As Stacey Abrams fights for every vote, Democrat John Barrow fights to replace Brian Kemp and save democracy

Stacey Abrams’ tireless post-Election Day campaign to get every possible vote in Georgia counted isn’t just about trying to win the governorship today. Her fight is also exposing the true breadth of the damage done to the state’s democracy by her opponent, former Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

We knew about the 1.6 million voters he erased from the system over his two terms, the largest such purge in American history. We knew about the ridiculous lawsuit he filed days before the election. We knew about the over 50,000 people he wanted to ban from voting with trapdoor inanities. And on Election Day, we saw how he abused voters by throttling the number of voting machines in largely minority districts. Now comes word about the absentee ballots sent out late by his office, his efforts to throw out provisional ballots, and Kemp’s continued legal battles against counting votes.

No matter what happens in this election, we’re seeing that democracy is on a respirator in Georgia and that a whole lot has to change if we’re going to bring it back to life. That starts with replacing Brian Kemp as Secretary of State with Democrat John Barrow, who will compete in a runoff election for the position on December 4th.

Barrow, a former Congressman from 2005-2015, was initially bumped from office due to the last administration’s gross gerrymandering of Georgia, so he knows full well just how much power the state government can wield. His platform is a stark contrast to that of his GOP opponent, Brad Raffensperger, who wants to keep on purging voters and forcing others to conform to strict ID laws that make it so tough to cast a ballot (and even tougher to have it actually count). Barrow would make it easier to vote; Raffensperger wants to disenfranchise everyone he can.

“It shouldn’t be easier to get kicked off the rolls if you’re a registered voter, a citizen entitled to vote, than it is to have your water turned off,” Barrow told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution late last month. “It’s just as bad to kick somebody off the rolls who has a right to participate and has done nothing wrong as it is to let somebody in who has no business voting.”

Georgia is in the middle of a massive population shift, making it more likely to vote in Democrats than ever before — it already provided several big upsets in this year’s Congressional elections. But that can’t happen if citizens aren’t allowed to vote. Even without the partisanship angle, an assault on democracy is an assault on us all, and Georgia has a chance to stand up to anti-voting goons next month. Let’s help them out and stand with them as they fight for their future — and ours.

CLICK HERE to donate to John Barrow’s campaign via his Progressives Everywhere ActBlue page!

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Races for progressives to watch on Election Day

Here we are, two days out from the most important election of our lifetimes, which is a statement that is eminently dramatic but somehow undersells the gravity of what we are facing. I truly don’t know what American democracy will look like if Democrats don’t sweep up at the ballot box on Tuesday. And it’s not just because of the threat posed by Trump and his sycophantic posse. All across the country, there are pitched battles being fought over issues that directly touch the lives of tens of millions of people — and will, more broadly, impact us all.

Here is a guide to the biggest issues and races to watch on what will be a very nerve-wracking, exciting Tuesday evening.

Candidates we’ve interviewed

Over the last seven months, I spoke with candidates up and down the ballot. I focused on candidates who were running crucial races on the state level and true progressives running underdog campaigns against some of the worst Republicans (and a few bad Democrats!) on the national level.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14)
Jess King (PA-11)
Julie Oliver (TX-25)
Alessandra Biaggi (NY-SD-34)
J.D. Scholten (IA-04)
Cyndi Ralston (OK-HD-12)
Zach Dickerson (OH-HD-42)
Deidre DeJear (IA-Sec State)
Kriss Marion (WI-SD-17)
Janet Garrett (OH-04)
Miguel Levario (TX-19)

Voting Rights

As we’ve seen this fall, Republicans hate democracy and are continuing to do everything they can to make it impossible to vote. The sheer number of states that have surpassed their 2014 early voting numbers is heartening, but the overall numbers would be way higher without so much disenfranchisement.

After Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp purged over a million voters from the rolls without much national attention, his late flourishes of injustice finally provoked notice and outrage. Some of his ploys were overturned by courts, providing very limited relief to a small number of the disenfranchised, but the man is persistent in his quest to steal the governorship from former State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who has worked tirelessly to expand voting rights. Just today, Kemp’s office launched an erroneous investigation into Democratic groups.

The same thing is playing out in so many states. In Ohio, the purge of nearly 1.5 million voters was sanctioned by the right-wing Supreme Court. The nation’s leader in racist, anti-democratic quackery, Kris Kobach, is running for governor in Kansas. Iowa’s Republican leadership, if re-elected, has promised to finish installing strict voter ID. We spoke to Iowa’s Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, Deidre DeJear, about her very different approach — she wants to expand the electorate — earlier this fall.

