HELP ENSURE GEORGIA VOTERS PARTICIPATE IN THE JANUARY 5TH RUNOFF ELECTION
Work on our nonpartisan “Every Voice, Every Vote” campaign continues. The Reform Movement, under the leadership of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (the RAC), is reaching out to Georgians of voting age to make sure they are registered to vote and participate in the January 5, 2021 run-off election for the U.S. Senate. This election will determine control of the U.S. Senate for the next two years.
The RAC is holding 2 phone banks in December – with partner organization Reclaim Our Vote – to contact low-frequency voters of Color in Georgia. We invite all members of Beth David to participate in one, or even better, both phone banks. The sessions are co-sponsored by Women of Reform Judaism and the National Council of Jewish Women.
Here are the specifics:
- Dec. 14, 6:00–8:00 p.m. EST. Sign up at https://bit.ly/GA-PhoneBank-12-14.
- Dec. 21, 6:00–8:00 p.m. EST. Sign up at https://bit.ly/GA-PhoneBank-12-21.
By the way, Beth David volunteers are in the process of sending 1,200 personalized postcards to Georgia voters with important voting information. After all our members have already done to assist voters in PA and elsewhere in the U.S., 50 members signed up to help with the postcard project. Can we count on you to participate in the RAC’s phone banks?!
Questions? Please contact Bill Madway at firstname.lastname@example.org.
REFLECTIONS ON OUR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT CAMPAIGN & A LOOK AHEAD
This newsletter covers three topics. First, we express our appreciation to the more than 50 volunteers who worked on our “Every Voice, Every Vote” campaign, share the results, and acknowledge the support of the entire Beth David community. We then discuss two upcoming events the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is hosting to debrief our voter engagement efforts at the national and state levels, and discuss what comes next. And we wrap up with a look at an extension of our “Every Voice, Every Vote” campaign and how you can help engage voters.
THANKS TO OUR CAMPAIGN VOLUNTEERS & THE BETH DAVID COMMUNITY
Our sincere thanks to the Beth David members who volunteered for the Every Voice, Every Vote campaign over the past five months. More than 50 members volunteered for the campaign. Due to their efforts, and the full support of the Beth David community – our clergy, synagogue administration, and members – we achieved the following:
- Contacted all Beth David families 12+ times by phone, texts, postcards, and email.
- Sent a voting information packet and “VOTE” mask to all Beth David college students for the High Holidays.
- Contacted over 4,000 voters in Pennsylvania, Texas, and other states by phone, texts, and postcards to inform them about the voting process and encourage them to vote.
- Worked with 7 other Reform congregations in Southeast PA to present a webinar on voting, featuring Lauren Cristella of Committee of Seventy.
- Achieved close to a 100% voting participation level among Beth David members eligible to vote.
- Helped achieve a 568,000, or 3%, increase in the number of Pennsylvanians voting this year, as compared to the last presidential election year (2016).
TWO UPCOMING EVENTS
Please join us for one or both of these Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism events:
Every Voice, Every Vote: What’s Next – Nov. 11, 8:00 p.m. (EST). Join the RAC and supporters across the country as we celebrate our collective accomplishments, hear from our partners about the impact of the election on the most urgent issues of the moment, and commit to being a part of the ongoing effort to mobilize the Reform Movement to pursue justice and effect change at the local, state, and federal levels in 2021. Sign up at http://bit.ly/RAC-Event-Nov11.
RAC-PA Statewide Civic Engagement Call: Election Debrief & Next Steps – Nov. 19, 7:00 p.m. (EST). Pennsylvania supporters of the Religious Action Center are invited for a debriefing of the 2020 election season and to talk about next steps for RAC-PA. Sign up at http://bit.ly/RAC-PA-Event-Nov19.
UPCOMING GEORGIA RUNOFF ELECTIONS & HOW YOU CAN HELP ENGAGE VOTERS
Georgia is having not one, but two runoff elections on January 5, 2021, to determine its U.S. Senators. In the 2020 Election, Georgians voted in two Senate races: one for a full six-year term, the other to serve the unexpired portion (two years) of former Sen. Johnny Isakson ‘s term. Isakson resigned at the end of 2019 due to health reasons. Governor Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to fill Isakson’s seat until the 2020 Election.
No candidate in either race cleared the 50% threshold required for victory in George. The outcome of these two elections will determine control of the U.S. Senate for the next two years.
Given the importance of these races and the unique circumstances of runoff elections in Georgia, the RAC is going to undertake some nonpartisan activities to inform citizens and urge them to vote. The first step will be sending out 100,000 postcards. The RAC is partnering with the Center for Common Ground’s Reclaim Our Vote campaign and the New Georgia Project, and will be contacting low-frequency voters of color.
Beth David is committing to send out 600 postcards, so we’re going to need 20 volunteers. Your role as a volunteer will entail writing a message on the card to each voter – a script will be provided – addressing the cards, and mailing them out. (We ask that your provide the stamps; they’re 35 cents apiece.) Each volunteer will receive 30 postcards. We expect to drop off the materials at your house by November 23. The postcards must be written, stamped, and mailed by December 7.
If you’re able to help, please sign up at https://bit.ly/BD-Georgia-Postcards. We will let you know about other opportunities to volunteer, such as phone banking, as they come up. Thanks in advance for your help!
