April continued at a hectic pace as we made progress on critical issues – voter protection, money in elections, clear air, and health care defense. This month brought us National Volunteer Week, an opportunity to celebrate our grassroots volunteers who are the heart, soul and backbone of our very special organization. League members were hard at work in April on our Power the Vote initiative to make voters the focus of this year’s pivotal elections. Voters across the country relied on the League’s VOTE411.org, our premier online election resource, as they cast votes in primaries and caucuses. Finally, we celebrated Earth Day and, the League spoke out in support of clean air on our blog, asking our supporters to let their voices be heard on a historic regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Tell us how you celebrated Earth Day on Facebook or Twitter.
CONNECT WITH THE LEAGUE
Voting Rights and the Election Process
Power the Vote: VOTE411, A Voter’s Go-To Resource
As the primary season continued through April, 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.
Big Win for Voting Rights!
The April 17 landmark 9-2 decision by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the case Gonzalez v. Arizona, ruling Arizona’s Proof-of-Citizenship requirement violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), is a huge win for voting rights. The Ninth Circuit dealt a blow to attempts to add requirements to the voting process that are unnecessary and will disenfranchise eligible voters. At stake was Arizona’s Proposition 200 which required voters to produce proof-of-citizenship when registering to vote using the federal mail-in registration form. The League was a plaintiff in the case.
Leagues Fight Against Voter Photo ID Laws in South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota
In early April, the South Carolina League was granted permission to intervene in the photo ID case challenging the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s denial of pre-clearance of South Carolina’s photo ID law. Also this month, the DOJ filed papers asking the three-judge panel to reject the state of South Carolina’s request for declaratory judgment. In a separate filing, South Carolina told the court it must make a decision in the matter before August 1st to allow enough time to implement the new law for the November elections. Legal maneuvering in Texas may delay the trial over the state’s voter ID law. The U.S. Attorney General's office has requested a delay, saying the state's legal maneuvering is taking up too much time to meet the tight deadline. LWV of Texas, an intervener in the case, made a similar request to delay the trial one day before the DOJ. On April 16, the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal to a lower court’s ruling on the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin’s lawsuit that successfully blocked the state's new voter ID law without the Court of Appeals hearing the case first. Additionally, later in April, two appeals courts have denied the state's motions to lift the ban on voter ID. This means that Wisconsin voters will not have to show a photo ID in order to get a ballot and have it counted in the recall elections coming up in the next six weeks. Finally, in Minnesota the state legislature passed a voter ID constitutional amendment that will likely be brought before the voters in this November’s election. The League of Women Voters of Minnesota was deeply involved in the fight to stop the ballot measure and is gearing up to help defeat it at the polls.
Voter Protection Debate Nationwide & in the Halls of Congress
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) announced this month that it is discontinuing its Public Safety and Elections Task Force, which is responsible for the promotion of ‘model’ voter identification and stand-your-ground legislation. This came after many organizations put pressure on corporations to withdraw their support from ALEC. Learn more in our blog post about this important development. Also, the League weighed in on the House Committee on the Judiciary April hearing examining the Department of Justice’s record on voting rights enforcement. We wondered: Why is the Judiciary committee holding this hearing rather than taking on the anti-voter laws that were hastily passed in so many states around the country?
Leagues Register Thousands of Young Voters, Can You Help?
So far in 2012, the League of Women Voters of Charleston has helped more than 2,000 high school students register to vote as part of the LWVEF 2012 High School Voter Registration Project. The League in Horry County, NC had a successful registration event at a local high school. Late this month, the League of Women Voters of South Bend, IN held a "voter flash mob" for first time voters! Watch this news clip with the South Bend League president and a high school senior who helped organize this great event! Tell us on Facebook what you’re doing to engage new voters in your community. 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.
