PEG 12th Congressional District
Newsletter #163, Thursday, May 21, 2020
184 weeks down, 24 weeks to go until Election Day!
The United States Postal Service continues to save the day

It is urgent that Congress and the White House fully fund the United States Postal Service in the next stimulus bill. Private companies won't deliver to certain remote areas - and, right now, the Postal Service is delivering lifesaving...

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Absentee voting: the crucible in the forthcoming presidential election
Absentee voting, also known as voting by mail, has become the new partisan football. Republicans believe it will lead to their defeat, calling it a fraud; Democrats hope it will help their potential voters—the poor, underserved, and minorities of color—get to vote and thus be heard. Researchers find it gives neither party an edge.

The current rush to vote by mail is fueled both by expediency and the pandemic as well as partisanship.The recent Wisconsin election exemplifies the current partisan challenges to absentee voting. When many Wisconsin voters didn’t receive the absentee ballots they’d requested by Election Day, the Republican dominated state legislature and Supreme Court blocked voting by mail, forcing many die-hard voters to risk the coronavirus and go to the polls.

Battleground states—Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia and Arizona—are at the heart of conflict about absentee voting in the 2020 presidential election. The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that the implementation cost of reliable and fair elections will require mega bucks, maybe as much as $4 billion, far more money than has been appropriated for it. Although all of the above mentioned states have made voting by mail more accessible, only Arizona is set up to deal with contingencies such as “ certified paper for envelopes and ballots, high-speed scanners to count votes and secure drop-off boxes” according to Emily Bazelon in the New York Times. Click here to read her fine analysis of the problems inherent in voting during a pandemic.
WAVE: Absentee ballot applications will be mailed automatically!
Absentee ballot applications will be mailed to all registered voters in Michigan
Absentee ballot applications will be mailed to all Michigan voters
In an effort to avoid crowded polling places amid the coronavirus pandemic , Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson announced this week that all registered voters in Michigan will receive an application to vote by mail in the August and November elections. [See news release here. ] She noted that “ record-breaking turnout was recorded in the approximately 50 elections held across 33 counties on May 5, with nearly 25 percent of eligible voters casting ballots and 99 percent of them doing so by mail or in a drop box. From 2010 to 2019, average turnout in local elections in May was 12 percent.”
 
In a report by The Hill (click here ), the projected surge in absentee voting across the country will require a change in infrastructure. S ome states might need to change their rules. In Michigan and Pennsylvania, for instance, absentee ballots cannot begin to be processed until Election Day. There is no evidence to suggest that voting by mail is more vulnerable to fraud than any other method of voting or that it favors one party over another. Trump voted by mail in Florida earlier this year.
WAVE Michigan is prepared to complement the new decision to mail ballot applications by providing tools to track your ballot application and ballot, and of friends. There are as many as 3,500,000 voters we want to contact to vote from home to win in November. You will be surprised how many of them you know and how many of your friends know them as well. While you are sheltering in place it’s a great time to become familiar with all the great features of the WAVE system .
  • Sunday, May 24. WAVE Recruiter Kickoff! We are now officially in the 2020 presidential election season! Join us this Sunday to hear updates about WAVE and new partners, and how the new decision to make absentee ballot applications available to all Michigan registered voters will affect what we do with WAVE. Contact waverjesse1@gmail.com for the Zoom link. 4 pm
  • Tuesday, May 26. An Intro to the WAVE system for beginners. At the end of this session participants will be able to identify the people they know who are likely to vote for Democratic candidates, send them an email with a link to their clerk in order to be on the Permanent Absentee Voter list, and how to monitor if they are doing so. 2:30–3:30 pm
  • Tuesday, May 26. How organizations can focus and motivate their volunteers using the WAVE system.  Learn how an organization utilizing the WAVE system can get reports on their volunteers usage and specify how they use the system. 7:30-8:30 pm
  • Wednesday, May 27. Why WAVE deserves your support and how it will contribute to a big win in November. 2:30–3:30 pm
  • Wednesday, May 27. Recruiting your neighborhood and precinct. It’s easy, effective and you don’t need to leave your home. 7:30–8:30 pm
For questions, contact  waverjesse1@gmail.com . To sign up for a session, click the hyperlinked titles above and it will take you to a simple and secure registration form.
Click to learn more inside of the new weekly WAVE newsletter! To help support WAVE Michigan and see that we all win, you can make a donation at   https://secure.actblue.com/donate/wave-michigan .
Events
Saturday, May 23. Virtual Coffee with State Senator Jeff Irwin
Virtual Coffee with Jeff – Facebook Live. Come discuss with the Senator issues that affect those in District 18. RSVP to the Virtual event here . Please note that you do NOT need to have a Facebook account to join the conversation — just visit Sen Irwin’s Facebook page to watch the video.10 am–Noon

