Call in day: Voting Rights for People on Parole

Deadline: On Monday, August 19, 2019, make a call to make California a more democratic place –

California is one of a rapidly shrinking number of states that doesn’t allow people on parole to vote. Believe it or not, it’s actually in the state Constitution. Now ACA 6, the “Free the Vote Act,” would amend the California Constitution to remove that prohibition – and it’s coming up for a vote in the State Assembly the week of August 19. Tell your Assemblymember: Vote YES on ACA 6. Read on for a short call script and contact info; and below that, more info, talking points, a great toolkit to boost this on social media, and more resources.

What to do:

1. Call your state Assemblymember and tell them to vote YES on ACA 6.

What to say:

If your Assemblymember is Rob Bonta, he’s a coauthor of the bill; you don’t have to ask him to vote on it, but you should thank him:

My name is ____________, my zip code is _____________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Assemblymember Bonta for coauthoring ACA 6. Not allowing people on parole to vote is a form of voter suppression and it needs to end. California should leave Jim Crow behind. Many states restore the vote to people when they leave prison. We should too.

  • Rob Bonta: District: 510-286-1670; Capitol: 916-319-2018

If your Assemblymember is Buffy Wicks, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, or Bill Quirk, tell them:

My name is ____________, my zip code is _____________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want Assemblymember _______ to vote YES on ACA 6. Not allowing people on parole to vote is a form of voter suppression and it needs to end. California should leave Jim Crow behind. Many states restore the vote to people when they leave prison. We should too.

  • Buffy Wicks: District: 510-286-1400; Capitol: 916-319-2015
  • Rebecca Bauer-Kahan: Capitol (handles legislative calls): 916-319-2016
  • Bill Quirk: Capitol: 916-319-2020; District 510-583-8818
  • Not sure who your Assemblymember is? Check here; or call 916-702-8820 and enter your zip code and you’ll be connected directly to your legislator.
  • Got California friends outside the East Bay? They can use this click-to-call page for a script and to be patched through to their Assemblymember; or they can call 916-702-8820 and enter their zip code to be connected directly to their legislator.

2. Spread it on social media

Here’s a cool social media toolkit all set up for you! Use it, pass it on, spread the word!

More info about why we need ACA 6:

Under the California Constitution and Elections Code, people on parole cannot vote. ACA 6 seeks to change that.

Parole is intended to reintegrate formerly incarcerated individuals back into the community. Nearly 50,000 Californians on parole pay taxes at the local, state, and federal levels. Allowing people to vote again after they have finished their prison sentence increases their feeling of connection to their community in a positive way. Voting “can play a major role in reducing recidivism.”

On the other hand: stripping the vote from felons comes from the Jim Crow era. It’s part of a whole fabric of voter suppression in minority and marginalized communities – restoring the vote needs to be part of destroying that fabric. Current state law allows some people on community supervision to vote, but since some individuals have been punished harshly – even jailed! – for trying in good faith to vote when they were not allowed to, some eligible voters will be deterred from going to the polls rather than take any chances. Ending disenfranchisement for people on parole would clarify voting rights for all formerly incarcerated people in California.

California is behind the times in not allowing people on parole to vote: As of 2020, in sixteen other states and the District of Columbia a person’s right to vote will be automatically restored after their release from prison, with more states considering eliminating their provisions against people on parole voting; in addition, two states (Maine and Vermont) don’t remove voting rights for people with convictions, even while they’re in prison. It’s too late for us to be a leader, but at least let’s not be the tail end of this trend toward justice.

More resources:

Photograph, “Felon voting rights” by Michael Fleshman

Take action to secure our elections

Deadline: call your MoCs, and register now for 8/20 webinar –

The evidence is clear: in 2016, Russia targeted voting systems in all 50 states and used social media to spread disinformation and disunity among the electorate. The entire national security community agrees that election interference in 2016 was only a preview of what’s to come – unless Congress acts to provide our states and counties with the money they need to secure our voting systems and make our most fundamental right as easy to exercise as possible.

The House rose to the challenge and passed H.R. 3351, a funding bill that would allocate $600 million to states and localities, so that they can protect voter data and replace paperless voting systems with hand-marked paper ballots and scanners. Yet the Senate has failed to move forward at all – thanks to Mitch McConnell, who has refused to allow any election security bills to even come up for a vote.

