News

POISED TO VOTE: Got Your Crayolas and Paste?

POISED TO VOTE: Got Your Crayolas and Paste?

It’s Friday, folks! Shops are open tonight. And tomorrow morning. But you may have other plans. So, now is the time to make sure you’ve got everything you need for your first day at school to vote and mail your ballot back to the US!

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DETAILS COUNT! Follow the instructions!

Whether you have registered for a mail-in ballot from your state, intend to submit a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) or will send in both – or even if you are voting via email – it is critical to read the instructions first before completing your ballot. No one wants a disqualified ballot!

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What is an FWAB and Why Should I Care?

 

FWAB stands for Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot. In past years, we’ve used the FWAB if we tracked our regular ballot and learned it had not arrived. For instance, if we mailed our ballot back by Oct 1st or so, and it hadn’t arrived at our county board of election by Oct 15, we might send an FWAB, possibly by express mail or courier.

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A Round Tuit

Are you registered for 2020? Have you requested your ballot?

You’ve heard it at least 100 times! And you’ve thought, “I’m going to do that just as soon as I get around to it.” Well, Fellow Voter, this is your round tuit!

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Connect with DAGR!

Overrun with political emails and posts? Ready to unsubscribe from all? Wait!

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Covid-19 Payments - Do not be Misled!!

IRS Does NOT Cross-Reference US Voter Rolls

“With great shock and amazement I read an email issued by Republicans Overseas Hellenic Chapter that completely misleads US Citizens living in Greece, who have struggled with the chaos and the instability the Covid-19 virus has caused in their lives,” said Chair of Democrats Abroad Greece, Stacey Harris-Papaioannou. “The letter, issued on July 24th, stated the second round of Covid-19 supplements that will go to US citizens, is being labeled by Republicans Overseas Hellenic Chapter “Help from TRUMP” and they IMPLY that US Government Agencies will be cross referencing voter registration rolls in the US with citizens who received the first round of deposits through the CARES Act.”

"I am a highly active volunteer who has made it my vocation to encourage U.S. expats in Greece to exercise their right as US citizens to vote in federal elections, no matter what their party affiliation. Using scare tactics and outright disinformation to mislead fellow Americans, by tying the receipt of a supplement for Covid-19 Relief dependent upon registering to vote and framing that relief as a gift from President Trump, is outrageous" Papaioannou added.

Both the English translation of the letter and the Greek version follow at the end.

Democrats Abroad Greece alerted the US Embassy to the letter and today US Citizens Services sent out a notification to all registered US Citizens in Greece on how to register to vote from overseas and request their absentee ballot.

To be clear, the Covid-19 relief (CARES Act, Economic Impact Payment (EIP)) has NOTHING to do with whether or not an American is registered to vote. Nor does it matter which party an American may be a registered member of. American voters are registered by their home county in their home state. Those of us who vote from abroad are registered in the US state/county where we last voted before moving abroad. The Federal government does NOT have a roll of registered voters!

Assistance under the CARES Act is not a gift from Trump or the White House! It is a refund of tax money US Citizens have already paid in, and, in some cases, will be taxable income on returns we file in April 2021. To call the supplemental payment ‘Trump Help’ is ridiculous. The CARES Act was passed by the House (Democratic majority).

The IRS (Internal Revenue Service, i.e. the US Federal tax authority) does NOT have a list of registered voters. Voting in US federal elections does not make a voter a target of the tax authority. People who vote in Federal elections are not hounded down by the IRS. States do have the list of people registered in their state and may follow up to see if the voter owes state or local taxes. But the Federal government does not.

Likewise, registering to vote in any US state has no connection to receiving Social Security pension benefits. The IRS and the SSA are two separate government agencies.

The letter that misleads is as follows:

---------- Forwarded message ---------

From: Republicans Overseas Hellenic Chapter <[email protected]>
Date: Fri, 24 Jul 2020, 16:51
Subject: Second installment of TRUMP HELP
To:

CAUTION: For the second installment of the TRUMP HELP on the effects of the virus.
Announcement of the Greek Branch of the U.S. Republican Party. 16th July 2020

As is well known in the Senate, the fate of the second tranche of the TRUMP AID, which tens of thousands of residents of Greece with American citizenship have already received, or are in the process of receiving, is being discussed in the coming days.

