Protect the Farm Bill in Conference

We’ve been writing for some time about the Farm Bill, an immense piece of legislation that – among many, many other things – covers SNAP/CalFresh (aka food stamps). Once again, we need you to contact your members of Congress to protect this crucial benefit that helps one in eight Americans put food on the table.

This past June, H.R. 2, the version of the Farm Bill rammed through by Republicans in the House of Representatives, drastically cut access to SNAP; the Senate passed a version that protected the program; and the bill is now in conference to resolve differences between the two versions. These differences concerning SNAP have been a huge blocker to passing the legislation, which comes up for renewal every five years, but now Democrats have a stronger hand due to winning back the House. It will be hard to pass legislation between the election and next January, when the new Congress takes over (known as a lame duck session), and especially when control is passing from one party to another – but Congress seems determined to pass the Farm Bill, and they’re feeling heat to get it done.

Please call your members of Congress and tell them to protect SNAP and oppose any stringent requirements for these benefits. Find more info about SNAP here.

What to say:

My name is ___, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. Thank you for your past support of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka SNAP). I’m calling to ask you to protect and strengthen SNAP and vote down any Republican efforts to weaken the program or cut its funding in the Farm Bill.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 355-9041 • DC: (202) 224-3553
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

My Ballot ‘Tis of Thee

If you’re on social media, you may be worried right now about being turned away at the polls, or your vote-by-mail ballot being rejected, or ending up at a place that won’t let you vote. We’re hoping California doesn’t have those horror stories … but we’ve got some tips to help you avoid even getting into those situations. And the best news is, many of these are things you can do NOW, before the November 6 Election Day!

Provisional Ballot: a last resort

Lots of people are giving advice on social media about how to demand a provisional ballot: “Give me a provisional ballot with a receipt as required by law when requested.” It’s true that in California and most other states poll workers must give you a provisional ballot and receipt if you believe you’re entitled to vote, but for a variety of reasons the workers believe you are not. It’s also true that this is a last resort, that many of the reasons a poll worker may try to turn you away can be addressed, and that some issues can even be taken care of NOW, before Election Day, to prevent most problems.

  • Are you registered to vote? Is all your info correct? Check NOW!
  • Check your polling place NOW! Make sure you go to the right place to vote – if you’re at the wrong polling place, your name won’t be on the voter list. If you do end up at the wrong place, before you ask for a provisional ballot, ask where your correct polling place is. Go vote there if you can make it before the polls close so you can vote on all your local measures. If you can’t figure it out or can’t get there, then ask for a provisional ballot and receipt.
  • Did you get a vote by mail ballot in the mail, but you didn’t mail it in? You can drop it off at your polling place on Election Day. You decided you want to vote at the polls instead? You should be able to do that if you bring your vote by mail ballot and envelope: they’ll probably ask you to surrender the vote by mail ballot and give you a new one. Don’t have your ballot with you? That’s when you ask for a provisional ballot.
  • Worried you’ll be told you don’t have the right ID to vote? You usually won’t be asked to show ID, although you might be if it’s your first time voting in a federal election in California. And it’s a good idea to bring ID with you anyway. Here’s more info; here’s the complete list for first-time voters; or you can call the Secretary of State’s toll-free voter hotline at 800-345-VOTE (8683).

Here is the CA Secretary of State’s excellent official resource on provisional voting; and here’s a excellent article on what to do if you’re turned away at the polls.

Finally, if your last-resort requests for a provisional ballot and receipt are denied, report this or other incidents to the Election Protection hotline: 866-OUR-VOTE.

Conditional Voting

Did you forget to register to vote, or did you move and forget to re-register? Little-known fact: you can still register and vote conditionally at your county elections office, or at certain other locations, up through Election Day.  Conditional voting is different from provisional voting, since provisional voting is for people who believe they are registered but are having problems.

