Minutes of Democrats Abroad Guatemala
Executive Committee meeting on Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 11:00am via WebEx
Members in Attendance: John Chudy, Chair; Mary Lou Ridinger, Vice Chair; Vincent D’Agati, Treasurer; Kee Adams Evans, Events Coordinator; Rachael Shenyo, Occidente MeetUp Chair; Traci Styner, Lago Atitlán MeetUp Chair; Anne Thornton, member; Phyllis MacCartney, interim Secretary; Jose Ordenez, member, Blaine Stokes, interim Member At Large.
Per our bylaws (paragraph 19.3), all meetings are open to all members.
Called to order at 11:02am
Approval of Agenda and Minutes: Minutes from July meeting and agenda for August meeting were approved unanimously.
Pending Approval of Interim Positions
Phyllis MacCartney, Interim Secretary, Blaine Stokes, Interim Member at Large. An online election of the full membership will take place 8-22 and 23-2020
Treasurer’s report: A new bank account has been opened at Banco Promerica. It is a checking account and Vincent and John both have signatory rights. Tee shirt sales since the last meeting leave us this month with a new balance on hand of Q6506. Vincent said he will maintain petty cash of Q1000 for small transactions. Biden t-shirts are still available in sizes medium and large. John Chudy is collecting the money and will submit it to the treasurer in the near future.
Chair’s Report: Positions remaining vacant are: one Member at Large, Guatemala City MeetUp group chair, and Media Contact and Communications chair.
John mentioned the Democrats Abroad global prize draw to raise $30,000 for the DPCA GOTV fall campaign. The “$20.20 Eye on the Prize Draw” drawing on August 20th. Proceeds will finance CallHub, Facebook, Zoom and other GOTV messaging. Several cash prizes to winners.
John summarized some GOTV related activities that members can get involved in including the Global Voter Protection team, the Voter Protection Tiny Action campaign, CallHub, and the Zoom Voter Assistance team’s Drop-in Sundays for ballot request help that needs volunteers to guide voters wanting help: https://www.democratsabroad.org/154943/zoom_voter_assistance.
John mentioned there are approximately 6 million American ex-pats world-wide. There is a need for outreach to get out the vote. Finance call on campaign designated by postal vote. Democrats Abroad paid for and posted two Facebook ads that ran from August 10-15 at a cost of $20. The DPCA is making funds available to country committees for Facebook paid ads. DAGT has applied.
Drop in Sundays, the Zoom voter outreach tool now underway, needs volunteers to help with registration and voting concerns. These events will continue up to the October deadline for voting. According to Joan Stack, the deputy Regional Vice Chair, volunteers are welcome to serve during Drop In Sundays on Zoom to help voters with registration issues. There is a volunteer guide for taking a quiz to qualify as a volunteer.
Americas regional meeting Was well attended on July 14th centered on GOTV activities including CallHub campaigns currently underway in most country committees. These will continue; next round will center on returning voted ballots. Overseas ballots will be sent out September 19th. Most country committees in the Americas region are facing voted ballot return challenges.The next regional meeting will be held on September 15th.
It was noted that several Latin American countries are facing the same challenges as Guatemala with no postal service or delayed postal service.
Overseas ballots should be available between 8th to September 19. Make sure to check your email inbox and spam folders, and your promotions and inbox if you use gmail.
Twenty-eight states permit email and/or faxed ballots. The other 22 must use postal mail only.
Events for 2020: 2020 Voter Registration and GOTV activities.
Get out the Vote!
Since Guatemala has no mail service and the U.S. Embassy will only accept ballots that are hand delivered to the Embassy for posting via the Diplomatic Post Office, DAGT will try to encourage a cooperative effort by identifying regional DAGT handlers around Guatemala to receive and forward to Kee and/or John their ballots for onward delivery (either to the US Embassy or via DHL). Twenty two states require postal mail return of voted ballots. This is an evolving strategy. Email outreach will continue. DAGT emails to alert voters to begin watching for their ballots, and providing information on who to contact for help returning their voted ballots will begin September 8th. Second email will go out September 14th.
Kee stressed the importance of being aware of states that have laws against ballot harvesting. Ballot harvesting is the activity of collecting ballots for delivery to a local election office. We should not discuss doing this in emails and when communicating by email or other media, use the term "friend" if questioned. Absolutely no mention of dropping off or sending ballots in for others should be posted on social media. Also, do not reveal how many ballots we are harvesting. In some states there are limits on the number allowed and ballot harvesting is actually illegal and considered a class 6 felony. Traci mentioned there is a DHL service that will send up to 60 ballots for a flat fee of $35.00. This service may be available in other regions in Guatemala.
Vincent is a US Embassy liaison for the Antigua area. He inquired if he could collect and carry ballots to the Embassy or if they could be sent via courier such as Guatex. Unfortunately, no. Voters or their friends may drop ballots drop ballots in person at the Embassy from 7am to 2pm Monday through Thursday. The drop off window at the embassy is located at 7th Calle and 1st Avenida. In HueHue and Xela ballots can be sent to Rachael Shenyo in Xela, and then forwarded to John in Antigua for delivery. The deadline for ballots arriving in Antigua is September 29th. The final date for delivery to the Embassy or via DHL is October 2nd. We should strive for deliveries much earlier than that, however.
John will send a slide show explaining how to post and fax ballots.
For states that allow fax return of voted ballots, e.g., Florida, Phyllis MacCartney, mentioned that Office Depot’s fax doesn’t work, (but the employee at Office Depot said it will be working in a week.) which is a condition of fax service in lots of places. Phyllis mentioned that Bernard Vine in Panajachel will send faxes of photos but he needs a heads up so he can turn his fax machine on. Ballots can be sent to Bernard by email email@example.com, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp 4213-1372. Bernard said he would charge approximately Q20 per ballot. If the balllots take longer to send the price could be higher. There are also fax apps that exist where one can take a photo of their voted ballot and then sent from their phone and it arrives at the other end as a fax. Two such services are: https://faxzero.com/ and https://www.efax.com/how-it-works. Gordon Long. He and his wife live in Rio Dulce. Here's the info he provided about an app for iPhone:Apple - JotNot Fax - free app - buy credits from menu $9.99 buys 10 credits. Each credit allows 5 pages (no charge for cover page). Also, the Federal Voter Assistance Program (FVAP) will receive ballots by email and will forward them by fax to fax-only states. Ballots and voting forms can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org for final delivery by fax.
If for some reason a ballot is not received there is an option for a federal write-in absentee ballot (FWAB).
CallHub outreach to members to use VoteFromAbroad.org will continue. Country committee campaigns have been replaced with regional campaigns to reach postal mail only voters to encourage them to vote a FWAB now to ensure their ballot reaches by November 3rd. They should also vote their official state ballot when it arrives. Only one of the two will be counted, but doing the FWAB now will ensure that at least one arrives on time. Volunteers are needed. Training slides are here.
Democratic Convention discussion: It was agreed that the format and quality of the presentation was very high. Mary Lou mentioned the impressive though brief showing of Democrats Abroad during the official roll call, one of the best roll calls of convention history.
Movies and other public events are currently on hold, but will resume when social distancing restrictions are lifted.
Covid-19:Phyllis mentioned that there is not an effective testing program and people going to the public clinics and hospitals are being diagnosed by just their symptoms. In reality it is nearly impossible to determine how many actual cases of Covid-19 there are in Guatemala.Rachel mentioned that 10 people have died in her area.
Next DAGT Abroad meeting by WebEx is scheduled for September 24th at 11am.