IEB Meeting with Sen. Harris staff June 2019

Meeting with Senator Kamala Harris’ staff, June 25, 2019
From Sen. Harris’ office: Daniel “Dino” Chen, Deputy State Director 

Read Indivisible East Bay’s pre-meeting memorandum

TOPICS DISCUSSED:

  • Iran & the Middle East: We thanked Senator Harris for cosponsoring the Protection Against Unconstitutional War on Iran Act and demanding the status of mobilizing troops for war from the Administration. Dino said he’d check with the DC team regarding the Senator’s position on nuclear force
  • National Defense Authorization Act: we thanked the Senator for voting no. Dino will get back to us regarding the Senator’s position on the Udall-Paul Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to prevent illegal military action in Iran. (As of publication, Sen. Harris voted for the amendment, according to Senate records)
  • Migrant Detention Centers: Advocates expressed concern regarding lack of Congressional oversight of federal detention centers, especially private ones. Dino indicated that the Senator was a leader in a rapid response network to provide legal counsel to detainees and that her “number one priority” right now is addressing the immigration crisis. He’ll get an answer for us on our request for a commitment from the Senator to vote NO on any emergency response bill that does not specifically address migrant youth. He’ll also find out if there is still Congressional oversight if migrants are transferred to Fort Sill, OK.
  • Election Security: We discussed the $600 million appropriation in the House to enhance election security that Senate leadership is unwilling to take up.
  • American Family Act: We thanked the Senator for cosponsoring
  • Impeachment: Dino indicated that the Senator would support opening impeachment proceedings. He did not commit to whether or not the Senator would ask Speaker Pelosi to start these proceedings.
  • Census: Sen. Harris agrees with us about the importance of building trust in under-represented communities and ensuring we are set up for a complete count in the 2020 census.  Dino recommended that advocates connect with their local Complete Count Committee to support these efforts.
  • Public Appearances by Senator Harris: We expressed concern about the Senator’s lack of presence in the community in her official capacity, and asked that her team consider organizing periodic town halls/forums to help her connect with constituents. Dino said they’re trying their hardest to get her to the Bay Area but it’s hard because they aren’t allowed to coordinate with the campaign, who obviously want her in key primary states.  She is, however, almost confirmed to attend the Lake Tahoe Summit.
  • Healthcare: Dino indicated that next month’s focus will be on health care, and they’ll be doing some story banking on that subject.

 

– By IEB member Zach

IEB Meeting with Sen. Feinstein Staff June 2019

Meeting with Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Staff, June 20, 2019
1 Post St., San Francisco

From Sen. Feinstein’s office: Jim Lazarus, State Director; Abigail Ellis, Field Representative; two interns

Read Indivisible East Bay’s pre-meeting memorandum

TOPICS DISCUSSED:

  • Climate Change & Infrastructure: Climate change and rising sea levels (a consequence of climate change) affect infrastructure, including roads and bridges. We asked whether Sen. Feinstein is working to include climate change in infrastructure legislation; Jim Lazarus said not that he knew of, but that he’d let the Senator know about our concern.
  • Iran and the Middle East/AUMF Repeal & Defense Appropriations Bill: Lazarus expressed frustration that Sen. Feinstein has tried repeatedly to contact Secretary of State Pompeo, who hasn’t returned any of her calls. He said that Feinstein supports the nuclear treaty with Iran and does not support the US withdrawal from it OR the unilateral use of force without authorization from Congress. Ellis said that Feinstein supports the repeal of the 2001 AUMF; Lazarus continued that in political reality, there will be a defense appropriations bill, and it will probably include a compromise on the AUMF repeal.
  • ICE and CBP Detention Facilities/Border Supplemental Appropriations Bill: We presented background information and recommended that the Senator view the recent argument of a Justice Department lawyer before a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel that CBP needed the authority to deny children sleep as well as access to basic hygiene. Lazarus agreed to do this. Feinstein’s staff has visited the detention facilities, and she is extremely concerned about how the children are being treated; Ellis said that the facilities are exploiting loopholes, which the Senator wants to close via legislation. As far as her staff knows, her thinking on the role of ICE has not changed.
  • American Dream and Promise Act: We asked Sen. Feinstein to move to proceed to a floor vote on the bill. Lazarus asked if anyone asked Sen. McConnell, and we pointed out that by Senate rules, any Senator can make a motion for a floor vote.
  • Judicial Nominations: We have asked Sen. Feinstein to vote NO on the floor on Trump’s judicial nominations even if she votes YES in the Judiciary committee. According to her staff, she has to maintain relationships and cooperation with some Republicans: for example, when Sen. Feinstein might seek support from some Republican Senators for judicial nominations she favors, especially of nominees from California—or of other legislative goals she supports.
  • Election Security: The Senator is concerned about election security. We urged Sen. Feinstein (and other Democratic Senators) to push back on Sen. McConnell, and were skeptical of Lazarus’ explanation that the GOP opposes election-security legislation because it traditionally favors “local control” and fears possible overreach from federal government standards for elections.
  • American Family Act of 2019: We expressed disappointment that Sen. Feinstein still hasn’t joined 38 of her colleagues in cosponsoring this legislation to help families with children. Lazarus said he didn’t know of any concerns keeping her from cosponsoring and implied she might be exploring alternatives.
  • Investigations & Oversight: We expressed concern that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are not obtaining adequate information about the Mueller investigations and the previous FBI counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in our 2016 election. Lazarus was unable to tell us what Sen. Feinstein is doing to ensure that the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which she is the ranking member, will finally obtain all the information it needs. 

