Hello fellow Democrats! I’m on the road right now, driving out to Spokane for a few days touring around Central and Eastern Washington!
I’m so excited to see some of our Central and Eastern Washington Democratic friends in person after a whole pandemic’s worth of time away! Our Communications Director, Alex Bond, and I are going to be visiting Spokane, Walla Walla, the Tri-Cities, and Yakima. Along the way we’ll be meeting local Democratic candidates and activists, catching up on how everyone’s been, and connecting over the work that we need to do this year, next year, and beyond. Over the course of this trip, we are going to come up with strategies to build the Democratic party, support and grow the grassroots, compete electorally, and win in Central and Eastern Washington! There are a lot of major local races this year that we want to get informed on. We also want to learn about the work that people have been doing this year so Democrats from all over Washington can help our rural party organizations be as successful as possible. Plus, it’ll just be great to see some of my friends on this side of the mountains again! Follow along with me on Facebook and Twitter - I’ll probably be posting a bunch there about how it’s going. This will be fun!
One of the events I’m most excited about while we’re out here is our rural summit on Sunday morning!
This summit will involve communications training, a panel featuring partner organizations serving rural communities, issues important to rural engagement, and sessions on how folks in urban and suburban districts can most effectively work with rural voters. This will be capped off with a keynote from the Chair of the Democratic Party of Nebraska and author of Harvest the Vote, Jane Kleeb.It’s not too late to RSVP - click here!
Ballots are Out - Ballots are out, and people are voting! This is an important time to be doing get-out-the-vote work and supporting the local candidates that our party organizations have certified and endorsed. 2021 is an exciting opportunity to build the bench locally and to lay the groundwork for big wins next year in 2022!
Turnout is ahead of where we were at this point in the voting window during the 2019 primaries two years ago. It’s great to see folks getting their ballots in. Higher turnout is good for democracy and good for Democrats, so let’s keep it up!
The more voters we can identify, volunteers we can activate, and relationships we can build, the more successful these upcoming midterm elections will be! So please, make a plan to get your ballot in right away! Make sure your friends, family, and neighbors do, too! We can’t wait for presidential and mid-term election years to try and get sporadic Democrats in the habit of voting.
As in past years, we’ve started our voter protection program again to help ensure that Washingtonians have the support they need to cast their ballots and their voices are heard. We run one of the strongest and most effective voter protection programs in the country. We take extensive steps to make sure every voter’s right to vote is protected, that folks get the support they need to return their ballots, and their votes are counted.
Our voter protection team assists hundreds of voters every year and makes a proven difference! We have ten volunteer attorneys staffing the hotline at (206) 309-VOTE from 9 AM to 7 PM daily (8 PM on election day), ready to answer any and all Voter Protection questions. If you happen to miss those hours, please leave a voicemail with a detailed explanation of the issue you're having and one of our amazing volunteers will get back to you as soon as possible!
We also maintain a database of Washington’s 400+ dropbox locations and ADA accessible voting centers onIWillVote.com. We update this information in real-time to ensure every voter can easily cast their ballot!
You can get links to our voter protection resources at https://www.wa-democrats.org/iwillvote!
Make a plan for when you will get your ballot into a dropbox or the mail, and make sure you do so before the Tuesday, August 3rd, 8:00 pm deadline!
Four Organizing Projects for Local Parties - At this point, I hope all our local party chairs and vice-chairs have heard about our four main organizing projects for local parties this year. We’re making it as easy as possible to help local parties build the Democratic brand in their areas and lay the groundwork for strong results in 2021 and 2022. Investing in four different groups of voters will pay off in the long-run:
Contacting and finding out more about voters for whom we have little data. We need to know more about some of these voters so that we can target them appropriately next year, for persuasion and GOTV. By contacting them and having a conversation, we can begin building a deeper relationship between them and the Democratic party, and find out how best to communicate with them through the rest of the cycle and beyond.
Reaching out to likely Dems who didn't vote in 2020 and finding out why. Unfortunately, too many likely Democratic voters still aren't getting their ballots in, and we want to find out why. By building relationships with these voters and listening to their issues and concerns, we can get them ready to vote this year and next!
Re-registering likely Democratic voters who've been purged from the voter rolls by the Secretary of State's office. Thousands of Democratic voters are purged from the voter rolls every year by the Secretary of State's office, and we know many of them are people who are still alive, still living at the same address, and still should be eligible to vote. We can identify these people, let them know they were purged, and get them re-registered to vote.
Registering non-registered voters. There are still so many likely Democrats who fall through the cracks of our automatic voter registration system - we need the face-to-face touch to reach them and get them registered.
This work is so critical to building for success this year and in 2022. Our organizing department is ready to help support all our local parties in this effort. But local parties must opt-in to these programs to make sure that we can give everyone the attention and support they need to succeed. Chairs or vice-chairs need to contact email@example.com to let us know that you want to participate and who your local party organization's point of contact will be. Once we have that information, we will provide more detailed training and materials about how to access these lists, scripts, and target universes in Votebuilder.