We have a chance to win that $600+ million to secure our elections by the the last day of September, which is the Congressional funding deadline. We recently wrote about how to address this funding with our own Members of Congress (you can still take that action, see #2, below). Now Public Citizen, in collaboration with the Mueller Book Club and several other elections groups across the country, are organizing much greater efforts to pressure Congress to fund secure elections. Election security is national security and the work to achieve it must be national as well. You can get informed and learn how to help by registering for the election security movement webinar call: “Secure the Vote: Holding Mitch McConnell and his Senate enablers accountable.”

What you can do:

1. Sign up to join the webinar call on Tuesday, August 20 at 5:30 PM, and then join in to take action!

2. Contact your Members of Congress to urge them to treat election security funding as a national security issue.

What to say if your representative is Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) or Barbara Lee (CA-13):

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Rep. _________ for voting for $600 million for election security in the 2020 budget. I’d like them to speak out publicly to persuade the public and their colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661

What to say if your representative is Eric Swalwell (CA-13):

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Rep. Swalwell for his public efforts on election security. I’d like him to use his position on the Intelligence Committee to persuade his colleagues that voting for the $600 million for election security funded by H.R. 3351 is an issue of national security.

  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

What to say to our Senators:

  • To Senator Dianne Feinstein, on the Senate Appropriations and Intelligence Committees (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841:

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The House Appropriations Committee has authorized $600 million for election security. I’d like the Senator to use her position on the Appropriations Committee to resist any attempts to remove election security money from the final budget, and also work to persuade her Senate colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

  • To Senator Kamala Harris, on the Senate Intelligence Committee (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The House has voted to authorize $600 million for election security in the 2020 budget. I’d like the Senator to work to persuade her colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

3. Spread the word to people in other states, particularly those whose Senators are on the Senate Appropriations Committee (they will decide if election security funding remains in the budget) or the Senate Intelligence Committee (they’re in the best position to understand the details of foreign interference in 2016 and 2018).

4. Watch for local events calling on the Senate to fund election security on Tuesday. Sept. 17 as part of the nationwide Secure Our Vote Day of Action. Nothing planned near you? Sign up to host one!

5. For more background and information, read our June 27, 2019 article, Election Security IS National Security. If you want to learn more about IEB’s Voter Rights & Election Integrity team, 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

Heidi Rand contributed to this article

Photograph “Moscow Mitch” by Becker1999 

Counter White Supremacists’ Terrorism

Even FBI agents are finally saying it: domestic terrorism poses “a threat to the American people and our democracy.” It isn’t news that there has for years been a “resurgence in radicalization and recruitment” in right-wing extremism. It also isn’t news that this cancer has metastasized wildly since the election of the Current Occupant of the White House, who told the world that he felt there was no threat from white nationalism after the Christchurch mosque massacre – the massacre that inspired the El Paso racist massacre just days ago. For years, the government has had their priorities exactly backwards, according to some experts: 

Citing figures from the Anti-Defamation League, [Rep. Jamie] Raskin noted that from 2009-2018, far-right extremism was responsible for 73% of extremist murders, while international terrorism was responsible for 23% of terrorism deaths. “The FBI has testified the bureau allocates its resources almost exactly backwards than the problem would suggest,” Raskin said. “Devoting 80% of field agents to stopping international terrorism including Islamic extremism and only 20% to stopping domestic terrorism including far right and white supremacist extremism.”

And it gets worse: 

The Trump administration has systematically cut back on resources used to address threats from domestic extremists even as the FBI has reported a 30-40% rise in domestic terrorism cases just since October.

What you can do:

Our government needs to put its resources in the right places: not toward putting kids in cages, but toward investigating and addressing the very real problem of white supremacist violence in this country. Tell our Members of Congress:

My name is ___________, my zip code is ___________, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m worried about white supremacist violence in this country. In the most recent mass shootings by white supremacists, they published manifestos to spread their ideology. I want Senator/Representative ___________ to push for additional funding for the Countering Violent Extremism program to focus on white supremacists and their radicalization. I also hope Senator/Representative ______ will do everything possible to fight this administration’s support for racism and racist violence, including investigating political pressure on law enforcement to ignore white supremacist extremism.