Vote-by-mail ballots not secretly rejected

Worried because you’ve heard that in some states, untrained people are rejecting vote by mail ballots because the signature on the envelope doesn’t match the one on file? No fear – that won’t happen in California. By law, you must be notified and given the chance to correct or acknowledge your ballot signature if there is any discrepancy. (And in Alameda County at least, they don’t use untrained people, they have trained folks whose specific job this is – we were told that if there’s something distinctive about your signature that’s common between the two samples, they won’t reject the ballot.)

Skip the lines, vote early

Early voting has started in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Check with your county for deadlines, locations, and specific guidelines — generally you can vote early in person, or by filling out a ballot and dropping it off at a designated site. Why vote early? You beat the crowds, you don’t have to deal with harried poll workers or people who showed up at the wrong place or didn’t fix their registration and there’s no time to fix the problem … and if you need info, you can probably get through to your county elections office!

Follow up: check your ballot status

In California, you can check the status of your ballots. You can find out whether your provisional ballot was counted, and the reason why, if it was not. And if you voted by mail you can find out whether the ballot arrived at your county’s election office, whether the ballot was counted, and, if not, the reason why.

Read our recent article with more great info about voting in the mid-term election here.

The End of the Election Season is Nigh

By Nancy Latham

You already know what’s at stake in the November election – we all know. The naked power grabs. The in-your-face voter suppression. The weakening of democracy so that a small group of plutocrats can use the state as a tool to advance their interests while hacking away at the public good. The tax cut giveaways to the wealthiest at the expense of everyone else, so that hundreds of millions keep flowing into Republican campaign coffers, allowing them to further entrench their power. And cynically using the tax cut so that they can (surprise!) turn back into deficit hawks – spouting fake concern for the economy – and come for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The rejection of science so that they can condemn the globe to the point of no return on climate change – all in the name of corporate profit.

And we all know that as bad as it is now, it will get much, MUCH worse if we don’t win back the House. Republicans will scream: “mandate!” and then further consolidate power and undermine our democracy. With all three branches of government in their control, there will be no check on trumpism.

It would all sound like a doomsday scenario, if we hadn’t been living through the past couple of years …

So NOW is the time to be Democracy Warriors! We will leave NOTHING on the field as we come to the defense of rights, people, communities, and planet. We know you are out there – calling people, knocking on doors, getting your fellow citizens to the polls – we see you and you ROCK! Go here to find every opportunity to get in the game between now and election day! And KEEP IT UP on The Last Weekend! The last few days before an election are all about Get Out The Vote (GOTV), so join us and bring everyone you know to The Last Weekend GOTMFV Palooza!! (we’ll let you figure out that slightly longer acronym…) 9 AM to 9 PM on Saturday and Sunday November 3rd and 4th we will welcome you to a full service GOTV MACHINE – with phone-banking and texting into multiple critical races, training and technical assistance, handouts, friendly competition, FOOD, and the best part: SAVING DEMOCRACY WITH ALL YOUR FELLOW WARRIORS!!

This is too important to sit out. RSVP here.

Nancy Latham is on IEB’s Governing Committee, and is a passionate member of the Resistance. In her day job, she works with non-profits, foundations, and government agencies that support greater equity and justice through initiatives in youth development, education, housing, and community development.

 

 

IEB’s September meeting with Sen. Feinstein’s staff

By Candace Goldman

On September 5, a group of Indivisible East Bay members met with Sean Elsbernd (Senator Dianne Feinstein’s current State Director) and Abby Ellis (the Senator’s Field Representative). FYI, Sean will be joining the office of Mayor London Breed in San Francisco after the mid-term elections; we wish him well.

The main focus of the meeting was Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. As the ranking Democratic member on the Judiciary Committee, the Senator has been spending most of her time on this, actively working to obtain better background information from the National Archives and engage in more intense questioning of the nominee, as well as corralling the troops in opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Senator McConnell recently dumped over 42,000 documents for review but refused a reasonable extension of time on the hearings to allow for a proper review of the documents. As we have seen this past week, Senator Feinstein has been working hard on the new sexual assault charges that have come to light. The Senator has additionally focused on issues such as the nominee’s view of “settled law” and the immunities and prerogatives granted the President. She continues to make efforts to to push the vote back and to shed more light on the negative aspects of the nominee. However, the Senator is hampered by the limited procedural steps that can be taken and by the fact that the Republican committee majority, under hardliner McConnell, can force the process.

