Press Release

Democracy Initiative Announces Charly Carter as New Executive Director

Monday, May 17, 2021

For Immediate Release:
Contact:
Amy Shenker, askpr2011@gmail.com

Democracy Inititiave Announces
Charly Carter as New Executive Director

Veteran policy advocate and campaign strategist to lead broad-based labor, environment and civil rights coalition.

Washington DC – The Board of Directors of the Democracy Initiative (DI) announced that Charly Carter, a woman of color with a track record of successful advocacy and leadership development, will join the organization today as its new executive director. 

The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 labor, civil rights and environmental organizations representing more than 45 million people. The DI and its member groups are currently active in campaigns to expand voting rights, address climate change, bring fairness to U.S. workplaces, limit the role of big money in politics, and confront the legacy of strategic racism.

“After an exhaustive and rigorous national search, we found the ideal candidate to lead the Democracy Initiative at this crucial moment,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause and co–chair of the DI Board of Directors. “Charly has a proven track record of effective organizing and concrete wins for children and working families. She is a perfect fit to build on the DI’s strong foundation of grass-roots mobilization in defense of our democracy.”

"I am honored to join the Democracy Initiative at such a pivotal time. Never has it been so important for every person to be engaged in the fight for our democracy. I look forward to working with the team and coalition partner to mobilize our 45 million members in the fight for the soul of our nation. Together we will rebuild the infrastructure of our democracy." said Carter.

During a public interest career stretching over three decades, Charly Carter has been an effective force for change in Maryland and a fierce advocate for working families and communities of color across the nation. As Executive Director of Maryland Working Families, she was a leader in the fight to end wage discrimination, expand voting rights, win paid sick leave for 700,000 workers and expand childcare to thousands of low-income families.

As part of ACLU of Maryland, Carter led a successful campaign to win a record $1.2 billion to build 21st Century Schools for schoolchildren in Baltimore City. In 2018, Carter founded Step Up Maryland, an organization dedicated to ending structural racism and transforming the culture of state and local government by turning active citizens into progressive leaders. She launched the nationally-recognized New Leader Boot Camp that trains newly elected legislators to work collaboratively as progressive caucuses.

“We’re very excited that Charly has accepted our offer to lead the DI team,” said Tefere Gebre, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO and also a co-chair of the DI Board of Directors. “She is a battle-tested organizer with a deep commitment to the leadership development we need to build a progressive movement for the long haul. I’m especially looking forward to working with her on DI’s Bayard Rustin Fellowship, which creates a pipeline of talent and a pathway to inclusion for BIPOC and LGBTQ people.”

Carter is a native of New York State, where she attended Cornell University. She later became one of the first graduates of the Graduate School of Political Management (GSPM). Charly calls Baltimore City her “hometown by choice” and is active in the communities that our institutions have left behind.

 

The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 organizations with a collective 45 million members fighting for workers, civil rights, social justice and the environment. DI partner organizations are united in their commitment to realizing the promise of American democracy where all people have an equal seat at the governance table.

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Leaders from 45-million-member social justice coalition call for Senate Action on S. 1; Warn against letting it fall victim to a filibuster

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

For Immediate Release:

Leaders from 45-million-member social justice coalition call
for Senate Action on S. 1;
Warn against letting it fall victim to a filibuster

Jennifer Lamson, Interim Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative:
“Far too many of our citizens think that our democracy is broken. They’re not wrong. In 2021 alone, we have seen the introduction of more than 250 bills in 43 states designed to suppress voter turnout and silence the will of the American people and in particular voters that are Black or Brown. The United States Senate should not be complicit in these actions.

In order to protect our democracy, we need Congress to stop these attempts to disenfranchise voters and subvert the will of the people. The House has acted by passing HR 1, the For the People Act, earlier this month. Now the Senate must act – and not let obstructionist backroom maneuvers like the racist filibuster stand in the way of protecting and revitalizing our democracy.”

Tefere Gebre, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO and board co-chair of the Democracy Initiative:
“S.1 includes many of the most important reforms necessary to restore the promise of our democracy and the balance of power to working people. Under no circumstances can we allow the filibuster—a procedure rooted in generations of disenfranchisement of citizens of color—to stand in the way of the U.S. government protecting the right of all American citizens to vote in the 21st century.”

