FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Adam Eidinger. May 12, 2020 Ph: 202-744-2671 Press@DecrimNatureDC.org
DC Voters Urged to Sign and Return Initiative 81 by Mail or Online
10,000 DC Voters to Receive Initiative 81 Petition by Mail This Week
WASHINGTON, DC – The Campaign to Decriminalize Nature DC (DNDC) is pleased to announce that the first 10,000 “Democracy-by-Mail” packets are on the way to DC voters. These packets contain all necessary materials for registered DC voters to sign and return official Initiative 81 ballot access petitions entirely by mail. DC voters may also download the petition electronically and print, sign and return a scanned copy of the completed petition to the campaign. Under DC’s existing ballot access law, DNDC needs to collect about 30,000 signatures by July 6th in order to qualify the ballot measure for November’s general election. If passed, Initiative 81 would make plant and fungi medicines among the lowest law enforcement priorities in the District of Columbia.
Each “Democracy-by-Mail” packet mailed to DC voters contains an official petition, comprehensive instructions, and a pre-paid return envelope as well as a personal appeal from Initiative 81 proposer Melissa Lavasani, testimonials and answers to frequently asked questions. If the “Democracy by Mail” signature drive is successful by May 31st, the campaign intends to mail the petition to over 250,000 DC households in June, with an expected return deadline of July 1, 2020.
DNDC’s “Democracy-by-Mail” strategy, as well as collecting signatures via downloadable petition, is the first-of-its-kind attempt at large-scale, remote signature collection for a voter initiative. Both return-by-mail and downloadable petitions are newly permitted under emergency legislation passed by the DC City Council last week. Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, necessary social distancing measures — including DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s stay-at-home order — have made traditional in-person petition signature collection impossible.
Emergency legislation introduced by DC Council Member Charles Allen and adopted unanimously by the DC City Council on May 6, enabled DNDC to move forward with remote signature collection both by mail and online. In addition to the emergency legislation, the DC Board of Elections worked quickly to resize the Initiative 81 petition to 8.5”x11” and reduced the number of signature lines to 5 per petition. These changes allow DC voters to easily print the petition at home and return a scanned copy of petition back to the campaign. Prior to these changes, the ballot access petition for initiatives, referendums, and recalls was only printable on 8.5” x 14” legal paper, a paper size few voters have at home.
“The Campaign to Decriminalize Nature DC is thrilled to start collecting signatures to put important reforms to laws on plant and fungi medicines on the ballo,” said Melissa Lavasani, a mother of two who proposed the “Entheogenic Plants and Fungi Act of 2020,” after using plant medicines to treat her postpartum depression. She added, “Thanks to swift legislative changes championed by DC Council Member Charles Allen and implementation by the DC Board of Elections last week, DNDC’s “Democracy-by-Mail” strategy is
live and legal. DC voters don’t have to give up on direct democracy during the public health crisis.”
For more information, to read Initiative 81 or to download the “Democracy by Mail” packet petition, please visit our website www.DecrimNatureDC.org .