There are a number of important Secretary of State races to watch on Tuesday: GeorgiaIowaOhioColoradoArizonaNevada, and Michigan (where voting rights expansion is also on the ballot, via Proposal 3). You can donate to the candidates in each of those races HERE. To help fight against Kemp and Kobach ascending to the governor’s mansions in their respective states, you can donate to Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Laura Kelly in Kansas.

In Florida, a whopping 1.5 million permanently disenfranchised people could get their right to vote back if Amendment 4 passes with 60%. In Nevada, approving Question 5 on the ballot will institute automatic voter registration.

In Ohio, it will be far easier to restore voting rights (and fix so many other issues) if Democrat Richard Cordray wins the neck-and-neck race for governor. His opponent is a right-wing creep, Mike DeWine, and he’s both for voter purges and throttling Medicaid.

Healthcare

The messy state of the American healthcare system has been neck-and-neck with Trump’s psychotic behavior as the most important issue in this election. And while we can’t force Trump to undergo a brain scan or hypnosis, we can fight to protect and expand access to healthcare.

After spending eight years trying to repeal Obamacare (an effort that is still ongoing) and undermining it at every turn, Republicans are sinking to new degrees of shamelessness to suggest they are in favor of protecting pre-existing conditions. We know that’s a lie and hope voters know it, too. First and foremost, you can give to Democrats running in toss-up races for Congress. If we win the House back, Obamacare is going nowhere.

Then, watch the races in a number of states where Medicaid has been limited by new and very onerous work requirements. In Wisconsin, the Trump Administration just approved new work requirements, so the gubernatorial and State Senate races are crucial; you can read our interview with one of the most important State Senate candidates and then donate to the Democratic candidate for governor, Tony Evers, and several State Senate candidates right HERE.

Michigan also just passed work requirements on Medicaid, making the gubernatorial and State House races there crucial to undoing the cruel limitation. You can help out the candidates right HERE.

Meanwhile, in Maine, voters overwhelmingly chose to expand Medicaid in the last election, but their gassy hate toad of a governor, Paul LePage, just outright (and illegally) refused to follow through. He’s term-limited and leaving office, so both the race to replace him, which is neck-and-neck, as well as to flip the State Senate, which is entirely up in the air, are absolutely crucial. You can donate to that effort right HERE.

And in several red states, voters will be deciding via ballot initiative to expand Medicaid. Despite ginned up fears about socialism and consistent support for Republicans, it looks like it will pass in UtahMontana, and Idaho, and be permanently enshrined in Nebraska.

There are a whole lot of other ballot measures, as well, including ones focused on legalizing marijuana, fixing gross gerrymandering, and raising the minimum wage. You can follow them via Daily Kos’s handy guide.

Flipping Legislatures and Fixing Education

Democrats have finally started to pay attention to state legislature races, awakened to their importance by the sheer number of Republican majorities that have installed heinous gerrymanders, limited voting rights, deserted working people, and let schools crumble. In a lot of the hottest state races that we’ve explored, teachers are running as Democrats to help restore funding and sanity to public schools that have been gouged by tax cuts and for-profit charter schools.

But winning majorities in most states won’t happen in one election, especially because Republicans are still spending more in state legislature races than Democrats. That said, we’re watching races that could either flip chambers or at least break super-majorities in a number of states. Here are the specific candidates for whom we’ve raised money and endorsed and are still in competitive elections (in New York, the primary was in many cases the real election):

Kentucky: Jeanie Smith (KY-SD-32), Tina Bojanowski (KY-HD-32)

Colorado: Faith Winter (CO-SD-24), Tammy Story (CO-SD-16)

Ohio: Erica Crawley (OH-HD-26), Lauren Friedman (OH-SD-29), Taylor Sappington (OH-HD-94), Lorraine Wilburn (OH-HD-48), Rachel Crooks (OH-HD-88)

Iowa: Jackie Smith (IA-SD-07), Lindsay James (IA-HD-99)

Oklahoma: Jacob Rosecrants (OK-HD-46), Angela Graham (OK-HD-66), Cyndi Ralston (OK-HD-12), Josh Martin (OK-HD-70)

New York: Anna Kaplan (NY-SD-4), Jessica Ramos (NY-SD-13), John Mannion (NY-SD-50), Monica Martinez (NY-SD-3), Rachel May (NY-SD-53), Robert Jackson (NY-SD-31)

Texas: Beverly Powell (TX-SD-10), Nathan Johnson (TX-SD-16)

Wisconsin: Kriss Marion (WI-SD-17), Julie Henszey (WI-SD-05), Lee Snodgrass (WI-SD-19)

Maine: All Democratic State Senate candidates fundraise online together.

