FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Adam Eidinger May, 7 2020 Ph: 202-744-2671 Press@DecrimNatureDC.org
Emergency Legislation Breathes New Life Into Initiative 81
The Campaign to Decriminalize Nature to Implement First-of-Its-Kind
Sign At Home Petitioning
WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, the DC City Council adopted emergency legislation that makes key clarifications to facilitate the collection of signatures required for ballot access petitions during the coronavirus public health emergency. On the same day, the DC Board of Elections issued the official circulating petition for Initiative 81: The Entheogenic Plants and Fungi Act. The Campaign to Decriminalize Nature DC (DNDC) will immediately begin collecting the signatures required to place Initiative 81 on the November ballot.
DNDC applauds the DC Council’s adoption of the emergency legislation and the swift follow through from the DC Board of Elections to issue the petition. DNDC also thanksWard 6 Councilmember, Charles Allen, for introducing the emergency legislation and making the preservation of local democracy and the viability of voter initiatives a priority during these challenging times.
The emergency legislation facilitates at-home signature collection by clarifying that: (1) petition sheets may be electronically made available by candidates and initiative measure proposers, signed with a physical signature, and electronically returned to the candidate or proposers; (2) a qualified petition circulator may also sign a petition sheet they circulate; and (3) the petition sheet need not be in the same size or contain the same number of signature lines as the original petition sheet, provided that it contains the other legally required information.
Melissa Lavasani, Decriminalize Nature DC campaign chair and the proposer of Initiative 81 said “The emergency legislation allows us to move forward with collecting the signatures we need to get on the ballot. Our polls show DC voters want access to plant medicine, and COVID-19 forced us to look for new solutions to get Initiative 81 on the ballot. Leadership in the District really came through, not just for us, but for the democratic process.”
With the petition in hand and newly approved emergency legislation in place, DNDC is moving forward with a two pronged approach for collecting signatures from DC voters in their own homes. Next week, a first batch of 10,000 DC voters will receive a packet containing a petition, instructions for signing the petition and detailed information on the campaign. These petitions can be signed and returned by mail with the included envelope with prepaid postage. If this trial “Democracy By Mail” approach is successful, DNDC will rapidly scale up this effort.
In addition, the Campaign to Decriminalize Nature DC will use the provisions of the emergency legislation to put in place a downloadable petition and informational packet. Voters will be able to download an official petition, print it out, sign it, scan it and return it electronically to the campaign.
“Decriminalize Nature DC realized early on that we were going to need a new strategy to keep our staff and voters safe,” said Nikolas Schiller, the campaign’s field director.“With the online option, and our ‘Democracy By Mail’ campaign, we are going to get this done.”
To place Initiative 81 before voters this November, DNDC must collect about 25,000 valid signatures from DC voters, including at least 5% of the registered voters in 5 of the 8 Wards of the District of Columbia, by Monday, July 6, 2020. DNDC intends to collect upwards of 30,000 valid signatures to provide a safe harbor surplus.
Please visit www.DecrimNatureDC.org to request a petition, read the voter initiative, and learn more about this campaign.