ACA Open Enrollment 11/01/18 – 12/15/18

The Open Enrollment Period under the Affordable Care Act is from November 1 to Friday, December 15. Families in need of health coverage can sign up at HealthCare.gov.

The state of New Jersey recently launched a Get Covered NJ website to help people enroll. The site includes information about plan options, financial assistance and contact information for New Jersey consumers who want help to get covered.

As part of the outreach campaign, the state is also working with five community organizations to support enrollment efforts. These organizations are providing application assistance and conducting outreach events. The organizations are:

  • Center for Family Services – 877-922-2377
  • The Family Resource Network – 800-355-0271
  • Oranges ACA Navigator Project – 973-500-6031
  • Fulfill | Monmouth & Ocean – 732-918-2600 or 732-731-1400
  • Urban League of Hudson County – 201-451-8888, ext. 217

New Jerseyans can also call 877-9-NAVIG8 (877-962-8448) to talk about health insurance options and get help enrolling.

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Living Near Poverty

Most people don’t see poverty on a regular basis. It’s often out of site and out of mind. The other day a timely report was issued about families living near poverty. The numbers are astounding.

A news story was published yesterday in the New Jersey Herald by reporter Jennifer Jean Miller. It is titled, Report: 23 percent in county struggle but not in poverty. Before reading the article think of the phrases we often use to describe unfavorable life situations, “trying to make ends meet” or “struggling to get by”. Think of those who work two or three jobs.

For additional information visit the ALICE in New Jersey page of the United Way of Northern New Jersey. ALICE = Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. You can download the full 2018 New Jersey ALICE report.

November 6 is Election Day. Make your voice heard. Be a voter.

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Voter Registration Deadlines Approaching

Elections matter. If you want to see change happen you must participate.

Below is a set of voter information links. If you live in New Jersey you can download a
voter registration application form to be then mailed to your County Commissioner of Registration or Superintendant of Elections.

You can also check an Am I Registered page to determine if you are already registered. You should perform a polling place search if a new voter or recently moved to a new voting area.

To register in New Jersey you must be:

  • A United States citizen
  • At least 17 years old and may vote when reaching the age of 18
  • A resident of the county for 30 days before the election
  • You are NOT currently serving a sentence, probation or parole because of a felony conviction

If you live in Pennsylvania you can complete an online voter registration application. You can also check your voter registration status or find your polling place.

To register to vote in Pennsylvania you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States for at least one month before the election
  • Be a resident of Pennsylvania and the election district in which you want to register and vote for at least 30 days before the next election
  • Be at least 18 years of age on or before the day of the next election

Keep these deadlines in mind. New Jersey voters have until October 16 to register for the November election. The last day to apply for a civilian absentee ballot is October 30 and must be returned by November 5.

The last day to register for the General Election in Pennsylvania is October 9. The last day to apply for a mail-in ballot is October 30. They must be returned by November 2.

Be a voter.

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Citizenship Question Threatens 2020 Census

The Trump Administration is attempting to weaken another American tradition – the U.S. Census. A scheme has been proposed that would add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The addition of this question will undermine the integrity of the Census Bureau. The inclusion of such a controversial question would have the effect of: 1) scaring certain members of local communities from participating in the Census, 2) threatening the flow of federal dollars to states and localities, and 3) cause an inaccurate and incomplete count of all person living in the United States.

The Commerce Department is currently accepting public comment on their Census plans. However, written comments must be submitted on or before August 7, 2018. Everyone should be counted. Let your voice be heard.

Take action and tell the U.S. Department of Commerce to remove the citizenship question from the 2020 Census.

Individual email comments may be sent to PRAcomments@doc.gov under Subject: “Comments for USBC-2018-0005-0001”. To read the full request for comments visit regulations.gov portal.

Note: The above email form is presented under the leadership of the League of Women Voters of the US. Thank you LWV.

Comment period ends August 7.

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Philadelphia Committee Person Class of 2018

A recent article indicates 1600 new Philadelphia Democratic Committee Persons were elected in the recent May 2018 Primary Election. It means that many – myself included – are looking for information, for resources, for tools to be able to get the job done. The purpose of this article is to provide a few resources that will make it easier for new Committee People to be effective.

Last month I began compiling a list of web links that would be useful as either bookmarks or as reference information during canvassing. The list of links eventually grew to cover such areas as: voter registration, election results, party organization websites, party bylaws and community resources. These website links are now available under the title of Websites For Philadelphia Committee People.

The list of websites was started in an effort to find information on voter registration. The first two links allow you to print out a voter registration application or to register a new voter online.

