Word leaking from the White House is that Trump is losing his shizzle as Special Counsel Robert Mueller & Team close in on the president and his friends & family in pursuing the Russia investigation. The October 30 bombshell unsealing of the 12 count indictments against former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates, and an eye-popping guilty plea by Trump’s former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI has ratcheted up the pressure.
Some Republicans are trying to diminish, obstruct or outright kill the investigations into Trump’s Russia ties. A resolution was introduced on November 3 to remove Mueller, and Fox News and other right wing media are pushing for firing. Meanwhile, Democrats have introduced legislation to protect Mueller or bolster the investigation, including Rep. John Conyers’ (D-MI) Special Counsel Integrity Act (H.R. 3771).
There’s much you can do:
Call your MoCs and say: My name is ___, I’m a constituent from [zip code], and a member of Indivisible East Bay. Please do all you can to combat Republican efforts to obstruct Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and to support Democratic efforts to protect it. Thank you.
Our pre-Halloween October 29 All Member Meeting at the Oakland Public Library gathered a crowd of enthusiastic and motivated folks to talk about federal, state and local issues.
STATE LEGISLATIVE ROUNDUP: Governance Committee member Jiggy filled us in on the high (and low) lights of the just-closed California legislative session. See the CA StateStrong recap.
SENATE RACE: See our article on the spirited discussion (first of many, we’re sure) about the 2018 California Senate Race.
OAKLAND RISING: Strategic Partnerships Director Beth Gunston gave an inspiring presentation about Oakland Rising, including letting us know about the November 4 event that IEB is supporting. Sign up here, see details on the Make It Fair FB page. With able video assistance from local hero Robert Reich, Beth explained that this weekend’s event will have volunteers heading out to neighborhoods to discuss the negative impact Prop 13 has on the Oakland community. Oakland Rising believes that face-to-face dialogue is the key to informing voters in our community.
The CA 11 (Rep Mark DeSaulnier) team welcomed new members and discussed co-lead Kristen’s attendance at an October power lunch and conference with Reps Pelosi and DeSaulnier and other high-power Democrats. Topics of interest: focusing on California “red” districts for 2018 midterms; the effectiveness of “new” technologies vs grassroots activism; how to not leave those left behind. Read Kristen’s account here. The team also talked about our priorities beyond maintaining relations with Rep DeSaulnier: local community issues, environment/climate change, and mid-term elections. The CA-11 United team’s next meeting is November 29, 7-8:30 PM at the Rialto Theater in El Cerrito.
The CA 15 (Rep Eric Swalwell) team also welcomed new members and discussed the upcoming voter registration training on November 11 at Inkling’s Coffee & Tea in Pleasanton between 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Please RSVP to Ward or LeAnn Kanowsky: @ward (on Slack) or email@example.com. We also talked about ways to increase attendance, and Rosemary Jordan from Alameda4Impeachment talked about strategies to encourage Swalwell to join other members of the House Judiciary Committee in calling for impeachment.
New members: A standard feature of all AMMs, we welcomed new members with a short orientation and Q&A, after which they joined other breakouts and also hung out to chat with Governance Committee members.
Feedback: Meeting facilitators Andrea and Ann talked to members about IEB, All Member Meetings, and more – some excellent suggestions were made. We’d love to hear your suggestions, please fill out our survey!
When the current occupant of the White House started what has turned into a terrifying court-packing effort (together with his cronies in the Senate), a few of IEB’s fearless research-loving members went into high gear. Since late summer 2017, what is now our Judiciary Team has created and shared an extensive database of information about judicial nominees as well as creating and sharing digital toolkits, and has become a resource for Indivisible National, Indivisible chapters nationwide, and other organizations. We’re proud to tell you some of their many achievements:
Indivisible National cites IEB’s Judiciary Team for our work and recommends us as a resource (about 3/4 of the way down this page).
Judiciary Team members Linh, Donna and Heidi have begun organizing with Lawyers For Good Government, a national group interested in working on Trump’s judicial nominations.
IEB Judiciary Team member Donna helped organize Rapid Resist text/phone bank campaigns into Texas and North Carolina against the nomination of Gregory Katsas for the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Indivisible SF also helped with the North Carolina campaign. Shout outs to Alysia, Cassie and Yoni of Rapid Resist!
Two groups in North Carolina have also mobilized against the nomination of Thomas Farr for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, after receiving information from us.