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

 

Bring Back the Senate for Gun Control

What a shame Congress can’t do anything to stop this country’s epidemic of mass shootings and deaths by white supremacist gun violence. Except, oh wait, they can. And they have. Or rather, they would. Except Mitch McConnell won’t let them.

The House of Representatives passed two gun control bills in February 2019: H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks for private gun sales (think online sales and gun shows); and H.R. 1112, which would extend the waiting period from the background check system before a sale can proceed, from the current three days to ten days. Normally, the bills would now go to the Senate and be referred to the appropriate committees. Instead, McConnell placed them on the Senate calendar, which sounds good but isn’t, it actually means they’re just … sitting there, while more people die.

In addition, the Senate has before it S. 42, introduced in January 2019 and cosponsored by both Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, which would prohibit a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check. The bill is in the Judiciary Committee, which both of our Senators sit on – and which is chaired by Lindsey Graham, whose support for gun control is limited to talking about “red flag” laws, which allow local law enforcement officials to temporarily seize guns from people who may pose a risk to themselves or others.

Meanwhile, mass shootings go on. And on. And the Senate is in recess, with the GOP offering its usual thoughts and prayers.

Senators Feinstein and Harris have both called for the Senate to act:

The House has already passed a universal background check bill that would make it harder for dangerous people to buy guns. The Senate could return to Washington this week and vote on that bill, but Senate Republican leaders continue to say no.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, August 4, 2019 

The Bipartisan Background Checks Act passed the House in February—but it hasn’t even received a hearing in the Senate. It’s past time to take action. To Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, I say: have some courage. Let’s vote.

Sen. Kamala Harris, August 5, 2019 

Amen, and amen.

What you can do:

1. Call Sens. Feinstein and Harris. It may not seem like they need your call since they’re already doing the right thing, but remember: the NRA will always mobilize its membership and you can be sure that our Senators are hearing loud and clear from gun control opponents. They need to hear from US!

What to say:

My name is ____________, my zip code is _________ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Senator _________ for supporting gun control legislation. The Senator is right: the Senate needs to reconvene, now, to vote on H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112. Trump is cheering on white supremacist violence and Mitch McConnell is enabling it by refusing to let the Senate vote on these bills. Also, I hope the Senator will use her position on the Judiciary Committee to do everything possible to pass S. 42.

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

2. Support these organizations:

 

Graphic: “U.S. Senate To Increase Work Days” by Mike Licht

Impeachment takes flight

Deadline: Now, while the iron is hot –

After running calls to action and articles for months asking you to urge our Representatives to open an impeachment inquiry (see the list at the end of this article), we’re happy to report, in Professor Laurence Tribe’s expert words, that the eagle has taken flight!

The House Judiciary Committee’s initiation of an impeachment inquiry was revealed publicly in the Committee’s July 26 court filing seeking the release of grand jury materials that were redacted in the Mueller Report. As of August 1, a majority of the House Democratic caucus, nearly 120 members, now support an impeachment inquiry, thanks to YOUR hard work! It’s a great start, but we must keep up the pressure – we must get louder than ever and ensure our lawmakers follow through. Also on August 1, Indivisible National, in coalition with Need to Impeach, MoveOn, and Stand Up America, launched Impeachment August, a broad campaign to help achieve what we’ve been working on: pressuring the House Democrats to vote for a formal impeachment inquiry.

What you can do:

All of our East Bay representatives have come out in support of impeachment, but that’s just the first step. We need them to support the proposed House Resolutions on impeachment: H.Res. 257, Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s resolution to authorize an impeachment inquiry, and H.Res. 396, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s resolution which also includes potential articles of impeachment. So far, Rep. Barbara Lee has supported H. Res 257, but Reps. Mark DeSaulnier and Eric Swalwell have not yet cosponsored either resolution. 

What to say:

If your Representative is Barbara Lee:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want the House to begin a formal impeachment inquiry, so I thank Rep. Lee for cosponsoring House Resolution 257. I’m also asking her to please urge her colleagues to follow her lead in support of impeachment.

If your Representative is Mark DeSaulnier or Eric Swalwell:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Rep. ___ for speaking out in favor of an impeachment inquiry. I want the House to begin a formal impeachment inquiry, and urge him to please cosponsor House Resolutions 257 and/or 396.