OUR CIVIC ENGAGEMENT CAMPAIGN IN THE NEWS
Reform Congregations Work to Mobilize Voters With Civic Engagement Campaign
By: Sophie Panzer – Jewish Exponent –
LAST MINUTE VOTING TIPS & MORE
While many Beth David members have already voted, about an equal number have yet to vote. We’ve prepared a list of tips/reminders for those planning to vote using a mail-in ballot and those planning to vote at the polls on Election Day. Before turning to the tips, we have issue to discuss first.
One of the longstanding traditions of American politics is watching the returns come in on election night and finding out who won. This year, election night is likely to be very different. There might be some races and states called that evening, but many others won’t be, especially in Pennsylvania. The extremely high number of mail-in ballots returned and the fact that processing and counting these ballots can’t begin until the morning of Election Day – along with slower mail delivery that led to a 3-day grace period for the delivery of ballots returned by mail – make it very likely that some or all of the races in our state won’t be decided until November 6 or later.
As suspense and anxiety mount in the days after the election, more and more individuals, candidates, political parties, and media organizations will likely be calling for the outcome of the presidential election to be declared. Some might even call for vote counting to end prematurely. In sharp contrast, one of the tenets of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s Every Voice, Every Vote campaign, which so many of you volunteered for, is that every vote must be counted. It might take longer to determine the outcome of the election, but that doesn’t mean something is going wrong. It means election officials are taking the time to get the count right. Nothing is more important.
In anticipation of the pressure to curtail the vote counting process, the RAC has created an Election Protection 2020 Toolkit. It contains a number of steps individuals can take to help ensure that every vote is counted. We urge you to review the toolkit and decide which actions you can get involved in. In the days to come, the Civic Engagement team will be reaching out to you to keep you informed and ask for your participation in certain actions. RAC will certainly not be alone in this effort. We are coordinating with our campaign partners, and other Jewish and interfaith organizations. All of these organizations will also be looking to de-escalate unrest should it occur.
One specific step Beth David is taking is our Gathering for Hope, Healing & Reflection event on Thursday, November 5, 7:15-8:15 p.m. It will be an opportunity to come together with our clergy and community to process this tumultuous election season, find hope and healing in song and prayer, and think about what comes next for our country and our community. Join us that evening at http://bit.ly/BD-HopeHealingReflection.
And now for our voting tips. If you have any questions or concerns, contact Civic Engagement Team Co-chair Bill Madway at 610-322-5847 or email@example.com.
Voting Tips: Voting With A Mail-in Ballot
- If you applied for a mail-in ballot, but it still haven’t received can continue to wait or:
- Obtain a replacement ballot at your county elections office – or a satellite office, if still operating. See pinned post on our Facebook page, facebook.com/bethdavidreform/, for info on how to obtain a replacement ballot. You can obtain a replacement ballot as late as Election Day.
- Vote at your polling place on Election Day using a provisional ballot.
- For information about how to fill out your mail-in ballot, click here for easy to follow instructions from votespa.com.
- If you’re mailing in your ballot, it must be postmarked by 3, and for now, can be received as late as Nov. 6 at 5:00 p.m. (There is a chance that the grace period will be struck down through a court challenge.) Regardless of the threat of litigation, it’s too risky to mail your ballot back at this point in time. Use a drop box instead.
- Dropping off your ballot? It must be dropped off at your county elections office (or satellite office, if still operating) or placed in a drop box by 3 at 8:00 p.m.
- You must return your own ballot and cannot return anyone else’s. The only exception is if you’re disabled. In this case you can designate an agent to return your ballot. The form and instructions are available here.
- If you are concerned about whether the ballot you returned was received, i.e., you haven’t received a confirmation email from the state or the state’s online ballot status tracker doesn’t show that your ballot has been received, you can go to your polling place on Election Day and cast a provisional ballot as a backup measure. If your ballot is not received by the county, your provisional ballot will count.
- If you have a ballot but haven’t returned it because you’re thinking of voting in person, we encourage you NOT to change your mind. However, if you do decide to switch, bring your ballot and return envelope to your polling place and ask them to void it. You will then be permitted to vote in the usual way, but it will take more time.
Voting Tips: Voting At The Polls
- Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. As long as you’re in line by 8:00 p.m., you must be allowed to vote.
- Photo ID or other form of ID is not needed unless Nov. 3 is the first time you’ll be voting at your particular polling place.
- All the usual polling places are expected to be open on Election Day, but every year there are last-minute changes. So, check on your county’s elections website or votespa.com to confirm your poll location.
- Take all necessary health precautions, such as wearing a mask and social distancing at your polling place and while waiting in line. However, please note that voters who are not wearing a mask are entitled to vote.
- While fewer people than usual for a presidential election will be voting at the polls, the average wait time will be longer for several reasons. Enhanced safety protocols, for one. In addition, the time needed to carry out the verification procedures for people voting at the polls who originally planned to use a mail-in ballot or whose mail-in ballot didn’t arrive. So, please be patient.
- Experiencing a problem at your polling place? If you’re not being allowed to vote, or you’re experiencing some type of problem, such as unusually long lines, broken voting equipment, inappropriate or overly aggressive electioneering, harassment, or voter intimidation, you have several options. You can speak to the Judge of Elections at the polling place, call your county board of elections, or contact the nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition at 866-OUR VOTE. If you’re experiencing a problem or see others experiencing a problem, say something.
Need a Ride to Drop Off Your Ballot or Get to the Polls to Vote…
We might be able to help. A group of Beth David members have offered to provide rides to members seeking to return their completed ballot to a drop box or vote at the polls on Election Day. So, if you and/or someone else in your home needs transportation, we’re here to help. Please email member Tracy Simon at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let her know your address, county, phone number, and whether you’re looking to drop off your ballot or vote at the polls Nov. 3. Tracy will then try to match your request with one of our volunteers.