From the information we have from the confidential news that our party officials in Washington are sending us, the second installment will be given around October and will be aimed primarily at Low and Zero Income Americans. Like the first instalment will be given on the basis of the tax return for the years 2018 and 2019 or the declaration of non-obligation to file a tax return, better known as Free-filers which tens of thousands of American citizens, permanent residents of Greece have completed and sent according to the detailed instructions we have issued.

The second installment of the Trump aid seems to be somewhat more targeted, according to our information, and there is a good chance that some criteria will be put in place that exclude the receiving of the aid from what we call incidental American citizens, in translation "Symptomatic American citizens", i.e. those who have nothing to do with American political or social life. The most likely criterion for American residents abroad is strongly debated to be timely registration on the electoral roll.

From what is also being discussed, no new application will be required and cheques will be mailed to the same persons, at the same addresses, but ONLY as long as further cross-checking is made and they are found to be active voters, i.e. they have been registered for the year 2020 on the electoral roll of a US state.

That is why we are making this announcement today, since the deadline for registration on the electoral roll is 10 August 2020, i.e. less than a month. According to our information, if you are not registered to vote in the elections, you will most likely lose the second instalment of the allowance permanently, nor will it be possible to file late applications for registration on the electoral roll.

We are making this announcement to ensure payment to you of the second installment of the TRUMP HELP. We've already given you the link to register for the electoral roll with the instructions we sent you to get the first installment of the TRUMP HELP. https://www.usvotefoundation.org/

We hope you will take care of it accordingly, because if you neglect to register as voters, there will be absolutely nothing we can do to help you and the second instalment money will be permanently lost to you.

If you need any help you can call the office
Monday to Friday
11:00-16:00
210 61234 44
6909914381
Also keep track of the group on facebook
https://www.facebook.com/groups/217745992983012/?ref=group_header
to have a more direct contact and update

This announcement will be published on all our websites to inform Greek-Americans.
The Party's Management Committee

The misleading email in Greek is as follows:

---------- Forwarded message ---------

Από: Republicans Overseas Hellenic Chapter <[email protected]>
Date: Παρ, 24 Ιουλ 2020, 16:51
Subject: Δεύτερη δόση του ΒΟΗΘΗΜΑΤΟΣ TRUMP
To:

ΠΡΟΣΟΧΗ: Για την Δεύτερη δόση του ΒΟΗΘΗΜΑΤΟΣ TRUMP για τις συνέπειες του Ιού.
Ανακοίνωση του Ελληνικού Παραρτήματος του Ρεπουμπλικανικού Κόμματος των ΗΠΑ. 16 Ιουλίου 2020

Όπως είναι γνωστό στην Γερουσία συζητείται τις επόμενες ημέρες η τύχη της δεύτερης δόσης του ΒΟΗΘΗΜΑΤΟΣ TRUMP το οποίο δεκάδες χιλιάδες κάτοικοι της Ελλάδας με Αμερικανική υπηκοότητα έχουν ήδη λάβει, ή είναι σε διαδικασία λήψης.

Από τις πληροφορίες που έχουμε από τα εμπιστευτικά νέα που τα κομματικά στελέχη μας στην Ουάσιγκτον μας στέλνουν, η δεύτερη δόση θα δοθεί περίπου τον Οκτώβριο και θα απευθύνεται κυρίως σε Αμερικανούς πολίτες χαμηλών και μηδενικών εισοδημάτων. Όπως και η πρώτη δόση θα δίνεται με βάση την φορολογική δήλωση των ετών 2018 και 2019 ή την δήλωση μη υποχρέωσης υποβολής φορολογικής δήλωσης, γνωστότερη ως Free-filers την οποία δεκάδες χιλιάδες Αμερικανοί πολίτες, μόνιμοι κάτοικοι Ελλάδας έχουν συμπληρώσει και στείλει σύμφωνα με τις αναλυτικές οδηγίες που έχουμε εκδώσει.

