• VOTERS FINALLY CAST BALLOTS, MAKE DECISIONS IN ELECTION 2014

    Pro-Voter Election Reforms Must be Implemented Across America

     Statement by Elisabeth MacNamara, National President of the League of Women Voters

    Washington, D.C. – “Today, after months of relentless attack ads and millions of dollars in dark money campaign spending, American voters are going to the polls, casting their ballots and making their voices heard. The League has been there for all eligible voters in communities across this nation, making a powerful contribution to election 2014. We are proud of our work this year, registering, informing and helping voters participate in this important election.

    “At each and every opportunity, we urged voters to visit the League’s greatest resource VOTE411.org and it paid off. Since 2006, VOTE411 has helped millions of voters find the important election information they need to participate and vote by answering the most commonly asked questions – am I registered and, if not, how do I register, who’s on my ballot, where is my polling place, and what rules and requirements do I need to know before voting?

    “During election 2014, I visited five battleground states where I saw the incredible work of League volunteers. They are active in their communities year round but best known for their election work. Year after year, they work tirelessly to serve their communities and this year was no different. We have been registering tens of thousands of new voters, providing nonpartisan information on the candidates through millions of printed and online voters’ guides and hundreds of debates and forums, and helping voters on Election Day by serving as poll workers, poll monitors and, in some cases, drivers helping voters get to the polls.

    “Unfortunately, our work serving voters has become more difficult in recent years as legislatures in numerous states have passed laws making it more difficult to register, vote and have that vote count. We have seen laws that require onerous proof-of-citizenship and residency requirements in order to register to vote and discriminatory photo ID requirements as a prerequisite to voting, as well as cuts to early voting, elimination of same-day registration and restrictions on community-based voter registration drives, like those hosted by Leagues.

    “Nationally, the League of Women Voters and its state and local affiliates are fighting anti-voter laws in order to protect the rights of all eligible voters but clearly our work is not done. Many voters were prevented from casting a vote in this year’s elections due to new and, in some cases, continuing barriers.

    “A sustained, national effort to reform our election laws is the only way to ensure our elections are free, fair and accessible to all eligible voters. Five important steps would accomplish major improvements in election administration and would let voters know that they are the central actors in our nation’s democratic system. Voters in every state deserve an election system that serves them and includes secure online voter registration for all eligible voters, permanent and portable statewide voter registration, expanded early voting options, improved polling place management, and electronic streamlining.

    “Voters turned out today, to what level we will have to wait and see, but clearly voters want a say on the issues that matter most to them like jobs, health care and the security and future of their communities. The many organizations and elections officials that encouraged voter participation and helped people navigate the hurdles throughout the election process deserve praise.

    “In every state in the union, Leagues are doing the work that the League does best: arming voters with the information they need to get to the polls and make the choices that will best serve our nation, our states and our communities. It is the work that the League has done for almost 95 years and there is no one that does it better than us.”

    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.

  • LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS REGISTERS VOTERS AT MORE THAN 400 EVENTS

    National Voter Registration Day Gateway to Voting for Thousands in November Election

    Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters is proud to participate in National Voter Registration Day 2014 (NVRD), a 50-state effort to register hundreds of thousands of voters on one single day. As a founding organizing partner of NVRD and the single-largest on-the-ground organization, the League and more than 1,800 partner organizations helped register 350,000 new voters on this single day of action in 2012 and 2013.

    “Today, volunteer League teams have stepped up to the challenge and have registered voters at more than 400 events around the country,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “We are thrilled to be a part of this day because voter empowerment is what we have been doing for nearly 100 years and NVRD is the front door to participation for thousands of eligible voters.”

    “Voter registration is the key to getting Americans participating in the political process, yet close to one in four eligible Americans is not registered to vote,” said MacNamara. “This includes disproportionate numbers of young Americans, minorities, low-income Americans, and those who have recently moved. We’ve come a long way, but it’s no secret that our halls of power aren’t very reflective of our communities,” said MacNamara. “For democracy to work best, we need everyone to weigh in.”

    “There is a great deal at stake in November: the entire U.S. House of Representatives and dozens of U.S. Senate, Governor and hundreds of other state offices will be decided by voters this year,” MacNamara said. “These races are about jobs, economic and national security, access to health care and safety in our communities. All Americans deserve the chance to stand up for what matters most to them. And the best way to do that is to register and vote.”

    “Research shows that simply asking a friend or relative to vote can have a major positive impact,” noted MacNamara. “We all have people in our lives whose voter registration isn’t up to date. Send them a text or email today and help them get started by visiting the League’s election information website www.VOTE411.org.”

    VOTE411, the nation’s premier online elections resource, includes information about elections across the country, including important deadlines and information regarding in-person and absentee voting, early voting options, registration deadlines, ID requirements, soon-to-come information about every candidate running for state house office or higher in every state, and other important updates regarding any changes voters should expect to see at the polls.