Regarding other GOP-backed judicial nominees, we particularly noted the federal court nominations of Jonathan Kobes, Stephen Clark, and Carl Nichols, all of whom have shown bias in relation to women’s rights — as well as on other civil rights issues (such as warrantless searches). We believe their backgrounds make them weak candidates. We encouraged the Senator to continue opposing these candidates and to work with Senator Harris and others to stop these nominations from going forward. We were advised that the Senator was working to ensure additional oversight hearings, including having Jeff Sessions address the Judiciary Committee.

We suggested bringing a writ of mandate suit to force the Republicans to adhere to the Judiciary Committee’s own rules, a tactic that could be used in other settings as well, such as immigration proceedings.

Some other issues we raised at the meeting:

Immigration

The Senator has staff visiting detention centers, particularly in El Centro and near Victorville, to work on the issues of family separation and claims of sexual abuse. They are seeing some progress and continue to work on these issues. Regarding passport denials for people born near the border, the Senator’s office is doing direct casework on this problem for constituents.

We noted the problem with bank account denials as well. Sean was not aware of this and said he would bring this to the Senator’s attention. We agreed to send information to the office on this issue.

Foreign Affairs

The Senator is not on the Foreign Affairs Committee, but she is working against efforts to stop aid to Palestine. Regarding the efforts of Erik Prince to use private forces in Afghanistan, the Senator’s office didn’t have much information on this; we encouraged her to do what she can against such a contract in the Defense Appropriations Committee.

National Security

We thanked the Senator for her support of S-2047, Preventing War in North Korea Act of 2017. Sean responded that the Senator was definitely in favor of careful diplomacy on this and other critical issues.

Opioids and Marijuana

Attendees shared personal experiences with and information about medicinal marijuana and encouraged Senator Feinstein to reconsider her more conservative position on drugs, especially regarding support for recovery programs rather than jail. 

Election Security

Regarding S-2593, Secure Elections Act, which was pulled from hearing by Rules Committee chair Roy Blunt, we encouraged the Senator to continue her efforts to get it reset for a hearing and to actually strengthen the bill. We suggested inserting the bill’s provisions in the homeland security funding. Sean thought that strategy might be a good approach. We agreed to send the February 2018 report on state election security to him for the Senator’s attention.

Farm Bill

We encouraged the Senator to vote against any reduction in SNAP and imposition of work requirements in the Farm Bill. Sean indicated that Senator Feinstein supports SNAP but the bill is a lower priority right now as the Senate is generally better on these issues than the House.

Puerto Rico

We urged support of the Resilient Energy Infrastructure bill to aid the recovery in Puerto Rico. Regarding this issue, Sean suggested we also reach out to Senator Bill Nelson from Florida.

Lobby visit to Senator Feinstein's office, 9/5/18, photo by Toby St. John
Sean Elsbernd, Senator Feinstein’s State Director. Photo by Toby St. John

It was a congenial meeting and the staff was quite responsive to our questions and ideas. One exception: the ongoing request for a town hall meeting seems to be falling on deaf ears — not necessarily from the staff, but from the Senator herself.

Click here to read the Indivisible East Bay memo for the meeting.

IEB meeting with Senator Feinstein staff, Candace Goldman. Photo by Toby St. John
IEB meeting with Senator Feinstein staff, Candace Goldman. Photo by Toby St. John

Photos by Toby St. John

 

Canvassing: a win-win for you and the candidates

By Ted Lam

I confess. I’m obsessed with following the forecasts for the November 6 midterm elections. For the past several months I’ve been regularly checking FiveThirtyEight’s “2018 House Forecast” and “Who Is Winning the Race for Congress” poll results — sometimes as often as two or three times a minute just to make sure I have the latest results. If I wake up in the middle of the night, I immediately reach for my phone to check the latest news and FiveThirtyEight.com’s forecasts.