 

– By IEB member Phil

Meeting with State Sen. Skinner, June 2019

Indivisible East Bay Meeting with State Senator Nancy Skinner, SD 9

June 28, 2019

From Sen. Skinner’s Office: State Senator Nancy Skinner, Margaret Hanlon-Gradie 

All notes reflect remarks by Senator Skinner unless otherwise noted.

Overview, some things that California can do to fight the federal government and make the state and local communities more livable:

  • Addressing wealth disparity; we used the budget to extended medical from undocumented children all the way up to 25-year-olds; we missed getting coverage for undocumented seniors because the Governor blocked it on budget concerns; we had a bill for student health programs to provide Plan B, but were vetoed by Brown – we’ve passed it again, and are confident Newsom will sign it.
  • Hanlon-Gradie: We plan to put out an ICE raid warning in two weeks.
  • ICE is contracting less with sheriffs because of monitoring and inspecting by the state. Yolo County had a juvenile in solitary for 9 months – our bill gave powers to the AG to inspect the jails and got that fixed. Caging kids may play to some in Trump’s base, but hurts him with the overall electorate.

Issues concerning sheriffs:

  • Aware of current sheriff eligibility bill that would require sheriffs to have gone to police academy. 
  • AB1185, bill for oversight over sheriffs, is up for a July 2 committee vote; worried about the Appropriations Committee – Anthony Portantino of La Cañada-Flintridge needs to be lobbied to pass it through committee.
  • Budget for deportation concerns: added $20MM to the general legal defense fund for tenant and immigrant defense, like East Bay Community Law Center. The more money that’s available in the big pool, the more will go to immigration defense.
  • Elected vs. appointed sheriffs: as it stands, appointed sheriffs won’t get put on the ballot because of the sheriffs’ power. Was unaware that sheriffs and district attorneys have no term limits; generally opposes term limits but would consider a bill to let counties impose them.

Election Security and voting rights:

  • IEB: could CA have an omnibus election security bills like HR1? Skinner: Lobby Lorena Gonzales (AD80) – she wants to be Secretary of State and this is an issue that could distinguish her.
  • Same day registration: Agrees with IEB that Motor Voter is not enough.
  • ACA 6, Constitutional amendment, parolee voting rights: Supports, and also supports SB310, which would allow former felons to serve on juries – a civil rights issue because a black man has a hard time getting a jury of his peers. (Some question about actual sponsorship of these bills.)

Miscellaneous legislation:

  • AB1593 (plastic pollution reduction): already included in budget; AB1080 (single use plastic ban bill): already in the senate as SB54 (and there’s a duplicate clause in a another bill before the senate) 
  • Supports AB1022 (anti hunger response training)
  • Supports tax credit for children but suggests we support Autumn Burke tax credit, which is similar 
  • AB5 (codifying and expanding the CA Supreme Court Dynamex case prohibiting employers from misclassifying employees as contractors vs. employees): Skinner supports the bill and is very unhappy that the Governor is going to block it. She suggests we lobby the Governor. 
  • SB168, creates a Chief Officer of Climate Resilience: Skinner will consider co-authoring.

