the Midwest, and now fires across the west. We’re in the midst of the climate crisis. And the solution is passing broad-based legislation—like the Green New Deal or taking away subsidies to the oil industry—that has been stymied for the last 10 years because of the filibuster in the Senate. We can’t have Mitch McConnell there doing the business of the fossil fuel industry with his filibuster blocking legislation that millions of people are mobilizing for […] I believe strongly that we as an environmental group need to throw down behind these efforts to make the Senate work by fixing the filibuster because we’re not gonna get done what we need to do if the filibuster is there being used by the fossil fuel interests championed by Mitch McConnell to block policies that would set our country on the course to reduce our GHGs and solve the climate crisis. We all need to be throwing in to this fight together.”

Gustavo Torres:

“We tried to pass the Dream Act in 2010 for undocumented youths—who by the way pay more taxes than Trump. We had a majority in the Senate but it was killed with a Republican filibuster. There is so much we need to do right now to protect our communities, keep our families together and finally pass the immigration reform our country needs. But if we don’t fix the Senate we are just going to get blocked again and again. To us this isn’t about Senate Rules, it’s about our lives, our families, our communities.”

The rush to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court as voters have already begun casting their ballots for the 2020 General Election, and while the second coronavirus relief package, the HEROES Act, and other critical legislation languishes in McConnell’s Senate legislative graveyard, reminds us that the stakes are clear. It’s time to organize to ensure nothing prevents the American people from taking a seat at the governing table in 2021.

The fight to fix our broken Senate is ramping up, and your organization’s members are a critical to ensuring the American people have a seat at the governing table in 2021. Please encourage your members to pledge to work for Senate rules reform in their own state. You can use Fix Our Senate’s petition page or create your own pledge page by following the guide in this toolkit.

Recent news coverage has reflected the growing momentum for Senate rules reform. DI board co-chair and AFL-CIO Executive Vice-President Tefere Gebre’s remarks from the Fix Our Senate live-stream were quoted in a recent article for The New Republic, and Vox’s Ezra Klein published on October 1 a comprehensive examination and debunking of every argument in favor of keeping the filibuster. As we approach 2021, the grassroots demand for a Senate that governs only continues to mount.

Senate Rules Reform is one of the democracy issues that brought the DI’s cross-sector coalition together back in 2012 and again at the 2019 DI Annual Meeting, because out-of-control obstructionism was blocking progress on the issues our 75 partner organizations—representing 45 million people—care about. There is strong public support for our shared values of inclusion and justice and opportunity for all. Policies built on those values can meet the challenges we face. We must ensure that the Senate can govern so America can rise to this moment.

Watch the full live stream event here. You can download the DI’s Fix the Senate Fact Sheet here.

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS

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Democracy Initiative Update 09.18.20

Friday, September 18, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

KNOW THE RULES, MAKE A PLAN, VOTE EARLY

Even in this climate of the coronavirus pandemic, natural disasters, and rampant voter suppression, voters are poised to turn out to vote in historic numbers. But, with the new safe voting options we have won in many places, combined with opposition attempts to sow disinformation and chaos, Americans across the country need access to good information from leaders and organizations they trust. This is a critically important time for your members to hear from you.

We are asking the leaders of all DI partners to create a simple video with key voter education information and share it with your supporters. To help make that easy, DI staff have created a simple toolkit with everything you need to make and share a great video message.

We've included video instructions, a sample script, and talking points to streamline this process, as well as sample emails and social media posts to help get this information into the hands of your members.

GET THE MAKE A PLAN TOOLKIT HERE

For democracy to work for all of us, it must include all of us. Every vote counts and every vote must be counted.

We make change when we join together. We march. We organize. We make a plan to vote—as early as possible, by mail or safely in person. And. In. Record. Numbers.

We will demand that every vote be counted. Mail ballots can take longer to count, so it's important to be patient while all the votes are counted and stay vigilant right up to when newly elected leaders are sworn in.

The Make a Plan Video Toolkit is designed to help you get this message out to your members, supporters and followers by making a simple video encouraging them to be intentional and early voters and patient for the results.

