And then we were Two

Indivisible East Bay held its two year anniversary at our All Members Meeting on Sunday January 27, celebrating our successes and quickly diving into what comes next.

AMM, co-emcees Andrea and Ted
Co-emcees Andrea and Ted

To get us rolling, Governance Committee members Nick, Toni, and Linh outlined the importance of HR 1, also known as the For the People Act, and how we need to keep our Members of Congress focused on this important piece of legislation. As the first piece of business issued from the House, it puts to the forefront critical democratic reforms such as restoring the Voting Rights Act, reforming the campaign finance system, and keeping corruption out of the presidency.  Check this primer from Indivisible National and our IEB take on why it is so important and what we can do to keep momentum going.

AMM, Sunrise Movement presentation by Alex Morrison and Sylvia Chi
Sunrise Movement presentation by Alex Morrison and Sylvia Chi

Everyone heard the latest on the Green New Deal and the fantastic Sunrise Movement from two of its Bay Area members, Sylvia Chi and Alex Morrison. A youth-led movement (which also welcomes non-youths!), Sunrise aims to “stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.” In a very short amount of time, Sunrise has successfully led campaigns to get fossil fuel money out of politics and endorsed 19 successful candidates in the 2018 midterms. The goal post-midterms is to pressure all members of Congress, Congressional candidates, and presidential candidates to support the Green New Deal. You can view their informative presentation here.

We then broke for breakouts and birthday cake, and engaged in one of our favorite activities–writing postcards! We wrote to support Nasreen Johnson, the only Democrat running for Fresno County Board of Supervisors. If you missed out, never fear–join our postcard party at Sports Basement on February 10!

AMM, writing postcards to voters
Writing postcards to voters

Next month, join us on February 24 in beautiful Dublin, for our first CA-15-located All Members Meeting!

 

 

H.R. 1 is Priority One

By Ion Yannopoulos and Ann Daniels

Even little kids know how voting works: you vote, your vote gets counted, everyone else’s vote gets counted, the totals are added up, and the winner is the one who gets the most votes. Simple.

Or not. In real-life elections, there are so many ways this goes wrong. Let’s look at “your vote gets counted” – how do you know? And how do you know that the total of votes they announce is actually the same as the number of people who voted? There could be cheating or tampering. Even in honest elections, people can make mistakes all along the line. Bottom line: it’s so easy for there to be lost votes, miscounted votes. So how can you trust election results?

That’s why one of the first (if not the first) priorities of the new Democratic House of Representatives is H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which among other things lays the foundation for (more) secure elections. And that’s why we need you to tell your Member of Congress that you want them to support H.R. 1. Read on for more info and what to say.

Background

There are a lot of reasons why voting machines can be vulnerable to problems – and unfortunately, voting machines in the U.S. are subject to most of them. But there’s good news: it’s possible to count votes to a very high degree of accuracy, detect interference in elections, and prevent election tampering, all by using paper ballots and something called a risk-limiting audit – essentially, double-checking the election by using a specific statistical method of analyzing the votes cast.

H.R. 1 requires, among many other things, that new voting machines always start with paper ballots, and that those ballots be retained until the election is over. Why paper ballots? Digital data is cheap, fast, and very flexible – but it has a fatal flaw, because it can be changed nearly undetectably. The only way an audit can tell if there’s been tampering is if there’s a trusted source to verify the electronic vote against: namely, the voter’s original ballot. There are electronic voting machines that produce a paper ballot, but if they are hacked, the paper part produced by the electronic voting machine is just as tainted as the electronic part. In fact, there are even ways that the votes can be hacked based on the paper record produced by the electronic machine! Experts agree: Paper ballots are an indispensible part of election security.

What you can do:

1. Contact your Member of Congress. Let them know you support H.R. 1. All three of our East Bay Representatives have cosponsored the bill; thank them. Barbara Lee is on the House Appropriations Committee, which will have to come up with the money to address the funding needed for the states to agree.

