165 weeks down, 58 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.
▢ Action 1: Remind the high school students in your life to register to vote. [h/t The Civics Center]
What to say: National High School Voter Registration Week (September 23-27) is a great time to register to vote so you can participate in this November’s election (even 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register in many states). You can also hold a voter registration drive at your school any time this school year.
Bonus: Donate to The Civics Center here.
▢ Action 2: Get “dark money” out of political campaigns. [h/t Move to Amend]
Call: Your one House rep and two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m part of a bipartisan majority of Americans who believe corporations should not have the same constitutional rights as people. The We the People Amendment would end this unjust practice, and eliminate contributions of unlimited amounts of “dark money” to political campaigns.
For House reps: I would like [NAME] to cosponsor H.J. Res. 48. Thank you.
For senators: I urge [NAME] to introduce the Senate equivalent of H.J. Res 48. Thank you.
▢ Action 3: Advocate for voting by mail. [h/t National Vote at Home Institute]
Call: If you DON’T live in CO, HI, OR, UT, or WA: Your two state legislators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP], calling to express my support for all-mail elections. Voting by mail gives voters time to make informed choices, reduces the expense of operating polling places, and increases security and voter participation. Can I count on [NAME] to support vote-by-mail legislation? Thank you.
Bonus: If you DO live in CO, HI, OR, UT, or WA, your state already holds elections by mail (or will by the 2020 primary). Donate to VoteatHome.org here to support vote-by-mail efforts nationwide.
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 young people leaving foster care. [h/t Center on Budget]
Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m calling from [ZIP] to express concern about one-third of young people becoming homeless soon after they transition out of foster care, creating more barriers to school and work. Advocates recently persuaded the Department of Housing and Urban Development to create a targeted voucher program as an efficient means to mitigate this risk, and the bipartisan Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act would firmly establish the program within HUD. I’m asking [NAME] to co-sponsor H.R. 4300.
▢ Action 5: Advocate to end gun violence. [h/t Moms Demand Action]
Call: Your two senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP] and I’m frustrated that the Senate has yet to consider legislation the House passed over 200 days ago to require background checks on all gun buyers. A majority of Americans support this measure as a step toward curbing the rampant gun violence in this country. I insist that [NAME] pressure the Majority Leader to hold a vote on H.R. 8 and support its passage.
▢ Action 6: Demand unbiased and contextualized reporting from major U.S. newspapers. [h/t Define American]
Write: To the Executive Editors of the NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, and USA Today:
Dean Baquet, Executive Editor, New York Times Company, 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018
Norman Pearlstine, Executive Editor, Los Angeles Times, 2300 E. Imperial Highway, El Segundo, CA 90245
Martin Baron, Executive Editor, The Washington Post, 1301 K Street NW, Washington DC 20071
Chris Davis, Executive Editor, USA TODAY Newsroom, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean, VA, 22108
Script: Define American, with MIT and Harvard researchers, has conducted a study around how immigration reporting in four major U.S. newspapers (Add, where applicable: including [MY NEWSPAPER(S)]) has changed under the current administration. The report shows that in the past four years, these once-trusted publications have shown a noticeable rise in the use of denigrating terms for people who are undocumented, and a disturbing 90% increase in citations of anti-immigrant groups as neutral sources. I urge you to read “The Language of Immigration Reporting: Normalizing vs. Watchdogging in a Nativist Age” and make it your editorial policy to avoid using derogatory terminology when referring to undocumented people, as well as to avoid quoting extreme anti-immigrant, nativist, and white supremacist groups without providing context of these groups’ history, mission, funding, and ties to government officials and agencies.
▢ Action 7: Advocate against the use of systematically racist, high-risk technology to track and deport migrants. [h/t MPower Change]
Call: Your two senators and one House rep (look up).
Script: Hello, I’m from [ZIP] and I’m calling because I am deeply concerned about ICE’s use of facial recognition to target migrants in America. In addition to being invasive, virtually unregulated, and a violation of my Fourth Amendment rights, this technology has a notable margin for error and history of inaccuracy, and is up to 35% less accurate for minorities and people of color than it is for white males, often leading to harassment, wrongful imprisonment, or deportation. I would like [NAME] to heed the call of over 30 organizations and countless Americans, and pass legislation banning the use of facial recognition to spy on the American public.
▢ Action 8: Support Americans who have no representation or vote. [h/t The Leadership Conference]
Call: Your one House rep (look up).
Script: Hi, I am a constituent from [ZIP], concerned that residents of Washington, DC have no voting voice in Congress, despite paying taxes like all other citizens. H.R. 51 would uphold equality for the 700,000 Americans who live there by establishing DC statehood. This bill just received an historic first hearing, and I’m asking [NAME] to support its passage.
Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.
Thank Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) for restoring American support for women’s and girls’ health. [Share why you appreciate supporting organizations’ rights to provide the full array of reproductive health services important to women and girls.]
JS: 2 Wall Street, Suite 220, Manchester, NH 03101
NL: 6222 Mamaroneck Ave., #312, White Plains, NY 10605
Thank hair stylist and volunteer Eli Winters for providing respite to patients and their families at a Chicago hospital. [Share why you appreciate providing care and normalcy for people impacted by illness.]
Address: c/o Family Life Center, Lurie Children’s Hospital, 225 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611
Thank writer Francesco Marciuliano for highlighting one experience of life in prison as part of the Judge Parker comic strip. [Share why you appreciate seeing narratives about people experiencing incarceration in daily news media.]
Address: c/o King Features Syndicate, 300 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019-5238
Thank Jeff Imel, president of BMC Toys, for answering one six-year old girl’s request to honor women in the defense forces by creating women toy soldiers. [Share why you appreciate feeding children’s imaginations with toys that reflect their lives.]
