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League of Women Voters Leaders' Update

September 6, 2012

In This Issue:

PRESIDENT'S CORNER

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

ELECTIONS

  • LAST CHANCE: Sign up for National Voter Registration Day
  • VOTE411 Backpacks for Sale! (NEW)
  • Promote your Candidate Debates and Forums on VOTE411! (NEW)
  • Moderating Debates LWV Style …Fair, Firm and Factual (NEW)
  • VOTE411 Update (NEW)
  • Voters’ Guide Information on Presidential Candidates (NEW)
  • Opportunity to Inspire and Educate Youth (NEW)
  • Join the LWV Effort to Promote Truth in Campaign Advertising (NEW)
  • Court Cases Are Running out of Time (NEW)

ADVOCACY

  • Who Pays for the Parties? (NEW)

EDUCATION FUND

  • Global Democracy: BMENA Update from Morocco (NEW)

MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP

  • General Liability Insurance Coverage for League Events (NEW)
  • Young Professionals: Apply to Join the LWVUS Task Force

OTHER

  • LWVUS Convention Speaker Available to Speak to Leagues (NEW)
  • Face the Facts USA (NEW)
  • You Can Make a Gift That Helps Your League at All Three Levels!

Dear Supporter,

With Labor Day behind us, Leagues are working overtime to Power the Vote this year. Amid efforts by politicians to manipulate election laws, League members continue to register voters, provide those voters with the facts they need to successfully navigate not just the voting process, but the entire election – from choosing candidates to filtering fact from fiction in the campaign advertising that a flood of money is financing.

As important as this work is, it is equally important that Leagues be seen doing it. Next week, I will embark on visits to as many as 10 battleground states to meet with media, election officials and others - as well as Leagues. One of my goals is to bring attention to what the League is doing in those communities. With the media now firmly focused on the upcoming elections, there is something that each League can itself do to make its voter service efforts newsworthy.

What is the hook, you may ask? Why should the media care, especially in a state that has not been subjected to political efforts to manipulate election law to restrict voting? We’ve been thinking about that a lot at LWVUS over the past year, and the approach laid out below is not just the result of that thinking, but the language used is the result of research! That research has crystallized the most effective ways to talk about the League and our work.

Americans believe that our democracy is the best in the world and our elections should be free, fair and accessible to all eligible voters. The League arose out of the fight to get women the right to vote. We started out to ensure that every eligible woman voter could register, get informed and vote. And, we have continued for over 90 years to ensure the integrity of America’s elections by making sure that every eligible citizen has a fair opportunity to vote. As a result, the League does not support or oppose any candidate or party. The League is fact-based because voters need facts from all sides of the issues so that they can make up their own minds.

How does the League do this? We learn about elections and we create resources like VOTE411.org so that voters can easily learn about and understand the election laws in their states. League volunteers register voters at times and places that make registering convenient to the voter. The League creates opportunities for voters to get information directly from the candidates through voter guides, debates and forums. League members work with elections officials and find out what elections officials are doing to get ready for an election. The League advocates for voters in state capitols and on Capitol Hill to protect voters from any effort by politicians to manipulate election laws to restrict access to the polls by eligible voters.

Within this context, local Leagues should reach out to local media and tell reporters and editors what the League is doing to support voters. If you have talked to your local elections officials (and we encourage you to do so), tell the local media what is good and what voters need as they go to vote. Enlist the local media in running not just a story, but regular and prominent displays of information as to what voters need to be bring to the polls and where they can go for facts about state election laws. Enlist their support in promoting VOTE411.org.

Voter registration drives are newsworthy because the League has fought back challenges to our volunteer efforts in Florida and because a strong turnout by voters this year is the best way to offset the tide of political advertising paid for by a flood of money. Personal contact with a local reporter about registration efforts or about voter education, whether voter guides or candidate events, will go much farther than just sending an announcement of the date and time of the event. Engage the reporter through the context of the League’s history and the importance of this election.

If you are discussing an upcoming candidate event, make sure you give the reporter a copy or a link to your debate or forum guidelines. Why are these guidelines so important? Candidates cancel and wreak havoc with our events; if they do appear, many candidates or supporters will disrupt the event or will violate our guidelines after the event. If this happens, your guidelines put the candidate’s behavior in the proper context. Research shows that voters are very skeptical of politicians who refuse to appear and debate and who manipulate the rules for their own benefit. Getting out ahead of potential misbehavior keeps the League on offense rather than defense if anything does happen.