Why do I do this? Because the outcome is so consequential. When November 7 arrives, the last thing I want is to have that sinking feeling I had in 2016. But I also realize that just checking the latest forecasts, no matter how often I do it, is not enough. I need to do something more. Every day I wonder how I can best make a difference between now and November 6 — something that may help me sleep a little better at night. For me, the answer is: canvassing.

That’s why I’ve registered to canvass on October 6 in Sanger in support of TJ Cox, running for Congress in District 21. TJ is a charismatic and progressive Democrat running against incumbent Republican David Valadao.

Last March, I joined a few other IEB’ers on a weekend trip to canvass for TJ in Mendota. It was an enriching experience. During our initial training, TJ himself showed up to give us a pep talk. When we finally set out to canvass we were joined by close to 30 volunteers, mostly from the Bay Area. 

Most Mendota residents work in the local agricultural industry. It’s a close-knit community that cares very much about family. As I walked around with my canvassing partner Rae, we were struck by how warm and friendly everyone was. We also noticed that many of garages were open, being cleaned and decorated with balloons. From making small talk, we learned that these parents were using the garages to host birthday parties for their children.

On the canvassing trail, we knocked on doors to verify who lived there. We read the script from our smartphones. After being initially reluctant (and possibly suspicious), the residents opened up to us. Most didn’t know who TJ Cox was. After we explained his positions, the vast majority expressed willingness to vote for him.

My memories of that weekend in Mendota are images of shy smiles from the very old to the very young, an invitation from a family to come back to enjoy homemade tamales during the Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and of people who work hard and want opportunities for their children. These are good memories of a successful week-end of canvassing.

Join me on October 6 in Sanger and you can have that same positive experience while helping get a worthy progressive elected. Want to carpool? Email  me at indivisibleca11@gmail.com. I’m known for finding good food wherever I travel so you can look forward to a delicious lunch experience on Sunday, like this excellent Mexican restaurant we discovered in Mendota. 

Canvassing in Mendota

Canvassing and phone banking are the top two most effective ways to contact voters and make the Blue Wave happen. We need your help! What you can do:

  • Find IEB phone banks and canvassing trips and sign up at out our new “Volunteer to Flip the G-D- Congress” list & calendar. Also easily accessible on our home page
  • Sign up to get our weekly list of phone banks and canvassing trips
  • Learn the who, what, and why of canvassing and phone banking at our September 30 All Member Meeting at Sports Basement, Berkeley, from 1-3 PM. Hear from experts and sign up to help. We’ll also have demonstrations to demystify and show you how! Come, bring friends and spread the word. RSVP and details here.
  • Check out opportunities to canvass, phone or text bank, write postcards, and more, with these great organizations IEB works in coalition with: 
  • Join Indivisible Berkeley in phoning Nevada voters from home to help flip the critical NV Senate seat. Info & sign up here. Check out other IB events too.
  • See the East Bay for TJ Cox events calendar to support the CA-21 congressional candidate.
  • Canvass in CA-21 with Swing Left East Bay. Check upcoming events and sign up here.
  • Knock on doors to help flip CA-10 for Josh Harder. Info & sign up here.
  • Swing Left Contra Costa hosts monthly voter registration in Tracy (CA-10) on the 3rd Saturday of each month. Check their event calendar.
  • Canvass with Working America AFL-CIO in CA-10 (Modesto) and CA-21 (San Joaquin Valley). You’ll get excellent training and can then sign up for volunteer shifts.
  • Can’t canvass yourself? Donate to support one of the great groups listed above. You can even sponsor a canvasser in CA-21 by donating to Valley Forward, which helps employ people living in the district.

Ted Lam is retired from the USCG and currently works as a civil engineer.

