To initiate voter momentum for the presidential race in the midst of a global pandemic, BID accomplished the following:
In the spring, BID conducted a letter writing initiative in cooperation with Vote Forward, Swing Left, and Indivisible, which resulted in over 2000 letters being mailed to states across the nation to encourage individuals to register and make a plan to vote.
In September, while observing strict Covid protocols, BID held an in-person, outdoor, socially-distanced card writing event to encourage voters in select swing states. More than 60 people from all across Bergen County turned out to prepare 1200 cards with personal messages addressed to voters in Kansas, North Carolina, Iowa and Arizona, as well as Pennsylvania. The event was a huge success, and when combined with an additional 1,400 postcards that were ordered online by those who chose to participate from home, BID proudly reached approximately 2,600 individuals who received hand-written urges to participate in the election.
In October, BID conducted two, online phone-banking training sessions with over 135 eager volunteers, who personally made hundreds of calls to engage with voters in Florida and Pennsylvania during the last critical weeks leading up to the election.
In the weeks following the November 3 presidential election, with important senate races still on the horizon, BID launched a major postcard writing initiative to encourage voter participation in the Georgia Senate race, which took place on January 5. More than 83 individuals from throughout Bergen County showed up at Tenafly Borough Hall over their Thanksgiving weekend to attend a tailgating distribution of 3600 cards which were collected by members, who then shared them with friends and family all across the country. This provided BID with extensive national reach and contributed to the success of the vote, which flipped the senate.
Our efforts, along with thousands of organizations like ours around the country, resulted in the largest voter turnout in our nation’s history with approximately 2/3rds of the eligible voting population participating.
In previous years, BID achieved the following:
No Place For Hate
After six-months of intensive planning, BID held a community-wide No Place for Hate forum on October 29 at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades. The event, attended by well over 200 concerned individuals, and co-sponsored by 20 community organizations, featured a moderated panel of community leaders from a wide range of diverse constituencies, who engaged in an insightful dialogue regarding the dramatic rise in acts of hate — both locally and nationally — directed toward Jews, Muslims, African Americans, and other ethnic groups and organizations. They also shared their insights on what we in our communities can do to make a difference in addressing these virulent issues. The discussion was moderated by Evan Bernstein, New York/New Jersey Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League, and concluded with a highly interactive Q&A with the audience.
Preparing ahead for the 2020 election, BID held a Voting Rights event on June 5 featuring Guest Speaker, Jeanne LoCicero, Deputy Legal Director for the ACLU-NJ, who addressed the current state of voter rights locally and nationally. She also discussed what actions the ACLU, other organizations and concerned citizens could take to help protect voting rights. The evening was moderated by BID President and founder Lori Sackler and included an engaging Q&A that allowed for an informal dialogue on topics such as violations against immigrants, civil union discrimination and more.
Visit to Bergen County Jail
Looking to uphold our American principles of justice and individual rights and dignity for all, a group of BID members visited the Bergen County Jail in May to observe how detained immigrants and asylum seekers were being treated. The goal was to offer assistance that could ensure that these people were being treated humanely and receiving proper legal representation and guidance to preserve their rights and to obtain competent representation when it came to a fair hearing of their cases. BID also discussed the urgency for ensuring that immigrant detainees are granted “direct contact” visitation, something they are currently denied, which is a basic human necessity that does not need to compromise the jail’s security concerns. One suggestion was to implement compassion and hope through volunteer visitations. Other topics included the necessity for follow-up medical care, quality food, opportunities to engage in religious meetings, ESL classes, GED programs, and recreational and health programs that ensure the mental and physical well-being for people who have already suffered so much.
A letter was sent to the jail officials and reforms followed.
In response to Trump’s National Emergency funding search to build a wall on our borders with Mexico, BID held an Immigration in New Jersey symposium on March 5 to address this and other immigration crises that create a host of legal and political challenges for our state’s immigrant communities. The event featured Johanna Calle, Director of the NJ Alliance for Immigrant Justice, as well as other activists, who offered their unique insights on how communities can work together toward resolving this major human rights issue as it unfolds around us.
Doing its part to serve the unprecedented blue wave that engulfed New Jersey and most of the country in 2018 leading to the democratic majority in Congress, BID was an active member of a NJ grassroots movement and worked hand in hand with other progressive organizations such as NJ 5 Indivisible, NJ5 Coalition, Action Together NJ, Teaneck Women Together, JOLT Ridgewood, and NJ 11 For Change to promote voter registration and engagement in the 2018 midterm elections under the umbrella of our “Moving Toward Blue” campaign.
In March 2018, we organized an event titled “How We’ll Win Back Congress” in cooperation with NJ 5 and NJ 11 For Change and the participation of Indivisible National, Elizabeth Juviler and Saily Avelenda of NJ 1, Jeff Fox of NJ 5 and Anna Wong and Patches Maggaro of NJ5 Coalition. Our efforts were noted by The Record, Bergen’s leading newspaper.
During April and May 2018, we organized postcard writing parties “Keep/Flip Democratic” and with the help of our volunteers we sent more than 2,000 postcards to voters in districts NJ 5 and NJ 11 moving the needle left in both cases.
In August and September 2018, in cooperation with Action Together NJ, we sent close to 2,000 Vote-By-Mail applications to Democrats in key districts asking them to vote early by mail in the midterm election.
On September 22, 2018, during our all-day event “Reclaim Our Country: Empower Citizens to Vote,” our overarching message was that “it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to actively work to preserve our democracy, starting with voting in the midterm election on Nov. 6, 2018.
During the fall and up to the November 6 midterm election we participated in door-to-door canvassing with our sister organizations NJ 5 Coalition, Teaneck Women Together, and ATNJ, having collectively knocked on 30,000 doors in our area reminding people to get out to vote.
In December 2018, as a result of our election actions and hard work, BID’s president, Lori Sackler, was among the “100 Powerful Women in NJ” list recognized by State Senator Loretta Weinberg.