Thursday 5 March 2021 — Wouldn’t you know, the day after we go to post, the stupid House passes HR 1, For the People Act of 2021. Thanks Pelosi! But, that doesn’t mean the need to protect our vote and democracy from the assault of the Quepubes is over! (1) We still need to call our senators about passing HR1. (2) The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act still needs action, so call call call! And (3) 43 states are considering laws that would restrict voter access. We must oppose all such efforts, so contact your state legislators and your governor! It ain’t over.
As you probably know, the Repubes are assaulting our democracy again, only this time it isn’t a flashbulb memory forming traumatizing violent assault on our Capitol building while a vital democratic task was being undertaken by Congress in order to disrupt a hallmark of democracy, the peaceful transfer of power. This time the Repubes are passing legislation that will radically restrict the vote of likely Democratic voters and some of them are already before the Supremes! They are so certain that their handpicked radically unqualified judges will back their play, they aren’t even trying to hide their reasons for pursuing these laws admitting it during arguments today.
If you really need to have the Long-story short:
- Call YOUR MoC using the links and scripts below and urge them to pass
- Call YOUR state legislators and governor to urge them to oppose the laws before them.
- Check out the scripts, suggestions, and tips as you scroll down.
- Oh, and, be sure to leave a comment!
Otherwise, here’s how we’ll proceed. First, we’ll review the background information and explanations that you may want to understand both HR1 and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Then, we’ll list the scripts to use when calling your particular type of MoC, and, then, we’ll go over contacting your state legislators and governors. Skip around using the headings as you feel the need. And, leave us a comment on how things turn out for you or any other constructive criticism that crosses your mind.
Legislation Argued Before SCOTUS
The Supremes decided that it would be a nifty idea if they were open to putting the 1965 Voting Rights Act out of Repubes’ electoral misery and accepted two challenges to Arizona voter suppression laws.
- Law 1: This law requires ballots cast in the wrong precinct, meaning in a precinct other than the one the voter is registered, to be discarded. Even though many of the people affected will be disproportionately People of Color because, dawggonit, wouldn’tya know, state legislatures keep moving voting places and precinct lines in precincts that are predominately populated by PoC and PoC tend to move more since they tend to be poorer. That’s a shame, but them’s the breaks when you gotta safeguard the vote from imaginary voter fraud.
- Law 2: This one limits the number of ways that absentee ballots can be delivered to election offices to be counted. What a strange coincident, this law, too, also disproportionately affects PoC’s because they tend to have fewer transportation options and work jobs that don’t allow for time off. They don’t tend to own cars as much and work minimum wage hourly jobs that frown on any time taken away from the job. But, you know, to make a white omelette, you’ve got to break a few black and brown eggs, don’tya know?
- The questioning suggests that the six conservative justices are looking for some kind, any kind, of reasoning that would allow them to uphold these laws given the provisions of the second section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; that’s the one that prohibits any law that inadvertently disproportionately affects a racial group.
- The lucky thing is that the justices conservative or otherwise don’t seem to be accepting the arguments of that Section 2 should be completely gutted.
The Legislation before Congress
- HR1 – For the People Act of 2021: This bill has been heralded as the next great civil rights legislation since it is the democracy reform bill that will help guarantee everyone the right to vote by countering many of the Repubes’ efforts to suppress the vote in their states. Here’s what you need to know:It would do things like end partisan gerrymandering (good because we fucked up and lost state legislatures in 2020, so the GOP is poised to gerrymander us out of existence), allow for easier voter registration, fund election security, allow for vote-by-mail, allow for federal matching funds for small dollar donors to reduce the influence of big donors on the elected, and strengthen ethics laws.
- Introduced to the House on 4 January 2021. It will be introduced to the Senate later this session.
- Updates voter registration and access to federal elections
- Ends gerrymandering
- Improves election security
- Counters foreign interference
- Provides for small donors and helps counter the damage from Citizens United
- Strengthens campaign finance laws and reforms contributions
- Reforms ethical standards for the Congressional, Executive, and Judicial branches of government
- Requires the release of the tax records of presidential candidates
- Sounds pretty darn good, don’t it? Like something you could call your MoC about and voice your support for, right?
- The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act: Way back in 2013, Shelby County, Alabama challenged the preapproval portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in a case that went to the Supreme Court and is known as Shelby County v Holder (that’s Eric Holder, the attorney general under Obama). Here’s what you need to know:
- Preclearance required the Jim Crow states and possibly others who had a history of suppressing the votes of communities of color to get prior approval from the DoJ or a federal court before changing any little thing about their voting rights because we knew they were not to be trusted with enfranchising PoC’s and Democratic voters.
