There’s no crying in canvassing

Deadline: ASAP and through November 6, 2018

Yep, last week sucked. And now we have the Honorable* justice** Kavanaugh. But there’s no crying in baseball, don’t give up at halftime, take a breath and come back out swinging. If you’ve ever said you’d contribute some day — that day is TODAY. The task is clear: we need to get control of at least one house of Congress on November 6. It’s time for EVERYONE to step up to canvass, phone, text, postcard, donate . . . all of the above . . . today and every day through November 6!

Here’s just some of what Indivisible East Bay members and friends, heroes all, did last week:

Canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox:

IEB members Fiona and Carl, and CA-11 team co-lead Ted canvassed with SwingLeft in Sanger for TJ Cox, who’s running for Congress in CA-21. Read their report here. TJ is a charismatic and progressive Democrat running against incumbent Republican David Valadao. By day’s end, the entire group had knocked on 710 doors and had 174 targeted conversations, got 21 pledge cards and two vote-by-mail forms filled out, ending up with a 24% contact rate! The IEB trio even got three people to put up TJ Cox yard signs in very noticeable locations! 

IEB canvassing in Sanger for TJ Cox
Carl, Fiona and Ted canvassing in CA-21 for TJ Cox – that’s TJ between Ted and Fiona!

 

Phone banking AND postcarding at Red-to-Blue HQ:

Double duty in Dublin! CA-15 Team co-lead LeAnn reports that it was “sitting on the floor room only” at the IBEW Hall in Dublin, where close to 50 highly motivated progressives filled up two rooms and the hallway during back-to-back postcarding and phone banking events on October 6. The union hall is being made available by CA-15 Representative Eric Swalwell and his staff to serve as the “Red-to-Blue” headquarters through the mid-term elections to organizations that want to help get out the vote in battleground districts across the country.

Postcarding in CA-15 on 100618, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky
Postcarding in CA-15, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky

We wrote 400 postcards in support of Jessica Morse, who’s challenging incumbent Rep. Tom McClintock in CA-4; the crowd was big enough that there was also an opportunity to write an additional 50 cards for Harley Rouda, running in CA-48 against Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

Postcarding in CA-15, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky
Overflow crowd postcarding in CA-15, photo by LeAnn Kanowsky

Phone banking overlapped with the postcarding and carried on into the afternoon; several die-hards opted to participate in both! IEB Governance Committee members Nick, Linh, and Ward joined a host of others to phone bank for Jessica Morse or for Andrew Janz, who’s running against Devin Nunes in CA-22, or for Iowa candidates J.D. Scholten (IA-4) and Deidre DeJear (Secretary of State).

 

Phone banking for Arizona Democrats: 

Fifteen phone bankers gathered in Richmond, spreading out around the home and beautiful garden of CA-11 Team co-lead Kristen and phone bank superstar Tom.

Hammock phone banking! CA-11 member Tom calling AZ voters
Hammock phone-banking! CA-11 member Tom calling AZ voters

A lot of new people were trained to use Hubdialer and quickly got to work talking to Arizonans, helping identify supporters of Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema and down-ticket Dems, and hitting the phone bank jackpot once in a while to sign up a volunteer. When we were using the system we did an average of 1,500 dials and had a 20% contact rate. Our partners, the AZ Democratic Party, would love to get more folks involved in calling to Arizona. Sign up here or email tpagan@azdem.org

George phone banking to AZ, with an assist from Henry the Indivisi-bulldog
George phone banking to AZ, with an assist from Henry the Indivisi-bulldog

 

Phone banking in Oakland for Issue Voters of Northern Nevada:

An enthusiastic crowd of 25 gathered at former CA-13 team lead Janine’s in Rockridge to call into areas around Reno. IEB phone bankers had whipped through the original database of Non-Partisan Voters in Reno and we were now able to expand to areas that our partner organization, Issue Voters of Northern Nevada, hadn’t expected to reach. Callers were able to either congregate (sometimes good for morale after a difficult or successful call) or spread out into more quiet areas. We called in the neighborhood of 1,200 households and reached the usual one in ten, or around 120 people. Our work making calls helps IVNN’s canvassing: they can target people we identify as “persuadables” who are still making up their minds, rather than knocking on every door, and canvassers will also be aware in advance of voters’ top issues that will motivate them to go to the polls.