If you have any questions, please contact DI National Field Manager Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org or Jack Flynn, DI Social Media Manager, at jflynn@democracyinitiative.org.

DEMOCRACY IN THE NEWS: COUNTING EVERY VOTE

2020 is increasingly appearing as an election unprecedented in American history. With the still-looming coronavirus pandemic leading to a shift toward absentee voting, new and changing voting laws responding to grassroots demand for safe and accessible voting, and blatant attempts to sow confusion and discord among voters, we must be prepared to adjust our expectations to meet the moment. One expectation that needs shifting? Expecting results on election night.

Recent analysis in the Washington Post demonstrates that the primaries, many of which saw a marked increase in the use of absentee voting, are a reliable indication that election results may take as long as a week to be fully reported (the states that heavily used Vote by Mail reported their results in an average of 6.4 days).

We encourage partner organizations to begin spreading the message to their members and supporters, by way of the Make a Plan Video Toolkit or in your own communications, that it is more important to ensure every vote is counted than seeing results quickly.

See the analysis here.

DI BOARD MEMBERS ON THE MOVE

In a recent op-ed penned with Business for American Founder and CEO Sarah Bonk, League of Women Voters of the United States CEO and DI board member Virginia Kase lays out the civics case for emergency relief for the United States Postal Service (USPS) alongside the business case.

The piece reaffirms what has been clear to people since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country in March: the USPS is essential for the functioning of our democracy. USPS does everything from facilitating billions of dollars of commerce to delivering life-saving medications, and performs a critical role in all parts of the democratic process, from voter registration to absentee ballot delivery.

As Bonk and Kase write,

“Just as businesses must react to consumer demand, every elected official — local, state and federal; Republican, Democrat and independent – must respond to the clear demand from voters for safe ways to participate in our democracy.

No voter should have to choose between their health and safety and exercising their constitutional right to vote. And no business should experience the uncertainty — and loss of sales, revenue and equity — that occurs when a collapse of trust in the electoral process drives political instability and then economic instability.”

Read the full op-ed here.

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Democracy Initiative Update 09.11.20

Friday, September 11, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

SEPTEMBER 16 MOBILIZING MEETING: VOTER EDUCATION, USPS, AND SENATE RULES

As we head into the general election season, the DI Mobilizing Meetings will be happening weekly to keep you updated on important developments on voting, inoculation against disinformation, rapid response, and more. RSVP here.

Our agenda will cover the following:

  • Launch of ‘Know the Rules, Make A Plan, Vote Early’ Video Toolkit It is more important than ever to make a plan to vote this election. Democracy Initiative is encouraging principals of partner groups to commit to making a plan for either safe-in person voting or Vote by Mail—and sending their ballot in early—and to share a short video message to members and supporters urging them to do the same. We will share our partner video toolkit next week with sample talking points, video script and instructions, and sample social media for partners’ engagement.
  • #SaveUSPS Fight Update: DI coalition partners are mounting an enormous push this month to get emergency relief for the Post Office and reverse service cuts, as part of the larger effort to save the USPS. We will be joined by Porter McConnell, Campaign Director for DI partner Take On Wall Street, and Debby Szeredy, Executive Vice President for DI partner American Postal Workers Union, to discuss the on the ongoing fight and opportunities for your organizations to plug in.
  • Senate Governance Update: Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice-President of AFL-CIO, will brief DI partners about the current Senate Governance landscape and critical opportunities to move forward on filibuster reform in the coming weeks and months. An issue the DI has worked on since 2009, this Senate Governance update comes at a critical time, as we approach the most important election of our lifetimes and the prospect of governing a country riven by Trump is on the horizon. The growing media coverage of the Filibuster reflects a growing support for serious Senate Rules reform, as the recent pieces in The Atlantic and Washington Post demonstrate. As Tefere said in The American Prospects’ latest,

    “Democracy functions with 50 plus one, but if a senator just files for filibuster everything is killed. Everything dies. A senator should not have the same ability to block legislation when they have less than a million people in their state, as a senator from California, right? In order to pass the PRO Act, in order to get a Green New Deal and so many other things, we have to have senators who are willing and gutsy enough to actually reform the Senate.”

