Tag: Inspire

Don’t Just Vote, Vote Smart: Resources for Maximizing Your Interests at the Polls

Don’t Just Vote, Vote Smart: Resources for Maximizing Your Interests at the Polls

Voting is an important public right and civic duty. However, voting in a way that maximizes your interests requires more than just checking boxes on a ballot – it takes research.

This research takes time and may seem daunting. Fortunately, there are many existing tools that can help make it easy to answer important questions, like:

  • What do measures and propositions actually do?
  • What do candidates stand for, and what have they done in the past?
  • Who has financed support or opposition campaigns for these propositions and candidates?

We have collected some resources to help you enjoy learning more about the contents of your ballot. However you might be voting this year (by mail, official ballot box, or at the polls), make a plan, and don’t forget to vote by November 3rd

County Voter Guides

Your county voter guide provides a great first look into candidates and initiatives. Every registered voter should have received a county-specific voter guide in the mail that contains:

  • Important logistical information including procedures on how to vote, ballot drop off box locations, and in-person vote center locations,
  • A sample ballot,
  • Brief statements from all candidates running for offices other than U.S. President, and
  • Full text of local measures in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

If you can’t find your paper voter guide, you should be able to find a digital copy on your county’s website (here is the Sacramento county’s voter guide). You can also review a California-wide voter guide produced by the Secretary of State. This contains similar information and should have also come in the mail.

Organizational Voter Guides

Many non-profits and other organizations have voter guides that state which candidates, propositions, or measures the organization supports or opposes. If there are organizations you support (think about those monthly donations you may make), check if they have posted a voter guide for this upcoming election on their website. 

If you would like to read a bit more and learn more about both sides, many non-partisan groups have developed clear and engaging guides for curious voters. We’ve collected a few of our favorites to share with you!

BallotPedia

Ballotpedia is non-partisan, neutral resource that aims to provide people with accurate and objective information about policy and politics. There are many helpful resources on their California webpage, but for this election you may find the following web pages particularly useful:

Voter’s Edge

Voter’s Edge asks you to enter your address and provides you with a sample ballot. Explore candidate endorsements, top priorities, political resumes, and even campaign donor information. This non-partisan non-profit has done the hard work for us, compiling videos from diverse sources, summaries, and organizational information on one centralized sample ballot for you to explore. They even let you save your choices so when you sit down to vote (or head to the polls), you have your selections ready to go. Voter’s Edge provides links to your Easy Voter Guide as well, available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean.

CalMatters

CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom committed to explaining California policy and politics. They have put together a full-service (and fully-entertaining) voter guide for California’s election:

  • Proposition Guide: Explore both sides of every proposition through an engaging 1-minute video. Scroll down for information about fiscal impacts and additional news stories to educate your vote.
  • Gimme Props: Want to gamify the process? This quiz asks a series of simple questions on each issue to help you understand which side may best align with your ideals.
  • Crossword Puzzle: Looking for further entertainment? Put your prop knowledge to work in this crossword puzzle featuring in-depth knowledge of each proposition! 

Campaign Finance Tools

While Ballotpedia contains a lot of information on campaign finance, the following resources can help you learn more about who financed campaigns supporting or opposing the contents of your ballot:

  • Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), Top 10 Contributors List, November 2020 General Election: The FPPC uses data from the Secretary of State to generate a list of the top 10 contributors to support and opposition campaigns for each proposition on the ballot. This is a great resource to explore first.
  • Secretary of State, Campaign Finance Activity, Propositions & Ballot Measures: Provides the full dataset that the FPPC uses to generate the top 10 contributors list.
  • Secretary of State, Campaign Finance: Candidates & Elected Officials: Provides a full dataset of contributions to each candidate running for a position in the California State Legislature.
  • Federal Election Commission, Browse Data: Provides a full dataset of contributions to each candidate running for U.S. President, the U.S. Senate, or the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Center for Responsive Politics, orgopensecrets.org: Provides great background information on federal-level campaign finance along with the same information as the Federal Election Commission’s webpage listed above.

Friends, Family, and Your Community

This research doesn’t have to be a solitary activity! Sharing notes and talking with others can help you process which candidates, propositions, or measures you truly want to support. You can also help others by encouraging them to do their own research – or you might even send them this blog post!

11 Ways to Support People with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Pandemic

11 Ways to Support People with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Written by NxtGov member Arthur Shemitz

We choose a career in public service so that we can be of service to the public. We believe in contributing to the common good, and working hard every day to make a better California. As individuals who have dedicated our careers to bettering the world, we are leaders in our communities.

