• League of Women Voters Lawsuit unsuccessful in halting voter ID law

    WASHINGTON, DC (August 15, 2012) - Today, in spite of strong testimony and the failure of state officials to provide any evidence of voter fraud by impersonation, the lawsuit brought by American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania in which the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania was the lead organizational plaintiff, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania upheld the state’s photo identification law passed earlier this year. The League of Women Voters is appalled by this decision. This is the first time in recent months that voting rights groups have been unsuccessful in blocking implementation of these voter suppression laws. The states that have halted voter ID laws include Texas, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

    “We are disappointed that the Pennsylvania court has upheld this voter suppression law. Recently, when similar laws in other states have been reviewed by a court or the U.S. Department of Justice they have been deemed to be discriminatory, and we believe this to be the case in Pennsylvania,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the United States.

    “We are dismayed with the decision of the court. The League is discouraged but undaunted. It’s a sad day for citizens when political rhetoric wins over democracy. We will continue to work to educate voters about voter identification requirements and help people get a photo ID while we await the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision. All who read the testimony or were present in the courtroom were moved by the compelling stories of witnesses who shared the impact of this law on our most precious right to vote. As many as 1.2 million eligible voters could be disenfranchised in November’s election if the Supreme Court allows Judge Simpson’s ruling to stand. The erosion of one person’s right to vote impacts each of us” said Olivia Thorne, President of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania.

    “Time and time again these laws have been found to be illegal. It is time to realize that these voter suppression laws cannot and should not be enacted in any state; they are legally and morally unjustifiable. It is time for us to move beyond the rhetoric and work to pass new laws that will ensure that everyone who is eligible to vote can vote and will have their vote counted without any undue barriers. Nothing less than our democracy is at stake,” concluded MacNamara.

    It is expected that today’s decision will be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

     

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 14, 2012

    RECORD 3 MILLION COMMENTS IN SUPPORT OF EPA’S CARBON POLLUTION STANDARD DEMONSTRATES AMERICANS’ SUPPORT FOR CURBING CLIMATE CHANGE

    WASHINGTON, DC -- August 14, 2012: Today, a broad coalition of groups supporting clean air announced the collection of 3 million public comments in support of national standards to limit dangerous industrial carbon pollution from new power plants. Adding that this unprecedented tally reflects the strong desire of Americans for national leadership to address climate change and its impact on public health, the groups issued the following statement:

    Three million public comments in favor of cleaning up dangerous carbon pollution is a remarkable and record-setting show of support for protecting our health from rising temperatures. This outpouring of support from across the nation is a wakeup call for policy makers to heed the public’s desire to curb air pollution and climate change.

    "We applaud the EPA for taking action against dangerous industrial carbon pollution which poses a wide range of health threats to our families, our communities as well as to wildlife and our outdoor heritage because of the impacts of climate change. This summer’s devastating extreme weather events and deadly record-setting heat waves preview just how damaging and costly rising temperatures will be.

    The polluters continue to block any attempt to address climate change and reduce industrial carbon pollution in order to protect their profits at the expense of public health. They may not be ready to clean up, but the American public is. When it comes to addressing climate change and its impact on our health, the American public is clamoring for leadership, now.”

    Doctors, scientists and other experts agree that carbon pollution threatens our health by fueling climate change.  Climate change increases the formation of lung damaging and asthma-attack inducing smog, which is particularly dangerous for kids and seniors. Climate change also fuels more frequent and more deadly heat waves, droughts, crop damage, floods, infectious diseases and other extreme weather events like those we’re seeing across the country this year.

    The following groups, which signed the statement and helped collect the record 3 million comments urging the EPA to curb industrial carbon pollution, include:

    American Sustainable Business Council

    Care2

    Center for American Progress Action Fund

    Clean Water Action

    Climate Reality Project

    Earthjustice

    Energy Action Coalition

    Environment America

    Environmental Action

    Environmental Defense Fund

    Greenpeace

    Healthcare Without Harm Interfaith Power & Light League of Conservation Voters

    League of Women Voters of the U.S.

    MomsRising

    NAACP

    National Audubon Society

    National Hispanic Medical Association

    National Wildlife Federation

    Natural Resources Defense Council

    Physicians for Social Responsibility

    Presente

    Sierra Club

    Union of Concerned Scientists

    US Climate Action Network

    Voces Verdes

     

  • Voters deserve to know origins of secret money in elections

    Washington, DC (July 17, 2012) – Twice this week, the U.S. Senate refused to allow full debate on the DISCLOSE Act, which would require complete disclosure of spending on big-money advertising in candidate elections.   Twice, the Senate failed to invoke cloture, the procedural motion that requires 60 votes before the Senate can even consider legislation.

