In This Issue:
February 3, 2011
- President’s Message: Improving Elections (NEW)
- Privatization of Government Services Study Committee (NEW)
- LWVUS Legislative Priorities for 2011 (NEW)
- ACTION ALERT: Protect America's Health Care (NEW)
- League Fights to Protect Public Financing System (NEW)
EDUCATION FUND (Redistricting; Elections; Global Democracy)
- Redistricting: Leagues Promote Fair and Open Redistricting (NEW)
- Elections: LWVUS Joins States in Battling Voter Photo ID Bills (NEW)
- Elections: Register New Voters
- Global Democracy: Local Leagues’ Naturalization Test Preparation Activity (NEW)
MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP
- THANK YOU for Updating Your Membership Roster (NEW)
- Request for YOUR Feedback on the LWVUS Online Store
- Press Template Available: League’s 91st Birthday Is February 14 (NEW)
- Engage Your Members in Your State/Local League Program Planning Process (NEW)
- Honoring Women in the 112th Congress (NEW)
- January 2011 League Newsletter (NEW)
- Online Store Sale Extended!
- New Year's Resolution: Update Your Will
Dear League Leaders:
On January 9, snow began to fall here in Atlanta. The government’s usual response is to wait a couple of days because temperatures always rise and the snow melts. This time the temperatures didn’t rise, and state and local governments discovered that there was no plan to clear roads in the event the snow didn’t melt. They had never challenged the assumption that precipitation and a week of subfreezing weather never occurs concurrently in the South.
Until the ugliness of the 2010 Election, we in the League never challenged the assumption that our reputation for nonpartisanship and competence in such core areas as voter service would allow us to pursue business as usual in an election cycle. Much of what we are experiencing highlights the need for more basic skill building, board training and community outreach. While we are addressing this need through the Membership Recruitment Initiative, webinars and convention workshops, we are reaching a self-selected audience.
With the approach of the 2012 Election, the national Board believes that we need a wider and more intentional initiative to muster our resources, hone our message and focus on our work in order to more effectively implement our core competencies across the 50 states. If the League is known for our work on elections, then a concerted effort, at all three levels, to help each other develop or hone the skills that underpin our brand and reputation is certainly in order. From debates to advocating on campaign finance reform, from fighting unjust ID requirements to registering new voters, elections are what we are known for.
The national Board and I look forward to discussing this challenge – and opportunity – with you. The next two years can be a good time to strengthen the League in order to provide the important work on improving elections that the public needs, wants and expects from us.
Privatization of Government Services Study Committee (NEW)
Committee members selected for the Privatization of Government Service study are: Susan Baer, San Diego (CA), Diane Di Ianni, Nashville (TN), Carole Garrison, Hampton (VA), Ann Henkener, Columbus (OH), Cathy Lazarus, Los Altos (CA), Nora Leech, Seattle (WA) and Ted Volskay, Simpsonville (SC). Janis McMillen, LWVUS Board, is the chair. Over the next few months, the Committee will be doing research and defining the scope of the study. Finalization of the study scope is anticipated by June 2011.
LWVUS Legislative Priorities for 2011 (NEW)
The Board adopted the following LWVUS Legislative Priorities for 2011 at its meeting last weekend: Clean Air Defense; Health Care Defense; Money in Elections (campaign finance reform); and Voter Registration and Election Administration. The Legislative Watch List* is as follows: CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women); Climate Change; Ethics; Immigration; and Safe Drilling and Mining (“Fracking”). *The Watch List means that if an opportunity arises on these issues and does not interfere with action on an advocacy priority, the LWVUS may take action if it appears we can make an impact.
The Board discussed many issues and the responses from members suggesting Legislative Priorities. The decisions were made based on what issues are likely to come before the 112th Congress, the opportunities to make an impact, program decisions made at the 2010 Convention, member interest and resources available to manage these priorities effectively. The Board reviews these priorities throughout the year, making changes if warranted.
ACTION ALERT: Protect America's Health Care (NEW)
Take action now! An attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed in the Senate yesterday by a 51-47 vote. Proponents of repeal have indicated that they will continue to raise the issue in the Senate. Please tell your Senators not to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to stand firm in support of this law which extends coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.
League Fights to Protect Public Financing System (NEW)
The League fought against the efforts last month to eliminate the public financing system for presidential elections. Although the House voted in favor of repeal, prospects in the Senate are a bit better. The League spoke out by issuing our letter to the House and joining a coalition letter, blogging on our views, and urging League members and citizens to take action in opposing the elimination of this system.