IEB resists at worldONE Festival

Janis Hashe contributed to this article

(Mis)fortune cookies! Selfie-ready resistance picture frames! A DIY “Impeachment Tree”! Henry the Indivisi-bulldog! Indivisible East Bay’s booth at the July 4th El Cerrito/worldONE Fair had it all, and more! Check out this slideshow with great photos by Mary Martin DeShaw, a volunteer photographer with Pro Bono Photography.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A constant stream of people visited the booth, which was staffed by enthusiastic IEB and Indivisible Kensington members organized by IEB Governance Committee member and outreach team co-lead Toni. Biggest hit – everyone reading their (mis)fortunes from specially made cookies containing actual quotes from the Mueller Report. CA-11 team members Alice and Matt had the cookies made to order, after poring through the Report for quotes short enough to fit on the fortune slips! (Photos by Alice Towey).

These are the Mueller (mis)fortunes, which one did you get? (Or if you missed out, get one at our July 28 All Members Meeting, 1-3 PM, Sports Basement, Berkeley.) 

“While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

“The investigation also identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign.”

“McGahn recalled the President telling him ‘Mueller has to go’ and ‘Call me back when you do it.'”

“The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.”

“… several individuals affiliated with the Trump Campaign lied to the Office, and to Congress, about their interactions with Russian-affiliated individuals… “

“REDACTED”

Convinced by IEB member George to declaim their (mis)fortunes on camera, cookie readers included State Senator Nancy Skinner – watch the video! Skinner also posed for a photo with a picture frame reading “Persisting…and Resisting!” 

IEB booth at the El Cerrito worldONE July 4 Fair, photo by Heidi Rand
Senator Skinner with IEB members Denise & George, photo by Heidi Rand

Many fairgoers eagerly expressed their opinions by posting “leaves” (comments) on the Impeachment Tree board, created by IEB and Alameda4Impeachment (A4I) member Larry.

IEB booth at the El Cerrito worldONE July 4 Fair, photo by Heidi Rand
“Indivisible Tree”, photo by Heidi Rand

We also handed out several flyers asking people to take direct action to: 

  • Urge Governor Newson and Attorney General Becerra to enforce California’s sanctuary law (see our article to take the same action);
  • Ask their mayor to speak out against the administration’s anti-immigrant policies and ensure that no local funds or resources are used in cooperation with ICE/CBP raids (see our article to take the same action);
  • Help pressure corporations that are profiting from doing business with ICE and CBP in spite of human rights violations at immigrant detention centers (see our article to take the same action);
  • Make their voice heard on impeachment (see our article to take the same action).

Our booth was honored by visits from some notables – Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia expressed his support and enjoyed a (mis)fortune cookie. And the IEB July 4 Fair Judges awarded MOST notable appearance to Henry the Indivisi-bulldog, who was accompanied by his humans, Tom and CA-11 team co-lead Kristen. Henry graciously posed for paparazzi, who shot pix of him behind the very popular selfie-frames designed by CA-11 team member Janis, including “Persisting  . . . and Resisting!!” and “Make America Cake Again” which featured a cake illustration frosted with “Dump Trump 2020.” 

IEB booth at the El Cerrito worldONE July 4 Fair, photo by Heidi Rand
Henry, the Indivisi-bulldog, with Tom, photo by Heidi Rand

A fabulous time was had by all – check out George’s videos of visitors reading their Mueller (mis)fortunes, here, here, and here — and more photos by GC member Heidi in this slideshow:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Janis Hashe is a freelance writer/editor/teacher/theatre person. She has been politically active in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chattanooga and now Richmond. Her deepest personal commitments include fighting climate change, ending factory farming and overturning Citizens United.

Photographs by Mary Martin DeShaw, Pro Bono Photo, Heidi Rand, and Alice Towey

 

 

 

Show your resistance colors by volunteering at Indivisible East Bay’s booth at the fun-tastic City of El Cerrito/worldOne Fourth of July Festival on Thursday, July 4, 2019, 10 AM to 6 PM. All you need is a basic familiarity with Indivisible and a friendly smile, and our experienced IEB members will help you with anything else. Non-El Cerrito folks welcome, kids welcome, friends welcome, folks with disabilities welcome (the event is wheelchair accessible) – you get the idea, everyone is welcome. We especially need volunteers between noon and 4 PM. To sign up for shifts or if you have questions, email Outreach co-lead Toni at tonihenle@gmail.com or message her on IEB’s Slack: @toni_henle. Read more (and see great photos from last year!) at our article.

