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Tiny Action: Can We Save Net Neutrality?

Just yesterday, Senate Democrats successfully blocked the GOP rollback on net neutrality rules, thanks to all 49 Dem Senators, and Republican Senators Collins (ME), Kennedy (LA) and Murkowski (AK). While this is a BIG win, it’s just one step. Now we take this fight to the House.

This week’s Tiny Action: Call and email your representative to demand that they use the Congressional Review Act to save net neutrality.

My name is [NAME] and I vote in [ZIP CODE/STATE].

I’m calling to ask Congress(wo)man [NAME] to use the Congressional Review Act to save net neutrality, and to support House Joint Resolution 129 to nullify the "Restoring Internet Freedom" rule submitted by the FCC.

Like 4 in 5 Americans and the majority of the Senate, I know that this rule will do the exact opposite of “restoring internet freedom.” Rolling back net neutrality favors major corporations' interests over the will of the people, and our free speech rights.

If the president were to veto the resolution, I realize it’s unlikely that the current Congress will override this veto. That’s why I’ll be voting this fall for those who are willing to stand up to Trump. I’ll be voting for those who will use their power to push legislation that protects an open internet that works in the interests of the people, and not corporations.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your support on this important issue.

[INCLUDE BOTH NAME AND VOTING ADDRESS IF SENDING EMAIL]

What Is Net Neutrality?

Net neutrality prevents internet service providers (such as Comcast or AT&T) from controlling what reaches consumers at what speed. It also:

  • Prevents the richest organizations and corporations from controlling the internet.
  • Stops wealthy, extreme lobbying groups. from blocking access to accurate information they don’t like.
  • Ensures small businesses, low-income individuals and much of rural America have access to more affordable, reasonably fast internet.

 

Why It Matters

We need the open internet to foster job growth, competition, innovation and to protect our rights. It means activists can turn out thousands of people in the streets at a moment’s notice. And small business owners, startups and entrepreneurs can launch businesses, create markets, advertise, and reach customers. Without net neutrality, the internet would be changed from a free space to one controlled entirely by corporate interests.

In December, the FCC repealed net neutrality rules, despite major opposition from the public, scathing dissent from both Democrats on the FCC, and even activism from internet giants. Immediately afterward, Democratic legislators vowed to fight the repeal. We just got one step closer to winning that fight.

 

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Tiny Action: Protect Our Voting Rights

With the midterm primary season now in full-swing, we hope to see more people requesting their ballots, contacting their state officials, and talking to other Americans about voting from abroad (you have, right?).

Unfortunately, we’ll also continue to see states working to make it harder for Americans abroad to vote, in addition to misinformation about voting from abroad continuing to spread. Although this is almost always accidental, that doesn’t mean we can ignore it.

This week’s Tiny Action: Be ready to fact check the truth about voting abroad. Know your rights and help us spread the word.

Our voting experts see comments every day along the lines of: votes won’t be counted; voting from abroad in a federal election will lead to tax consequences by default; and even that submitting a ballot or ballot request incorrectly is a crime — none of which are true, according to U.S. federal law.

Unfortunately rumors spread faster than facts, and often just hearing reasons not to vote will deter millions of voters abroad from voting this year, regardless of whether these reasons are valid.

Help protect our rights and spread the word this week — and through election season:

1. Post the facts on social media.

Everyone deserves a vote. Stand up against voter suppression so we can all #VotefromAbroad.

FACT: Federal elections include midterms. If you can #votefromabroad for president, you can do the same in the midterms.

FACT: Every vote is counted in every election. Even those that #votefromabroad.

FACT: Each vote counts. Those of us who #VoteFromAbroad have swung elections before, and we’ll do it again.

Or create a similar message of your own.

2. Stay informed

3. Use your voice

Also...

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Tiny Action: Help Americans from your State Vote Abroad

If you haven’t requested your 2018 overseas absentee ballot and confirmed with your Local Election Office, now is the time! 16 states have big deadlines, PRIMARIES, and/or special elections in the next two weeks, including North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia. Now’s the time for your voice to be heard.

Even if you’ve already requested your ballot, we need your help, too.

Even if you're a registered voter, your state is only required to send a ballot if you request it that calendar year, and sending in the form protects your ballot from challenge at the federal level in case of a recount. Don’t be disenfranchised; every vote matters, now more than ever!

This week’s Tiny Action: Help us confirm that voters in your state can easily vote from abroad and double check that your overseas absentee ballots are on the way if you haven’t already done so.

