Democracy Day

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Democracy Day is an opportunity to map out a new road to a democratic future. Reform leaders from around the country will lead intensive workshops focusing on short and long-term strategies to build a sustainable movement focusing on ballot integrity, campaign finance reform, universal voter registration, instant runoff voting, and a host of other issues.

Arrival, Networking, and Opening Remarks (10:00 am to 10:15 am)

Lead organizers welcome attendees and outline goals for the day

Workshop 1: Beyond Voting (10:15 am to 11:00)

Voting is an integral part of democracy, indeed there have been those that have fought and died for the right to vote, but voting is only a part of democracy, not democracy itself. In this workshop we will explain broader and deeper issues around elections including election audits and election integrity, felon re-enfranchisement (a.k.a. the new era in Jim Crow voting restrictions), instant run off voting, democratizing defense and the National Guard recall legislation, and the movement to neutralize the electoral college through the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

Workshop facilitated by Liberty Tree Fellows:
  • Patrick Barrett,
  • David Cobb, and
  • Brandon Lacy Campos.

Workshop 2: Bringing Democracy Home (11:00 am to 11:45 am)

Democracy begins at home. Across the United States we have seen local municipalities enact legislation challenging policies with which they do not agree, from passing same-sex marriage ordinances in San Francisco and New Paltz, NY to the hundreds of cities and towns that have passed anti-war resolutions concerning the war in Iraq, local communities are exercising democratic rights and freedom of expression. In this workshop you will explore home rule authority, participatory budgeting and economics, and local foreign and domestic policy initiatives.

Workshop facilitated by Liberty Tree Fellow:
  • George Friday.

Lunch and Networking (11:45 am to 1 pm)

Also, tables with literature will be in the plenary room.

Workshop 3: Ensuring Accurate Election Outcomes - Post-election audits and citizen observation (1 pm to 1:45 pm)

Post-election audits are quickly gaining prominence as a key component to help ensure accurate and verifiable elections. Citizen observations of audits ensure that they are conducted in a fair and open manner. The nation's first statewide citizen observation of an audit occurred in Minnesota in 2006. Learn about this effort as well as efforts to pass new state audit laws.

Workshop facilitated by:
  • Bill Hilty (Minnesota State Representative),
  • Mark Halvorson (Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, Director)
  • Jon Bonifaz (Voter Action, Legal Director) and
  • Susannah Goodman (Common Cause, Election Reform Director).

Workshop 4: Protecting the Vote in 2008 (1:45 pm to 2:30 pm)

An accurate and honest election process begins long before voters are counted. Ensuring that every citizen can cast a ballot is crucial to creating election results that truly reflect the will of the people. Learn how restrictive new laws to require specific photo ID's in order to vote, administrative procedures to purge voters from registration lists or challenge their eligibility, and outright deceptive practices have been used to nefariously suppress voter participation in some areas. We will also discuss an Election Protection Hotline to help spot and solve problems this fall and opportunities to educate citizens about opportunities to cast provisional ballots (and verify they are counted) and in some states register to vote on Election Day.

Workshop facilitated by:
  • Regina Eaton (Demos),
  • Jonathan Maurer Jones (TakeAction MN),
  • Brennnan Center,
  • Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights,
  • and FairVote.

Workshop 5: Public Financing of Campaigns (3:00 to 3:45 pm)

Elections are meaningful only if voters have a real choice in candidates. Yet in most states and certainly with federal elections, candidates only become viable through raising hoards of big contributions from special interests. Learn how full public financing of campaigns can help ordinary citizens from all political walks of life run for office and compete with fat cat candidates to give voters real options on Election Day and how these legislators are then freer to govern in the public interest after being elected as a "clean money" candidate. We'll discuss recent victories in Connecticut and New Mexico as well as success stories from Maine, Arizona and other states as case studies for how to win public financing in your state too.

Workshop facilitated by:
  • Derek Cressman (Common Cause),
  • Adam Smith (Public Campaign) and
  • Maya Enista (

Workshop 6: Reforming the Voting Engine: Instant Runoff Voting & Proportional Representation (3:45 to 4:30 pm)

Instant runoff voting and proportional voting present profound opportunities to transform American elections to give voters more choice, make elected officials more accountable and ensure fair representation. They provide common-sense solutions to problems with redistricting, large field primary races, underrepresented communities, plurality winners and low turnout runoffs. We’ll discuss all of the options and the remarkable progress that has been made across the country to implement them, with special focus on Minnesota, California and Vermont as case studies.

Workshop facilitated by:
  • Rob Richie (FairVote) and
  • Jeanne Massey (FairVote Minnesota).

Final Speech: Meeting the Challenge to Make Democracy Work (4:30 pm – 4:45 pm)

    Presented by Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State.

Following Democracy Day, Join us for Claim Democracy: An Evening Celebration [FREE!].

Cash Bar and Networking (4:45 pm - 5:45 pm)

Welcoming Remarks (6:00 pm -6:10 pm)

Welcome from Rob Richie (FairVote), David Cobb (Liberty Tree), and Solange Hansen (Public Campaign)

The Road to Democracy: Keynote Addresses (6:10 pm - 7:30 pm)

Keynote addresses by Bob Edgard (Common Cause), Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!), John Nichols (The Nation) and Walter Mosley (author of Devil in a Blue Dress). Introduced and moderated by Joel Bleifuss.

Claim Democracy is a project of FairVote and a coalition of pro-democracy organizations. 6930 Carroll Ave. Suite 610, Takoma Park, MD 20912.