The global coronavirus pandemic, and the catastrophe it has caused, is an unprecedented call to public service. When so many are losing so much, it is time to serve and advocate for our fellow Californians, especially the most vulnerable among us. 

While the pandemic has disrupted all of our lives, many of the people most affected and worried by the spread of the virus are people with disabilities. As you know, the most vulnerable groups are older people — 40% of whom have at least one disability — and those who are immunodeficient or have underlying respiratory conditions. 

Here’s the good news: by practicing good hand washing, socially distancing, and self-quarantining if you have symptoms of a respiratory condition, you are already helping prevent the spread of infection to the most vulnerable. But we can always do more, so we’re excited to share 11 more ways to support people with disabilities during the pandemic. Each one has its own link to reference material or opportunities to get involved, so you can easily take action.

1. Call out people who dismiss the risks

We are fortunate that the majority of the population is not at significant risk of death from the novel coronavirus. However, people with compromised immune systems or underlying respiratory conditions — such as those with certain chronic illnesses, HIV-positive people, or people with asthma — are at serious risk. Despite this, you can still find public figures saying things like “it’s not a big deal because most people aren’t at risk.” It is a big deal that members of our community are at serious risk. When you see and hear these messages, correct them and share your knowledge of the severe threat COVID-19 poses to the disability community.

Read more: When you say coronavirus will only kill the vulnerable, you’re talking about me

2. Amplify public health directives

Because COVID-19 poses a particular threat to people with disabilities, it’s important to ensure people are following directives from public health officials. This is the time to use peer pressure for good. If your friends and family members, coworkers, or members of your community organizations are not taking social distancing seriously, don’t hesitate to call them out. Lives are at stake!

Read more: How to Use Psychology to Convince People to Take Social Distancing Seriously

3. Share information responsibly

There is so much worry and concern in the air, and so much confusion around what is still a developing pandemic. This is a ripe environment for rumors, misinformation, and conspiracy theories to circulate. Share accurate guidance from public health experts and debunk false information you see on social networking sites. Unfounded information could truly be a matter of life and death.

Read more: CDC Resources on COVID-19, CDPH Resources on COVID-19, COVID-19 Disability Community Preparedness Resources

4. Accommodate remote work, even after this ends

Many people with disabilities would have always benefited from remote work because chronic illnesses make it painful for them to travel to the workplace, or because their workplace is not as physically accommodating as their home, or for other reasons but were previously told it wasn’t an option. The novel coronavirus has demonstrated that more work can be done remotely than we previously realized. Whenever these restrictions lift, keep these lessons in mind and work to normalize remote work in the future.

Read more: Disabled people have worked remotely for years, and they’ve got advice for you and your bosses

5. Check in with and run errands for loved ones with disabilities

This is a scary time for folks who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. If they start to run out of food or other essential supplies, it may be terrifying to imagine going to the grocery store and potentially exposing themselves to the virus. Proactively check in on your friends and family who are at risk, and offer to do their grocery shopping or any other errands at this time.

Read more:10 ways to help your neighbors and friends during the coronavirus crisis,” “How To Check In On Friends’ & Family’s Mental Health During The Coronavirus Pandemic

6. Volunteer (in a socially distant manner)

Even though most physical volunteer opportunities are cancelled, there are still plenty of ways to support the disability community through remote and in-person volunteering. Kelly Joy, our Director of Community Engagement wrote an article on this topic that explores Sacramento’s opportunities for giving back to our community right now.

Volunteer: You may have a lot more time on your hands, so now is the time to give back! 

Be My Eyes is an app that lets sighted volunteers provide free visual navigation and assistance to blind and low-vision people through live video.

Crisis Text Line is a free crisis intervention service available through text messaging. Individuals who experience suicidal thoughts are especially at risk during this time of isolation and disruption of normal routines, and this is a critical time to help.

Bookshare offers free or low-cost accessible ebooks to people with disabilities that make reading traditional ebooks challenging. You can volunteer online to scan books, or edit existing scans.

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, which disproportionately serves people with disabilities, remains open and has an urgent need for volunteers. Normal volunteer orientation requirements have been waived, and Food Bank staff ensure that all volunteers comply with social distancing requirements.

7. Donate where it is needed most

The state of the economy, and individuals’ personal finances, have both changed rapidly. If you have money to give, now is a critical time to contribute to organizations and individuals in the Sacramento community and beyond. (Plus, the 2020 tax year will feature a $300 tax deduction for charitable contributions, even if you don’t itemize your deductions — just another reason to give.)

