• Online Voter Registration: Improving Access to Voting

    EDITORIAL NOTE: This blog post was originally posted on President Elisabeth MacNamara's Huffington Post blog.

  • Making Democracy Work since 1920

    Ninety-four years ago on February 14, 1920, pioneering suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt founded the League of Women Voters to secure the right to vote for women. Within just a few months, Congress would grant American women the vote after decades of advocacy.

  •  COMMISSION RECOMMENDS ELECTION CHANGES AT CONGRESSIONAL HEARING

    "Lots of work to do,” Says League

    Washington, D.C. – This morning, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA) will present their report to a Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing entitled, “Bipartisan Support for Improving U.S. Elections: An Overview from the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.” In September 2013, the League submitted testimony to PCEA that urged the Commission to consider a five-point reform agenda as part of its recommendations.

    “This is a solid and comprehensive report with many recommendations for action that will improve how elections are run in America,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “League members around the country can use key parts of the PCEA report in their ongoing efforts to improve the voting process and protect voters.”

    “The Commission’s benchmark that no voter waits longer than 30 minutes to vote sets an important goal for every polling place in the country,” MacNamara added. “The PCEA toolkit on polling place management should help elections officials allocate and distribute resources within communities to fix the very long wait times many voters faced in 2012.”

    “The Commission’s call for online voter registration is also a positive step, but the accessibility of these systems continues to be a major concern,” noted MacNamara. “A shortcoming of PCEA’s report is the failure to recognize that most of the systems adopted in the states leave out a significant and important part of the population – citizens who don’t have a driver’s license or non-driver’s ID. This limitation is unnecessary and will substantially reduce the effectiveness of online registration. For example, young people are much less likely than the general population to have a driver’s license – and young people are also much less likely to be registered to vote. We are concerned about the discriminatory effect,” added MacNamara.

    “The Commission’s recommendation urging Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to transmit voter information electronically to elections officials is a good one but the League believes this should be extended to all social service agencies that register voters as well,” MacNamara said. “Such expansion would enable officials to eliminate costly and time consuming steps in election administration, reduce errors, and increase the ease and convenience of the elections process for both their workers and for voters.”

    “Additionally, the report’s discussion of the need to professionalize the election workforce is long overdue,” said MacNamara. “Both this recommendation and PCEA’s call to take politics out of the administration of America’s elections should be given serious consideration and attention.”

    “There’s lots of work to do to fix our election systems, and the Commission report is an important boost to those efforts,” concluded MacNamara.

    CONTACT: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org

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    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • On the League's 94th Anniversary, Continuing to Protect the Vote

    EDITORIAL NOTE: This blog post was originally posted on President Elisabeth MacNamara's Huffington Post blog.

  • State of the Union Address Touches on All of League’s Priority Issues

    In last night’s annual State of the Union (SOTU) address, President Obama laid out his priorities for the coming year. His words addressed a range of critical issues affecting the country – including a number of the League’s priority issues. Here’s the rundown of what he said on our issues and how it aligns with League positions.

  • Presidential Commission on Election Administration Issues Solid Recommendations

    Professionalization of Election Workforce, Benchmark for Voter Wait Times Good for American Elections

    Washington, D.C.  – Today, the Presidenial Commission on Election Administration (PCEA) released their report to President Obama outlining how to improve the administration of America’s elections. The League submitted testimony to PCEA in September 2013 that urged the Commission to consider a five-point reform agenda as part of its recommendations.

    “Our initial reaction is that there are many good recommendations in the PCEA report and others that we will need to look at more closely to examine the real impact on American voters,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “For example, the recommendation for all states to provide for in-person early voting is an important and very positive step,” she said. 

    “We are pleased to see that the bipartisan Commission was able to roll up their sleeves and get to work on some of the endemic troubles plaguing our nation’s polling places,” added MacNamara. “PCEA’s prescription for what to do about lack of resources, inadequate compliance with federal laws, the need for professionalization of the election workforce, and creating a benchmark of no one waiting to vote longer than 30 minutes, are badly needed fixes for election administrators and voters.”

    “The Commission’s report was right to recommend that our nation’s elections professionals should regularly partner with experts in the field of emerging technology,” said MacNamara. “A great example of this is the Commission’s recommendation endorsing Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) transmissions of voter information to elections officials. The League believes electronic transmission should be extended to social service agencies that register voters as well,” MacNamara said. “By adopting such electronic practices, officials can eliminate costly and time consuming steps in election administration, reduce errors and increase the ease and convenience of the elections process for both their workers and for voters.”

    “While the League is enthusiastic about online voter registration, the accessibility of these systems continues to be a major concern” noted MacNamara. “The League’s testimony urged the Commission to recommend online voter registration systems designed for all eligible citizens,” said MacNamara. “But a weakness of the report is the endorsement of online registration systems that many eligible voters can't use,” MacNamara said. “Of the systems in the Commission’s report, voters must have a driver’s license or a non-driver’s ID in order to register to vote online. This limitation is unnecessary, will substantially reduce the effectiveness of online registration and also raises concerns about the discriminatory effect,”added MacNamara.

    “We look forward to working with Commission to implement the best of these recommendations and improve how elections are run across this nation,” concluded MacNamara.

     

    CONTACT: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331, kceballos@lwv.org

     

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     The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • Urge Congress to Repair the Voting Rights Act

    This afternoon Representatives James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), John Conyers (D-MI), Bobby Scott (D-VA), John Lewis (D-GA), and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced common sense legislation that would repair and restore the Voting Rights Act. This bipartisan effort to fix the damage done by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder is necessary to restore and protect the rights of voters across the country.

  •  Introduction of Voting Rights Amendment Act in House Meaningful Step

    League: “Balanced Bill Embodies Common Sense Approach to Protecting Voting Rights”

    Washington, D.C.  – Today, the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (VRAA) was introduced by Representatives James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), John Conyers (D-MI), Bobby Scott (D-VA) and John Lewis (D-GA) in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bipartisan legislation was carefully crafted to protect the rights of all voters from discrimination and repair the damage to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 inflicted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby v. Holder.

    “The League is pleased that Congress has taken action and introduced strong legislation on behalf of all voters’ rights,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national President of the League of Women Voters. “We are encouraged that lawmakers have come together – across the aisle – to forge workable and common sense solutions to protect voting rights against discrimination.”

    “The Sensenbrenner bill is a balanced and reasonable approach to tackling the very real problem of discrimination that continues to plague our nation in so many forms, including at the ballot box,” MacNamara said. “Already, in the few months since the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision, dozens of cities and towns made changes to their election laws and voting processes, many of which may very well keep eligible voters from being able to vote.”

    “Each and every eligible American voter deserves to be treated fairly at the ballot box,” said MacNamara. “When you make the work of governing about fairness and not about politics and winning elections, all voters win. That is what has happened with the VRRA: elected leaders coming together to ensure that everyone has an equal right and equal access to vote,” MacNamara stated.

    “The Supreme Court’s Shelby decision was a profound disappointment,” concluded MacNamara, “but at the time we also believed it would be a great call to action by those who believe in free and fair access by every eligible voter. Today, Congress has begun to act with this important first step and voters must also act and vote at every opportunity.”

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, kceballos@lwv.org, 202-263-1331

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    The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

  • 2013 End of Year Slideshow

    2013 may not have been a federal election year, but it was still an important year for voting and elections, which means that League volunteers, members, staff and supporters worked tirelessly once again Making Democracy Work®.

  • Vote Here yard sign

    Last week, I blogged about how 2013 has been one of the most active years related to voting rights this country has ever seen. While there were many setbacks in the past twelve months there were some victories as well.

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