  1. Help us ensure that voters of your state can easily vote from abroad. Using our Local Election Office finder, find your State Election Website under State Lookup Tools.

  2. Complete this survey - just 6 questions about whether overseas voters can find the answers they need within five minutes on your state’s election website. We’ll use this information to provide recommendations to states and fine-tune our strategy to help voters in all 50 states vote.

  3. Finally, if you haven’t yet requested or confirmed that your ballots will arrive:

    Click “start here” on Vote From Abroad, follow the prompts to complete your overseas absentee ballot request and mail it in as instructed (by post or electronically).

    Then, find your Local Election Office here and contact your LEO to verify they received the form and will be sending out your 2018 ballots. Most states provide online ballot request status via their election website, but in EVERY state, your election official will respond to requests by email or telephone about the status of your overseas absentee ballot request (“FPCA”)

WHY IT MATTERS

At BEST, only 4% of Americans overseas vote. But for most of them, this is just because they don’t know they can, or they don’t know how. If we can ensure that answers are easy to find, this WILL change election results.

While Democrats Abroad is doing everything we can to activate members like you, there are millions of Americans overseas who visit their state websites looking for answers. We want to be sure those answers are findable and accurate.

Federal elections, including those in 2018, mean more than just President. It also means Senator and Representative. This year we have the chance to vote for ⅓ of the Senate and EVERY member of the House, and we need your help to power the wave!

Why do we suggest completing an overseas absentee ballot request?

Sent in the calendar year of an election, the overseas absentee ballot request ensures you receive a ballot for every election in that calendar year, including primaries, special elections and runoff elections. It also protects your ballot at the federal level in case of a recount.

With this form, you can request your ballot be sent via email, fax or online instead of by post; your state is required to send your ballot at least 45 days before the election; you are also given the option to submit a ‘backup’ ballot if your ballot does not arrive in time to send it in by the deadline. Many states also allow overseas voters additional time to submit their ballots and/or to submit ballots electronically.

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Tiny Action: Protect American Families

Just days before Congress hammered Mark Zuckerberg over data privacy, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security submitted a rule that would require all visa applicants to the U.S. to release their social media identities for the previous five years when applying for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa.

This is part of this administration’s continued, unnecessary closed-border policies that directly impact Americans abroad and our families.

This week’s Tiny Action: Protect American families impacted by harmful immigration policies.


1. Submit a comment in opposition to these new plans mentioned above, by emailing PRA_BurdenComments@state.gov.

My name is [NAME]. I am an American living in [CITY, COUNTRY] and I vote in [STATE].

I am submitting my comments for Docket Number DOS-2018-0003.
        - Title of Information Collection: Electronic Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration.
        - 
Form Number: DS-260
        - OMB Control Number: 1405-0185.

I strongly oppose the collection of social media data from visa applicants and the additional questions proposed to the visa application process. It is intrusive, unnecessary and an ineffective use of resources, and likely opens the door to racial profiling of visitors and immigrants.

This clearly goes beyond what is relevant or necessary to protect national security, and in some instances even go further into individual histories than security clearance forms for government employees.

The questions proposed are overly broad and burdensome and do not include any standards or guidance regarding who will be asked these questions, thereby increasing the likelihood of inconsistent and ineffective determinations as well as bias and profiling in visa adjudication.

The proposal offers no specificity with respect to social media, creating substantial concerns regarding the meaning or purpose of the question; the substantial impact of the question on privacy and freedom of speech and expression of U.S. citizens and residents; and the use, storage, and retention of the information collected about visa applicants, U.S. citizens, and U.S. residents.

Finally, the department’s own materials estimate that this would add an additional 1.8 million annual hours of work, which is an inappropriate use of resources and adds to the already extensive wait time for visa applicants.

As an American living overseas, I understand the importance of proper vetting and a stringent visa application process. But I also understand what the impact of this proposal would be. The 14.7 million people who would be affected include thousands if not millions of multinational American families. The ability for our families to visit loved ones in the U.S., and to return to the U.S. with us, should not be held hostage by arbitrary searches.

Please do not add to our already extensive, exhausting visa application process.

Sincerely,

2. Tell Senate to vote for the Leahy-Daines bill, to place restrictions on searches and seizures of electronic devices at the border (S.2462).

My name is [NAME]. I am an American living in [CITY, COUNTRY] and I vote in [ZIP, STATE].

I’m calling to ask Senator [NAME] to support the Leahy-Daines bill, to place restrictions on searches and seizures of electronic devices at the border (S.2462).

