by Larry Barber, DA SMA Executive Committee Member
I’ve worked phone banks for fifty years: calling on behalf of elected representatives on state and federal levels, and for Cesar Chavez and the UFW, lots of efforts in support of democracy in Central and South America, for voting and immigrant rights, against the San Onofre nuclear plant in Southern California, against the George Bush-Dick Cheney-Donald Rumsfeld war in Iraq, for a woman’s right to choose, and most recently for the Biden-Harris presidential election. That was my first time phoning for Democrats Abroad in Mexico.
I’ve phoned registered Democrats and also the dreaded “general voter” lists, sometimes speaking with Republicans who were not interested and sometimes not polite. I’ve phoned Democrats who were not interested or polite, too. I was a television writer/producer and can sit for long periods of time, focused on a project. But I admit, there have been times—looking at the phone list printout, names and numbers swimming before my eyes—when I had to psych myself up to dial the next seven digits and wait to hear what kind of reception I’d get when someone answered. The way you do it is just plow ahead.
But never, not ever, have I found such an easy and happy task as calling my fellow Democrats Abroad. It is, to coin a phrase, a piece of cake. I like cake, especially chocolate cake.
The distinguishing feature of making phone calls for Dems Abroad is that we are unique. We live outside the United States, which links us by an attitude that is, it seems to me, more open to meeting new people, more available to new ideas. We share the experience of being ex-pats. So when I call a member of Dems Abroad it is most often like talking to a friendly person at a party. We already have a lot in common. And we’re a self-selected group of Democrats who want to be engaged.
So here’s how I do it, understanding that I’ll always (well… almost always) get a friendly response. When someone answers, I say, “Hi, I’m Larry Barber with Democrats Abroad. How are you?” I know supplied texts often then dictate: “Is this so-and-so?” I don’t do that. I just wait for the person to pause a beat, then say, “Democrats Abroad? Well, hi!” Remember, as Dems Abroad, we’re in this together, this out-of-the-country thing. So I don’t bother asking right off the bat if the person who answers is the name on my list. I just identify myself, say Dems Abroad, and wait for a friendly response. It always (well.. almost always) comes. Then I ask, “Is this ___?”
That, for me, has been the simplest and most effective way to engage people. Everyone you call is a member of Democrats Abroad so we’re all in the same club. And it works like a charm. Instant rapport. Immediate eye-to-eye (phone-wise) agreement. It is easy, it has led to wonderful conversations, and I’ve helped lots and lots of motivated Democrats request their absentee ballots, fill them out, and return them to their county and state registrar. Also, these days for Dems Abroad there are no printed phone lists. You don’t have to travel to a campaign office; you phone from home. This isn’t the Dark Ages! Phone bankers for Dems Abroad use a simple computer program that dials for you, and lets you record the response. I would phone for an hour a day, but you can set your own schedule. Easy-peasy.
Absentee ballots remain an important part of efforts to win state and federal elections. In the all-important 2020 election, absentee ballots made the difference in several states. In Georgia: we estimate 20,000 ballots from overseas were counted—Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes. In Arizona: we estimate between 17,200 to 19,500 voters abroad cast ballots—Biden won Arizona by 10,457 votes. In Wisconsin: we don’t have solid numbers yet but Democrats Abroad make up roughly 1% of vote totals—Biden won Wisconsin by less than 1% (20,682). Partly as a result of our group’s work, civilian overseas votes in 2020 increased by 62% from 2016.
Voting from outside the United States can be tricky and I’ve found many folks want and need our help. We can be a welcome source of information and a relief from nagging, perplexing, and frustrating issues for folks who want to vote but can’t figure out how to do it.
So sign up for Democrats Abroad phone banking—you’ll enjoy it and you will make a difference in the all-important mid-term election coming up in 2022.
by Larry Barber
News media will not use the word proto-fascist to describe the current Republican Party but the label fits like a fist in a glove. Did any of us imagine in our lifetimes we would see bold and successful efforts to deny voting rights to people in the United States? Did we anticipate actions to subvert the legitimacy of the entire U.S. election system? Did we envision hundreds of members of Congress categorically refusing to participate in our democracy?
