Hard to believe that March has come to a close but looking back we made important strides on critical issues – voter protection, money in elections, redistricting, clear air, and health care defense - which we will continue to build on in the coming months. League members were hard at work in March on our Power the Vote initiative to make voters the focus of this year’s pivotal election. From Super Tuesday through the many primaries and caucuses this month, voters across the country relied on the League’s VOTE411.org, our premier online election resource. Finally, March was also Women’s History month and a time to honor the many important contributions women have made in this country. Whether they are voters, candidates, poll workers, or active and concerned citizens like you, more and more women are getting involved in our democracy. Tell us how you celebrated Women's History Month on Facebook or Twitter.
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Voting Rights and the Election Process
Power the Vote: VOTE411, Super Tuesday’s Go-To Resource
March was a busy month with a constant schedule of primaries and caucuses. The League had voters covered. VOTE411.org, the nation’s premier online election resource was ready to go with information on voting locations, the latest candidate and ballot information, and general and state-specific information on voter registration, absentee ballot rules, early voting options, and details of what voters need to bring to the polls. For young and first-time voters, the League created a new Take Control web video. This 30-second spot is designed to encourage young voters – our newest generations of voters - to get registered and vote.
Protecting Voters: On the front lines in Florida, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas &Wisconsin
The League is now actively engaged in lawsuits to halt voter suppression laws in four states: FL, SC, TX and WI. The League of Women Voters of South Carolina and Texas filed papers to intervene in their respective photo ID cases before a three judge panel in Washington, DC, where the states are appealing the U.S. Department of Justice’s denial of preclearance. The State of Texas is also challenging the constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (the preclearance section). However, the court has decided it will only address that issue if it denies preclearance of the law. For more on South Carolina and Texas, read their press releases: LWVSC and LWVTX. Earlier in March, we had a big win in a case brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. The Dane County 9th Circuit Court announced a permanent injunction against implementation of the nation’s most restrictive voter photo ID law. Read the decision here and a joint League press statement here. The state has appealed this decision directly to the WI Supreme Court. And, sadly, after a hard fought battle in Pennsylvania, the legislature passed a voter photo ID bill. The Governor signed it into law immediately. Learn more here.
Voter Registration: Progress in Florida & South Carolina
Early this month, the US Justice Department objected to new provisions of Florida’s election law that place strict regulations on independent voter registration groups and shorten the early voting period. The objection was filed in a pretrial submission in the preclearance lawsuit that the Florida League is involved in. Recent analysis of Florida’s voter registration lists show a dramatic drop in newly registered voters since this new law went into effect. South Carolina’s voter registration bill was sent back to committee this month. The bill would create massive liabilities associated with voter registration drives administered by independent organizations like the League of Women Voters. By sending the bill back to the Judiciary committee, the House made it less likely that the bill will pass in its current form. The bill is “sleeping” but not yet “dead.”
Leagues Register Hundreds of Young Voters
Leagues are working in communities across the country to help high school students register to vote this year. The League of Women Voters of Wilton, CT is registering students that will be 18 by the general election. Do you have a similar effort underway? If you are 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.
New League Report Details Redistricting Lessons Learned
Hot off the presses: Shining a Light: Redistricting Lessons Learned in 2011. Be sure to read and share our new report on the groundbreaking efforts of Leagues and other advocates to promote a more fair and transparent redistricting process. This publication highlights potential areas for reforming the process over the next decade as well as outlining several lessons learned during the 2011 redistricting processes, including effective grassroots mobilization, use of new technologies, and bringing in the media and partner organizations as allies on these efforts. Our thanks go out to the incredible League advocates, especially the state Leagues of California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia, who were instrumental in bringing about positive change during this redistricting cycle.
Florida Court Rejects Redistricting Map, Validates League Concerns
Celebrating the latest in a recent string of redistricting victories, the Florida League praised the state Supreme Court’s rejection of the state Senate redistricting plan originally passed by the state legislature. Declaring that the court’s 5-2 ruling puts “elected officials on notice that they cannot ignore the constitution and abuse the public trust by drawing districts to favor themselves,” the League and its partners pledged to continue to advocate for fair districts as the legislature goes back to the drawing board.
