Powering the Vote Through the Summer
We thought June was a busy month...
As Leagues nationwide have tirelessly stood up for voters in state legislatures and in the courts, the organized assault on voting rights has been stopped or stalled in many states. In fact, this month, there was another court victory for Wisconsin voters, and the Minnesota League has argued in the State Supreme Court that a ballot measure to embed voter photo ID in the state’s constitution is itself unconstitutional. As we continue the fight in states that now have new or tighter voter ID requirements, our Leagues are also working to educate voters so they are ready on Election Day. And, we are also back in the business of registering voters in Florida, trying to make up for lost time.
On another front, the U.S. Senate refused to engage in open and honest debate of the DISCLOSE Act. As a result, voters will continue to be deluged with campaign advertising funded with secret money by wealthy special interests. But the League is not giving up, and we invite you to join our action on this vital issue!
This election is also about the role of voters in our democracy. As Election Day nears, we must ask does power lie with individual voters or in the deep pockets of special interests? Our democracy depends on many individual voters doing small things faithfully – registering to vote and casting ballots on Election Day. The power of those votes represents the best defense against the special interests. Our voices are needed now more than ever, and together we will Power the Vote to power our democracy.
Voting Rights and the Election Process
Voter Protection Action Nationwide
“No Evidence of Voter Impersonation in PA”: As the voter photo ID trial began, the State of Pennsylvania formally attested that it has no evidence of voter impersonation, but as many as 750,000 registered voters do not have the required ID to vote. The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania has sued the state of Pennsylvania in an effort to stop implementation of their voter photo ID law.
Wins for Voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona and the Nation: A second judge declared Wisconsin's voter photo ID law unconstitutional, further guaranteeing that the ID requirement is highly unlikely to be in place for fall elections. The ruling said that requiring all voters show photo ID at the polls creates a "substantial impairment of the right to vote".
The Michigan League and its partners sent a message of thanks to Gov. Rick Snyder, who, on the eve of July 4th, vetoed voter suppression legislation that would have required ballot affirmation of citizenship, restricted voter registration drives and required photo ID to obtain an absentee ballot.
Also early this month, the Supreme Court denied the state of Arizona’s request for a stay to block implementation of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, holding that the documentary proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration applicants does violate the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). In other words, we won for now. The League has been fighting against this law for more than six years.
Voter Purge May Be Coming to Your State Soon: A number of states have requested access to the federal government’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) system. It’s not clear at this point how up-to-date or accurate the SAVE system is so its use for purging non-citizens from voter rolls could be problematic, and state systems for identifying and matching possible non-citizens in their databases have been full of errors, as evidenced most recently in Florida. The League believes that all list maintenance/removals/purging must be TRANSPARENT, ACCURATE and LEGAL. Read the Florida League press release.
DC Court Hears Landmark Voting Rights Case: This month, a three-judge panel in Washington, DC, heard arguments in a case brought by the State of Texas, seeking to overturn a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) decision to deny pre-clearance of the state’s photo voter ID law. The Texas League (LWVTX) has joined the lawsuit in support of the DOJ position, and the national League and LWVTX issued a joint press release. Now that most state legislatures are out of session for the year, the battle against voter photo ID moves from the statehouses to the courts, and the League is involved in court challenges across the country.
WI Poll Observer Report Finds Problems at the Polls: In the last week of July, the Wisconsin League released its poll observer program findings from the June 5th WI Governor recall election. They found that not increasing election officials' training and staffing, along with the new voter registration requirements, could make it difficult or even impossible for many valid Wisconsin voters to cast their ballots in November.
Redistricting: Ohio Reform on the Road to Victory
After delivering the first batch of more than 430,000 signatures in true Independence Day fashion, the Ohio League joined partners in delivering a late July second batch of 300,904 signatures to the Secretary of State in support of a revolutionary redistricting reform proposal to be placed on the November ballot. This new total of more than 700,000 signatures should more than meet the minimum requirement of 385,253 signatures that must be validated by the state in order for the measure to quality for the ballot. Please join us in congratulating our hard-working friends in Ohio!
Registering Voters: Nationwide Impact of LWV High School Registration Project
Leagues in 21 communities recently wrapped up their work on the LWVEF 2012 High School Voter Registration Project. All in all, the fabulous volunteer teams visited a total of 166 schools and helped more than 8,500 young people register to vote for the first time! The positive impacts of this project will last a long time. Indeed, as one team leader declared, “This project energized our volunteers and was very personally satisfying. ... We have made a major impact in our communities."
Money in Elections
No Senate Debate for DISCLOSE ACT!
The U.S. Senate refused to allow full debate on the DISCLOSE Act twice in two consecutive days. The League was deeply disappointed and expressed its commitment to continue the fight for complete disclosure of spending on big-money advertising in candidate elections. See President MacNamara’s inaugural Huffington Post blog. Thanks to everyone who responded to our action alerts as well as our national Lobby Corps members, who carried our message to Senate offices. It's not too late to tell your Senators how you feel about their votes! Please take action and share it with your networks.
"From Theory to Practice: A Grassroots Education Campaign"
A new LWVEF publication, "From Theory to Practice: A Grassroots Education Campaign," shares lessons learned by the Kansas and South Carolina state and local Leagues that participated in Safeguarding Democracy: Quest for a More Diverse Judiciary from 2009-2012.
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 that 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
Membership & Leadership Development Program Hosts Successful Trainings
The national League, working in partnership with state League leaders, is hosting trainings this summer in nine states to engage local Leagues in the Membership & Leadership Development (MLD) Program. Successful programs were held in Minnesota, Iowa, Florida and Texas this month. Cheers to all who participated. Watch this video to learn more about the popular MLD program, which is helping local Leagues in 41 states and DC become more effective. Support the MLD Program and receive a limited-edition “LWV Growing the League for My Community” pin.