What to do this week of January 19, 2020
181 weeks down, 42 weeks to the presidential election.
The AoC Checklist features clear, well-researched actions for Americans who value democracy, equality, voting, and respect. To stay engaged through challenging times, we practice gratitude, self-care, and celebration.
I value democracy.
With respect and collaboration, we work to create a nation that welcomes all people, expands freedoms, and upholds the Constitution. Each citizen must be able to freely and fairly elect those who represent their values.
▢ Action 1: Register and vote in your state’s 2020 Presidential primary election. [h/t Vote.org]
Check: Voter ID requirements in your state (also available in Spanish).
Arkansas: Register in-person or by mail by February 2 for the March 3 primary election.
Iowa: Register online by January 24, or in-person on the day of the February 3 caucuses.
New Hampshire: Register by mail by January 29 (although some towns have later deadlines) or in-person on the day of the February 11 primary election.
North Carolina: Register by mail by February 7 or in-person by February 29 for the March 3 primary election. Any registered voter can request a mail-in ballot by February 25, and early voting is available February 12-28.
Oklahoma: Register by mail or in-person by February 7 for the March 3 primary election. Any registered voter can request a mail-in ballot by February 26, and early voting is available February 27-29.
South Carolina: Register online by January 30 for the February 29 (Democratic party only) primary election.
Tennessee: Register online by February 3 for the March 3 primary election. Early voting is available February 12-25.
Texas: Register in person or by mail by February 3 for the March 3 primary election. Early voting is available February 18-28.
Utah: Register by mail by February 4 or online by February 25 for the all-mail March 3 primary election. Election-day registration will also be available at polling places on March 3.
Bonus: Remind friends in these states with upcoming primaries to vote!
▢ Action 2: Call for paid time off to vote in primary elections: [h/t ElectionDay.org]
Call or write: Your employer.
Script: Many Americans decide not to participate in elections due to the economic hardship of taking time off without pay, and state laws vary widely when it comes to getting time off to vote. The private sector can play a role in increasing voter turnout. I invite [COMPANY]’s leadership to allow employees paid time off to vote in [STATE]’s upcoming primary election. ElectionDay.org offers great resources to support this process. Thank you for considering this opportunity to support our democracy.
▢ Action 3: Help your city commit to a full and accurate count in the 2020 Census: [h/t National League of Cities]
Write/email: Your city council: (look up or search the web for “[CITY NAME] city council”).
Script: Greetings. I’m a resident of [CITY] and want to make sure our city is accurately represented in the 2020 Census. I am sure you’re aware of the recommendations from the National League of Cities’ City Census Checklist (Page 28 of PDF). Can you reassure me that the City Council plans to follow these guidelines, including providing secure online response kiosks in publicly-accessible city buildings? I look forward to your response. Thank you.
Bonus: Donate to the Census Project, a coalition of national, state, and local organizations that support an inclusive and accurate 2020 Census.
I value equality.
Support the dignity of your rainbow of neighbors from every religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, age, and ability.
▢ Action 4: Support disability benefits for disabled people by January 31. [h/t Center for American Progress]
Tell the Social Security Administration your views on their proposal to increase oversight of people receiving disability benefits (SSDI/SSI) that will result in a significant loss of benefits.
Submit a comment in your own words: On the Federal Register using these tips: 1) Introduce yourself. 2) State why you oppose the proposal based on your values and, if applicable, 3) Share a story (anonymously if enrolled) of how you or a loved one are impacted by Social Security disability benefits. Review this article to personalize the points below.
- Recipients of Social Security disability benefits are already rigorously screened. Fewer than 4 out of 10 applicants becomes eligible, after which they participate in Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs).
- SSA estimates that 2.6 million more CDRs would be conducted under this new rule, at a cost of $1.8 billion over the next decade while cutting $2.6 billion in benefits.
- Most disabled people cannot afford to hire a lawyer for the CDR process. The maximum amount that SSI will provide is just 74 percent of the federal poverty level—currently $12,490 for an individual. As of November 2019, the average SSDI benefit was just $14,855 per year.