Swing Congressional Candidates

Through a variety of ActBlue pages and initiatives, Progressives Everywhere raised tens of thousands of dollars for candidates in toss-up Congressional races. Here’s the list of candidates, along with Andrew Janz (CA-22).

Abby Finkenauer* (IA-01)
DD Adams* (NC-05)
Lauren Underwood* (IL-14)
Mikie Sherrill* (NJ-11)
Clarke Tucker* (AR-02)
Kathleen Williams (MT-AL)
Cindy Axne* (IA-03)
Hiral Tipirneni* (AZ-08)
Rick Neal* (OH-15)
Karen McCormack* (CO-04)
Amy McGrath (KY-06)
Abigail Spanberger (VA-07)
Andy Kim (NJ-03)
Antonio Delgado (NY-19)
Anthony Brindisi (NY-22)
Angie Craig (MN-02)
Gil Cisneros (CA-39)
Katie Hill (CA-25)
Katie Porter (CA-45)
Tom Malinowski (NJ-07)
Lizzie Fletcher (TX07)
Sharice Davids (KS-03)
Sean Casten (IL-06)
Harley Rouda (CA-48)
Jason Crow (CO-06)
Jared Golden (ME-02)
Dean Phillips (MN-03)

Early voting updates from key states show GOP voter suppression we must fight

A few weeks into early voting, we’re seeing both inspirational turnout and downright infuriating news. Let’s start with the good stuff.

From the 10,000 foot view, the early returns look great for Democrats. In many places where it has already started, there have been far more early votes cast in this election than in 2014, the last midterm election. The numbers, updated daily, can be found HERE, put together by the non-profit Elect Project. And according to New York Times polling, Democrats are far more enthusiastic this year, both compared to 2014 and in general.

In particular, we’re seeing big increases in battleground territories, like North CarolinaIndiana and Tennessee, the latter two home to crucial Senate races. Unfortunately, GOP-run states have not prepared for the crush of newly engaged voters (probably because they do whatever they can to make voting harder), and in Tennessee, registrations have been backed up to the point that some people won’t be able to vote early.

And wouldn’t you know it — the big backlog just so happens to be around Memphis, a majority African-American city.

So much of the progressive strategy has been to mobilize people who are eligible to vote but have felt left behind and disengaged, which is both a smarter and more sustainable tactic than trying yet again to win over Republicans. GOP officials are doing whatever they can to throttle the surge of activism and stop minority (and Democratic-leaning) voters from casting their ballots. It’s happening in Texas and of course in Georgia, where things are even worse than the chaos we described in last week’s newsletter (see the entry below).

Just last week in Georgia, a bus bringing Black voters to the polls was pulled over by police under some dubious pretense, waylaying dozens of people trying to exercise their democratic rights. The bus was a moving target, as it was emblazoned with the Black Voters Matter logo, which is sadly a kind of bullseye for vote-suppressing Georgian officials.

Meanwhile, over a thousand absentee ballots — again, mostly from Black and Latinx voters — have been rejected in Georgia for no good (or very minor, intentionally confusing) reasons. And even worse: over 100,000 voters were purged from the rolls there last year because they didn’t vote in the last few elections, which is the same lame justification Republicans used to justify Ohio’s mass voter purge (which was OK’d by the right-wing Supreme Court).

Luckily, the Democrats nominated an incredible activist in former State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams. She began the New Georgia Project in 2014 to register close to a million voters in the state and her campaign has been vigilant about challenging both the bottleneck on new registrations and all of the irregularities at both the polls and with absentee ballots. They’ve created a network to have volunteers at every poll station in Georgia, a crucial effort that takes some real funds. And her work (and the work of the GOTV groups) is working, as Georgia is setting records for early voting turnout.

Abrams could not be more different than her opponent, GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the man responsible for so much of the voter suppression. It’s really a microcosm of the choice America faces right now: a racist Republican who hates democracy enough to sabotage it, or a bold progressive Black woman who wants to make her state more equal and fair.