 

Summer Impeachment Pop-Up [see our article about this great event!]

Pitch in to help IEB and co-hosts Alameda4Impeachment at our Impeach Trump event in Oakland on Sat. June 15, 1-3 PM, on the plaza outside 1301 Clay St., Oakland. We’re planning a fun, creative and family-friendly event to inspire, inform, and activate people to urge the House to open an impeachment inquiry.

  • Help us unload and set up in 30-minute shifts from 11 am until 1 pm; and clean up & tear down at 3 pm.
  • Spread the word on social media – follow IEB on facebook and share our event. On twitter, follow A4I and IEB — and RT our posts. At the event, post your great photos of the activities with the hashtag #ImpeachTrump. Also tag @IndivisibleEB 
  • Feed the resistance: bring some peaches to share as snacks! 

To help out, or for more info, email us at alameda4impeachment@gmail.com and/or join the #impeachment channel on Slack.

Photograph of IEB’s July 4th booth by Heidi Rand

Tell Big Business: No Cruelty for Profit!

By Alice Towey

It’s no secret that conditions at border detention facilities are dangerous and inhumane. Reports detail overcrowding, degrading treatment, and lack of access to food, sanitation, and medical treatment. The situation is even more dire for children who are separated from their families, locked in cages, and left without proper care. Denied basic essentials like soap and toothbrushes, these children are at risk of severe health issues, and may suffer lasting trauma as a result of their imprisonment. 

The conditions are shocking, but some CEOs can’t see past the chance to make a buck. Numerous companies have shown themselves willing to profit from human misery, continuing to do business with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in spite of the human rights violations. 

Fortunately, not everyone at these companies is willing to look the other way, and hundreds of employees have shown their moral courage by standing up for what’s right. On June 26, 2019, hundreds of employees of home furnishings company Wayfair staged a walkout to protest the company’s contract to furnish a youth detention center in Texas. Similarly, last year over 600 Salesforce employees signed a letter asking their CEO to “re-examine” the company’s contracts with CBP. 

It’s time for us to stand up as well, to tell the leadership of these companies that we see them and we will hold them accountable. Make no mistake – we want immigrant children to have beds, but we want them to have beds that aren’t in a cage. The end goal is to close the camps and release people who are exercising their basic human right (protected by international law) to seek asylum. Help apply pressure by letting these companies know that you’re watching and that you won’t tolerate their complicity in human rights abuses.

What to do:

Contact the companies doing business with ICE and CBP. Here are a sample message and below that, contacts for several corporations that have active contracts with ICE and CBP. Please email them to ask them to stop profiting from human misery. 

What to say: 

Please use as these message points but rewrite them, choose among them, reorder them to create your own message. Most companies discount or even disregard numerous emails that come in with the same or overly similar language.

If you email, be sure to include your name and your city and state.

  • I’m writing to ask that your company take immediate action to show its support for basic human rights. 
  • I understand that [COMPANY NAME] has active contracts with ICE and/or CBP, the two federal agencies involved in separating children from their families, terrorizing immigrant communities, and detaining people in inhumane conditions on the southern border. 
  • If your company has any involvement in enabling the US government to pursue a racist, inhumane policy to separate children from their parents and house them in what amount to cages and internment camps, I implore you to stop that involvement right now. 
  • At this moment in US history, we cannot rely on our elected representatives to do the right thing. 
  • Be a leader, take the moral high ground and lead the way. 
  • Don’t put profits over morality.
  • Please be on the right side of history and end your company’s involvement in these horrifying practices. 

Who’s making a buck off human misery:

Wayfair: In spite of the walkout mentioned above, Wayfair management insists it will fulfill a $200,000 order from BCFS, a government contractor that manages detention centers. 

Microsoft: ICE uses Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform for handling data. Microsoft had a $19.4 million contract with ICE as of 2018. 

Deloitte: $103 million in contracts with ICE, including $4 million which directly involve “detention compliance and removals.” 

Salesforce: CEO Marc Benioff apparently “struggled” with the decision to keep a contract with CBP, but keep it he did

General Dynamics: General Dynamics contracts with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. In fiscal year 2017, General Dynamics had $15 billion in government contracts and had faced $280.3 million penalties for 23 misconduct cases since 1995. 