Karen Hobert Flynn, President, Common Cause and board co-chair of the Democracy Initiative:
“All Americans deserve to have their voices heard and votes counted, regardless of the size of their wallets or the color of their skin. S. 1, the transformative For the People Act would significantly shift the balance of power and put ‘we the people’ in charge of our democracy. We look forward to overcoming Senator McConnell’s continued blockade and getting the For the People Act across the finish line to President Biden’s desk.”

Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP and Democracy Initiative board member:
"The US Senate's focus on democracy inclusion through this legislative package is a step in the right direction to advancing racial equity and justice. Our communities are clear that political violence, racially motivated voter suppression and rigging the rules to eliminate community voices are cancers that must be uprooted. We applaud the Senate leadership in moving forward this important policy track alongside the priorities of advancing DC Statehood and strengthening and restoring the Voting Rights Act. These priorities must not fall victim to obstruction and the racist filibuster.”

Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth and Democracy Initiative board member:
“For decades, corporations have polluted our politics, suppressed voter voices, and prevented us from critical action to save our planet. Now we face a rapidly closing window to address planetary emergencies such as climate change and ecosystem collapse. The For the People Act may be one of the most important bills Congress takes up to protect not only our democracy but our environment. We call on Senate Majority Leader Schumer to ensure that obstructionist and racist tactics like the filibuster are not used to thwart this critical legislation.”

Gustavo Torres, Executive Director, CASA and Democracy Initiative board member:
“S.1 will help realize the promise of democracy for our Black and Brown communities who have been the target of increasing racist voter suppression. CASA is ready to organize and mobilize our members so that the filibuster does not stand in the way of meeting this moment and finally passing transformative policies that ensure our communities can thrive.”

Virginia Kase, President and CEO, League of Women Voters and Democracy Initiative board member:
“The For the People Act is the most expansive democracy reform legislation we have seen since the Voting Rights Act and the League of Women Voters is proud to support this bill that echoes our mission to empower voters and defend democracy. S. 1 will protect voting rights, eliminate dark money in our elections, restore transparency and accountability in our government, and curb partisan and racial gerrymandering once and for all. Voter suppression at the ballot box and restrictive voting bills in state legislatures continue to threaten our democracy, which is why we need the For the People Act now. The League of Women Voters strongly urge all Senators to embrace this important bill that strengthens our democracy. It is time to pass the For the People Act.” 

Larry Cohen, Chair, Our Revolution and founding board member of the Democracy Initiative:
“This legislation will test the ability of the Senate to discuss, debate, and vote on voting rights and big money in politics. Voters are demanding governance on the core issues confronting our democracy, not a Senate that functions based on unanimous consent like the Senate in ancient Rome.”

Chris Shelton, President, Communication Workers of America and former board member of the Democracy Initiative:
With the introduction of the For the People Act in the U.S. Senate today, we finally have a chance to reform our democracy to make sure the voices of working people are being heard. If we want to have free and fair elections — the most critical component of our democracy — we must pass this bill. Our nation cannot afford to let an antiquated tradition like the filibuster prevent us from taking the most basic actions to protect our elections. If we need to fight for the elimination of the filibuster in order to get the bill passed, CWA members are prepared to do so.”

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The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 organizations with a collective 45 million members fighting for workers, civil rights, social justice and the environment and united in their commitment to realizing the promise of American democracy where all people have an equal seat at the governance table.

Democracy Initiative Applauds Swift House Passage of Crucial Reform Bill; Senate Must Ensure It Doesn't Fall Victim to the Filibuster

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

For Immediate Release:

Democracy Initiative Applauds Swift House Passage of Crucial Reform Bill;
Senate Must Ensure It Doesn't Fall Victim to the Filibuster

This statement is from Jennifer Lamson, Interim Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative:

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.

For the collective 45 million members of the Democracy Initiative’s partner organizations, HR 1 is not just about democracy as an end in itself; it is a necessary step to achieving racial, social and economic justice and building a better world for us all. The reforms in HR 1 will help pave the way for meaningful progress on racial justice, protecting the climate, workers rights, immigration, healthcare, and more.

The 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection shined a spotlight on critical vulnerabilities in our democracy and how they are rooted in racism and white supremacy. Since then, 43 states have proposed more than 250 bills to restrict or limit voting access, intentionally aiming to drown out the voices of voters, particularly Black and brown voters.