We have provided our friends at Indivisible SF with information and scripts to help their work contacting a network of groups in Colorado to mobilize against the nominations of Katsas and of Allison Eid to fill Neil Gorsuch’s seat on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Shout outs to Jonah and Kristen at ISF!
We have been in contact with two groups in Idaho that will call their Senators against Trump’s judicial nominations.
Donna has also been in contact with Indivisible chapters and other progressive groups in Minnesota and Oregon that have mobilized against Trump’s court nominations.
We have worked extensively with Indivisibles in Texas. At the request of Indivisible Houston, we created and provided a toolkit with talking points for MoC meetings, blog posts, graphics for social media posts, and call scripts. Indivisible Austin ended up using our materials to create a blog post/call to action. Indivisible Houston used the toolkit for a visit to Senator Cornyn’s office to discuss the nomination of Jeff Mateer (the one who said that trans children are “part of Satan’s plan”). Indivisible Denton did a call script and call to action. Indivisible Austin used our materials in their blog. Judiciary Team member Amelia also reached out to Equality Texas, which was also doing a call to action on Mateer, and shared their link with the Texas Indivisibles.
The latest addition to the state list: Arizona, where Rapid Resist has just begun campaigning against the Katsas nomination with IEB’s help. Thanks to Alysia, Cassie, and Yoni at Rapid Resist!
Have a questions for the Judiciary Team, or want to lend a hand? Contact us!
Editor’s note: Governance Committee member and IEB CA-11 team co-lead Ted Lam wrote about text banking for the Virginia House of Delegates’ election. If you’re interested in text banking with IEB – and after reading Ted’s account we hope you will be! – please see our Events page.
I saw Indivisible National’s Facebook request for text banking volunteers starting the weekend of October 28 through early November for the Virginia House of Delegates’ election. I couldn’t help myself due to my soft spot for Virginia, so I signed up for a 2-hour window on the first day. As a Coast Guard Officer I spent a lot of my time in the late 90s and early 2000’s in Northern Virginia and the Tidewater region (Yorktown, Portsmouth, Williamsburg). I love the area.
Indivisible emailed me a link to a Zoom training by Michele from Indivisible Virginia. I couldn’t get on the video conference but the followup email had a recording of it, which worked perfectly. Michele’s training was excellent.
On the scheduled day, I was ready for my 10 AM to 12 PM slot. Although I was at a 5-hour seminar at downtown Oakland’s Preservation Park for my union’s delegate assembly, I was able to sneak away to a breakout room at 9:50 to start text banking. Indivisible used Relay, a web-based system which connects to your phone and laptop/iPad. It was simple. I think Relay and the pre-loading of information that it uses may be what Indivisible National has been buying with some of the money it solicited for “tools.”
I had a list of 40 people in my conversation queue with pre-loaded text messages saying I was a volunteer from Indivisible Virginia. I sent out the 40 texts and walked back to my meeting. The recipients get a local number for you, not your phone number. I had 10 responses back: most were re-commitments to vote Democratic and a few were “hell no, I’m Republican.” I heartily thanked the former and just thanked the latter for their time. I texted the responses sitting in the back row of the large meeting room, and don’t think anyone even noticed.
The whole experience could not have been simpler or more satisfying. I felt I was doing something concrete, and it helped that I have a strong connection to Virginia. Overall, I probably only “worked” 30 minutes in the two-hour shift. I could have been doing it at a pub with a pint.
If you’re looking for an easy action with big impact, this is it.
There’s a crowded race to fill Tony Thurmond’s California State Assembly District 15 seat, which he’s leaving to run for state superintendent of public instruction in 2018. Hear the candidates who’ve already announced, at the Assembly District 15 Candidate Forum, Saturday, November 4, 2017, from 11 AM to 2 PM, Contra Costa College, 2600 Mission Bell Dr., San Pablo, in the Room 225, General Education Bldg.
City of San Pablo Vice Mayor Genoveva Calloway and Contra Costa Community College District Board Member John Marquez will welcome the community to the City and to Contra Costa College. Paul Cobb, publisher of The Post News Group, will serve as moderator.
The event is free, you can register here (not required). Any questions – contact Mister Phillips (510) 556-1951, theCalifornia Democratic Party African American Caucus Secretary. Can’t make it to the event? Submit questions for possible inclusion.
District 15 includes Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and Piedmont in Alameda County, and El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hercules, Kensington, Richmond and San Pablo in Contra Costa County.
Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in 2001 in reaction to the 9/11 attacks. Since then, thousands of American troops have been killed and injured and hundreds of thousands of civilian lives lost in the Middle East. It took an ambush in Niger (and fumbled condolence phone call) to get Congress to schedule a hearing on the 60-words long authorization that has enabled presidents to launch more than 37 military campaigns in the past sixteen years.
But a Congressional hearing doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods; hawks want to expandthe scope of the authorization and if they prevail, it’s round infinity in the dead end war on terror. We must all demand a repeal of this blank check for the President, and Congress has to do its job. Hiding behind 4-star generals was not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they wrote that Congress had the power
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
With a dangerously out-of-touch and unstable Commander in Chief, we can not continue to be complicit when even those charged with oversight can’t keep track of where our military is deployed, let alone explain why!
For 16 YEARS our own Representative Barbara Lee has fearlessly pushed to revisit this dangerously overbroad war authorization. Let’s give her our full support and demand a full repeal.
Please call Senators Feinstein and Harris, and Representatives DeSaulnier and Swalwell, and say:
My name is _____, I’m a constituent from [zip code], and a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask [ ] to support a full repeal of the Authorization of Military Force passed by Congress after 9/11. The 16 year old AUMF is a blank check to wage war. Giving this President such latitude is a risk to national and global security. His disregard for our military service-members and their families (evidenced by his reaction to the ambush in Niger), civilians caught in the crossfire, and provocative statements to other foreign powers show that he is incapable of the responsibility of leading a nation at war. Please call for repeal of 2001 AUMF.
Living the motto “friends don’t let friends phone alone,” hero members of Tassajara Indivisible and Indivisible El Sobrante/Richmond, also in IEB’s CA-11 team, are burning up the phone lines hosting multiple phone-banking parties reaching hundreds of voters in other states’ upcoming elections.
Join them at any of the several West County phone bank parties up to Election Day, November 7, to help make calls for the Virginia House of Delegates races and for Dr. Kathie Allen, running for Jason Chaffetz’s open Utah seat.
These are the currently scheduled West County phone banks:
Saturday October 28, 11 AM to 1 PM, El Cerrito
Sunday October 29, noon to 2 PM, El Sobrante
Monday October 30, 5 to 7 PM, El Cerrito
Tuesday October 31, 1 to 3 PM, El Sobrante
Saturday November 4, 10 AM to 4 PM, El Sobrante [come when you can for as long as you can]
Sunday November 5, noon to 2 PM, El Sobrante
Monday November 6, 2 to 6 PM, El Sobrante
TUESDAY ELECTION DAY, November 7, 8 AM to 2 PM, El Sobrante [come when you can for as as long as you can]
For information on locations and to RSVP, visit the Commit to Flip Blue website and enter your zip code into the search box. Have general questions? Email us.
The hosts will gladly train you on the script and making the calls. Bring your phone, charger, and earbuds (for your comfort) AND a laptop or tablet (or when you sign up, indicate you’d like to borrow one), and don’t forget your good cheer and positive energy to #Resist! And bring friends!
Can’t make it to an in-person phone or text bank? You can text with MobilizeAmerica for Virginia. They’re having two Get Out the Vote trainings — they’ll walk through setup, who you’ll be texting, how to mark data, and best practices.
After you sign up, MobilizeAmerica sends you dial-in info for the conference call. Upcoming dates are Mon Oct 30 and Wed Nov 1, both 3 to 4 PM. Sign up here.
Editor’s note: When you know you’re making a difference: IEB’s Governance Committee member and co-lead of Indivisible CA-11 United, Kristen Law was invited by Representative Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) to join him at the Ultimate Women’s Power Luncheon and Issues Conference on October 19, 2017 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. The event was hosted by Nancy Pelosi and paid for by the DCCC (not authorized by any candidate or committee). The following is Kristen’s report from the conference.
The Ultimate Women’s Power Luncheon and Issues Conference began with welcoming remarks from Representative Nancy Pelosi, acknowledging the heartbreak and devastation of the recent fires. Along with gratitude for all those who have stepped up to help, Rep. Pelosi provided weblinks for Napa relief and Sonoma relief. Rep. Pelosi also touched on questions that she often receives about communications with constituents, redistricting and voter suppression and the need to leverage the grassroots movement, and acknowledged women congressional candidates in attendance: Angie Craig (MN-2), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6), Abby Finkenauer (IA-1), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-2), and Susie Lee (NV-3). Also on the subject of elections, she acknowledged the event’s “power couple,” Ann and Jerry Brown, whom she described as committed to flipping seats in California.
