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League of Women Voters Leaders' Update

August 30, 2012

In This Issue:

PRESIDENT'S CORNER

  • POWER THE VOTE: This Week's Challenge Activity (NEW)

EDUCATION FUND (Education Study)

  • Elections: VOTE411 Redesign Trainings –Sign up Today to Reserve Your Spot!
  • Elections: Time’s Running Out: Sign up Today for National Voter Registration Day (NEW)
  • Texas Voter Photo ID Law Struck Down! (NEW)
  • BMENA Meeting Rescheduled in Morocco (NEW)

ADVOCACY

  • Campaign Finance Reform: League’s Stand on a Constitutional Amendment (NEW)
  • Court Okays MN Voter Photo ID Amendment for November Ballot (NEW)

MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP

  • Young Leaguers Wanted: Apply for the LWV Young Professionals Task Force! (NEW)
  • Did Your League Celebrate Women’s Equality Day? Share Your Event with LWVUS! (NEW)
  • Social Media 101 Webinar Recording Available Online (NEW)

OTHER

  • Leaving a Legacy

 

Dear League Leader:

We just celebrated Women’s Equality Day, marking the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, and we have Labor Day on Monday, celebrating the contributions of workers and organized labor. Both remind us that the success of democracy really does depend on many persons doing small things faithfully. It is easy in this election year with its focus on floods of campaign cash to lose sight of the power of ordinary voters. It is, after all, the voters who will determine the outcome of the many elections held this November.

Throughout our history, politics and big-moneyed special interests have enjoyed a close relationship. Campaigning for office, high or low, requires cash and the easiest way to raise that cash is from the deep pockets of the rich. Business interests in exchange have sought special favors in the form of government contracts and laws which help them control markets.

Organized labor has become a counterbalancing influence and, in the wake of woman suffrage, the League of Women Voters has played a vital role by empowering voters through nonpartisan adult political education.

But big-moneyed interests have never retreated, a fact that is front and center in Election 2012. Money is flooding into campaigns as big political boosters vie to back the winning team not just by donating money to the candidates and the parties, but by creating their own advertising and messaging machines to influence voters and, thereby, the outcome of the election.

The League of Women Voters has committed itself to standing up to this onslaught and is doing so on a number of different fronts. First and foremost, for the remainder of the election season, the League is powering the vote by registering and educating voters to stem the flood of money with a flood of votes in November. In addition, the League is working to enlist our communities and the media in a Truth in Campaign Advertising effort to help voters get facts and not spin before they vote. (Stay tuned for details of this new effort.) Finally, the League is committed to an ongoing effort of education and advocacy to keep the issue of money in elections and politics before the public. 

Over the past few weeks, this message has detailed the voter service and truth in advertising legs of our Power the Vote stool. This week, the focus is on our efforts to control and reform campaign finance. During the party conventions, look for the League to be featured on my Huffington Post blog with comments and links to factual information on money in elections. We continue to respond to every opportunity to speak out on the issue in Congress, in the media and in our communities.

While Citizens United v. FEC and related decisions of the Supreme Court have added a sense of urgency to the problem of campaign finance, the fact remains, that the issue is as old as our republic, and it will require patience and constant vigilance on many fronts to slow the flood of money in politics. Every dam ever constructed to stop or control it has sprung leaks, with or without the aid of the Supreme Court. There is no single solution, including, so far, any proposal to amend the constitution that the League can support under its positions.

Ongoing activities of the LWVUS were given a tremendous boost at Convention 2012 in the form of a resolution (Motion #36833) that tasked the National Board with advocating strongly in this area. To that end, the Campaign Finance Task Force is hard at work. Also, see reiteration of the League’s stand on a constitutional amendment below under the Advocacy section.

That being said, the League is doing yeoman’s work this election season to help voters exercise their true power. Today’s good news just in: The U.S. Federal District Court found the Texas voter photo ID law violates Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act! (See details under Education Fund/Elections section below.) The bad news may be that money in politics will never go away, but the good news is, neither will the League of Women Voters. We have always spoken truth to power by empowering the only real force for change in our democracy, voters and this election year is no exception.

If you haven’t already checked out our newly enhanced VOTE411, officially launched on Women’s Equality Day, please do so! And, please share that valuable resource with everyone you know.

In League together making democracy work,

Elisabeth
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PRESIDENT'S CORNER

POWER THE VOTE: This Week’s Challenge Activity (NEW)
Now is the perfect time to put together a poll watching/poll worker program in your community! Poll observers help identify issues and collect relevant data in addition to working to lessen the impact of photo ID in impacted jurisdictions. LWVEF provides useful tools and documents that you may use in putting together a program. We’ve learned that some of our coalition partners are working on some new resources that we’d like to share with interested Leagues once they are ready. We will keep you posted.

