Just Say No to Voter Suppression

Is Big Brother trying to keep you from voting? Could very well be. Donald Trump has created a “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” which he has directed to gather sensitive information about voters in every state and DC, including names, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, party affiliation, voting history, and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.

Those requests, which many fear could be used as powerful new tool for voter suppression, have not gone over well. But despite dramatic refusals, some states have handed over data anyway.

The Commission

Since the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. Of course, “[t]he claim that there were millions of illegal voters in this past election is false and unsupported by any credible evidence,” according to Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California Irvine. “The National Association of Secretaries of State, made up of the chief election officers of all 50 states, just issued a statement saying so.”

Nevertheless, Trump formed a commission to investigate his discredited claims, tapping Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as the Commission’s vice-chair. Kobach has a history of strong support of laws and policies that have led to many eligible voters being disenfranchised and that have been called acts of voter suppression designed to target minority and young voters, who tend to vote Democratic. Kobach told the Kansas City Star that although his commission might not have the authority to force states to reveal sensitive information about their voters, he believes the US Department of Justice does have that power. Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Justice, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has his own contentious history with voting rights, including opposing the Voting Rights Act.

States Say Go Jump … But Some Are Lying

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, among the first to forcefully refuse Kobach’s request, said it “would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud.” The responses to Kobach’s request have – on the surface – shown an all-too-rare bipartisan spirit. Kentucky Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes: “There’s not enough bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible.” Mississippi Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Jr. told the commission to “go jump in Gulf of Mexico.” As of July 5, no less than 44 states have publicly partially or entirely refused to provide the requested information, some specifically citing the commission’s makeup and backstory. Even Kobach himself has said Kansas will not turn over all of the information he requested. Trump, as usual, took to Twitter, asking “what do they have to hide?” – an odd question in light of Trump’s own refusal to reveal information concerning his tax returns and connections to Russia.

But don’t be fooled: Mississippi’s Hosemann has already turned over the state’s entire voter rolls. And he’s not the only one: fully twenty-one states on the list of resisters have actually turned over some or all of the requested data to Kobach. Some of this data has been part of an ongoing program called the “Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program,” a voluntary program in which the majority of states participate, which attempts to identify people registered and voting in more than one state. While in theory that’s fine, the program works by matching first and last names. John Smith? You could be purged from the voter rolls (even if you have a different middle name than another John Smith in another state). Jose Garcia? Duc Nguyen? You’re probably way out of luck. If it strikes you that this might disproportionately affect voters of color, database expert Mark Swedlund agrees: “I can’t tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities.”

And what about security? When all the voter data is combined in a massive database, there is huge potential for misuse, abuse, and theft. The commission has already shown their lack of concern over the security of voter information by recommending that states upload voter information to an unsecured website or send the information via email, which also is not secure. Fear of having their data stolen or misused may cause some voters to remove their names and information from state voter rolls by de-registering, leaving them unable to vote. The people most likely to do this would be those most likely to vote against Trump and his allies. Coincidence? You decide …

What You Can Do

Efforts to keep Americans from being able to conveniently and reliably cast their votes have been going on since our nation’s founding. Some states, including Missouri and New Jersey, have yet to decide whether to hand over voter information and may choose to comply. Do you have family or friends in states which have not expressed strong opposition to the commission? Encourage them to pressure their state governments to protect sensitive voter information. We cannot afford any further erosion of our democratic rights.

– By Andrew Phillips


Barbara Lee and Keith Ellison Discuss the Democratic Party

On Saturday, June 24, Indivisible East Bay and Indivisible Lake Merritt volunteers helped host a political forum with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and DNC Deputy Chair Congressman Keith Ellison, moderated by Van Jones. Despite some technical difficulties with the live stream, much of the day was captured on video here and here.

Topics included the importance of African American voters to the Democratic Party, election strategy, and who could win the presidency in 2020.