Tracy and other organizers of this effort have been consulting with Beth David’s Medical Expert Advisory Panel to identify the proper precautions to take to make sure both driver and voter stay safe.
You Still Have Time to Replace Your “Missing in Action” Ballot in Some Local Counties
In a recent email to the congregation, we noted that October 27 was the last day to request a mail-in ballot for this year’s election. This also meant that if the mail-in ballot your applied for had not arrived as of yesterday, you could no longer request a replacement ballot. Well, it turns out Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties are still offering to replacement ballots to eligible voters. Possibly Delaware County, as well. Here are the details.
According to an FAQ document on the City of Philadelphia’s website, if someone has not received their ballot in the mail and needs to get a replacement, they should go to ballotform.philadelphiavotes.com, and input the requested information. The City will then mail out their ballot. (Note: If you need your ballot sent to a different address than what was on your application, you will need to provide either a PA Driver’s License or Photo ID number and/or the last 4 numbers of your Social Security Number.) Better yet, a voter can go to a satellite election office (click here for locations) to get a replacement ballot. A Philadelphia voter can visit any of the City’s satellite election offices.
Switching to Montgomery County, according to its voter services website, if you applied for an absentee or mail-In ballot more than 6 days ago and have not received it you can:
- Have your ballot re-issued by completing the “Request to Cancel A Mail-In Ballot and Issue A Replacement Mail-In Ballot.” This form can be emailed to the county and will be processed promptly. Click here to access the form.
- Visit the county’s Voter Services office, located at 425 Swede Street in Norristown, to have your ballot re-issued. The office is open on weekdays from 8:00 AM until 7:00 PM, and on weekends from 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM from 10/28/2020 – 11/2/2020. Click here for more information. (Note: Montco’s satellite election offices are no longer operating, so just go to this office.)
We tried to check if Delaware County is still offering replacement ballots. The county’s election website, Delco Votes!, is not clear about Delco’s policy, and we couldn’t get through on the county’s voter hotline (610-891-VOTE, Mon-Fri, 8:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.; Sat 9 a.m. – 12 noon). Nevertheless, we encourage you to look into this, as Delco continues to mention replacement ballots on its website and could very well be offering eligible voters replacement ballots.
It is also worth mentioning that if you applied for a mail-in ballot and it doesn’t arrive in time, you can vote at your polling place on Election Day using a provisional ballot. For your provisional ballot to count, your county elections board must verify you didn’t vote using a mail ballot.
Monday evening, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5 to 3 decision, rejected a pandemic-related request to extend the deadline for counting mail-in ballots received after Election Day in Wisconsin. A federal district judge had originally ruled with the plaintiffs in the case and extended the deadline for six days. However, in a 2 to 1 decision, a panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals in the 7th Circuit reinstated the original Nov. 3 deadline. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Court of Appeals. (For more, see this article in The Washington Post.)
This decision could have ramifications for Pennsylvania. The PA Supreme Court recently ruled that mailed ballots that are received by 5:00 p.m. on November 6 are to be counted, provided they are postmarked by November 3. Opponents of the extension asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put the extension on hold, but the Court denied the request. The opponents filed a second request with the U.S Supreme Court a few days later seeking a decision based on the merits of their case. It is possible that the Court, with the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, could strike down the extension.
There are some distinctions between the two situations that might enable the PA extension to survive. But there is no guarantee. So, take the one step you can to render this issue moot: do not return your completed ballot by mail; return it in person to your county board of elections. This means delivering it to your county elections office, or satellite elections office if still operating, or placing it in a secure drop box by November 3 at 8:00 p.m. Check your county’s election website or www.votespa.com for locations and current days/hours of operation.
Simply put, if you want to make sure your vote counts, return your mail-in ballot in person, right away.
Last Day to Apply for a Mail-in Ballot
If you want to avoid the crowds at your polling place next Tuesday, you still have time to request a mail-in ballot. Today (Oct. 27) at 5:00 p.m. is the deadline for applying for a mail-in ballot. If you still want to obtain a mail-in ballot, we recommend that you go to your county elections office, or satellite elections office if it is still operating, and submit an application for a mail-in ballot. To save time you can download and fill out the application before you go. Visit www.votespa.com to download the application form and check on the locations that are open in your county and the dates and hours.
Once at the elections office, turn in your application, and assuming you’re eligible to vote, you will be given one on the spot. You can fill it out and turn it right back in – this is what is meant by Early Voting in Pennsylvania – or fill it out later and return it. Options for returning your ballot will be discussed shortly.
Tired of Waiting for Your Ballot to Arrive?
If you’re tired of waiting for the mail-in ballot you requested a few weeks ago to arrive, there is a solution. You can go to your county elections office, or satellite elections office if it is still operating, and request a replacement ballot. The original ballot will be voided, and you will receive a new one on the spot. As today is the deadline for requesting a mail-in ballot, today is also the last day to request a replacement ballot and the last day you can use the Early Voting option.
Instead of obtaining a replacement ballot, you can continue to wait for the mail-in ballot you requested to arrive. If you don’t receive it by Election Day, Nov. 3, you can go to your polling place and vote by provisional ballot. Your ballot will be counted once it is determined that you didn’t already vote using a mail-in ballot.