We have a long road ahead of us to change our politics and fulfill the promise of our country’s ideals. This was a good day—progress made possible by tireless activists and grassroots leaders across the country. The reforms in HR 1 will help dismantle the racist and systemic barriers intentionally built to exclude Black and brown voices by bringing together the most effective reforms enacted in states to create national standards that protect our freedom to vote and limit the power of special interests and wealthy donors.

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The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 organizations with a collective 45 million members fighting for workers, civil rights, social justice and the environment and united in their commitment to realizing the promise of American democracy where all people have an equal seat at the governance table.

Democracy Initiative Denounces Failed Insurrection; Says Trump Must Be Removed and Perpetrators Punished

Thursday, January 7, 2021

For Immediate Release:

Democracy Initiative Denounces Failed Insurrection;
Says Trump Must Be Removed and Perpetrators Punished

This statement is from Jennifer Lamson, Interim Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative:

“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."

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The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 organizations with a collective 45 million members fighting for workers, civil rights, social justice and the environment and united in their commitment to realizing the promise of American democracy where all people have an equal seat at the governance table.

Democracy Initiative in 2020

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. When we all came together at the DI Annual Meeting in November 2019 and adopted an ambitious 2020 campaign plan centered on dramatically increasing civic participation and expanding vote by mail, it turned out to be a visionary move.

You and your members rose and met this historic moment despite the unknown terrain. Through a deadly pandemic and extreme economic challenges disproportionately shouldered by our front-line workers and communities of color, through climate fires raging across the West, through continuing racial injustice that sparked millions of our members to rise up in protest, and through unprecedented attacks on voting rights and our very democracy, you all showed up. You and your members showed up for the Post Office, you educated your communities about the importance of making a plan to vote and how to vote by mail, and you successfully mobilized for expanding healthy voting options. All of this positions us for the next round of these fights: expanding on the wins and defending against attacks that would set us back.

As previously announced, the DI is in the process of a leadership transition. We’re enormously grateful to outgoing Executive Director Wendy Fields for her extraordinary service and dynamic leadership, and we are pleased that current Deputy Director Jennifer Lamson will serve as the interim executive director. We have hired a consultant to manage the transition and hiring process for a new executive director.

As that process continues, our urgent work will move forward; many of you attended our post-election action meeting to begin planning for the coming months ahead. Our entire board is prepared to move forward with an aggressive, forward-leaning vision that meets this moment. We will continue to build and mobilize a broad, multi-racial coalition that seeks inclusive democracy that ensures a seat at the governing table for people who have often been denied an equal voice in decisions that affect their lives: Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, and working people.

Thanks in no small part to Wendy’s leadership—and strong backing from our grass roots partners—we are building on a strong foundation. Our shared goal of creating a public culture of 75% voter participation is more within reach than it was a year ago. Seven states hit that benchmark this year—and twelve more made it to 70%.

Overall U.S. voter turnout is projected to top 66 percent in 2020. That’s the highest participation level in more than a hundred years—but there’s really no comparison, because at that time, women and most people of color did not even have the right to vote.

As former DI board member Miles Rapoport recently outlined in the American Prospect, the democracy movement made this year’s historic election possible by winning key voting reforms in state after state. These include vote-by-mail, early voting, same day registration, restoration of voting rights for the formerly incarcerated, and many other significant measures.

Your engagement with and commitment to the DI as a multi-racial, cross-sector coalition brings a critical margin of support to these crucial victories.

We are building sustained organizational support for advancing democracy 365 days a year, every year, rather than just during election cycles. The DI’s unique contribution has been to design all program work through a race/class lens, break down issue silos, and center advocacy for democracy reform within our diverse, membership-based constituencies in labor, environmental, civil rights and civic organizations.

  • Through close collaboration with many of you, we were able to reach more than three thousand grassroots leaders through our Democracy Champions program, training and mobilizing grass roots leaders and volunteers to take part in voter education, election protection and election administration.
  • When the pandemic hit this year, we were ready to lead on calls for a massive expansion of voting by mail and champion the US Postal Service in the face of attempts to weaponize it as a tool for mass voter suppression. Due to the foresight of DI leaders who had prioritized expansion of voting by mail since 2017, we were ready to scale up already-planned education and advocacy campaigns to meet the moment. Our years-long partnership with postal unions on this issue paid off in 2020, as together we defeated an insidious attempt to delay the U.S. mail during a pandemic election.
  • Our intersectional coalition of labor, environmental and civil rights organizations brought new partners, deepened mobilizing commitments and visibility to the fight to defend our public Postal Service. Our coalition was able to elevate this fight to a higher profile, forcing changes at the Postal Service and educating voters about how their votes could be secure and counted under unusual circumstances.
  • We launched our Bayard Rustin Program to further develop senior-level leaders of color in the democracy movement and placed our first fellow in the Michigan Democracy Hub.

