Last week shootings at a Jewish House of Worship and in a Kentucky grocery store, along with the string of attempted mail bombs, and the failed attempt at a black church was particularly hard on me and I have to admit I did not have it in me to spread good news. After a week of reflecting and channeling my overwhelmed emotions into get out the vote, I have re-centered and decided to focus on the positive again. I realized that I could not allow the hate to win over my efforts to remind others for just one small moment out of their week, that all hope is not lost. Seeing the vigils and support all over the country was heartwarming. Seeing the reports of voter participation and lines of voters was even more inspiring. My social media feeds were filled with pictures of people working to get out the vote all over the country. Don’t forget to phone-bank, canvas, text-bank, and remind friends and family to get to the polls in the few hours we have remaining until now and Tuesday night.
This upcoming week I anticipate doing an early special edition with election results after counts are in. For now here is an abridged list of the good news from the past couple of weeks.
🚶🚶🏿🚶🏼ELECTION PARTICIPATION More than 30.6 million ballots have been cast already, with several states still collecting absentee ballots and welcoming in-person early voters, surpassing the total early vote in 2014 of 28.3 million. Turnout among 18-29 year olds, compared to 2014 early voting: AZ +217%, FL +131%, GA +415%, MI +128%, NV +364%, TN +767%, and TX +448%. Not to mention women – Early vote share by gender: AZ, 52.5% women, 46.5% men (rest unclear), FL, 54.5 (W), 45.5 (M), GA, 56.4 (W), 43.6 (M), MI, 56.5 (W), 43.5 (M), NC, 55.1 (W), 44.7 (M), OH, 54.3 (W), 43.5 (M), TN, 54.4 (W), 45.5 (M), TX, 53.8 (W), 45.5 (M).
💵 ELECTION FUNDRAISING The Hill is reporting that Hollywood is donating large sums to democrats. Small-dollar donors made ActBlue’s third quarter 2018 fundraising the biggest quarter in dollars raised in ActBlue’s history, raising $385,176,557 for 9,335 Democratic campaigns, progressive organizations, and nonprofits, more than double the amount raised in Q3 2016. The three biggest dollar days ever for ActBlue were September 28th-30th, the days after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testimony. Small-dollar donors raised over $11 million (crossing the $10 million threshold for the first time ever) on September 28th, a staggering $16,853,013 on September 30th and more individual donations in a single day than ever before on the 30th (307,320 contributions). September was the biggest dollar month in ActBlue’s history, with $184,841,230 raised. Democrats are spending $143 million on television advertising in House races, compared with $86 million for Republicans and Democratic super PACs and other outside groups are poised to outspend their Republican counterparts by a wide margin.
🕫🗳️FAIR AND ETHICAL VOTING starts with ACCESS TO THE BALLOT BOX A federal judge ordered election officials in Georgia to stop throwing out absentee ballots solely because of a suspected signature mismatch, and ordered election officials to give affected voters up to three days after the 6 November election to prove their eligibility. Georgia was also blocked by a federal judge from using an “exact match” rule to prevent voters from registering to vote. A federal court clarified a prior decision and ruled that Missouri voters who do not have a photo ID when they arrive at the polls will no longer have to sign a sworn statement to cast a ballot. North Carolina issued an emergency order to make voting easier for those affected by the Hurricane which allows more time for absentee ballots to be received by county election offices and allows voters to return completed absentee ballots at more locations, including those outside their county. A federal appeals court ordered Ohio to count provisional election ballots for the 2018 midterm elections that are cast by certain people previously purged from the state’s voter rolls for not voting. Days after students at Prairie View A&M University sued Waller County in Texas over allegations that the county is suppressing the voting rights of black residents, the rural county is expanding early voting opportunities for students at the historically black university.
STOPPING GERRYMANDERING The U.S. Supreme court refused to hear an appeal of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that struck down congressional district maps the state found unlawfully biased in favor of Republicans. A state court ruled that four N.C. House seats in North Carolina must be redrawn before the 2020 elections finding that it has been racially gerrymandered.
VOTER REGISTRATION Groups like Four Directions have raised significant donations are working really hard and quickly to get every ND tribal member an ID with an address in time for the election. Voto Latino registered more than 200,000 voters in 11 states. Chicago votes has now registered over 3,000 people in jail awaiting trial in Chicago. 🚗AND GETTING TO THE POLLS Los Angeles County’ will offer free fares on its bus and rail system on election day. The Postal Service said that “We will not deny a voter their right to vote by delaying a time-sensitive ballot because of insufficient postage” and will deliver absentee ballots with insufficient postage and charge the local elections agency instead (although some voters reported that their ballots with missing postage were returned so is sending it in, don’t forget the postage). Bloomberg news is reporting that a record 44 percent of U.S. firms will give workers paid time off to vote, up from 37 percent in 2016. The Washington Post did an article on the growing postcard writing movement with Postcards for America now having more than 9,700 members and 16 state chapters and Postcards to Voters has more than 25,000 volunteers who have sent roughly 3 million handwritten postcards to voters to get out the vote.
💓STOPPING THE SPREAD OF HATE Communities all around the country have been coming together in vigils held for the victims of last week’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Muslim organizations have raised $200,000 to help those affected by the shooting in Pittsburgh. A Youth Commission and Republican Town Committee member in Bethel resigned after it became public that he had been affiliated with an extreme alt-right group. The Boston Mayor and many other community members and children from neighboring schools showed up to support for staff and students at a school hit with racist graffiti. The press secretary for the Republican candidate for governor of Rhode Island resigned after racist and sexist tweets he made in the past were publicized. The far-right Proud Boys and their founder, Gavin McInnes, were banned from Facebook and Instagram because of policies against hate groups. Paypal has banned Gab, a hate-site platform. The white woman who harassed two African-American women in their own parking lot was fired from her high paying job that she boasted about in her racist tirade.
