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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

June 2012

Energized with places to go and work to do...

What a month June has been! Our biennial National Convention always re-energizes our effort to make democracy work in our communities.  This year, we had an exceptional group of speakers, who applauded the League and called on us to lead our communities out of the dysfunction that special interests and divided government have created. The impressive array of speakers and panelists included Kathleen Hall Jamieson from the Annenberg School, political pollster John Zogby and The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton, along with participating panelists political journalist Eleanor Clift, former Congressman Mickey Edwards from the Aspen Institute and former FEC Chair Trevor Potter from the Campaign Legal Center. Watch the videos here. We also welcomed Attorney General Eric Holder, whose appearance at the Convention prompted an invitation for me to appear again on MSNBC's Politics Nation.

There is much to do in the coming months as we Power the Vote and make sure voters are prepared to vote.  This week's Supreme Court decisions impacting health care defense and money in elections compel us to stay the course. We refuse to give up on our work to stop the flow of money in politics. And, we welcomed the Court's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the flood of support for the EPA and Clean Air. But, we know that the work to keep the ACA and the EPA intact is far from over.

As always, let us know your thoughts and what you are doing via Facebook and Twitter.

Elisabeth MacNamara
Elisabeth MacNamara
President, LWVUS

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Health Care Defense

Supreme Court Protects Health Care for Millions
The League welcomed the landmark Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in this statement and blog. The statement notes: "Leagues throughout the country will continue to educate communities and Americans on the ACA and its pivotal impact on their lives. Health care for all must be the goal as we expand coverage to millions of Americans and preserve the ACA's transformational reforms."

Voting Rights and the Election Process

Did You Send Your Graduate the League's Graduation/Voter Registration E-Card?

It's time to reach out to the young people in your life and ask them if they're registered to vote. If you know anyone who has moved since the last election, tell them they might need to update their voter registration, and it's easy to do at www.VOTE411.org!

Voter Protection Action Nationwide

League Challenges Illegal Purge: The Florida League, with the national League and the Brennan Center, filed this amicus brief in support of the U.S. Department of Justice suit challenging the illegal and inaccurate voter purge initiated by the state of Florida.  Since the state of Florida promised to stop the program, the judge did not issue a restraining order.  The Florida League and Brennan also sent this letter to the FL Secretary of State, outlining in greater depth the problems with Florida's illegal systematic purge program.

Voter Suppression Tactics Move to the Courts: Now that most of the state legislatures have adjourned for the year, it appears that a new legal tactic is being implemented by voter suppression groups. In Minnesota, a group called the "Minnesota Voters Alliance" and others have gone to court to erect new barriers to same-day registration. In Florida, a national group called "True the Vote" has gone to court in support of purging voter rolls. Good news! Former Democratic Vice President Walter Mondale and former Republican Governor Arne Carlson have joined the fight to oppose Minnesota's voter ID amendment.

The League Powers the Vote on TV: The League's Power the Vote activities were featured on television this month! First, LWVUS President Elisabeth MacNamara was a guest on Politics Nation on June 11 with the Leon County (FL) Supervisor of Elections to discuss voter suppression and the efforts to purge the voter rolls in Florida. Then, the long awaited Daily Show segment on Florida's restrictive election law aired on June 12. Earlier in June, President MacNamara appeared with Lee Rowland, Brennan Center Counsel, on a segment of Al Sharpton's Politics Nation to talk about the resumption of voter registration in Florida as well as the purging of voter rolls. There was also more news from Wisconsin. Last year, Wisconsin passed a law requiring citizens to show identification at the polls. While two state judges have blocked the law from going into effect, if the injunction is lifted the law would likely disenfranchise thousands of voters. Learn more from the Wisconsin LWV executive director.

Leagues in the Spotlight...

Congratulations to the 2012 Power the Vote Award Winners!