Options for Returning Your Mail-in Ballot
There are many options for returning your completed mail-in ballot to your county board of elections – mailing it, returning it in person to your county board of elections office or satellite elections office (if still in operation), or placing it in a drop box. But as the deadline date (November 3 at 8:00 p.m.) gets closer, the best option gets clearer: using a drop box. It’s safe, convenient, and secure. Check your county elections website or www.votespa.com for the locations and dates/hours of operations.
While we don’t like playing favorites, as the vast majority of Beth David members reside in Lower Merion Township (75%), we’ll save them the time of checking to see their options. The drop box at Ludington Library is their best option. The dates and hours for the Ludington Library drop box, which are the same for all drop boxes in Montgomery County, are as follows:
- 3 – Oct. 30: MWF 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; Tues. & Thurs. 11:00 A.M. – 6:00 P.M.; Sat. & Sun. 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- 31 & Nov. 1: Sat. & Sun. 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- 2 & Nov. 3: Mon. & Tues. 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Do’s & Don’ts Regarding Returning Your Mail-in Ballot
- Only you can turn in your ballot, unless you have a disability that prevents you from doing so. To designate someone to return your ballot for you, fill out the form available at http://bit.ly/PA-Exception. The form contains instructions explaining the process. You still have time to complete it.
- Ballots can’t be returned to your polling place on Election Day unless your county expressly allows it. Unless you see or read something from your county stating that this is acceptable, it’s not.
- Your ballot must be returned to a location in your county. There are instances where a drop box located in a different county might be closer to your home. Doesn’t matter; you must use a drop box in your county. What if the legislative district for one of your elected officials spans two counties? Again, it doesn’t matter. You can only return the ballot in the county you live in.
- Are you concerned that the completed ballot you mailed to your county elections office might not arrive by the November 3 deadline? Did you return your completed ballot in person, but not yet receive an email from your county confirming receipt? Does the state’s online ballot tracking system not show that the ballot you dropped off has been received? You do have an option: you can go to your polling place on Election Day and cast a provisional ballot. If your completed ballot is not received by the county by the deadline, your provisional ballot will counted.
Have questions about voting? In addition to visiting www.votespa.com, the state’s terrific voting resource, you can ASK BILL, our Civic Engagement Campaign co-chair. Email Bill at email@example.com. Also volunteers from Beth David’s Civic Engagement Campaign will be calling and texting members all week to see if they have any voting questions or need a ride to drop off their ballot or to the polls on Election Day. Take the call; respond to the text.
REQUEST FOR VOLUNTEERS
Join Us for Our Final Round of Voter Engagement Phone Banks
Please join us for our final three phone banks with RAC-PA and One PA, along with a phone bank with RAC National and Reclaim Our Vote. The dates and times are:
- Tuesday, Oct 27, 12:00 – 2:30 p.m., hosted by RAC-PA and One PA.
- Wednesday, Oct. 28, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., hosted by RAC National and Reclaim Our Vote. Will be calling voters in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, or Texas; register at rac.org/everyweek.
- Thursday, Oct 29, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m., hosted by RAC-PA and One PA
- Sunday, Nov. 1, 1:00 – 3:30 p.m. hosted by RAC-PA and One PA
To sign up for the RAC-PA phone banks, visit https://www.mobilize.us/onepa/event/326439/.
Next Deadline Coming Up Fast – Obtaining Your Mail-in Ballot
If you’re planning to vote using a mail-in ballot, but haven’t applied for a ballot yet, there’s still time. But not much. Your application must be received by your county board of elections by 5:00 p.m. on October 27. There are several ways you can apply:
- Fill out and submit your application online. Click here to get started.
- Print out, fill out, and mail in your application to your county board of elections. Click here to download the application. The form comes with detailed instructions.
- You can also deliver your application in person to your county board of elections or satellite elections office. To find out the location(s) and dates/times they’re open, contact your county board of elections.
FYI, if you apply online or mail your application, your ballot will be sent to you in the mail. This means there’s a chance – a chance that grows more likely each day you delay applying – that your ballot won’t arrive before the November 3 submission deadline. (If that does happen, you can vote at your polling place by provisional ballot.) To eliminate this risk, we recommend that you deliver your application to your county board of elections or satellite office in person by October 27. If you do, you will receive your mail-in ballot immediately, assuming you application is approved, and you can fill it out and submit on the spot. This is referred to as “early voting” in Pennsylvania. But to reiterate, your application must be received by 5:00 p.m. on October 27; so, that’s the last date you can use early voting.
For details about filling out and returning your mail-in ballot, information about voting in person, answers to the most frequently asked questions about voting, and a, check out RAC-PA’s 2020 Voting Guide available by clicking HERE. Another excellent resource for the latest voting information is www.votespa.com, which is maintained by the PA Department of State.
Big News About This Week’s Phone Banks
We have 3 phone banks scheduled for this week, and there is some big news to report.
The phone banks are taking place:
- Tues, Oct 20, 12:00 – 2:30 p.m.
- Wed, Oct 21, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
- , Oct 22, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
What’s the big news? First off, we’re thrilled to let you know that we will have a very special guest joining us for Tuesday’s phone bank: actor and producer Emily Deschanel, best known for her starring role in the TV series Bones. (Her co-star was some guy who grew up in Philadelphia and is the son of legendary Action News weatherman Dave Roberts. His name – David Boreanaz.) Emily will be joining us tomorrow to phone bank together. Reserve your spot now by clicking here.
