what we did and what we'll do

Before we get to the specific things you can do to help turn Wisconsin towards a better future, let me just acknowledge the wonderful work Grassroots North Shore volunteers have accomplished since we started this new year and then, in March, ended up "Safer at Home." Before we all retreated to safety from the coronavirus, we held a series of postcard parties at the office and sent more than1000 postcards to potential voters asking them to vote for Jill Karofsky and to request an absentee ballot by filling out the request form at myvote.wi.gov. Judge Karofsky handily won that election, thanks to her strength among those who voted absentee! I like to think our postcard efforts helped with the victory. (She has an op-ed in the New York Times criticizing the decisions from the Wisconsin and US Supreme Courts that in effect ruled that the state had to hold an in-person election on April 7, regardless of the risk to public health. It's definitely worth a read.) And then we followed up by making more than 3200 phone calls into the North Shore and Milwaukee.

Over the past few weeks, we organized a different process for writing postcards so people could participate from home. We created postcard kits for volunteers — cards, instructions, sample scripts, stickers for the front of the cards, names and addresses, and of course stamps. The kits were then delivered to the porches and garages of the volunteers, who wrote and then mailed at least 30 postcards each. In this way we mailed 1200 cards to potential voters in the 7th Congressional District, again recommending that they request an absentee ballot for the special election being held on May 12 and that they vote for Tricia Zunker in that election. (Tricia has been endorsed both by Emily's list and by Senator Elizabeth Warren!) I'm hoping that our efforts pay off in this election too. But win or lose, we can all be proud of the 40 volunteers plus the all the organizers who put the kits together and drove them to volunteers' houses. And proud too of all the people who made thousands of phone calls in the lead-up to the April election.

It's not too early to begin our work for the next two elections in Wisconsin — our fourth and fifth this year, if you can believe it. In case you didn't know, we have a partisan primary on August 11 and of course a general election on November 3. No one knows right now what the Covid-19 pandemic will look like in our communities on either of those dates. So we are continuing to advocate for voting absentee. That means requesting that a ballot be sent to you at an address you specify. The ballot comes with a "certification envelope" for returning it to your municipal clerk. The certification envelope must be signed by the voter, who must also specify her/his voting address, and by a witness who must also record her/his address (but does not need to be a Wisconsin voter or someone who resides in the same district as the person whose ballot certification he/she is witnessing).

Part of our plans include conversations with municipal authorities about how they will be conducting the August and November elections. We'd like Brown Deer, Bayside, Glendale, River Hills, Shorewood and Whitefish Bay to send every voter a request form for an absentee ballot. Glendale's mayor, Bryan Kennedy, wants the requests for mail-in ballots to get to the clerks by July so that there is no last minute rush. A tsunami of requests late in the electoral process was responsible in part for some of the problems experienced throughout the state in the April election and we want to avoid repeating those problems in the next two. Bayside and Whitefish Bay both did this for the April election, with incredible turnout results. The City of Milwaukee has already agreed to this vote-by-mail strategy. So we are hoping that the seven suburban communities in Milwaukee County that Grassroots North Shore includes will follow suit. For our communities in Ozaukee County (which has lately seen significant increases in support for Democratic candidates), we plan to target voters likely to support candidates like Deb Andraca in the 24th Assembly District, Emily Siegrist in the 23rd Assembly District, and Neal Plotkin, in the 8th Senate District.

Once we know what all the municipalities plan, we will begin our postcard campaign with a message tailored to each community. At that point, we are likely to call for additional volunteers. In the meantime, our Politics/Elections/Campaign Committee will devise a method for helping people who have difficulty with a key step — providing a copy of their photoID (not a selfie!) with their request for an absentee ballot. The second obstacle to voting by mail comes with the ballot itself. Each certification envelope has to be witnessed. But that is hard for people who live alone, are quarantined, or are just maintaining sound social distancing policies. So we will need to come up with solutions to help those people too.

For right now (and here comes the request), we would like to support Tricia Zunker by making phone calls into the 7th CD, first requesting that people arrange to vote by mail (that's what we'll be doing this weekend) and then urging people to send their absentee ballots in as soon as possible. We'll be doing the second message over the traditional Get Out the Vote period: May 9, 10, 11, and 12. I hope you'll give us a little of your time. All the information you need to make calls is in the next couple of paragraphs, but as yet I don't have the links available for you to sign up as a volunteer for this action. So please just send me an email — to nancyannkaplan@gmail.com — letting me know when you want to make calls.

There are two methods of participating: through a Dialer that uses your computer to make the calls automatically for you and through the Virtual Phone Bank that provides you with a name and a number to call but with this system you have to use your own phone and dial the number yourself.

The Dialer will be available from 9AM to 8PM. Here is the guide to the Dialer, which includes the link to log in to the dialer to begin making calls. Here is a recording of a Zoom training we did on April 22 that walks through the CD7 Race and how to use the dialer. Access password: 1K!AV859.