 

EDUCATION FUND (Elections; Global Democracy)

Elections: VOTE411 Redesign Trainings –Sign up Today to Reserve Your Spot!
VOTE411.org has just undergone a complete site redesign! To help you navigate the new site, LWVEF is providing a webinar to show you the basics and answer your questions about the updated voter education tool. Register today for the Thursday, September 6th 2-3pm ET webinar to reserve your spot! If you have any questions about the webinar or about VOTE411, please contact Megan Brown at mbrown@lwv.org. Also, if you haven’t done so yet, check out 411 in President Elisabeth MacNamara’s Huffington Post blog.

Time’s Running Out: Sign up for National Voter Registration Day (NEW)
Leagues have been working hard planning voter registration drives, and more than 180 Leagues have signed up to participate in National Voter Registration Day (9/25). Join with your colleagues in supporting this national day of action! Sign up to host a voter registration event on September 25th by visiting www.nationalvoterregistrationday.org. For helpful tips on planning successful registration events all season long, listen to our recent webinar.

Elections: Texas Voter Photo ID Law Struck Down! (NEW)
A U.S. Federal District Court found that the Texas voter photo identification law violates Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This is great news for Texas voters and America. As President Elisabeth MacNamara noted: "The importance of this case cannot be overstated: It is a landmark decision for voting rights in America and helps ensure America’s elections treat all citizens equally, and are free, fair and accessible.” The League of Women Voters of Texas (LWVTX) joined the lawsuit in support of the DOJ decision. Read our full statement.

Global Democracy: First Preparatory BMENA Meeting Rescheduled in Morocco (NEW)
A delegation of six League experts (a current and a former board member, a local League member, and three staff members) arrives in El Jadida, Morocco, on August 30 to manage the rescheduled, first preparatory meeting of the 9th Forum for the Future. Follow @cpadera for frequent updates from El Jadida.

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ADVOCACY

Campaign Finance: League’s Stand on a Constitutional Amendment (NEW)
There has been some confusion among League members about the League's position on a constitutional amendment on campaign finance reform, especially in view of the resolution adopted by Convention. That resolution assigns the task of advocating strongly for any and all measures, including but not limited to a constitutional amendment, to the LWVUS Board. The resolution also requires that the measures that the Board supports be consistent with League positions. The Campaign Finance Task Force has thoroughly reviewed the current proposals for constitutional amendments. That review can be found here. Neither the Task Force nor the Board has found any proposals consistent with League positions on campaign finance reform and individual liberties. There are movements in the states asking various state legislatures to pass resolutions calling upon Congress to submit a constitutional amendment to the states for ratification. The LWVUS Board has not endorsed those efforts and until such time as it does, state and local Leagues should not advocate for these resolutions. If such an effort is underway in your state, please use the advocacy form on the LWVUS website to obtain guidance from LWVUS advocacy staff in the event that your state board is uncertain as to how to proceed.

Court Okays MN Voter Photo ID Amendment for November Ballot (NEW)
This week the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that a constitutional amendment requiring a photo ID to vote will be on the ballot in November. LWVMN has been working to keep the amendment off the ballot but is now poised to fight to defeat the measure. Read more here.

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MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP

Young Leaguers Wanted: Apply for the LWV Young Professionals Task Force! (NEW)
Are you a League member under age 45 who wants to help the League reach out to the next generation of League leaders? Apply to become a member or co-chair of LWV Young Professions Task Force by September 30, 2012. (We recommend viewing the application, writing your answers on a word document, and then applying online.) Only League members in good standing, age 45 or under, will be considered for this position.
 
Did Your League Celebrate Women’s Equality Day? Share Your Event with LWVUS! (NEW)
Did your local League hold a great event to celebrate and commemorate Women’s Equality Day this August 26th? LWVUS would love to hear about it! Tell us about your League event. Submit a story and your League will receive 5 League buttons! Your League may also be highlighted by LWVUS. Don’t forget to share your event on Facebook, too!

Social Media 101 Webinar Recording Available Online (NEW)
Presented in partnership by the Membership and Leadership Development (MLD) program and the LWVUS Communications Team on August 28, the Social Media 101 webinar discusses how you can build your League and the community through the use of Facebook and Twitter. For more LWVUS-presented webinar trainings, go to the Nikki Harris Online Training Library.

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OTHER

Leaving a Legacy
Including the League of Women Voters Education Fund in your will is among the easiest ways to offer support of the LWVEF's work for years to come. We suggest the following language to include the League as a beneficiary of a will or trust: " I give, devise, and bequeath to the League of Women Voters Education Fund, a charitable organization formed in the District of Columbia, with offices at 1730 M Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, {the sum of $___ } {___ percentage of my residuary estate}." If you already have a will, you can have your attorney add a codicil to include the LWVEF. After you've added the League, please contact the Development office by email so we can list you as a member of our Carrie Chapman Catt Legacy Society. 

Donate to the League and support our work.
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