Project Wonderful

Monday, July 28, 2014

EASY Voting Act

H.R.5144 or the Equal Access to Support Youth Voting Act (EASY Voting Act)

"A Bill To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require States which require individuals to present a photo identification as a condition of voting in elections for Federal office to accept a photo identification presented by a student which is issued by the school the student attends." Basically it says if a state is going to require voter ID, that state has to accept official school issued student IDs. Because congress only has jurisdiction in federal elections, those are the only elections in which the bill would apply.

Good show, Congresspeople Cleaver,Cohen,Schiff, Jackson Lee, and Pocan who sponsored the bill.Of course as this op-ed points out, just because it makes sense and enfranchises voters doesn't mean it's going to pass. What a world we live in.

Michele Bachmann Hints At A Run (For Worst Person)

As far as I can tell, Michele Bachmann was reading my blog and about Ron Knecht wanting to cut rape prevention and Renee Ellmers basically calling women stupid and she was like, "I gotta get in on this too."

People think her latest hate-spout is a hint at running for President, but it makes waaaay more sense that it's a hint at running for worst person in the world. Think about it. Why would we want a President who fear mongers about pedophilia? But worst person? She's up there with the greatest. This time she accused the LGBT community of working to "abolish age of consent laws, which means we will do away with statutory rape laws so that adults will be able to freely prey on little children sexually. That's the deviance that we're seeing embraced in our culture today."

When asked about a possible repeat Presidential run Bachmann said, “I think if a person has gone through the process — for instance, I had gone through 15 presidential debates — it’s easy to see a person’s improvement going through that.” Oh boy! In fairness, who can really blame Bachmann for her homophobia? The last time she rant for president she was attacked by a gay robot.

Even More Rules for Campaign Staffers

An FOCS recently tagged me in a post on Facebook about this article from the New Media Firm. The rules laid out therein are more or less a mashup of the 15 Commandments and 10 Rules for Savvy Campaign Staffers but since both of those lists were passed down to me from generations of yore who got them from whom is hard to say. In any case, they could always use reinforcement. So I give you...

Will Robinson’s Rules for Campaign Staffers
1. If it’s not in writing it doesn’t exist.
2. No such thing as “off the record.” (Reporters are not your friends!)
3. Do not hold a private conversation in a public place. (This includes cellular phones and planes!)
4. Don’t believe any number that ends in zero.
5. Never turn down an opportunity to eat or go to the bathroom. (Don’t eat anything that you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce.)
6. Don’t spend any of your own money. (Personal) Don’t even admit you own a credit card. Don’t spend money that is not yours. (Authorized)
7. Not always a “right” or “wrong” answer – “It depends”
8. In a campaign, someone has to be in charge – campaigns are a place to foster democracy, not practice it.
9. Assume nothing.
10. If you make a mistake, fix it before analyzing, etc. (Bad news doesn’t age well.)

State-By-State Election/Democracy Fun Facts!

Hey all! You know whenever an organizer comes in from out of town locals inevitably give them the "that might be how it works in x, but that's now how we do things here" spiel? While that's largely untrue, one of the joys of campaigning is learning the little eccentricities that make each state proud or unique. I've been working on this post for a while, and I wanted to share at least one little loosely election-related fact for each of these states united. Some have more! Feel free to correct any errors or add your own! And if you enjoy CampaignSick, please don't forget to subscribe as a patron!

