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Leader's Update

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Leaders Update


October 20, 2011

THIS MONTH: 100th Anniversary – passage of the voter initiative that gave California women the right to vote (October 10, 1911)

PRESIDENT’S CORNER

  • President’s Message: “A War on Voting” (NEW)

ADVOCACY

  • League Urges Committee Leaders to Post Submissions to Deficit Committee (NEW)
  • League Urges Senators to Oppose Voiding of Life-Saving Rule (NEW)
  • League Submits Comments to UN Committees (NEW)

COMMUNICATIONS

  • LWVUS President on National Public Radio (NEW)

EDUCATION FUND (Elections; Redistricting; Fair Judiciary; Education Study)

  • Elections: 96-year-old Chattanooga Resident Denied Voting ID (NEW)
  • Redistricting: Gerrymandering Film Available Online for Free (NEW)
  • Fair Judiciary: Darlington County (SC) Hosts Forum with Former Selection Commissioner (NEW)
  • REMINDER: Education Study Consensus

MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP

  • Nominate a League Leader You Admire to Become a Ruth S. Shur Fellow (NEW)
  • Update Your League Contact Information Today (NEW)

OTHER

  • Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire…” (NEW)
  • You Can Make a Gift That Helps Your League at All Three Levels!

PRESIDENT’S CORNER

Dear League Leader:

Carrie Chapman Catt called for a League of Women Voters to “make our democracy so safe for the nation that every citizen may feel secure and great men will acknowledge the worthiness of the American Republic to lead.” A major effort to register new women voters and educate them in the political process was prominent on the newly formed League of Women Voters’ agenda.

In 1924, existing state Leagues were challenged to increase voter turnout by 25 percent. In September of that year, the LWV of Alabama sent in this report: “As you know it is a very difficult matter to qualify for the vote in Alabama, the registration books are only open three months during the even years and ten days during the uneven years, and the poll tax books are open only four months every year. Hence after February 1st of any year, it is a practical impossibility to increase materially the number of qualified voters in Alabama.”

In the Deep South of the early 20th century, this scheme was doubtless intended to limit qualified voters. Today, early in this 21st century, states are taking steps that will impact the number of qualified voters in the 2012 Presidential Election. Requiring voter ID, limits on third party voter registration drives, eliminating election day registration and curtailing early voting are all measures that have been proposed or passed in a disturbing number of states this year. Coupled with dramatic budget cuts which are closing driver’s license offices, democracy is growing increasingly unsafe for the nation.

This week I was a guest on the National Public Radio call-in show, “On Point,” featuring an hour-long program on voter suppression, “A War on Voting.” A number of callers pointed out the disproportionate impact these laws will have on underserved communities. An election official in rural Tennessee noted that she would be required to turn away voters with whom she is personally acquainted, if they lacked the requisite government issued ID.

Cash-strapped agencies can make seemingly innocuous decisions that impact the right of some Americans to vote. For instance, the U.S. Postal Service is proposing to close offices all across the country, including the reservation in South Dakota where Wounded Knee is located. That post office is a lifeline to the community, including vital voter services such as voter registration and requesting and returning absentee ballots. No one can accuse the USPS of deliberately impinging on voting rights, but regardless of the intent, the result is the same.

A complacent public may feel that democracy is safe for the nation because many live comfortable lives and have a wallet full of cards, but the League was founded to remove the “remaining legal discriminations  …in the codes and constitutions of the several states” that offered stumbling blocks to the “feet of coming women” voters.

We owe the nation our best effort to make democracy safe for every eligible voter!

In League,

Elisabeth

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ADVOCACY

League Urges Committee Leaders to Post Submissions to Deficit Committee (NEW)
The League sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of all House and Senate Standing Committees urging them to post their submissions to the Deficit Committee online as soon as possible for public review in order to fully embrace transparency in the Super-Committee's process.

League Urges Senators to Oppose Voiding of Life-Saving Rule (NEW)
The League and coalition partners sent a letter to Senators urging them to oppose the Congressional Review Act resolution, sponsored by Senator Rand Paul, which would void the life-saving Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR).