Sunday, May 24. WAVE Recruiter Kickoff!
We are now officially in the 2020 presidential election season! Join us this Sunday to hear updates about WAVE and new partners, and how the new decision to make absentee ballot applications available to all Michigan registered voters will affect what we do with WAVE. Contact waverjesse1@gmail.com to receive a Zoom link. 4 pm
Tuesday, May 26. Virtual Tuesday Town Halls with Rep. Donna Lasinski, District 52
 Representative Donna Lasinski hosts her weekly Tuesday Town Halls on Facebook Live. She reviews the past week, gives legislative updates, updates on the latest state response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and answers public questions. Visit her Facebook page to participate in the conversation or to just tune in. 7–8 pm
Wednesday, May 27. Coffee Hour with Rep. Alex Garza, District 12
Attend Representative Garza’s upcoming virtual coffee hour to take place via Facebook Live on his Facebook page . Get updates from Lansing regarding many issues affecting the 12th District. Attendees will be able to ask questions. Please note a Facebook account is not required to join the conversation. 5:30 pm
Wednesday, May 27. Statewide Smart Justice Day of Action with ACLU
The ACLU of Michigan is hosting the “Smart Justice Day of Action: Uniting for Pretrial Reform” online event. The ACLU is organizing a mass mobilization of advocacy groups and reform activists to push for passage of legislation related to the recommendations from the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration.

Participants will learn more about the work that is being done in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and ways in which to help with the much-needed overhaul of the bail and pretrial detention systems going forward. Participants will include elected officials, legal and policy professionals, and impacted community advocates.

To see the agenda and the available sessions, and to register for the event, go here. For additional information, email Rodd Monts with ACLU Michigan. 9:30 am–5 pm
Oakland County Remote Equality Voter Phone Bank
Now is the time to be a part of turning out pro-equality Michiganders for the 2020 elections. Join the Human Rights Campaign of Michigan in making calls from the comfort of home, reaching out to pro-equality voters, and connect them with resources to not only register to vote, but to request and track absentee ballots, and explain how important this election year is. Every conversation counts! Register to participate here :
  • Thursday, May 21, 6-8 pm 
  • Thursday, May 28, 6-8 pm

Saturday, May 30. Connect and Act: Covid-19 and Organizing for a Just Transformation
The Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice (ICPJ) is bringing together faith and community leaders in a two-part webinar as they share what they have learned and experienced during COVID-19 and what the future could hold in the pursuit of peace and justice for all. They will share resources for how to continue the work they imagine with ICPJ and their partners. For more information, contact ICPJ . Read full event details here . 1:30-5 pm

Sunday, May 31. Youth Forum Webinar
Liberate Don’t Incarcerate is hosting a nonpartisan virtual Youth Forum on the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Race. This will be a space for young people to be engaged in the issues that matter to them. Participants will have the opportunity to ask the three candidates for Washtenaw County Prosecutor their questions about restorative justice and how the criminal-legal system impacts youth in Washtenaw County. Event details here . The Forum will be live-streamed on the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice Facebook’s page . 3-4:30 pm
Things to do
Support voting rights for people who are incarcerated 
The Sentencing Project is calling citizens to action regarding the infringement on the voting rights and lack of access to ballots for thousands of non-felony incarcerated individuals. Problems with voting in jail disproportionately impact communities of color since almost half (48%) of persons in jail nationally are African American or Latino. Therefore, the voting infringement disproportionately affects minority voters that are still eligible to cast ballots. Read the full details here .

Write or call your secretary of state (search here ) and county sheriff (search “contact [COUNTY, STATE] sheriff”). 

Suggested Script: Hi. I’m from [TOWN] and believe in voting access for all. While most people in local jails are incarcerated for less than felony crimes and retain the right to vote, few do so, due to inaccessibility to ballots. This disenfranchisement affects more people of color , who comprise nearly one-third of the nation but more than half of those incarcerated. I’m asking state and local officials to implement procedures that actively support ballot access so all eligible incarcerated individuals are able to vote. Thank you.
The government gets even more power to spy on your internet habits
US Senate has voted to give law enforcement agencies access to web browsing data without a warrant. Read more here. - Vice.com
Privacy Tools by Newsletter Contributor Richard Gaeth
I am not an expert in data security but I will share some things that have worked for me in protecting my privacy. On my laptop I use Firefox browser and Startpage.com for my search engine. Duckduckgo.com * is another one with good privacy. Both can be added to your browser and you can make them your default for searches. (Your browser's "incognito" option keeps your searches from being recorded on your computer, but doesn’t provide you any protection online.)
Last year I began to use BitDefender *, BD Virtual Private Network (VPN) and BitDefender mobile based on a Consumer Reports recommendation. CR’s security software ratings are still there, but as of March 23 regarding VPN’s, their site tells us, “Security experts urge caution if you're shopping for a virtual private network during the coronavirus pandemic.” You may want to get professional guidance.
I always use a low-tech camera cover. * (see image) There are designs available to buy as well as many home solutions, like tape with tinfoil. (A simple sticky note will still let light through.) Have anything to correct or add? We’re listening, just email us!
*Note: Leslie McGraw uses DuckDuckGo, BitDefender, and a Camera Cover.
Be counted–Census 2020
Michigan census self-reporting response as of 5/18/20 is 66.3%; Washtenaw County is 71.6%. Both the state and county have increased slightly from last week. Michigan ranks fourth in responses.