  • 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 else you can do:

  • Read the letter written by Free Speech for People, and cosigned by a broad coalition of groups (including Indivisible) to the House Judiciary Committee. The letter raises concerns about and makes recommendations regarding the Committee’s timeline, scope, and public strategy for the impeachment inquiry.
  • Attend town halls your Members of Congress schedule, and other public events at which they appear. Ask a question about impeachment, and ask them to cosponsor House Resolutions 257 and/or 396.
  • Sign up for, or organize, constituent meetings with your MoCs, assisted by national coordination from By the People.
  • Join the discussion on the #impeachment channel on Indivisible East Bay’s Slack. For an invitation to join Slack, email info@IndivisibleEB.org
  • Call on the presidential candidates to speak out about impeachment. See our list of links to all of the candidates’ websites and social media accounts, in this article
  • Talk to your friends and relatives about impeachment. Not sure what to say? Get up to speed by reading our earlier articles, with background and more actions you can take on impeachment, investigations, and the Mueller Report:

Larry B contributed to this article

Photo “Bald eagle flying” by Skeeze

 

Tell your MoCs: read Mueller’s Report, and act!

Update July 25, 2019 – If you missed any of Robert Mueller’s testimony, here are some great quick ways to get in the know:

You can also watch the Mueller Book Club’s Facebook Live streams of the testimony, and analysis:

 

Deadline: now and ongoing –

Every American should read what Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation unearthed about Russian election interference, the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia, and Trump’s obstruction of the investigation. And that goes DOUBLE for our Members of Congress, who have the duty to hold the current occupant and executive branch accountable.

Mueller’s only public statement, on May 29, 2019, was brief. Here are the main takeaways, and this article boils it down to ten points in plain English. Mueller will testify publicly before the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees on July 24, the first time he’ll face public questioning about the investigation. There are several things you can do to prepare so we can best analyze and amplify Mueller’s testimony, and counter Attorney General Barr’s lies and spin about the Report:  

1. First, find out whether your Members of Congress have read the full Mueller Report. Enter your address at this Common Cause tool; thank your MoCs if they have read it – or urge them to read it if they haven’t; and urge them to keep fighting to hold Trump accountable! Find your MoCs’ contact info at the end of this article.

2. Then – haven’t read the Mueller Report yourself? Get it for free:

3. Whether you’ve read it or not, join the Mueller Book Club. They’re offering two ways to watch the hearings:

  • Join the Club’s Zoom conferences during both segments of the live testimony, including a live stream of the testimony:
    • Click here to register for the Judiciary Committee segment (conference will begin at 5:15 AM PT; testimony begins at 5:30 AM)
    • Click here to register for the Intelligence Committee segment (conference will begin at 8:45 AM PT; testimony begins at 9 AM)
    • Click here to register for the 5:30 PM post-testimony analysis  with policy and legal experts to discuss the key takeaways from the day and next steps moving forward!
  • Or watch the Club’s Facebook Live stream of the testimony at their FB page.
  • You can also see past Mueller Book Club discussion videos.
  • Spread the word by submitting a letter to the editor! Use the Club’s tool to write a letter and find contact info for your local newspapers.

4. Next, want more background and more actions you can take? Read our earlier articles:

5. Last but not least — did you miss the debut of our Mueller (mis)fortune cookies at the Indivisible East Bay July 4 booth in El Cerrito? Get one while they last at our July 28 All Members Meeting, 1-3 PM, Sports Basement, Berkeley!)

 

CONTACT INFO FOR OUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS:

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

Graphic © Mueller Book Club

 

The administration is causing the border crisis

This article was edited on July 17 to reflect updates since its original publication.

The administration is right about there being an immigration crisis, but it isn’t for the reasons they’re telling us: It’s because THEY created it. And they’re making it worse by quietly instituting new administrative policies that will make conditions worse for more people, and deny the right to apply for asylum to more people.

Tell your Members of Congress: Don’t let this administration get away with this. All of our MoCs care about this issue, and they all need to raise their voices and show leadership on these new and renewed threats. And one in particular – CA-15 Representative Eric Swalwell, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee – can do even more.

Read on for more background, and scroll down for call scripts and contact info.

Crisis #1: The Kids:

On July 1, advocates for immigrant children filed a lawsuit to block a new policy that would give US Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials the power to decide that children designated as unaccompanied minors should lose that status. The suit names the federal Department of Homeland Security and its acting secretary, Kevin McAleenan, as well as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and its acting director, Ken Cuccinelli as defendants, and seeks class-action status and a temporary restraining order.

