ICYMI: The Fairness Project Launches $5 Million ‘Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign’ 

New direct democracy campaign will fight back against attempts to make ballot measures inaccessible across the country

Washington, DC– Last Thursday, The Fairness Project announced the Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign, a $5 million effort to fight back against state legislative attempts to shut down people-powered ballot measures that have been critical to improving the lives of millions.

WASHINGTON POST: The Trailer: Ballot Measure Watch. The Fairness Project, a group that funds and organizes state ballot measure efforts across the country, has launched a $5 million Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign, aimed at stopping states from making it tougher to put initiatives in front of voters… In Arizona, a law would make it easier for the legislature to undo a voter-passed initiative if a court rules against any part of it. In Idaho, a new law requires activists to get signatures from every legislative district; previously, they only needed to collect a certain number of signatures from a majority of those districts. All of this, advocates say, unfolded after liberal-backed efforts to expand Medicaid, legalize marijuana, and raise the minimum wage passed in states where Democrats lost statewide elections.

THE HILL: Progressive group announces $5M campaign against efforts to ‘make ballot measures inaccessible. The Fairness Project, which has previously used ballot measures on campaigns aimed at expanding Medicaid, adding more paid time off for workers and raising workers’ pay, is partnering with a handful of organizations on the initiative, called the Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign. They plan to incorporate advocacy, litigation and ballot measure efforts themselves to combat measure restriction legislation. 

THE 19TH: The new battlefront in the partisan war over voting? Ballot initiatives. GOP-controlled state legislatures have made headlines by passing a slew of restrictive voting laws ahead of the 2022 midterm elections — but there is also a raft of bills moving more quietly through Republican-led states that will put new limits on the voter-driven ballot-initiative process….For a group that has successfully worked on ballot measure campaigns to raise the minimum wage and expand the federal Medicaid health care program for low-income people, it is “existential to our theory of change and existential for people in places across the country where making progress in deep red states is possible through the ballot process,” [Executive Director Kelly Hall] added. 

PLAYBOOK PM: DEMOCRACY WATCH — The Fairness Project is launching a $5 million “Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign.” The initiative will fight efforts in state legislatures like Arkansas and South Dakota to make it harder for ballot measures to pass/take effect.

Through The Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign, The Fairness Project is partnering with 14 national and local organizations to form a strategic, multi-state coalition to fight back using litigation, legislative advocacy, and proactive ballot measures. 

“The assault on our democracy is highly organized, well-funded and unrelenting,” said Kelly Hall, Executive Director of The Fairness Project. “While others are focused on fighting back against voter disenfranchisement and gerrymandering, the Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign will confront extremist politicians attempting to undermine citizen access to ballot measures. Where we need to bring litigation, we will litigate. Where we can stop bad laws from being passed, we will run aggressive communications and lobbying campaigns to stop anti-democratic bills. And where the legislature refers suppressive measures to the ballot, we will fight to win those ballot campaigns.”

In 2021 alone, at least 87 bills were introduced that would burden or harm the ballot measure process. Of those 87 pieces of legislation, 20 bills passed that make the ballot process more difficult.

“We are in a dangerous moment in our nation’s history. Democracy is under attack on multiple fronts. So far in 2021, there have been over 80 attempts in state legislatures to prevent voter-driven campaigns from even reaching the ballot. Attacks on the ballot measure process are an attack on our most democratic of democratic institutions. The Fairness Project’s Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign is leading the charge to fight back against state legislative efforts to block people-powered ballot measures and I’m proud to sit on their advisory committee as a partner in this battle,” said Marc Elias, BMRC Advisory Board Member and Founder of Democracy Docket. 

“The Fairness Project has proven that workers, families, and justice can win at the ballot box. Now, through the Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign, they’re working to protect people-powered ballot measures from the ongoing attacks on our democracy,” said Ronald Newman, BMRC Advisory Board Member and National Political Director at the American Civil Liberties Union. “Protecting access to ballot measures is aligned with the ACLU’s broader mission to protect and advance civil liberties and civil rights, and I am excited that The Fairness Project is leading the charge to defend direct democracy.”

“The people of Mississippi are unfortunately all too familiar with efforts to exclude voters from the democratic process. The loss of our citizen-initiated ballot measure process earlier this year was yet another blow to voting rights in our state. The Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign is fighting to protect this vital tool for improving the lives of millions,” said Corey Cortez Wiggins, BMRC Advisory Board Member and Executive Director of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP. “I’m proud to serve on The Fairness Project’s advisory committee and join the battle to make sure we protect the ballot measure process and build a more inclusive democracy.”

“The ballot measure process is one way we are able to ensure that people have access to good jobs, family-supporting wages, and maintain the right to organize. But right-wing extremists and special interests are trying to quietly tear down this pillar of our democracy,” said Richard Von Glahn, BMRC Advisory Board Member and Policy Director for Missouri Jobs with Justice. “The Fairness Project’s Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign will stand up to this under-the-radar assault on the democratic process, and protect ballot measures so that we can continue to win real victories for working people.”

BMRC is a campaign of The Fairness Project, which has won 20 of its last 21 campaigns. Since 2016, The Fairness Project has carved a path for progress through partisan gridlock by using ballot measures to raise wages, expand Medicaid, stop predatory payday lenders, and secure more paid time off. Now, they’re going on offense to protect the ballot measure process itself because it’s one of the few ways everyday people have been able to win in recent years. 

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