Many of us have more time on our hands now, so create a competition. Use the table here to look up other states, counties or cities, and challenge others to improve the percentages. Your children can join in the fun by encouraging their families to respond and increase the numbers.

Unsure if your data is secure? Read how the Census Bureau protects your data .
If you haven’t completed the census yet, go here to complete it online .
Things to read, watch, listen
President Trump threatens Michigan
On Tuesday, May 19, Trump tweeted a threat to withhold monies from Michigan: “Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election.” In fact, Michiganders will be sent applications for absentee ballots, not the ballots themselves. And though Trump contended that this mailing is illegal and authorized by what he termed “a rogue Secretary of State," it was voted on by Michiganders in the November, 2018 election, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson was elected at that time, too. Trump made a similar threat to Nevada, which is also providing absentee ballots to all registered voters. 

Ironically, according to Politico.com, Republican congress people have traditionally eschewed efforts to provide federal oversight to state and local elections. And though researchers have found that absentee balloting provides neither party with a reliable edge,Trump claimed it would result in Republican defeats and “corruption at the polls.”
Pompeo digs in during combative press briefing as scrutiny grows
“I have no sense of what investigations were taking place inside the Inspector General’s Office,” he said in the briefing with reporters. The conference Wednesday saw him fending off questions about his call to fire the State Department’s internal watchdog while slamming Democrats criticizing the move as political retaliation. The secretary abruptly ended the press conference as reporters asked if he would cooperate with a congressional investigation. - The Hill

Pompeo declined interview request from IG about Saudi arms sales
The secretary of state instead offered written answers. He was aware of the inquiry and the specific lines of questioning about his decision to resume the sales. Employees from the inspector general’s office briefed senior State Department officials on a draft version in early March. - The New York Times ,

Fired watchdog was investigating arms sales to Saudi Arabia
“[Inspector general Steve Linick’s] office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement to Politico .
Ann Arbor council divided 7-4 on COVID-19 financial...

The 7-4 vote to approve the plan came after 1 a.m. Tuesday, May 19, with Mayor Christopher Taylor and his allies - Zachary Ackerman, Julie Grand, and Chip Smith - opposed. It wasn't until then that council began its annual budget deliberations,...

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equalityingov.org
Coronavirus Resources and Updates
COVID-19 and your rights
Know your rights, resources, and what actions have been taken by the ACLU to ensure that we are all treated fairly during this pandemic.

Check out local info
Washtenaw County Health Department’s website is updated with local information on COVID-19.

Michigan hotline
Public health experts will answer health-related questions about the virus and direct residents and providers to the right resources. The hotline is open seven days a week from 8 am–5 pm at (888) 535-6136.
Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly
The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus
To alleviate redundancies, information for WAVE has been distributed via the Protectors of Equality (PEG) Newsletter. However, we are pleased to announce that WAVE now has its own weekly newsletter, which will begin going out each Tuesday !

The PEG Newsletter typically goes out each Thursday, with a repeat send on Sunday that only goes out to recipients that have not opened it Thursday. PEG is a non-partisan volunteer organization whose mission is to assure that our government will treat all Americans with equality and acceptance. PEG's work is primarily done by recruiting, educating and nurturing supporters for worthy organizations, actions and events that reflect our beliefs.

To subscribe to this  free  newsletter, go to our website by  clicking here To share with your friends and networks, use the sharing buttons at the top of the email or just "forward" from your email browser.
A special thanks to our Newsletter contributors: Ellen Halter, Bette Cotzin, Mieko Preston, Leslie McGraw, Richard Gaeth, Lisa Kamil, Leslie Kamil, Bernie Banet, Susie Ayer, Bette Cotzin, Sonya Lewis, and Chuck Newman for their help preparing our newsletters. Write us at equalityingovinfo@gmail.com if you would like help create our weekly newsletter. It’s fun and no ongoing commitment is required.
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