Leagues are working hard to make democracy work in their communities and LWVUS is working hard to provide support and resources for those efforts. Numerous resources are available in the Voters Service section of the LWVUS website to help you with all your voters service activities. We encourage you to contact us with questions or problems that arise. Please note that we have a separate ELECTION section in this Update (and every Update until the election), where we are including contact information and links to resources that you may need this election season. Specific questions about debates can also be addressed to 1st Vice President Janis McMillen (jkmcmillen@kc.rr.com). This week, you will find information below about many of the points I’ve covered in this message.

In League together making democracy work,

Description: Elisabeth

PRESIDENT'S CORNER

POWER THE VOTE: This Week's Challenge Activity (NEW)
Voter registration deadlines will start to happen in just four weeks! It’s time for Leagues to host registration events, at least five if you can. Use this helpful planning checklist that LWVEF has prepared. This is our time to reach as many new voters as we can and to shine (see Elisabeth’s message above)! For more helpful tips on planning successful registration events all month long, listen to our recent webinar – then check out our Facebook page for photos and updates on Leagues’ registration work - or better yet, share your own stories with us! And, make sure your community knows about it. Use this press release template to get the word out about the impact of your registration drives.

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ELECTIONS

LAST CHANCE: Sign up for National Voter Registration Day   
This is your last chance to join the 200+ Leagues that have already signed up to host a registration event on National Voter Registration Day (9/25)! Groups must be signed up by September 12 in order to count as part of this historic day of action. Sign up here now, and enter info about when and where your event will be hosted.

VOTE411 Backpacks for Sale! (NEW)
Looking for an easy way to promote the League and VOTE411 in your community? Well look no further! LWVEF is selling VOTE411 backpacks! These backpacks are great to hand out at voter registration events, candidate forums and debates and county fairs, any place you can reach voters and spread awareness about the League and our important voters’ activities! The bags are $3 each (if you buy 10 or more, the price drops to $2 each) plus $5 shipping/handling! If you’re interested in purchasing these bags or if you’d like more information, please contact Shauneen Grout (sgrout@lwv.org).

Promote your Candidate Debates and Forums on VOTE411!(NEW)
With the General Election fast approaching, Leagues around the country are busy organizing candidate debates and forums. Promoting your events on VOTE411 can help spread the word about these events to voters in your communities. If you have any upcoming candidate debates or forums and would like us to post the information on VOTE411, please send the following information to Megan Brown (mbrown@lwv.org): event title, offices covered, date, time, location (venue name and address) and any other information voters might need. Put “debates and forums” into the subject line.

Moderating Debates LWV Style …Fair, Firm and Factual (NEW)
On Saturday, Sept. 22 at 10 am (ET), join former LWVUS President Kay J. Maxwell for a webinar on moderating debates. The public is hungry for factual information, and we want to make sure new League debate moderators are prepared to create the best debate experience possible for the public and the candidates. Register now for basic tips and techniques from one of our leading national experts!

VOTE411 Update (NEW)
We hope you have had a chance to look at the new, redesigned VOTE411.org! Every voter in the country can use VOTE411 to find election information they need. It has registration deadlines, ID requirements, absentee ballot information, an online tool to help voters register to vote, upcoming League debates/forums, and much more for all 50 states. Between now and  Election Day, we are updating the polling place information for every voter in the country. And, we are thrilled to report Leagues from 29 states have signed up to create their online voters’ guides on the site this year. We will also link to every League voters' guide that is created outside the VOTE411 system. Just tell us when it's ready, and we'll add it to VOTE411. Together, all of these resources make VOTE411 the single most comprehensive election information website. VOTE411 has much to offer voters in your community. If you have any questions about VOTE411, please contact Megan Brown (mbrown@lwv.org).