Policy priorities that DI Partner leadership will be discussing at a January 2021 principal-level stakeholder meeting include:

  • Federal action to renew and strengthen our democracy, including the Voting Rights Act and the For the People Act (HR 1) and, pending the outcome of the Georgia Senate run-offs, ensure that these and other transformative policies can pass the Senate with a simple majority.
  • A comprehensive public health response to COVID-19 and support for essential frontline workers, who are members of our partner organizations.
  • Full and adequate funding for our public Postal Service.
  • Continued expansion of vote by mail, early voting, same day registration and other voter-friendly reforms, with local, state, and federal laws, rules, and procedures.
  • State and local ballot and legislative opportunities to educate, mobilize and effect change that will reduce the influence of big money in states and local communities.
  • Continuing to center our work on confronting strategic racism, cultivating racial justice and lifting up the voices of working-class Americans.

The DI’s commitment to race/class analysis is essential to building the broad-based, 21st century multiracial and cross-cultural movement needed to confront the urgent issues that threaten our health, our livelihoods, our planet, and our democracy. Many diverse voices will be working on these key priorities. The DI will continue to powerfully make the case that transformative progress on essential public priorities such as public health, civil rights, climate change and equity are inextricably linked to achieving and sustaining the basics of democracy reform: Expanded access to the ballot, changes in legislative rules in the U.S Senate and elsewhere, and citizen-based alternatives to partisan gerrymandering.

We have strengthened our capacity to take on these fights by attracting three new leaders to the DI board of directors: K. Sabeel Rahman, president of Demos; Ray Curry, secretary treasurer of the United Auto Workers; and Virginia Kase, CEO of League of Women Voters. These organizations and leaders have joined the two of us and fellow DI board members Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of NAACP; Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth; and Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA because they know we are different, essential, and battle proven. Their experience and resources will strengthen and broaden our coalition.

As democracy reform becomes ever more central to our future, the DI is shifting from our traditional behind-the-scenes role in the movement. We are making our case in the public square to mobilize and move political will on the issues that affect the lives of our combined 45 million members.

As we look to 2021 and beyond, we will continue to expand our partnerships with state and local allies and uphold our battle-tested innovative work, remain ahead of the curve and cultivate new leaders. Watch for a save-the-date announcement for the January 2021 principals convening coming soon.

We look forward to partnering with you to achieve our mutual goals as we scale our work to meet the great needs of protecting and fixing the democracy we all hold so highly.

Democracy Initiative Announces Jennifer Lamson as Interim Executive Director; National Search Underway to Replace Outgoing ED Wendy Fields

Monday, November 30, 2020

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Roger Kerson, 734.645.0535, rkerson@democracyinitiative.org

Democracy Initiative Announces Jennifer Lamson
as Interim Executive Director; National Search Underway to
Replace Outgoing ED Wendy Fields

Washington DC, November 30: 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 today 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.” 

 

The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 organizations with a collective 45 million members fighting for workers, civil rights, social justice and the environment. DI partner organizations are united in their commitment to realizing the promise of American democracy where all people have an equal seat at the governance table. 

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Democracy Wins in 2020 with Record Turnout; Nation Must Confront Urgent Business including COVID, Economic Relief, Climate Change, Inequality and Racial Justice

Sunday, November 8, 2020

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Roger Kerson, 734.645.0535, rkerson@democracyinitiative.org

Democracy Wins in 2020 with Record Turnout;
Nation Must Confront Urgent Business including COVID, Economic Relief,
Climate Change, Inequality and Racial Justice

Washington DC, November 8 – The following statement is from Wendy Fields, Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative:

“On behalf of 75 labor, civil rights and environmental organizations representing more than 45 million people, the Democracy Initiative congratulates President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory in the 2020 election. 

“With new leadership, our nation must confront urgent business: A comprehensive public health response to COVID-19. Economic relief for workers and small businesses. Bold action to confront climate change, address economic inequality and lift up racial justice.   

“The real winners this year are the American people and our democracy. This is the largest, most inclusive election in U.S. history, with nearly 160 million ballots cast and two-thirds of eligible voters participating. 