What to say:

My name is _____, my zip code is ____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank ______ for cosponsoring H.R. 1 to make our elections trustworthy by making them secure. Please make sure other Members of Congress understand how dangerously insecure our current voting machines really are, and convince them to support H.R. 1. Thank you.

For Barbara Lee, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, you can add:

I’m also asking you to make sure the provisions for funding voting machines with paper ballots are rock solid, to resist criticisms about “unfunded mandates.”

  • 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. Contact the California Secretary of State. The Secretary of State oversees elections. The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) is having a conference in Washington from Feb. 1-4, 2019, and one of the topics they will address is voting on a resolution opposing any federal attempts to decide how state money is spent on elections – essentially leaving decisions about election machines in the hands of the states. Tell Secretary of State Alex Padilla that we don’t believe our elections can be safe nationally if any states are vulnerable, and that a minimum standard needs to be set for all elections.

What to say:

My name is ______, my zip code is _____, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to thank Secretary of State Padilla for speaking out about the need to defend election integrity, and I want to ask him to speak against the NASS Interim Position on Potential Federal Election Funding. Our elections can’t be safe nationally if any states are vulnerable. For us to be secure and for our elections to be trusted they need to be verified by audit, and we need both paper ballots and risk-limiting audits in order to make that happen.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla: email; Main phone (916) 657-2166; Legislative Office: (916) 653-6774

3. Help work on these critical issues with the Indivisible East Bay Voter Rights & Election Integrity team — email heidi@IndivisibleEB.org, or join the #voting-issues channel on IEB’s Slack. Want an invitation to join Slack? Email info@IndivisibleEB.org

4. Find out more: For more information, read our past articles about election security and risk-limiting audits:

Join us at the Women’s March 2019

Flaunt your Indivisible East Bay pride by marching with us and our Indivisible Berkeley friends in the third annual Women’s March Oakland, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 19. This year’s march is co-hosted by Women’s March Oakland and Black Women Organized for Political Action.

Register here (free) to get updates and so organizers can estimate attendance. To march with IEB and IB, people will meet up at 10 AM outside the Oakland Public Library on Oak Street between 13th and 14th Streets (at Lake Merritt). Look for the red, white and blue balloons! Or find us once the contingents line up — look for us wearing our IEB t-shirts (and wear yours if you have one!), and for the IEB banner or signs.

Women's March Oakland, photo by Heidi Rand
Women’s March Oakland 2018, photo by Heidi Rand

At the end of the march — or if you can’t march but want to join in the festivities — come by our booth at the “Call to Action Alley” at Frank Ogawa Plaza!

Women's March Oakland, photo by Heidi Rand
IEB booth at Women’s March Oakland 2018, photo by Heidi Rand

These other Bay Area Women’s Marches will also be held on January 19:

And spread the Women’s March search link so people all over the country can find a march near them!

Read IEB’s statement about why we’re participating in the Women’s March Oakland, and why we encourage you to join us.

Featured photograph: Women’s March Oakland 2018 © Photography by Rex

The shutdown is our national emergency

It’s obvious to anyone who thinks before talking (or tweeting) that the government shutdown harms everyone, not just Democrats. But when pants are on fire, we need more than what’s obvious – we all need to be able to stand up and tell the truth. No, the people who long for this administration to fulfill prophecies of the end of the world won’t care, but there are millions of people who do. And so we offer this short collection of info about how the government shutdown is harming real people and the real world:

Who’s not getting paid?