League Submits Comments to UN Committees (NEW)
October 24, 2011, is United Nations Day. Earlier this year, LWVUS NGO Observer Rosalee Keech submitted comments to the United Nation's Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The comments were submitted on behalf of the LWVUS and addressed the issue of CEDAW and the Right to Vote and Hold Office.

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COMMUNICATIONS

LWVUS President on National Public Radio (NEW)
On Monday, October 17, LWVUS President Elisabeth MacNamara was a guest on the NPR show, “On Point,” hosted by Tom Ashbrook. “On Point” is a live, call-in NPR show originating in Boston. Monday’s topic was “voting law changes.” Another guest was Ari Berman of The Nation, who has called those changes “The GOP War on Voting.” You may listen online here.

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EDUCATION FUND (Elections; Redistricting; Fair Judiciary; Education Study)

Elections: 96-year-old Chattanooga Resident Denied Voting ID (NEW)
Tennessee is one of seven states that recently passed new voter photo ID laws requiring voters to obtain a state issued photo ID as a prerequisite to voting. At 96, Dorothy Cooper remembers only one election that she missed during the years she's been eligible to vote. Despite her stellar voting record, getting a new ID for Dorothy ended up being much more difficult than you might think. Her story illustrates how these new barriers to voting can have an unfair impact on long-time voters, and why the League continues to fight against such barriers across the country.

Tools for Voter Registration at Naturalization Ceremonies (NEW)
As your League prepares to register voters in 2012, please review and utilize the helpful resources in Engaging New Citizens as Voters, the handy LWVUS guide to conducting voter registration at naturalization ceremonies. Also useful is this new guidance from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, outlining rules that govern voter registration by third party groups (see p. 7). 

Redistricting: Gerrymandering Film Available Online for Free (NEW)
The widely-watched film, Gerrymandering, is now available through November 15th for free online viewing. Watch it today. Then, encourage other interested individuals to watch it and learn more about why the League is working coast-to-coast to improve the redistricting process. Read recent League updates at www.lwv.org/redistricting, or share news about what your League is doing by emailing mduncan@lwv.org.

Fair Judiciary: Darlington County (SC) Hosts Forum with Former Selection Commissioner (NEW)
On Monday, the LWV of Darlington County (SC) hosted a “Quest for a More Diverse Judiciary” forum, featuring Kernard Redmond, Deputy Solicitor for Dillon County and former Judicial Merit Selection Commission member. Redmond spoke candidly about the judicial selection process and ways that it could be improved, recommending especially that the long campaign period for judicial candidates be shortened. LWV of South Carolina co-President Peggy Brown opened the program with remarks about the League’s statewide initiative.

REMINDER: Education Study Consensus
November 30, 2011, is the Consensus deadline for the study, "Role of the Federal Government in Public Education." Each League should input its data once its board has approved. All materials (papers, power points, and leaders' guide for the study) plus the link to the Consensus form are here or can be found at www.lwv.org (click members, click projects and programs, click education study). Specific questions may be directed to Peggy Hill (hillp@uhcl.edu) or Joanne Leavitt (ac997@lafn.org).

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MEMBERSHIP AND LEADERSHIP

Nominate a League Leader You Admire to Become a Ruth S. Shur Fellow (NEW)
LWVUS is now accepting nominations for new Ruth S. Shur Fellows to join the national coaching team! In the words of current fellow Shayna Howell: by being a national coach, she is building a “heightened sense of camaraderie among the three levels of League [which] has led to more trust and cooperation, which is vital to the long-term success of the League.” Learn about the benefits of being a fellow and submit a nomination here, and be a part of something great. Nominations must be submitted online by November 7, 2011. Self-nominations are welcome!

Update Your League Contact Information Today (NEW)
Make sure potential League members know how to reach you! Update your League’s contact information and officers in the LWVUS membership database now (and often) to ensure correct information is posted to the new LWVUS website (to be launched soon).  Have questions or need a tutorial? Check out the online database manual or contact Betty Taira at membership@lwv.org.

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OTHER

“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire…” (NEW)
Limited time only: Fleece sets on sale – $4.50 each at our online store. Sale ends November 30, 2011.

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 202-263-1355 or plannedgiving@lwv.org.

"Like" the League on Facebook at www.facebook.com/leagueofwomenvoters and connect with us on Twitter: @LWV.

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