Registering Thousands of Voters!
This month, the League has been busy all over the country. You have seen us at countless educational and community centers, street corners, bus stops; everywhere you could set up a table or stand with a clipboard. The big push was to register as many voters as possible in advance of voter registration deadlines that begin hitting in early October. September 25th was National Voter Registration Day and it was an incredible success! Thousands of volunteers registered more than 180,000 voters. I am proud of the 249 Leagues that fanned out across their communities to register voters all day long and continue to do so for several more weeks.
Late this month, I began my pre-election tour of ten states, meeting with League members, elected officials, coalition partners and media representatives. My first stop was Ohio, and this past week I completed visits to Colorado and Missouri. In each state, I was fortunate to see firsthand the remarkable work our Leagues are doing in collaboration with other organizations and elected officials – actively protecting the right to vote and educating and registering voters.
Election Day is five weeks away, and there is still much to do to help prepare voters and ensure that their votes will be counted. Follow, share our work and tell us what you are thinking on Facebook and Twitter.
Voting Rights and the Election Process
National Voter Registration Day (NVRD)
Thanks to everyone who participated, September 25th was a huge success. The League was in action on multiple fronts with help from the media in the days leading up to and on NVRD. Our 249 participating Leagues garnered a great deal of visibility. You will find many news clips here along with stories from Aurora, CO, Charlotte, NC, and Purdue, IN. National League President Elisabeth MacNamara blogged for The Huffington Post; Sr. Director for Elections Jeanette Senecal appeared on the DC Fox affiliate and former MI Governor Granholm’s The War Room, Current TV; and Deputy Executive Director Zaida Arguedas was included in Univision’s national and local news stories about NVRD. The League also joined Voto Latino, Fem 2.0, actress Rosario Dawson and other partners in a NVRD Tweet Chat and used social media throughout the day. Check out our voter registration photo album on Facebook and keep sending in photos to add to the album.
Earlier this month, this Reuters’ story, “Groups race against time to get Florida voters registered,” was widely carried by media outlets. Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters said, "30 local chapters are registering voters in Florida, trying to make up for lost time. ... ‘They are targeting under-served communities,’ she said. ‘They're working at bus stops, community colleges, baseball games, naturalization ceremonies and other events.’”
Voter Protection Action Nationwide
Leagues continue to be involved in court cases around the country, some of which are still playing out in the courts and will have a direct impact on who can vote and how they can vote in November. With weeks to go before Election Day, there are still decisions coming from the courts. In New Hampshire, out-of-state students can now register to vote without fear because a recent new law has been overturned. In Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court declined - for now - to take up lower court orders blocking Wisconsin's voter ID law, the latest sign the law likely will not be in place for the November 6 presidential election.
With 40 days to go before the election there are still two states, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, that do not know if their new voter photo ID law will be in effect. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court said it will tolerate "no voter disenfranchisement," when it sent the case back to a lower court to decide whether the state is doing enough to get photo ID cards to voters who need them. Hearings are being held this week, and the court has until October 2nd to determine how cumbersome the new law is. In South Carolina, final arguments were heard this week by a three-judge panel in Washington DC which will decide if the SC law is discriminatory.
According to a recent study, an estimated 700,000 young minority voters could be barred from voting in November because of photo ID laws passed across the country in recent years. In Florida, in a partial victory for voter rights’ groups, Florida residents mistakenly removed from the voter rolls this year because the state classified them as noncitizens will be returned to the rolls and allowed to vote in November.
Earlier this month, League President Elisabeth MacNamara testified at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “The Citizens United Court and the Continuing Importance of the Voting Rights Act.” Watch the C-Span video, read our blog post and Elisabeth’s full written testimony, and view photos.
VOTE411: Good news! VOTE411 received responses from all four presidential candidates – Gary Johnson, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and Jill Stein. Presidential candidate information is now available at www.VOTE411.org. In collaboration with some wonderful Maryland League volunteers, we asked these candidates to provide answers to some of the most pressing public policy questions. Thanks to input from League members across the country, we were also able to include a question specifically designed for low literacy publications for the first time.