Money in Elections
Why the League Supports DISCLOSE 2012?
The DISCLOSE Act of 2012 was introduced in the Senate this month including a Rules & Administration committee hearing to discuss the issue of money in politics, specifically, whether we need disclosure of who is spending vast amounts of money in American elections. The League is deeply concerned about the current state of political financing in our nation. Rather than focusing on the concerns of voters, too often campaigns and candidates focus heavily on raising funds. And too often, they raise those funds from sources that seek and receive special access, special consideration and special treatment once the candidate is elected to office. That is why, we support - and voters overwhelmingly back - disclosure and passage of the DISCLOSE Act of 2012. Read our full statement to the Senate Rules Committee here.
Presidential Candidates: Reveal Your Bundlers
The League and government watchdog organizations this month asked presidential candidates and President Barack Obama, to reveal more details about fundraisers for their presidential campaigns who "bundle" contributions in amounts greatly exceeding what they're permitted to contribute on their own. Read the full release and letters here.
Health Care Defense
Affordable Care Act, Two Years Later
This month was the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Already to millions of Americans, this historic law has made a difference to their health and in their lives. Now is the time to stop, celebrate and take note of the advances that have already taken place and those yet to come in the next few years. On Monday March 26, the U.S. Supreme Court heard three days of oral arguments on various legal challenges to the ACA and there are congressional attempts to destructively amend the ACA and others to defund the law. The League joined a broad coalition of healthcare, education and child welfare organizations in filing an amicus brief on the Affordable Care Act. For now, it is important to focus on the facts, and how the ACA has already helped the lives of so many Americans. To learn more about the ACA and what it has done, see www.healthcareandyou.org or http://www.healthcare.gov/mycare.
Blunt Amendment Defeated - Stand up to Discrimination!
Earlier in March, on a 51-48 vote, the U.S. Senate rejected an amendment by Senator Blunt to block contraceptive services and discriminate against women. This amendment would have limited access to contraceptive serves for women based on an employer or insurance plan having “religious or moral objections.” You helped defeat the Blunt amendment, but this vote was just the first battle in the fight over contraception. We need to keep the pressure up by continuing to let Senators know where we stand. Go here to thank those who stood with us and to tell those who did not why this issue is so very important. Also, read some of the letters to the editor our Leagues have had published on this important issue – IL, CT, NY, and VA.
Clean Air Defense
New Carbon Rule Puts People Before Polluters
The Obama Administration's new rules, released this month, regulating carbon emissions for future power plants was an historic step towards protecting our children and the environment. The League’s statement added, “EPA’s action on new fossil-fuel power plants is a necessary and long-delayed first step in controlling the carbon pollution that is harming our health.” Read the statement here.
League will be U.S. NGO Partner in G-8 BMENA Initiative
March 8 is International Women's Day, and this year, we were proud to announce that the League has been chosen to partner with the U.S. Government as its 2012 Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) Initiative NGO partner. "The League is proud to serve as the civil society partner alongside the U.S. and Tunisian governments and the NGO partner in Tunisia to contribute our experience to the themes and agendas that will be discussed in these important meetings," said LWVUS President Elisabeth MacNamara. Read more about this exciting work here.
Meet Sharon Holdt
" It's hard to describe the impact that involvement with the League has had on my life. I know that it has made me a much better citizen - more informed and willing to work to make my community a better place to live."
Read about Sharon other League members
Sunshine Week 2012
The League’s Education Fund helped to co-sponsor the 7th annual Sunshine Week National Discussion on March 16, 2012. This year's webcast was broadcast from the Newseum in Washington, DC, and featured Dana Priest, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Top Secret America. Video of the event, “Secrecy, Disclosure and the Risks for Security," and can be viewed here.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.