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Help These Comfort Dogs Help the Victims of American Tragedies Such as The Shootings in Sandy Hook, Florida, Las Vegas, and the Boston Marathon Bombings

This post originally appeared on OTYCD in April 2018.

 

Help an Illinois-based Lutheran church program that supplies comfort dogs to victims of American tragedies, such as the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, Florida, the concert shooting in Las Vegas, and the Boston Marathon Bombings.

 

The Lutheran Church Charities’ K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry debuted in August 2008. The dogs help victims of tragedies by giving them something relaxing and joyful to concentrate on. In the course of playing with the dogs, victims find it easier to talk about what happened to them–an act that some survivors struggle with.

 

The team of comfort dogs features Golden Retrievers. Many are named for characters who appear in the Bible. Lutheran Church Charities states they have more than 130 trained comfort dogs helping people in 20 states.

 

The church never charges for visits from its comfort dogs. It relies on donations to underwrite the program.

 

 

Meet the dogs on the LCC K-9 roster and find their individual Facebook pages:

https://www.lutheranchurchcharities.org/meetthedogs-165459-953204.html

 

 

Donate to cover the travel expenses for the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs’ trip to Parkland, Florida, following the Valentine’s Day 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School:

https://give.idonate.com/lutheran-church-charities/lcc-k-9-comfort-dog-travel-expenses-parkland-florida?utm_source=Social&utm_medium=Twitter

 

 

Donate to the general fund for the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Ministry:

https://www.lutheranchurchcharities.org/give-lcc-k-9.html

 

 

See the main page for Lutheran Church Charities, which created and maintains the comfort dogs program:

https://www.lutheranchurchcharities.org

 

 

See the LCC K-9 Crisis Response page, which features photos of events the dogs have responded to, and the people they’ve served:

https://www.lutheranchurchcharities.org/cr.html

 

 

Request a site visit from the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs:

https://lcc.ccbchurch.com/goto/forms/366/responses/new

 

 

Request an emergency visit from the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs:

https://lcc.ccbchurch.com/goto/forms/1148/responses/new

 

 

If you live in Northern Illinois or near Grand Island, Nebraska, you can become an apprentice comfort dog trainer:

https://www.lutheranchurchcharities.org/volunteer-k-9-apprentice.html

 

 

Meet the team who trains the comfort dogs:

https://www.lutheranchurchcharities.org/trainers.html

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

Like LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/k9comfort/

 

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@K9ComfortDogs

 

 

Shop the LCC K-9 store, which has a stuffed toy Golden Retriever and a coloring book that features the comfort dogs:

https://www.lutheranchurchcharities.org/store.html

 

 

Read a CNN story about the LCC K-9 comfort dogs’ visit to survivors of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida:

https://www.cnn.com/2016/06/15/health/iyw-orlando-comfort-dogs-trnd/index.html

 

 

Read an NBC Miami story on the LCC K-9 comfort dogs’ visit to MSD students in Parkland,  Florida:

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Look Carefully at Your Local Polling Place. Is It Accessible to the Disabled?

This OTYCD entry originally posted in November 2017.

 

Look carefully at your local polling place. Is it accessible to the disabled? Make note of what needs improving, and ask local electoral officials to make fixes before the 2018 midterms.

 

Today is November 7, 2017. Many state and local elections will take place. (Best of luck to the candidates OTYCD wrote about who are running in Virginia, New Jersey, and Manhattan.) If you’re going to the polls today, please look carefully at your local site and note how well it serves your disabled neighbors.

 

If you see things that need fixing, please bring them to the attention of your local electoral commission so they can be addressed before the 2018 midterms.

 

A note on photography: While you shouldn’t have problems taking photos of the exterior of the polling site, be careful when taking photos inside the voting area. Never photograph filled-out ballots, and make sure to take your photos when there’s no chance of a filled-out ballot appearing in your shot. If you end up needing to send your photos to state or local election officials, take care to blur the faces of any voters who are visible, to protect their privacy.

 

Things to look for:

 

Are there accessible parking spots near the poll site? Are they clearly designated and marked as such? Is at least one of the parking spots van-accessible (There’s a parking space and an area to one side of the parking space that’s painted with white or yellow diagonals)?

 

Are there ramps or a side entrance with no stairs that a disabled person could use to enter the building? Are the entrance doors wide enough to admit a wheelchair and easy for a wheelchair user to open (no funky old locks or latches)?