And yet… January 6, 2021. Trump’s Big Lie convinced a large majority of Republicans that President Biden stole the election from The Former Guy. Voter suppression laws of variety and cunning are already in place, with more coming. Republican state legislatures are planning to delegitimize any election that doesn’t give them the win. In Florida, Republicans now require a survey of political views of students and faculty in state colleges and universities. One-quarter of Republicans are reported to believe “the government, media, and financial institutions are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation.” And Trump himself said it: Republicans cannot win a fair election.
They are willing to destroy our democracy in order to take power. In Spanish we call them Fachos. In English it’s Fascist.
The life of our republic is at stake and we have only a few tools with which to defend it. When the Senate returns on July 20th, we must continue to put pressure on passage of some form of the For the People Act. We must let them know we still care deeply about this issue and expect action. Call them! And if you are in the United States, consider joining the “March On for Voting Rights” set for August 28th.
Historically the party in power loses seats in Congress in mid-term elections. Our margins in both chambers are equally thin and we cannot afford to lose that small edge. Votes from overseas voters were the margin of victory in many tight races in 2020, including in Georgia; they can be again in 2022. United States democracy depends on our efforts to fairly elect men and women who represent our ideals and desires for a better country. The most successful rebuke of the current Republican Party will be for us to double down on our efforts to Get Out the Vote, and increase voter turnout to elect those men and women. We hope you will join our effort to do so by joining Democrats Abroad to continue this good work and protect our country from afar.
Time to make a plan! Do not delay!
Hundreds of U.S. Citizens in San Miguel should be receiving their ballots for the general election in their email in-boxes. If you haven’t yet requested your ballot, please go to https://www.votefromabroad.org to do so.
Every Sunday, Democrats Abroad volunteers are available for personalized help on Zoom. CLICK HERE for more information.
VERIFY! VERIFY! VERIFY! Contact your local election official today to be sure they have processed your FPCA form and are planning to email you your ballot. Look up the contact info. at this website: https://www.votefromabroad.org/states
Voters need to have a plan this year to return their ballots.
When you receive your ballot by email, you will need to download it, print it, vote it and follow the instructions carefully to return it. For all states, you will need to have a plan to print your ballot. If you do not have a printer, reach out to your friends and/or neighbors to see if they can print your ballot for you or use a nearby papelaria where they can print it for you from your device or a flash drive.
States that require ballots to be mailed - most urgent:
As of Aug. 29th, these states require ballots to be returned by postal mail:AR, CT, GA, ID, IL*, KY, MD, MI, MN, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, and WI.
It is now time to send your ballot back by private courier! DA Mexico has a special 30% coupon to use with DHL. Please email [email protected] to get your coupon certificate.
* Please check your instructions and local election official to see if you can return by fax or electronically!
States that allow electronic submission of ballots:
All voters that can return their ballot electronically should do so. These states have electronic options: AL, AZ, CO, DE, DC, HI, IA, IN, KS, ME, MA, MO, MS, MT, NE (requires permission from local election official), NV, NJ (also send by mail), NM, NC, ND, OR (with special forms) RI, SC, UT, WA, WV, and WY.Please reach out to [email protected] for support and further explanation.
States that allow faxing of ballots:
The above states and the following allow ballot return by fax: AK (if requested ballot to be emailed), CA, FL, LA, NM, and OK. We have partnered with Smart Space Hub, Salida a Celaya #34. All faxing and scanning of your ballot will be underwritten by SmartSpace. If this is an option for your state, you are strongly advised to utilize it. There is also a website, https://faxzero.com where you can fax these documents for free, or for a small fee on larger ballots.
Our headquarters at Ancha de San Antonio #19 is now only open by appointment for ballot assistance. We will be available on October 14th & 15th by appointment. Please email [email protected]. We have a printer available, and Federal Post Card Application forms for states that require they be mailed. All safety protocols are followed.
Voters should act with the utmost urgency when they receive their ballots. Do not delay. If you do not receive your ballot contact your local election official and be prepared to utilize the Federal Emergency Write-in Ballot, contact [email protected] for assistance. Be alert to news features from our local sites, Civil List, SMA FAQ, Discover SMA and Facebook for other options.
