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This is the LeaguE-Voice newsletter from the League of Women Voters. You can also view it online.

The League Voice Newsletter

June 2011


Summer is here, but the League is not on vacation! Citing our new high school voter registration manual, ElectWomen.com recently posted this headline: "League of Women Voters: Still Relevant….Needed Now More Than Ever." We can't agree more!

And so, our work will continue throughout the summer. The League is pursuing critical voter protection efforts with even greater determination in response to recent state legislatures' assaults on vulnerable voters. The League also stands firm in its focus on the vital public health issue of clean air and its efforts to increase public discussion surrounding it. Read updates on these and our other activities below.

The League of Women Voters national Council, our annual gathering of state League leaders, just concluded last week with renewed energy and focus. Visit us on Facebook for comments from the participating League leaders.

As always, we welcome your thoughts via our Facebook page and on Twitter: @LWV or www.twitter.com/LWV.

Elisabeth MacNamara
Elisabeth MacNamara
President, LWVUS

Clean Air Defense

Action Alert: In June, the League urged supporters to take action now and send President Obama a message to fight for a strong smog standard to protect the health of all Americans, including those most vulnerable to air pollution – patients with chronic lung and breathing problems, our children, and our seniors.

In support of the League's Clean Air concerns, the St. Louis Post Dispatch noted in a June 10 editorial: "The League is correct that controlling greenhouse gas emissions is a vital public health issue, one well worth fighting for." The St. Louis League responded with a letter-to-the editor on June 14.

League Sends Clean Air Message to White House Chief of Staff William M. Daley
The League’s message thanked Daley for declaring the Administration is “not going to allow any legislation that impedes the need to improve our health and safety” in response to questions about the Administration’s position on legislation to block or delay EPA climate standards. The League expressed its hope that the White House will support EPA’s establishment of a health-based air quality standard for ozone at the lower end of the range of 60-70 parts per billion recommended by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC).

Moving Planet, a Global Day of Climate Action: In 2010, our atmosphere's CO2 concentration was almost 390 parts per million (ppm) – above the 350 ppm that leading climate scientists say is the safe upper limit. Despite evidence that burning fossil fuels is the chief culprit, efforts to curb CO2 emissions are at a standstill. People will mobilize worldwide on September 24 to call attention to the urgency of getting off fossil fuels and moving towards a sustainable, renewably-powered future. Leagues are making plans to be a part of this worldwide action – Moving Planet.

Money in Politics

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in McComish v. Bennett: In a statement released this week, League President MacNamara declared, "…we see another poorly reasoned decision by the Supreme Court on campaign finance, one that is untethered to the Constitution. While the McComish decision is another blow by this Court against clean elections, public financing itself has not been put in jeopardy." Earlier this year, the League (with seven other public interest groups) filed an amicus brief, basing its arguments primarily on the legal principles set forth in Buckley v. Valeo

Voting Rights and the Election Process

Voter Protection: On the voter protection front, through our Public Advocacy for Voter Protection project, the national League and state Leagues continue to work together with coalitions against proposed new laws that will suppress the vote. This month, we congratulate the LWV of Maine for its successful efforts in defeating photo ID legislation in its state Senate. After weeks of assaults on voting rights nationwide, it's encouraging to see bipartisan support defeat the Maine bill. Learn more about this victory here. The nationwide results on ID bills so far: in 10 states (CO, IA, ME, MN, MO, MT, NC, NH, NM and VA) photo identification bills were defeated, while five states (KS, SC, TN, TX and WI) enacted new photo ID legislation. Some of the bills contained other measures. The most immediate threats now include passage of voter ID bills in PA and OH.

The LWV of Maine has also launched a fight against the repeal of same-day registration. See this month's League in the Spotlight for details.

In addition, as noted in The New York Times, the Florida League (LWVFL) continues to battle an "omnibus election reform" law passed in May 2011. Among its provisions, this new law decreases the number of days of early voting and adds new restrictions on third party voter registration drives. In response to the new law the LWVFL announced that it can no longer conduct voter registration drives because the legal and financial risks are too high.