 

Once inside the building, are there sufficient elevators and ramps to allow disabled people to reach the area where the voting booths are placed? Are the elevators wide enough for a wheelchair? Are the elevator buttons at a height that wheelchair users can reach (no higher than four feet from the floor)?

 

Are there signs that point voters to the polling site? Where are they hung? How legible are the signs–are they clearly written and clearly printed? If your community speaks more than one language, are there signs in every major language? (If the poll provides ballots in that language, it should have signage in that language, too.)

 

Is the actual voting area laid out in a way that would allow wheelchair users to get around easily?

 

Is there at least one booth that’s wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair? Does it have a writing surface that’s at a height that would be useful to a wheelchair user?

 

Is there at least one vote-tally machine that is designed for use by wheelchair users?

 

What options are provided for blind voters, and for people who don’t use wheelchairs but who might need to sit to fill out their ballot?

 

Is there a long line to vote? (If you have a stopwatch function on your phone, use it to time the length of the wait.) Was the weather bad or challenging in any way? What accommodations are there (if any) for people who cannot stand for extended periods of time?

 

If the site cannot be made sufficiently accessible for disabled voters, does it offer curbside voting instead?

 

Another note for those who have disabled friends who want to vote: Do not advocate for them unless they explicitly ask you to help them.

 

If they do ask you for help, listen to what they say, watch what they do, and be alert to their needs. When in doubt, ask them what they want you to do. When you’re both in doubt, you might want to call your state Protection and Advocacy Hotline (scroll down for the link).

 

If you do spot something that seems like a problem, do not storm up to a pollworker and demand it be fixed then and there. Instead, compose an email or letter, or write down a script to use when calling the officials who choose, equip, and operate polling places.

 

Stay factual. Stick to describing what you saw, explaining why it’s problematic, and asking what can be done to make it better.

 

Keep following up on your request with the goal of fixing things before the 2018 primaries take place.

 

 

If you or someone who came with you to the polls are denied their right to vote–for any reason–you can call the Election Protection Coalition Hotline. A trained lawyer will answer and help with troubleshooting:

1.866.OUR.VOTE (1.866.687.8683)

 

 

If you or a disabled friend hit a disability-related problem that stops you from voting, you can call your state’s Protection and Advocacy Voter Hotline:

Directory of Protection and Advocacy Voter Assistance Hotlines 2016

 

 

Here’s a link that will help you find your state or local election officials:

https://www.usa.gov/election-office

 

 

Here’s a link to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Checklist for Polling Places:

https://www.ada.gov/votingchecklist.pdf

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

 

 

See the National Disability Rights Network’s page on voting:

http://www.ndrn.org/en/public-policy/voting.html

 

 

See the National Council on Independent Living’s links to resources on making the vote accessible:

Voting Accessibility – Media & Resources

 

 

Special thanks to Sarah at the National Council on Independent Living for her help with researching this post.

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Check Out The Cook Political Report

This OTYCD entry originally posted in November 2017.

 

Check out the Cook Political Report, a 33-year-old Washington, D.C. nonpartisan newsletter that provides analysis of American electoral races.

 

Named for its founder, Charlie Cook, the Cook Political Report tracks campaigns for the House of Representatives, the Senate, and gubernatorial races, and rates each on a seven-point scale: Solid Democrat, Likely Democrat, Lean Democrat, Tossup, Lean Republican, Likely Republican, and Solid Republican. It updates the listings and ratings weekly and offers stories about each race.

 

The Cook Political Report is of special interest if you follow or volunteer for Flippable, Sister District, and Swing Left.

 

See the website for the Cook Political Report:

http://cookpolitical.com

 

Visit its Latest Ratings Changes page:

http://cookpolitical.com/ratings

 

Like it on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/CookPolitical?fref=nf

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@CookPolitical

 

Subscribe to the Cook Political Report:

http://cookpolitical.com/subscribe

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

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Help #EndCrosscheck, That Data-sharing Program Used to Disenfranchise Voters

This post originally appeared on OTYCD in July 2018.

 

Help #EndCrosscheck, a data-sharing program that’s been used to disenfranchise voters.

 

You’ve probably heard of Crosscheck, an interstate data-sharing program that has effectively disenfranchised voters across the country. It got its start in 2005 but devolved into a problem in 2011 after Kris Koback gained control of it.

