• 9th Forum for the Future for North Africa, Levant, and Gulf Countries (BMENA)

    League of Women Voters Will Serve as U.S. NGO Partner in Initiative

    Washington, DC/March 8, 2012 - For the first time since 2004, the United States has assumed the G-8 Presidency for 2012 and, in that role, has co-chair responsibilities for the Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) initiative. The G-8 BMENA Initiative is a multilateral effort to promote cooperation between the G-8 and BMENA governments and civil society to advance reform efforts throughout the region. The United States has invited Tunisia to serve as BMENA co-chair, marking the first time that two democracies have led the initiative.

    To assist the government co-chairs in developing themes, agendas, and concrete efforts to promote reform in the MENA region, each country selects an NGO partner. The League has been invited to partner with the United States government as its 2012 BMENA Initiative NGO partner. The role of the League is to organize 10 different preparatory meetings that will take place in seven to eight different countries between March and November and that will culminate with the ministerial meeting in December. The NGO partners coordinate closely with each other and with the co-chair governments in support of BMENA activities.

    "The League is proud to serve as the civil society partner alongside the U.S. and Tunisian governments and the NGO partner in Tunisia to contribute our experience to the themes and agendas that will be discussed in these important meetings," said Elisabeth MacNamara, national League President. "Announcing the beginning of this effort is so fitting as we celebrate International Women's Day today."

    As a nonpartisan political organization that encourages active, informed participation in government and focuses on increasing general understanding of major policy issues through education and advocacy, especially for women voters, the League has been active for almost a century working at all levels of government. The organization boasts more than 800 local and state-level chapters around the country, staffed mainly by committed volunteers. From the beginning, the League has been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believed that citizens should play a critical role in advocacy, and that belief has shaped the League’s work today.

    In addition to its domestic efforts, the League is also active internationally. In 2011, the League worked with women in Egypt and Tunisia, the United States’ G-8 BMENA co-chair, focused on promoting democracy. The League’s efforts in Tunisia culminated with the formation of a Tunisian League of Women Voters to promote greater informed participation in Tunisia’s newly established democracy.

    BMENA activities are sponsored by the U.S. – Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) at the U.S. Department of State. MEPI is a unique program designed to engage directly with and invest in the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa.  MEPI works to create vibrant partnerships with citizens to foster the development of pluralistic, participatory, and prosperous societies throughout the MENA region.  To do this, MEPI partners with local, regional and international non-governmental organizations, the private sector, academic institutions, and governments. More information about MEPI can be found at: www.mepi.state.gov


    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331

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    Await Response from President Obama on Enforcing Campaign Finance Laws

    Washington, DC - Today, the League of Women Voters announced they had surpassed their goal of 25,000 petition signatures on the White House "We the People" website that asks President Obama to appoint new commissioners to the malfunctioning Federal Election Commission (FEC).  The League and partners Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Democracy21 and Public Citizen launched the petition drive on January 11 in order to get a response from the Administration on this critical issue that, to date, it has ignored.

    "The Obama campaign’s decision this week to allow surrogates to assist Super PACs in raising funds illustrates how broken the system is and that the FEC is asleep at the switch," said Elisabeth MacNamara, national League President.  "The only reason that the leading presidential campaigns of both political parties are able to work with the Super PACs is that the FEC is not enforcing the law. Indeed the FEC says this is acceptable.  Our democracy needs a fully-functioning FEC," said MacNamara.

    The FEC is supposed to be the agency that enforces campaign finance laws, but it is dysfunctional. Of the six commissioners at the agency, three of them staunchly refuse to enforce the law, and five of the six are serving despite expired terms.

    “It is time for the President to step up to the challenge, just as he promised he would in his campaign four years ago,” said MacNamara.   In September 2007, candidate Obama said, “As president, I will appoint nominees to the Commission who are committed to enforcing our nation’s election laws.”  

    “Right now, this ball is in the President’s court.  He needs to make nominations to the FEC,” MacNamara said.

    "We eagerly await the response from President Obama to our petition.  We expect to hear his plans for the government agency charged with enforcing the law and stopping illegal coordination by candidate Super PACs," MacNamara concluded.

    Contact:         Kelly Ceballos, kceballos@lwv.org

  • Statement from League of Women Voters of the U.S. and League of Women Voters of Texas

    Washington, DC – “The League is disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to block the San Antonio federal court’s maps, and urges the federal court to ensure that any new redistricting plans provide the fair representation that Texans deserve,” said LWVUS president Elisabeth MacNamara. “We are, however, encouraged that the Supreme Court decision avoids the worst possible outcome—implementation of the state legislature’s original, discriminatory redistricting plans, which clearly violate both sections 2 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act.”