- When people lose their SSI or SSDI, they may experience health care interruptions, loss of independence, and housing and food insecurity.
- The last major change in the CDR schedules occurred in the early 1980s. The trauma to individuals, families, and communities was so great that Congress created the current structure with legislation in 982 and 1984.
Bonus: Call your two senators and urge them to contact the Social Security Administration to oppose this new rule (look up).
▢ Action 5: Speak up with pregnant workers. [h/t MomsRising]
Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] because I value equality for pregnant people. The law prohibits discrimination in hiring and firing, but it’s unclear about accommodations at work. As a result, pregnant workers often must choose between a paycheck and their health while companies lose experienced staff. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would bring clarity to the situation for both families and employers. It passed with bipartisan support in committee, and I’m asking [NAME] to co-sponsor this vital legislation (H.R. 2694).
▢ Action 6: Speak up with older workers. [h/t Leadership Conference]
Call: Your two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] to support workplace protections for older Americans. The House just passed the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act with bipartisan support, which addresses the adverse effects of a 2009 Supreme Court decision that created more stringent criteria for an age discrimination claim. I’m asking [NAME] to support the Senate version (S.485) and press the Majority Leader to bring it to the floor for a vote.
I value decency.
Our nation has a moral and legal obligation to welcome people seeking asylum and refuge. We support showing decency toward this vulnerable community.
▢ Action 7: Speak up to protect trans people detained by ICE [h/t Detention Watch]
Write or call: Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C. 20528; DHS comment line: 202-282-8495
Write or call: Matthew Albence, Acting Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 500 12th St., SW, Washington, D.C. 20536; Office of Public Affairs 202-732-4242, firstname.lastname@example.org
Script: Hi. I’m calling again because ICE has yet to comply with the 2020 fiscal spending report as well as its own 2015 memo concerning treatment of transgender people in detention. As a result of this non-compliance, I fully support the members of Congress who insist that ICE is legally obligated to release all trans people from detention immediately. Thank you for your prompt action.
▢ Action 8: Advocate for respectful, humane treatment of aspiring Americans. [h/t Immigrant Legal Resource Center]
Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling to express my value for humane, welcoming policies toward people seeking to become citizens of this country. The New Way Forward Act would stop treating people like criminals by restoring due process, giving judges discretion to consider individual situations, and end automatic deportation for people convicted of minor crimes. Can I count on [NAME] to co-sponsor H.R. 5383?
▢ Action 9: Support due process and language access for indigenous people in ICE custody. [h/t RAICES]
Due to imminent dangers, more people from remote areas of Central America are seeking to enter the US, creating an urgent need for interpreters to translate for them from indigenous languages to advocate for themselves in legal proceedings.
Donate: To PLM (Promotores de la Liberación Migrante), a group of language justice and community organizing volunteers, to fund expansion of their interpreting services.
Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.
Thank Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham [R-SC] for pausing hearings for judicial nominees while the Senate completes the impeachment process.
Call before Jan 21: 202-224-5972 [DC office]Script: Hi, I’m from [STATE] calling to thank Sen. Graham for listening to Americans and honoring precedent in his decision to pause hearings for judicial appointments while the Senate completes the impeachment process. Thank you!
Thank Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) for advocating for trans people detained by ICE in flagrant disregard of the law and their needed protection. [Share why you appreciate efforts to ensure the rule of law applies especially for the most vulnerable.]
Address: 3223 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago, IL 60657
Democracy is still working, and decent people are speaking up and working together. Enjoy this #GoodNews.
- The U.S. Senate unanimously passes the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act to address the plastic debris crisis threatening coastal economies and harming marine life.
- House approves a war powers resolution requiring congressional approval for military strikes on Iran.
- The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship opens an investigation into the administration’s dangerous “Remain in Mexico” policy.