The Open VPB is available from 9am to 9pm. You access it here. If you have not used the Open VPB before, you will need to create an Action ID account. The process is quite easy. Just follow the onscreen directions. You can also access a guide to using the Open VPB and a recorded Zoom training the DPW produced. Access password: a9^.^p!6.

Tricia Zunker is more than worthy of our organization's support. She is a Ho-Chunk Supreme Court Justice, a veteran, school board president, a professor, a lawyer, a mom, and the Democratic nominee for the critical WI-07 special election on May 12. The 7th Congressional District is a swing district that Rep. Obey previously held for 42 years. If elected, she would be Wisconsin's first Native American representative, and only the third Native American congresswoman in the nation's history. Flipping this seat is the path to a new presidency by turning Wisconsin blue, and whoever wins it now could play a critical role in determining the presidency. The Wisconsin Jewish Dems is holding a virtual fundraiser for her on Thursday, April 30 (sign up through the events list below). We hope we can count on you to work the phones for her.

And just in case you are wondering how at least one foreign country views what's going on in the US, I want to direct you to an opinion piece published in the Irish Times. Unfortunately, the essay is behind a paywall: on the original site you can read only the first couple of paragraphs. So, in a move that at least stretches the boundaries of copyright law, someone named "Ferri Tales" published the full piece on his own blog. Here's a link to that content. And here's a bit of the piece, just enough to give you some of the flavor:

However bad things are for most other rich democracies, it is hard not to feel sorry for Americans. Most of them did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. Yet they are locked down with a malignant narcissist who, instead of protecting his people from Covid-19, has amplified its lethality. The country Trump promised to make great again has never in its history seemed so pitiful....

It is one thing to be powerless in the face of a natural disaster, quite another to watch vast power being squandered in real time – willfully, malevolently, vindictively. It is one thing for governments to fail (as, in one degree or another, most governments did), quite another to watch a ruler and his supporters actively spread a deadly virus. Trump, his party and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News became vectors of the pestilence.

The events list that follows has a few virtual meetings and some in-person meetings that might actually be canceled or postponed but which are still listed on the calendar for some reason. It would be wise to check if you can before you make plans to attend.

EVENTS

Wed Apr 29, 2020

Refuel the Resistance, 6pm - 8pm
Bounce Milwaukee, 2801 S. 5th Ct., Milwaukee

Bounce is currently open for delivery and carryout. Refuel the Resistance is canceled for now. More information.

Sat May 2, 2020

Stand for Peace, 12pm - 1pm
Suspended

In light of the governor's Stay at Home Order, Peace Action Stands for Peace have been suspended until the order is lifted. Stand for peace in the streets of Milwaukee, every Saturday at noon. Organized by Peace Action Wisconsin.

Mon May 4, 2020

Virtual Drinking Liberally Waukesha, 6:30pm - 6:30pm
Zoom, Online

Drinking Liberally Waukesha may be held virtually with Zoom. Check this link for updates.

Wed May 6, 2020

Info: Refuel the Resistance, 6pm - 8pm
Bounce Milwaukee, 2801 S. 5th Ct., Milwaukee

Bounce is currently open for delivery and carryout. Refuel the Resistance is canceled for now. More information.

Thu May 7, 2020

DPMC Issues Committee Meeting, 4:30pm - 4:30pm
Amalgamated Transit Union, 734 N. 26th St., Milwaukee

The Democratic Party's Issues Committee holds its meeting on the first Thursday of each month. All Democrats are welcome to participate.

Wisconsin Jewish Democrats Support Tricia Zunker, 6pm
Zoom

Join Wisconsin’s Jewish Democrats as we rally around Democrat Tricia Zunker in her bid to take back the WI 7th Congressional Seat. National experts are watching this race. Her victory will enhance the election of Joe Biden. Tricia is a Ho-Chunk Supreme Court Justice, a veteran, school board president, a professor, a lawyer, a mom, and the Democratic nominee for the critical WI-07 special election on May 12. The 7th Congressional District is a swing district that Rep. Obey previously held for 42 years. If elected, she would be Wisconsin's first Native American representative, and only the third Native American congresswoman in the nation's history. Join the Zoom meeting and/or contribute to this race online.

Sat May 9, 2020

UN Assn of MKE, 10am - 12pm
Redeember Lutheran Church, 631 N. 19th St., Milwaukee

More information.

Stand for Peace, 12pm - 1pm
Suspended

In light of the governor's Stay at Home Order, Peace Action Stands for Peace have been suspended until the order is lifted. Stand for peace in the streets of Milwaukee, every Saturday at noon. Organized by Peace Action Wisconsin.

Laughing Liberally Milwaukee, 8pm - 10pm
Canceled

Laughing Liberally Milwaukee presents a night of progressive political comedy.

Mon May 11, 2020

Grass Roots South Shore Meeting, 6pm - 8pm
Cudahy Library, 3500 Library Dr. , Cudahy

Grass Roots South Shore holds its monthly meeting on the second Monday of each month. For more information call Jim Balk, 414-218-5944.


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