2021 Voting & Democracy Rights
October 4th Issue

Fair Districts & Voting Rights Continue!
Fair Maps & Voting Rights - Continuing Efforts
     For people following the news closely, this past week may have seemed especially challenging. Because of so many issues nationally and globally, it is sometimes hard to focus on how to move forward regarding the topic(s) most significant to us as individuals.
     Although it is easy to get lost in all that is going on and to feel that progress is slow at best, let's  remember that making positive changes and working to create are more difficult and time-consuming than tearing down or dismantling. In addition, we can be heartened by the ongoing efforts of many hard-working groups and individuals.
     Please read below for how you can participate in some of these efforts.  

     As always, thanks for all you are doing to promote democracy and voting rights, and please feel free to share any part or all of this e-newsletter.
Learn & Take Action to Make Democracy Work!
     The need for districts to be drawn fairly and with transparency is key to having meaningful elections. The same is true about addressing efforts to suppress the vote. Below are important efforts to educate and ways for people to take action.  
  1. Use the public portal. This is an important resource to offer your opinions on the drawing of maps now that it is likely there will be few if any more public hearings. Please take advantage of this opportunity, and SHARE WITH OTHERS! Make your comments personal and speak to your community. The Brennan Center for Justice offered these 6 tips for giving testimony for public hearings for redistricting that are also appropriate for the portal. And, if you are looking for examples, here are two comments submitted (each separately) by the editor of this e-newsletter. 
  2. Write an opinion piece or letter to the editor: These are good ways to share your opinions and activate others. This overview offers some important resources you can use to write a letter to the editor. If you are looking for an example of an opinion piece, here is one from early September written by the editor of this e-newsletter about redistricting that appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times.  
  3. Freedom to Vote Act: The Brennan Center provides information about how several senators have crafted this new bill that includes many of the elements of the For the People Act. This bill still has challenges based on the likelihood that the filibuster will be employed to stop action, but there is hope, and that comes from amending the filibuster. Here are actions you can take to make positive change. 
Ethnic Media Services created this 4-minute video with one of the groups - the NC Counts Coalition - that is working to promote citizen involvement in drawing districts. It includes a breakdown of some of the demographic changes that have occurred in North Carolina since 1990.
General Opportunities to Learn & Take Action
  1. Important Articles: Here are some important articles, videos, opinion pieces, blog posts and publications focused on voting and maintaining our democracy organized by topic. 
  2. Michigan's Independent Commission: Michigan is working to take politics out of redistricting. This segment from the PBS NewsHour shows how an independent commission is in place to propose fairer districts. 
  3. How the Filibuster in the Senate Stops Progress: Historian Heather Cox Richardson in this column, notes the power that a few states have not only in voting against legislation but in not even discussing the legislation. She states that 41 senators representing as few as 75 million people in a country that has more than 350 million people can hold the US Senate hostage.
  4. The Distortion of Freedom: In this post by director Rob Schofield from NC Policy Watch, he shares that some in our country have “dumb[ed] down freedom, with disastrous consequences.”
  5. The Freedom to Vote Act Challenge: In this article from Facing South, it is reported that the Senate is getting ready for a fight to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and possible reform of the filibuster. 
  6. NC State Budget: The NC Justice Center, through its NC Budget and Tax Center, continues to convene weekly conference calls via zoom to look at the negotiations among the NC House, NC Senate and Governor on the State budget. The next phase of budget work is moving into a compelling and important period since negotiations with the Governor have started recently. Get details here, and check the Calendar below for dates and times. 
  • October 4th, 11th, 18th - The NC Budget Center plans weekly zoom calls to inform attendees of the status and progress on the NC Budget, 11:30 am. To register, go here
  • October 5th - The NC Senate Committee on Redistricting and Elections meets, 10 am. To livestream, go here. To see the list of members, go here
  • October 5th - The NC House Committee on Redistricting meets, 2 pm. To livestream, go here. To see the list of members, go here
  • October 12th and 14th - Mapmaking Training for those interested in giving input to NC maps, 6 - 7:30 pm both evenings. Get details and a link to register here. Provided by Friends of the Earth, one of several organizations working through the NC Counts Coalition and Blueprint NC Redistricting Roundtable 
Partners Supporting Voting & Democracy Rights
     As shown in each of these e-newsletters, it is important to work with other nonpartisan organizations to promote voting and make it more accessible and meaningful by ending partisan gerrymandering and voter suppression.
     Some of the organizations offering the best resources and ways to take action are provided through:
WNC Social Justice Advocacy Guide
Copyright © 2021 Ron Katz, All rights reserved.

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