•  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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  • COURT HEARS APPEAL ON ARIZONA, KANSAS PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENTS FOR VOTER REGISTRATION

    “EAC ruling was well-reasoned and correct – protects voters,” says League

    Washington, DC – Today, there was a hearing in the U.S. District Court for Kansas to determine if the actions of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), denying requests from Arizona and Kansas to modify the National Mail Voter Registration Form by requiring voters to present documentary proof of citizenship, were legally correct. The Leagues of Women Voters of the U.S., Arizona and Kansas submitted a merit brief to the court as defendant-interveners in this case.

    “The EAC was correct in rejecting requests from Arizona and Kansas to modify the Federal voter registration form by requiring applicants produce documentary proof of citizenship,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S.

    “The EAC based its well-reasoned, 46-page decision on the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), the rules and regulations implementing the Federal Form, and established precedent, including the earlier denial of Arizona’s identical request nearly a decade ago,” she said.

    “The sole issue on appeal before this court is whether the EAC acted arbitrarily and capriciously in denying those requests. And the answer is plainly, No,” said MacNamara.

    “We have experienced first-hand the harmful effects that documentary proof of citizenship requirements have had on voters and voter service organizations like ours in Kansas,” said Dolores Furtado, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas (LWVKS). The EAC decision is the right one and one that protects Kansas voters.”

    “We stand firm behind the EAC's decision because the claims by our Secretary of State regarding registration and voting by ineligible persons in Arizona do not stand up to scrutiny and do not support the changes they are trying to make to the form,” said Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, president of the League of Women Voters of Arizona (LWVAZ).

    “This is the correct decision by the EAC, plain and simple. This ruling is consistent with the U.S. Constitution and reinforces critical protections for voters and voting rights,” concluded MacNamara.

    Earlier this year, the League of Women Voters of the United States joined with the League of Women Voters of Arizona and the League of Women Voters of Kansas to file comments with the EAC regarding these requests made by the Secretaries of State of Arizona and Kansas. Previously the League filed a motion and was allowed to intervene in Kobach, et al v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The League is represented in this case by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, as well as pro bono counsel Kirkland & Ellis LLP and David G. Seely of the law firm Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, LLC.

    “Kansas and Arizona are trying to undermine basic federal protections of the right to vote that have helped Americans register for more than 20 years,” said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “We urge the federal court to ensure all eligible voters can make their voices heard at the ballot box.”

    Last year, the Supreme Court held in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., that Arizona’s requirement that voter registrants provide documentary proof-of-citizenship was preempted by the NVRA with respect to applicants using the Federal Form. Kansas and Arizona seek to overturn that court decision.

    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. 

  • The League filed a merits brief in the U.S. District Court in Kansas supporting a decision by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to reject a request from Kansas and Arizona to require proof of citizenship with the national mail voter registration form.

  • Voter Registration materials

    I’ve been a proud League of Women Voters staffer and a local volunteer since 2006. In my work I’ve had the opportunity to work with hundreds of inspiring League volunteers and seen large-scale voter empowerment efforts come to life. But as far as work weeks go, though, last week’s is one for the books.

  • 2014 Could be Watershed Year for Youth Voting Participation

    This blog post was co-written with Da’Quan Love, NAACP National Board of Directors

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  • 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.

  •  ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION (EAC) REJECTS KANSAS, ARIZONA REQUEST TO CHANGE NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FORM

    League Applauds EAC Decision: “This Ruling Protects Voters and Voting Rights”

     Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters of the U.S., Arizona and Kansas applauded yesterday’s decision by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to reject requests from the states of Arizona and Kansas to modify the national mail-in voter registration form to require voters to provide documentary proof of citizenship with that form.

    “This is the correct decision by the EAC, plain and simple,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “This ruling is consistent with the U.S. Constitution and one that reinforces critical protections for voters and voting rights.”

    “The Arizona and Kansas requests are at odds with the very purpose and goals of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA),” added MacNamara. “The NVRA was enacted in order to provide for a simple voter registration form, promote national uniformity in the voter registration process, increase voter registration and participation, and facilitate large-scale voter registration drives by groups like the League.”

    Earlier this month, the League of Women Voters of the United States joined with the League of Women Voters of Arizona and the League of Women Voters of Kansas to file comments with the EAC regarding these requests made by the Secretaries of State of Arizona and Kansas. Previously the League filed a motion and was allowed to intervene in Kobach, et al v. U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The League is represented in this case by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, as well as pro bono counsel Kirkland & Ellis LLP and David G. Seely of the law firm Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, LLC.

    Last year, the Supreme Court held in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., that Arizona’s requirement that voter registrants provide documentary proof-of-citizenship was preempted by the NVRA with respect to applicants using the Federal Form. Kansas and Arizona seek to overturn that court decision.

    “We are very pleased with the EAC's decision because the assertions by our Secretary of State regarding registration and voting by ineligible persons in Arizona do not stand up to scrutiny and do not support the changes they are trying to make to the form,” said Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, President of the League of Women Voters of Arizona (LWVAZ).

    “The Kansas League is delighted with this ruling,” said Dolores Furtado, President of the League of Women Voters of Kansas (LWVKS). “We have experienced first-hand the harmful effects that documentary proof of citizenship requirements have had on voters and voter service organizations like ours in Kansas. This decision protects Kansas voters.”

    “The League has worked tirelessly to remove barriers from voting and advocate on behalf of the voting rights of all Americans,” MacNamara concluded. “This decision is another important win for voters and voting rights.”

    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.

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