“This historic turnout is no accident. It’s the result of more than 20 years of organizing by grass roots activists who have worked tirelessly to expand access to the ballot through same day registration, early voting, vote by mail, restoration of voting rights to the formerly incarcerated and many other voter-friendly reforms. 

“Voters turned out in record numbers his year despite a pandemic. We exercised our right to vote despite attacks on our public postal service, a lack of resources for state and local elections and other systematic efforts by the powerful and the privileged to suppress voting, especially in Black and Brown communities. They failed. Democracy succeeded.

“State and local election administrators are the unsung heroes of this year’s election. Under intense scrutiny—and in many cases having to face down illegal threats and intimidationthese dedicated public servants, supported by tens of thousands of poll workers and volunteers delivered reliable and secure election results. They deserve our gratitude, and more support and resources for future elections."

The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 organizations with a collective 45 million members fighting for workers, civil rights, social justice and the environment. DI partner organizations are united in their commitment to realizing the promise of American democracy where all people have an equal seat at the governance table.

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Unlikely Allies Unite for Election Integrity: Labor, Civil Rights and Environmental Coalition Welcome Calls from Business Leaders to Count All Votes

Friday, October 30, 2020

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Roger Kerson, 734.645.0535, rkerson@democracyinitiative.org

Unlikely Allies Unite for Election Integrity:
Labor, Civil Rights and Environmental Coalition Welcomes Calls
from Business Leaders to Count All Votes

Washington DC – Leaders of the Democracy Initiative, representing a combined 45 million member of labor, environmental and civil rights organizations, today welcomed recent statements by America’s top business leaders upholding the integrity of U.S. elections.

In separate and complementary statements, the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Civic Alliance and the Leadership Now Project have appealed for patience and civility as state and local officials take the time to count all votes during a unique election season. Tens of millions of Americans are voting by mail or voting early this year. In addition, voters, election workers and volunteers are taking steps to ensure safe in-person voting during a deadly pandemic.

“After years of hard work to expand ballot access, Americans are voting in record numbers this year, taking advantage of multiple voting options,” said Wendy Fields, executive director of the Democracy Initiative. “No matter where we come from or what we look like, there is broad agreement across civil society—including business, labor, environmental and civil rights organizations. Every vote counts and every vote must be counted.”

As detailed in the “Roadblocks and Remedies” report from the Democracy Initiative, the grass roots democracy movement has successfully won voting reforms in dozens of states. As a result, 45 states (and the District of Columbia) now have no-excuse vote-by-mail, and 43 states (and DC) now have early voting.

“It’s not every day I find myself in agreement with the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,” said Tefere Gebre, executive vice president of the AFL-CIO and co-chair of the Democracy Initiative board of directors. “Counting every vote is important to everyone in our democracy.”

“We welcome the voices of business leaders calling for patience and civility throughout the process of casting and counting votes in all jurisdictions,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause and co-chair of the Democracy Initiative Board of Directors. “Time and again, the United States has met the challenge of self-governance, holding elections during times of war, the Great Depression and other crises. Together, we will show that even during a pandemic, we will uphold our commitment to free and fair elections.”

A broad commitment across civil society to count every vote is especially important, said Fields, in light of recent contradictory rulings from the Supreme Court, which limit the time available to count votes in Wisconsin, butso far—have allowed extending counting periods in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

“Elections are decided by voters, not politicians,” said Fields. “All of us, from all sectors of civil society, must raise our voices in the coming days to make it clear that partisan interference with vote-counting is unacceptable.”

 

The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 organizations with a collective 45 million members fighting for workers, civil rights, social justice and the environment. DI partner organizations are united in their commitment to realizing the promise of American democracy where all people have an equal seat at the governance table.

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Rushed, Sham Process to Seat New Justice Undermines Supreme Court and Damages Democracy

Friday, October 23, 2020

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Roger Kerson, 734.645.0535, rkerson@democracyinitiative.org

Rushed, Sham Process to Seat New Justice
Undermines Supreme Court and Damages Democracy

Washington DC, October 23, 2020: The following statement is from Wendy Fields, Executive Director of the Democracy Initiative:

“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 precedentat 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.”

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The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 organizations with a collective 45 million members fighting for workers, civil rights, social justice and the environment. DI partner organizations are united in their commitment to realizing the promise of American democracy where all people have an equal seat at the governance table.