That’s not all. There is a chance that one or more of our phone banks this week will be targeting voters in Pittsburgh, rather than our usual audience. The change is because the Allegheny County Board of Elections sent out 29,000 incorrect Vote By Mail ballots. RAC-PA’s partners are matching the voters’ names with phone numbers, so volunteers from various organizations, including RAC-PA, can call and tell them not to use the ballots and that they will be receiving new ballots later this week. So, you can see that our phone banking this week will take on added significance.
And more big news: our Wednesday evening phone bank is part of the RAC’s “Every Vote, Every Voice, Every Week” national action call. RAC supporters from all over the country will be joining us as we make calls to Pennsylvanians, quite possibly voters in Pittsburgh. (This national phone bank was set up before the news broke about the incorrect ballots in Allegheny County.) It will be great to have dozens of RAC supporters helping us reach out to Pennsylvanians, and we want to have a large contingent of Pennsylvanians participating in the phone bank as well. So, please join us.
And let’s not give short shrift to our phone bank Thursday evening. This session is equally as important, whether it turns out we’re calling One PA’s voter list or our Pittsburgh voter list.
The calls we’ve been making over the past two months are making a difference for the citizens of Pennsylvania, and Beth David has been at the forefront. Let’s keep up this vital effort and close out the month stronger than ever. To sign up for one, two, or all three sessions this week, click here. After you sign up, you’ll receive an email confirmation with a link to join the phone bank.
VOTING & VOLUNTEERING UPDATE FROM BETH DAVID’S CIVIC ENGAGEMENT CAMPAIGN TEAM
Election Day 2020 is four weeks away. But from talking to a number of Beth David members, many are still not sure whether to vote in person or by mail. It’s important to make a plan to vote, while all of the options are still available. We’re here to help you evaluate the options by providing you with relevant, reliable information and access to useful resources.
In the remainder of this update, you’ll find details about two upcoming events we’re involved in that will help you make your plan to vote. Both events will also provide you with information about how you can help others exercise their right to vote. We’ve also compiled tables listing the voting deadlines and links to what we consider the best and most helpful, nonpartisan voting-related resources on the web.
Lastly, we are continuing to participate in the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s “Every Voice, Every Vote” Civic Engagement Campaign. To quote Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the center, “As engaged citizens, each of us has a responsibility to not only take part in our democracy, but to involve others in the process.” Please review the volunteer opportunities we’ve described and commit to taking action.
Upcoming Voting Education Events
October 8, 7:30 – 8:30 PM EDT
“What You Need to Know to Vote Safely in 2020 & Help Others Do The Same.”
The Reform Jewish congregations in Southeast Pennsylvania are joining together to host a virtual program featuring Lauren Cristella, Committee of Seventy’s Chief Advancement Officer. Lauren also manages Committee of Seventy’s innovative WeVote initiative, which aims to “promote a culture of voting” across the state.
In her presentation, Lauren will:
- Separate fact from fiction when it comes to voting by mail and providing us with the latest info about voting by mail, voting in person, and working at the polls on Election Day;
- Explain the factors that keep so many Pennsylvanians from voting and how to increase voter participation, in order to help attendees who are participating in our phone banking efforts; and
- Tell us about the voter education tools WeVote and Committee of Seventy offer; and
- Answer attendees’ questions about voting this fall.
Rabbi Kalisch will be make the opening remarks, as she shares portions of her inspiring Yom Kippur sermon, “We Are Part of Something Bigger Than Ourselves.” So, please join with members of other Reform Jewish congregations in our area for equal parts knowledge, inspiration, and shared purpose. Click here to sign up.
October 13, 8:00 – 9:00 PM EDT
RAC-PA’s “Recipe for Democracy” Civic Engagement Call
Join Reform Jews from across Pennsylvania to learn what Michael Solomonov, award-winning chef, frequent guest on TV cooking shows and competitions, and owner of Zahav, a top restaurant in Philadelphia, believes are the “ingredients for democracy.” Plus, get updates on how you can help get out the vote – in our communities and among underrepresented voters – and learn how to protect the election and uphold democracy on Election Day. And if you have questions about how to cast your ballot – mail, drop box, satellite office, in person – stick around for few minutes after the call for a voting primer and Q&A. Click here to register.
Key Voting Deadlines & Sources of Voting Assistance
Key 2020 Voting Dates in PA (As of 10/6/20)
10/19: Last day to register to vote.
10/27: Last day to apply for a mail-in ballot. (This also marks the last day for early voting, which refers to being able to go into your County Board of Elections office – or in some counties, a satellite election office – apply for a mail-in ballot, receive it on the spot, fill it out, and return it.)
11/3: Last day to mail your completed mail-in ballot, place it in a drop box (8:00 p.m.), or deliver it in person to your County Board of Elections (8:00 p.m.).
11/3: ELECTION DAY – Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. If you’re in line by 8:00 p.m., you must be permitted to vote.
11/6: Your completed mail-in ballot must be received by your County Board of Elections by this date, if you returned it via the U.S. Postal Service. (Remember, it must be mailed by 11/3.)
11/10: Last day for County Boards of Elections to receive voted military & overseas absentee ballots. (Must be submitted for delivery no later than 11:59 p.m. on 11/2.)
To check for updates on the deadlines visit VOTES PA.