    “Huge sums of secret money are flooding into our elections, and without full disclosure the voters won’t know who is trying to buy influence,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national President of the League of Women Voters.  “Secret money should have no place in our elections, but we all know it is there, drowning out the voices of everyday Americans.”

    “Twice this week, our elected leaders in Washington, the men and women who had the power and opportunity to help, failed to take up the DISCLOSE Act.  They decided that they didn’t even want to debate this important issue,” MacNamara said.  “Instead of talking about how they could help voters understand where all of this secret money is coming from, they decided to kill the bill without any debate.  This is a sad day for voters and America’s democracy.”

    “The League supports the DISCLOSE Act of 2012 because we believe that Americans deserve all the information they can get before they vote,” said MacNamara.  “The DISCLOSE Act builds on disclosure requirements already approved by the Supreme Court in Citizens United when it said that disclosure is important to ‘providing the electorate with information.’”

    “The League and its partners in the voting rights community will continue to push for passage of DISCLOSE because secret campaign money undermines the role of the voter and corrupts the election process.  Tell us where the money is coming from and let the voters decide.  The DISCLOSE Act is an important step towards eliminating secret money,” concluded MacNamara.

    CONTACT:  Kelly Ceballos, kceballos@lwv.org

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  • League Joins Case in Support of Voting Rights / Department of Justice

    Washington D.C. - This week a three-judge panel in Washington, D.C. is hearing arguments in a case brought by the State of Texas seeking to overturn a U.S. Department of Justice (US DOJ) decision to deny pre-clearance of Texas’s  photo voter ID law.  The League of Women Voters of Texas (LWVTX) has joined the lawsuit in support of the US DOJ position.

    “The importance of this case cannot be overstated: It will be a landmark case for voting rights in America,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. (LWVUS). The League in Texas and other states around the country are fighting against these voter suppression laws and will continue to do so until every eligible citizen is guaranteed their right to vote and have their vote counted.”

    Earlier this week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder joined the League in calling these photo ID laws a “poll tax.” “Voters who have voted for years will now be required to jump through hoops and be asked to pay for underlying documentation in order to get the required photo ID to vote. This is a poll tax plain and simple,” said Linda Krefting, president of the Texas League.

    “Should this law be allowed to stand it will have a detrimental impact on the rights of voters across the state,” said Krefting The state of Texas has not been able to find one instance of voter impersonation at the polls in Texas compared with court testimony that finds 1.4 million Texans without the necessary photo ID to vote. The ‘cure’ Texas has forced on voters is worse than the ‘illness’,” said Krefting.

    Concluded MacNamara:  “Today we are experiencing an unprecedented attack on voting rights. This assault on voters is sweeping across the country, state by state, and 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 people with disabilities. We stand with the League of Women Voters of Texas and all of the other states where the right to vote is threatened. We will continue the work we have done for more than 90 years – protecting the right to vote and expanding the franchise.”

    CONTACT:  Kelly Ceballos, KCeballos@lwv.org or Anita Privett, anita.privett@gmail.com

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  • Supreme Court Decision Protects Health Care for Millions of Americans

     Washington, DC – The following statement is by Elisabeth MacNamara, national President of the League of Women Voters:

    “Today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Florida v. HHS upholding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was surprising, but deeply important. This decision protects the health of millions of Americans.

    “The Court recognized health care reform for what it is: a legislative response to complex issues threatening the health and well-being of Americans that was best resolved by the elected branch of government – the Congress. The Court upheld this historic, transformative act of Congress.

    “Upholding the ACA brings our nation closer to the goals of this law: to provide universal health care for all Americans. There are still threats to these critical reforms and the League will continue its work fighting for progress on many fronts.

    “Now that the law has been upheld, children will no longer be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, young adults can stay on their parents’ health plans as dependents until age 26, Medicare participants will have annual check-ups and mammograms, and many uninsured Americans will now have health care coverage.

    “Leagues throughout the country will continue to educate communities and Americans on the ACA and its pivotal impact on their lives. Health care for all must be the goal as we expand coverage to millions of Americans and preserve the ACA’s transformational reforms.

    “We expressed great hope when the ACA passed Congress in 2010 after decades of struggle. Today, we look to a brighter future, a tomorrow that includes health care coverage for all Americans.”

    CONTACT: Kelly Ceballos, kceballos@lwv.org

  • Court Repeats Naïve, Uninformed Errors of Its Citizens United Decision

    Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Montana Supreme Court in the case of American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, a case that dealt with a state law passed by Montana voters to end the corrupting influence of money in candidate elections.  The League signed onto an amicus brief in support of the Montana law.

    “Given an opportunity to take corrective action against the clearly corrupting influences unleashed by their 2010 decision in Citizens United, the Supreme Court seems more interested in its own abstract notion of the First Amendment than in protecting representative democracy for all citizens,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national League President.  “The Court has repeated its naïve, uninformed errors from its Citizens United decision.”