- Chief Supreme Court Justice, John Roberts, has had a hard-on for gutting the VRA since he first learned of it at his first Klan rally, allegedly.
- The Supremes ruled 5-4 that there weren’t no such thing as no racial discrimination anymore cuz we done elected ourselves a
coloreder niger Black president.
- The conclusion was Congress was using an outdated formula for determining which states and jurisdictions had to seek preclearance approval. The new formula was none of them!
- The result was an almost immediate — almost like they had pre-written the laws before the case was decided, but that would be crazy if they did, right? — filing of laws suppressing the votes of communities of color and likely Democratic voters. True, many were struck down by the courts, but they’ve been cinching that noose tighter around the necks of Black voters since then.
- The solution:
- It codifies a more modern formula for determining how states can regulate voting. Funny how voting is a sanctified right in the Constitution, but it can be regulated, but guns can’t be regulated in the tiniest degree.
- It provides a procedure for states and jurisdictions to free themselves of preclearance procedures.
- It has other ways of making things transparent — the article linked to above was less than clear on this point.
- It provides for federal elections observers to support voters.
- That sounds like a law we can all support, right?
Following Indivisible’s lead, we’re tailoring our appeals to one of five types of MoC’s. Search through for the types that best fit your representative and your two senators.
Calling or Writing
Use this script when calling or writing your Members of Congress. Adapt as needed.
Regardless of the type of MoC you have, they all should begin the same:
Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from [STATE and LOCALITY].
I’m calling today because our country is in a fight for our democracy. It is under assault by the Republican Party. They are trying to limit the number of people who can vote. I support HR 1 – For the People Act of 2021 and the John Lewis Voting Advancement Act because they will help restore our voting rights, secure our elections, and ensure our elections are fair, reliable, and transparent.
The Member of Leadership
Our country, party, and Congress need strong leadership on these two bills. The Republicans will attempt to water-down or outright block these two crucial bills since these bills will invalidate many of the state laws they are attempting to pass. We need to pass these two bills if we are to have a chance in restoring and maintaining our democracy.
The Moderate Democrat
As we saw on 6 January during Trump’s Insurrection Riot and during the impeachment trial, our democracy is under attack. Since then, numerous the Republicans have introduce hundreds of state bills to limit voting. HR 1 will address many of the weak areas of our democracy. The John Lewis Voting Advancement Act will allow for preclearance of changes to voting laws again. We need to address the Republican assault with strength and determination.
The progressive Democrat
I know you support both of these bills. Please fight for them and prevent any attempt by the Republican Party to block their passage. We need you to be a vocal supporter of these bills if we are to restore our our voting rights and our elections.
The conservative Democrat
Even thought the Republicans will call you a radical progressive for supporting these bills, it is imperative that you do. There is nothing radical or progressive about them. They restore our voting rights and protect our elections.
As we saw during the 6 January Insurrection and the impeachment trial, our democracy is under assault by those who would deny the vote to large groups of people. We must pass these bills if we are to protect and restore our democracy. We expect that you will put the needs of our democracy above the needs of your party and your personal ambitions.
Thank you for your time and attention.
IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied.
The Starter Tweet
Copy and paste this starter tweet. You may need to adjust the wording to fit the character limits. And,, don’t forget to @ your MoC!
We need to pass both HR 1 the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to defend our democracy from the conservative forces that would disenfranchise communities of color.
Your State Legislator and Governor
This is the first time that Ye Olde Blogge has tried recommending contacting state folks, so bear with me as I sort out the bugs. Here’s what I’m thinking, though. First, we’ll discuss how to figger out which bills your state is considering. And second, I’ll list the ways to figure out who your state legislators are and their contact information and, then, the governor’s office.
The Brennan Center for Justice is tracking over 250 bills in 43 states that limit voting in some way and over 700 bills that expand voting access in a slightly different set of 43 states. As you can imagine, it is confusing. The good news is they provide an alphabetical listing of states and bills so you can look yours up. The bad news is that there are 13 pages of restrictive bills and 36 pages of expansive bills. The worse news is that you can, inexplicably, search the “table,” meaning the bills displayed on the page you’re looking at. Unfortunately, you’ll have to scroll through to find your state. Isn’t activism, fun?
More good news, I was able to highlight the name of the bill and right click to search Google for it to find the LegiScan page summarizing it. It’s pretty nifty. It isn’t always the first link on the Google results, but you can look for it. Better news, LegiScan looks like a pretty good resource to be used for federal and state legislation.