Phone Bank to Save the ACA

By Ann Daniels

By now you’ve read about the Senate’s heartless WealthCare bill that will gut Medicaid, send health insurance premiums skyrocketing, cause 15 million people to lose health care by next year, punish people who don’t keep continuous coverage by preventing them from getting insurance for six months, and many other terribles.

This bill is evil. It is so cravenly, obviously evil that even Senate Republicans are starting to admit that it will do nothing to help their constituents. But they’re not getting there on their own – the sustained calls and protests by constituents across the country are demonstrating to Republicans that passing this bill will be political suicide.

We need to flip three Republicans to kill the Senate bill. Some sources report that Senators like Rand Paul also oppose the bill, but we can’t count on them. They oppose the bill because it’s not cruel enough, and there’s still time for the majority leaders to get their support by amending the bill to make it worse.

That’s why Indivisible East Bay’s primary action this week is phone banking into states with Republican Senators, urging constituents there to call their representatives and demand that they vote NO on repealing the ACA.

Join us on Wednesday, June 28, from 3-7 for a joint phone bank with Indivisible Berkeley at the Ed Roberts Campus (please use the link to RSVP if possible). Or use one of these tools to locate other phone banks this week!

Wednesday, June 28, 3-7 PM (come for part or all!)
Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St, Berkeley, CA 94703
Bring a phone, headphones and a laptop or tablet! Training and refreshments will be provided.
Ed Roberts Campus is directly above Ashby BART. An elevator takes you directly there from the BART station and the campus is accessible. Parking is available in the ERC lot or across the street at BART.

Assembly Speaker Rendon Punts on Single Payer

California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, under pressure from Governor Jerry Brown, announced late Friday afternoon that he would not advance SB 562, California’s single payer bill, in the Assembly. His decision to keep the bill in the Assembly Rules Committee has the potential to effectively stall the bill – which passed the State Senate on June 1st – for a year.

Rendon cited concerns about SB 562 being incomplete. The Speaker doesn’t seem to understand that we elect the state Assembly to create law. Especially given the uncertainty around health care at the federal level, it’s imperative that the Assembly perform their jobs and work to fill the gaps in SB 562.

Single payer healthcare would cover California’s three million uninsured, and ensure that those who gained insurance under the ACA could actually afford to use their care. Call Speaker Rendon and demand that he un-shelve SB 562. It’s more important now than ever that California lead the rest of the country by implementing compassionate and fair health care policy.

Call (916) 319-2063 (Sacramento); 5625293250 (district); email: assemblymember.rendon@assembly.ca.gov

Twitter: @rendon63rd; Facebook: Speaker Anthony Rendon

And ask your local Assemblyperson to publicly demand that the bill be advanced. Find your California Assemblymember here.

Sacramento event: Stop the Delay and Pass SB 562, Wednesday, 6/28, 11 AM. Meet at the intersection of 11th/L, outside Chicory, in Sacramento. More information here

“Thank you for calling. We want to hear from you…”

Thanks to Indivisible SF, we at Indivisible East Bay are using a new tool called Amplify. Find out who else is getting to know the staff at Representative Swalwell’s office or leaving a message for Senator Harris in Washington DC, stay up to the minute on important notifications and calls to action, track your progress, and cheer on your friends with this ingenious tool created by one of the members of ISF. To join the Indivisible East Bay team on Amplify and use the Amplify app:
1. Download Amplify from the Android or iOS app store
2. Open the app and tap ‘create new account’ or “sign up”
3. Click “Join a team,” enter the Indivisible East Bay team invite code 814-850-104
4. Cheer someone on and/or take an action!

Feinstein Beats Warriors!

By Leslie Price

While hundreds of thousands of excited fans gathered in Oakland on June 15 for the Warriors’ victory parade, nine dedicated folks from Indivisible East Bay and other local groups met with Senator Dianne Feinstein’s State Director Sean Elsbernd and Field Representative Abby Ellis. Both were open, gracious, and genuinely impressed that we skipped the festivities and fought the crowds to make it to their office.