Be sure to check out Beth David’s Facebook page for daily updates about voting and volunteering, and answers to frequently asked questions. You’re also welcome to submit your voting questions for us on Facebook. Here are other nonpartisan, voting-related websites we highly recommend:
|Votes PA: best source of voting-related info from the state; excellent search function too.||votespa.com|
|League of Women Voters PA (has list of local chapters)||www.palwv.org|
|League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh; excellent infographics to explain voting process||www.lwvpgh.org|
|VOTE411: offers custom election info for voters on a state-by-state basis (League of Women Voters Education Fund)||vote411.org|
|Common Cause PA: a leading nonpartisan voters’ rights organization||www.commoncause.org/pennsylvania|
|Committee of 70: a highly-respected voting rights and citizen engagement organization||https://seventy.org|
|WeVote: nonpartisan civic initiative aimed at creating a culture of voting in Pennsylvania||https://wevote.seventy.org|
|Beth David Civic Engagement Campaign webpage – part of the Social Action section of Beth David’s website||https://bit.ly/BethDavid-CivicCampaign|
|RAC-PA (website for the RAC’s Pennsylvania Center)||rac.org/PA|
|Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) Civic Engagement Campaign||rac.org/CEC|
Volunteer To Help Protect Democracy This Fall
This election season, many Beth David members are volunteering to help specific candidates running for office. We applaud your commitment. As a synagogue and a movement, we are precluded from engaging in partisan election-related activity. However, we can engage in nonpartisan efforts such as encouraging citizens to register to vote and letting them know about the ways to vote in our state. We embrace this nonpartisan role because our movement believes every eligible voter deserves to have their voice heard. So, we are asking Beth David members to dedicate a portion of their time to serving as nonpartisan volunteers this fall. There are two nonpartisan activities we are currently seeking volunteers for:
Phone Banking – Working with RAC-PA and One PA, Beth David is participating in 2 or 3 phone banks every week until the election. Volunteers are calling Pennsylvanians who vote infrequently, often due to voter suppression and/or because they have lost interest in voting as time after time politicians ignore their needs. We’re not ignoring these citizens! For the current phone bank schedule and other details, and to sign up to participate, please click here.
Serving As A Poll Monitor on Election Day – The Election Protection coalition, led by Common Cause PA, is seeking 1,000 volunteers across the state to serve as poll monitors on Election Day. RAC-PA is participating in the recruitment drive. Volunteers can serve in one of three ways:
- Poll monitors volunteer outside an assigned polling place to monitor activities and help voters;
- Roving poll monitors drive (or bike) between polling places to observe, collect information, and report problems; and
- Social media monitors monitor social media platforms from home to identify misinformation and disinformation about voting, and take the appropriate action.
Unlike poll workers, poll monitors are not required to work within the county they reside. So, your assignment will be based on your personal preference and need. In addition, you will receive training applicable to the role you sign up for as well as identification materials, and if you’ll be working around people, protective gear. To sign up, click here.
Lastly, as important as it to have monitors in place to help make sure the election runs safely, smoothly, and fairly for all, we encourage you to care for your health and safety first. Be sure to heed the advice of experts when deciding whether or not to serve at the polls on Election Day.
Beth David’s Civic Engagement Campaign
Another all to Action
“As engaged citizens, each of us has a responsibility to not only take part in our democracy, but to involve others in the process as well.” Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
- We realize many Beth David members who volunteer at election time prefer to help a specific candidate. We simply ask that you consider dedicating some of your time to serving as a nonpartisan volunteer − fulfilling Rabbi Pesner’s appeal.
- That’s why we’re seeking volunteers to call Pennsylvanians who vote infrequently, often due to voter suppression and/or because they have lost interest in voting as time after time politicians ignore their needs. We’re not ignoring these citizens!
- Working with RAC-PA and One PA, we’re participating in 2 or 3 phone banks every week until the election. For specifics and to sign up to participate, visit https://bit.ly/BethDavid-OnePA-PhoneBanks.
Beth David’s Civic Engagement Campaign
Staying Up To Date/Getting Involved
- For the latest voting information from Pennsylvania, visit https://www.votespa.com.
- For information about our campaign and the latest on voting, visit our campaign at http://bit.ly/BethDavid-CivicCampaign.
- RAC-PA recently launched a website providing updates on voting and volunteering. Visit www.rac.org/pa and click on ”Civic Engagement.”
- Visit https://bit.ly/BethDavid-ElectionVolunteerForm to sign up as a volunteer for the Beth David campaign.
Days & Counting…Down
That’s right, the Nov. 3 General Election is only 50 days away. Time for an update on our voter engagement campaign. Let’s start with some good news about the voting process
According to the Committee of 70, despite the ongoing stalemate in Harrisburg over a final set of election law updates, Bucks and Montgomery Counties have announced plans to open satellite election offices, where residents can register to vote, apply to vote by mail, and drop off mail-in ballots. In addition, voters in PA who have already applied for mail-in ballots can expect to start receiving them later this month.
Wondering if you can trust the U.S. Postal Service to deliver your mail-in ballot on time? This might reassure you. The USPS is mailing a postcard to all the U.S. households it serves with advice on when to request and return a mail-in ballot (see accompanying image). Sounds like an organization committed to getting the job done right.
The reaction to the mailer hasn’t been entirely favorable, with much of the criticism focusing on the fact the postcard doesn’t include the specific deadlines for each state, relying instead on broad guidelines. But the Postal Service has set up an excellent webpage to help voters get the specifics for their state.
The postcard doesn’t encourage voting by mail, but it should allay some of the public’s fears about doing so. Nevertheless, if you’re going to cast your vote by mail, request your ballot now. Visit VotesPA.com and click on “Mail-in & Absentee Ballots.”
