Events for December 2022

Advocacy update October 18, 2022

Advocacy update October 18, 2022 150 150 Episcopalians in Connection
Becoming Beloved Community Requires Protecting Civil Rights and Equal Protection Under Law

Over the past two years I’ve been covering news on dangers to civil rights and equal protection under the law.  These include wasting votes through partisan gerrymandering. See an update on Ohio’s redistricting ordeals below, and excerpts from historian Heather Cox Richardson’s Oct. 16 post about 35 years of work to undermine trust in election integrity and results in the US.

The New York Times reported Oct. 15 that over 370 candidates in this fall’s election “have voiced doubts about the legitimacy of the 2020 elections.” They include candidates for Congress and Secretary of State who, if elected, will be responsible for certifying future elections. Will they validate results they dislike, and allow a peaceful transfer of power? This weekly update offers you background information and nonpartisan ways to volunteer to protect the fairness of voting procedures during early voting and Election Day.  It also includes immigration advocacy news and an Episcopal webinar on DEI investing.

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  • Last week Ohio’s Republican legislative leaders filed an appeal to the US Supreme Court challenging the authority of the Ohio Supreme Court to play a role in determining whether new Congressional district lines are legal.  This is part of this fall’s momentous Supreme Court testing the “independent state legislature” theory which would prevent state or federal courts from overruling gerrymandered maps on the premise that the US Constitution gives state legislature sole authority to administer federal elections. This has huge implications for Ohio.

    Over 70% of Ohio voters passed a constitutional amendment with anti-gerrymandering protections including allowing our Supreme Court to review whether new maps comply. The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled every redistricting plan made over the past year by the Ohio Redistricting Commission unconstitutional because they grant undue advantage to the majority party – safe districts very likely to continue a veto-proof supermajority when Ohio elections are much more evenly divided.  We’ve reported extensively on how Republican legislative leaders on the Commission delayed action and used their majority on the commission to repeatedly pass maps with the same defects right before the court-ordered deadlines.

  • 35 Years of sowing distrust in elections

    In her Ohio 16 “Letters from an American” post, Heather Cox Richardson, a professor of American history at Boston College, documents the rise of claims of election fraud in the 1980’s, and puts it in the context of partisan struggle.  “So, to protect President Ronald Reagan’s second round of tax cuts in 1986, Republicans began to talk of cutting down Democratic voting through a ‘ballot integrity’ initiative, estimating that their plans could “eliminate at least 60–80,000 folks from the rolls” in Louisiana. “If it’s a close race…, this could keep the Black vote down considerably,’ a regional director of the Republican National Committee wrote.

    “When Democrats countered by expanding voting through the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, more commonly known as the Motor Voter Act, a New York Times writer said Republicans saw the law “as special efforts to enroll core Democratic constituencies in welfare and jobless-benefits offices.” While Democrats thought it was important to enfranchise ‘poor people…people who can’t afford cars, people who can’t afford nice houses,’ Republicans, led by then–House minority whip Newt Gingrich of Georgia, predicted ‘a wave of fraudulent voting by illegal immigrants.’  From there it was a short step to insisting that Republicans lost elections not because their ideas were unpopular, but because Democrats cheated. “

    She goes on to detail Congressional investigations, purges of voter lists, the Holder v Shelby County Supreme Court decision eliminating federal pre-clearance before states with a history of racial discrimination changed their election laws, and inciting racial fear to justify voter suppression. “Last week, Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) suggested that Black Americans are criminals who ‘want to take over what you got,’ and Republican candidates are running ads showing mug shots of Black men. Today, Trump chided American Jews for not sufficiently appreciating him; he warned them to ‘get their act together…[b]efore it’s too late.’ Republican lawmakers have left those racist and antisemitic statements unchallenged.”

    This year, the danger is that candidates who lose elections will refuse to accept the results. “Those attacks also justify ignoring Democratic election victories, for if Democratic voters are undermining the country, it only makes sense that their choices should be ignored, Richardson writes. “This argument was exactly how reactionary white Democrats justified the 1898 coup in Wilmington, North Carolina, when they overthrew a legitimately elected government of white Populists and Black Republicans. Issuing a “White Declaration of Independence,” they claimed “the intelligent citizens of this community owning 95 percent of the property” were taking over because those elected were not fit to run a government. Like the Wilmington plotters, Trump supporters insisted they were defending the nation from a “stolen” election when they attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021, to cancel the results of the 2020 Democratic victory.

    “It was not so very long ago that historians taught the Wilmington coup as a shocking anomaly in our democratic system, but now, 124 years after it happened, it is current again. Modern-day Republicans appear to reject not only the idea they could lose an election fairly, but also the fundamental principle, established in the Declaration of Independence, that all Americans have a right to consent to their government.”

Cathedral Community Issues Forum

Christ Church Cathedral’s Community Issues Forum on Oct. 20 at noon will feature Common Cause Ohio’s Catherine Turcer, who will describe what citizens need to know to preserve voter rights and fair, well-administered elections in Ohio this fall.  Click on this link to join the Zoom meeting.

Volunteer for Non-Partisan Election Protection in Ohio

Protect voters and election workers this fall by signing up and getting trained for any of several key roles during early voting and Election Day (Nov. 8): non-partisan Poll Monitor, Peacekeeper, Command Center (answering Election Protection hotline), Social Media Monitor, and Ambassador distributing info on the election protection hotline 866-OUR-VOTE.  Read about roles and trainings on the Common Cause Ohio Democracy Wire blog post.

Serve as an Episcopal Election Activator

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations provides training for volunteers to promote and facilitate local non-partisan voter engagement for this fall’s election.  You must sign a pledge of non-partisanship to participate. Learn more here, including an invitation from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

Episcopal Church ESG Investing webinar

Congregational leaders and individual investors can learn more about how environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues materially impact investment risk and return. The Church Pension Group is hosting an in-depth conversation with leading industry experts who will review broad trends and provide case studies of how incorporating ESG issues informs investment decisions. Register here for the free Zoom webinar on October 20 from 1 to 2 p.m.

Do you already invest in a retirement fund or other type of investment? You can go to FossilFreeFunds.org, plug in the ticker or fund name and see how your investments are scored.

Ohio farmers press Senate to pass Farm Workforce Modernization Act

The Ohio Capitol Journal reported Oct. 14 that U.S. agricultural imports are expected to exceed exports for the first time next year as farmers continue to struggle with a critical labor shortage. Farmers’ groups see this as a danger to US food security. Ohio farmers are calling for legislation creating a “certified agricultural worker” status and allowing more immigrant workers with year-round visas.

“The reality today in United States modern agriculture is that food consumed by Americans is and will continue to be harvested by foreign hands,” said Erie County vegetable farmer Bob Jones. “Americans simply are not interested in working in the field, in the greenhouse, or in the packing house. We are either going to import workers or we are going to import food. The choice is really that simple.”

Senators hope to pass law replacing DACA for people brought to US as minors

Senators Dick Durbin and Robert Menendez told a press call last week that they are hopeful the Senate can pass a law by year’s end creating a pathway to citizenship for people brought to the US as minors.  This came in response to the ruling of Texas federal District Judge Andrew Hanen that the 10-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was illegal because there was no public notice or comment process before it was adopted. The ruling stops the government from accepting new DACA applications but does not yet remove protection from the 600,000 people currently have DACA status. A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has asked Hanen to review the new version of the DACA rule issued by the Biden Administration. Immigration reform needs 60 votes to pass in the Senate.

Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a longtime community advocate and member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming. Connect with her at arielmillerwriter@gmail.com