Unaccompanied minors have special protections in asylum applications, including being granted an asylum interview rather than having to appear in court. In other words: under an unannounced policy change, officials will quietly be able to make it far more difficult for tens of thousands of children to apply for asylum, without the public ever knowing. (This, by the way, is why we need investigative journalism and better whistleblower protection laws…)

According to the LA Times:

Federal asylum officers have been rushing to process as many unaccompanied minor applications as possible before the change takes effect Sunday, USCIS personnel told The Times, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect against professional retaliation.

Crisis #2: The Crowds:

Seems the administration is happy to blame a lot of things – from family separations to inhumane conditions – on the fact that there are enormous crowds of would-be immigrants at the southern border. Turns out, the administration itself has created those crowds.

As NPR recently explained:

In May 2018, US Customs and Border Protection officials began a practice known as “metering” across the southern border. This means that officials are stationed at official ports of entry along the border to notify arriving asylum-seekers that US border crossings are full due to “limited processing capacity” and they will have to wait in Mexico until space becomes available. Previously, officials processed all asylum-seekers that showed up at crossings.

Thus, instead of being processed promptly at border crossings, families are forced to wait in Mexico in haphazard “camps” – or on the streets – where they are vulnerable to threats and exploitation. Some choose instead to cross the border between the ports of entry to seek asylum and are apprehended by the CBP patrol agents and brought to CBP field stations. There, children not traveling with a parent or legal guardian – or whose parents are arbitrarily deemed “dangerous” – are separated from adult family members. Ironically, even the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have called the situation at the border a “humanitarian crisis”, and it’s unlikely that anyone would seriously disagree. The union for federal asylum workers has brought a lawsuit claiming the “wait in Mexico” program is “fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation.” 

People seeking asylum have a legal right to do so in the country where they seek to be. The administration insists they aren’t doing anything wrong: according to CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, “It’s not turning people away, it’s asking them to wait.” Just – not in the United States.

What you can do:

Tell all your Members of Congress:

My name is ________, my zip code is ________ and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’ve heard about about the new policy that would let USCIS officers strip migrant children of their status as unaccompanied minors and make it harder for them to apply for asylum. I want _____ to speak out against this and to do everything possible against all of the administration’s efforts to prevent people from seeking asylum in this country.

If your Representative is Eric Swalwell:

In Indivisible East Bay’s very recent meetings with Rep. Swalwell, he has expressed great concern for the plight of migrants, and strong opposition to the administration’s immigration policies. Rep. Swalwell sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which on July 9 announced that it is marking up a resolution “to authorize subpoenas for documents and testimony from current and former Administration officials relating to the Trump Administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy and other family separation policies and practices; detention of children and families; and discussions about or offers of presidential pardons to Department of Homeland Security officials or employees.” When you call Rep. Swalwell, also say:

I want to thank Rep. Swalwell for making this a priority issue. I’m happy that the House Judiciary Committee is investigating the administration’s immigration policies, and I want Rep. Swalwell to make sure that this investigation includes the new USCIS policy that will threaten the well-being of children seeking asylum, and the metering of migrants and asylum seekers at the southern border. I hope he’ll do everything possible to call to account those responsible for the terrible situations in the camps and to reverse the current inhumane policies.

MoC contact info:

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

 

Election Security IS National Security

Deadline: today and ongoing – If there’s one thing former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been unequivocal about, it’s foreign interference in our elections – the subject of the entire first part of the Special Counsel’s Report, and a theme Mueller emphasized repeatedly in his May 27 statement

The Report lists many forms of election interference, but one challenge stands out: election security doesn’t get enough funding. The U.S. spends $650 to $700 billion on defense – that’s ¾ of a trillion dollars; $55 billion on homeland security; and $16 billion on cybersecurity in the defense department alone. Yet somehow we can’t manage to find more than $380 million to budget for election security, and we don’t even actually spend that. Election experts have been calling for more funding for years, but the calls have become much more urgent since the 2016 election made it clear how much of a threat we face.

The Mueller Report wasn’t news to those who’ve been paying attention: our intelligence agencies reported that Russia interfered in our 2016 elections as early as January 2017, and recently stated that Russia and China intend to do so again in 2020. To counteract these threats, a report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine calls for all local, state and and national elections to use only “human-readable paper ballots” by 2020, and security experts at Stanford listed 45 recommendations emphasizing the need for a multi-disciplinary nationwide effort.