Election Assistance Commission: Late last week, on a 235-185 vote, the House defeated a motion to suspend the rules and pass HR 672. Under suspension a 2/3 vote was required for passage. A day earlier, the League released this statement, urging the House not to terminate the Election Assistance Commission. Also, League President MacNamara sent a letter to the House of Representatives urging members to oppose HR 672; and our indomitable LWV Lobby Corps contacted select Representatives' offices with a similar message. This month, the EAC issued the 2009-2010 Impact of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 on the Administration of Elections for Federal Office (NVRA) report.

Nationwide Assault on Voting Rights: President MacNamara's letter to the editor on voting rights and redistricting was published in The Washington Post. It followed the "Just Say No" email sent by the League to supporters, urging them to join the fight to make the redistricting process public and fair.


California Maps Released: The League of Women Voters of California was a key force behind the 2008 ballot initiative creating the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. The League collaborated with diverse partners to make the new process open and transparent by pointing out the importance of the criteria for drawing maps.  After 23 hearings around the state and thousands of public comments, the Commission released its first draft maps to a flurry of media attention on June 10. The California League is actively monitoring commission hearings and commenting on Voting Rights Act considerations. Local Leagues have produced materials and held outreach programs to facilitate community participation in both local and state redistricting.

Texas League Takes Statewide Action: With four newly allotted Congressional seats, Texas is one of the most active redistricting states. The LWV of Texas is urging lawmakers to draw representative districts in a transparent manner; it recently testified before committees in both state houses regarding draft plans. The League also held multiple statewide educational forums bringing together civil rights groups, community leaders and voters to discuss how new district lines should be drawn. View video here.

Florida League, Partners Cry Foul on Redistricting Process: The League of Women Voters and its partners in the Fair Districts Florida coalition sent a letter to legislative leaders expressing deep concerns about the redistricting timeline, lack of transparency and public input, as well as continued efforts to oppose the landmark amendments overwhelmingly passed by voters last year. Their letter gained high-profile press coverage as legislators embark on 26 public hearings across the state. Local Florida Leagues will attend and testify at these meetings throughout the summer.

Global Democracy

League Expands Work into North Africa and South Asia: The League was invited by the U.S. Embassy in Egypt to meet in July with women's political organizations in Cairo and Alexandria in anticipation of their presidential election in November 2011. Also, the Global Democracy Program was selected to work with  Democracy International (DI) on its new USAID project, "Democratic Participation and Reform in Bangladesh." The League is part of the DI team working on programs that focus on women's participation.

Women in the Americas – Cuba: Read the report from League Deputy Executive Director Zaida Arguedas on her recent participation in the VII Conference of Women in the XXI Century in La Havana, Cuba.

Support The League

You Can Make a Gift That Helps Your League at All Three Levels!
Some things never change even in these challenging economic times. The League of Women Voters Education Fund continues to be at the forefront of public policy issue education which allows citizens to thoughtfully engage in the democratic process. By making a gift of cash or securities of $5,000 or more to the LWVEF Pooled Income Fund, you can receive an immediate income tax deduction for a portion of the gift's value and continue earning a quarterly return on the interest earned for life. Best of all, you can name your state and/or local League, along with the LWVEF, to benefit from the residual funds when you're gone. For more information, please contact the Development office at 202-263-1336 or plannedgiving@lwv.org.

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Members in the Spotlight

Barbara Grosh, LWV of the Rochester Metropolitan Area, NY
Barbara Grosh, LWV of the Rochester Metropolitan Area, NY

"…(League) people (are)… really well-informed…in it for the long haul."

League in the Spotlight

LWVME President Barbara McDade displays the Women's Suffrage Flag
LWV of Maine Launches "People's Veto" to Support Voting

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On June 30, 1971

The 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enacted, granting the right to vote in all federal, state and local elections to American citizens 18 years or older. The United States gained an additional 11 million voters. The minimum voting age in most states had been 21.

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