More ways you can help!

Want to do more? This July 3, 2019 Sludge article lists dozens of nonprofit shelters and some companies that are profiting from detaining and transporting migrant children – contact them as well.

Alice Towey is a Civil Engineer specializing in water resource management. She lives in El Cerrito, where she and her husband are active in Indivisible CA-11 United.

Photograph © Office of Inspector General Report July 2, 2019 “Management Alert – DHS Needs to Address Dangerous Overcrowding and Prolonged Detention of Children and Adults in the Rio Grande Valley (Redacted)”

IEB Comes Out for Pride 2019!

By Elizabeth Douglas

Indivisible East Bay proudly joined Indivisible San Francisco to march with the Resistance Contingent in the June 30 SF Pride Parade. Pride’s 2019 theme, “Generations of Resistance,” honors the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots; our contingent was dedicated to honoring these revolutionary renegades for civil rights and justice for the LGBTQIA+ community.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Many of your fave Bay Area resistance groups came out, including Alameda4Impeachment (A4I), and we all pushed the “Justice is Coming” message with calls for impeachment. The crowd was super eager to repeat our message throughout the whole long parade – we got loud enough that even Speaker Pelosi couldn’t deny the public groundswell!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Whether you joined us or not, don’t miss more wonderful photos than we could fit into this article, all taken by Mary DeShaw, a volunteer photographer with Pro Bono Photography; and videographer Lis Cox’s videos, here and here.

This beautiful and joyful day was a welcome reminder that even in tumultuous times, if we come together as a community to fight injustice, love has the power to triumph and unify all.

Elizabeth Douglas is a mom, runner, and activist from Alameda. She is also a Climate Reality Leader (Seattle 2017) with a strong interest in protecting our ocean and corals.

All photographs by Mary Martin DeShaw, Pro Bono Photo

Tell our MoCs: support Medicare Negotiation legislation

Deadline: NOW! – Unless you’re a magical unicorn who never gets sick, and you’ve never seen any drug ads, you know: Prescription drug prices are crazy high in the United States. It isn’t just anecdotal opinion: they really are much higher in the U.S. than in other high-income countries, and Americans spend more on prescription drugs than residents of other countries. You might think that the government, as the largest purchaser of prescription drugs in the world (through Medicare Part D), would use its bargaining power to get lower prices for patients. You’d be wrong: they are not allowed to do that.

Now, the Democrats have introduced the bicameral Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act, a set of bills that would give Medicare the power it needs to effectively negotiate with drug companies and bring drug prices down. In the House, Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) introduced H.R. 1046; as of this writing, Reps. Lee and DeSaulnier have cosponsored it, but Rep. Swalwell has not. In the Senate, Sherrod Brown introduced S. 377; as of this writing, neither Senator nor Feinstein nor Senator Harris has cosponsored.

What you can do:

1. For more information, read Indivisible National’s page about how the bill would work, why arbitration isn’t good enough, and more.

2. Call your Members of Congress and tell them to reject bills that use arbitration to bring down drug prices, and to cosponsor the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act.

What to say to your Representative: 

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay.  Please reject bills that would use arbitration to bring down drug prices.

  • Do you live in CA-11 or CA-13, represented by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier or Rep. Barbara Lee? Say also: Thank you for cosponsoring H.R. 1046, the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act.
  • Do you live in CA-15 (Rep. Eric Swalwell)? Say also: Please cosponsor H.R. 1046, the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act.
  • 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

What to say to our Senators: 

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay.  Please reject bills that would use arbitration to bring down drug prices, and cosponsor S. 377, the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act.

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
  • Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553

 

Money tablet” graphic by tOrange.biz 

 

 

 

 

IEB attends the CA Democratic Convention

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

By Kristen Law

For the first time in over 20 years, the California Democratic Convention was held in San Francisco at the Moscone Center from May 31-June 2, 2019. The convention had both statewide and nationwide importance for the Democratic party: on a statewide level, the delegates had the task of choosing the next state party chair (after a series of lawsuits were filed against the party and the previous chair, Eric Bauman, for discrimination, sexual harassment, workplace bullying, and more). And nationwide, with California’s 2020 primary now on “Super Tuesday,” presidential candidates are taking California more seriously than in the past; and many candidates attended and spoke at the convention.