Address: 2030 Margaret Ave., Scranton, PA 18508
Decent people everywhere are speaking up and working together. Just look. #GoodNews
- The administration reinstates protections from deportation for people who are in the U.S. to receive life-saving medical treatments.
- House passes the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, which will increase the number of available family-based visas for aspiring Americans.
- House passes the FUTURE Act, which will reauthorize mandatory funding programs for historically black colleges and universities and other institutions serving people of color.
- AZ: A lawsuit settlement ensures that Arizona voters have five business days after an election to provide a signature and have their vote counted when an early or mail-in ballot’s signature does not match records.
- CA state legislature passes a bill requiring all public universities to offer medication abortion at on-campus student health centers.
- CA: Gov. Gavin Newsom grants commutations for 21 currently incarcerated individuals, recognizing their efforts in self-development and rehabilitation, as well as their prospects for successful community reentry.
- CA legislature passes a bill banning the state’s Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation from renewing contracts with for-profit private prisons (including some ICE detention centers) after Jan. 2020.
- IL: Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs a law protecting the rights of aging LGBTQ adults when accessing housing and other elder-care services.
- NM plans to provide tuition-free education at in-state public colleges and universities for all New Mexico residents, regardless of income.
- TN: A federal court blocks a law that imposes restrictions on state voter registration groups.
- Arlington, VA changes the name of Route 1 to Richmond Highway, replacing the name of a Confederate leader.
- New York City public schools will excuse absences of students participating in the Climate Strike on 9/20.
- Austin, TX city council votes to allocate $150,000 to make abortion care more accessible to low-income people by funding services like travel, lodging, and child care.
- Colt Firearms ends production and sales of its AR-15 rifles.
- Finnish grocery chain S-market marks down prices as expiration dates near in order to promote sales and prevent food waste.
- NASCAR blocks ads from some firearms companies from appearing in its souvenir programs.
- Instagram launches a policy restricting content promoting unregulated weight-loss products to minors.
- University of California divests from fossil fuels.
- Men’s Health features the championship-winning boys’ basketball team from the Winnebago Reservation in their October 2019 issue.
Groups and organizations
- Concert for America raises money to support the National Immigration Law Center.
- Writers for Migrant Justice holds a series of protest readings across the U.S., raising funds for Immigrant Families Together.
- AsylumConnect, Rainbow Railroad, Al Otro Lado, and Santa Fe Dreamers Project offer legal and logistical assistance to LGBTQ people seeking asylum in order to help them stay safe through the asylum process.
- The Center for Popular Democracy Action and the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) protest Jeff Bezos’s and Amazon’s complicity in ICE’s detention and deportation practices.
- United We Dream launches UndocuHealth and Wellness, an initiative to help aspiring Americans deal with the stresses and anxieties of daily life on the path to citizenship.
- Water Mission, Mount Pleasant Water Works, and World Central Kitchen work to provide safe water to communities in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
- Casa Arcoiris provides services and a safe space for LGBTQI+ people along the U.S.-Mexico border.
- The Sentencing Project shares data revealing that by the end of 2017 AK, CT, NJ, NY, and VT had reduced their numbers of incarcerated people by over 30 percent since the incarcerated population reached its peak level in 2009 .
News with heart
- Married couple Ramez Alghazzouli and Asmaa Khadem Al Arbaiin reunite after years of separation due to the administration’s ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries.
- Douglas Oviedo, a youth pastor sent to Tijuana under the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, wins his asylum case.
- Millions of people from over 150 countries strike to demand urgent action on climate change.
- The United Kingdom’s 2021 census will include a range of non-binary and other gender and sex identifications so respondents can select the options that best match their identities.
- Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca tribe, who worked to ensure civil rights for Native Americans, receives a statue in his likeness in the U.S. Capitol.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary adds the nonbinary pronoun “they” to its listings.
- Over 1,200 students at 17 universities pledge not to work with Palantir because of its involvement with ICE.
- More than 400 people seeking asylum find resources, safety, and welcome in Portland, ME.
- University of Southern California students seek ways to improve life for people in refugee camps through the school’s Innovation in Engineering Design for Global Challenges class.
- John Oliver uses his platform to break down the complexities and misconceptions of the U.S. immigration system.
- Chief Raoni Metuktire of the Kayapó tribe is nominated for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to protect the Amazon rainforest.
- Holocaust survivor Musiy Rishin keeps his home following an attempted eviction by his landlords.
- Four-year-old Khloe Land donates bone marrow to save her baby brother.
- Six-year-old Vivian Lord writes to the makers of Green Army Men figurines requesting Green Army Women, which will now be available by Christmas 2020.
- Champale Anderson provides sandwiches and snacks to neighborhood kids every day after school.
- Pete Buttigieg shares his coming out story at a Democratic debate, making history as the first presidential candidate to recount their coming out experience on the debate platform.
- Sarah Thomas swims the English Channel four times continuously, becoming the first person to do so.
- Researchers in Malawi use artificial intelligence to protect elephants from poachers.
- Caleb Smith, a teenage rabbit expert and entrepreneur, fosters and trains rabbits as comfort animals on the 22-acre Peace Bunny Island.
- See more good news at Women in the World, Small Victories, Good Black News, and What Went Right.
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Just to clarify, Michigan voters adopted the “No-reason absentee voting option” in 2018, which began in February of 2019: https://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/elections/2019/02/21/no-reason-absentee-voting-michigan/2936419002/ .
“Due to the passage of the statewide ballot proposal 18-3, all eligible and registered voters in Michigan may now request an absent voter ballot without providing a reason.” ( https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1633_8716_8728-21037–,00.html )