EDUCATION FUND (Redistricting; Elections; Global Democracy)
Redistricting: Leagues Promote Fair and Open Redistricting (NEW)
Leagues in many states are actively promoting transparency and public participation in the upcoming redistricting process. As state leaders undertake the complex and often intensely partisan task of redrawing congressional and state legislative district boundaries, Leagues are hosting public events, preparing testimony, educating the media, engaging key allies and leveraging new technology to ensure districts are drawn in the open and that the public has meaningful opportunities to weigh in. The League believes that open and participatory redistricting will lead to a more representative and accountable democracy and empower communities to advocate for the resources and opportunities they deserve. Learn more by reading this blog post by LWVUS Executive Nancy Tate.
Elections: LWVUS Joins States in Battling Voter Photo ID Bills (NEW)
Voter photo identification bills have been introduced around the country in states like CO, CT, IA, MS, NE, TN, KS, MN, MO, SC, TX, VA and WI. The League’s Public Advocacy for Voter Protection (PAVP) project is working with several of these states to fight such legislation. For some states, this is the first time the bills have a reasonable chance of passing, due to the changed state government composition in the post-2010-elections period. Still, it’s important to remember that even with unfriendly legislatures and/or governors, such bills have been defeated in the past – SC, MO and TX are good examples. In fact, South Carolina is once again fighting ID legislation and has been successful in achieving media coverage and building a strong coalition. Go here to review the current make up of voter photo ID laws in the states and here to track election-related legislation nationwide. Contact Tim O’Brien, PAVP project specialist, for more information on PAVP and fighting back similar legislation in your state.
Elections: Register New Voters
Winter is the season where many people take advantage of staying inside and skip out on many community outreach events. During these cold months, it is still important to be visible – send out email blasts, encourage people to check out your online resources and upcoming events and register new voters for spring municipal and statewide elections. Tap those busy Leaguers who prefer to volunteer occasionally for a defined task of finite duration. Publicize your events so the public knows where you will be registering voters. For user-friendly tools to help voters register, direct voters to www.VOTE411.org
Global Democracy: Local Leagues’ Naturalization Test Preparation Activity (NEW)
The Global Democracy Program is considering applying for a government grant that would enable the national office to provide pass-through grants to local Leagues for the purposes of providing English language and U.S. history and government classes to legal, permanent residents preparing for the naturalization test. The Program is calling on local Leagues, whose members are currently carrying out citizenship and English language instruction for the naturalization test, to please contact Zaida Arguedas and provide details on your current program.
MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP
THANK YOU for Updating Your Membership Roster (NEW)
The LWVUS would like to extend a big THANK YOU to all League leaders who updated their membership rosters by January 31, 2011. The updating process for this year went smoother than ever thanks to your consistent updating of the database. Your local League’s summary sheet (i.e., member count for FY2011-12) is now posted. No further changes will be accepted.
Request for YOUR Feedback on the LWVUS Online Store
The LWVUS wants to identify ways to better meet the needs of state and local Leagues for LWV-branded products. Help us by completing this quick and easy online survey. Your feedback will help us improve allocation of our limited resources and our store services for you. Thank you!
Press Template Available: League’s 91st Birthday Is February 14 (NEW)
On February 14, the League of Women Voters celebrates its 91st birthday! This is a great opportunity to reach out to your local media to get visibility for the League. The LWVUS has created a press template for your local League to use. The LWVUS Web site also has a list of other suggested activities to mark this anniversary or other historic milestones, such as Women’s History Month (March). Go here for additional tips and a list of suggested activities.
Engage Your Members in Your State/Local League Program Planning Process (NEW)
Start off this year by making your League more welcoming and transparent to current and prospective members! Remember that program planning is a great way to introduce new members and/or future leaders to the League and what we do. Use your local and state League program planning meetings as a way to engage potential members and leaders. Personally ask individuals to attend, take time to explain the process and any League lingo, and celebrate your League’s advocacy agenda achievements in the previous biennium.
Honoring Women in the 112th Congress (NEW)
Rachel’s Network and the League of Women Voters sponsored a swearing-in reception to honor the women of the U.S. House of Representatives, 112th Congress, on January 5, 2011. Watch the video.
January 2011 League Newsletter (NEW)
Online Store Sale Extended!
It’s not too early to start thinking about small gifts for your convention speakers, your outgoing board members and other special guests. Our Holiday sale was so successful that we are extending it through February 28. Inventories are low so please order early.
New Year's Resolution: Update Your Will
Did you move last year? Had a child? Did you get married this past year? Or maybe there's a new grandchild or step-child in your life? Any one of these major life events is reason enough to update your will. It is always important to stay in touch with your attorney regarding any changes in estate and probate law. While you're updating your plans, don't forget to include a gift for your favorite charities, like the League of Women Voters Education Fund - to strengthen the pillars of our democracy for years to come. If you have already included a gift for the LWV in your will or trust, but have not previously informed us, or if you have been thinking about setting up a gift that provides income, such as a charitable gift annuity, please contact Lauren Frank by email or at 202-263-1355.
"Like" the League on Facebook at www.facebook.com/leagueofwomenvoters
Donate to the League on our Facebook Causes page.