I had the good luck to attend as a delegate representing Region 5, since Representative Mark DeSaulnier appointed me to help promote progressive thinking in the state party. I had the opportunity to join thousands of other delegates and guests in caucus meetings, meetings with the candidates for the California Democratic Chair, and general sessions, including speeches from 14 Democratic presidential hopefuls; and to stand in a two-hour line to vote for the new chair of the California Democratic Party. I also got to hug “Auntie Maxine” Waters, which made the cost of admission and long lines worth it.

Rusty Hicks, a labor leader from Southern California, garnered 57% of the votes to become the new California Democratic Chair. I supported Kimberly Ellis, a local Bay Area activist, who finished second with 36%. Ellis would have been the first woman to lead the state party in more than 30 years and the first Black woman to chair the organization. She drove a progressive agenda and I heard rumors that the party establishment breathed a sigh of relief because of Ellis’ support of publicly financed elections.

It was exciting to have 14 presidential candidates address the delegates about their platforms and how to remove the current occupant from the White House. Overall the narrative was pushed further left than expected – perhaps because of California’s spot in the primaries. Hot topics in many of the speeches included climate change, women’s rights, health care for all, immigration, education, getting corrupt money out of politics and much more. John Delaney and John Hickenlooper were booed off stage.

We also heard from numerous Californian elected officials, including Governor Gavin Newsom, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and many more. Pelosi was met with shouts of “impeach” throughout her speech – shouts that got louder as she discussed the Mueller Report.

The convention was filled with progressive demonstrations and tabling. Two of my favorites: Planned Parenthood was promoting Project X, their campaign to protect and expand health care, and the Sex Workers Outreach Project asked for support on SB 233, the Immunity from Arrest Law.

Without multiple clones, it was impossible to get to every event – thankfully the California Democratic Party has posted videos and results online!

  • You can watch the General Session videos at this link.  
  • You can find the floor packet, resolutions passed, legislation endorsed, rules changes, and training materials at this link.

The next convention is just a little over five months away in Long Beach (November 15-17). I’ve been told that this one will be focused on endorsements; details coming soon!

 

Kristen Law loves her Richmond community and when she is not working as a Community Engagement Specialist or teaching and practicing yoga you can find her snuggling her pets, saving butterflies or testing vegan recipes. She was one of the founding members of Indivisible East Bay and co-leads the CA-11 team.

 

Building a Team to Secure Our Elections

By Haleh S

The security and integrity of U.S. elections has been heatedly discussed in public, and by the media and politicians, especially since our 2016 election. The terms election security and election integrity are often used interchangeably, with much of the recent focus on election security – generally referring to steps we take to protect voting machines from foreign or domestic hacking – because of Russia’s interference. Election integrity usually refers to preserving our democratic electoral processes, including voter registration, accessibility, ballot counting, vote audits, and generally protecting voter confidence in the system.

To ensure election integrity we must promote fair, credible, professional, and inclusive electoral processes. According to the Electoral Knowledge Network, without electoral integrity we can’t hold leaders and officials accountable to the public, and our confidence in election results is weakened. A 2016 Gallup poll revealed that only 35% of Americans were “very confident” that their vote would be counted accurately. Voter confidence in any democratic election process is one of the necessary elements of protecting the integrity of elections.

On May 19, 2019, the Secure Elections Network presented a webinar, “Making Connections: Working with Elections Officials for Common Goals,” featuring Tina Barton, the City Clerk of Rochester Hills, Michigan, and an election security advocate. Barton was appointed to Michigan’s Election Security Commission by the MI Secretary of State. The Commission, the first of its kind, was created in March 2019 to help boost voter confidence, increase turnout, and secure the integrity of elections against known and future threats such as hacking.

A passionate leader in protecting the electoral process, Barton wants to make the process fair and accessible to all eligible voters, and to increase voter confidence in elections. In her presentation, Barton highlighted current challenges with interactions between election officials and election advocates, and suggested ways to overcome them. We should benefit from each other’s strengths by collaborating, said Barton, stressing the importance of having a unified team of election officials and advocates to secure our 2020 and future elections. Her presentation featured Henry Ford’s motto: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, working together is success.” Some of her concrete suggestions were that officials and advocates communicate frequently to share information, work together to recognize and fix problems, present unified messaging on registration and voting, and hold events jointly.

