What to do this week of September 2, 2018

by Sep 2, 2018Opinion, What To Do This Week0 comments

Americans of Conscience Checklist

By Jen Hofmann

95 weeks down, 63 days (nine weeks) to midterm elections.

The AoC Checklist features clear, well-researched actions for Americans who value democracy, equality, voting, and decency. We also practice gratitude, self-care, and celebration to stay engaged.

I value democracy.

Guided by respect and collaboration, we create a government for the people, by the people.

Action 1: Make an activist self-care plan.

Stay inspired. Take a deep breath and spend ten minutes with this worksheet.

Action 2: Support justice at the highest level. [h/t]

Call: Your two senators—red or blue—today (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] about Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination and to urge [name] not to confirm him. Past nominees have been subject to intense but necessary scrutiny. The records Republicans have requested won’t be available until October. All senators, including [name], have a responsibility to the American people to thoroughly vet any nominee. I urge a delay of a vote until there has been a complete review of Kavanaugh’s record.

Action 3: Oppose unfit, unethical leaders. [h/t]

Call: Your two senators by this Thursday (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP], calling to ask [name] to reject Kathy Kraninger’s nomination to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She oversaw the budget of the current administration’s inhumane, zero-tolerance immigration policy, leading to family separation. I would like [name] to reject this unqualified, unfit nominee.

I value equality.

Stand with your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability. Out of many, we are one.

Action 1: Speak up with Native American women. [h/t]

Call: Your one House rep (look up).

Script: Hi, I’m calling from [ZIP] to support reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act before Sept. 30. I’m particularly concerned about continuing protections for Native American women, who experience more violence than other groups. [For GOP reps: Why hasn’t a single Republican has signed on as a co-sponsor?] I would like [name] to co-sponsor and vote for passage of H.R. 6545. [If your rep has co-signed, thank them for doing so.]

Action 2: Speak up for people impacted by mass incarceration. [h/t]

Call: Your two senators (look up).

Script: Hi, I’m calling from [ZIP] to support the bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. It would reduce costly mandatory sentences that are crowding federal prisons with nonviolent offenders, wasting our tax dollar. Will [name] co-sponsor and vote for S.1917? Thank you.

Action 3: Support incarcerated people speaking out. [h/t, h/t, [h/t]

Incarcerated people in 17 states are participating in a nonviolent protest of prison conditions from August 21 to September 9. They are advocating for reforms that respect their dignity as human beings.

Write: An encouraging letter to a prisoner.

I value secure, convenient voting and fair elections.

Democracy thrives when all citizens can freely elect those who represent their values.

Action 1: If you do only 1 thing besides vote, please do this 5-min task. [h/t]

Speaking up can make a huge difference in the fairness and success of your district’s elections.

Call: Or write your local election official (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m from [town], calling to ask a few questions about how our district is preparing for the upcoming elections.

  1. Does our district keep an offline daily backup of votes as they come in?
  2. Will our district conduct an election audit to ensure accuracy?
  3. Does our district use electronic voting or paper ballots?

Questions for electronic voting:

  1. Does our district have backup pollbooks to check in voters if there’s a problem with electronic pollbooks?
  2. If voting machines break, will our voting district have enough emergency ballots on hand for 2-3 hours of voters at peak times? What about adequate numbers of provisional ballots?
  3. If a machine breaks, will each polling center have pre-printed signage that instructs voters on alternative options? What plans are there to accommodate voters with disabilities in this case?

Questions for paper voting:

  1. Are there enough paper ballots printed if 100% of registered voters participate?

If any of the answers are NO: Voting security is a crucial issue. Can you tell me what [name] is doing to resolve this before midterm elections?

Action 2: Please vote in your state’s primaries. It matters.

Massachusetts Tue, September 4
Delaware Thu, September 6
New Hampshire Tue, September 11
Rhode Island Wed, September 12
New York Thur, September 13

Action 3: Support a mom who will be jailed for voting. [h/t, h/t, h/t, h/t]

Crystal Mason voted in the 2016 election. This mom of three was unaware that voting while on parole in Texas was illegal. She received a five-year prison sentence. Worse, her recent appeal led to 10 additional months in federal prison. Our neighbor needs help. Voter suppression hurts us all. #Justice4Crystal

Donate: To Crystal’s legal fund https://www.gofundme.com/2p6d338.

Bonus: Ask Texas governor to pardon Crystal: Sign the petition.

I value showing respect for all people, no matter where they were born.

We oppose inhumane treatment of all people and the government agencies that perpetuate it. People who immigrate to the US make our country stronger and are entitled to basic respect.