    The Texas League repeatedly spoke out on behalf of minority voters during the state’s 2011 redistricting process, and strongly urged the Justice Department not to approve the plans originally passed by the Texas legislature.  Today’s decision leaves the fate of the Texas redistricting plans and primary election schedule uncertain, and the San Antonio court has been ordered to develop another set of redistricting plans.  The League has long advocated for a more fair and neutral redistricting system in the state.

    “As the court now goes back to the drawing board, the League’s chief concern remains with Texas voters.  With a primary election that has already been rescheduled once, we fear this development will only lead to more voter confusion, more confusion for candidates and will continue to put strain on hard-working local elections officials,” said Karen Nicholson, President of the League of Women Voters of Texas.

    “Despite the enormous time pressures, we will be urging the court to use diligence and develop a fair plan that reflects the true diversity of our state,” Nicholson concluded.

    Kelly Ceballos,
    Karen Nicholson,


    Like” the League on Facebook.   Follow us on Twitter: @LWV

    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.



  • Statement from Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters

    Washington, DC – “Today’s step by the Obama Administration to deny the Keystone XL Pipeline was the right decision.  It is a decision that puts the health and safety of Americans ahead of blind reliance on fossil fuels.  The route of the Keystone XL Pipeline was a threat to the drinking water of millions of Americans.  The pipeline was just too big a risk to allow it to go forward. 

    “Putting the Keystone XL pipeline over the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides agricultural and drinking water to so many in the Plains states, was an incredibly bad idea.  The majority of any jobs created would be short term and short lived. The damage to such an important water supply would last for centuries. 

    “In addition, approval of this pipeline would be inconsistent with meaningful action on climate change.  

    “We applaud President Obama for standing up to the polluters.”

    Contact:         Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331



  • Carefully Planned Election Day Fraud is an Insult to Voters and Election Officials in New Hampshire

    Concord, N.H.--The out-of-state con artists depicted in the video committed serious fraud, and the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire urges the Attorney General to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. The League of Women Voters supports the integrity of elections and trusts in the competence of our local election officials. The fraud shown on the video was carefully manufactured to make it appear that New Hampshire doesn’t have a system of checks and balances in place to protect our votes.  That is not the case. The only thing this video shows is that those with time, resources and criminal intent and with no respect for the fundamental laws of our nation can sometimes deceive our neighbors who work as election officials. There is no reason to believe that New Hampshire citizens engage in such un-American behavior. The League extends its sympathy to the families of the recently deceased whose names were used so callously.


    Joan Flood Ashwell, Election Law Specialist

    League of Women Voters of New Hampshire





  • League Applauds Decision to Protect People, Not Polluters

    Washington, DC - The League of Women Voters of the United States praised the Obama Administration's tough new rules regulating mercury and air toxic pollutants from power plants released earlier today.

    “It’s about time.  After decades of delay the Obama Administration deserves credit for finally limiting mercury from power plants,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the national League of Women Voters.  “This is about protecting people’s lives,” she said.

    “The decision announced today by the EPA to set strict standards on mercury and other toxics from power plants is the most important public health decision from this Administration thus far.  Limiting mercury and air toxics will save thousands of lives and help those with asthma and bronchitis breathe easier.   Mercury particularly harms children, including effects on IQ, learning, and memory,” she said.

    “Today, we are glad the Obama Administration, led by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, got tough with polluters and stood firm behind the public's health," said MacNamara.

    “Public opinion is clear - voters want the EPA to hold corporate polluters responsible for dirty air and threats to public health.  The science is clear - new clean air standards are essential to protect people's health.  The League of Women Voters is pleased that the Obama Administration has chosen the health of children and families instead of giving in to the lobbying of big polluters, coal companies and power plants,” according to MacNamara.


  • The following is a statement from Elisabeth MacNamara, President, League of Women Voters of the U.S.:

    Washington, DC – “We are so pleased that Attorney General Holder appeared before the American voters tonight in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum to tackle head-on, the growing momentum behind anti-voter laws.  It was President Johnson that signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law, and at the time said:

    ‘This act flows from a clear and simple wrong. Its only purpose is to right that wrong. Millions of Americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. This law will ensure them the right to vote. The wrong is one which no American, in his heart, can justify. The right is one which no American, true to our principles, can deny.’

    “These anti-voter laws are passing state legislatures at an alarming rate. They are cloaked as an attempt to bring integrity to our elections systems yet many are now seeing them for what they really are: an assault on voters and one of the greatest self-inflicted threats to our democracy in our lifetimes.  The new laws threaten to silence the voices of those least heard and rarely listened to in this country – the poor, the elderly, racial and ethnic minorities, the young and persons with disabilities. 