Please, please reach out to us if you need any assistance! We are here to help you!
On February 10, 2020, the Executive Committee of Democrats Abroad San Miguel de Allende approved a motion to adopt a set of significant reforms to its bylaws. This was done in order to conform to the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (“DPCA”) and the Bylaws of Democrats Abroad Mexico (“DAMX”), and to innovate in a manner that will make us a more effective and efficient organization in furthering Democratic goals and getting Democrats elected. Consequently, the Bylaws are now submitted to the general membership of San Miguel de Allende for final approval at the Annual General Meeting to be held on March 13, 2020.
You can see the proposed set of new Bylaws HERE.
We invite you to study the Bylaws and let us know if you have any questions, and either vote at our annual meeting on March 13th or vote electronically (due by March 12,2020) by completing and submitting the ballot linked HERE.
What’s new? What’s different?
There are some boring technical minutiae, but there are also some large structural and operational changes. Notable changes include:
Article 3 goes into great detail on the protection of membership data that had not been previously addressed.
Greater articulation of the duties and responsibilities of the Officers and Members-at-Large, and articulation of the duties of the Standing Committees.
Articulation of Chapter responsibilities.
Extensive language on the nominations and elections of officers from procedures established by the DPCA.
Please also find for your consideration, the candidates proposed to fill the respective vacancies left in the Executive Committee for the term 2019 - 2020.
Gary Belkin, Treasurer, replacing Barbara Erickson, who resigned the position.
Barbara Erickson, Member-at-Large, Barbara Erickson assumed the position of Chair of the Get Out the Vote (“GOTV”) committee upon resignation of Nancy Young.
Rebecca Langrall, Member-at-Large, assumed the position upon the resignation of Mike Lambert.
At our Annual General Meeting on March 13th we will hold a vote to ratify the Bylaws and the Executive Committee appointments below. All candidates’ nominations have been approved by the Executive Committee, and the nominees are currently serving in an acting capacity on the board. If approved, the candidates will assume their new charges immediately and the Bylaws will take effect immediately also.
You may find details for attending our Annual Meeting HERE, and help us spread the word among other interested attendees. However, only US citizens who are registered at democratsabroad.org/join can vote.
We look forward to seeing you!
by Gunnar Erickson
The US Presidential Election takes place on November 3, 2020. Without question and regardless of where you stand on the political divide, it is the most important presidential election since Lincoln ran against McClellan in 1862. Here is the timeline.
Donald Trump has no serious challenger on the Republican side so he will be renominated and the Republican Convention in Charlotte NC on Aug 24 -27 will be an artfully scripted P.R. event. The Republican presidential primaries will be a steady, heavily promoted triumphant march to the convention.
The Democrats meanwhile are in total flux. They chose to have an open and inclusive nomination contest that has lead to a circus of debates with no candidate emerging so far as a consensus candidate. The next Democratic Presidential debate is on January 14. There will be others on Feb 7, on February 19 (before the Nevada vote on Feb 19), and on February 25 (before South Carolina vote on Feb 29). The debates will provide the candidates more exposure albeit in a cramped format and the media will report the losers and winners.
But the only thing that counts is selecting voting delegates to the Democratic National Convention on July 13-16 in Milwaukee, and that begins with the Iowa Caucuses on Feb 3. The Iowa caucuses are not an open vote of all the Democrats in Iowa. Instead, it is a count of the people who show up at their local designated spot and vote for their preferred candidate. Generally that is a very motivated activist subset of the Iowa Democrats who may or may not represent the general constituency. Historically a lower percentage of Iowa Democratic voters attend the caucuses than Democrats who vote in other state primaries, but much depends on how hotly contested the contest is. But because Iowa is the first actual vote, it gets a lot of press attention (which is why the Iowa Democrats fight to vote first). In 2008 the winner was Barack Obama with 37.6% followed by John Edwards at 29.7 and Hillary Clinton at 29.4. In 2012 the winner was Bernie Sanders with 49.84%, followed by Hillary Clinton at 49.59%.