🧕🏻STANDING UP FOR IMMIGRANTS HELPING ONE PERSON AT A TIME A AND NOT BACKING DOWN FROM I.C.E. Cristaudos Café in Illinois is selling cookies with a “Hate has no home here” message labeled in frosting on each cookie and are donating 50 cents of for every cookie to the Southern IL Immigration Rights Program. A U.S. citizen who was wrongfully detained by ICE won a $55,000 settlement against I.C.E. and the San Bernardino County (CA). A federal court ruled the Dept. of Justice cannot withhold federal grant funding from Seattle and Portland for being “sanctuary cities.” The Supreme Court declined to postpone the start of a trial challenging the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question on the census.
⚖️ECONOMIC JUSTICE Starting with WAGES AND BENEFITS The Chicago City Council approved the creation of an office dedicated to enforcing the city’s minimum wage, paid sick time and anti-wage theft laws. EDUCATION A U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Rhode Island must provide free public education to students with disabilities until they reach age 22. The Arizona State Board of Education voted to re-integrate accurate climate & evolutionary science into the state’s K-12 science standards. HOUSING A real estate investment firm in L.A. agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit alleging that it pressured Latino and mentally disabled tenants to leave its rent-controlled Koreatown buildings so it could raise the rents. The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission made it easier for those who have been disconnected from gas and electric due to nonpayment to get reconnected, allowing them to pay only a portion of their arrears and enter a payment plan to get reconnected. HEALTH A new federal law expands medicaid coverage for treatment of opioid addiction, cracks down on mailed shipments of illicit drugs such as fentanyl, and provides a host of new federal grants to address the crisis. A Las Vegas jury awarded $250,000 to each participant in a class-action brought on behalf of mentally ill people who were inappropriately discharged out of a Nevada psychiatric hospital and bused across the country without proper care or planning, and they were ordered to revise its discharge policies to ensure that patients are safely transferred in the future. HUNGER Every school in New York has now adopted plans that end “meal shaming” of students who do not have money for lunch. CONSUMER PROTECTION Payday lender Cash Express will pay $32,000 in restitution and $200,000 in penalties for violating the Consumer Financial Protection Act.
☮️ SOCIAL JUSTICE AND CIVIL RIGHTS An American illegally detained in Iraq by the U.S. military for more than a year was released after the ACLU sued to obtain his release. A Kentucky sheriff’s office will pay more than $337,000 for handcuffing two elementary school students of color with disabilities in a case brought by the ACLU.
👨🏿⚖️SEEKING RACIAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE The Pennsylvania legislature approved a bill that will end the practice of suspending driver’s licenses for those convicted of certain non-driving offenses and the governor is expected to sign it. A federal judge ordered the Memphis police department to bolster its policies and training after finding the agency had violated a court order prohibiting officers from watching protesters and monitoring their social media accounts in a case brought decades ago by the ACLU. California will allow all non-violent prisoners under the Three Strikes Act to seek parole. The white Florida city commissioner who shot and killed an alleged non-white shoplifter at a store as he was fleeing resigned from his position after being criminally charged in the matter.
🌎SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT Oregon Gov. issued an executive order blocking offshore drilling. SC Johnson signed on to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment which includes taking steps to reduce plastic packaging and making 100 percent of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. The Supreme Court declined for now to stop a lawsuit filed by young activists who say the government isn’t doing enough to prevent climate change. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by fisherman challenging a rule established to protect otters from Point Conception south to the border of Mexico. The Port Authority of NY & NJ has joined The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative and committed to electrifying its entire fleet of vehicles and airport shuttle buses by 2030. Indonesia’s second-largest city is allowing residents to exchange used plastic bottles for free bus rides.
👩#MeToo And WOMEN’S RIGHTS ESSENCE magazine announced Essence Girls United a mentoring initiative focused on helping girls 12 through 17 increase their academic potential, self-love and leadership skills. A non-profit opened a pet-friendly domestic violence shelter in Brooklyn. More than 20,000 Google employees participated in a mass global walkout to protest the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against top executives
🗽BECAUSE MONUMENTS AND NAMES MATTER A Veterans Affairs official removes a painting of civil war general and first grand wizard of the KKK from his office after complaints from staff. The Make It Right Project put up a billboard in Seattle to remind residents that there is a Confederate memorial in their city that should be removed. Westchester County (NY) removed a Robert E. Lee plaque from a historical tree trail in one of its parks in Katonah.
🏳️🌈LGBTQ PROGRESS Albany and Westchester Counties (NY) banned “gay conversion therapy” on minors. The New Jersey and Sarasota Dept. of Eds released guidelines for schools to improve the rights of transgender students including access to bathrooms and locker rooms as well as standards for pronouns and chosen names. A Virginia school district superintendent apologized to a transgender student who was barred from using the boys’ or girls’ locker rooms during an active shooter drill. An Applebees in Hawthorne will pay $100,000 to a transgender employee who was subjected to a hostile work environment and fred when she complained in a case brought by the U.S.
🙂 LAWSUIT ROUNDUP A federal judge rules that the Washington D.C. and Maryland lawsuits against the con-man-in-chief for allegedly violating the constitution’s emoluments clause can proceed.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST A Montana republican official resigned after saying on a radio show that he would have shot the reporter who was assaulted by Congressman Greg Gianforte. A republican Haywood County Board of Elections member who contended on social media that Democrats plan to legalize pedophilia in violation of state law against members publicly endorsing one party or another resigned her post prior to the investigation.