Money in Elections
Congress: Put Voters First, Support DISCLOSE Act 2012
The League of Women Voters continued it work this month calling upon Congress to support the DISCLOSE 2012 Act. The LWVUS Lobby Corps will be visiting Senate offices with this letter urging Senators to cosponsor the 2012 DISCLOSE Act. Additionally, the League joined civic organizations and investor groups in this letter, calling on Members of the U.S. House of Representatives to support H.R. 4010, the DISCLOSE 2012 Act. The League is deeply concerned about the current state of political financing in our nation.
League Again Calls on President to Answer FEC Petition
The League spoke out on our blog and joined coalition partners in calling on the President to respond and take action on the effort to nominate new commissioners to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The effort collected over 27,000 signatures through the “We the People” petition process on WhiteHouse.gov. Petitions are required to reach a 25,000 signature threshold in order to solicit a response from the Administration. The FEC petition hit that goal 2 months ago.
Clean Air Defense
Earth Day 2012 – Celebrate our Environment!
April 22 was Earth Day, a time to celebrate the beauty of our air, water and the environment around us. At the League, we try to celebrate Earth Day everyday by working to make the environment safer from pollutants, defending the Clean Air Act, and standing up for people not polluters. This year, the League spoke out in support of clean air on our blog, asking our supporters to let their voices be heard on a historic regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Administration’s Greenhouse Gas Rule Is Major Step in Controlling Climate Change
This month, the Administration published its new proposed greenhouse gas rule for new power plants. This first-of-its-kind rule is a really important step in the fight to eliminate the ill-effects of global climate change. The League’s blog and press statement reflect the League’s strong support. Now we must get to work in communities around the country to ensure that Americans add their voices in support of this rule. Please add your support by submitting a comment to the EPA on this historic regulation.
Health Care Defense
Local League Presidents Fight Discrimination
Local Leagues across the country have responded to recent attempts in Congress to allow employers and health plans to block contraceptive services and discriminate against women. Many Leagues sent letters to their local papers raising concerns about legislation limiting access to contraceptive services. Check out a full list of the letters published or send a link to your letter to be added to our website.
The League on the Road to the 9th Forum for the Future
Do you know what it means for the League to be the G-8 BMENA NGO partner with the U.S. Government? In case you missed it, we elaborated on our blog this month about plans for this initiative.
Meet Charley Turner
" The League has given me another outlet to share what I do professionally, and it’s allowed me to meet a lot of neat and interesting people in my community. It’s definitely given me a better sense of local issues and their importance to different constituencies, and has helped me figure out who the main players are in a variety of political issues in this county."
Read about Charley and other League members
The White House Invites League to STOCK Act Signing
League Executive Director Nancy Tate stood with others around President Obama as he signed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act into law in early April. The STOCK Act makes it illegal for Members of Congress to invest or trade stocks based on nonpublic information they acquire on Capitol Hill. The League believes that this new law is a strong step in the right direction of strengthening ethics laws as they apply to Members of Congress and their staff. The signing ceremony was live streamed on www.WhiteHouse.gov and you can catch up with our take from the ceremony on our blog.
2012 Power the Vote Awards
Vote for the 2012 Power the Vote Award Winners Online
We are excited to announce the 2012 Power the Vote Awards finalists and offer a new way to choose the winners that involves YOU! Cast a vote online for projects that showcase local and state Leagues’ outstanding work that defends and strengthens our democracy. We welcome YOU to read the submissions in each of the four categories here. Winners will be announced at League’s National Convention, June 8-12 in Washington, DC.
Growing the League
Coaches Trained to Strengthen League in Nine New States
Thirty League leaders from nine states (mostly in the central region of the United States) gathered with national League board, staff, and Ruth S. Shur Fellows in Houston, TX this month for a highly successful training session. These leaders have volunteered to be state coaches as part of the Membership and Leadership Development (MLD) program. With BIG challenges facing our democracy – from the highly polarized and partisan political dialogue to laws being passed threatening to deny voters the right to vote - the League of Women Voters is needed now more than ever to register, inform and mobilize voters. The state coaches were trained to help strengthen our community-based local Leagues and their impact within their communities. To see photos from the training, check out our album on Facebook and blog posts on the event.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.