The recent news that the Department of Homeland Security may ask visa applicants to hand over their social media accounts as one of multiple additional steps in Trump’s “extreme vetting” is unacceptable. The border is not a Constitution-free zone.

As an American living overseas, I understand the importance of proper vetting and a stringent visa application process. But I also understand what the impact of this proposal would be. The 14.7 million people who would be affected include thousands if not millions of multinational American families. The ability for our families to visit loved ones in the U.S., and to return to the U.S. with us, should not be held hostage by arbitrary searches.

Thank you very much.

3. Tell your Rep and Senators to vote for the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018 (H.R. 5233; S. 2522).

My name is [NAME]. I am an American living in [CITY, COUNTRY] and I vote in [ZIP, STATE]. I’m calling to ask Senator/Congress(wo)man [NAME] to support the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2018 (H.R. 5233; S. 2522), to provide citizenship for adoptees to American parents.

International adoptees who were adopted by American parents and raised as Americans should have the same rights of citizenship as biological children. For the 35,000-75,000 international adoptees living in the United States without citizenship, as well as the thousands more living with American parents overseas, this must be corrected.

Thank you.

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Tiny Action: Power the Blue Wave

A lot of people ask us if they can vote this year, and if voting in 2018 is worth it.

Yes. And Yes.

Midterm elections are federal elections, which means that anyone who can vote in a presidential election year can also vote for Senate and House races in the midterms.

And WOW is this year’s election important. If Democrats take back Congress - and we can - we will change Washington. Which is why our single most important task this year is getting all Democrats abroad to vote. This is not a task for October. This is an action for NOW.

This week's Tiny Action: Sign up to be a phone bank volunteer, and start making those calls! 

88% of members we called in 2016 submitted a ballot, but less than 2 in 10 of you signed up to phonebank when we asked in February. So we’re asking again.

Phone banking is easy, flexible, free (with an internet connection and laptop) and rewarding. Phone bankers in the U.S. are shocked to hear how often our members THANK us for calling them about voting!

New to phone banking?

  1. Log in to democratsabroad.org and sign up to help with phone banking.
  2. Review important info for first-time phone bankers
  3. You will receive an email from CallHub - the system we use to call Americans abroad - to activate your account.
  4. Log in to CallHub and get started!


Returning phone banker?

  1. Review the refresher materials and info on current campaigns here: https://www.democratsabroad.org/phonebanking
  2. Go to https://callhub.io to enter your username and password.
    - Your username is probably country code and name. Ex: CA-Heidi-Burch
    - Forgot your password? Click Forgot to receive CallHub instructions to set up a new one.
  3. Start making those calls!

Overseas votes HAVE decided close elections in the past, and we’ll do it again - but not without your help.


MORE INFO

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Tiny Action: Demand A Tax Remedy

MANY flaws exist in the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act. We know it, voters in the US know it, and even Republican leaders (deep down) know it.

But one thing that few people know is the catastrophic damage the new rules will have on the many Americans overseas who own their own business. If followed through, these policies could literally bankrupt countless small companies owned (or partly owned) by Americans abroad.

This week’s #TinyAction: Demand Americans abroad be exempt from Repatriation & GILTI Taxes.

*If you are a small business owner overseas, please use this more detailed script provided by our Taxation Task Force.
*Does this action look familiar? Good job! You’re also signed up to receive emails from our Taxation Task Force. In this case, the issue was important enough to raise twice.

This is an urgent issue that we can’t wait for Congress to fix, so we’ve drafted language for you to use in an email to the Treasury/IRS and relevant Congressional Committees.

To: David.kautter@treasury.gov, Lafayettechip.harter@treasury.gov, William.m.paul@irscounsel.treas.gov, Arlene.preston@irscounsel.treas.gov, Leni.c.perkins@irscounsel.treas.gov, Barbara.angus@mail.house.gov, Aaron.junge@mail.house.gov, Kara.getz@mail.house.gov, Mark_Prater@finance.senate.gov, Tiffany_smith@finance.senate.gov

Cc: RepatRemedy@democratsabroad.org

Subject: Repatriation/GILTI Tax Relief for Americans business owners abroad

Dear Mr. Kautter, Mr. Harter, Mr. Paul, Ms Preston, Ms. Perkins, Ms. Angus, Mr. Junge, Ms. Getz, Mr. Prater and Ms. Smith,

My name is [NAME]. I’m an American who votes in [STATE], currently living in [COUNTRY]. I’m writing today to ask that you address two components of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act that will have disastrous impact on Americans overseas like me.