  • When people think of federal employees, they may think of elected officials or high-paid white collar jobs. But federal workers as a whole make just slightly over the national average and include workers like food preparers, who make under $12/hour. These aren’t people who can afford to go without their paychecks.
  • From a National Park Service employee: “Our HR folks managed to get our Dec. 31 payroll in but who knows what’s next. It’s the lower graded employees who REALLY suffer. Some are seeking out temp jobs to fill the gap!”
  • A federal court employee reports that court employees have not been guaranteed that they’ll get paid for work beyond January 11, although they will be required to report to work as usual with or without pay. “I know several coworkers off the top of my head that can’t live without a paycheck. What are they supposed to do? I read today that some federal employees are applying for unemployment and can receive up to $450 a week but will have to return the funds once they get paid from the government. This shutdown has us scared and sick, not knowing the impact it will have on us personally and as a nation.”
  • Another federal worker: “I was planning to retire later this year but I can’t even get the paperwork going on that during the shutdown.”
  • The shutdown affects people who aren’t federal workers, too. The office that handles food stamps is staffed by federal workers, and although food stamps are essential to the people who get them, these workers aren’t considered “essential” – meaning that they aren’t coming to work and people aren’t getting the aid they need in order to eat.
  • Money and aid get held up in all kinds of ways: first-year students at a PA medical school received an e-mail saying they would get their student loan money for the upcoming term, but the funds were already late by the time the email arrived. For many people, getting money late can have serious repercussions.
  • See more personal stories here.

Health and Safety

The Environment

  • National Parks are basically semi-closed. The bathrooms are completely closed. People are driving off-road, doing what bears do in the woods, and more.
  • A park service employee reports “loss of control over schedules. … we are working on a tight timeline that is tied to many other events in the park with locked in dates. And of course, with skeleton staffs, there are serious negative impacts to delicate natural and cultural (not to mention HUMAN) resources that are being put at unnecessary risk.”
  • Wildfire prevention on federal lands – yes, the kind of thing needed to avoid huge loss of property and resources and life, especially in states like California and Nevada which are at least half federal land – has come to a halt. Of course, this is a health and safety issue as well.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency is running on skeleton staffing and little to no funding as a result of the shutdown. (Let’s not even go into how that fits into this administration’s view of that agency …)

What you can do:

Call Our Senators: The House of Representatives has a bill to reopen the government without money for the Wall; we want the Senate to refuse to advance any legislation except that bill. And just before Trump gave his speech and Stormy Daniels folded her laundry on January 8, our Senators did just that. Please call Sen. Feinstein at 202-224-3841, and Sen. Harris at 202-224-3553 to say thanks, and tell them:

My name is ____, my zip code is ___, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want to thank Senator Feinstein/Harris for voting against advancing legislation that wouldn’t have reopened the government without funding for the Wall. Please keep it up: vote NO on everything that isn’t the House bill to reopen the government without money for the Wall.

Help those in need: In times of trouble, people always need food. Donate or volunteer at these worthy organizations:

Photograph “Open Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry” by Alan Levine 

November All Members Meet and Eat

At November’s Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting we spent more time eating than meeting. Several dozen members and guests gathered to enjoy tasty food and each other’s company for our potluck and post-election celebration.

November 25, 2018 All Member Meeting
November 25, 2018 All Member Meeting

We also fit in a bit of business — Governance Committee (GC) member and CA-11 team co-lead Ted led us in a round of applause for the momentous blue wave, and used the victories to inspire us to keep it up. Some actions Ted urged members to take were for now-resolved races, such as Mike Espy’s failed bid to win the Mississippi US Senate run-off election. And at the time the CA-21 congressional race was nail-bitingly close, though as we know now TJ Cox finally pulled ahead of Republican Valadao the day after the meeting, Monday Nov. 26, and by mid-day Wednesday TJ’s vote count had increased to the point that he declared victory! This race is particularly dear to IEB’s heart; many of us wrote countless postcards and canvassed for TJ, after our friends and allies in Team Blue Wave Contra Costa and East Bay for TJ showed us it could be done (despite the fact that the so-called experts didn’t think it was worth a try!)

Newsletter team co-lead and GC member Ann proudly read IEB’s statement endorsing CA-13 Representative Barbara Lee for Democratic Caucus Chair and announced IEB’s role in spurring other groups to endorse Lee for this important position. Sadly, Rep. Lee narrowly lost her bid for this position. We are deeply disappointed that her history of bravery, experience and wisdom was bypassed. But we remain hopeful that the new Chair, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, will be a strong supporter of progressive policies.