    “The First Amendment is meant to protect essential freedoms, not as a weapon to destroy American democracy.  We look forward to the day when the Supreme Court majority deals with facts rather than imposing their own ideological views,” she said.

    "Montana had a long history of corruption that the Court ignored, just as it continues to ignore the corrupting influence of independent expenditures in this year's federal elections.  In this case, the Court extended Citizens United to the states, even states where there is a history of corruption,” MacNamara said.

    At issue was a century old Montana law, the Corporate Practices Act (CPA), which prohibits corporations from making expenditures in campaign activities.  The CPA was a voter-adopted referendum that fought back against corporate interests and worked to end the corruption that unlimited funding caused in Montana’s government.

    “The first step in overcoming the effects of the Montana decision and Citizens United is for Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act, which would restore transparency to U.S. elections by requiring complete disclosure of spending on big-money advertising in candidate elections,” said MacNamara.  “The voters deserve to know where all the big-money is coming from before they make their decisions in the voting booth,” she said. 

    “The League is deeply committed to reforming our nation’s campaign finance system to ensure the public’s right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office and allow maximum citizen participation in the political process,” she said.  “We will continue this fight in Congress, with state legislatures, with the executive branch and, where appropriate, the courts.  Voters will not stand by and let our political system be corrupted by unlimited secret money,” MacNamara concluded.    

    CONTACT: Kelly Ceballos,  kceballos@lwv.org

  • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    June 21, 2012

    http://bit.ly/MjMGOj

    Washington, DC – June 21, 2012: Today, a broad coalition of groups supporting clean air safeguards announced they have collected more than two million comments in support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Carbon Pollution Standard, which limits industrial carbon pollution from new power plants.  The comments, totaling 2.1 million were collected over the past 10 weeks and the groups expect thousands more to be collected in the coming weeks. This unprecedented tally is the largest number of comments ever submitted to the EPA during a public comment period, and far exceeds the number of comments EPA has ever received on any prior issue.

    The groups issued the following joint statement about the groundswell of support for the new EPA carbon pollution standard:

    “We already knew that Americans strongly support the EPA’s efforts to address climate change and to reduce dangerous air pollution that threatens the health and safety of our children, communities, and wildlife.  Doctors, scientists and other experts agree that carbon pollution threatens our health, plain and simple, by driving climate change which increases the formation of lung-damaging and asthma-attack inducing smog, which is particularly dangerous for kids and seniors. Climate change will also drive more deadly heat waves, floods and increase the spread of infectious diseases.

    “But our expectations have been exceeded by the unprecedented support demonstrated by the more than 2 million comments from Americans who support EPA’s historic standard to curb dangerous industrial carbon pollution from new power plants while urging EPA to move forward with a strong standard for existing power plants. The message is clear: Americans want cleaner air and less industrial carbon pollution and they want EPA to protect their kids, their families and their communities from the dangerous effects of climate change.”

    The following groups have gathered comments and signed onto the above statement:

    Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

    American Sustainable Business Council

    Care2

    Center for American Progress Action Fund

    Clean Air Council

    Clean Water Action

    Climate Reality Project

    Climate Solutions

    Democracy for America

    Earthjustice

    Energy Action Coalition

    Environment America

    Environmental Defense Fund

    Fresh Energy

    Greenpeace

    Health Care Without Harm

    Interfaith Power and Light

    Leadership Center for the Common Good

    League of Conservation Voters

    League of Women Voters of the US

    MomsRising

    NAACP

    National Audubon Society

    National Hispanic Medical Association

    National Wildlife Federation

    Natural Resources Defense Council

    Physicians for Social Responsibility

    Presente.org

    Sierra Club

    Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

    Union of Concerned Scientists

    US Climate Action Network

    Voces Verdes

    World Wildlife Fund

    Contact:  David Di Martino, 202.247.7271, david@blueenginemedia.com; Keven Kennedy, 202.276.3159, keven@kevenkennedy.com

  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Campaign Finance Experts, John Zogby Address Delegates

    WASHINGTON, DC (June 12, 2012)– The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) held its 50th biennial national convention this week in Washington, DC.  The four-day gathering gave League members from around the country the opportunity to celebrate the organization’s accomplishments on campaign finance reform, the environment and election reform, and to discuss important public policy issues.

    In her acceptance speech, the League’s reelected president Elisabeth MacNamara challenged delegates: “The League is not an end in itself. We are a training ground for democracy. That is what we have always been and that is what we will always be, working together to learn new ways to spread the word and encourage new generations to learn and engage.”

