• Victoria Miller

SOTU Tonight!

Happy Wednesday, Activists!


Tonight is President Biden's first State of the Union address (we know, not technically SOTU, but what the heck). It starts at 8:00 pm ET. If you like to watch these things with a livestream there are many choices and here are a couple--the White House social media streams with WH officials' commentary, or with Indivisible on Facebook and Twitter with their comments.

The spectacle will look different because relatively few people will be in attendance due to COVID. BUT, the two people seated behind the president?! For the first time ever, two women – Vice President Harris and Speaker Pelosi!


Plus we expect POTUS to roll out Part 2 of his recovery plan, the American Families Plan. Let's mark the moment by making calls to our senators and member of Congress and tell them to move fast to pass our recovery priorities - S.1, the Jobs Plan, and THRIVE. Plus, the House passed D.C. statehood (H.R. 51) last week, so another bill is now in the hands of the Senate. We need to keep up the pressure on our senators to get it passed. Call them and let them know you expect S. 51 to pass, and soon.


Sen. Toomey – Phila offices: 215-241-1090; D.C. 202-224-4254; email link

Sen. Casey – Phila office 215-405-9660; D.C. 202-224-6324 email link.

Rep. Evans – D.C. office 202-225-4001; Phila. office 215-276-0340; email link

Rep. Boyle – D.C. office 202-225-6111; Phila office 215-335-3355 email link.

For outside PA/Philadelphia:

Find your House Representative’s phone number and email at this link.

Find your Senators’ phone numbers and emails at this link.


OUR NEXT MEETING

We will meet on May 6 with City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, who is running for re-election. You'll learn about the important functions of the Controller’s office and how Ms. Rhynhart approaches the job. Bring your questions!

When: Thursday, May 6 at 3:30 pm.

Sign up here.

VOTER REGISTRATION

Our first voter registration of 2021 will be Saturday, June 5. We’ll register voters in Rittenhouse Square, one of our most successful locations, during their farmers market. Meet us in front of the Ethical Society. We will register voters safely and follow all COVID protocols. When: Saturday, June 5th, three shifts – 10-noon; noon-2; 2-4pm. Sign up here.


OUR NEW PROJECTS Before we get to our upcoming elections info, we want to make sure you see this news. We announced these projects in last Thursday’s newsletter and we hope you’ll jump in with both feet!

As you know, the 2022 election is right around the corner and we need to win our open U.S. Senate seat and our Governor seat. We can do it if we increase Philadelphia voter turnout. We need to start now.

Don't worry, we’ll still be doing all of our “regular” events like voter registration, postcards, etc. and we’ll have more on that in the next few weeks. But these two new projects are equally important. 1. Neighborhood Canvassing Project. This project uses some of the same theories as Stacey Abrams and other groups in Georgia to expand the electorate and sign up voters. We will canvass in Philadelphia neighborhoods, focusing on infrequent voters and non-voters by using proven persuasion techniques. The goal is to persuade them to vote in the 2022 midterm elections when they have not done so in the past. Because this is a different type of canvassing, we’re holding trainings so volunteers will be fully ready to go.

Our first canvass will be on Saturday, May 22, at 11:00 a.m. in the Queen Village area. If you want more information just email us here or just sign up below for the training and first canvass! 2. 35 Doors Project. Neighborhood Leaders are the core of this project. These volunteers will be responsible for interacting with voters at 35 addresses in their neighborhood. They will stop in at these doors a few times per year with information about elections. We’ll have all the information you’ll need and we'll provide the addresses.

The Neighborhood Leaders will learn more details first at a meeting we will schedule shortly and then more at the training below. If you’re interested, email us here to get started or for more information. You can sign up for the training below. We are VERY excited about these new projects and we look forward to working with you to win in 2022! Many of you have already told us you want to be part of this and now you can sign up. New Projects Training – Led by an expert Indivisible trainer. When: Thursday, May 20 at 4:00 pm. Sign up at this Indivisible Zoom registration link If you can’t make this one, don’t worry. We’ll record it and there will be more live sessions too. Neighborhood Canvass – Queen Village When: Saturday, May 22 at 11:00 am Sign up here.

MAY 18 ELECTION NEWS

We learned a lot at our meeting last week with Supreme Court candidate Judge Maria McLaughlin. You can learn about her judicial philosophy and her background in the video recording at this link.


We hesitate to call the May election a primary because (1) this is the “general election” for the ballot questions – they’ll be decided on this ballot; and (2) the local races likely will be decided in this election because the general election is sure to result in victory for the Democrat who wins in May (it is Philadelphia, after all). So May 18 is a critical vote, which some of your friends and family may not realize. So please – spread the word to your networks that they need to vote May 18!


Voting By Mail

If you signed up to vote by mail you probably already have your ballot. Cool! If you haven’t yet, you can sign up for a mail-in ballot on the state website here, but do it soon!

Here’s what you need to know to return it safely.

- Drop boxes are in place now, open 24/7 until 8:00 pm on May 18. Find the list of locations at this link.

- Mail-in ballots must be turned in only by the voter, unless the voter is disabled and can certify another person to deliver it. Certification forms are at this link (at the bottom).

- Follow the directions on the card included in the ballot package: (1) Fill out the ballot with blue or black pen; (2) vote for the right number of candidates as indicated; (3) put your completed ballot in the blue secrecy envelope; (4) put that envelope in the pre-stamped mailing envelope; and (5) be sure to sign on the back of the mailing envelope where indicated.

- Either mail it or put it in a drop box. It must be delivered by May 18 at 8:00 pm (not postmarked by then).


Voting In Person

Find the City’s current list of Philadelphia polling places at this link or look up yours at this link. Polling places are open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm.


Deadlines

* Monday, May 3, 2021: Last day to register to vote

* Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at 5 pm: Last day to request an absentee or mail-in ballot

* Tuesday, May 18, 2021: Election Day

* Tuesday, May 18, 2021, at 8 pm: Completed mail-in ballots must be received by your county election office. Postmarked is not enough.


Ballot Questions

You can see the more expanded rundown in our recent newsletter and below is our quick review. There are four state-based questions on the ballot plus one Philadelphia question.

1. Constitutional Amendment to Article IV. Transfers certain of the Governor’s existing authority to respond to and manage disaster emergencies away from the Governor and to the General Assembly. We recommend voting NO to this Amendment.

2. Constitutional Amendment to Article III, Section 9 – Allows the legislature to terminate or extend the Governor’s disaster emergency declaration without the Governor’s approval. We recommend voting NO on this amendment.

3. Constitutional Amendment to Article I – Creates a PA constitutional prohibition against restricting or denying an individual’s equal rights under Pennsylvania law because of race or ethnicity. We recommend voting YES on this amendment.

4. Statewide Referendum. Allows Municipal fire and emergency services companies to be eligible to take out loans from an already existing state loan program. We recommend voting YES on this referendum.

5. Philadelphia Home Charter Rule Change – “Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for an expanded Board of License Inspection Review that can hear and decide cases in three-member panels?” If you vote “Yes” on this ballot question, it means you want to change the City’s Charter so that the City’s Board of License and Inspection Review is expanded to have nine members and is allowed to hear and decide cases in groups of three members at a time. See more here.

For more –

Read the Progressive Voters Guide advisory for Constitutional Amendments at this link.

Read the state website with the descriptions of the ballot questions at this link.

Read the Committee of Seventy’s voter guide at this link.


Judges –

* Committee of Seventy’s round-up of the races for judge and the statewide ballot questions is at this link. Their round-up of Philadelphia-specific races is at this link.

* The Philadelphia Bar Association’s recommendations for all the courts and other information are at this link.

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