Campaign Love and Mine,

Hawaii has its primaries on a Saturday.
New York has its federal and local/state level primaries on different days.
Mississippi, Louisiana, New Jersey and Virginia have off year legislative elections.
Kentucky has off year gubernatorial but not state senate elections.
Nebraska had a non-partisan, unicameral legislature.
At over 6,000, Illinois has more units of government (i.e., city, county, township, etc.) than any other state.
Maine and Nebraska allocate their electoral votes by congressional district rather than on a winner takes all basis.
In 2002, Arizona became the first state to allow online voter registration.
In Missouri, a person can register to vote online and electronically provide a signature using a mobile device, tablet computer or touchscreen computer, but not a standard desktop computer.
Oregon and Washington are vote by mail states.
North Dakota has no voter registration.
In 1945, Georgia became the first state to lower the legal voting age from 21 to 18.
Two states, Maine and Vermont, allow felons to vote from prison.
The first formal government framework outlining a representative body was the Fundamental Orders adopted by the Connecticut Colony council in 1639. This is where Connecticut got the nickname "The Constitution State."
Alabama has the longest still operative constitution of anywhere in the world. It is 40 times longer than the US Constitution.
Delaware was the first state to ratify the United States Constitution (hence its nickname "the first state").
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is called the cradle of liberty because it was where both the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution were written (duh.) It is also where the first American Flag was sewn, and Betsy Ross was a badass.
Three states, Texas, West Virginia and Michigan, have straight ticket voting.
Arkansas is the only state to have had a seat in its legislature held by a member of the Green Party.
Unaffiliated and third party voters make up a majority of the electorate in Massachusetts and Alaska.
According to Gallup Rhode Island is the most Democratic state and Utah is the most Republican.
"None of These Candidates" is a voting option listed on the ballot in Nevada along with candidates for President of the United States and state constitutional positions. It recently won the Democratic primary for Governor.
The Republican party was founded in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854 as a new anti-slavery party.
New Hampshire traditionally holds the first primaries in the country, Iowa has the first caucuses.
In Alaska and Idaho, the Democratic party has open primaries while the Republican party has closed primaries.
Maryland's 3rd congressional district has the honor of being the most gerrymandered district in the country.
Florida ( much to say) is the only state with a constitution that (through amendments) prohibits partisan gerrymandering.
In 2008 Oklahoma was the only state in which John McCain won every county.
Minnesota had the highest voter turnout in 2012 and 2008.
In 2012, West Virginia was the only state with a voter turnout of below 50%.
Mississippi saw the greatest voter turnout increase between 2008 and 2012.
South Dakota saw the greatest drop in voter turnout between 2008 and 2012.
In 2012 Wisconsin became the first state to elect an openly gay senator. (Tammy Baldwin!)
California was the first state to have two female Senators at once.
Wyoming (when it was still a territory) was the first state to give women the right to vote.
Montana was the first state to send a woman to Congress (Jeannette Rankin) even before women had universal suffrage in the US.
In 1894 the first women to serve a state legislature were elected in Colorado.
The recorded first female mayor in the world was Susanna Salter of Argonia, Kansas.
In 2012 New Hampshire became the first and only state with an all female congressional delegation.
Tennessee was the last state to ratify the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.
Vermont has the highest percentage of women in its legislature, but has never sent a woman to Congress.
Mississippi sent the first African American Senator to the Senate. (Hiram Revels!)
South Carolina elected the first African American Congressman (Joseph Rainey!)
In New Mexico, Native Americans make up 10% of eligible voters.
North Carolina has the lowest rate of Union membership (and hence union voters) in the United States.
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was organized in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1881.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ask An Election Nerd: I'm Getting Overruled By My Consultants!

What kind of advice do you give to a CM in name only (CMINO - or is that redundant)? I have no power of the purse, the strategist is running the show, the candidate is bossy, and even my admin/FD is shitting on me because she sees the other ones doing it. I understand not having authority (I know, that expectation would be "adorable", as one submission put it), but these limits are keeping me from being able to do my job! What can I do? What can of whoop-ass can I open?
Good question! You have the “benefit” of my boyfriend who is a consultant having been with me when I received this question. In the interest of giving you the fullest information, consultant boyfriend says you are being pushed out and if you really feel you are ineffective then you should leave. So there’s that. I take a slightly more nuanced view below.

You are certainly not alone. As a first-time campaign manager I too found myself executing a plan written by our general and mail consultants who just happened to be good friends with the candidate. On the one hand, it was frustrating not to have autonomy especially since I had dreamed for years of managing a campaign of my very own. On the other hand, I learned so much from our consultants. After all, they had years of experience on me and expertise in areas of campaign management (particularly communications) to which I had never been exposed. To their absolute credit, our consultants allowed me to grow as an operative by explaining why they made certain decisions, coaching me through press releases and allowing me to take credit for decisions when my instincts were correct. Now that I am in a position to do so, I often recommend this firm to my candidates in large part because I know how good they are at working with first time candidates and managers.

Obviously, I don’t know you or the consultants involved. It could be that they are wrong and you are right in these situations, but based on my own experiences, I tend to doubt it. If you were hired after, or particularly by, the consultants (a not uncommon practice) there is a good chance you were in fact hired to execute the day to day of their strategy. If this is the case, the more you push back the more they will circumnavigate you or discount your opinion, even when you have something valuable to contribute. For all these reasons (and I know you’re not going to like this) I suggest accepting a more deferential role and learning from this experience.

As a side note, this thing with your Field Director is totally unacceptable. In that regard, I think you need to have a frank conversation with your candidate and the consultants about your role on the campaign. If you’re getting overruled by consultants in private that’s one thing, but you don’t fight in front of the kids. Once reached, senior level decisions no matter whose decision they really were, should be presented in a united, and mutually respectful, front to the candidate, kitchen cabinet, volunteers and other staff.