    MacNamara thanked members for entrusting her with the leadership of this 92-year-old organization. “We are all in League together to make our community a better place; we are all in League to make our democracy safe by making it available to all; and we are all in League together in our faith in knowledge as power and education as the only way to make gains that will last.”

    Throughout the gathering, delegates rallied around the League’s 2012 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, campaign finance reform and clean air, and voting to study agriculture. DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Annenberg Public Policy Center's Kathleen Hall Jamieson were just a few of the high profile speakers that addressed the gathering.

    “The League is fighting hard to overcome the impact of the Citizens United decision on money in elections and on the floor of convention, League delegates voted to condemn this tragic Supreme Court decision,” said MacNamara.  “Now we must continue our important work to bring sunshine and disclosure to the flood of money in elections by passing the DISCLOSE Act of 2012 and continuing to examine a full range of additional steps.”

    Convention speakers, including U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Trevor Potter, President of the Campaign Legal Center, Former Congressman Mickey Edwards (R-OK) and Political Reporter Eleanor Clift, urged the League to look closely at the steps needed to fix the broken campaign finance system and to press forward using our community-based power on behalf of all voters and for elections that are determined by the voters. 

    Said Attorney General Holder, “I urge you – regardless of the opposition you face – to stay true, and remain fiercely committed, to the principles that have always guided the League of Women Voters and that can ensure that the 21st will be another ‘American century.’"

    CONTACT: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331

  • League is “Fiercely Committed” to Nation’s Voters, says Holder

    Washington, DC (June 11, 2012) – Today, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke to the League of Women Voters national convention in Washington, DC.  His address praised the League for being “fiercely committed” to voting rights and working for decades to protect, engage and educate voters. 

    Attorney General Holder also announced three critical areas where the nation’s public support is necessary to help protect voters and reform the election process:  fighting deceptive election practices and dishonest efforts to prevent certain voters from casting their ballots, supporting neutrality in redistricting, and modernizing voter registration systems.

    In commenting on the remarks, national League president Elisabeth MacNamara said, “The Attorney General’s dedication to fully enforcing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), as well as the Voting Rights Act (VRA), is just what we need right now.”  “There are places where we need to stop states from taking steps that are illegally purging voters from the voter registration rolls or creating unnecessary barriers to registering and voting,” she said.

    In closing his remarks, Attorney General Holder urged League members to carry on their important mission:

    “In advancing these efforts, the people in this room are part of an extraordinary legacy.  The arc of American history has always bent toward the expansion of the franchise.  This organization has served as a key component for this most noble – and uniquely American – endeavor.  But never forget – your vital work is not just historically relevant.  You are also a vital, contemporary part of what makes our nation truly exceptional.  I urge you – regardless of the opposition you face – to stay true, and remain fiercely committed, to the principles that have always guided the League of Women Voters and that can ensure that the 21st will be another ‘American century.’"

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos, 202-263-1331

     

  • Tennessee Senators Alexander and Corker, and Maine Senators Collins and Snowe Urged to Support Disclosure

    Washington, D.C. (May 24, 2012) - The League of Women Voters today launched a radio ad campaign urging Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Bob Corker, Senator Susan Collins and Senator Olympia Snowe to step up and lead on the vital issue of disclosure and campaign finance reform.  The ad, “Flood of Money,” encourages the Senators to help bring sunshine and disclosure to the secret money pouring into American elections.

    The 60-second spot seeks to educate and inform Tennessee and Maine citizens about the tidal wave of secret money flowing into election campaigns.  “It is so important for the issue of secret money in elections to be placed squarely in front of the public,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national President of the League of Women Voters. 

    “The ad will likely reinforce what many have been hearing in the news – that current law allows corporations, unions, lobbyists and special interests to spend millions to get the elected officials they want into power, and to do so in complete secrecy,” MacNamara said.

    The ad calls on the Senators to, “Tell us you’ll let the sunshine in. Tell us you support full disclosure.” MacNamara says that, “These four Senators are key actors on this important issue.  They are in a position to make things right.”

    The League has worked on campaign finance reform at the local, state and national levels for decades and is optimistic that these key public officials will speak out for disclosure and support giving the voters all the information they need to make their decisions on Election Day. 

    The ad concludes saying, “The League of Women Voters believes Americans deserve all the information they can get before they vote.  Tell us where the money is coming from and let the voters decide.” 

    The League of Women Voters of Tennessee and the League of Women Voters of Maine join in this effort.  The ads are made possible by a grant from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, NY.  The ads will run on stations in Chattanooga and Nashville, TN and Bangor and Portland, ME from May 24-June 1, 2012.  To listen to the ad running on Tennessee radio, click HERE.  To hear the ad airing in Maine, click HERE.

    CONTACT: Kelly Ceballos at kceballos@lwv.org

     

     

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