 

Report: U.S Has Tools for Pandemic Election After Democracy Movement Wins Voting Options in 40+ States; Roadblocks Remain for 2020 Elections

Thursday, October 8, 2020

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Roger Kerson, 734.645.0535, rkerson@democracyinitiative.org

Report: U.S. Has Tools for Pandemic Election After
Democracy Movement Wins Voting Options in 40+ States;
Roadblocks Remain for 2020 Elections

WASHINGTON – U.S. voters have the tools for successful voting during a pandemic election in 2020, says “Roadblocks and Remedies – the State of Voting 2020,” a new report from the Democracy Initiative (DI).

“The democracy movement has been fighting for – and winning – voting reforms for decades,” said DI Executive Director Wendy Fields. “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.”

Building on earlier victories, grass-roots advocates won major reforms in 21 states in 2018 and 2019, and several states have implemented new rules to increase voting options this year. The state of voting in 2020 now includes:

  • Vote by mail in 45 states and the District of Columbia (DC).
  • Early Voting in 43 states (and DC).
  • 39 states (and DC) with 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 – has in-person voting on Election Day as the only option available to all voters.

“We know the more choices a voter has, the easier it is for them to exercise the choice that works best for them,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “I am working hard to ensure even in the midst of a pandemic voters have that full range of options for how to cast their ballot, and can be assured no matter how they choose to do so it will be safe, accessible and secure.”

Obstacles to successful voting still remain, says Nsé Ufot of The New Georgia Project, a voter registration and education organization that is currently contacting 100,000 voters of color every week. “In Georgia, we’re dealing with glitchy new voting machines, a suspect match program that disqualifies eligible voters and a flawed resource allocation that will lead to long lines for voters in Black neighborhoods,” said Ufot. “But here is what I know, Georgians are excited about voting and preparing to overcome these challenges. From pandemic to protests to the polls to power is more than just a slogan; it’s our reality.”

Voting reforms are still needed in Mississippi, said Dr. Corey Wiggins, executive director of the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP. Mississippi is the only remaining state in the United States where in-person voting on Election Day is the only option available to all voters.

“Voting during daylight hours on one Tuesday in November is outdated, unfair – and unhealthy during a pandemic,” said Wiggins. “Democracy is about a participatory process and the long-held policies and practices of limiting access to ballot should end now.”

New options for voting – including vote-by-mail and Early Voting – require extra efforts at voter education said Scott Holiday, chief of staff of SEIU Health Care Michigan. The union represents health care workers at hospitals, nursing home and other frontline occupations.

“What happens at the ballot box makes a huge difference in the issues that affect our daily lives – affordable health care, the right to organize, safety on the job,” said Holiday. “If you’re a working person, you can’t afford not to vote. This year, that means know the rules, make a plan, and vote early.”

The DI “Roadblocks and Remedies” report identifies ten major roadblocks to successful voting, including:

  1. You are not registered to vote, or your registration is not current.
  2. You applied for a mail ballot, but it did not arrive.
  3. You don’t want to vote in person on Election Day this year, but you can’t find information about where to vote early or where to drop off a vote-by-mail ballot.
  4. Your ballot arrives late to your election office and is not counted.
  5. Your ballot envelope is not signed, not submitted correctly or not witnessed in states requiring a witness, so your vote is not counted.
  6. You are at your polling place for in-person voting on Election Day, but told you are not on the voting list.
  7. Early voting and mail ballots are allowed but your state does not allow processing or counting of ballots until Election Day, resulting in delays.
  8. Voter suppression: Ballots delayed, uncounted by intentional slowdown of the US mail, closed polling places, purges of voter rolls, or restrictive voter ID laws.
  9. Voter suppression in the courts: Ballots delayed or disqualified by court rulings.
  10. Disinformation or confusion about election results before all votes are counted. With millions of voters exercising their right to Early Voting or vote-by-mail, it is likely that results will not be available on Election Day or even the morning after. Getting it right is more important than getting it fast.

The Democracy Initiative has identified remedies for these obstacles to voting, centered on national campaign by democracy advocates to educate voters to Know the Rules, Make a Plan and Vote Early.

Roadblocks and Remedies also identifies resources to assist voters, including:

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The Democracy Initiative is a coalition of 75 organizations with a collective 45 million members fighting for workers, civil rights, social justice and the environment. DI partner organizations are united in their commitment to realizing the promise of American democracy where all people have an equal seat at the governance table.