We spent a substantial portion of the meeting discussing health care. Though Senator Feinstein wouldn’t commit to withhold consent because she feels other important business would suffer, she is willing to work hard to slow down a vote on Trumpcare. She’s considering filibustering by amendment during vote-a-rama, but she’s (unsurprisingly) not planning to do anything showy like holding her own hearing on the Capitol steps with the other female senators.

We also talked extensively about corruption in the White House and among the Republican members of Congress. The senator will not join the members of Congress suing the President for accepting foreign emoluments out of concern that her opponents might use such action to claim that she is biased, impeding her efforts on other fronts. For example, she is working with the GOP on investigations concerning the FBI and had a hand in getting Senator Grassley on board, and she is working hard to maintain the blue slip process and to push the Russia investigation.

We asked whether the cuts to the USDA budget have encouraged California’s Republican representatives to stand up to some of the Trump Administration’s most harmful actions. Sean said cuts to the EPA are actually most upsetting to the representatives and their constituents, because these will affect air quality, which then affects children and the elderly. (According to Sean, those elected officials didn’t think Trump would really do something so drastic.) Our group had a positive discussion about how much air quality has improved over the years and how anything that affects the young and old tends to get people thinking beyond party affiliation.

Our group also asked some tough questions regarding civilian oversight of the military: specifically, about a strategy for Syria and whether Senator Feinstein will work to avoid funding a war with no limit. Sean was impressed and indicated that we are the only group that has ever presented Senator Feinstein’s staff with in-depth questions about this. Although the staff generally talks to the Senator about issues pushed by the most constituents, Sean and Abby agreed to bring our concerns to the Senator, and encouraged us to continue to bring it up with other groups to help bring more attention to the issue. We also talked about the urgent need for congressional oversight of military intelligence when the White House can’t be trusted to tell or discern the truth.

We had very positive discussion and agreement about prioritizing census funding, enhancing whistleblower protections, and a weekend summertime town hall, or two, or four (likely in August near San Diego and/or Fresno). Overall, our meeting was productive and positive, and Sean and Abby seemed to appreciate our interest and energy. We are getting to be regular guests, and the Senator’s staff reminded us that they’re happy to host us or make the trek out to us. (The fact we always bring treats probably doesn’t hurt either!)

Climate Action: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It’s been a dizzying week: the announcement from the White House of intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement; reactions from elected representatives on every level who understand the need to protect the environment; statewide legislation on cap and trade. Take a deep breath and get in touch with the heroes and/or villains of this important moment.

The Good – Thank You to Paris Agreement supporters!

Please thank our California leaders who have committed to upholding the terms of the Paris Agreement on state and local levels. (More information about the benefits of the Paris Agreement, and responses to some of the White House misinformation.)

These Bay Area mayors are part of the Climate Mayors coalition: Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, San Leandro Mayor Pauline Russo Cutter.

Governor Jerry Brown immediately took the lead with Governors Inslee (WA) and Cuomo (NY) in announcing an alliance of states that would uphold the Paris Agreement; other governors continue to join.

In Congress, both California Senators and all East Bay Representatives have publicly spoken out against the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Please thank them AND ALSO encourage them to join the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group exploring policy options to combat the causes and effects of climate change.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (email): (415) 393-0707
Sen. Kamala Harris (email): (415) 355-9041
Rep. Mark Desaulnier (email): (510) 620-1000
Rep. Barbara Lee (email): (510) 763-0370
Rep. Eric Swalwell (email): (510) 370-3322

More good – California cap and trade legislation: A cap and trade bill, SB 775, is moving through the CA state senate. Find out more about SB 755. Ask your senator and rep to sign on to the bill.