Phone banking in Oakland, photo by Toni Henle
Phone banking in Oakland, photo by Toni Henle

 

Writing postcards to low-turnout Nevada voters:

And more help for Nevada! More than 30 IEB members and friends at our postcard party in El Cerrito wrote more than 350 postcards to a carefully targeted list of voters registered as “non-partisan” who didn’t vote in 2016. Scripts created by Issue Voters of Northern Nevada politely but firmly urged the addressees to vote, including: “If we don’t vote, we can’t complain. Make sure your voice is heard this year: VOTE!”

Postcard party to NV voters, photo by Heidi Rand
Postcard party writing to Nevada voters, photo by Heidi Rand

The party started shortly after the Kava-nauseous vote occurred, and we were all grateful to be among kindred souls taking direct action to fight back. Almost double the number of RSVPs showed up and IEB’s outreach team co-lead Toni worked miracles to provide more addresses to the eager writers.

 

Here’s what you can do in the days ahead:

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

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

 

* Your results may vary.

** oh please.

9/27/18 IEB & ISF Sen Feinstein office visit

Seventeen Indivisibles from IEB and Indivisible San Francisco met with Sean Elsbernd, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s state director, on September 27 at her San Francisco office. Our almost two-hour meeting was jam-packed with questions and “asks.”

First on the agenda: a detailed back and forth on how the homeless count in San Francisco is conducted. It was further emphasized that more resources were needed to help the homeless, from outreach to affordable housing. Sean seemed particularly concerned about the estimate that 2,400 kids may be homeless.

For those of you not placing the date, September 27 was the day Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh testified in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Of course, the hearings came up, and we stressed – as we have consistently done – that we are firmly against Kavanaugh being confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. The group urged Senator Feinstein to continue what she’s doing and to look as well for other methods to stop his confirmation.

On a not-necessarily-unrelated note, the topic of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act came up. Sean thinks that Congress will just extend the Act, at least for the short term.

Sean told us that on the important issue of immigrant family separation, their office is not getting phone calls, and that it’s crucial for people to keep this issue alive by contacting the Senator. He did acknowledge that the Kavanaugh hearings have diverted attention – but we should look for any opportunity to revive the issue.

Sean said that the House is expected to head home for campaigning and won’t be back until after the midterms, so don’t expect any legislation to pass that needs both chambers to act on.

We also talked about protecting the Mueller Trump-Russia investigation, election security, digital privacy, environmental/public health, the war in Yemen, the Farm Bill, workers’ rights, the federal judiciary, tax policy, trade, criminal justice reform, and having a town hall. Sean’s comments on each of those topics were informative and indicated the Senator’s position. As an example, the Farm Bill is in conference and the final version will have to be acceptable to 60 Senators regardless of what the House passed. Another insight: White House Counsel Don McGahn’s imminent departure will force the Administration and Senate Republicans to start from scratch on judicial nominations and will give Senate Democrats a bit of breathing room.

As of November 7, Sean will be the chief of staff for San Francisco Mayor London Breed. As of now, Senator Feinstein has not selected his replacement but he’s hoping that will be resolved shortly. The general feeling from the Indivisible folks was that Sean will be missed.

Read our memo to the Senator.