The Repatriation Tax and the GILTI Tax were created with giants like Google and Apple in mind. But they offer no exemption for the millions of Americans overseas who own small businesses, who will be drastically (and unintentionally) hurt by this policy flaw.

The great majority of us are just like our fellow Americans at home. We are law-abiding, tax-paying citizens, working to support ourselves and our families. We are not the 1%. I understand these taxes were designed for large, aggressively tax-structured multinational corporations, but the rest of us are swept up in these policies, and in fact treat us much worse.

1. These companies are entitled to tax credits and deductions that Americans living overseas are not privy to. So while corporations can minimize or avoid these taxes, we cannot.

2. We are now obligated to deal with exceedingly complex tax and filing requirements that came without warning, designed for multinational corporations, which are now virtually incomprehensible because of incomplete IRS guidance.

There is an easy solution for this. Americans overseas with interests in foreign corporations should be exempt from the Repatriation Tax and from the GILTI regime so long as we meet the conditions required for exemption under IRC Section 911, and we are individual U.S. Shareholders.

This will capture the corporate tax that has long been denied (as intended) while recognizing that the profits our businesses generate were always meant to remain in the place where we have made our lives -- in our cases, this happens to be overseas.

But Congress will struggle to enact a remedy as soon as we require. So I urge the Treasury and IRS to take the following actions:

1. Issue an immediate notice stating that for Americans abroad, the first payment under IRC Section 965 is due the earlier of October 15, 2018, or the issuance of further guidance.

2. Issue a further notice in line with this proposal.

Thank you for your attention and I sincerely hope that the Treasury/IRS can address this matter until such time as Congress acts.

Sincerely,

[NAME]

 

WHY IT MATTERS

In addition to continuing to fail to address the needs of individual citizens abroad, the new system under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has two troubling components in particular.

Repatriation Tax: Overseas profits for American-majority owned corporations will be subjected to a one-time tax on all profits going back to 1986.

This tax was intended to target U.S.-based parent corporations with foreign subsidiaries, which receive a range of offsets and credits for taxes paid in other countries. However, these deductions are not available for overseas Americans, which means that if an overseas business set up as a corporation is owned (or majority owned) by Americans living abroad, they will be forced to declare profits going back 20 years on their 2017 tax filing.

Global Intangible Low-Tax Income (GILTI) Tax: Going forward, foreign businesses owned by Americans will, again, be subjected to U.S. corporate tax on profits, less about 10%, regardless of whether or not profits are repatriated. As with the Repatriation Tax, U.S.-based corporations with foreign businesses are afforded deductions and offsets so significant that in many instances, it will mean they owe zero taxes to the United States.

Once again, these deductions are not available to overseas Americans. Overseas US citizens who own a business in the country they reside in cannot defer income from GILTI, and will be subjected to US corporate tax on profits, even if those profits never leave the country where the corporation is based.

These Americans, who live overseas and majority own corporations, will be taxed twice on the same dollar of income. Here’s an example of how it might work in real life.

Clearly, these are both grievous errors in drafting and must be addressed urgently. Please join our call for action and email the Treasury/IRS and Congressional leadership today.

 

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Tiny Action: Protect Yourself from Voter Roll Purges

Every year, Americans abroad miss the chance to vote. The reason? They didn't realize they were no longer registered.

This week’s #TinyAction: Don’t miss out. Double check that you are registered to vote, and that your overseas absentee ballot request has been confirmed.

After you have requested an overseas absentee ballot, use our Election Official Directory and select your voting state and region to find your Election Official.

Hello:

My name is (NAME) and I vote in (DISTRICT). I currently live in (LOCATION) but I believe I’ve already submitted my overseas absentee ballot request, and I just wanted to check to be sure that I’m properly registered and will receive my ballots throughout the year?

Thank you very much,

Most Election Officials have both phone and email contact options, and they’re very used to responding to questions like yours, which makes it an efficient way to check your voting status quickly and easily.

Then, read up on how your state compares to others:

WHY IT MATTERS

Republican-controlled state governments are actively working to make it harder for Americans to vote. Flawed methods like too-simple name and birthdate matches that misidentify millions as dead or having moved result in voter roll purges.

Just this year, 28 bills restricting access have been introduced in 14 states, including California, and in Wisconsin, 308,000 voters have had their registrations deactivated in this year alone, with thousands thought to have been removed in error.  