Calling All Volunteers
We continue to seek volunteers for our phone banks in conjunction with RAC-PA and One PA. Sessions have been set up for Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. Each session is preceded by 30 minutes of training. For more details and to sign up, click here. Other volunteer opportunities will be announced soon. For priority notification, make sure you’ve filled out our volunteer form (available here).
National Voter Registration Day Event
Tuesday, September 22 is National Voter Registration Day, a nonpartisan civic holiday celebrating our democracy. We’re going to have a virtual event on the 22nd from 7:00 to 8:00 PM to mark the occasion. We’ll be announcing our speakers soon; in the meantime, please save the date. If you’re wondering if it’s OK to hold or attend an event like this during the High Holidays, according to the rabbinic authorities we consulted, it is.
Have a voting-related question? Send it to Campaign Co-Chair Bill Madway, and he will be happy to respond. If multiple people have the same question, the answer will be published in our weekly column in “Beth David This Week.” We’ll also be launching an FAQ section on our webpage. And be sure to visit Beth David’s Facebook Page for voting and volunteering updates.
Beth David Civic Engagement Campaign Action Items
We’re dedicating September to getting ready to vote. Here are 7 steps you can take this week to get ready and help others do the same:
- Make sure you’re registered to vote. Click here to check your status, and if you’re not, click here to register online. You can also use the online form to change your name, address, and party affiliation. For info about other ways to register to vote, visit this webpage. October 19 is the last day to register.
- Voting by mail is the safest way to vote. The first step is applying for a ballot. You can apply online using this link. It only takes a few minutes, and if you provide your email address, you’ll receive updates about the status of your ballot along the way. There are other ways to apply; click here for details.
- Some voters signed up to vote by mail in the General Election when they applied for a mail-in ballot for the primary. Not sure if you already applied? You’re not alone. Click here to check the status of your ballot. If your ballot is listed as “pending,” it means you already applied.
- County election officials have a major say in how elections are run in PA. RAC-PA is looking for volunteers to meet virtually with county officials to advocate for safe, secure, and fair voting procedures. To help congregants get ready for their role as advocates, RAC-PA is holding a training webinar 7:00 – 8:00 PM, Sept. 1. To learn more and sign up, click here.
- To help make sure every eligible Pennsylvanian votes this fall, RAC-PA is organizing phone banks to call individuals who tend to vote sporadically or not at all. Nine phone banks have been set up in September, some during the day, some in the evening. Volunteers will call from home; a script and phone numbers will be provided. The first 30 minutes of each session will consist of training. If you’re interested in volunteering, click here for more info and to sign up.
- If you haven’t completed our campaign volunteer sign-up form, please take a moment now by clicking here. That’s how you can let us know what types of activities you’re interested in.
- Have a question about voting? Visit our campaign webpage by clicking here. Bookmark the page for easy access and check it regularly for updates. You can also send questions to Campaign Co-Chair Bill Madway.
Beth David Civic Engagement Campaign Update
With the 2020 General Election only 70 days away, Beth David’s participation in the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s civic engagement campaign is heating up. This week’s update focuses on two important calls for action for congregants:
- Joining our advocacy efforts directed at county election officials in Pennsylvania to make sure their voting practices are safe, fair, and accessible for all; and
- Participating in our phone banking outreach to sporadic, i.e., low-propensity, voters across PA.
Read on to learn more about these activities. But before you do, if you haven’t signed up as a volunteer for the Beth David civic engagement campaign, please take a moment to complete our volunteer form available here. This way you can let us know what types of activities you’d like to get involved in. Once you submit the form, keep an eye on your inbox for more volunteer opportunities and calls for action.
Protect Your Right to Vote & Have Your Vote Counted
The status of the U.S. Postal Service is one of the most talked about voting-related issues as we approach the 2020 General Election. Pennsylvanians also have to contend with important voting issues at the state and county levels. such as when can counting of mail-in ballots begin (state) and will drop boxes be deployed in local areas (county)?
What can concerned Beth David congregants do about all of these issues? PLENTY. Let’s look at the issues at each level of government and how you can get involved.
The chief issue here is the status of the Postal Service (USPS) and the timeliness of mail delivery across the country. After weeks of recriminations and tension, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on August 21 and offered some reasons to be encouraged (see Washington Post article). However, there are no guarantees he will deliver on his promises. Plus, there is the Postal Services’ dire financial condition to consider. As a result, many in Congress and the voting public remain concerned.
So, what can you do? First, on August 22, the U.S. House passed the Delivering for America Act (H.R. 8015) on a bipartisan basis (click here for news coverage). The bill would block cost-cutting and operational changes at the Postal Service, require it to prioritize the delivery of all election-related mail, and provide the USPS with $25 billion in funding. But the bill must now be passed by the U.S. Senate and signed by the President.
The most important step you can take with respect to this legislation is to write (email is fine) or call your U.S. Senators – in our case, Senators Casey and Toomey – and urge them to vote in favor of the Delivering for America Act. The RAC has information you can use to craft a message and a tool to help you contact your Senators; click here to access it. Another tool we recommend is Resist Bot, a safe and reliable service you can use to contact your members of Congress. Simply text USPS to 50409, and a series of prompts will generate a letter to your member(s) of Congress urging them to save the Postal Service.
