Fix Democracy First/WAmend Announce New Shared Position
by Alice Woldt
Another celebration is in store for Democracy Awards Dinner attendees. A new executive director for Fix Democracy First and Campaign Director for WAmend (YES on I-735) will be introduced. The new director will lead both organizations to achieve a major victory for Initiative 735 in the fall. A hoped for result is a stronger, better resourced, grassroots democracy reform movement in Washington State.
This is my last newsletter as executive director. I’m really retiring. I have offered to stay involved, the extent to which will be up to the new director. My tenure as a board member has extended to 10 years, almost 4 of those years as Executive Director. It’s time for new energy and new ideas. We have recruited two new board members, Peter Zanello and Angela Toussaint. They will bring their ideas and gifts to the formation of whatever grows out of the collaboration between Fix Democracy First and WAmend.
Attend the June 25th Democracy Awards Dinner.There’s much to celebrate. In addition to the new director,four exceptional awardees will be honored.interviews with Secretary of State candidates will be held. (See additional information below). There’s still time to get your early bird tickets by June 18 onlineHERE or download the invitationHERE and mail your payment. If you aren’t able to attend, make a contribution. The net proceeds will help offset the salary of the new executive/campaign director.
Candidates to be Interviewed at Awards Dinner
by Elizabeth Walter and Alice Woldt
The two leading candidates for Washington’s Secretary of State will be interviewed at the Dinner on June 25. The Secretary of State is the most important elected official related to voting and elections in every state. Achieving democracy reforms that encourage voter registration, education and turnout depend upon their support and legislation. They can impede democracy through voter oppression, manipulation of votes, disenfranchisement of voters and other practices. Fix Democracy First is pleased to offer an opportunity to hear their views.
Tina Podlodowski – Democratic Party candidate
Podlodowski has an educational background in engineering and computer science, and extensive and broad based management and policy experience in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Tina worked as a manager for Microsoft Corp from 1984 to1993, and served on Seattle’s City Council from 1995 to 2000. She is a former President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound, and executive director of the Lifelong AIDS Alliance. Tina has been a key advisor to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray as part of his Office of Policy and Innovation.
Kim Wyman – Republican Party candidate
Wyman has a Masters Degree in Public Administration and has worked in the private sector for most of her career. Kim was appointed Thurston County auditor in 2001, succeeding Sam Reed. She again succeeded Reed after her election as Washington Secretary of State in 2012.
Wyman is a former President of Thurston County United Way, Washington State Association of County Auditors, and Supervisory Committee Chair, TwinStar Credit Union.
I was arrested at the US Capitol on April 26 and here’s why
by Alice Woldt
I joined hundreds of Democracy Awakening participants protesting what I consider corruption and injustices and was arrested doing civil disobedience. The Democracy Spring march from Philadelphia and civil disobedience the preceding week was led by the NAACP. They protested the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act, which has given rise to voter disenfranchisement in states across the country. WAmenders Jonathan Tong, Larry Sukut, Inga Carmack and others from Washington State were arrested in the first week of protests.
Democracy Awakening followed with thousands protesting and hundreds more arrested, culminating an historic week of pro-democracy protests in Washington D.C. I called attention to our broken democracy and how to begin fixing it. In addition to fixing the Voting Rights Act, I urged Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to fix the Supreme Court’s bad decisions like Citizen’s United that have allowed democracy to be bought. I find it morally reprehensible that a few hundred super-rich people and corporations exert so much influence on our government
I told about Honest Election Seattle’s Initiative 122, Integrity Washington’s Initiative 1464 and our work to get Initiative 735 on the November ballot urging Congress to stand up to big money interests and pass an amendment to limit their power. I protested Congress to do their job. Hold hearings on the Supreme Court nominee and vote.
I was arrested for standing on the Capital Steps with many democracy leaders looking out over the thousands of protesters and the Supreme Court. I hope the civil disobedience of almost 1,000 pricked the conscience of members in Congress to begin fixing our broken democracy. The next article gives some hope. You can watch a video of Democracy AwakeningHERE, since the mainstream media slept through it.
Democrats to mount Democracy Reform Program this Summer
by Ken Dammand
The issue of money’s corrupting effects on our democracy has been aired with unprecedented clarity in this year’s presidential primary with virtually every candidate mentioning the need for reform. On the left, Bernie Sanders has made the issue a centerpiece of his campaign. Even Lindsey Graham, a bastion of the right, openly called for an amendment to overturn Citizens United. Every poll shows the public is united in its feelings of betrayal by the current ‘pay to play’ system. And the recent actions by Democracy Spring and Democracy Awakening in Washington DC, including the arrest of our own Executive Director, Alice Woldt, and hundreds of others supporting campaign finance reform, have finally convinced congressional democrats that it’s time to bring this issue to the forefront.
Initiative 1464, the Government Accountability Act
by Ken Dammand
In the brave new world of democracy reform, our own Washington State is at the forefront. On the heels of the recent approval of public funding for Seattle City Council offices, a statewide counterpart that would provide all of Washington’s voters with the opportunity to directly participate in the funding of electoral campaigns is being mounted. Initiative 1464, the Washington Government Accountability Act , is a comprehensive act strongly supported by Fix Democracy First. It addresses not only the funding of campaigns but many more of the problems besetting the practice of democracy in Washington State.
Harper’s Magazine has written an expose on the rise of the “election industrial complex”. This moniker refers to the election consulting industry which consists of strategists, pollsters, TV-ad makers, media buyers, direct-mail specialists and broadcasters. This industry has experienced substantial growth.
According to Harper’s, “the rise of the modern election industry can in fact be dated to post-Watergate efforts to rein in campaign spending. New rules imposed accounting requirements, which effectively mandated the services of professionals, while limits on party spending fostered an explosion in PACs — each of which, naturally, required a consultant. Decade after decade, the industry kept growing. Meanwhile, a spate of recent legal decisions — most notably the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling but also a lower court’s SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission — inaugurated the age of super PACs, to which corporations and individuals can donate without restraint.”
In most states, voter registration requires that voters sign a simple statement affirming US citizenship. Not so in Kansas, which has become the leader in a growing movement to restrict convenient access to the voting rolls. Under the sponsorship of Kansas Secretary of State Chris Kobach, Kansas now requires proof of US citizenship in order to register. As a result, there are currently more than 36,000 Kansans whose recent applications have been left in limbo because of difficulties obtaining the required proof. According to an article at the Reuters website, the restrictions disproportionately affect young, independent, and Democratic voters.