The next real vote for delegates takes place in New Hampshire on Feb 11. It is an actual election. People go to the polls and cast ballots. Of the approximately 3979 delegates at the Democratic National Convention, Iowa includes 41 and New Hampshire 24. But the results of Iowa and New Hampshire historically have created the momentum for Democratic presidential candidates.
In 2020, the Democrats have turned Super Tuesday - which takes place on March 3 - into a truly super and important event. California, which has 416 delegates, has moved its primary from after-the-fact June to Super Tuesday. In addition to California, voters from Alabama (52 delegates), Arizona (67), Colorado (67), Minnesota (75), Massachusetts (91), North Carolina (110), Oklahoma (37), Tennessee (64), Texas (228), Utah (29), Vermont (16), and Virginia (99) will go to the polls. In all, 34% of the Democratic Presidential delegates will be selected.
March 5th through 7th Democrats Abroad will be holding a worldwide presidential primary. Democrats Abroad awards 21 delegates to the convention, holding 17 votes, of which 13 are pledged delegates allocated on the basis of the results of the process. The San Miguel Democrats Abroad chapter will be running that primary here with voting on March 3 and since Mexico has one of the largest group of Democrat voters in Democrats Abroad and since San Miguel has the largest number of members of Democrats Abroad in the county, those votes will matter.
By the close of Super Tuesday, about 40% of the total votes for the national convention will have been decided. Other states will have their primaries on a regular basis ending with Washington DC in June. The biggest of those are March 10 with Idaho (25 delegates), Minnesota (91), Mississippi (41), Missouri (78), Washington (107) and North Dakota (18); March 17 with Arizona (78), Florida (219), Illinois (184), and Ohio (153); and March 24 with Georgia (120).
The US Constitution does not specify the procedure for selection of a party's presidential candidates so it is largely up to the parties of each state. The Democrats generally use proportional allocation so candidates who receive a minimum percentage of votes, often 15%, divide the pledged delegates in proportion to the percentage of votes they received. Under a winner-take-all system, sometimes used by Republicans, it is more likely that one candidate can build an overwhelming majority of delegates with primary wins in some big states like California. Under the Democratic model, it is much more likely that no candidate will have a majority and the delegates will be split.
If no candidate has an absolute majority of delegates by the time the convention starts on July 13, things will get interesting. In prior years, the Democrats had a large number of super delegates, which meant that elected members of Congress and other members of the Democratic establishment received votes at the convention outside of the primary system. The idea apparently was to tamper down the risk of wild card candidate sweeping the primaries. That has been changed. Under the current rules, there are 771 super delegates in addition to the 3979 elected delegates. The super delegates cannot participate in first-ballot voting unless one candidate has cinched it. In that case, they can jump in and make the vote overwhelming. If there is no majority winner after the first ballot, the convention is "contested" and delegates are released to vote for whomever they want.
So the Democrats might- or might not- go into the convention with no candidate having a clear majority. Assuming there is no early deal where a candidate withdraws and directs her or his delegates to vote for someone else to create a majority candidate, the procedure will be for there to be a first round of voting with all the pledged delegates voting in accordance with their states' primary results. If there is no outright winner, all bets are off. Just because a state delegate was elected based on a particular candidate's vote, delegates are not forever bound to support that candidate. If there is no outright winner after the first ballot, the convention is "contested" and delegates are released to vote for whoever they want. Some speculate that the late entries of Deval Patrick and Michael Bloomberg as candidates reflect their belief that there will be a contested convention where either could emerge as the compromise nominee.
This is the scenario that TV pundits dream of. Backroom deals, rumors and intrigue come into play under the spotlight. Amidst whatever wheeling and dealing occurs, the Democrats will continue the voting until eventually a consensus candidate emerges with a majority of the delegate votes.
The last presidential convention that began with a serious question about who would get the nomination was the 1976 Republican convention that pitted Gerald Ford against Ronald Reagan. The last multi-ballot Democratic Convention was in 1952 where Adlai Stevenson won on the third ballot.
It should be an interesting year.
By Barbara Erickson
In the wake of 2 mass shootings in less than 24 hours resulting in the death of at least 31 individuals, many Americans are demanding Majority Leader McConnell recall the Senate for a special session to consider House-passed legislation to require universal background checks. How can you find a voice in this conversation and convert your personal outrage to action? There are concrete steps to take that will make a difference, even though you are in San Miguel.