 

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

By Candace Goldman

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

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

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

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

Some other issues we raised at the meeting:

Immigration

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

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

Foreign Affairs

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

National Security

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

Opioids and Marijuana

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

Election Security

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

Farm Bill

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

Puerto Rico

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

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

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

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

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

Photos by Toby St. John

 

Canvassing: a win-win for you and the candidates

By Ted Lam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canvassing in Mendota

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

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

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

 

Rising for Climate, Jobs, and Justice

By Nancy Latham

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

Rise for Climate Jobs + Justice, photo by Nancy Latham

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

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

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

Rise for Climate Jobs + Justice, photo by Nancy Latham

Photographs by Nancy Latham

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

 

Stop Kavanaugh: rallying cry at IEB’s August AMM

It’s not just about getting out the vote on November 6, 2018. Yes, that’s critical. But there’s more than one front in our ongoing battle against Trump and his minions, so we gotta walk and chew gum at the same time! As important as the election — and with very long term implications — is the fight over control of our federal judiciary. A shocking statistic: Congress has already confirmed more of Trump’s nominations to appellate judgeships (24) in his first term than any other president going back to Reagan!

Right now, perched at the top of our judicial concerns sits the Supreme Court. The Republican-controlled Senate is pushing hard to get Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s uber-conservative nominee, confirmed as soon as possible. Hearings are scheduled to start on September 4 — with most pundits predicting that success is almost certain.

The good news is that “almost certain” means “not 100% certain.” This fight is still winnable … if we act like it!

All of which brings us to the Indivisible East Bay August 26 All Members Meeting. An overflowing house packed the room, with many of the 200+ people there showing up for their first-ever IEB event.

Fighting the Kavanaugh Nomination

For the top attraction, we joined with MoveOn’s Unite for Justice national day of action to promote the fight against Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Linh Nguyen, co-lead of the IEB Judiciary Team, delivered an impassioned presentation detailing exactly why we must push as hard as we can to delay or prevent the vote on Kavanaugh:

  • Linh gave a distressing overview of what we already know of Kavanaugh’s equally distressing record: his opposition to Roe v. Wade, his assertions that a sitting President should be exempt from any investigation, his support for unlimited pardon power for the President (even before defendants stand trial), his belief that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional, his opposition to climate change protection measures, and his support for vote-suppressing voter ID laws.
  • There’s likely much more, but it has been hard to find out; thanks to the GOP’s obstruction in Congress, only 6% of his record has been made available to the public!
  • Yes, Kavanaugh has stated that Roe v. Wade is “settled law.” But don’t be seduced by this admission! Saying the case is settled does not imply that Kavanaugh believes it was correctly decided. If he is confirmed to the Supreme Court, he could still act to overturn it — and probably would.
Linh Nguyen's presentation on Kavanaugh, photo by Catherine de Neergaard
Linh Nguyen’s presentation on Kavanaugh. Photo by Catherine de Neergaard

Linh also talked about the Judiciary Team’s efforts to coordinate with Indivisibles and other groups around the country to block other Trump nominees to federal courts — nominees who are too far-right, blatantly partisan, or unqualified to hold the lifetime positions. The Team’s work has paid off! Activists’ pressure has terminated the nominations of Jeff Mateer, Brett Talley, Matthew Petersen, and Ryan Bounds. These potential judges were exposed as racist, homophobic, and/or lacking in any judicial experience. While Trump appears to view these attributes as desirable, our opposition eventually forced an embarrassed GOP to abandon the nominees.

What can you do?

All of which bring us to … YOU, and what you can do to prevent further judicial disaster from becoming a reality.

First and foremost: contact your senators EVERY DAY by phone, email, or fax to voice your opposition to Kavanaugh. It doesn’t matter that they’re already on record as opposed to his confirmation — contact them (every day) anyway! Their staff tells us it helps immensely for them to hear our support. Otherwise, they only hear from constituents who disagree, making it harder for them to hold to their positions. That’s why, at the meeting, all attendees took direct action by making phone calls and writing more than 300 (!) postcards to Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

IEB member Amelia hand-delivered 160+ postcards to Senator Harris
IEB member Amelia hand-delivered 160+ postcards to Senator Feinstein. Photo by Amelia Cass.

Please do the same…right now!

What to say:

My name is ____. I’m a constituent from [zip code] and a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask the Senator to vote NO on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I’m worried by his opposition to a woman’s right to choose, environmental and consumer protection, workers’ rights and common sense gun safety. His willingness to shield the president from prosecution and investigation is frightening. Kavanaugh’s nomination should be rejected.