Action 1: Speak up for documented American citizens.

Call: Or write your one House rep and two senators (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and just became aware that an increasing number of Americans are having their citizenship questioned by DHS and being stripped of their passports. This is unacceptable. What is [name] doing to protect his/her constituents and hold the Department of Homeland Security accountable?

Action 2: Speak up for people penalized for following immigration rules. [h/t]

Call: Or write your one House rep and two senators (look up).

Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP], and I’m calling to express my concern that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is turning into an enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security. USCIS’ updated “Notice To Appear” policy immediately initiates removal proceedings once an immigrant’s application to remain is denied for any reason—including departmental inefficiency—and prevents them from legally contesting the decision. Applicants need a clear process to follow, not a catch 22. What is [name] doing to prevent USCIS overreach and hold DHS accountable for its growing intolerance of people immigrating to the US?

Deep breath innnnnnn… Deep breath ouuuuuuuut…

Acts of Gratitude

Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.

Thank Sanhita SinhaRoy, American Library Association Interim Editor and Publisher, for the excellent article reminding us of the unique opportunity librarians have to conduct non-partisan voter outreach. I appreciate the message and creativity behind encouraging voters new, young, and old alike to participate on Election Day.

Address: 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611

Thank Sister Norma Piementel for the warmth and welcome your organization provides to people seeking refuge in the US. I am one of many Americans speaking up for basic decency as I watch our administration’s actions in horror. It is heartening to know your group is serving those we care about, our new neighbors. Be well.

Address: Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, 700 Virgen de San Juan Boulevard, San Juan, Texas, 78589-3042

Good news

Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look.


Ruling: DACA will continue and young people may continue to apply.

Ruling: Robert Mueller’s probe is constitutional and legitimate, and will continue.

Ruling: ICE should not remove people in the process of applying for green cards just because they have final orders of removal.

Ruling: A transgender woman has the right to express her gender identity in prison.

Senate voted down an attempt to strip money from Planned Parenthood.


TX prison system will decrease cost of phone calls and increase call-time limit.

NC may be required to redraw congressional map before midterms after ruling on unconstitutional gerrymandering.

RI is working to overcome the opioid epidemic by offering inmates addiction treatment.

Six states (MA, IL, MD, NJ, RI, and WA) have passed Automatic Voter Registration this year.


Rising costs and decreased use causes Atlanta’s mayor to seek selling the city’s jail.  

Los Angeles enhances voting security with the first publicly owned, open-source tally system.

Ithaca Times turned its website homepage into a fully-functional NY voter-registration form.

Groups and organizations

ACLU initiated a voting reminder campaign expected to reach 1.3 million people.

American Latino Media Arts awards to be presented by UNIDOS and Fuse Media.

Photoville, an annual outdoor photo exhibition in Brooklyn, will focus on immigration.

Arbitrator rules that Colin Kaepernick’s voice will be heard.

Over 1,000 Americans have signed the Americans of Conscience Checklist pledge to vote–informed–this November.

News with heart

How an Oregon community came together to support its detained asylum-seekers.

This border-town group offers a warm welcome to people seeking asylum in the US.

A teacher who values diversity begins the school year by asking students to mix paints to a shade that matches their own skin tone.

Singing Samoan firefighters lift their peers’ spirits in California.

A German opera, Moses, highlights the refugee crisis with an international youth cast.

Despite being incarcerated, people all over the country advocate for one another’s basic rights.

See more good news at Small Victories, Good Black News, and What Went Right.

Spread the word

Know someone who could use some good news and clear actions? Please share!

Tweet: With nine weeks to midterms, here’s a list of things you can do to make a positive difference. #YourVoiceMatters #ActionCuresFear http://americansofconscience.com/9-2-2018/

Post on Facebook: With nine weeks to midterms, here’s a list of things you can do to make a positive difference. #YourVoiceMatters #ActionCuresFear http://americansofconscience.com/9-2-2018/

Print: The Americans of Conscience Checklist flier and share at in-person events.


  • Share: We post our actions and good news on Facebook and Twitter several times per week. If you follow us, please share so more people can speak up for our democracy.
  • Sign up: Get the weekly Americans of Conscience Checklist here.
  • Get inspired: Complete the Self-Care Worksheet.
  • Stay focused: Complete the Action Worksheet (or Kelly Wooten’s artistic version).
  • Gratitude: Big thanks to the JEBitor, Week 1 social media volunteers, the Research Sous Chefs teams, and to the amazing angel patrons who make it possible.

Note: The AoC Checklist is always ad-free and no-cost. If you’re able, please support Jen and her full-time effort on patreon or paypal.