RAC-CA’s Civic Engagement Campaign aims to strengthen democracy by expanding the electorate, both inside and outside our congregations, and by educating Reform Jews about key ballot measures. The RAC-CA Civic Engagement Campaign is part of the Every Voice, Every Vote: The Reform Movement's 2020 Civic Engagement Campaign. The California campaign has three parts.
1. 100 Percent Voting in Our Congregations and Communities
RAC-CA congregations and communities are taking action so that 100 percent of their eligible members vote in the election this November. They are reaching out to members of their community through personal and relational outreach to encourage members to vote. Some California congregations will match their membership lists with voter records to determine the percentage of their congregation that has voted in past elections, to set goals for the current election, and to measure the success of their effort once the election is over.
2. Reaching Out to Voters of Color in Other States
There have been systematic efforts going back to the civil war to keep African-Americans and People of Color from voting. The specifics of voter suppression have evolved over time, but the reality continues today that it remains harder for People of Color to vote. RAC-CA is partnering with Reclaim Our Vote, a project of the Center for Common Ground, to reach out to voters of color in states where People of Color make up at least 20 percent of the popluation through phone banks, postcards, and text banks. Our goal is to encourage infrequent voters of color in these states to cast their votes and work to overcome voter suppression obstacles.
3. Ballot Measures
RAC-CA has endorsed or opposed three ballot measures, but our number one ballot measure priority this year is one we have not endorsed or opposed. Proposition 15 Schools and Communities First addresses a critical issue: the catastrophic affect that lack of revenue and the accompanying disinvestment has or had on local schools and communities. In the 1970s, California was in the top ten percent of all states in school spending per pupil. Today, California is in the bottom 10 percent when adjusted for cost of living and spends less than half per pupil what New York state spends. The result of this disinvestment has been catastrophic: declining schools; underfunded parks, libraries, first responders, mental health services, health care, and road maintenance; and deteriorating quality of life in our local communities.
Prop. 15 is one proposed solution to the problem. It would provide $12 billion per year for schools and local communities by assessing commercial properties at their current market rate. It would not affect homeowners or owners of apartment buildings.
While there is widespread agreement among Reform Jews throughout the state about the severity of this problem, there is disagreement about the solution. Many Reform Jews support prop. 15 enthusiastically while others do not. Without taking a position on the measure, RAC-CA will support those congregations that choose to work on prop 15 and will ask all congregations to make sure all their members cast an informed vote on prop. 15, guided by their consciences and their understandings of Jewish values. Congregations are turning out their members to a statewide, online forum on Tuesday, October 6 at 7:00 pm – save the date!
RAC-CA has taken positions on three ballot measures:
- Endorse: Proposition 16 which repeals Prop 209 and allows affirmative action in government and state university programs.
- Endorse: Proposition 17 which would allow people who served time for a felony conviction to vote while they are on parole.
- Oppose: Proposition 20 which repeals large parts of the criminal justice reform measures to reduce prison population that RAC-CA helped pass on previous ballots. This measure would limit parole and turn some misdemeanors into felonies.
More information on the four ballot measures above will be available soon. For the latest information and resources on all aspects of RAC-CA civic engagement campaign, please join the RAC-CA group in The Tent, the Reform Movement’s social justice platform.