 

Red to Blue HQ grand opening

By Ward Kanowsky

Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) hosted the grand opening of the “Red-to-Blue” headquarters at the IBEW Union Hall in Dublin, California on September 15, 2018.  The Hall is being made available through the mid-term elections to organizations who want to help GOTV (Get Out the Vote) through activities like phone banking and postcarding in battleground districts across the country.

At the grand opening, an overflow crowd had the option to phone bank in support of Jessica Morse, who is running against incumbent Tom McClintock in CA-4, or Colin Allred in Texas, or J.D. Scholten in Iowa. These were three of the “Future 40 Candidates” highlighted by Rep. Swalwell, a group of young, diverse candidates spread out across the country.

Future 40 Candidates

Indivisible East Bay has signed up to take advantage of the use of the Hall, with both postcarding and phone banking events planned on Saturday, October 6. More info and RSVP here. Hope to see you there!

Can’t make it, or want to find out other opportunities to help win back the House and Senate at the mid-terms? Check out our calendar!

Photographs by Ward Kanowsky. 

Ward Kanowsky is co-lead, with LeAnn Kanowsky, of the Indivisible East Bay CA-15 Team.

Rising for Climate, Jobs, and Justice

By Nancy Latham

On Saturday, September 9, over 900 Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice rallies were held worldwide. Indivisible East Bay represented at the San Francisco rally, with some 30,000 (that’s the reported, but unconfirmed, number) others on a gorgeous day, starting with two minutes of silence and connection with the earth.

Rise for Climate Jobs + Justice, photo by Nancy Latham

There were songs and some short speeches, and then we marched from the Embarcadero to City Hall, where we ended with another two minutes of silence and reconnection. At City Hall, marchers also found a bustling resource fair. Our IEB table was in excellent company between Indivisible SF and Indivisible Berkeley (why should the Indivisibles be separated?!?)

Rise for Climate Jobs + Justice, IEB GC members Nancy Latham and Nick Travaglini

IEB Governance Committee member Nick Travaglini held down the fort for the entire day, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and GC member Nancy Latham joined Nick for the last two hours after the march was over. From 2 to 4 PM a constant stream of people stopped by to learn more about Indivisible and to sign up to get our weekly newsletter and participate in actions with us. We hope to see some of these new faces at the next All Member Meeting: September 30, 1-3 PM at Sports Basement, Berkeley. RSVP (free, of course) and details here. We hope you join us, too!

Rise for Climate Jobs + Justice, photo by Nancy Latham

Photographs by Nancy Latham

Nancy Latham is on IEB’s Governance Committee, and is a passionate member of the Resistance. In her day job, she works with non-profits, foundations, and government agencies that support greater equity and justice through initiatives in youth development, education, housing, and community development.

 

Phone-bank and canvass like the life of the Republic depends on it!

Summer is ending and it’s time to get serious about flipping Congress. We have a little over two months left to do everything we can to activate voters before the 2018 midterms. But don’t freak out, there are things you can do:

Those of us who know that Trump and everything he stands for must be RESOUNDINGLY REJECTED must do the hard work of advanced citizenship … It’s called organizing and absolutely every single one of us is capable of doing it. No matter your skill, experience, or background, no matter how little time you have to spare. Everyone can do something.

As you may know, Indivisible East Bay has partnered with Indivisible Northern Nevada on a special phone-banking and canvassing project to reach Reno voters who have registered non-partisan but are progressive on issues such as health care, civil rights, and immigration. We’re giving them the information they need to vote for a Senate candidate who shares their values. We’re also making calls to recruit local volunteers to help with these efforts. 

What you can do: sign up to canvass and phone bank!

Sign up here for IEB canvass trips to Reno:

Trips cover weekends, Saturdays and Sundays. We will be joining local Indivisible Northern Nevada volunteers and may be able to help with carpools and lodging.

  • September 15 & 16
  • September 29 & 30
  • October 20 & 21
  • October 27 &  28
  • November 3 & 4

Sign up here for phone banks sponsored by IEB:

We’ll also be calling voters in Nevada and recruiting volunteers here in the Bay Area to help us in Nevada.

