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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

February 2012

February may be the shortest month but it certainly was packed with lots of activities and progress on several critical issues: voter protection, money in elections, redistricting, voter registration and clean air. We thank all of you for helping us reach our goal on The White House petition asking President Obama to appoint commissioners to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and for sending us your birthday wishes!

The League — now 92 years strong — launched our Power the Vote initiative this month. Join us in our efforts to make sure all voters have the information they need to participate in this year’s pivotal election. Finally, we are only days away from Election 2012’s Super Tuesday. If you live in one of the 10 states holding primaries or caucuses next Tuesday, March 6th, be sure to check VOTE411.org, our premier online election resource, before you head to the polls.

Elisabeth MacNamara
Elisabeth MacNamara
President, LWVUS


Stand up Against Discrimination!
The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote tomorrow on the Blunt-Rubio amendment that would limit access to contraceptive services for women if any employer or insurance plan has a “religious or moral objection” to it. This open-ended invitation to cut back on preventative health care services for women must be defeated.  Tell your Senators to fight against discrimination based on sex!

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Voting Rights and the Election Process

Power the Vote — Our 2012 Birthday Wish
February 14th is always extra sweet for the League because it is our birthday.  We loved the birthday wishes you left on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.  Our birthday wish this year is a special one. 2012 is an important election year and there is a great deal of work to be done to help register, educate and mobilize voters. That is why the League has launched an important campaign — Power the Vote!  Read more about the campaign here.

We Made Our Goal!
Thanks to the passion and hard work of all of our members and supporters, we surpassed our goal of 25,000 signatures on the FEC petition to The White House. This feat was not easy - as many of you can attest. We personally thank every one of you who signed the petition and worked to get your friends, family and neighbors to do the same. As we said in our statement, we are eagerly awaiting the response to our petition from President Obama and to hear about his plans for the government agency charged with enforcing the law and stopping illegal coordination by candidate Super PACs. Read yesterday’s letter to President Obama seeking a response to our successful petition.

On the front lines in South Carolina

An example of this unrelenting attack is playing out in South Carolina where two new laws — one that will place harsh restrictions on independent voter registration drives and another that will require proof of citizenship as a pre-requisite to voting — have been introduced. Learn more about the situation in South Carolina here.

Also this month, SC State League President Barbara Zia was featured on PBS’s Religion and Ethics program discussing the impact of the new photo ID law being implemented in the state.

Read more ...

South Carolina Considering Bill That Would Drive League Of Women Voters Out of Palmetto State  at thinkprogress.org

Voter Suppression Assault Continues into this Year’s State Legislative Sessions
The relentless assault on voting rights continues to sweep across the country. Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Virginia, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire and North Carolina are among the states seeing the introduction and/or reintroduction of bills that, if passed, could disenfranchise millions of voters across the country. The New York Times ran an informative editorial this month that links the influence of big money to the wave of voter suppression laws sweeping the country, specifically connecting these efforts with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its billionaire backers.

Finally Some Good News! Photo ID Bill Dies in Maine
Democrats and Republicans joined together in Maine last week to defeat legislative language that would have required photo ID at the polls. In the second year of this unprecedented assault on voting rights, it’s good to report a win for democracy. Read more here.

Leagues Register Hundreds of Young Voters
Leagues are working in dozens of communities this spring to help high school students register to vote. One of the League of Women Voters Education Fund’s partners, the South Bend (IN) League, has already visited four local high schools and collected more than 500 completed registration forms! Are you interested in encouraging registration among young people in your community?  Download our helpful training manual here, and plan to show and/or link to our catchy new “Take Control” online video

Redistricting Victories Leagues' Celebrate
Leagues’ hard work advocating for better redistricting is paying off this month. First, the Pennsylvania League celebrated an historic victory when the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of a citizens’ appeal to overturn the Redistricting Commission’s gerrymandered plans.  Further down the Eastern seaboard, Leagues in North Carolina and Florida continued their fight to demand more representative redistricting plans through state court processes.  Read all about it and check for new updates on our website.

Money in Elections

League Supports DISCLOSE 2012 in Congress
The League is putting its grassroots support behind the DISCLOSE 2012 (H.R. 4010) bill introduced by Rep. Chris Van Hollen this month.  Our Lobby Corps is carrying this message to more than 100 House offices, asking Representatives to cosponsor DISCLOSE 2012. This legislation will provide essential new disclosure requirements to cover the hundreds of millions of dollars in secret contributions being injected into federal elections by non-profit groups and other entities. The legislation also ensures that there will be timely disclosure by Super PACs. The League and coalition partners also sent this letter in February to the House in support of H.R. 4010.

Health Care Defense

Stand up Against Discrimination!
The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote tomorrow on the Blunt-Rubio amendment that would limit access to contraceptive services for women if any employer or insurance plan has a “religious or moral objection” to it. This open-ended invitation to cut back on preventative health care services for women must be defeated.  Tell your Senators to fight against discrimination based on sex!

Clean Air Defense

Oppose Effort to Kill Vital Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Standards
The League and Coalition partners sent this letter urging the Senate to oppose S.J. Res.37, the Congressional Review Act disapproval resolution sponsored by Senator Inhofe that would eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) life-saving Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants. This resolution puts the health of our children and families at risk and threatens the quality of our air and water.

League Opposes Keystone XL Pipeline Legislation
This month, the League joined groups from the environmental community in opposing legislation to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. The letter said pending legislation would effectively turn Congress into a permitting authority, bypassing a robust environmental and safety review and approving a project for which a route has not even been determined, and called for the rejection of such actions.

Fair Judiciary

The League and its partners have been monitoring recent organized efforts to unseat state court judges, even in states with a merit selection system. As a result, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS) at the University of Denver conducted a roundtable discussion to address selection of judges. The League participated in this roundtable that explored the need for developing a consensus around judicial qualifications and the best ways to select judges.

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

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