- Truth prevails. The Government Accountability Office concludes the White House budget office violated the law by freezing critical U.S. military aid to Ukraine.
- Resettlement efforts can continue after a federal court temporarily blocks an administration order previously allowing state and local governments to refuse refugees.
- Federal appeals court upholds an injunction barring the administration from discharging Air Force members living with HIV.
- CA DOJ cuts off ICE’s access to the state’s law enforcement database.
- MO Supreme Court strikes down the state’s voter ID law that would have disproportionately affected disabled people, elderly people, voters of color, and trans and nonbinary voters.
- NC: A federal judge rules the state’s voter ID law will not take effect, is likely unconstitutional, and created with “racially discriminatory intent.”
- NY: Judge orders the state to provide “inactive voter” lists at polling sites, finding that a refusal to do so violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
- OR restricts U.S. immigration agents from making arrests in state’s courthouses.
- VA becomes the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
- WA: AG Bob Ferguson files a federal lawsuit against the administration for arresting aspiring Americans in and near courthouses.
- WI: A Wisconsin appeals court puts on hold an order to immediately remove up to 209,000 names from the state’s voter registration rolls.
- Kansas City files a public nuisance lawsuit against gun manufacturer Jimenez Arms and gun dealers in Missouri over their alleged role in the illegal trafficking of handguns.
- Citing concerns of racial bias and governmental overreach, Cambridge, MA passes a ban on the municipal use of face surveillance technology.
- Appellate court overturns ruling that exempts Huntington Beach from honoring sanctuary state law.
- ICE arrests decline in Chicago area due to sanctuary laws.
- Sudlersville, MD tables an initiative to bring a new ICE detention center to town due to pushback from residents.
- Students enrolled in Salt River Schools in Arizona learn the O’odham and Piipaash languages as well as other cultural traditions of the Pima-Maricopa.
- Asset management company BlackRock divests $500 million from coal-related businesses.
- Phone accessory company PopSockets donates 50% of sales from a specially designed phone grip to RAICES.
- The Dallas Morning News publishes an op-ed denouncing Gov. Greg Abbott’s refusal to welcome people seeking refuge.
Groups and organizations
- Incarcerated individuals in the West Virginia area further their education through the Appalachian Prison Book Project.
- Teen activists Quannah Chasing Horse (Hans Gwich’in and Lakota Sioux) and Nanieezh Peter (Neetsaii Gwich’in and Diné) persuade the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention to declare a climate emergency.
- Through Citizenshipworks.org, aspiring Americans can utilize free online assistance to navigate the U.S. immigration system and file applications.
News with heart
- British armed forces pay tribute to LGBTQ service members with a special reception in Parliament and a rainbow light display on the Ministry of Defence building.
- Native American song recordings on 100-year-old wax cylinders are digitally preserved by researchers at Indiana University.
- Clyde Ford develops the new Tribal Watch MMIW app to address the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women from the Yakama Nation and other tribes.
- Planes drop thousands of kilograms of vegetables for animals displaced by fires in New South Wales.
- U.S. cancer death rate drops 2.2% between 2016 and 2017, the largest decline recorded in national cancer statistics dating back to 1930.
- Felipe Rodriguez is exonerated of all charges in a murder case after being imprisoned for 27 years.
- Isabel Bueso can stay in the U.S. to receive treatments for a life-threatening disability for at least two more years.
- Francesca Di Giovanni is appointed by Pope Francis as under-secretary in the Section for Relations with States, becoming the first woman to be appointed to a high-ranking post in the Vatican.
- Musical artists Jay-Z and Yo Gotti protest inhumane conditions in Mississippi prisons in a letter to state officials.
- The student voting rate doubled to 40% in the 2018 midterm elections from 19% of eligible voters in 2014, according to the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education.
- Stephanie Hofeller makes public the files of her father Thomas Hofeller, a prominent redistricting consultant whose strategies were used for gerrymandering.
- See more good news at Women in the World, Small Victories, Good Black News, and What Went Right.
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