    “While we applaud Mr. Holder’s speech, we are disappointed in the Department of Justice’s record on voting rights enforcement.  The League of Women Voters calls on the DOJ to act more forcefully and without delay to ensure fair elections in 2012.  The voters are depending on Mr. Holder and DOJ for real action on their behalf.  Born out of a movement to expand the franchise, the League of Women Voters continues to fight to protect the foundation of our democracy and will continue to work to ensure every eligible voter is allowed to vote and have their vote counted in 2012 and beyond.”


    Kelly Ceballos
    (202) 263-1331


  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                              

    December 12, 2011                                                     


    Contact: LWVUS- Kelly Ceballos

    (202) 263-1331; kceballos@lwv.org

    LWV of Texas- Anita Privett

    (512) 467-2674; advocacy@lwvtexas.org      


    Attorney General Holder Must Re-commit to Protecting Voting Rights as New Voter Suppression Laws Sweep the Country


    Austin, TX – The League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters of Texas (LWV) call on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to re-commit the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to protecting citizen voting rights in response to the numerous new voter suppression laws sweeping the country.


    On Tuesday, December 13th in Austin, Texas, Mr. Holder will deliver a long awaited speech on voting rights and the role of the DOJ in enforcing those rights.   The League urges Mr. Holder to denounce the voter suppression laws and recommit the DOJ to aggressively protect the voting rights of all U.S. citizens.


    “DOJ’s record over the last three years has been mixed on voting rights enforcement,” according to Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the national League.  “We applaud DOJ’s objections to the unfair Texas redistricting plan passed by the legislature and call on the Department to enforce the NVRA with the same vigor,” she said


    “We are hopeful that Mr. Holder chose Texas to deliver his speech so that he can highlight the numerous issues that threaten to suppress the vote in next year’s elections. The various threats to voting rights in Texas alone include non-compliance with the National Voting Rights Act (NVRA), a new voter photo identification law, new restrictions on voter registration drives, and the discriminatory and politically motived redistricting maps,” said Karen Nicholson, President of LWV of Texas.


    Nationally, there has been an unprecedented increase in voter suppression laws.  In 2011 alone, eight states have passed new restrictive photo ID laws, three states have passed laws requiring proof of citizenship as a prerequisite to voting, two states have made it more difficult for groups like the League of Women Voters to register eligible voters and five states have passed legislation that would eliminate or shorten the period of early voting. In addition, we could see new suppression laws passed in Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Virginia and Pennsylvania before the 2012 elections.


    “This assault on voters is one of the greatest self-inflicted threats to our democracy in our lifetimes.  These new laws threaten to silence the voices of those least heard and rarely listened to in this country – the poor, the elderly, racial and ethnic minorities, the young and person’s with disabilities,” MacNamara said.  


    The Department of Justice must act forcefully and without delay if they hope to ensure fair elections in 2012. The League of Women Voters stands ready to assist Mr. Holder in protecting the foundation of our democracy and will continue to work to ensure every eligible voter is allowed to vote and have their vote counted in 2012 and beyond,” MacNamara concluded.


  • League Cheers Decision to Protect People, Not Polluters

    Washington, DC - The League of Women Voters of the United States released the following statement from national president Elisabeth MacNamara regarding the Obama Administration’s decision to set new limits on carbon pollution from dirty, coal-fired power plants. 

    “Today’s decision by EPA is a big win for public health.  Limiting carbon pollution from dirty coal-fired power plants will save lives and help control the warming of our planet.  Big polluters and some politicians have put heavy pressure on the Administration to back down.  Today, we are glad the Obama Administration looked the special interests in the eye and sided with people, not polluters.

    Public opinion is clear -- voters want the EPA to hold corporate polluters responsible for dirty air and threats to public health.  The science is clear -- new clean air standards are essential to protect peoples’ health.  The League of Women Voters is pleased that the Obama Administration has chosen the health of children and families instead of giving in to the lobbying of big polluters.”

  • National Poll Shows Strong Disapproval for President Obama’s Smog Rule Delay, Unfavorable Ratings for Congress’ Assault on Clean Air Act

    9 Battleground States Also Surveyed: Suburban Women in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Latino Women in California, Florida and New Mexico Disagree With Obama Decision; Health Also Trumps Polluters in Colorado, Nevada, and Virginia.

    Washington, DC – October 13, 2011: President Obama’s decision to block new public health standards for ozone and smog pollution may have pleased big business, but it but it sorely disappointed key demographic groups, including Latinos and women nationally and in nine key 2012 battleground states, according to 10 new polls conducted for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the League of Women Voters of the US (LWV), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

    Among the national poll’s major findings:

    • Nationwide, 70 percent of Americans disapproved of Obama’s decision to block the ozone pollution standard while only 30 percent approved.  Roughly eight out of 10 women (79 percent) overall and 71 percent of Latino women disapproved of Obama’s decision on ozone.
    • Nearly four out of five Americans (78 percent) want the EPA to hold corporate polluters accountable for what they release into the community.  Better than four out five women (83 percent) and 80 percent of Latino women share this view.