The list includes the latest version of the Democratic City Committee Bylaws, often referred to as the City Committee Rules. Recently obtained from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party is a copy of “Precinct Committee Person Guide & Resources” which I like to call “Precinct Handbook 2017.2.0.” Could someone explain why this twenty-seven page handbook is not readily available on the PaDems.com website? Or why the City Committee Rules are not available online either?

Please feel free to share the “Websites For Philadelphia Committee People” with others. Email me any suggested additions you may have. I am a Committee Person in 22-03 and consider myself to be a fellow member of the Class of 2018. Know of a good place to meet?

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From Resister To Philadelphia Democratic Committee Person

Much has changed since Election Day 2016. Last year, 2017, was a time for organizing, forming committees and joining the Resistance. In that period of time I attended rallies sponsored by Tuesdays With Toomey and meetings of Indivisible: NW Philly and progressive Philadelphia Neighborhood Networks. Doing what I do best I wrote several articles listing various Resistance groups and resources, including: Philadelphia Resistance and Progressive Groups (1/30/17), Resources For The Resistance (3/02/17) and Resistance, Part III (12/28/17). The idea was to point people to tasks ranging from better voting machines to campaigning in the suburbs to turn the state blue.

Posting blog articles, attending meetings and frequently calling my elected officials was not enough. Listening to others, I finally decided to run for the lowest elected office, Committee Person in my neighborhood. One factor in my decision was the fact that too many people do not vote. Clinton lost the vote in my state by a very small margin. Research revealed the vote in Pennsylvania was 2,970,733 Trump/Pence and 2,926,441 Clinton/Kaine, a difference of only 44,292 votes. In Philadelphia alone 324,573 registered voters did not vote. Since I had never seen a Committee Person knock on my door in the few years I’ve lived in Philadelphia, I decided to run. Hundreds of others did the same thing, many for the first time, like myself.

What was I getting into? The Democratic Party, like the United States, is run by a small group of privileged men. Their object is to maintain power. A movement, however, has said the “trust me” argument no longer applies. We want our country back and we want our party back. These ideas are set to print in a book “Green Shoots of Democracy in the Philadelphia Democratic Party” by Karen Bojar. This book is a must read for new committee people.

In the process of running, I found a running mate, a neighbor on the next block, Lori Jardines. We knocked on every door in the division (aka precinct) and distributed a campaign letter either in person or via a mailing to every voter in apartment buildings. Our platform or mission is “to increase democratic participation, voter turnout and transparency in Philadelphia’s political process.”

To understand the workings of a political party you have to understand and know the rules. The bylaws of the Democratic Party of Philadelphia are not found on their website. Instead, they were posted by former Office of City Commissioner Stephanie Singer on one of her websites under the title of DEMOCRAT_CITY_COMMITTEE_BY-LAWS_REVISED_3-31-2014.pdf. Another copy of the most recent Philadelphia Democratic Party Bylaws is available from the Philadelphia County Board of Elections. The copy I received is two pages longer and includes a March 2014 cover letter signed by Party Chairman Bob Brady plus an additional County Board of Elections timestamp. According to Pennsylvania Election Code all party rules are not effective until a certified copy has been filed in the office of the county Board of Elections (see “Green Shoots of Democracy”, p. 199). Feel free to download the party rules. You will need them if you are a Committee Person.

It is one thing to know the rules but an entirely different matter as to how to become an effective Committee Person. Over the years various handbooks have been written. The Bucks County Democratic Committee published a handbook and resource guide in 2010. The most current version was recently obtained from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. Download their Precinct Handbook 2017.2.0, here.

Many individuals ran for committee person to make our party more democratic, more transparent. We want to share information and not have each ward treated as an island. We must conduct our meetings openly under rules of parliamentary procedure, while filing campaign finance reports as required by law. Most of all, we must become engaged in grassroots voter registration with the intent of increasing voter participation. The movement continues.

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Camden County Reentry Awareness Simulation – June 4

Would you be able to “navigate the system” as an ex-offender just released from prison, trying to comply with court ordered obligations, while employment searching, securing housing and reestablishing your day-to-day life? On June 4th, from 10am to 12pm, there will be a Reentry Awareness Simulation held at Rutgers University, Camden Campus.

The event is sponsored by: Rutgers University Camden Campus, South Jersey Community Reentry Coalition, United States Attorney’s Office District of Delaware, Camden County ReEntry Committee, New Jersey Association on Correction and Camden County Women’s Center.

Please reference the event flyer for additional information. Registration is required as seating is limited. Click here to register.

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