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

Next: we can’t stop there. It’s essential that all 49 Democratic Senators are steadfast in their opposition to Kavanaugh — plus we need to get at least two Republicans to vote no. To accomplish this, we must contact Democratic voters in other states, particularly ones with vulnerable Republican Senators, encouraging them to voice their opposition to Kavanaugh and vote NO.

Three generations of resisters! Ellen, Meriam and Iris. Photo by LeAnn Kanowsky
Three generations of resisters! Ellen, Meriam and Iris. Photo by LeAnn Kanowsky

But wait, there’s more: Expanding on Linh’s call to action, IEB Governance Committee members Andrea and Charlotte offered additional actions you can take:

  1. Sign up for the IEB weekly newsletter. Each issue opens with 3 action items, and the actions are also listed on the Calls & Emails page of our website, and are featured on our Facebook page.
  2. Use social media to get the message out. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and post your support for IEB’s positions on your own social media pages, your Twitter feed or even on Nextdoor. Check out this perfect example of boosting the cause!
  3. Share these tips with your family and friends, especially those in other states, and ask them to take action.

The goal: make it so “expensive” for Mitch McConnell to twist arms that he abandons the effort to confirm Kavanaugh. We have the opportunity to win by running out the clock. If Kavanaugh is not confirmed by the end of the 2018 Congressional session, the nomination gets kicked back to the President, forcing a delay that could doom the appointment — especially if we win a majority of the Senate in November.

The ultimate symbol of America

While info and direct action to #StopKavanaugh was going full steam, kitchen science was also happening! IEB Wizard Ted Lam conducted extensive testing (yeah, noms!) to perfect a recipe for homemade Peet’s Major Dickason’s blend ice cream, and he let loose his team of IEB family members (his son Lucas and  volunteers extraordinaire Tiffany and George) to churn up 12 delectable quarts with a robin’s egg blue vintage electric ice cream maker.  

Tiffany, Lucas and George making ice cream for the resistance!
Tiffany, Lucas and George made ice cream for hungry activists! Photo by Heidi Rand

The action we take

George did double duty, and says that “after churning up resistance . . .  I mean ice-cream, I was posted post-haste to help out at the Postcards to Voters table.” Members flocked to write 100 postcards to Democratic voters in support of Audrey Denney and TJ Cox, running for Congress in California Districts 1 and 21. Both districts, largely rural and agricultural, are ripe to be flipped.

Aaaand that brings us full circle — back to the importance of the midterm elections, as we mentioned at the top of this article. Almost every problem we face right now will get better if we can end the GOP’s control of Congress; however, we need to continue keep making noise and applying pressure. Every phone call, postcard, and email counts!

 

Pleasanton Turns Up to Postcard

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

By Ward Kanowsky

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

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

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

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

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

Swalwell’s Swell Town Hall

On August 11, 2018, Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) spoke to an enthusiastic audience at his “How Can I Help? A Campaign Town Hall & Midterm Election Kickoff.” The purpose was to get the audience geared up for the upcoming midterms, particularly upcoming House races. To facilitate engagement in these efforts, Rep. Swalwell is opening an office in Dublin where people can take action to help with Democratic races. The space will have areas for phone and text banking and also for writing postcards. On the weekends, the office will serve as a coordination point for events out in the field, such as canvassing. Located at the IBEW Local 595 (6250 Village Pkwy, Dublin), the space is scheduled to open on September 4. Rep. Swalwell encouraged the audience to use this space to work toward getting the candidate(s) of their choice elected.  He recommended that everyone pick one or two candidates that they really want to help get elected, as it’s easier to focus on a small number, and you’ll feel more accomplished if your candidates win!

During the Q&A period, someone asked about election security and whether our ballots were going to be secure. Rep. Swalwell said that although election security is very important, the concerns should not be sensationalized, as it may cause some folks to sit out the election because they will think their votes won’t matter. Instead, he said, we should focus on getting everyone out to vote rather than worry about hacking.