  • Thursday 8/30, 6:30-8:30 PM, phone bank in Richmond
  • Sunday 9/2, 2:30-5:30 PM, phone bank in Rockridge/Temescal
  • Thursday 9/6, 6-8 PM, phone bank in East Oakland (near Mills College)
  • Sunday 9/9, 9/2 2:30-5:30 PM, phone bank in Rockridge/Temescal
  • Tuesday 9/11, 6-8 PM, phone bank in Rockridge/Claremont

We’re looking to expand our phone banks to all corners of the East Bay. If you don’t see one listed near you, please contact us to find out how to host one, or recruit a friend or neighbor to do so. We can provide all the support you need!

Sign up to phonebank with some other great local organizations to help flip swing districts in California:

You can even sign up to make calls to swing districts all across the country from the comfort of your own home! Sign up with Swing Left here. It’s even more fun if you invite some neighbors over!

 

Pleasanton Turns Up to Postcard

IEB Ale and Mail Postcard Party in Pleasanton
IEB Ale & Mail Postcard Party in Pleasanton – photo by Ryan Wilson

By Ward Kanowsky

Over 40 enthusiastic attendees from three progressive organizations participated in a very successful postcarding event on August 25 at The Hopyard Alehouse in Pleasanton.  Members from Indivisible East Bay, Livermore Indivisible, and the Tri-Valley Women’s March Action Group pumped out 374 postcards in support of TJ Cox’s candidacy for California’s 21st Congressional District, where he is challenging incumbent Rep. David Valadao. Mary McFarland from East Bay for TJ Cox shared that TJ has an engineering background and owns two agricultural businesses in the Central Valley.

There were also many constituents of Rep. Eric Swalwell at the event, and they wrote additional postcards to the Congressperson urging him to reach across the aisle to his colleagues who are not for the Farm Bill and tell them how important the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is to so many families in CA-15.

While Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website shows a 64% chance of Valadao losing to a Democrat, outreach still needs to be made to voters in the area. Hillary Clinton carried CA-21 by 15 points, but incumbent Valadao beat Cox in the June primary by 14,000 votes. If you are interested in helping out, visit East Bay for TJ Cox to see how you can get involved.

Want to find out more about, or join, IEB’s CA-15 team? Email us or contact @ward on Slack.

Ward Kanowsky is co-lead, with LeAnn Kanowsky, of the Indivisible East Bay CA-15 Team.

IEB Supports 2018 Prison Strike

Update: IEB members participated in an August 25, 2018 rally at San Quentin in support of the National Prison Strike; stay tuned for a first-person report.

On August 21, 2018, prisoners around the US began a three-week strike “demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.” This strike, which involves work strikes, sit-ins, boycotts and hunger strikes, is in response to the April 2018 riot at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina, during which seven prisoners died while guards waited hours to take action. The dates are significant: August 21st is the anniversary of the date on which Black Panther Party Field Marshal and prison activist George Jackson was killed by a prison guard in 1971; September 9th is the anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion, which erupted two weeks after Jackson’s assassination.

Indivisible East Bay is endorsing the strike and stands in solidarity with incarcerated people who suffer through the American penal system. In particular, we appreciate those who work to fight the wildfires throughout California for as little as $2 per hour. California has argued in court against releasing prisoners because it finds their cheap labor so valuable, which philosophically aligns with the legality of slavery under the 13th amendment. We cannot stand by as these workers are undervalued simply because of their conviction of a crime and imprisonment without a voice or adequate rehabilitation programs.

Therefore, we urge all of our members and others to stand in solidarity with those striking through September 9. IEB will periodically publish events that members can attend to support this effort, including one on August 25 at San Quentin. We also encourage members to spread the word about the strike and to ask elected officials to meet the 10-point list of demands, and to investigate root causes for the increase in incarceration rates in the US since the 1970s.

Bay Area National Prison Strike Solidarity Committee

Graphic credit Bay Area National Prison Strike Solidarity Committee.