And for more information on our Rooted To Win program that will help lift up local Democratic candidates, please review this document here and encourage local candidates in your area to contact us and get involved!
Wildfires Across WA - You’ve probably heard about the fires already happening across Washington state, including the Red Apple fire near Wenatchee, the Cedar Creek and Cub Creek fires around Winthrop and Mazama in the Methow Valley, the Chuweah Creek fire near the Colville Tribal Reservation, the Lick Creek Fire in SE WA, and more. It’s incredibly scary that so many large fires have started this early in the summer, and many of them are human-caused. Please be careful! While I hope most of us have the sense not to be playing with matches in the backcountry at this point, even things like dragging chains from a trailer can set sparks that can start a fire.
Our Commissioner of Public Lands, Hilary Franz, has ordered a closure of all state Department of Natural Resources lands in Eastern Washington, and pretty much all public lands in the state have ordered fire bans at this point. I appreciate the hard work that Commissioner Franz and her staff are doing to keep us safe. I’m reminded again of how thankful I am for the hardworking firefighters out there right now, putting their own safety at risk to save lives and homes.
For anyone making hiking or camping plans for the rest of this summer, please pay attention to public lands closures due to fire because more are likely to come. Use this information to be prepared and be safe. Too many fires are human-caused, especially in a summer as dry and hot as this one. And of course, we need to recognize the role of climate change in contributing to the drought conditions that make these fires more destructive and elect policymakers who will act to prevent the effects of climate change from getting worse.
If you’re a podcast fan, check out this podcast “Fireline” from NPR. It’s a short series that’s fascinating about how wildfires in America are changing, getting worse, why, and what we need to do about it. I found it very educational and I recommend it!
VAN Training (it’s here!) - First, we have exciting news! Our organizing and data departments have put together the best and most comprehensive training series on Votebuilder available anywhere in the country.
The three-class series is designed to equip Democrats with the knowledge and skills to understand how voter data is used in Washington so they can be the most effective Votebuilder user possible, no matter what role(s) they anticipate taking on.
Participants can watch the videos on-demand -- anytime -- ensuring equitable access for party leaders, PCOs, volunteers, candidates, and campaign staff alike, regardless of personal schedules.
All three classes are full of useful information and concrete Votebuilder skills that are important for every Democrat to know, but participants can choose to watch only the video(s) most applicable to them, if they wish.
We’re also offering a 2021 Votebuilder certification! To earn certification, participants must successfully complete three quizzes, each embedded on the same page as its corresponding video lesson. Staff are actively tracking quiz completion; we will make that data available to chairs upon request so local parties around the state know exactly who in their organizations have stepped up to master Votebuilder!
These VAN Trainings are now available online on our website. The three training videos in the series are:
Class #1: Votebuilder 101 covers Votebuilder basics: how to access Votebuilder, create lists, and use common tools.
Class # 2: Votebuilder 102 covers more advanced Votebuilder features, appropriate for committee administrators, campaign staff, and anyone who will prepare materials for and/or support other Votebuilder users or volunteers.
Class #3: Data & Votebuilder covers non-software Votebuilder training such as good data collection and maintenance practices, how data is shared between different Votebuilder committees throughout the state, and how data is used to benefit Democrats up and down the ticket year over year.
Want to get VAN certified? VAN training is available online now atwww.wa-democrats.org/van-training-with-wa-dems/. Note that a password is required to access trainings: “WADemsVAN2021” and is case-sensitive!
Questions about VAN training should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Billionaires In Space - Most of us probably saw the news about billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson each participating in flights into space with their own private rocket programs this week. My reaction was: “is ‘not enough billionaires in space’ really the biggest problem facing our society right now?” I’m guessing I’m not the only person who had that thought.
I don’t begrudge anyone their fascination with space, but we have to recognize that the personal wealth from these billionaires is absolutely out of control. The world’s billionaires increased their wealth by more than $4 trillion combined during the pandemic, during a time when so many families were struggling and small businesses went under. What sense does that make for us as a society? How is it that the wealthiest few in our state and in our country pay a lower tax rate than almost any of the rest of us pay?
We have an economic system that’s upside down in this country, and stunts like these space flights make that obvious. We need serious tax reform that will get these guys paying their fair share. I’m so thrilled that the state legislature passed a capital gains tax on the sale of investments like stocks and bonds this year to raise taxes on these rich few, and that the Biden Administration proposed higher taxes on the very rich to help fund programs that will help the middle class in this country, like expanding child care.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned next week for updates from our tour! There’s some exciting political work being done by our Central and Eastern Washington Democrats and I’m so thrilled to be out here to support it!