Panel 1: Political Updates
This panel consisted of DCCC Chair Ben Ray Lujan, DCCC Recruitment Vice Chair Rep. Katherine Clark (MA-5), and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19).
Lujan began by providing an update on the national environment. He struck an optimistic note, saying “history is on our side and we need to make history repeat itself”: after Clinton came Bush, after Bush came Obama, and after Obama came 45 – who is below 40% approval. Lujan honored the importance of grassroots work for taking down Trumpcare, and noted that the Democrats need to work directly with people and must inspire America. Republicans are under water in many red districts, so people in blue areas should adopt a precinct to flip. Lujan spoke of the need to defend against fake news and trolls.
Rep. Clark expressed deep gratitude for the Left Coast. She recognized the success of local engagement, especially citing the success of Town Halls. Like several others at the event, she focused on the Women’s March (the “You know there’s trouble when librarians are here” poster was one of her favorites because her mom was a librarian). The Women’s March, she said, has translated into an increase in women wanting to run for elected seats. As of late September, 84 women were running for office in 80 Congressional districts. When women run for office, she said, they focus on issues such as the wage gap, the struggle to care for parents and children at the same time, and the cost of education. Women’s issues are economic issues, and women candidates “stand for you and giving your family a shot at the American dream,” so supporting women candidates is supporting our values as a country.
Rep. Lofgren advised that we focus on flippable seats here in California. There were seven Republican seats where Trump lost in 2016:
CA-10: There are currently 8 Democrats running against Rep. Jeff Denham
CA-21: (Kern area) Trump lost by 16 points – there is one Democrat running against Rep. David Valadao
CA-25: This is the last Republican seat in LA County
CA-39: This is a majority minority district in Orange County and is experiencing a dramatic demographic shift
CA-45: (Irvine) A number of strong Democrats may run against Republican Rep. Mimi Walters
CA-48: (Laguna) Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is considered “Russia’s Congressman” and has a number of competitive Democratic challengers
CA-49: (San Diego/Oceanside) Rep. Darrell Issa won by under 200 votes in the last election, and recent polls show him losing to a fictitious Democrat!
To this list, Rep. Lofgren added CA-50 (San Diego), where Rep. Duncan D. Hunter is under investigation for using campaign funds for such things as groceries, kid’s college tuition and shipping a rabbit by plane (you read that correctly); and CA-22 (Tulare County). Lofgren warned that we need to make sure that we are protecting incumbents. There has never been a time like now where we NEED to win: The president is doing everything in his power to depress us, but the power is in our hands.
Question topics for this panel included voter suppression. The panel replied that there are several avenues being explored, including the Democratic Redistricting Committee chaired by former Attorney General Eric Holder, and plans to launch on the ground campaigns earlier than ever before. Rep. Pelosi closed the panel, again emphasizing the power of mobilizing the grassroots and stating that the community wants to select their leaders.
Ultimate Women’s Luncheon panel: Reps Anna Eshoo and Mark DeSaulnier, and Tom Steyer. Photo by Kristen Law
Panel 2: Infrastructure and Jobs of the Future
Rep. Pelosi introduced this panel by stating that our primary goal should be “Build. Build. Build!” – We need to build infrastructure, we need to build education/human resources, and we need to build our democracy.
Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-18) talked about the new Innovation Agenda 2.0. Ten years ago the Democrats created the first Innovation Agenda: of 22 proposals, 21 became law (all except comprehensive immigration reform). There are three pillars to the new Innovation Agenda:
Create and Support Workforce.
Recommit to Basic Research: government funded research leads to innovations, protects people’s health and safety and creates jobs.
Modernize Government: Government should keep up with technology and scientific advancement, should be tech savvy, should enhance policies to protect security, and should draw on the private sector. Government must be accessible to the average person: the public should be able to access data because “knowledge is power” and we need knowledgeable citizens.