LWV of Mobile (AL) for its commitment to Strengthening Democracy; LWV of Florida for its efforts in a High Impact Online Campaign; LWV of New York for successfully Engaging its Community's youth; and LWV of Palm Beach County (FL) for its efforts in Membership Engagement.

On the Ground Report from June 5 Wisconsin Recall Election: Our own LWVUS Senior Director for Elections Jeanette Senecal flew to Wisconsin to serve as a polling place observer on June 5. She shares her experience in this June 8 blog post.

The Election Process: In June, the League and coalition partners urged Senators on the Appropriations Committee to oppose an amendment on the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations that would eliminate funding for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC): "Elections are the life blood of a democracy. We strongly urge the committee to strengthen the Election Assistance Commission instead of terminating it."

The White House Responds to Petition Regarding the FEC: Back in March the League joined with coalition partners on a petition asking the Obama Administration to appoint new commissioners to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The petition gathered more than 27,000 signatures, some 2,000 signatures above the required threshold for a response from The White House. More than four months after we reached the signature threshold, The White House responded to our petition, and the League was very disappointed in its response to this serious issue. In return, the League and its partners expressed their deep disappointment to the Administration.

Registering Young Voters

The League of Women Voters Education Fund has again teamed up with YLI (The Youth Leadership Initiative) to create a lesson plan: This one focuses on encouraging high school voter registration. Preview the lesson plan and encourage teachers in your lives to register at the YLI website to access supplemental materials and many more free resources related to civic education. Speaking of high schools, the Massachusetts League announced that 15 local Leagues teamed up to register 1,156 high school students to vote during a statewide voter drive this spring. And the Georgia League is organizing a statewide effort to register some of the state's 700,000 unregistered voters at MARTA transit stops. Way to go!

Money in Elections

A Disappointing Repeat of Citizens United
The Court's decision earlier this week in a pivotal Montana campaign finance case, American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, has repeated the naive, uninformed errors from its Citizens United decision. We said at the time of this decision: "The First Amendment is meant to protect essential freedoms, not as a weapon to destroy American democracy. We look forward to the day when the Supreme Court majority deals with facts rather than imposing their own ideological views."

Support the DISCLOSE Act
The League's letter to Congress this month urged Senators and Representatives to cosponsor and support the DISCLOSE Act. Delegates to the League's National Convention also carried this letter to their members of Congress while lobbying on Capitol Hill. Have questions about the provisions of the 2012 DISCLOSE Act? Check out these FAQs for answers.

Clean Air Defense

In the Spotlight...

MLD Video

We honor our volunteer state and national coaches, who help make this program successful!

 

Thank YOU for Telling the EPA to Protect People, Not Polluters!
Last week, we surpassed 2 million comments supporting the EPA protections against carbon pollution and climate change. This unprecedented tally is the largest number of comments ever submitted to the EPA during a public comment period, and far exceeds the number of comments EPA has ever received on any prior issue. The EPA is now reviewing the millions of public comments submitted in support and opposition of the proposed standard and will issue a final standard on carbon pollution in the coming months. Stay tuned, as we'll be sure to update you when the final rule is announced.

U.S. Senate Rejects Threat to Clean Air Act
In a victory for public health, the Senate (in a 53-46 vote) defeated an attempt to eliminate an historic EPA regulation. The League had joined the environmental community in a letter to the U.S. Senate, urging opposition. The last minute push by League members and supporters, who contacted their Senators helped ensure that the Senate is working for people not polluters!

Global Democracy

Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) Initiative
Read about a recent diplomatic briefing to members of BMENA countries and also get to know our BMENA nation co-chair, Tunisia

Fair Judiciary

Diversity Needed in Washington State Court System
Northwest Public Radio reported on the Pullman (WA) League of Women Voters' judicial diversity panel discussion at Washington State University in early June. On hand were judges and justices from around the state, including Judge Cameron Mitchell of the Benton-Franklin Superior Court, who said minority groups don't always feel like they're part of the judicial system.

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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