Defending the Census: The Next Frontier in the Fight for Our Democracy

Defending the Census: The Next Frontier in the Fight for Our Democracy

Session Type(s): Featured Panel

Starts: Thursday, Jul. 11 1:00 PM

Ends: Thursday, Jul. 11 2:15 PM

Room: 119B

Thu 1pm: Defending the Census: The Next Frontier in the Fight for Our Democracy

Defending the Census: The Next Frontier in the Fight for Our Democracy

Posted by Netroots Nation on Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Trump administration has leveled an unprecedented attack on the decennial census in a thinly veiled attempt to discourage communities of color and immigrants from participating. The Census Bureau suffers from understaffing and underfunding in the critical years leading up to the decennial census. As a result, the 2020 Census and the resulting data risk being undermined from insufficient testing and planning. This census will be the first digital census, despite the fact that a digital divide still exists across the country. And the Trump administration, in breaking with both Republican and Democratic administrations of the last six decades, has chosen to include a question about citizenship. In response and resistance, a coalition of activists, electeds and lawyers are leading the charge to keep this administration from fulfilling its plan to undermine the census. We’ll discuss what the stakes are and what is being done via litigation and community organization to defend the integrity of the census.

Moderator

Adam Bonin

Adam Bonin

Adam extensively represents clients in campaign finance, election law, pay-to-play, and lobbying compliance matters and has been a leader in efforts on behalf of the rights of online speakers His practice today focuses on the representation of a variety of elected officials and candidates for office, as well as corporate, labor, and other politically active entities on federal, state and municipal campaign finance, election law and regulatory compliance matters, including pay-to-play law and the regulation of lobbying activities.

Adam is the former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Netroots Nation, and is a contributing writer to DailyKos on legal issues. He lives in Philadelphia.

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Panelists

Denise Merrill

Denise Merrill

Denise W. Merrill is currently serving her second term as Connecticut’s 73rd Secretary of the State. As Connecticut’s chief elections official and business registrar, Merrill has focused on modernizing Connecticut’s elections and business services, and improving access to public records.

Secretary Merrill has supported and expanded democratic participation, ensuring that every citizen’s rights and privileges are protected and that every vote is counted accurately. She has worked to expand voter participation through Election Da, online, and automatic voter registration (through the DMV). She has also improved Connecticut’s democratic accountability and integrity with a series of rapid response processes to Election Day problems. She served as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State for the 2016-17 term and serves on the Board of Advisors to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Secretary Merrill is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, is licensed to practice law in the state of California, and is a classically trained pianist. She lives in Hartford. Her family includes husband Dr. Stephen Leach and his two sons, her three grown children, and five grandchildren.

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Alex Padilla

Alex.Padilla

Alex Padilla was sworn in as California Secretary of State on January 5, 2015 becoming the first-ever Latino elected to the position. He is committed to modernizing the office, increasing voter registration and participation, and strengthening voting rights. A national leader on protecting voter privacy, Secretary Padilla was the first secretary of state to refuse the White House’s unprecedented request to obtain the personal data of every voter through its troubled Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Believing the Commission’s efforts were a pretext to enacting voter suppression measures, the Secretary challenged the Commission’s agenda and appointees, many of whom had well-documented histories of supporting restrict voting policies that make it harder for eligible Americans to vote. Several secretaries of state agreed and advocates sued. The commission was disbanded in 2018.

In 2016, Secretary Padilla oversaw the state’s historic General Election. Working with statewide partners, the Secretary helped add upwards of one million registered voters to the rolls. More than 19.4 million Californians were registered and more than 14.6 million cast ballots on Election Day – both state records.

To expand voting rights to more Californians, in 2015, the Secretary sponsored legislation to establish vote centers, expand early voting and implement same-day conditional voter registration through the Voter’s Choice Act. He also sponsored the New Motor Voter Act which will eventually register to vote every eligible California citizen who goes to a DMV office to get a driver’s license or renew one, potentially registering millions.