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) started off, as he generally does, by encouraging everyone to read Dark Money and then Democracy in Chains. He said that under Trump there have been far fewer oversight committee meetings than under Obama. Regarding infrastructure, Rep. DeSaulnier said there are trillions of dollars in backlog. Tech centers are driving young people to urban centers, creating huge challenges around providing infrastructure for so many people to get around. We need mobility and government needs to provide it, but Republicans don’t want to invest. Regarding workforce/labor, DeSaulnier (who recently held his 50th Town Hall) said he has repeatedly heard how people are suffering and heard a sense of urgency. As we in California have leapt forward in advancement, we have left too many people behind; we need to focus on bringing everyone along with us. For example: in the transportation field, as we transition to self-driving trucks we need to prepare for what to do with the current workforce of truck drivers, with employers contributing to training and retooling and helping to mitigate the cost (like CEQA in the environmental field). Rep. DeSaulnier authored the Smart City Program, a competition that Columbus OH won in 2016, gaining them $40 million from the USDOT (plus more from corporate grants); DeSaulnier hopes that the San Francisco Bay Area wins next time.
Environmentalist, mega-donor and sometime political candidate Tom Steyer spoke (not surprisingly) about the need to put investments into leveraging the grassroots. Infrastructure is investment, he said, but it isn’t enough to just build – we need to build smart infrastructure and a smart, clean United States with renewable energy, denser living spaces, open spaces, and public transportation. Infrastructure requires connectivity: the ability to connect to a rapidly changing world, including physical connection, training, and emotional connectivity. People’s feelings of disconnectedness, Steyer said, led to the Trump election. On the other hand, Steyer pointed out, we have had some big wins: GM is going electric, the tar sands pipeline was shut down, the new refinery proposal on the California coast was closed. We have the technology and the ability to build a fantastic future but we need to think about it on a human basis. Job creation has to include every community, from inner city to rural. New technology means health and justice: no one wants to be a coal miner and no one wants to live near coal mines (and the Republicans’ insistence on coal hurts the poor). Investing in schools, training and health is about social justice and the rights of Americans.
In the Q&A period, the panelists discussed the need for government to invest in community colleges, which 2.2 million students attend in California; Rep. DeSaulnier says that free, high quality community colleges are essential to our future.
Panel 3: National Security
According to Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-14), “President Trump is a National Security risk,” primarily because he won’t listen to the generals. How are we doing? Let me count the ways: He has undermined allies, insulted other leaders, and picked fights with our closest allies; he sided with Saudi Arabia against Qatar and his first foreign trip was to Saudi Arabia, the country where 15 of the 9-11 terrorists came from; he has provoked North Korea, a belligerent nuclear power, with “Fire and Fury” text messages; degraded the intelligence community, applauded the president of the Philippines; he has isolated the US from the Paris Climate Treaty, terminated the Iran deal for no apparent reason (other than its having been signed by Obama); he has allowed China to move toward being the World’s primary superpower while our allies are drifting away … Rep. Speier recommends, as the first solution, invoking the 25th Amendment; and she also recommends reading The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.
Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13) said flatly that Donald Trump is dangerous and is is ruining our standing in the world – but that the world is with us (though not with the administration). She focused on peace and diplomacy: we need to include more women in peace negotiations and international relations and look at international ways of achieving peace such as the United Nations. Rep. Lee urged support for HR 669, which would prevent a president from a nuclear first strike without Congressional approval, and also for repealing the AUMF, which allows commitment of money and personnel to wars without Congressional approval. (Repeal of the AUMF received bipartisan support until Speaker Ryan torpedoed it.) Rep. Lee urged support for “the three D’s”: Reinvesting in Development, Diplomacy and smart Defense.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) chairs the Future Forum, a group of the youngest members of Congress. The Forum travels the country listening to millennials; one young Marine told Rep. Swalwell “this is not what we fought for,” and said that he fought for freedom. Swalwell stated that freedom is under attack: freedom to have clean air; freedom to work; freedom for a woman to make a choice about her health with her doctor; freedom to stay healthy without going broke. Even freedom to make a choice in voting because our own democracy is under attack – Russia chose our president. We are 22 votes short of an independent review of how Russian interference affected the election, but to get this we need to flip seats.
Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan and Lieutenant General (ret.) Karl Eikenberry talked about four big trends posing challenges: the diffusion of global policy; the diffusion of technology – we are in a time when the “weak” can coerce the “strong”; the increasing difficulty of global governance of states; and the fact that we live in a world where nations need to cooperate and the other three trends are eroding this. Ambassador Eikenberry gave a shout-out to Rep. Lee for her long efforts to try to repeal the AUMF, saying he believes that the power to declare war belongs with the Congress and that Congress needs to step up to enforce this.