The Pennsylvania Department of State released a report on the June 2020 Primary Election, which focused mainly on the unique aspects of the election and the problems that occurred, and recommended solutions. (Click here to download the report.) Two of the priorities for improving the process are “to make it easier for counties to distribute and count mail-in ballots.” The report goes on to say, “The single most important change to accomplish this is a legislative change We hope to work with the General Assembly to allow counties to begin pre-canvassing [processing] ballots in the weeks before Election Day” [from p. 5 of the report; emphasis ours].
An article in PA Post provides a good explanation of the politics surrounding the changes that are needed. Regarding the timing of any legislative fixes, the article states, “…any new laws would need to be effective by ‘early September’ to give counties time to implement them, according to the Department of State’s recent report on the June 2 primary.” We will keep on top of this situation, and let you know if/when there is a need to contact your state legislators to push for the necessary changes.
According to PA election laws, counties have enormous sway in the way election are conducted. For example, each county decides the number and location of drop boxes for the collection of mail-in ballots. RAC-PA is partnering with Pennsylvania Voice and All Voting Is Local to make sure the 2020 election is carried out in a manner that is safe, secure, fair, and accessible for all voters, Our work together will largely involve meeting with election officials in many counties across PA to make sure the best practices to meet our goals are being implemented and advocate for changes when necessary.
To kick off the process, RAC-PA held the first of two county advocacy training programs on August 13. If you weren’t able to attend or you want to watch it again, we uploaded the material to a shared folder on Google Drive. The material consists of a PowerPoint file prepared by RAC-PA and a video of the presentation. Click here to access the drive and download the files.
The next step is to attend Part 2 of the county advocacy training. It takes place September 1 at 7:00 p.m. (Eastern), and will feature one of our partner organizations, All Voting is Local. Click here to register. And try to have 3-5 congregants, friends, and/or family members whom you want to be part of your advocacy team attend with you. See the steps below for details about this.
There are three other steps you should take now, if you plan to get involved in RAC-PA’s county advocacy efforts:
- Fill out this form to volunteer for RAC-PA’s county advocacy efforts. You can also agree to invite others to get involved, and/or take on the role of County Captain or Co-Captain.
- Build your county teams in order to build our collective power. The County Captain role isn’t designed to do it alone; many hands make light work.
- Get ready to assess where your county stands relative to best practices and identify the decision-makers responsible for implementing elections protocols. RAC-PA will share the link to the spreadsheet with County Captains as soon as possible, so they can begin building our collective knowledge.
Questions about our advocacy activities? Please email Beth David Campaign Co-chair, Helene Bludman.
One final point about the voting process before shifting to our second call for action.. Do not allow the negative news, lawsuits, and rhetoric about voting by mail dissuade you from taking advantage of this voting option. There are viable alternatives to using the mail to return your completed ballot to your county board of elections should it come to that, including drop boxes (which are likely to be provided – it’s more a question of the number and locations), and dropping them off at your county board of elections. So, apply to vote by mail online by clicking here. If you provide your email address, you’ll receive updates about the status of your ballot along the way. There are other ways to apply; click here for details.
Inform & Inspire PA Voters Through Phone Banking
One of the top priorities of Beth David’s campaign is reaching out to voters who vote sporadically, i.e., “low-propensity” voters. Our partner in this effort is One PA, a highly respected, intergenerational, multiracial, civic engagement organization. One PA is training us in the “science” and “art” of phone banking and providing us with the necessary technology, lists, and scripts.
Virtual phone banks have been set up exclusively for RAC-PA supporters like us. (A virtual phone bank means all participants will be calling at the same time, but will not be watching each other while the calli are taking place.) People from congregations located all over PA will be participating, most likely from their homes.
The September phone bank schedule appears below. To register for specific sessions, click the appropriate link(s). After you register, you will receive an invitation for the applicable phone banking session(s) that will include your unique Zoom link.
- Tuesday, Sept 1 from 12-2:30 pm
- Thursday, Sept 3 from 5:30-8 pm
- Tuesday, Sept 8 from 12-2:30 pm
- Thursday, Sept 10 from 5:30-8 pm
- Tuesday, Sept 15 from 12-2:30 pm
- Thursday, Sept 17 from 5:30-8 pm
- Tuesday, Sept 22 from 12-2:30 pm
- Thursday, Sept 24 from 5:30-8 pm
- Tuesday Sept 29 from 12-2:30 pm
The first 30 minutes of every phone bank will consist of a training refresher. Plus, on August 11, One PA conducted a training program for RAC-PA supporters on how to phone bank. If you weren’t able to attend or you want to watch it again, we uploaded the material to the shared folder mentioned earlier. The material consists of a video, a PowerPoint file prepared by One PA, and a PowerPoint file prepared by RAC-PA. Click here to access the drive and download the files. You can also review the phone bank script by clicking here.
Please note that RAC-PA is looking into adding a couple of Sunday dates to the list. We’ll pass the dates along as soon as we are notified. In addition, we will send out the October dates once we receive them, but they will likely take place on the same days of the week and times, if these phone bank windows prove popular.
Questions about our phone-banking plans? Please email Beth David Campaign Co-chair, Helene Bludman.
Next Campaign Update
A brief word about the next campaign update. We’ve been working on a unifying theme specific to Beth David’s participation in the RAC’s civic engagement initiative, and we’ll debut it next week. The image to the left offers a glimpse at what you can expect. We also plan to include our FAQ section. So, if you have any voting-related questions you’d like us to answer, please email it to Campaign Co-Chair Bill Madway.
Lastly, a reminder. To become part of Beth David’s campaign…to feel the excitement of making a difference and the satisfaction of helping others, please fill out our volunteer form available here,