This is as much an issue of national security as an armed threat. If we spend hundreds of billions on military expenditures and militarizing our borders but leave our elections undefended, we’re lowering the front gates while leaving the side doors wide open. Even worse, we do so knowing we were attacked in the past, are currently being attacked, and will be attacked in the future.

The House of Representatives is taking the issue seriously: the House Appropriations Committee voted for an appropriations bill with $600 million for election security to the proposed budget for 2020 (see page 70 of this PDF of the budget), and this money was part of H.R. 3351, the budget bill which the full House passed by a vote of 224 to 196 on June 26. The Senate is another story, however, repeatedly stalling election security bills.  

What you can do:

1. Contact your Members of Congress to urge them to treat election security funding as a national security issue.

What to say if your representative is Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) or Barbara Lee (CA-13):

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Rep. _________ for voting for $600 million for election security in the 2020 budget. I’d like them to speak out publicly to persuade the public and their colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier: (email); (510) 620-1000 • DC: (202) 225-2095
  • Rep. Barbara Lee: (email); (510) 763-0370 • DC: (202) 225-2661

What to say if your representative is Eric Swalwell (CA-13):

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m disappointed that Rep. Swalwell did not vote on H.R. 3351, which funds $600 million for election security in the 2020 budget. I’d like him to speak out publicly to persuade the public and his colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: (email); (510) 370-3322 • DC: (202) 225-5065

What to say to our Senators:

  • To Senator Dianne Feinstein, on the Senate Appropriations and Intelligence Committees (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841:

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The House Appropriations Committee has authorized $600 million for election security. I’d like the Senator to use her position on the Appropriations Committee to resist any attempts to remove election security money from the final budget, and also work to persuade her Senate colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

  • To Senator Kamala Harris, on the Senate Intelligence Committee (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553:

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. The House has voted to authorize $600 million for election security in the 2020 budget. I’d like the Senator to work to persuade her colleagues that election security funding is an issue of national security.

2. Spread the word to people in other states, particularly those whose Senators are on the Senate Appropriations Committee (they will decide if election security funding remains in the budget) or the Senate Intelligence Committee (they’re in the best position to understand the details of foreign interference in 2016 and 2018).

Photo of Vladimir Putin by the Kremlin

 

Extinction Emergency

Deadline: right now, it’ll soon be too late –

Worldwide, a million plant and animal species are on the brink of extinction, and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) does NOT go far enough to protect many of those species in this country. On International Biodiversity Day (May 22, 2019) Representative Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, introduced the Extinction Prevention Act of 2019 (H.R. 2918) to strengthen protections for some of the most imperiled wildlife species in the United States.

Graph "Species extinction rates" by GRID Arendal

Among other purposes, the Act would “create dedicated funds to conserve butterflies in North America, plants in the Pacific Islands, freshwater mussels in the United States, and desert fish in the Southwest United States.” It would provide millions of dollars to fund on-the-ground projects to conserve species, protect ecosystems, and address threats to species survival. It would also authorize $5 million annually for conservation projects for each species group, including restoration, protection of ecosystems, research and monitoring of populations, and much more.

What you can do:

1. Call your representative and urge them to cosponsor the Extinction Prevention Act. As of this writing, none of our East Bay reps has signed on.

What to say to your Representative: 

My name is ____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay.  Please cosponsor and speak out publicly in support of H.R. 2918, the Extinction Prevention Act of 2019. Over a million species worldwide are on the brink of extinction, and the Endangered Species Act does not go far enough to protect many of those in our country. 

  • 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

2. Spread the word to your friends outside of the East Bay! First, they can check whether their representative is already a cosponsor. If so, they should thank them; if not, they should urge their Rep to speak out and cosponsor using the call script above.

The dinosaurs are all gone. Let’s keep today’s species alive.

Compsognathus, by Orin Zebest, https://www.flickr.com/photos/orinrobertjohn/227005434

 

Featured photo “Young California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) ready for flight” by Scott Frier, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Read more about the California condor here.

Graph “Species extinction rates” by GRID Arendal

Graphic “Compsognathus” by Orin Zebest

 

 

 

 

 

 

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