Looking ahead, Ted announced some upcoming events:

  • Indivisible National is sponsoring a National Day of Action on January 3, 2019, the first day of the 116th Congress. As Indy points out, this is our movement’s first chance to speak with our united national voice about issues that are important to us. On that day, IEB is planning to hold gatherings outside the local offices of our three representatives: Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Barbara Lee (CA-13, and Eric Swalwell (CA-15). Check the newsletter for further details.
  • The annual Women’s March is January 19, 2019 — check the newsletter for info.
  • There’s no All Members Meeting in December; we’ll see you at the January 27, 2019 meeting!

 

 

Help elect Barrow Georgia Sec’y of State

Secretary of State — that’s a position we often don’t pay attention to till election time rolls around and we realize we’re stuck with a Republican who has abused the position to disenfranchise minorities and suppress voters’ rights — Georgia, we’re lookin’ at you! Georgia, where Brian Kemp, who “won” (yeah, we do mean cheated and stole) the governor’s race against Stacey Abrams before resigning as Secretary of State (SoS).

Well, it’s time to pay attention! Democrat John Barrow is in a runoff election against Republican State Representative Brad Raffensperger to replace Kemp as the Georgia SoS on December 4, 2018. And even if you don’t live there, you can help ensure that the era of disenfranchisement ends now.

What you can do:

Help Mike Espy win 11/27 special election

Deadline: today and through November 27 –

Surprise! Election season 2018 isn’t over! On November 27, 2018, Democrats have a chance to win a special election for the US Senate seat vacated by Thad Cochran in Mississippi. Representative Mike Espy, former Agriculture Secretary under Bill Clinton, is running against Trump-endorsed Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, who replaced Cochran on an interim basis.

Espy, who would be Mississippi’s first African-American Senator since Reconstruction, is running as a moderate Democrat. He has stated his support for an increased minimum wage, paid family leave, expanding funding for Medicaid and CHIP, and women’s health initiatives and the right to choose.

We’re organizing events and publicizing other groups’ efforts to support Espy’s run because this is a chance to narrow the Senate’s partisan divide and hopefully force the GOP to the table on more issues. Below is information about our events and other ways you can get involved on your own. Please keep an eye on this post, our website, and the newsletter as we continue to organize to win this seat!

What you can do:

Text Out the Vote

Deadline: today and every day until November 6 –

We gave you the lowdown on canvassing and phone banking, the most effective Get Out The Vote (GOTV) tools. Next up, and ideal if you can’t travel to a flippable district or make phone calls: peer-to-peer text banking!

Texting voters is effective, fast, and flexible. You can do it on your phone, computer, or tablet. And best of all, you can fit it into your busy schedule — during breaks at work, riding on BART, any time you’ve got a few free minutes. 

There are different texting platforms, but the basics are similar: sign up, read the instructions, join the platform’s Slack channel (a chat room where you interact with team managers and fellow texters), and log into the platform. Finally, follow directions to choose a workflow and request to be added.

For most platforms you can text from your phone using an app, or from your computer by logging into a website. Both have initial messages you’ll send out; after that you’ll reply to people who respond, using canned answers tailored for each workflow. You’ll also apply certain tags to help the organizers know how to proceed with each person texted. 

Here are some great choices to dive in and start texting for The Blue Wave!

IndivisiText

Indivisible National’s texting team, IndivisiText, uses the common texting app and website Hustle, which works either on a phone or computer. To get started:

  • Read the texting training guide
  • Take this quiz, then follow the instructions to join Hustle and IndivisiText’s Slack
  • Check the IndivisiText Hustle campaign tracker to see what’s available each day (9 AM to 9 PM local time where you’re texting), join one of the open channels, and post that you completed the quiz
  • Post in the campaign Slack channel you choose from the tracker, and tag a moderator to say you completed the quiz
  • Open the Hustle app or website and start texting! Post questions on Slack, where the moderators are great about responding
  • IndivisiText automatically reassigns to another texter to conversations that are inactive for about 20 minutes, so along with replying to the people you texted, you’ll also help out by following up for others.