Η δεύτερη δόση του βοηθήματος Τράμπ φαίνεται ότι θα είναι κάπως πιο στοχευμένη, σύμφωνα με τις πληροφορίες μας και υπάρχει μεγάλη πιθανότητα, έως βεβαιότητα να μπούν κάποια κριτήρια που θα αποκλείουν την λήψη του βοηθήματος από αυτό που ονομάζουμε incidental American citizens, σε μετάφραση «Συμπτωματικούς Αμερικανούς πολίτες», δηλαδή αυτούς που δεν έχουν καμία σχέση με την Αμερικανική πολιτική ή κοινωνική ζωή. Το πιθανότερο κριτήριο για τους Αμερικανούς κατοίκους του εξωτερικού συζητείται έντονα να είναι η εμπρόθεσμη εγγραφή στους εκλογικούς καταλόγους.

Από ότι επίσης συζητείται, δεν θα χρειαστεί νέα αίτηση και οι επιταγές θα ταχυδρομηθούν στα ίδια πρόσωπα, στις ίδιες διευθύνσεις, ΜΟΝΟ όμως εφ’ όσον γίνει περαιτέρω διασταύρωση και βρεθεί ότι είναι ενεργοί ψηφοφόροι, δηλαδή έχουν εγγραφεί για το έτος 2020 στους εκλογικούς καταλόγους κάποιας Πολιτείας των ΗΠΑ.

Για αυτόν τον λόγο, προβαίνουμε στην ανακοίνωση αυτή σήμερα, μιάς και λήγει η προθεσμία εγγραφής στους εκλογικούς καταλόγους στις 10 Αυγούστου 2020, δηλαδή σε λιγότερο από ένα μήνα. Σύμφωνα με τις πληροφορίες μας, εάν δεν έχετε εγγραφεί για να ψηφίσετε στις εκλογές, το πιθανότερο είναι ότι θα χάσετε οριστικά την δεύτερη δόση του επιδόματος, ούτε θα υπάρχει η δυνατότητα να κατατεθούν εκπρόθεσμες αιτήσεις για εγγραφή στους εκλογικούς καταλόγους.

Προβαίνουμε σε αυτήν την ανακοίνωση για την διασφάλιση της πληρωμής προς εσάς της δεύτερης δόσης του ΒΟΗΘΗΜΑΤΟΣ TRUMP. Σας έχουμε ήδη δώσει το λίνκ για την εγγραφή στους εκλογικούς καταλόγους με τις οδηγίες που σας στείλαμε για να πάρετε την πρώτη δόση του ΒΟΗΘΗΜΑΤΟΣ TRUMP.Αν και θα το βρείτε και https://www.usvotefoundation.org/

Ελπίζουμε να μεριμνήσετε αναλόγως, διότι αν αμελήσετε την εγγραφή σας ως ψηφοφόροι, δεν θα μπορέσουμε να κάνουμε απολύτως τίποτα για να σας βοηθήσουμε και θα χαθούν οριστικά τα χρήματα της δεύτερης δόσης για εσάς.

Αν χρειάζεστε κάποια βοήθεια μπορείτε να καλείτε στο γραφείο
Δευτέρα ως Παρασκευή
11:00-16:00
210 61234 44
6909914381
Επίσης να παρακολουθείτε την ομάδα στο facebook
https://www.facebook.com/groups/217745992983012/?ref=group_header


Dems Abroad Greece Suggests a 200th Birthday Present to the US Post Office

Most Americans living outside the US depend on the US Post Office to deliver their ballots for US elections. But, this year, will the ballots arrive back in time to be counted?

It’s the question that nags at a few Democrats Abroad Greece (DAGR) members. So, they decided to take a small, symbolic step and ask the Democratic Party to take a strong stand for absentee voting rights.

At the global level, Democrats Abroad has been looking at solutions that include urging states to accept ballots by email attachment and fax. A few states do; most do not. And not all state legislatures, where voting practice is decided, are anxious to encourage full voting rights. Failing a secure way to transmit ballots, voters are left with trying to get them back as best they can.

In past years, most US voters abroad sent their ballots back by regular mail or by courier if time was short. Some voters took advantage of the embassy’s diplomatic pouch. It was considered fast and secure, although not a good solution for tardy voters. The ballot still had to be mailed to their home county after the pouch arrived in DC and could arrive too late.