 

As of April 2018, Koback is Kansas’s secretary of state and was the vice chairman of the Presidential Commission for Election Integrity, created after Trump claimed that around three million votes in the 2016 presidential election–not coincidentally the difference between the 62 million he received and the 65 million Hillary Clinton received–might have been cast illegally. Koback claims that voter fraud is widespread, despite evidence that shows it isn’t.

 

Crosscheck might be his favorite tool for spotting potential double votes, or the same person casting a ballot in two states. He favors it despite Crosscheck’s tendency to generate a startling number of false positives and despite flaws that leave sensitive voter data vulnerable. It also seems to flag voters of color more often than white voters.

 

As of 2017, a total of 28 states participated in Crosscheck (Massachusetts has since left the program). #EndCrosscheck formed after the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity asked the states for their voter data (fortunately, most refused, and the commission was ultimately disbanded).

 

Many of #EndCrosscheck’s members are affiliated with Indivisible Chicago. It is devoted to doing just that–ending Crosscheck–by helping people learn what Crosscheck does and urge their states to leave the program or refuse to adopt it.

 

 

See the #EndCrosscheck webpage:

https://www.endcrosscheck.com/

 

 

Learn if your state is a member of Crosscheck (and if you scroll down, you can see if your state was once part of Crosscheck but isn’t now):

https://www.endcrosscheck.com/is-my-state-in-crosscheck/

 

 

See its Crosscheck FAQ:

https://www.endcrosscheck.com/crosscheck-faq/

 

 

Join the fight to end Crosscheck in your home state and other states:

https://www.endcrosscheck.com/join-the-fight

 

 

Follow #EndCrosscheck on Twitter:

@endcrosscheck

 

 

Follow Indivisible Chicago on Twitter:

@IndivisibleChi

 

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the blue button on the upper right or checking the About & Subscribe page. And tell your friends about the blog!

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Read Avi Woolf’s How to Leave the Echo Chamber

This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.

 

Read How to Leave the Echo Chamber, by Avi Woolf, a writer and managing editor at the Buckley Club, a conservative publication that opposes Trump’s presidency.

 

Woolf lays out solid guidelines for edging out of your political bubble:

 

Don’t just dive into the deep end, take some time to prepare yourself. That includes figuring out what issues matter to you.

 

Look at the mainstream, aka establishment media of the other side, and avoid the rabble-rousers and shock jocks.

 

Don’t debate, discuss. Don’t see political conversations as games to be won, but as opportunities to learn and connect.

 

Read Woolf’s piece:

https://thebuckleyclub.com/how-to-leave-the-echo-chamber-2de78b1508ad

 

Follow him on Twitter:

@AviWoolf

 

Learn about the Buckley Club (which, again, is a conservative publication):

https://thebuckleyclub.com/introducing-the-buckley-club-51e656ab6618

 

Like its page on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/TheBuckleyClub/

 

Follow the Buckley Club on Twitter:

@TheBuckleyClub

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

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Join the Sister District Project

This OTYCD post originally appeared in March 2018.

 

Join the Sister District Project, an effort to help elect or defend Democrats in races across the country.

 

The Sister District Project is one of the many organizations that arose in the wake of the 2016 election. Its aim is to “build a grassroots network of volunteers to channel blue resources to nearby red areas where small, focused boosts can make an impact.”

 

It connects willing volunteers with teams that focus on down-ballot races that are strategically important and winnable. Needs change depending on the race but they can include donating, phone-banking, canvassing, boosting the signal through social media, etc. They’re also concerned with reversing pro-Republican gerrymandering and making sure that districts are fairly drawn after the 2020 census info comes in.

 

See the Sister District web site:

Home

 

See its Who We Are and What We Do pages:

https://www.sisterdistrict.com/who-we-are/

What We Do

 

Find your Sister District team:

https://www.sisterdistrict.com/yourdistrict/

 

Like Sister District on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/sisterdistrict/

 

Follow it on Twitter:

@Sister_District

 

Donate to Sister District:

https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/sdp_inc

 

Subscribe to One Thing You Can Do by clicking the button on the upper right of the page. And tell your friends about the blog!

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Fight Back If Your State Wants to Pass A Law That Lets Drivers Escape Liability for Hitting Protestors

This OTYCD entry originally posted in August 2017.

 

Is your state working on a law that would lighten or lift punishments for drivers who hit protestors with their cars? Call your state legislators and tell them to vote no or stop progress on that bill. 