Here’s what you should do:
- Copy down the state laws restricting and expanding voting access in your state.
- Decide which laws you support and which you oppose
- Decide which laws you will actually lobby for — you probably shouldn’t try all of them in one call.
- Gather any pertinent information you may need.
- Write a script to follow based on the ones given for the MoC’s, perhaps.
- Get the contact information for your state legislators and governor in the next section.
State Government Contact Information
If you don’t already know how to contact your state legislators or your governor, you can use Common Cause to help you. All you need do is enter an address and it will return all of your federal, state, and local elected officials with their phone numbers, website link, social media links, snail-mail address, and email address. For the last two, you have to click on a link. At a minimum you should be getting this contact information:
- phone number
- website — useful if they have a contact page
- social media links — never hurts to friend or follow them
- snail-mail address — you may want to send a handwritten postcard for that personal touch
- email address
You should be looking for the following people depending on the organization of your state legislature:
- governor — every state has one.
- state representative — you may have one if you have a bicameral legislature.
- state senator — you may have one, and probably don’t have two like the feds have, if you have a bicameral legislature.
Follow the same rules of engagement for the MoC’s. The more personal the better:
- Office visit
- Send a handwritten note
- Write a letter to the editor in your local media outlets
- Social media
Otherwise, follow the tips and suggestions listed below.
Be sure to let us know how it goes in the comments.
Tips for Calling
When you call your representative’s office, please remember the following:
- Only contact YOUR MoC! They only listen to their constituents and dismiss requests from non-constituents. Ask for the aide working on voting or voting rights related issues.
- Be polite! No matter whose office you’re calling. No matter what their positions are. No matter how inflamed you are about the issue — and you should be very passionate — be polite.
- Remember that the people you are talking to are people! So, be nice.
- Call during business hours of the area code their office is in. Typically, that is 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
- Have a script or notes to follow so you don’t forget anything.
- Maybe call with friends. You know like a party.
In Addition to Calling
I’ve heard back from readers that some MoC’s voice mail boxes are always full! It’s as if they don’t want to hear from their constituents. Kinda like those MoC’s who don’t hold town halls or other open forum meetings. Here are some other ways to contact your MoC:
- Send a postcard to their office. Nothing says I care like kicking it old school and using snail mail.
- Email their office. Lay out your concerns in a brief email and send it in. We all know how easy it is to email. Make sure you include the issue you are addressing in the subject line.
- Use the contact page on their website. This is the surest way of getting a message to them. Each MoC has an official government website and each has a contact page that comes with it automatically.
- Write a letter to the editor or other opinion piece for your local media. Mention your MoC by name in the letter. They monitor the media in their districts for just this purpose.
- Contact them using social media. It’s hard to break through all the noise on social media, but it can’t hurt to try given all the time we all spend using it. Be sure to tag your MoC’s when social mediaing about about a specific issue. Be clear and respectful, though, when addressing an issue that you want your MoC to act upon. Make sure you let them know you are a constituent.
Useful links for getting the contact information for your MoC’s and anyone else in government local, state, or federal as well as tracking legislation, activism, and other information.
- Common Cause will give you the names, party affiliation, direct phone number, website link, and social media platforms of all of your federal, state, and local elected officials.
- USA.gov is the official guide to information and services of the US government. This page explains clearly how to contact everyone from the Ol’ Pussy Grabber to your representative to specific government agencies. Through it you can find the following information about your MoC’s:
- Their phone numbers: DC and state offices
- Their mailing addresses both in DC and their state offices
- Official website with their contact page including email, request a meeting, town hall schedules, and social media
- And, the committees they sit on
- Congress.gov is the official clearinghouse of information on all bills before Congress. You can find the sponsors, summaries, text, and status of every bill before Congress. It is a great tool.
- LegiScan uses the LegiScan API to search the LegiScan Data Service to provide a non-partisan federal and state legislation tracking service.
- 5 Calls: Sign-up for 5 Calls because they help you contact your member of Congress and keep you abreast of on going issues that are important to you! Now, that is a good deal.
- The Capital Hill Switch Board: (202) 224-3121.
- MassacreMitch and #MoscowMitch: His DC office, (202) 224-2541.
- Nancy Pelosi: Her DC office, (202) 225-4965; her California office, (415) 556-4862
- The WH Switchboard: (202) 456-1414 or the comments line at (202) 456-1111 during business hours
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