US federal law sets broad rules for elections. Among these, all voters, no matter their state, are allowed to vote in federal elections, that is for President and House and Senate seats. It also requires the states to send out absentee ballots 45 days before the election. This year, they’ll be sent out on September 19. Voters who specify delivery by email or fax will get theirs the same day. Those who ask for the hard copy with return envelopes to be sent by mail used to get them within about a week. Now, arrival of the blank ballot sheet is also uncertain.

As for returning ballots, the current view is even cloudier. Embassy “diplomatic pouches” are reputed to be taking longer. Current word has it as long as several weeks to arrive in the US (plus local mailing after entering the country), while the latest date after Election Day is 10 days for some states, and by Election Day for others.

Mail service out of countries abroad is similarly uncertain this year, while couriers may be costly. A recent quote for an A4 standard weight envelope was €62!

The possible failure of stateside mail in November arises from two factors. First, the US Postal Service has been underfunded for four decades and may run out of operating money this September. Second, the Covid pandemic has hit the USPS from all sides. As flights and cargo were blocked initially, mail originating overseas was delayed. Delivery of packages in the US has expanded due to phone and online ordering of supplies. But, USPS employees, initially not provided with PPE, have been infected, some 2000 quarantined by the end of April. This reduces available staff to deal with the backlog as commerce picks up.

Worse yet, the recently appointed head of the USPS, Louis DeJoy, a person with no USPS experience but plenty in the private logistics field, has reportedly ordered mail staff to sort what they can and leave the rest for the next shift. The backlogs will, presumably, build up until a lot of mail doesn’t get delivered on time.

The primary cause of USPS underfunding is a 1970 law (The Postal Reorganization Act) that requires its pensions to be funded 75 years into the future.  No other government agency or private business is so required. Why? A likely answer lies in a movement some 50 years old and funded by the rightwing Koch family to drive the post office into the ground and then demand its privatization.

Against this foreshadowing of mail failure, Dems in Greece decided to do what they could, apart from signing all the online petitions. First of all, Democrats Abroad, or Democratic Party Committee Abroad (DPCA) as it’s formally known, is an official committee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The voting members of DPCA are the chair, vice chair and, in larger committees, voting representatives, of each Country Committee. DAGR, a smaller country committee, has two, its chair, Stacey Harris-Papaioannou, and its vice chair, Brady Kiesling. They also lead the 11-member board (ExCom) that acts officially for DAGR.

So, any member of DAGR can bring a matter of concern to the ExCom to act on. This time, a few members who’ve been following the mail uncertainties decided to make an official request for a resolution to start here and go straight to the top. The draft is simple:

“Because the majority of Americans living outside the US borders depend on the US Post Office to deliver our ballots to our Local Election Officials, and because the USPS is currently underfunded to the point it may run out of operating funds in September 2020, we call on our elected officials to fully fund the USPS at least through the end of the year, so that the November 2020 general election can go forward, disenfranchising no eligible US voter. While this is crucial to those of us living abroad, it is also of vital, life-saving interest to our fellow voters inside the US, many of whom will depend on receiving and returning mail-in ballots. It is also the least we can do to provide PPE and safe working conditions for our mail processors and carriers to perform their duties without risking their lives and livelihoods.”

The Resolution was approved in a special e-vote called last night and sent to the global DA board. They are expected to approve it in their regular meeting on Friday.  And if approved, it will be sent to the DNC. From there, it’s up to the Democratic caucus in House and Senate to put their weight behind it. Funding for the USPS is included in the HEROES Act, the second major piece of legislation passed by the US House of Representatives to deal with Covid-19. The HEROES Act, which as written provides $25 billion in emergency funding for the USPS, is currently stalled in the US Senate.

The small, symbolic step taken in Greece is democracy in action. According to DAGR member Karen Lee, one of the 8 who put forward the proposal, “This is why we belong to DAGR. Because it’s an official part of the Democratic Party, it’s a conduit for voters’ voices to be carried straight to the DNC.”

The resolution is timed to reach DC over the weekend, which, by no coincidence, marks 200 years of public postal service in the US. Says DAGR Chair Papaioannou, “We hope it’s a fitting 200th Birthday present to the Postal Service and a real help to American voters this November!”