League Calls on Media to Provide Voters with Facts Through Truth In Campaign Advertising: In an election filled with millions of secret dollars helping fund negative and deceptive political ads, what can real people do to get the facts? In addition to accessing League resources like local candidate forums, voters' guides or Vote411.org, they can join League members in calling on local media to provide voters with the facts. The League and the Annenberg Public Policy Center are working to encourage TV stations to reduce the deceptive information through fact checking efforts. Professor Jamieson applauded this partnership recently at the National Press Club. To learn more about the whole campaign, watch this video and go here.
Money in Elections
League Opposes H.R. 5912: The League joined other coalition partners in a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives in opposition to H.R. 5912, a bill that would repeal the presidential public financing system.
Who Pays for the Parties? Read Elisabeth MacNamara’s Huffington Post blog on the impact of special interest money on the parties and their conventions. The blog was part of the Huffington Post's Shadow Convention discussion on money in politics.
League Supports Office of Congressional Ethics: The League and coalition partners sent a letter to House Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Pelosi, expressing support for the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and urging them to ensure its uninterrupted operations in the next Congress by reactivating the agency and appointing the necessary board members.
Defending the Clean Air Act: The League joined with the environmental community in sending two letters to the U.S. House of Representatives in defense of the Clean Air Act. The first letter refers to H.R. 3409, the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012. The bill fundamentally weakens the Clean Air Act and takes aim at an array of laws that keep the American public safe. The second letter was sent to a subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee regarding H.R. 6172, a bill that would rewrite the Clean Air Act and block the Environmental Protection Agency from setting any standards for power plant carbon pollution.
League Comments on Proposed Hydraulic Fracturing Rule: The League of Women Voters sent a range of comments to the Bureau of Land Management regarding a proposed rule that would regulate hydraulic fracturing on public land and Indian land. The rule would provide disclosure to the public of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on public land and Indian land, strengthen regulations related to well-bore integrity, and address issues related to flowback water.
The 9th Forum for the Future
Is the 9th Forum for the Future in Jeopardy? There has been great uncertainty about the 9th Forum for the Future after the recent unrest in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, and, in particular, the recent attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia. However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strongly stated in a meeting with the Tunisian Foreign Minister that “…the United States remains committed to supporting Tunisia as you deal with this current situation, as you continue your democratic transition, and we want to be with you as you confront challenges and help seize opportunities together for the betterment of the future of Tunisia.” Read more.
Lessons From El Jadida, Morocco: The First Preparatory Meeting of the 9th Forum for the Future took place in El Jadida, Morocco on September 3-4, 2012. Seventy-eight women and men, civil society and government representatives,came together from across the broader Middle East and North Africa to develop country-specific recommendations for promoting women’s empowerment across the region. 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, which were moderated by staff from the U.S. Department of State. The conference was followed by an advocacy workshop for Moroccan civil society organizations.
The Second Preparatory Meeting of the 9th Forum for the Future takes place in Amman, Jordan, October 1-2, 2012: This second meeting will focus on Economic Governance and presents an opportunity to bring together governments and private sector/civil society representatives to discuss critical economic governance and growth issues and identify concrete steps to improve the business and investment climate, create jobs, and encourage entrepreneurs. League staff continue to work in close cooperation with our Tunisian NGO partner, the Association des Responsables de Formation et de Gestion Humaine dans les Entreprises (ARFORGHE). Read more here.
Equal Futures Partnership Launched
On September 24, League UN Observer Rosalee Keech represented the League as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the Equal Futures Partnership – a program for women to fully participate in political and economic opportunities. The United States and 12 other founding members (Australia, Benin, Bangladesh, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Jordan, the Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, and Tunisia; as well as the European Union) and multilateral stakeholders including UN Women and the World Bank, leading businesses and non-profit institutions, pledged support for the partnership.
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Membership & Leadership Development
Membership & Leadership Development Travels Inspire Our Grassroots: This month, the League’s Field Support Team conducted another successful and inspiring weekend of training with League members, dedicated to strengthening the League to strengthen our democracy. Field Support Senior Director Cheryl Graeve shares her thoughts about her recent trip to Joliet, IL, where over 50 League members gathered for intensive training in membership and leadership development. Support our effort to strengthen democracy here.