Mark your calendars now for these upcoming DI Mobilizing Meetings:

  • September 28 — Inoculation against disinformation and messaging
  • October 7 — Election Protection Briefing and Engagement Opportunities
  • October 14 — Voter education to engage members and supporters online

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

TRAINING AND MOVEMENT BUILDING UPDATES

Democracy Initiative Education Fund’s training efforts are continuing full speed with just over 50 days to Election Day. So far, we have hosted trainings for DI partners and allies ACLU of Michigan, A. Philip Randolph Institute, AFL-CIO Texas, Center for Environmental Health, Greenpeace USA, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, March On Harrisburg, NAACP, and UAW Region 9A.

We are offering two trainings for activists this year: a Know the Rules training, with the goal of recruiting poll workers and election protection volunteers, as well as ensuring voters have the information they need to make a plan to vote; and an Inoculation training, which prepares activists to recognize and inoculate against voter suppression and misinformation in their communities.

We are organizing trainings with partners and allies in Michigan. We’re also focusing on the following priority states: FL, GA, MD, MO, NC, NM, PA, VA, and WI.

If your organization is interested in hosting one of these training, please reach out to DI Training and Movement Building Coordinator Brittny Baxter at bbaxter@democracyinitiative.org to schedule a training in one of the following slots:

  • Sundays: 4:00pm – 7:00pm EST
  • Tuesdays 5:00pm – 8:00pm EST
  • Thursdays: 11:00am – 1:00pm EST and 5:00pm – 8:00pm EST
  • Saturdays: 10:00am – 12:00pm EST

If you are interested organizing a joint campaign for trainings and volunteer engagement, please contact Brittny at bbaxter@democracyinitiative.org.

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Democracy Initiative Update 08.28.20

Friday, August 28, 2020
Our highlighted issues and actions from the democracy movement in this moment of crisis—please share widely.

TAKE ACTION: NATIONAL POLL WORKER RECRUITMENT DAY KICKOFF

Next Tuesday, September 1 is National Poll Worker Recruitment Day, a day of action kicking off a nationwide effort to solve the nation’s pressing need for poll workers.

During a moment when law enforcement’s relationship to the communities they ostensibly serve has been torn apart by police violence, Trump has recently threatened to send sheriffs and police to polling places. In this environment of tension and uncertainty, one of our movement’s foremost priorities is to safeguard the integrity of one of the most important elections of our lifetime. Across the country, however, there is a record shortage of poll workers, which could result in polling place closures, overworked volunteers, and long lines.

DI is an official partner in Power the Polls, a nationwide effort to recruit 250,000 poll workers.

Here’s how to get involved:

  • Take action on Social Media: Power the Polls has created a Poll Worker Recruitment Toolkit, which contains graphics and social media content calling attention to the pressing need for poll workers this year. Please share the toolkit with your social media team.
  • Join the DI and Leadership Conference for a Special Mobilizing Meeting: The DI is holding a special Mobilizing Call on Wednesday, September 2, at 12pm EST in coordination with The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights for a discussion on the critical efforts to recruit thousands of poll workers for the 2020 election. David Huynh from Power the Polls will join us to discuss their poll worker recruitment efforts and how DI partners can plug-in to help ensure a safe, fair election for all voters.

Please register here to receive the call-in information for this important Zoom meeting. If your organization has members to activate in Georgia, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin, please contact DI National Field Manager Getachew Kassa at gkassa@democracyinitiative.org. Getachew can help you organize a training designed to recruit election volunteers or get your state affiliates plugged in to local coalition recruitment activities.

