A WAR ON VOTING…
In 1920, a major effort to register newly enfranchised voters was prominent on the agenda of the just formed League of Women Voters. A few years later, state Leagues were challenged to increase voter turnout by 25 percent, leading the Alabama League to note: “…it is a very difficult matter to qualify for the vote in Alabama…”
Today, states are taking steps that will profoundly affect the number of qualified voters in the 2012 Presidential Election. This year, voter ID requirements, 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. Coupled with dramatic budget cuts that are closing driver’s license offices and post offices, democracy is growing increasingly unsafe for the nation. Read my full blog post on this topic and listen to National Public Radio’s program on voter suppression, “A War on Voting,” a show I participated in earlier this month.
Election Day is next Tuesday, November 8 and the League is doing its valuable work – educating voters through debates and forums and voters’ guides published locally and nationwide on www.VOTE411.org. See our “Leagues in the Spotlight” for this month.
As October ends, I am traveling to keep the Promise, working with Leagues in Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan and Montana on our Clean Air Promise campaign. Read more below about all the important work we are doing.
And please continue engaging with us via our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter: @LWV or www.twitter.com/LWV.
The League's invaluable election information website, VOTE411.org contains the most current election dates and laws nationwide together with other state-by-state resources, including voters' guides compiled by state and local Leagues. This one-stop-shop continues to enfranchise millions of voters.
Clean Air Defense
Poll Shows Voters Overwhelmingly Support EPA and Stronger Standards: This month, the League of Women Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council and League of United Latin American Citizens released the results of a national poll by Public Policy Polling to measure support for the EPA, with particular emphasis on voters in California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The poll results showed overwhelming support in favor of more clean air standards, especially among women and Latinos. “Americans clearly are very displeased that politicians are interfering with EPA scientists. It’s wrong to play politics with the health of our children and seniors,” said national League President Elisabeth MacNamara.
Opposing big corporate interests is never easy, and the job never ends, but the League has never shied away from holding officials accountable to the public. We have many tools at our disposal from the Clean Air Promise to the issues we ask candidates for public office to discuss in our forums, debates and voter guides.
More on Clean Air: Also this month, League President Elisabeth MacNamara asked Senators to protect America's children and families from dangerous air pollution. 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). In addition, the League and its partners sent a letter to the House of Representatives urging members to oppose the suite of bills contained in Majority Leader Cantor's legislative agenda, including H.R. 2681 and H.R. 2250. The League also asked supporters to take action and tell their Representatives to protect public health by voting against these bills. In appreciation, the League and coalition partners sent a letter of thanks to members of the House of Representatives, who voted to oppose the TRAIN Act, which could block two long overdue standards that would reduce pollution and protect public health.
League Urges President to Deny Permit for Keystone XL Pipeline: League President Elisabeth MacNamara sent a letter to President Obama expressing opposition to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and urging him to deny the permit for the pipeline's construction. The League presented three key reasons for its opposition: the pipeline would be inconsistent with meaningful action on climate change, the route of the pipeline poses an unacceptable risk to a critically important water source, and reducing demand is the best way to improve America's energy security. League statement here.
Voting Rights and the Election Process
The League on National Public Radio: On Monday, October 17, national League President Elisabeth MacNamara was a guest on the NPR show, “On Point,” hosted by Tom Ashbrook. The show’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.
96-year-old Chattanooga Resident Denied Voting ID: 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.
New Laws Could Negatively Impact 5 Million Eligible Voters: A new study released by the Brennan Center for Justice this month found that up to five million people could be negatively affected by the various new voter suppression laws that were passed this year in states across the country. Find the report in this NY Times article that includes a quote from League of Women Voters of Florida President Deirdre Macnab.
Redistricting: Leagues Help Citizens Shine
Leagues continued their battle for fair redistricting this month. In California, the League and its partners celebrated an important victory when the state Supreme Court unanimously rejected attempts to undercut the results of the first-ever Independent Citizens Commission redistricting process. And in Pennsylvania, the League has been hard at work collecting video testimonials from attendees at statewide redistricting hearings. Watch them at http://www.fairshapepa.org.
Leagues Prepare Voters for Election Day 2011
As Election Day 2011 approaches, Leagues across the country are working overtime to host candidate forums and debates, produce handy nonpartisan voters’ guides, and help voters prepare to cast a vote in the many local and state elections taking place on November 8. 22 Leagues in seven states have featured their voters’ guides on our national elections resource, www.VOTE411.org, and many more are in the process of distributing guides and other materials to schools, libraries, local businesses, and much more. How are you getting ready for Election Day? Tell us on Facebook!
Gerrymandering Film Available Online for Free: The widely-watched film, Gerrymandering, is now available through November 15th for free online viewing. Watch it today and learn more about why the League is working coast-to-coast to improve the redistricting process.
Transparency and the Deficit
League Urges Committee Leaders to Post Submissions to Deficit Committee: 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
South Carolina Leagues Make the Case for a More Diverse Judiciary: The League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area (SC) hosted an “all-star panel – including three state legislators and a circuit court judge,” at its October event, “A Case for Diversity in South Carolina Courts.” The media report noted that although there was no resulting agreement on the League’s recommendations to change South Carolina judicial elections, the event brought about needed dialogue. State Rep. David Mack III, D-Charleston, who serves on the judicial selection commission and was on the panel, said: "To me, the biggest thing about this is we're having the dialog; we're having the discussion." The League of Women Voters of Darlington County (SC) held 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 that the campaign period for judicial candidates be shortened.
League Submits Comments to UN Committees: October 24, 2011, was United Nations Day. Earlier this year, League 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 League of Women Voters of the U.S. and addressed the issue of CEDAW and the Right to Vote and Hold Office.
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Did you know that many retirement plan assets, like IRAs, face double taxation when they’re paid out to your heirs as part of your estate? So, while estate taxes might take a bite out of what you leave your heirs, your heirs might also have to pay income tax on what you leave them. If you can, you might instead consider leaving your retirement plan assets as a charitable gift to the League of Women Voters Education Fund. Your gift will provide critical support for the League’s work and reduce the tax burdens on your heirs. Be sure to consult your estate planning advisor first; then contact your retirement plan administrator about your decision. It could be as easy as signing new beneficiary forms. For more information on this and other planned giving opportunities, please contact the League at 202-263-1355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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League in the Spotlight
Empowering Voters in Texas, North Carolina and New York...
"As November approaches, Leagues across the country are educating citizens on the candidates and issues, voting requirements and where to go vote – essentially empowering them to voice their opinions this November!"
Members in the Spotlight
LWV of San Luis Obispo, CA
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November 30, 2011.
Did You Know...
This month celebrated the 100th Anniversary of passage of the voter initiative that gave California women the right to vote (October 10, 1911)