And even more – Oakland takes a stand: On June 6, the Oakland City Council adopted a resolution, proposed by Councilmember at Large Rebecca Kaplan, urging the United States Congress to enact a revenue-neutral carbon pricing fee similar to that proposed by SB 775. Thank Councilmember Kaplan and voice your approval to your Councilmember.

The Bad – Paris Agreement foes in the pocket of the oil and coal lobbies (quelle surprise!)

Twenty-two Senators who sent a letter urging the president to withdraw from the Paris Agreement have collectively taken in more than $10 million from oil and coal lobbies. You can contact Senator Mitch McConnell – as Senate Majority Leader, he’s supposed to be responsive to all of us. If you have family and friends who are constituents of any of the other Senators on this list, please ask them to contact them (here is the phone number for the Senate switchboard, which can connect to any Senator’s office). Also note: Senators with asterisks are up for re-election in 2018!

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.); Sen. Jim Inhofe (Okla.); Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.)*; Sen. John Cornyn (Texas); Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.); Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.)*; Sen. Mike Enzi (Wyo.); Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho); Sen. Jim Risch (Idaho); Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.); Sen. Mike Rounds (S.D.); Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.); Sen. John Boozman (Ark.); Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.); Sen. Luther Strange (Ala.); Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah)*; Sen. Mike Lee (Utah); Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas)*; Sen. David Perdue (Ga.); Sen. Thom Tillis (N.C.); Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.); Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.)

The Ugly – These men should be nowhere near climate change or energy policy.

The Current Occupant of the White House; Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency; Rick Perry, Department of Energy

Support SB 775, Carbon Pricing Bill

A new carbon pricing bill, SB775, is moving through the CA state senate. If you live in the 7th or 9th Senate Districts, urge Sen. Steve Glazer and Sen. Nancy Skinner to support the bill.

If you’re in the 10th Senate district, then you can rest easy. Your Senator, Bob Wieckowski, was one of the authors of the bill. He deserves a thank you!

Find your local reps here.

What we like about SB775

  • A steadily rising price for pollution credits – the bill would modify California’s cap and trade system to have a steadily rising price starting in 2021, This would allow consumers, businesses, and investors the predictability they need to accelerate the shift to a clean energy future in California.
  • Protecting low and middle income households – the bill includes returning some revenue from the program directly to households, which will protect households from the effects of price increases while still motivating emissions reductions. This can allow the price to rise to the level necessary to reach our climate goals, while protecting families and communities, stimulating our economy, and encouraging ongoing public support for the state’s climate programs.
  • Simplicity – the bill would eliminate offsets and allocation of free allowances as well as minimizing banking of allowances from year to year.
  • Improved air quality in disadvantaged and fenceline communities – the elimination of offsets and free allowances should motivate greater emissions reductions at all sites statewide and reduce the chances of toxic “hotspots” in low income neighborhoods.
  • Wider coverage of emissions – With no free allowances and 100% of the emission allowances auctioned, a greater part of the economy would be covered by the carbon price.
  • Protecting the California economy and jobs – the bill provides for a border adjustment to provide a level playing field between California and states and countries without a similar carbon price, thus discouraging the movement of emissions (and jobs) outside of California.
  • Greater emissions reductions – with the price rising steadily to a level higher than under existing statute, we can expect a greater reduction in emissions from the carbon price.

For more info, see the website of Californians for a Carbon Tax.

Talking Points and Responses to the White House on the Paris Agreement

The White House intent to withdraw from the Paris Accord relies heavily on a 2015 report by NERA Economic Consulting. It’s important to note that this report was sponsored by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity – in other words, by the coal industry. Seeing red flags yet?