You can DONATE to Abrams’ campaign HERE.

In Kansas, another hub of voter suppression, polling places have been eliminated all over rural, minority-heavy districts. Kris Kobach, the architect of these schemes, is now running for governor in a neck-and-neck race with Laura Kelly, a progressive Democrat who would provide a fundamental change in a state that has been wrecked by tax breaks for the rich.

You can donate to Laura Kelly’s campaign HERE.

I have searched high and low for different groups that are giving voters rides to the polls, to combat the unfair voting site closures, but I have largely come up empty. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. For example, an amazing grassroots group in PA called Lancaster Stands Up is doing this kind of work, but you wouldn’t know it if it weren’t for some profiles in progressive publications. (They are helping Jess King, one of our amazing endorsees for Congress, who you should seriously send a donation, because her victory would be absolutely game-changing in so many ways.) It’s just way harder to find these groups than it should be.

So one project we face beyond this November is creating an easier way to identify these groups nationwide and send them support. I am very much in favor of local activists making the decisions and leading the way, and hate when national party power brokers in the DCCC swoop in and basically install bland corporate candidates. But I also think it is absolutely necessary to support the local groups from afar with resources and money. Spotlighting and helping those groups will be a major initiative here at Progressives Everywhere going forward after November 6th. If you are part of a group doing this great work, please let me know: ProgressivesEverywhere@gmail.com!

There are a few great GOTV groups you can help right now, including the Black Voters Matter project and Vote Riders. They are doing such crucial work in the face of blatant obstruction and racism. You can DONATE to these GOTV groups HERE!

Early voting starts in Texas this coming week and obviously, all eyes will be on the race between Beto O’Rourke (a good person) and Ted Cruz (a very bad person). But there are other races in Texas where Democrats could score upsets — there are a record 15.8 million people registered to vote in Texas this year, a fact that portends well for Democrats. Along with competitive House races in suburban Houston that are listed as toss-ups, there are great progressive candidates who have an outside chance of turning long-red seats blue.

Here at Progressives Everywhere, we’ve profiled two inspiring candidates for Congress, Miguel Levario (TX-19) and Julie Oliver (TX-25), and I also wanted to flag Mike SiegelSri Preston Kulkarni, and Dayna Steele, progressives running strong races in TX-10, TX-22, and TX-36.

None of them are getting help from the DCCC, but they’ve all put together innovative campaigns — Kulkarni has phone banking in 13 languages! — and even winning one of those races would go a long way towards guaranteeing that we flip the House. Plus, are will activating progressive activists and are sure to get more Democratic votes than prior candidates, which is already great for party-building and makes donations to their races a great long-term investment even if they don’t win.

You can DONATE to Siegel, Kulkarni, and Steele via Progressive Everywhere’s main slate page on ActBlue — just make sure to select their names!

How to vote early and help end voter disenfranchisement

Election Day is technically on November 6th, but in many states across the country, voting has already begun — and in too many states, some people won’t be able to vote at all.

Early voting is an underutilized tool that can be incredibly beneficial to Democrats. The process varies from state to state, but voting casting a ballot in the weeks leading up to Election Day helps ensure a maximum number of votes, shortens lines at the polls for everyone else, and makes getting out the vote on November 6th that much easier.

There’s a reason why Republicans have sought to curtail early voting in so many states: it has historically been utilized most by working people and minorities.

Voting early helps strengthen democracy. If you’re interested in finding out if your state has opened early voting yet (or when it might start), Vote.org and the New York Times have you covered.

Trying to vote early will also help ensure that you’re not left hanging on Election Day due to the increasingly malicious schemes being run by Republican legislatures and Secretaries of State. Progressives Everywhere has focused a lot on voting rights over the last year, and this week, the national public finally took notice of an egregious but in no way atypical scam being run Brian Kemp, the Georgia Secretary of State and GOP candidate for governor.

There are currently 53,000 voter applications in limbo in Georgia because of unnamed “violations” of the Exact Match system that Georgia uses to disqualify voters. Just 10% of those registrations are from white people, while 70% belong to black voters. Kemp has since 2012 purged a whopping 1.5 million voters from the state books and closed 200 polling places, working diligently to disenfranchise the state’s growing minority population.

His history is a stark contrast to his Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial race, former State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, whose New Georgia Project worked to register 800,000 voters since 2014.

