Veterans Against Islamaphophia

Type of Activity: Project Grant
Grantee: Human Rights First
Amount: Up to $200,000 in 2016-2017

What is Human Rights First?

Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. This grant will support HRF’s work to organize retired military leaders and other veterans to speak out against Islamophobia and promote the argument that anti-Muslim speech and policies are fundamentally un-American.

Why do we think this project is a good idea?

We believe the United States is an inclusive nation and at its best when it embraces diversity and champions human rights. This project will address the recent rise in Islamophobia, xenophobia, and subsequent divisive rhetoric in the United States. Through its Veterans for American Ideals platform, Human Rights First is uniquely suited to engage retired military leaders and veterans to participate in this discourse and encourage meaningful change.

How is Voice supporting the project?

Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant to Human Rights First in the amount of up to $200,000 in 2016-2017.

Citizens’ Initiative Review

Type of Activity: Advocacy Grant
Grantee: Healthy Democracy Action
Amount: Up to $250,000 in 2015

What is a Citizens’ Initiative Review?

The State of Oregon established a Citizens’ Initiative Review Commission in 2011 to provide voters with quality, unbiased information about ballot measures to help them make good public decisions. Each election year, the Oregon Commission convenes groups of randomly selected and demographically representative voters to hear arguments for and against ballot measures. Designed to be fair and in-depth, the review process culminates with the production of a Citizens’ Statement detailing the key findings of the Citizens’ Initiative Review panel. The Citizens’ Statement is included in the statewide Voters’ Pamphlet mailed to every voter prior to an election.

A team of nationally recognized researchers funded by the National Science Foundation has concluded that the CIR Citizens’ Statements are widely used and helpful to a large percentage of voters.

Why do we think the Citizens’ Initiative Review is a good idea?

While lawmakers have access to public hearings about proposed legislation, the initiative process asks citizens to vote with very little objective information on important, often complex topics. Most voter information comes from political campaigns and campaign ads. As a result, most voters tell pollsters that they often find ballot measures too complicated and confusing to understand, and most say that they have cast ballots on measures with which they are unfamiliar. While voters say they like the ballot initiative process, they want it to work better.

The Citizens’ Initiative Review is a bipartisan idea that responds directly to the needs of the public and reduces the ability of campaigns to deceive or manipulate the public with misinformation. External evaluations of the informative value of Citizens’ Initiative Reviews show consistently positive results. In Oregon:

  • 65% of voters who read the statements said they helped them decide how to vote.
  • CIR statements were found to help voters become more informed.
  • CIR deliberations were found to be fair and respectful, producing statements free of gross factual errors or faulty logic.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting the Citizens’ Initiative Review?

Democracy Fund Voice approved its first grant to Healthy Democracy Voice in the amount of up to $250,000 in 2015 to support advocacy for the adoption of legislation that would enable the creation of Citizens’ Initiative Reviews in states outside of Oregon.