In her “Open Letter to Advocates of All Things Election Related”, Barton encourages advocates and officials to work together to get correct information to voters. She’s also dedicated to stopping partisan interference and attacks on voter confidence, stating during the webinar that elections should be a nonpartisan battle ground.

We are not each other’s enemy

Barton noted that the majority of contacts between election officials and voting rights groups have been negative and adversarial. She believes that advocacy groups have the misconception that election officials and election workers seek to impede the process, and because of that election officials often feel they’re being attacked or are doing something wrong. Barton thinks these problems are often caused by lack of understanding of each other’s roles. She explained that in many small or rural municipalities, one official is responsible for a wide range of duties and responsibilities, with elections being only one. Often these officials lack the necessary technical knowledge about aspects of election security that advocates ask about. This misunderstanding often causes hostility between them, although in reality both sides want the same things — secure electoral processes.

Another cause of mistrust and confusion between advocacy groups and election workers is that every state’s election process and registration is different. For example, in some states — such as Barton’s (Michigan) — local officials run elections, whereas in other states county clerks do so. Barton also noted that most election officials’ main complaint is a lack of resources, including the scarcity of election workers who are knowledgeable about information technology (IT). In her community, most election workers are retired adults who have been out of the workforce for years. They work long hours on election days and a lot of expectations are placed on them, but they’re not IT experts and this is one cause of negative and adversary interactions between the election workers and poll monitors.

Let’s work together, not against each other

When asked by one of the Secure Elections Network members how to overcome the mistrust and open a dialogue with election officials, Barton suggested person-to-person, face-to-face introductions. She said that advocates should simply go meet the officials. She emphasized that one of the best ways to build trust is for advocates to start by asking how they can help. She believes that when we work together toward a shared cause, whether or not we have the same political views, we will respect one another more and help solve problems together rather than finger-pointing and blaming. She also noted that activist groups could help under-funded counties which don’t have the resources to hire enough election workers or hire workers who are IT knowledgeable. Every election official in the country needs help with setting up and explaining basic IT, and knowledgeable advocates who want to improve things can be of real use.

The Secure Elections Network is made up of leaders and members of several Indivisible groups nationwide, including Indivisible East Bay. For more info about the webinar, email stephanie.chaplin20@gmail.com. Watch “Building a Team To Secure Our Elections” webinar here. You can watch SEN’s past webinars here. And read our articles about prior webinars: Ballot Marking Devices 101 and Indivisible Webinar to Secure Our Elections  

If you want to learn more about the work that IEB’s Voter Rights & Election Integrity team is doing, and how you can help, email us at info@IndivisibleEB.org, or join the #voting-issues channel on IEB’s Slack.  For an invitation to join Slack, email: info@IndivisibleEB.org

Haleh S. is an Engineer turned Lawyer, turned Activist

 

Beach Bodies are IMPEACH Bodies

By Larry Baskett

Beach Impeach June 1 2019, photo by Stefan Ruenzel
Beach Impeach June 1 2019, photo by Stefan Ruenzel

On a typical cold, breezy June 1, Indivisible East Bay members were among the six hundred volunteers who formed a gigantic “IMPEACH” sign on San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. Indivisible San Francisco hosted the event, and participants came from every congressional district in the Bay Area (with a few from the Central Valley!). Many participants were from their own local Indivisible groups, and the effort was supported by many organizations including Indivisible National, Indivisible South Bay, Alameda4Impeachment (A4I), CREDO Action, MoveOn, SOS America, Need to Impeach, and By the People.

The event coincided with this year’s California Democratic Party convention (CADem) and with MoveOn’s “Big Ideas Forum” for presidential candidates across town; the organizers also had a plane flying a banner saying “SPKR PELOSI: IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY NOW” over downtown San Francisco!

In addition to looking great on the beach, we handed out congressional district-specific “call cards” with contact info for our Members of Congress, and with our request for the MoCs to cosponsor H.Res. 257 and open impeachment hearings. Read on to find out how you can do this and take other actions supporting an impeachment inquiry!

What you can do:

 

Larry Baskett is a mechanical engineer from Berkeley who spent a year on staff at the California State Senate and who previously volunteered with Wolf PAC, the campaign finance reform organization.

“Beach Impeach June 1 2019”, photo by Stefan Ruenzel