Resistance Labs

Resistance Labs (RL) also uses the Hustle texting interface and communicates via Slack and a private facebook group

  • Sign up here and follow the directions at RL’s New Volunteer Training
  • See the Workflow Instructions, and once you’re set up, for new workflows fill out the Shift Sign-Up form
  • See the RL Texter Help Center here
  • Note that on RL only you can reply to responses from the people you’ve texted, so make sure to check frequently. 

MoveOn 

Moveon.org’s texting team uses Spoke rather than Hustle, and also has its own Slack chat room to organize requests for workflows and support. You can learn more and join the team here.

VoteWithMe app

Finally, want to personalize your texting along with reaching out to strangers? The VoteWithMe app uses public records and your own network to pinpoint the highest impact potential voters whom you already know. You choose who to text, and you can personalize a suggested reminder to make sure they vote. Read more about using this very effective app to motivate your friends to vote in our article.

 

The Bottom Line:

Don’t want to wake up on November 7, 2018 and feel like you did on November 9, 2016? If you haven’t done any canvassing, phone banking or text banking yet, the time is NOW. If you have, it’s time to DO MORE!

Scary times at IEB’s October All Members Meeting

Halloween arrived early at the Indivisible East Bay All Members Meeting on October 28, with many of us showing up in costume. Even the infamous Trump Chicken joined the festivities.

Unfortunately, the real scares are coming from recent news. From the deadly violence at the Synagogue in Pittsburgh to Trump’s avalanche of incendiary rhetoric — the stakes for the November 6 midterms are higher now, if that’s possible, than they’ve ever been.

Before we got down to national politics, Jodi Reid, Executive Director of CARA, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, led an informative discussion about some of the statewide propositions on the ballot. CARA has posted recommendations on all eleven props, including fact sheets for Props 1, 2, 8, and 10. Jodi walked us through the list and took our questions. In brief:

  • Yes on Prop 1. Passing Prop 1 would authorize $4 billion in bonds for housing related programs for low income residents, veterans, and other specialized populations. California has not had funds for housing in some time and local communities don’t have the resources to build housing themselves.
  • Yes on Prop 2. This would allow funding from Prop 63 to be utilized for mental health services in concert with homeless assistance. The two are needed in order for housing to succeed for the homeless. A “yes” on Prop 2 would  authorize funding already allocated to be used in this context and would not require new funding.
  • Yes on Prop 8. Authorizes state regulation of kidney dialysis clinics and limits charges for patient care. As of now, CARA stated that two major corporations provide all the kidney dialysis services, overcharging $150K more per patient than needed without the funds going to patient care. The proposition would set profits to a 115% cap above revenue.
  • Yes on Prop 10. This would allow local cities to adopt rent control and repeal the Costa-Hawkins rental housing act (1995). CARA points out that tens of thousands of housing units have been created since ’95 that have not fallen under rent control. In response to a question, Jodi noted that passage of Prop 10 would not establish vacancy control.
  • Several of the ballot proposals are controversial even among progressive groups that are usually allies. For example, CARA supports Prop 3, which authorizes almost $9 billion in bonds to fund various water and environmental projects, citing the need for safe drinking water to all areas of the state. However, the Sierra Club opposes the measure on the ground that it will mean building more dams, harming the environment; they also have concerns about the (lack of) oversight for how the funds are spent. At the Propositions breakout session (see more below), Governance Committee (GC) member Ted noted that Prop 3 affects only state-regulated water systems, and said that it won’t directly affect the East Bay’s water supply because we get our water from EBMUD.
  • Finally, check out calmatters.org to see their one-minute videos summarizing the pros and cons of each Proposition. There’s no faster way to get up to speed.

Next up, GC member and senator teams co-lead Linh highlighted the critical importance of a “boring” (her word) topic: rules changes for federal agencies. In particular, “any executive agency seeking to change any existing regulation has to invite and review public comments.” Public means YOU! Making comments may be our only chance to prevent or slow down the administration’s attempts to roll back decades of environmental, workplace and safety protections. Linh urged members to take advantage of this opportunity. Some proposed changes are anything but boring: for example, one such proposal would allow for indefinite detention of immigrant families with children! You have until November 6 to voice your opposition to this change, so speak up!