Voters’ Guide Information on Presidential Candidates (NEW)
In collaboration with some wonderful League volunteers from Maryland, we have again asked the candidates running for President to provide answers to some of the most pressing public policy questions. Those candidates that meet LWVUS’ criteria and are now officially each party’s nominee (Gary Johnson, Barak Obama, Mitt Romney and Jill Stein) have been invited to participate in this activity. Thanks to input from League members across the country we have also included a question specifically designed for low literacy publications for the first time and set the response deadline for COB September 10th so that interested Leagues will be able to incorporate the candidates’ responses into their print and online voters. Information on how to access the candidates’ responses, the information itself and guidelines for using the information will be added to the Voters Service section of the LWVUS website on Sept. 11.

Opportunity to Inspire and Educate Youth (NEW)
Looking for a great way to educate high school and college students about the requirements to be President of the United States and how primaries, caucuses, general elections and the Electoral College work? LWVUS is partnering with the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to add our logo to the winning entry of the Kids.gov poster contest. We will be sending your League a full-color poster to display at events, local libraries and schools along with a letter on how to order more posters at no cost to you. Look for these in the mail. Together we can Power the Vote! For more information, contact Pam Sterner (psterner@lwv.org).

Join the LWV Effort to Promote Truth in Campaign Advertising (NEW)
Leagues around the country work hard to ensure that voters receive fact-based, nonpartisan information about elections. The massive flood of non-candidate (3rd Party) TV ads now washing over our airwaves threaten to spread misinformation and are leaving voters confused and disgusted – which may drive them to not to vote at all. LWVUS, in partnership with the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, is launching the Truth in Campaign Advertising project, aimed at urging TV stations to minimize the level of misinformation in campaign ads.

Court Cases Are Running out of Time (NEW)
Over the past several weeks, we have highlighted court cases about voting rights that Leagues are involved in around the country. Many of these cases will have a direct impact on who can vote and how they can vote in November. Here is an article that provides a good summary of many of the cases that are still playing out in the courts.

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ADVOCACY

Who Pays for the Parties?(NEW)
Read Elisabeth MacNamara’s just published blog on the impact of special interest money on the parties and their conventions. The blog is part of the Huffington Post's Shadow Convention discussion on money in politics.

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EDUCATION FUND

Global Democracy: BMENA Update from Morocco (NEW)
Seventy-eight women and men, representing civil society organizations and governments from the Broader Middle East and North Africa countries, met on Sept. 3 in El Jadida, Morocco, to discuss actions and changes that are urgently needed to empower women in the region. Participants traveled from 20 countries. In close cooperation with our Tunisian NGO partner, the Association des Responsables de Formation et de Gestion Humaine dans les Entreprises (ARFORGHE), League staff participated in all sessions and carefully recorded the discussions, which were moderated by staff from the U.S. Department of State. Read more here.

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MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP

General Liability Insurance Coverage for League Events (NEW)
The terms of the LWVUS general liability insurance policy do not allow us to extend coverage to cover local League events. However, LWVUS has arranged to make general liability coverage available for purchase by Leagues desiring to do so. To request a quote or find out more about this option, contact Karen Earp of Willis of Maryland, Inc., at (800) 800-2860 or (301) 984-5900. Check out the President's Packet to find out about general liability and directors and officers coverage.

Young Professionals: Apply to Join the LWVUS Task Force
There’s still time to apply to become a member or co-chair of LWV Young Professions Task Force to help local Leagues reach out to the next generation of League leaders. Applications are due Sept. 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 these positions. 

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OTHER

LWVUS Convention Speaker Available to Speak to Leagues (NEW)
Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership Director and former Congressman Mickey Edwards, who addressed Convention delegates in Washington, DC, in June, has released a new book, The Parties vs. the People, where he offers solutions to break the stranglehold of the political party system. Edwards is available to speak to Leagues, and you may reach him by email, mickey.edwards@aspeninstitute.org. Find more information about the book here, and watch the Convention panel discussion featuring Congressman Edwards here

Face the Facts USA (NEW)
Because the fact-to-noise ratio in America is so off the charts – and the League knows that facts matter – you might be interested to learn about this new effort from “Face the Facts USA.”  It offers daily short emails and information that slices through the hyperbole, spin and slant that gunk up the biggest issues facing America today. It presents researched and vetted facts in a compelling, easy-to-digest way. Check out their website if you’re interested http://facethefactsusa.org.

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 plannedgiving@lwv.org.

Donate to the League and support our work.
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