Donate: Sacramento COVID-19 Mutual Aid, Donate4Sacramento COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, Disability Justice Culture Club

8. Redirect some or all of your stimulus check

As public employees in heavily unionized workplaces, we typically enjoy a level of job security that others do not especially relative to many people with disabilities, who are often the last to be hired and the first to be let go. Because of that, if you are expecting to receive a $1,200+ stimulus payment from the federal government, your need may be less than the need of many in the disability community. (Of course, everyone’s individual circumstances vary and you may have a spouse or loved ones who have lost their job, or you may otherwise be economically impacted by COVID-19.) Consider whether your stimulus payment would be more effectively used to support organizations supporting people with disabilities.

Read more: #ShareMyCheck

9. Donate blood

Our hospitals are about to be deeply strained, just as blood drives traditionally held at schools and workplaces have been canceled. If you can meet the screening criteria, donate as soon as you can.

Donate: Vitalant, American Red Cross

10. Advocate for coronavirus relief to include and prioritize people with disabilities

In times of crisis, the needs of people with disabilities are often neglected or pushed aside as too inconvenient to deal with. Speak up and amplify demands for the ongoing prioritization of the most vulnerable.

Read more: #DisabilityDemands

11. Take care of yourself

You can’t be an effective advocate or support system to your friends and family if you’re not prioritizing your own needs. These are stressful times, and you deserve to pay loving attention to yourself as well. If you feel overextended, take some time to care for yourself and restore your energy.

Read more: “15 ways to practice self-care in the time of coronavirus”

This is hard and scary, and it will stay hard and scary. But with just a little investment of time, you can make this a little less hard and scary for someone else. And when you do good for others, you feel better about yourself. Our community is counting on your public service, and I’m so excited for the good you will do and are already doing. 

8 WAYS to ADD VALUE to PUBLIC SERVICE and STAY INSPIRED

8 WAYS to ADD VALUE to PUBLIC SERVICE and STAY INSPIRED

Authors: Isabella Blasi and Angelica Quirarte 

Public service is a humble profession that impacts the lives of millions and intersects all industries. The concept of being a “state worker” has a negative connotation that is not reflective of the amazing work that civil servants do every day. The bureaucracy of our government sometimes prevent us from being the most effective in our daily work and service delivery and social impact seem slow. However, the people behind the scenes are part of something greater, even when they don’t know it.

As public servants we have the power to change the world, if we can break our silos, build connections and embrace our mission to serve the public.  Below are eight actions that we as public servants can do to collaborate, serve and inspire: 

1. Listen

Serving the public means serving individuals, families and communities. Be active in learning about the people you serve. Listen to what are their needs, challenges, strengths and values. Engage with clients when appropriate, keep up with community news, be an advocate for your public and serve as the link between the public and the big bureaucracy.

2. Be a program expert

As a public servant you have the power to use your skills and knowledge to help make Californians’ lives better. The public depends on you to apply your skills into programs that affects millions of lives. Being an expert in your field shows that you play an essential role in ensuring that people are being served. Don’t shy away from the opportunity to use your knowledge!

3. Know the little things matter

Seemingly mundane tasks can go a long way, especially when interacting with the public. Something as simple as redirecting a phone call to the right department can mean helping put food on a family’s table. Simply listening to a client’s backstory can help him or her feel confident that they are heard and matter to the government.

4. Be a connector

We depend on relationships and collaboration to truly drive effective change. It is through the shared opportunities and resources that we can help bring others along when working on complex issues. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of information we do not know within the bureaucracies of government. Playing an active role in connecting people to resources when you find those opportunities will create synergy in our work.

5. Be nice to yourself

While your work is invaluable, it is not your sole responsibility to save the world each and every day. Know your sphere of influence, constantly work towards expanding it and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t solve climate change in one day. Instead, collaborate with your fellow public servants and keep trying.

6. Be solution-oriented

Don’t be discouraged by the “big bad bureaucracy” or the seemingly insurmountable public issues we are responsible for solving. Be creative when thinking of ways to address the issues that arise.

7. Be a mentor

You’ve worked hard to get to where you are. What are lessons learned that would inspire our workforce? Know of someone close to you that has potential? Most of us have been able to find opportunities with the support of mentors. Find the opportunity to mentor someone and give back. Our experiences serve as lessons learned for others.

8. Give back to your community

If you are looking to collaborate, to serve, and to inspire others, join us. NxtGov is here to stay, because our work is never done and we always need peers and partners to effect change.

DISCLAIMER: This is an unofficial organization that is not connected to any one government entity.