GC member and outreach team co-lead Nick reminded us that the 2018 Get Out the Vote (GOTV) effort will likely not end on November 6, since that’s a primary day for one of the U.S. Senate seat in Mississippi. If no candidate receives a majority, which seems likely, a runoff will be held on November 27. Nick is lining up postcard events for the possible run-off.

Lastly, GC member Charlotte urged everyone to participate in one or more of the remaining GOTV events between now and next week’s midterms. The biggest is our  two-day all-day (9 AM to 9 PM) “The Last Weekend” Phone/Text Bank Extravaganza in Oakland. Whether you’ve already done tons of phone banking or have been quietly sitting on the sidelines, this is a must-do! Sign up here.

With the formal part of the meeting over, we enjoyed pizza courtesy of a generous donation from IEB member Nancy Olson. Three breakout sessions followed: Charlotte led people in writing postcards and also letters to voters through Vote Forward, GC members Ted and Toni engaged people in a more in-depth discussion about some of the state propositions, and GC member and volunteer team lead Andrea welcomed new members who wanted to know more about IEB and learn how to get involved.

Andrea with new members
Andrea at the new members breakout

Several of us came in costume! The clear Adorable & Clever winners:

NASA Space Force astronaut and assistant. Photo by Toby St John
NASA Kid & Dr. Horrible team up to save America! Photo by Toby St. John

Governance Committee members Ted and Ann (aka “Blue Wave”):

Ted and Ann aka Blue Wave

Henry the Indivisi-bulldog brought his family, IEB team co-leads Kristen and Tom!

Henry, Kristen and Tom

Scariest Costume winner was IEB and CA-11 team member George, who said: “Nnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnn”, which we translated as meaning: “Just because I’m a person of the undead persuasion doesn’t mean the electoral outcome isn’t important to me. A Blue vote is a smart vote. And smart brains taste better! Be a ZombiVoter! Vote Blue!”

Be a ZombiVoter! Vote Blue!

And finally: Blue Wave beats up Trump Chicken!

 

Andrea Lum contributed to this article.

 

GOTV with VoteWithMe app

Text banking is a popular way to help Get Out the Vote (GOTV). People like it because it’s quick, easy and you can do it from anywhere. But maybe you’re not comfortable sending messages to a bunch of strangers, or not convinced it has much effect. Enter VoteWithMe, a free phone app that automates the process of text banking to people you know — the friends and colleagues in your address book. The rationale, according to the app’s developers, is that “people are more likely to vote if a friend asks them to.”

Here’s how the app works. With your permission, VoteWithMe imports all the people in your contacts list. You can click on any name and get the person’s publicly available voting data. For example, you can see if the person is a registered Democrat or if they voted in the last few elections. You may find a few surprises — such as discovering that your next-door neighbor is a life-long Republican. I know of no other way to so easily access such data. It may feel a bit like snooping, but it’s all public info, completely legal — and kind of fun! 

VoteWithMe also provides key information — who’s running and who’s predicted to win — for the major elections (House, Senate, Governor) for each of your contacts, no matter where they live.

Via filters, you can limit the list of displayed contacts — such as showing only people who are Democrats and live in locations where there are currently “tight” races. You can use this to zero in on the people you believe are most critical to contact. VoteWithMe uses the non-partisan Cook Report to assess what seats are conceivably flippable.

Once you’re ready, VoteWithMe provides the text message itself, which you can personalize if you want, either reminding your friend to vote or (if they have a strong record of previously voting) asking them to download VoteWithMe and use it to remind others to vote. As to privacy concerns, VoteWithMe will never access anyone on your list independently of when you choose to do so.

Bottom line: You might be interested in VoteWithMe for the election information it provides. That’s fine. However, that’s not its purpose. VoteWithMe is primarily intended for sending GOTV text messages to the progressives in your contact list. The election is only days away — but it’s not too late for this app to help build the blue wave!

VoteWithMe app
VoteWithMe provides voting data and election information — to assist in sending text messages to your contacts.