 

Months ago, in the depths of winter 2017, we at OTYCD were grossed out enough to ask readers who live in North Dakota to oppose HB 1203, a bill that would lessen legal penalties for drivers who hit protestors with their cars:

https://onethingyoucando.com/2017/04/21/oppose-a-north-dakota-state-bill-that-would-cheapen-the-lives-of-protesters/

 

It failed to pass the North Dakota house by a too-close-for-comfort margin of 50 to 41. But apparently some sick individuals who got elected to state office elsewhere in the country thought that HB 1203 was a good idea and introduced their own versions in their home legislatures. (You get one guess as to what their party affiliations are.)

 

According to a CNN story linked below, these five states have joined North Dakota in pursuing bills that would make it easier for drivers to hurt or kill protestors with their vehicles and escape punishment or receive what amounts to a slap on the wrist. The bill numbers are included:

 

 

Rhode Island, HB 5690. Introduced in March but has since been held, per the state’s House Judiciary Committee, for more study.

 

 

North Carolina, HB 330. Introduced in March. It passed the house in April on a 67-48 vote and is now with the state’s Senate Committee on Rules and Operations. It could proceed from there to broader consideration in the state senate.

 

 

Tennessee, SB 944 and HB 668. The house version is dead, but the Senate version is still alive, sitting with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

 

And so you’re aware:

 

Florida‘s senate and house introduced bills along these lines in February and March, respectively. Both have since died.

 

The Texas house introduced HB 250 last month during its legislative special session. It was referred to the House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee and was still there when the session ended on Aug 15.

 

So, what should you do?

 

If you live in any of the four states where the bills are not-quite-dead, call your state legislators and make it damn clear that you expect them to let these bills die in committee or vote against them if they come up. If your reps happen to be sponsors of one of these bills, ask them to remove their support. If you live in one of the two states where bills were introduced, but died, call and make it clear that you expect the bills to stay dead. And if you live anywhere else? Call your state reps, mention these bills, and make it clear that you want them to stop any such bill before it starts.

 

Here’s how to find your state legislators. You have a state senator and a state house rep. Plug your street address into this search engine to find them:

whoaremyrepresentatives.org

 

 

Sample script for state legislators who are from the four states that have not-quite-dead-yet bills: “I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I am asking state senator/house representative (Lastname) to oppose (Bill ID goes here), which would shield drivers from the consequences of accidentally hitting protesters who block a roadway. It was a sick idea before that guy attacked those protestors in Charlottesville, and it’s an even worse idea now. Please do everything you can to stop its progress. If you are a sponsor, please remove your support, thank you.”

 

 

Sample script for state legislators from the two states where bills were introduced, but died: “I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). I realize that (Bill ID goes here) has essentially died and can’t become law in the current session, but I am asking state senator/house representative (Lastname) to make sure it stays dead and is not revived in a future session. The bill would have shielded drivers from the consequences of accidentally hitting protesters who block a roadway. It was a sick idea before that guy attacked those protestors in Charlottesville, and it’s an even worse idea now. Please do everything you can to stop its progress. If (State Senator/House Rep Lastname) co-sponsored the bill, I am asking (him/her) to please withdraw support. Thank you.”

 

 

Sample script for those of us in the 44 other states: “I am (Firstname Lastname, from town, zip code). In the wake of the horrifying car attack on protestors in Charlottesville, I learned that six states had been pursuing bills that would lessen or remove penalties on drivers who hit or killed protestors with their cars. I realize there is no such bill moving through our state legislature now but I am asking State Senator/House Rep (Lastname) to oppose such a bill if anyone tries to introduce one. Thank you.”

 

 

See the CNN story from August 19, 2017 on states’ efforts to lessen penalties on drivers who injure protestors:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/18/us/legislation-protects-drivers-injure-protesters/index.html

 

 

See a similar story from a British paper (warning: It includes a graphic image from the Charlottesville attack):

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/charlottesville-states-introduced-bills-laws-protect-drivers-run-protesters-texas-florida-tennessee-a7902546.html

 

 

Read about backlash to these bills after the terrorist incident in Charlottesville that killed Heather Heyer and injured 19:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/backlash-gop-bills-shield-drivers-hit-protesters-49234719

 

 

Read state-level coverage of various laws (warning–some of these stories include links to eyewitness videos taken of the attack in Charlottesville):

http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/10/bill-would-make-drivers-immune-civil-liability-protests/97743390/

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article167065952.html

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-bills-protest-criminal-20170201-story.html

 

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