Claim Democracy
Claim Democracy encourages networking and collaboration among national, state and local democracy groups in order to build support for and strengthen a national infrastructure for a pro-democracy movement within the United States.  Its most significant accomplishment thus far has been our November 2003 and 2007 Claim Democracy conferences, which brought together representatives of more than 100 organizations and more than 500 people for intensive private meetings and public dialogue inWashington, D.C. In light of recent election administration problems and high-profile obstacles to fair elections in the public interest, its major goal for 2008 is the Democracy SoS (Secretary of State) project, designed to develop a comprehensive agenda for action by Secretaries of State and other elected officials who influence election policy.

The vision for Claim Democracy is to help create and support a network of state-based organizations that work to secure, enhance and exercise the right vote through a range of reforms and activities. Rather than exclusively focus on one particular reform or another, these organizations would be able to coordinate and pool resources to advocate one of a number of reforms that meet clear pro-democracy goals. Examples include: expanding the electorate, increasing citizen participation, providing fair representation, promoting better political debate, freeing voters to support their candidate of choice and supporting equality in the political process. Potential activities include plans to:
  • Establish a new website with a range of information about pro-democracy issues, blogs from several leading pro-democracy advocates and easy means to find pro-democracy advocates in one’s state or locality. An internal invitation-only set of pages would facilitate communication among leaders of pro-democracy groups.

  • Promote creation of and support for a network of state and local groups working to promote participation and reform in their state – ideally seeking to integrate efforts to boost citizen participation with reform efforts and seeking to establish lasting relationships with elected officials able to enact change.

  • Coordinate regular meetings of a pro-democracy roundtable of national and local groups, designed to promote strategic thinking, greater communication and coordination in the pro-democracy movement and support for state/local efforts.

  • Develop a “war-room” communications ability able to spotlight deficits in our democracy and work being done to address those efforts.

  • Develop and work with caucuses of pro-democracy elected officials, at local, state and federal levels – coordinating strategic initiatives that can be carried out at different levels.

  • Develop curriculum about the history of expansion of democracy in the United States as a whole and individual states to be used in K-12 schools.


 
Baker and elections board clash over the meaning of ‘frivolity’
Published June 17th 2008 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Attorney General Thurbert Baker, one of the highest-ranking Democrats left in state government, clashed today with the Republican-dominated State Elections Board.

You’ll remember that last month, the Georgia Democratic Party filed another lawsuit challenging the state’s voter ID law — even though the U.S. Supreme Court had recently upheld a similar law in Indiana.

The elections board — Secretary of State Karen Handel included — voted to serve the Democratic party formal notice that it considered the lawsuit “frivolous,” and would thus seek to be reimbursed for the cost of attorneys should the lawsuit not prevail in Fulton County Superior Court.

On Tuesday, Baker declined to transmit that notice to his fellow Democrats.

My colleague Rhonda Cook was a witness to the event. “I am personally disappointed that [Baker] chose to put his political interests ahead of the interests of the people of Georgia,” said board member Randy Evans, general counsel to the state Republican party.

Sitting next to Evans, board member David Worley, a former chairman of the state Democratic party, stuck up for Baker. “The litigation is not frivolous and there is no reason to send that letter. [Baker] is within his rights,” Worley said.