That is a tough situation and I certainly feel for you! Feel free to send and update on what you chose to do.

Campaign Love and Mine,


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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ask An Election Nerd: To Campaign or Not To Campaign?

First of all, I love your blog! I graduated from college a year ago, studying PoliSci, and have had a really comfortable job at a nonprofit for a year. We are going through a merger, which seems like a natural time to leave if I want to, and I have the opportunity to quit and work on a campaign. I really want to explore a career in politics, but I can't decide if I should leave my stable calm lifestyle for the uncertainty of campaigning! How do I choose what to do?!

Not knowing you or the circumstances surrounding your life I say, "Go for it!" There is no better way to know whether you want to do something with your career than to try it and no better time to try working on campaigns than when you are fresh (or practically fresh) out of college. In general, the older you get, the less practical it becomes to drop everything and go work in the field. Especially when you are just starting out, you can get a gig on a campaign for only three or four months, so in that sense the investment is minimal.

There are some things to consider before I recklessly encourage you to take the plunge. Campaigns are physically and mentally taxing. You don't need to be a paragon of fitness or mental healthy by any means, but you do need to be in a place where you can work long hours in a fast-paced, stressful environment. Also, what will you do immediately after? Most campaign families will help you find your next job after the race is over, but that is by no means immediate or guaranteed. If you have nowhere to go (ie friends' couches, parents' house) or will be in crippling debt if you find yourself unemployed for a couple of months, then this might not be the time to make a move.

The tradeoff between stability and excitement is one I've often debated myself, and one that campaign people continue to debate throughout their careers. As you will note every person who written a "What I Wish I Had Known at 30" post thus far notes that their favorite thing about being in their 20's was the adventure and energy of being on campaigns. I will tell you that even my friends who only worked one or two cycles and ultimately decided it wasn't for them don't regret the experience. It is grueling, rewarding, intense, passionate, fulfilling work and I wouldn't trade a second of it. I hope you find the same to be true!

See you in the field?


Ask An Election Nerd: What Makes A Good RFD?

Hey Nancy. First, this blog is what gets me through call time every day. Second of all, I was wondering what the ideal RFD is like? I've worked on non profit campaigns before, but never as a FO for a candidate, so I'm not completely sure how they should act. My co-FO's and I having a hard time with her, mostly because of they way she treats us and volunteers, and her poor time management skills. We try to empower our volunteers, but she treats them more or less like unpaid robots.
It sounds like you might just want the space to vent, which is totally okay. Not everyone is a good manager and not everyone's management style works for everyone else. When you are dealing with that fact day in and day out far away from the friends and family who usually keep you grounded, the situation can be maddening. For an example of a time when I had trouble dealing with my regional field director click here. My experience in that post is somewhat specific, but I would always encourage empathy when conflict of personalities arises on campaigns,which by the way is not to suggest that your experience is invalid. I hear you and that sucks. Treating staff or volunteers like robots is not cool!

Your question was, "what is an ideal RFD like?" I'm not sure whether that was rhetorical, but I'm going to answer it anyway. I would say there is no "ideal" RFD because different styles of leadership work for different people. I was super lucky that I connected with so well with my first Regional or we might not be here today. There are lots of different ways to be good at your job (although I would argue not as many ways as there are to be bad at it.) That said, here are some things that I think make a great RFD.

1)Remember that you are a facilitator. As an RFD your number one job is to advocate for your organizers and get them the tools they need to meet their goals, whether that be training, resources, opportunities for their volunteers etc. Likewise it is your job to get what headquarters needs from your region by holding your organizers accountable. You are essentially in a service position. It's an endless cycle of facilitating between the two.

2)Don't ask anyone to do work you're not willing to do yourself. By all means, make your organizers do six hour call time, make your orgs do seven hour call time if that's what it takes to win, but you better do at least some of it with them. You know, like a person.

3)Work harder than anyone you supervise. Nothing breeds resentment more than routinely getting into work before and leaving after your boss. Lead by example.

4)Spring for a beer every once in a while. Or buy lunch. When the region gets a chance to send one member to an exciting surrogate event, don't nominate yourself. As my buddy Mark recently advised me (paraphrased), "What's the point in being the boss if you can't take advantage every once in a while? But not until you've taken care of your people."

5)Explain why. Just as with interns and volunteers organizers will be more motivated if they understand why they are being asked to do the work they do and how it fits into the bigger picture. Once you've done a couple of cycles the why of field becomes obvious, but you cannot reinforce the importance of your organizers roles enough.

Hang in there!

Campaign Love and Mine,


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