Resolute Square

Virginia: Next Up on Democracy To-Do List

Published:September 14, 2023

Published with the generous permission of David Pepper. Watch his whiteboard and read his writing at Pepperspectives.

By David Pepper

My theme of the week: put your precious time and energy into the things that protect democracy most directly, right now, and the things that YOU can control. (And don’t get distracted by the things you can’t control).

Along those lines, earlier this week, I showed you how you can help protect Reproductive Freedom in OHIO right now. (Thank you to so many who stepped up; and if you haven’t yet, you can do so by clicking here).

Now I’m going to tell you how you can protect reproductive freedom, voting rights and other core issues in VIRGINIA over the next two months. Because they are all on the line in 2023!

As I explain in the video above, if Gov. Youngkin manages to secure a trifecta of power (both a Republican Senate and Republican House of Delegates) this November, he will use that power to implement an abortion ban in Virginia as well as lock in numerous tools of voter suppression along with other priorities in the far right agenda.

So yes, there are enormous stakes.

Which means that the upcoming Virginia election (early voting starts in weeks) brings both risk and opportunity:

  • Risk: Democrats currently hold a slight majority in the Virginia Senate. If Republicans flip just two Senate seats in November, they would control the Virginia Senate and secure the trifecta that would usher in those policies.
  • Opportunity: Republicans hold a slight majority in the Virginia House of Delegates. If Democrats flip only three House seats in November, Democrats take back over the Virginia House. That’s right, Democrats have a chance to control both the House and Senate going into a Governor’s race in 2025.

Add it up, and just a few thousand votes in a handful of communities will make all the difference.

Now that’s high-stakes. But the good news is that YOU can do something to help seize the opportunity.

Here are five simple steps on how:

1.      First, you can help support the candidates who will help flip the Virginia House and protect the Virginia Senate. You can do so by joining up with some wonderful and strategic Virginia-based groups, called Giving Circles, who are currently raising money and then contributing what they raise to support the candidates best positioned to secure majorities in the House and Senate. If you want to help one of these groups—and every dollar helps with under 60 days to go—please push the button below and choose which you want to help.
Boost a Virginia Giving Circle

2.      Giving Circles are part of a broader effort that I consider one of the most effective in the country, called The States Project. They guide the funds raised by these Circles to ensure they are most effectively spent to support winning candidates for these state legislative seats. To learn more, click here. And to get a direct briefing from The States Project about what’s happening on the ground, they are hosting a briefing tonight (Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 8 p.m.). RSVP by clicking here:
RSVP for Briefing

3.      To take part in phone banks to Virginia voters between now and Election Day, sign up for a shift, then another, with Sister District. They host phone banks daily, so sign up here:
Phone Bank Shift

4.      To send postcards to Virginia voters to reemphasize what’s at stake and why it’s so critical that they vote, sign up here:
Send Post Cards

5.      To share with everyone you know the ways they can help secure democracy and abortion access in Virginia…

Thank you! Look for more ways you can make a difference for democracy in coming emails.


Next Assignment—Felony Disenfranchisement

For those taking my Voting Rights Academy, our next topic is the hot topic of felony disenfranchisement. It’s a huge issue in voting rights, both as a matter of our history, but also in terms of how it impacts elections and millions of voters today.
I’m assigning two cases to read, one from just last year to skim (but a great read), and linking to a couple reports that are helpful resources.

1.      Richardson v. Ramirez (1974)
2.      Hunter v. Underwood (1985)
3.      Skim, but interesting recent caseHarness v. Watson (5th Circuit, 2022)
4.      The Sentencing Project: “Locked Out 2022”
5.      Brennan Center: “Disenfranchisement Laws”

If you find the time to read any of these, you will be glad you did.