Elsewhere, Ohio’s “Use it or Lose it” voter roll purge has made its way to the Supreme Court, Indiana is also in court with the ACLU, as one of 30 states using the flawed method mentioned above that has up to a a 99% error rate.

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Tiny Action: March For Our Lives wherever you are

This weekend, as students and families join March For Our Lives events across the United States, we will rally around the world in support. As Americans abroad, we offer a unique perspective: Not only do we believe that it doesn’t have to be this way, but we know it to be true, because millions of us live in countries where people live without fear of a mass shooting.

We hope you will join us as we rise and organize this Saturday in marches around the world. And then help us vote out the politicians who are holding America back from common sense gun laws.

This week’s Tiny Action: Join our Virtual March For Our Lives, and join a local event if there’s one in your area.

Democrats_Abroad_March_For_Our_Lives.JPG

1. Print out this PDF or make a sign of your own

2. Take a picture of you and your sign

3. Send your picture to Comms@DemocratsAbroad.org

4. Post your pic on social media with hashtags #DAResists and #VirtualMarchForOurLives.**

5. Check here for an event near you and make plans to attend

**Don’t forget to make your posts public so we can find them. Here’s how to do this on Facebook without impacting other privacy settings.
**These hashtags will make it easier for us to find your posts, but you can also use the hashtags #MarchForOurLives and #VoteFromAbroad.

 

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Tiny Action: Help Friends & Family Vote - Volunteer to Register Voters

From the students leading National Walkout Day, to a major special election victory in Pennsylvania’s 18th, the past few days have been truly inspiring. Americans continue to stand up, speak out, and show up where it matters — especially at the ballot box. We all know how important this year’s midterms are, which is why the biggest way you can make an impact is by helping Americans abroad register to vote.

This week’s Tiny Action: Become a voter registration volunteer.

Before getting started, you should have already requested your own ballot for 2018!

  1. Sign up to be a voter registration volunteer via your Dems Abroad account.
  2. Visit our voting news blog and read the New Volunteer Training guide to learn about the voter registration process.
  3. Contact your local Dems Abroad committee to volunteer for upcoming voter registration events. Their details can be found under “Countries” in the main menu above.

While Democrats Abroad is proudly blue, voter registration is 100% non-partisan, as a public service to Americans living around the world. Voter registration volunteers must help all Americans register to vote and request their ballot, regardless of party affiliation. Likewise, VoteFromAbroad.org may be paid for and maintained by Democrats Abroad, but it is a valuable tool because of - not in spite of - the fact that it is nonpartisan.

WHY IT MATTERS

Through targeted efforts, our volunteers reached Pennsylvanians abroad ahead of this week’s elections; we played a critical role in Virginia and Alabama elections last year; and in 2016, we were the margin of victory for candidates like Governor Roy Cooper (NC) and Senator Maggie Hassan (NH). We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again — but we can’t do it without every volunteer we can find.

Robo-calls DON’T work abroad. We need real people. We need civic-minded volunteers like you (who may be new voters or those volunteering with DA for the very first time!) to provide Americans with the information they need to get their ballots and vote.

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Tiny Action: International Women's Day

This year’s International Women’s Day is focused on the theme of #PressForProgress. With global activism for women's equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp, and an unprecedented number of female candidates running for office in the US this year, there is strong momentum for gender parity. But we can’t be complacent.

This week’s Tiny Action: Push for Progress this International Women’s Day

There are myriad ways to actively support gender equality today, so we’ve listed a few. We hope you’ll do some (or all!) of these, and that you’ll spread the word on social media.

  1. Visit IWD’s Press for Progress campaign and commit to how you’ll be fighting for gender parity in your world.
  2. Talk to your kids about gender equality. International Women’s Day has great resources for teachers that are also helpful for parents.
  3. Read up on the importance of diversity within the fight for equality, and why intersectionality isn’t a buzzword - it’s reality.
  4. Learn about the amazing female candidates running for office in the US this year -- and request your ballot if you haven’t already!
  5. Join the Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus to stay engaged with us on this key issue. Like all our caucuses, the GWC is open to all interested members.
  6. Talk. Raise the issue of equality at work, at home, with friends and on social media. Tell people why it matters to you, and why you hope it matters to them, too.
  7. Men: In addition to the points above, you need to be a vocal supporter of equality not just in private but in public as well. Study up on the UN’s #HeforShe campaign. Join MARC (after you’ve joined our women’s caucus). Be an advocate for equality in your personal life and in your place of work.

MORE INFO

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