    Americans don’t buy the line from some in Congress that EPA safeguards are bad for jobs and the economy and they support stricter safeguards against the toxic chemicals released by power plants. Women and Latino women particularly want stronger protections from toxic air and carbon pollution.

    • Roughly seven out of 10  Americans (69 percent) agree with health experts who support reducing toxic air pollution from industrial sources and oppose those in Congress who say they must overrule the EPA to protect jobs;  three out of four women overall and 73 percent of Latino women agree with health experts.
    • Seven out of 10 support the EPA requiring stricter limits on the amount of toxic chemicals that industrial facilities can release and 69 percent are in favor of the EPA limiting the amount of carbon pollution that power plants and industrial facilities can release. Among women overall, 77 percent support stronger toxics limits and 78 percent support limiting carbon pollution; 76 percent and 77 percent of Latino women support those limits, respectively.

    The polls, conducted between October 6-9, 2011  by Public Policy Polling (PPP), surveyed  1,249 registered voters nationwide (as well as a national oversample of 200 Latino women); and surveyed voters in nine 2012 battleground states: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia with oversamples of suburban women and Latino women in several states.  To access all PPP survey results, go to http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/paltman/polls_obamas_ozone_retreat_dis.html.

    “Delaying clean air standards endangers Latino communities across the country.  This poll shows how disappointed the Latino community is with President Obama and Congress when it comes to cleaning up our air,” said Brent A. Wilkes, national executive director, League of United Latin American Citizens. “Latinos are more likely to live in counties with air pollution levels that are unhealthy due to fine particulates and ozone -- two dangerous and prevalent pollutants that cause or worsen respiratory problems.  Latino children are 60 percent more likely to have asthma than non-Hispanic Whites.”

    Support for the EPA and stricter pollution limits is particularly strong among Latino women in key states. Asked whether they support the EPA’s work to hold polluters accountable, 80 percent of Latino women in California, 79 percent in Florida and 86 percent in New Mexico said yes.

    “Americans clearly are very displeased that politicians are interfering with EPA scientists.  It’s wrong to play politics with the health of our children and seniors,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the US.   “From the president’s decision to delay smog pollution standards to the Congress’s attempts to block EPA action on everything from mercury to soot to carbon, the voting public is fed up with politicians second guessing the science.  It’s fundamentally unfair for polluters to force us to live with unhealthy air, which causes asthma attacks, heart attacks and even premature death.”

    Support for stronger pollution limits and opposition to blocking the EPA is markedly strong among suburban women in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

    •  79 percent of suburban women in Michigan, 76 percent in Ohio and 87 percent in Pennsylvania disagreed with Obama’s decision to block stronger smog standards.
    •  78 percent of suburban women in Michigan, 78 percent in Ohio and 82 percent in Pennsylvania support reducing toxic air pollution from industrial sources and oppose those in Congress who say they must overrule the EPA to protect jobs.

    Independent respondents also expressed strong support for the EPA’s mission and efforts to reduce pollution, and disagree with those who would block the EPA.  More than three out of four  (77 percent) support the EPA’s efforts to hold polluters accountable and 68 percent say the President should not have blocked stronger smog standards and that Congress should not block stronger limits on toxic air pollution.

    “What is clear from this polling is what we’ve known all along:  Americans want cleaner, healthier air and want corporate polluters held accountable for their actions.  President Obama’s decision to delay the ozone air pollution standard puts him out of step with most Americans, and notably with independents, women and Latinos,” said Wesley Warren, director of programs at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    Tom Jensen, director, Public Policy Polling, said:   “The shorthand version of these findings is clear:  Attacks on clean air and the federal agency charged with protecting the environment and the health of Americans is an unpopular position with most Americans, including those in nine key 2012 battleground states.    These poll findings provide more than ample evidence that assaults on the Clean Air Act and the Environmental Protection Agency are likely to be perceived as decidedly extreme and well outside of the mainstream of the public’s thinking.”

    About the national poll:  The margin of error for the national survey is +/-2.8 percent. Margins of error for oversamples and states vary. Public Policy Polling surveys are conducted through automated telephone interviews.  PPP is a national survey research firm located in Raleigh, North Carolina.  It was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the two most accurate polling companies in the country for its swing state polling in 2008. More recently it was recognized by the Washington Post and Politico for its pinpoint polling of the surprising results in the Delaware Republican Senate primary and the Massachusetts Senate special election.

    MEDIA CONTACT:  Leslie Anderson, (703) 276-3256 or landerson@hastingsgroup.com.