    “This is an important time for our country and our future,” concluded MacNamara. “It has never been more important to make sure every eligible voter gets registered to vote and has all the information they need to vote on Election Day. National Voter Registration Day is a day devoted to helping reach that goal.”

    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.

  • Arguments Today: Federal Voting Protections are Key

    Tens of Thousands of People Could Find it Harder to Vote As Kansas and Arizona Seek to Impose Strict Proof of Citizenship Requirements

    Denver, CO – With Congress’ power to protect voters in federal elections in jeopardy, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver will hear oral arguments today in a landmark voting rights case, Kris W. Kobach et al. v. United States Election Assistance Commission.

    The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School is representing the League of Women Voters — which along with its Kansas and Arizona affiliates, joined the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) as defendants in the case — arguing new laws in Kansas and Arizona requiring proof of citizenship to register to vote violate federal law.

    The League of Women Voters represented by the Brennan Center and pro bono counsel Kirkland & Ellis LLP and David G. Seely of the law firm Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch, LLC, operates one of the longest-running nonpartisan voter registration efforts in the nation. Kansas and Arizona’s strict proof of citizenship laws have harmed voter registration drives and undermined Congressional efforts to provide access to the ballot in federal elections, according to a brief submitted by the League and other civic organizations.   

    “These laws could prevent tens of thousands of citizens from exercising their right to vote,” said Wendy Weiser, who directs the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and represents the Leagues in this case. “Last year, the Supreme Court invalidated Arizona’s law and decisively confirmed Congress’ authority to protect the right to vote in federal elections. Officials in Kansas and Arizona are attempting to undermine that authority, which could seriously harm voters.”

    “These new laws make it harder for non-partisan civic groups like the League to advocate for Americans’ voting rights and register eligible voters,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national League President. “Kansas and Arizona are flouting congressional authority and making it more difficult for eligible voters to cast a ballot.”

    “Arizona’s proof of citizenship requirement has drastically harmed our efforts to register voters and promote civic participation,” said Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer of the League of Women Voters of Arizona. “After the state implemented this requirement, it became nearly impossible for us to conduct effective voter registration efforts because potential voters we encountered did not have access to their birth certificates, or were hesitant to share personal information.”

    “Kansans will be left out of the democratic process if this new requirement is upheld,” said Dolores Furtado, President of the League of Women Voters of Kansas. “When we make the voter registration process complex, it confuses people and means that fewer people will register and plan to vote.”

    “Kirkland & Ellis is honored to be part of the team that is seeking to defeat these extraneous and entirely unnecessary requirements — requirements that strike at the very heart of participatory democracy by substantially interfering with the right to vote, particularly among the poor, minorities, and other traditionally disenfranchised communities,” said Michael Keats of Kirkland & Ellis, who also represents the Leagues.

    “Our firm is pleased to be able to assist the national, Kansas, and Arizona chapters of the League of Women Voters to present their unique perspective regarding voting rights in this important matter,” said David G. Seely of Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch.

    This case follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2013 ruling in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., which invalidated Arizona’s law requiring documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote, as it applied to the federal registration form. The ruling stated the law violated the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, a statute that was well within Congress’s broad powers to regulate federal elections. Kansas and Arizona are now seeking to force the EAC to change the federal form to allow those states to require proof of citizenship as part of the voter registration process.

    While the case is in process, Kansas and Arizona are moving ahead to limit voter participation with a two-tiered system with two sets of voter registration lists for state and federal elections. Under these rules, voters who register with documentary proof of citizenship on state forms are eligible to vote for the complete ballot — including ballot initiatives, and state and local candidates at every level. But voters who register using the federal form and do not provide citizenship documents can only receive ballots for federal candidates. This two-tiered voter registration system is being challenged in a separate suit.

    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.

  • “Court decision is a big step forward in fight for voter-based redistricting,” says League

    Washington, D.C.  – Late yesterday, a Florida Circuit Court issued an opinion in Romo v. Detzner, a case that examined whether Florida's congressional districts violate that state’s constitution.  The final judgment of the court was that the congressional map drawn by the Florida legislature and adopted in 2012 violates the Fair District Amendments to Florida’s constitution which were adopted by citizen initiative in 2010 to remove partisan influence from the redistricting process. The League of Women Voters of Florida was the lead organizational plaintiff in the lawsuit, and was the driving force behind passage of the Fair Districts Amendments.

    “This decision gives us a new tool to fight partisan gerrymandering,” said national League President, Elisabeth MacNamara. “The criteria adopted by the citizens of Florida and enforced by the court are effective in fighting partisan gerrymandering. This case provides a roadmap for other states to limit partisan gerrymandering and force an open and transparent process for drawing congressional lines.”