An audience member also asked Rep. Swalwell if he’d be willing to co-sign House Joint Resolution 48, which would overturn Citizens United. Both Representative DeSaulnier and Lee have co-signed it already, and Swalwell said he is supportive and will look into co-signing.

Overall, it was a motivating gathering full of people eager to help take back Congress.  All CA-15 residents should consider joining Rep. Swalwell’s office on this fight!

Excited to join Indivisible East Bay’s CA-15 team? Email us to get started!

Photograph by Janine Costanzo

 

Town Hall on Securing Our Elections

By Ted Landau

For Representative Mark DeSaulnier’s 61st Town Hall since taking office, he focused on a single critical and timely issue: Securing Our Elections. Free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy. Unfortunately, as evidenced by Russian interference with the 2016 election, the integrity of our voting process has never been under greater threat. The purpose of the Town Hall, held in Walnut Creek on August 13, 2018, was to consider what we should do about this — for the 2018 midterms and beyond.

The Town Hall began with a brief slide show presentation followed by opening statements by Rep. DeSaulnier and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Next, three election experts, Dr. David Jefferson, Professor Philip Stark and Mark Kumleben, joined the panel discussion. Taking questions from the jam-packed audience of about 300, they delivered both good and bad news.

Let’s start with the bad news: Here in California, attempts to “break in” to our election hardware continue unabated. Efforts to employ social media as a means to disrupt our elections also remain ongoing. We need to be more vigilant than ever if we expect to safeguard our election process. And unfortunately, with Trump at the helm and his GOP enablers downplaying Russian interference and blocking the Democrats’ attempt to increase election security funding, we can’t depend on much help from the federal government.

The good news: DeSaulnier continues to work to get Washington to act. He is currently the co-sponsor of at least 5 bills to improve election security (such as the aptly named Election Security Act, H.R. 5011). While none of these bills has made it to the GOP-controlled floor as yet, this is a start. If you live in CA-11, DeSaulnier’s district, thank him and urge him to keep pushing! Meanwhile, Secretary of State Padilla claimed that no one has yet succeeded in “hacking” California voting equipment. To help keep things that way, the state has allocated over $134 million dollars to upgrade our voting machines and to provide additional election protections. One caution came from Professor Stark, who pointed out that just because you’ve found no evidence of hacking, that doesn’t guarantee none has taken place; hackers may have succeeded in preventing your ability to detect them.

So what should we be doing? The panelists agreed on several key recommendations:

  • Paper ballots are essential. Electronic voting, online voting, whatever: they’re all bad. Only paper ballots allow us to reliably track, audit and verify the authenticity and accuracy of the vote. Accept no substitute. Further, no voting machines should be connected to the Internet; it’s too much of a risk. California has gotten the message: it keeps its machines offline and uses only paper ballots unless people with disabilities need an accessible voting machine. As for the rest of the country, while the Constitution prohibits most federal regulation of the electoral process, it allows for the federal government to require states to use paper ballots. We should demand that they do so!
  • Beware of bots. As discussed primarily by Mr. Kumleben, bots are mini-programs designed to imitate humans on social media. We can’t outlaw them but we should be aware of them. They can create an illusion of consensus or popularity that can unduly influence people’s perceptions and thus how they vote. Always be skeptical of what you read and view online — especially from unfamiliar sources! We should also demand that politicians reveal not only where their campaign money comes from but where it goes. If they’re spending money on bots, the voters should know!
  • Gerrymandering and voter suppression are rooted in white supremacy; their goal is to inhibit minorities from voting or having their vote matter. That was the strong assertion made by the Secretary of State to open this topic, which drew applause from the audience. The ideal goal should be for every eligible person to vote — and to do so within fairly-drawn districts. Again, California has led the way here with its recent bipartisan redistricting. All states should move in this direction.
  • Make the move to open source: non-proprietary software that anyone can see, explore and even modify. As elucidated by Dr. Jefferson and Professor Stark, most voting machines in use today run on proprietary software, owned entirely by the same companies that manufacture voting machine hardware. Even though election officials “purchase” voting equipment, they are prohibited from viewing or modifying the machine’s software source code. This leads to a quasi-monopoly that costs the government dearly. If voting machines were instead truly owned by the public and ran on open source software, it could reduce election costs by a factor of five, leading many experts to urge that we should push for a move to open source. While it is not a panacea for security concerns, and while it’s controversial (because, among other things, it is open to modification), open source makes the process much more transparent and accountable. Yet again, California is ahead of the curve. Both San Francisco and Los Angeles counties are planning to transition to open source. Other districts are expected to follow.