First step, what works? I reached out to Julia Pomeroy, long time Chief of Staff for Oregon Congressperson Earl Blumenauer, to find out what I could do that might actually have an impact in Washington. According to Julia, making contact directly with your Member of Congress (MOC) is an effective tool. She relates: “we do track all individual phone calls and emails and give detailed reports to Earl on what people are calling/writing about so that he and the staff can be super responsive to constituents. What we don’t track are online petitions – we get them in the office and since they are random names without addresses or emails, we throw them out.”
That leads to the next question – how do I identify my MOC? The following sites find them for you and even provide scripts for you to use in case you want them. Alert – the following two sites promote liberal messages: https://5calls.org/issue/expand-background-checks-gun-purchases and https://www.callmycongress.com/ Here is one to send a free fax with no agenda: https://faxzero.com/fax_congress.php
If you want to contact your MOC by email it is simple to google their name to find their congressional site and there you will find a “CONTACT” button to click and write what you want to say. It is important to note that you need to identify yourself as a constituent on all of these platforms to be taken seriously and that you write or call with respect. I personally ask that they respond to my emails as I get satisfaction in knowing they have read my comments.
Does it make a difference? Emily Ellsworth, a former congressional staffer offers this: "The adage, 'If you're not at the table, you're on the menu' applies to getting in contact with your lawmakers," says Ellsworth. She believes the reason that most people don't contact their representatives is because they think either that their voice doesn't matter or that their representative already knows how constituents feel about an issue. "Neither of these are true," she says. She adds "Calling your representatives means their staff needs to give an answer right away."
What else works? Donate to effective gun control advocacy organizations such as the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence: https://www.csgv.org. Ask your friend group to contact their members of congress too, spread the effectiveness. Vote. You can register now at https://vr.votefromabroad.org/ a nonpartisan site.
There are 3 million eligible US voters living overseas, according to the Federal Voting Assistance Program. Recent testimony by Special Counsel Robert Mueller has highlighted the security situation of the US election system. The San Miguel Chapter of Democrats Abroad is sponsoring a talk on August 12th at the Teatro Santa Ana by Ben Ptashnik, co-founder and Director of the National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC). He will speak about the work his coalition has done to safeguard the 2020 elections and what his organization is doing to organize legislative actions in Congress and in the states.
During the opening remarks of Robert Mueller’s testimony before Congress, he stated “Over the course of my career, I’ve seen a number of challenges to our democracy. The Russian government’s effort to interfere in our election is among the most serious...this deserves the attention of every American.” The NEDC is dedicated to reforming US elections by replacing all insecure electronic voting machines with paper ballots before the 2020 elections, promoting paper ballots and audits to protect the integrity of U.S. elections in 2020 and beyond. NEDC is working to build an effective bipartisan movement to secure election reform that ensures integrity, transparency and protects the voting rights of all US Citizens.
Throughout the history of Democrats Abroad, the organization has worked to gain passage of legislation to ensure the rights of overseas voters including The Overseas Citizens Voting Rights Act of 1975, and more recently to remove obstacles to overseas voting. Democrats Abroad also works on major non-partisan voter registration drives. “The right to vote is useless if our votes are not properly counted or lost, stolen, hacked or manipulated,” according to Ptashnik. Despite increased focus on security, American elections are a soft target. Leading computer security experts have studied a range of electronic voting infrastructure, including touch screen machines, optical scanners, and registration database systems and found serious vulnerabilities that threaten election integrity.
Ptashnik, a former Democratic Vermont State Senator, has been a social justice activist, environmentalist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist for five decades. He currently lives with his partner Victoria at the Tikkun Eco Center just north of San Miguel. As a Senator, Ptashnik spearheaded and passed his state’s key campaign financing reforms, led in the fight to pass Vermont’s landmark Civil Union Act for LGBT couples, and helped make the State of Vermont an environmental leader in the US. His current project, NEDC, leads a coalition of 15 diversified NGOs and hundreds of computer scientists and cyber experts ranging from far left to far right dedicated to preserving the security of US democratic elections. For more information see www.electiondefense.org and www.USBASE.net.