References:
Broad information on USPS employee Covid infection/quarantine April 2020 http://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-usps-employees-test-positive-2000-in-quarantine-2020-3

Postmaster General DeJoy http://www.newsweek.com/trump-donor-louis-dejoy-confirmed-postmaster-general-1502579

Postal Union (APWU) statement on DeJoy directives http://www.apwu.org/news/message-members-apwu-national-executive-board-response-postmaster-general


A Conversation with Former Ambassador to Greece, Thomas Miller and Mrs. Bonnie Miller

  

Former Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller and his wife Bonnie Miller, will meet with members and friends of Democrats Abroad Greece on Thursday, July 16th at 9 pm in an online webinar.

Ambassador and Mrs. Miller will discuss their time in Greece, the importance of the overseas voter to the outcome of the November 3rd election and US policy regarding crucial topics affecting Greece such as AOZ, energy and security issues.  Attendees will have the opportunity to pose questions to Ambassador Miller, to be answered following the presentation.

To participate in the Webinar “A Conversation with former Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller and Mrs. Bonnie Miller,” please follow the link to register for the webinar, present your questions and receive a link to connect to the presentation.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe_GtQRTkXB1CWix9CdY8pGuzB4Lj56ildRsVmMI2Q9HcoLLw/viewform

The deadline to register is Tuesday, July 14th.

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What Can One Dem Do???

What Can One Dem Do?

To paraphrase: “November and Trump’s a’comin’ We’re still on our own.” The Kentucky primary this week looked a lot like Georgia before it. One polling station was open for all of Louisville, and a significant number of absentee ballots requested never arrived.

As one DAGR Issues Group member put it, “But what can WE do to make sure this doesn’t happen in November?”

First of all, numbers make the election harder to tamper with. Democrats have the numbers. That is, we have the people who agree with us on the issues.

We just have to get them registered and voting.

Here’s what we can do!

National

  • Know the enemy. No smart election thief uses one big, blatant ploy. It’s death by a thousand little cuts. If you want to know how they all fit together, check our 2016 series, here, here, and here:  
  • Urge your Senators, now, to pass the HEROES Act, with money allotted to help states set up mail-in ballots. Only 3 states regularly vote-by-mail, but most others are trying to establish it, in case there’s a second wave of pandemic in the fall.
  • Urge Congress to save the US Postal Service! For decades, conservatives have been trying to starve and privatize this institution we all depend on. Support funding to put it back on a solid financial footing and be prepared to quickly deliver mail-in ballots.

State and Local

Know the election law in your state.

  • Start with your state’s information on the VoteFromAbroad website. You can see if you’re registered, have been sent your ballot, had it received back, and counted. 
  • Find out who oversees election integrity. Is it your state’s Secretary of State or another official? Is that person, no matter which party, an election protector? Or are they of the Kemp (Georgia 2018) or Blackwell (Ohio 2004) ilk?
  • Look further if you want. Many university departments, e.g. law or public administration, study local elections and voting threats in their states.
  • Contact your state Democratic Party. See what they’re doing to protect the election!
  • Make contact with your county LEO (local election official), board of elections or other name. Let them know you’re watching and waiting with bated breath for your ballot. You can find their contact information on that VoteFromAbroad link above.
  • And, while you’re at it, reach out to your county Dem party. Seriously! Send them an email and ask if they need any e-help.

There will be opportunities for us abroad to help phone bank to voters in the US. This may be via the parties, various candidates’ campaigns or interest groups. Most will use an online dialing system so you can call the US free of charge. And most will provide a ‘script’ or talking points to use.

As Howard Dean pointed out in his June webinar with DA, we’re most effective talking to voters in our home districts. 

  • US-side, be selective. Join a call-campaign that targets your area. The stateside voter may be excited to get a call from abroad, but you’ll have even more impact when they know you share roots, issues and candidates.
  • Dems Abroad will have some calling campaigns for you to choose from later on. Once the window closes for timely voting from abroad, we shift efforts to stateside.

Democrats Abroad (last but not least!)

First, let’s energize our DA members and make sure they’re registered (www.votefromabroad.org) and have requested a ballot.

In September, we’ll be calling again to make sure they have registered. As soon as ballots are sent out (Sept 19), we need to vote and return them PRONTO! There, very likely, will be mail delays and other problems in November. An early start gives time to overcome them.