The event ended with a celebratory luncheon honoring power couple Ann and Jerry Brown and featuring a performance from local musicians. The five Congressional candidates spoke about themselves and their campaigns, including these highlights:
Chrissy Houlahan from Pennsylvania is former US Air Force Captain, a third generation military officer, former teacher, businesswoman and president of a non-profit, who never saw herself running until 45 was elected and she wanted to be able to answer with pride when her children and grandchildren asked what she did during these bad times.
Abby Finkenauer from Iowa is in her 20’s, a first generation college student who has raised more than $300k since announcing in April – a lot of money for that district!
Angie Craig from Minnesota is a firecracker! She lost the last election by two points and is running again. She lives with her wife and four teenage sons, worked two jobs to pay for college after watching her mom work for nearly 10 years to get her college degree. Her opponent, Jason Lewis, is considered one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the country.
I was grateful and delighted to be Rep. DeSaulnier’s guest at the event and table partner at the luncheon. DeSaulnier has made an effort to work with Indivisible chapters on grassroots issues, and makes himself available to his constituents; if you live in his district and would like to be involved, you can contact me on IEB’s CA-11 Slack channel @klaw. Not on Slack? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to working with you!
Our team has been busy connecting with folks in CA-15. Recently, I attended the general membership meeting of Livermore Indivisible, held at the Livermore Public Library. Their organization is structured by focus groups (health care, education, environment, etc.) and each group has a report out–about 20 people were in attendance. I spoke to Linda Guthrie, who ran the meeting, introduced myself as a co-lead for the Swalwell team from IEB, and discussed coordinating communications with Representative Swalwell and his staff between our two organizations. Going forward, I’ll communicate with Livermore Indivisible on communications with Swalwell’s office. Their group has engaged with his staff before, but not on a regular basis. By partnering we hope to coordinate our efforts and messaging.
LeAnn (CA-15 co-lead) and I met over the weekend with fellow IEB members Corrine and Hank Hansen to discuss voter registration. Corrine and Hank are members of the League of Women Voters and we discussed the LWV program “Empowering the Voters of Tomorrow,” designed to engage young people, and particularly Latinos in registering to vote. Corrine provided us with educational materials about voter registration challenges in California, and a descriptive packet on the LWV program in particular. We’re in the process of going through these materials, and we’ll continue to stay in touch and work with Corrine and Hank. The LWV program provides a step-by-step “how to” process for getting young people not only registered, but also getting them to vote, so if you’re interested in getting involved in this particular area, please send me an email.
When voter suppression tactics prevent citizens from exercising their right to vote, election outcomes fail to represent the true will of the people. – Election Watch program overview
2016 was the first presidential election after the Supreme Court gutted key protections of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder (2013). Free to alter voting laws and practices with no oversight or system of ensuring that their revisions weren’t discriminatory, many localities snuck through changes that went unnoticed and unchallenged. These changes, including strict voter ID requirements, closing down polling places, purging voters, and cutting back early voting and voter registration, disproportionately impacted people of color and young or low-income people, and severely curtailed voters’ access to the ballot. Election Watch, a non-partisan voting rights program, has the ambitious goal of mobilizing trained lawyer volunteers in every county or county-equivalent in the country (count them: 3,144!) to monitor and defend voting rights year-round. The new program, run by the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation (L4GG) in partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Voting Rights Institute, will “monitor, report on, … and address problematic decisions made by local election boards across the country on a year-round basis.”
Election Watch will train volunteer lawyers on the ground to monitor local election boards all year and detect rights violations. With this early alert system flagging potential issues as they happen, EW can proactively address problems before damage has been done (i.e., before an election). A national steering committee of experts, including representatives of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and the American Constitution Society Voting Rights Institute, will review the reports, and EW will prioritize and determine next steps for each.
As Trump and the GOP cheat to pack the federal courts with more and more far-right wing judges, it’s clearer than ever that we the people have to educate ourselves about voting issues, and step up to watch over the officials who run the elections in our states, towns, and counties.
How to help:
Are you a lawyer, law student, or legal professional interested in volunteering with Election Watch? If so, email me for more information, learn more at the Election Watch program overview, or fill out the signup form.
Know any legal eagles, including in other parts of the country, who might be a good fit for Election Watch? Send them the program overview or my email address.