Several additional points of interest were raised by the panel:

  • You may not be aware of this, but a significant change is coming to the voting process in California, perhaps as early as 2020 in Contra Costa County, as a result of the Voter’s Choice Act. Most significantly, the law provides a new voting option, intended to facilitate in-person voting: No longer will you be restricted to vote only on election day at just one specified polling location. Instead, for the 11 days prior to an election, you will be able to vote at any of numerous “vote centers” located throughout the county. If you currently use a mail-in ballot, you already can come close to achieving this flexibility. You don’t have to mail your ballot in, risking problems with postal delivery or interference en route. You can drop it off at a city hall or, on election day, at a polling location.
  • Here is a truly cool tip revealed by Secretary of State Padilla: Did you know you can check the status of your vote after an election — and even get a history of your previous votes? To do so, start here.
  • Professor Stark explained the benefits of “risk-limiting” audits. These are partial audits that, combined with statistical analyses, determine when a full audit of a vote is needed. This allows the county to save time and money that would otherwise be wasted on full audits when they have little or no chance of changing the results. Expect to see the implementation of these audits here in California.

Are you interested in working with the IEB Voter Rights and Election Integrity team? Send us an email or join the voting-issues channel on IEB’s Slack.

Ted Landau is a retired professor of psychology. He has also spent several decades as a tech journalist/author — writing primarily about Apple products. He has been politically active in the East Bay since moving here in 2004.

Indivisible We Wrote!

By Charlotte McGoldrick

Indivisible East Bay’ers and friends packed our August 2018 postcard party, companionably writing 433 postcards and 14 letters, and all in time for lunch!

  • 240 postcards are headed to CA-1 voters in support of Audrey Denney, an agriculturalist and educator running for Congress against Republican incumbent Doug LaMalfa
  • 158 postcards are going to CA-21 voters in support of TJ Cox, an engineer and Central Valley small businessman running for Congress against Republican incumbent David Valadao
  • 25 postcards went to Senators Feinstein and Harris to ask them to keep fighting against Trump’s horrible, no-good presidential power-loving Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh
  • 10 postcards went to voters for Julie Goldberg, an educator running for a New York state senate seat, through Postcards to Voters
  • We also sent 14 letters to Democratic voters in Georgia through Vote Forward, another great organization that specifically targets voters who are unlikely to vote, with the goal of boosting voter turnout through the power of the pen. 

We loved seeing lots of new faces this weekend (including several under one-year old – children are always welcome)! Thank you to everyone who turned out to flip Congress blue. Couldn’t make this one? Itching to write to more voters? Great, let’s keep this going. Stay tuned for announcements about our upcoming postcard parties, always listed in our newsletter, on our Facebook page, and on our upcoming events webpage.

Postcard party August

And Mary McFarland of East Bay for TJ Cox is hosting a post-carding party on Friday, August 17, from 4:00-6:00 pm in Alameda. If you’d like to attend, please email Mary. Can’t make it? Check out other events here.

200+ postcards in support of Audrey Denney in CA-1
This is what 240 postcards in support of Audrey Denney in CA-1 looks like!

Learn more about activist postcard-ing at our article The Pen (plus .35 stamp) Is Mightier Than Yelling At Your TV. Have other questions? Want to let us know about your own postcarding events? Email us or contact @heidirand on Slack.  

Photos by Heidi Rand