  • You can help with one of the global DA campaigns using the online CallHub system, if you have a computer or laptop.
  • Or volunteer to call our members in Greece. DAGR uses landline and mobile phones. We call by zip-code area, so you get to know people closest to you. You might even arrange to get together some time. Contact GOTV chair Charity Moschopoulos ([email protected]) if you haven’t already volunteered.
  • Sign up for Voter Protection news via Dems Abroad. DA volunteers are monitoring the scene in each state, particularly in regard to the potential pitfalls in voting absentee from abroad this year. For an inside look, there’s a DA voter protection webinar on Facebook.

One last bit of advice from DA: “If someone says you can’t vote, or that you have to provide a photo ID, or register in person, know your rights (that someone is wrong)! Point to Federal voting law and make sure others know their rights, too!”

Dems Abroad Voter Help Desk - Democrats Abroad works with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to stay informed on state voting purges and negotiates with Secretary of State offices regarding access to ballots and election sites, explains Julia Bryan. “And we provide a 24/7 help desk that runs 365 days a year, answering voting questions via email, chat channels and social media channels. If you try to access an election site and it doesn’t work, don’t assume it’s your connection,” Bryan advises. “Get in touch with Democrats Abroad and let us know about the problem.”(Email: [email protected])


At Least One Greek Bank will Deposit Your US CARES Check

And the good news is ….

At Least One Greek Bank Will Deposit Your US EIP Check

One Member's Experience!

We’ve heard a few success stories concerning the Economic Impact Payment of $1200(CARES Act), but questions continue to come in. Today, we move a step ahead … one check in the mail, deposited successfully.

When my EIP check arrived, I called my bank’s main Customer Service number and asked questions. I was lucky that day to be put through to the colleague who ‘would know the most about it.’ He explained the bank was dealing with myriad new routines, rules, etc. in light of our virus-driven work-arounds.

 But as it turned out, the information he gave me held true.

1.       Yes, the bank will deposit the US gov’t check in a dollar account.
(You’d have to ask further questions if you only have a euro account)
2.       The deposit must be made in-person during lobby hours.
3.       The deposit must be made at the bank branch where your account is registered.

After the check had self-quarantined for a few days, i.e. when I was ready to go out to the branch, I got in touch with the branch personnel and made sure they knew about the rules Customer Service had shared. I also asked about busy hours, best time to visit, etc.

When I arrived at the bank branch today, the ‘banking lobby’ manager greeted me with a smile and she recognized my voice from the phone call yesterday! This may be the upside of an economic slow-down.

The teller was also friendly and helpful. The lobby was serving 2 or 3 customers, max, in a large space. No lines outside. Most personnel were either wearing masks or working behind plastic/glass dividers. I was in and out in less than 15 minutes.

A lot of people have been wondering if/when their EIP will arrive or be deposited in a US bank account. As a Social Security beneficiary, I had expected mine to go to the account where my SS benefit goes every month. 

I did not file any additional information with IRS. I had filed my 1040 returns, using my Greek address. I got Social Security by direct-deposit in a stateside bank account. There were no boxes I could tick on the IRS site to “add info here.”

But I kept checking my US account online to see if it had arrived. And then the check came to Greece by mail. This took a bit longer than an electronic deposit should have and it must have cost ‘taxpayers’ more to print and mail a few million hard-copy checks. You get the impression that someone at IRS said, “Keep it simple. Just mail them all to the address on the return.” I could be wrong.

That’s the long and short of it. Contrary to what Aunt Clara may have advised, you do not have to fly back to the US to cash the EIP check. But you may encounter other issues here, even if you bank where I do.

The best advice is call your bank and ask if and how they will handle it.

And then, if you run into any snags, be sure to let DAGR know. Dems Abroad is keeping a close eye on this as well as on registration and voting difficulties and may be able to help.

PS – If you don’t desperately need the whole EIP check, consider donating a small portion to DAGR. We do desperately need it to keep the lights on (and the Eforia happy) so we can concentrate on the elections at hand … and send the grifters packing in November!

Experienced and Submitted by Karen Lee
DAGR Fund Raising Committee