Here are a few facts that give the lie to the White House’s claims that the Paris Agreement is bad for the US:

JOBS AND THE ECONOMY: Paris increases US competitiveness, creates jobs, saves Americans money

  • The NERA study cited by the President wrongly assumes that innovation in cleantech will slow down, instead of speeding up, and that it will kill jobs and be a negative economic loss. This is disproved by the fact that businesses are uniformly supportive of the Paris Agreement. (One debunking by WRI, another by economist Gary Yohe, and similar arguments rebutted by a variety of scientists)
  • The market for clean energy is open and growing: since 2007, the U.S. economy grew by 12 percent while overall energy consumption fell by 3.6 percent. The rapid growth of clean energy and energy efficiency made 2014 the first year ever that the world’s economy grew without carbon emissions also growing, according to the International Energy Agency. The trend continued into 2015.
  • Solar jobs are growing 17 times faster than the overall U.S. economy. Wind turbine service technicians are the fastest-growing occupation in the country, There are 1.2 million clean energy jobs in states that voted for Trump and over 2.6 million across the US.
  • Wind power is now the largest renewable energy source in the U.S., according to the American Wind Energy Association. Installed wind capacity totaled over 82 gigawatts last year, enough to power 24 million average homes and surpassing America’s 80 gigawatts of hydropower.
  • Leaving Paris positions China, not the US, as the leader in the global clean energy market: According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, China was the top solar PV employer, with 1.7 million jobs in 2015, “due to its undisputed lead in both manufacturing and installations.”
  • According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “NERA … ignores recent studies that show real world investments in energy efficiency programs generate net savings for consumers; efficiency shows up in their study as a net cost.” (emphasis in original) In fact, the Clean Power Plan, which was intended to be the U.S. tool to implement the Paris agreement, would save the average American household $1,868 on electricity bills over a 15 year period.

COMMITMENTS FROM OTHER NATIONS: Paris extracted meaningful commitments from all the major polluters

  • Contrary to White House claims, India and China are already working towards reducing emissions. China is announcing a new effort to work with the EU, and India’s solar industry is booming as it raises taxes on coal.
  • Paris also created a system to monitor and verify that China and India do their fair share.

CLIMATE PROTECTION: The deal is a great start that reduces the risk climate change poses to the US.

  • The White House cites NERA for the proposition that US participation in the Paris Agreement won’t do anything to stop global warming. But the NERA study assumes we’ll take the LEAST efficient path to decarbonization. There is no evidence for this.
  • Reducing emissions in the energy and transport sectors could prevent almost 300,000 early deaths caused by air pollution each year in the US by 2030, according to a Duke University study.
  • Reducing emissions reduces the risk of extreme weather events that cost Americans dearly in terms of human life as well as tens of billions of dollars in economic losses.

Beyond the NERA report, the White House asserted that withdrawing from the Paris Agreement would be good for “America First.” That, too, is a badly flawed conclusion.

AMERICAN DIPLOMATIC LEADERSHIP: The Paris Accord was led by the United States. Walking away from an agreement we forged will create incalculable damage to this country’s reputation and credibility.

  • Since WWII, the US has been the most significant global superpower. For better or worse, important global and even regional problems have involved US participation. Initiatives from the sanctions imposed by the West on Iran which led to the Iran nuclear deal to intellectual property protection to stopping human trafficking cannot be complete without US leadership.
  • For the US to lead and push for the Paris agreement and then to walk away from it is a huge blow to the US’s reputation and credibility and its enormous soft power. As George Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State, argued in his plea “The Business Case for the Paris Accord”: “If America backs away now, decades of diplomatic progress could be jeopardized. Global statecraft relies on trust, reputation and credibility, which can be all too easily squandered. The United States is far better off maintaining a seat at the head of the table rather than standing outside. If America fails to honor a global agreement that it helped forge, the repercussions will undercut our diplomatic priorities across the globe, not to mention the country’s global standing and the market access of our firms.”
  • Superpower leadership is no more permanent than the Antarctic ice shield: Oceans rise, empires fall. Until the US took the mantle, Britannia ruled the waves. China has made it clear it will fill a leadership vacuum as well as the commercial opportunity left by the United States.