    “Today, we see that voters can win,” MacNamara said. “We can have redistricting processes that allow the voters to choose their representatives rather than the politicians choosing the voters. We now have a track record in Florida and California, of successful, citizen-led initiatives by the League of Women Voters that have used both redistricting criteria and an independent commission to fight partisan gerrymandering.”

    During the case, the Florida courts required legislators to disclose secret emails used in the redistricting process that helped this court decide that the Florida congressional redistricting was intentionally designed to benefit one political party over the other. “This decision once again shows the importance of transparency. It was essential for the legislators to come clean and reveal what was really going on in the redistricting process. Citizens have a right to have government act in the open rather than in secret,” MacNamara said.

    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.

  • Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in the case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. that dealt a serious blow to women’s right to equal health care in America. The League of Women Voters joined an amicus brief in this case. 

    “The Supreme Court’s argument that closely-held for-profit corporations have a right to the free exercise of religion is a distraction from the core issue at hand: the protection of public health, and in particular, the rights of women to have equal access to health care coverage,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States.

    “Some argue that this is a narrow decision, applying only to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage provision. Given the other cases likely to come before this Court, it would be unwise to allow today’s decision to lull us into complacency,” MacNamara said. “The Hobby Lobby decision is an ominous sign for what may be to come on this vital issue.” 

    “Denying women access to needed health care coverage based on ill-defined religious or moral objections of their employers is a step backwards in the long-fought battle towards equal rights,” said MacNamara. “This is America. The religious beliefs of owners of corporations should not be used  defeat the rights of other people.” 

    “For decades, the League has worked tirelessly for comprehensive health care coverage, including a woman's right to make her own health care choices,” concluded MacNamara. “We will continue our work to ensure that the impact of this decision doesn’t get in the way of quality of care for all.”  

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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.

     

  • Congress Must Act to Restore the Voting Rights Act

    Washington, D.C.  – “Today may be an anniversary but it is not a celebration,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national President of the League of Women Voters. “It was one year ago that the U.S. Supreme Court gutted key provisions of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, leaving room for discrimination to gain an even better foothold at the ballot box.”

    “Since then, the Voting Rights Amendment Act (VRAA) was crafted and introduced by a bipartisan group of legislators. The VRAA is a workable, commonsense solution that would modernize the elections process and protect voting rights against discrimination,” said MacNamara. “We have the solution. We just need Congress to continue to do its part and keep this legislative fix moving forward.”

    “Today was an important step; the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on voting rights and discrimination. The end result of that discussion: we must pass the VRAA and quickly,” MacNamara continued. “We are hopeful and encouraged by today’s action. We all know that League members never give up, and they have already sent tens of thousands of letters to Congress in support of swift action on this bill.”

    “The House of Representatives and the House leadership must follow the Senate’s lead and move this bill forward,” said MacNamara. “At a time when trust and belief in our elected leaders is weak, the VRAA is proof that elected officials can put aside politics to govern. Action in the House is needed quickly to prevent discrimination at the polls.”

    “This fall, Americans across the country will head to the polls for the 2014 elections,” MacNamara said. “While unfortunately, there will be some voters that encounter discrimination in November, League members and others stand ready to help them get registered and vote. The VRAA is vitally important because it will help ensure equal access to the vote for all eligible voters and help fight against discrimination in voting.”

    “Let’s use this occasion as motivation,” concluded MacNamara. “There is no better time than today to push the fight for equality at the ballot box closer to the finish line. Congress: Let’s get this done; let’s work to protect all eligible voters.” 

    Contact Kelly Ceballos at kceballos@lwv.org to find out more or to schedule an interview. 

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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.

     

  • Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Voting and Election Experts, NPR’s Wade Goodwyn Address Delegates 

    WASHINGTON, DC – The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) held its 51st biennial national convention this week in Dallas, Texas. The four-day gathering gave League members from around the country the opportunity to celebrate the organization’s accomplishments on voting rights, campaign finance reform and the environment, and to discuss important public policy issues. 

    In her acceptance speech, the League’s reelected national president Elisabeth MacNamara challenged delegates: “Our communities are stronger because the Leagues are there. Let’s not be afraid to keep getting in the way and make a difference on big money and campaign finance reform, redistricting, climate change and voters’ rights.”

    MacNamara thanked members for entrusting her with a third term and the leadership of this storied organization approaching its 100th anniversary. “Thank you for faith in the League and the future.”

    Throughout the gathering, delegates rallied around the League’s 2014 Power the Vote initiative for their elections work this year, and set the LWVUS program agenda for the next two years, vowing to continue our fight for voting rights and campaign finance reform. In addition, delegates reinforced the League’s efforts to combat climate change and adopted a three-part program focusing on key structures of American democracy, including campaign finance reform, the constitutional amendment process, and redistricting reform for the U.S. Congress. The League also adopted a position on human trafficking enabling state and local Leagues across the country to take action protecting victims of such crimes. 