A coalition of civil rights groups have sued to get those 53,000 registrations confirmed in time for the election so people can fill out real ballots and not provisional ones, and Abrams is working hard to create a network of poll monitors and volunteers to make sure every vote is counted.

Here’s a pretty good summary:

Screen Shot 2018-10-17 at 5.53.58 AM

The race is neck and neck and Kemp’s only hope may be to steal this election. We can’t let that happen. You can donate to Abrams campaign HERE.

Unfortunately, this is just one of many voter suppression schemes. Here are just a taste of the others happening across the country:

How to make sure your vote isn’t stolen

The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is disheartening; the manner in which it went down, with misogynist aristocrats ramming through their classless manchild nominee and spitting in the face of women and assault survivors nationwide, was downright infuriating.

So let’s use that fury to change the country. First, make sure you are registered to vote HERE. In New York alone last month, there were legions of people who thought they were registered but has their names missing from the voter rolls when they went to cast a ballot in the primaries. Georgia and Ohio have purged over a million registered voters alone in the last few years. Other states are doing the same. So check to make sure you are registered, the send it to everyone you know.

If you find you aren’t registered, HERE is the registration deadline for every state in the country. Many still accept registrations.

And once you make sure you’re registered, it’s time to do help turn out the vote. Now that we are just a month away from Election Day, I want to focus on GOTV efforts. I’ve been wary of public polling, because they have been so often off the mark. But several polls released last week caught my eye not because they tracked any one race, but because they were meant to gauge voting habits by age and gender.

While the top lines look good for Democrats — a 5-10 point lead in generic ballots, a more motivated voter base (albeit a smaller advantage) — the demographics are troubling. Two separate polls showed that less than a third of young (18-29) voters are actually certain that they’re going to vote: Gallup had the number at 26%, while The Atlantic/PRRI poll put it at 28%. Compare that to older — and inherently more conservative — voters.

For context, Gallup found that 69% of voters 50-64 were certain to vote, and a whopping 82% of voters 65 and over were promising to cast a ballot. Atlantic/PRRI had the senior citizen cohort at 74% absolutely committed to voting.

Even with my skepticism about these polls, a conversation I had last week made me realize that we really do take for granted that party identification and candidate preference automatically translate into votes. I was shocked when a close friend of mine who falls into that 18-29 bracket and is definitely a liberal told me that he hadn’t registered to vote.

Now, I can’t totally blame young people (I’m 32) for feeling like voting is somewhat useless, because even with Obama in office for eight years, the deck continued to be stacked against us. Massive student debt, stagnant wages, limited opportunity, crappy healthcare — Democrats did not do enough to help young people and secure loyal and frequent voters.

But things are demonstrably worse under Republicans, who are teetering toward a mix of autocracy and terrorism, and 2018 is our one real shot at pushing back. We have to devote ourselves to turning out every potential voter we can, and there are a number of progressive organizations working to create unprecedented GOTV operations that will make that happen.

Here’s a look at some of them and how you can help them:

VoteRiders: A group devoted to both fighting Voter ID laws and helping the people who live under them navigate their complicated requirements, so that no one who shows up to vote gets turned away from some racist bureaucratic reason. You can donate to VoteRiders HERE.

Progressive Turnout Project: A grassroots organization that works in individual districts to turn out voters, going door-to-door and making phone calls to engage citizens on a local level. Their record of success is really impressive, starting with last year’s romp in Virginia.

Black Votes Matter: African-Americans are the most loyal Democratic voters, but too often they are either turned away at the polls or otherwise disengaged from what is in many cases a rigged system. But when they vote, Democrats win — 98% of black women voted for Doug Jones last year and helped make history. (There needs to be a conversation about how Democratic politicians need to work hard for their votes and not just pay lip service, which is a topic that must be addressed in 2019.) With so much on the line, Black Votes Matter has been touring the south and organizing local communities to take power, with a focus on winning elections this November.

Stand Up America: An advocacy and political action group active in the resistance over the last two years, Stand Up America has been providing volunteers to campaigns this election cycle, helping beef up Democratic presences in local races.

Make the Road Action: A New York-based advocacy group that is organizing Latinx citizens and workers to take on corporate power and corrupt politicians. The group has fanned out to states across the Northeast this election cycle to help activate Latinx and other voters.

CLICK HERE to donate to one or more of these groups via Progressives Everywhere’s ActBlue Page!