Democrats Abroad SMA again invites members of the community to come together to watch the second televised Democratic debate at the San Miguel Playhouse, to be held over 2 nights on July 30th and 31st. “We had such a great time at the Playhouse in June. And are thrilled to be able to come together again to provide an evening where the audience feels as though they are really at the debate.” according to Hope Bradberry, Democrats Abroad Chapter Chair.
The second scheduled debate will be hosted by CNN in Detroit and qualifications for the debate are the same as the first. Polling: A candidate could qualify by hitting just 1 percent in three separate polls released between January and a cutoff point before the second debate. Grassroots fundraising: Separately, a candidate could also qualify by raising money from at least 65,000 unique donors. And to ensure at least some geographic spread of support, they’d have to have at least 200 donors each in 20 states. What will be different in July is which candidates will match up onstage.
Admission to the event is free. There will be a cash bar available and snacks for purchase. We do kindly request that people please RSVP HERE!
Democrats Abroad members and friends gathered on July 26th & 27th at the San Miguel Playhouse to watch the first democratic debate. It was a great get together and we got feedback on the issues from some members of the audience, that we would like to share with you.
BEFORE the Debate:
Top 2 issues to our audience: Climate Change & Health Care (SS & Medicare), followed closely by Immigration and Income Inequality.
Top 3 characteristics necessary to win the nominations: (lots of answers here):
Wednesday night: Energy, charisma - likability, ability to think on your feet, positive, unwavering presence, middle of the road, middle age, restoration of justice, not being extreme, integrity – honesty, integration with the whole country, clear thinking - articulate -lucid speaking, ability to connect with people, good at raising money, have good plans to move forward – direction, strength, win-ability, strong listener, consensus builder, fresh face!
Thursday night: Level headed, charismatic, knowledgeable / intelligent, connects with the young, direct challenge to Trump, clear policies, emotional intelligence, not being provoked by Trump, liberal agenda, integrity, star power, brings in the black vote, calm, rational, is nice, relates to all Americans, passion & courage, record of commitment to causes.
AFTER the Debate:
Most surprising thing you heard?
“All important issues were discussed, liking how strong so many candidates are.”
“Wasn’t surprised.” “How vigorous the debate was.” “Yes, many were strong!” “Yes, saw them all in a different light.”
Please know that your local Democrats Abroad leadership is committed to remaining neutral through this primary. We are all excited about the quality of candidates and level of debate!
We want to thank the following people who helped make this event such a success: Jim & Judy Newell, the Playhouse board, master technician, Gerardo Charreton, photographers, Gary Belkin and Ali Zerriffi, GOTV Chair, Nancy Young, and her husband, Craig, social media guru, Ale Gomez, and a huge thank you to all our volunteers and committee members. We can never thank you enough!
And finally, we will again be gathering at the Playhouse for the next round of debates on July 30th & 31st! See you there! RSVP Here!
Welcome to Democrats Abroad San Miguel de Allende!
We want our members to know, that we are here in support of our membership and mission, to help U.S. citizens living abroad stay informed and exercise their right to vote and will continue to do so in future U.S. elections. We also offer fun, social events, as well as opportunities to participate as a volunteer each year. Check out our events page HERE! We are currently not holding in person events due to Covid-19. San Miguel is lucky to have a vibrant, diverse community of active U.S. citizens.
If we can help in any way, please reach out to us!
¡Bienvenido a el San Miguel de Allende Chapter de Democrats Abroad México!
Queremos que nuestros miembros sepan que estamos aquí para ayudar al grupo y su misión - apoyar a ciudadanos americanos en el extranjero a mantenerse informados para que puedan ejercer su derecho al voto. Seguiremos haciendo esto en todas futuras elecciones estadounidenses. También ofrecemos divertidos eventos sociales así como oportunidades para participar como voluntario cada año. Dale clic a la página de eventos AQUÍ! San Miguel tiene la fortuna de contar con una comunidad vibrante y diversa de dichos ciudadanos americanos.
Si en algo podemos apoyarte, ¡no dudes en contactarnos!
Chair, San Miguel de Allende
Contact me here!