RELIEF FOR COVID & DEMOCRACY: MOBILIZE FOR USPS AND VOTING SUPPORT IN NEXT BILL

On August 16, the entire Democracy Initiative board issued a clarion call for corporate CEOs to join the fight for a fully funded, safe, accessible election and strong United States Postal Service (USPS) in an op-ed published in USA Today. As AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica, CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres, Demos President K. Sabeel Rahman, League of Women Voters CEO Virginia Kase, and UAW Secretary-Treasurer Ray Curry explain the stakes:

"The failure of the U.S. Senate to make a modest investment in our democracy stands in sharp contrast to the huge sums flowing towards those who need it the least. Wealthy corporations have captured a large share of the federal spending that was supposed to help workers and small businesses. Companies are winning trillions in economic aid, including billions in tax breaks for fossil fuel polluters. And now businesses are pressing for protection against liability from COVID-related lawsuits.

In the midst of this maneuvering for private gain, we’re glad to see a segment of the U.S. business community speak for the public interest, with a call for Congress to provide the “necessary funding for safe voting upgrades.” But more private sector voices are needed join this chorus, with the full weight of their lobbying capacity and political muscle.

We are faced with an underfunded electoral system, a deliberate slowdown of the U.S Postal Service, and continued voter suppression. This is unacceptable. No one should let stand overcrowded and unsafe voting places and an untold number of voters disenfranchised – especially in Black and brown communities."

Read the full op-ed here. Click here to retweet our tweet sharing the op-ed.

TRAINING AND MOVEMENT BUILDING UPDATES

100 DAYS OF TRAINING: MAKE A PLAN
Democracy Initiative Education Fund’s training efforts are continuing full speed with less than 70 days to go. We are training activists this year to become VBM Captains, election workers, and poll monitors in key states. Our priority states are FL, GA, MD, MI, MO, NC, NM, PA, VA, and WI. In September, we are partnering with UAW Region 9A to train their members.

NETROOTS NATION PANEL AND TRAINING RECORDINGS LIVE:
Videos of our recent Netroots Nation trainings are available below. Check them out and be sure to sign up for training for your organization here.

DELIVERING FOR AMERICA ACT PASSED BY HOUSE

On August 21, DI co-authored with Declaration for American Democracy a letter urging the House to pass the Delivering for America Act, a critical piece of legislation that would provide $25 billion in immediate support to the United States Postal Service (USPS) and overturn Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s recent operational changes, which have resulted in an unprecedented slowdown in U.S. Mail. As the letter says,

"However, recent efforts by President Trump and his new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have threatened to undermine the USPS at a time when many Americans depend on this vital service more than ever. Tens of millions of Americans will rely on the USPS this year to vote by mail, register to vote, and receive polling information, and it is unconscionable that during a pandemic, Postmaster General DeJoy is decommissioning about ten percent of the USPS’s bulk sorting machines (671 machines nationwide), removing or “re-positioning” hundreds of mailboxes, and instructing mail carriers to leave certain mail behind."

The House passed the Delivering for America Act the following day. Read the letter here.

Our thanks to the 55 organizations who signed on, including DI partners American Family Voices, American Federation of Teachers, Clean Water Action, Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Demos Action, Franciscan Action Network, Friends of the Earth Action, Free Speech for People, Greenpeace USA, Jobs with Justice, League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Education Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oil Change International, People for the American Way, Progressive Turnout Project, Public Citizen, SEIU, Sierra Club, Small Planet Institute, UnidosUS, United Auto Workers, and Voices for Progress.

DI, alongside partners Arab American Institute, Common Cause, Center for Popular Democracy, Communications Workers of America, Democracy Matters, Franciscan Action Network, Greenpeace USA, Progressive Turnout Project, Public Citizen, SEIU, and Voices for Progress also signed on to a letter authored by End Citizens United urging the Senate to pass the Delivering for America bill, which can be read here.

DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE JOB OPPORTUNITIES

The Democracy Initiative, a dynamic network of 75 organizations, representing over 45 million members, is seeking a highly energetic and creative Campaign Strategist to build campaign goals, strategies, tactics, and strategically align the engagement of our coalition partners and community allies at the local and state level to mobilize around our Democracy 365 Platform—21st-century voting rights, money in politics, and equal representation.

Working at the DI offers a unique, exciting opportunity to be at the center of intersectional movement building in a fast-paced environment to shift political will by breaking structural obstacles to pass transformational social justice policy.

See the full posting here.

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