    “League delegates are deeply concerned about the big money that is polluting our elections,” said MacNamara. “At Convention, we came together and pledged to educate our communities and fight in our legislatures to protect our democracy.” 

    Convention speakers included Houston Mayor Annise ParkerNPR’s Wade Goodwyn, Steven Murdock of Rice University, Governing Magazine’s Peter Harkness, Former U.S. Election Assistance Commissioner Ray Martinez, Ann McGeehan, the former Director of the Texas Elections Division, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, Peter Levine of CIRCLE and Patrick Bresette of Public Works. All of the speakers commended the League for our work on behalf of neighborhoods and voters throughout the country and urged the organization to press forward using our community-based power on the critical issues of the day including money in politics, voter protection and environmental issues. 

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

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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.

  • Carbon Pollution Standard for Existing
    Power Plants is Life-Saving Measure, Says League

    Washington, D.C.  – Today the Obama Administration proposed a carbon pollution standard for existing power plants, a critical and bold step in the fight against climate change.

    “We are pleased that today the President has taken these additional steps as his Administration confronts one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime: climate change,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States. 

    “Power plants are the largest emitter of life-threatening carbon pollution in our country, the leading cause of climate change. Reducing the amount of carbon pollution from power plants is a life-saving measure that proposes common sense solutions to protect our children, our nation and the world from the devastating effects of climate change,” MacNamara said.

    “The public is strongly in favor of reducing the deadly effects that carbon pollution has on the health of our children and our environment,” said MacNamara. “If we don’t act now to cut carbon pollution the costs will continue to escalate: more frequent and deadly weather that results in billions of dollars of recovery for communities and the federal government each year. Today’s announcement is another important step in the fight to beat back climate change,” MacNamara said.

    “League members and supporters across the country are once again proud to stand in support of the President’s plan to cut carbon pollution and fulfill his commitment to people, not polluters. We are eager to work with him to implement life-saving measures to protect our children, our nation and our world from the damaging effects of climate change.”

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     Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-133, kceballos@lwv.org

  • “Yet another irresponsible decision on money in politics by the Roberts Court,” says League

    Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that aggregate campaign contribution limits are invalid in the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. The case challenged the limits on the total contributions from an individual donor to candidates and political committees in order to prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption. The League of Women Voters of the U.S. joined an amicus brief in this case.

    “This is yet another irresponsible decision on money in politics by the Roberts Court,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “The Court has used the McCutcheon decision to continue dismantling the wall of protection against corruption – case by case, brick by brick.”

    “The importance of this decision cannot be overstated,” MacNamara said. “While McCutcheon dealt with a technical and arcane matter of campaign finance law, in the end it is all about more money and more influence. In this decision, as in previous decisions, the Chief Justice ignores the corruption he is turning loose in America’s election system.”

    “In this decision, the Court opens another loophole by allowing our political parties to be further corrupted by big-money contributions from special interests. The party and Political Action Committee systems now become a huge funnel for corrupting elected officials across the country,” MacNamara said.

    “The McCutcheon decision simply means more power for big money, more corruption for the rest of us. The Roberts Court is saying that big money is worth more than the voices of individual citizens,” 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.

  • “Voters won big in today’s ruling,” says League

    Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that Florida’s plan to purge voters just before the 2012 elections was prohibited by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

    “This is a big win for voters and a significant victory for good election administration practices,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. The League filed a “friend of the court” brief in the case.

    Just before the 2012 primary and general elections in Florida, Secretary of State Ken Detzner began to purge voters from the rolls because a computer-matching system indicated they were not U.S. citizens. Karla Arcia, who is a citizen and who was incorrectly purged, sued, along with a number of organizations. They argued that the express provisions of the NVRA prohibit “any program the purpose of which is to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters” within 90 days of an election. Today the Court agreed.

    “Systematic computer purges are often wrong, so they shouldn’t come just before an election, when the voter can’t get it corrected,” said MacNamara. In the court case, the League and election administrators pointed out that good election management does not purge voters close to an election because mistakes cannot be fixed quickly. The Court emphasized that the decision does not prohibit a state from investigating potential non-citizens and removing them “on the basis of individualized information,” even within the 90-day window.

    “Florida voters should be delighted by this news,” said Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “There are already strong election administration practices in place to safeguard the lists.”

    “This is a precedent-setting case that upholds a key protection for voters in the NVRA,” said MacNamara. “Inaccurate purges can be a big problem, and today the Court took an important step to protect voters,” she said. 

    The League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters of Florida were represented by the Brennan Center for Justice in this case.

    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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