• North Carolina League speaks out for Voters’ Rights

    The North Carolina League has seen a whirlwind of activity in the last week, speaking out across the state on behalf of voters.  On July 7, League leaders testified or submitted comments at multiple public redistricting hearing held by the joint House and Senate Redistricting Committee. Leaders focused their comments and media outreach on the grave concerns they have regarding what appear to be blatantly racially gerrymandered districts designed to dilute minorities’ voting strength under the state’s proposed legislative and congressional maps.  Days later, League leaders were out in full force in Raleigh to urge the legislature to “Respect the Vote”; speaking at a high-profile public rally where they called upon legislators to reform the state’s deeply flawed redistricting process and also fight back against renewed efforts to override the recent veto of a photo ID bill and do away with pro-voter reforms such as same-day registration and early voting. 

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:   Jo Nicholas
    July 7, 2011   lwvncpresident1@gmail.com
    http://www.rtpnet.org/lwvnc   910-673-3604

     

    LEAGUE EXPRESSES DEEP CONCERNS WITH REDISTRICTING PLANS

    Raleigh, NC—As the Joint House and Senate Redistricting Committee held a series of hearings across the state today to gain public input on proposed redistricting plans, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina was out in force to offer analysis and provide recommendations for improving the statewide redistricting process.  League representatives testified at or attended at several of the public hearings held across the state, and LWVNC president Jo Nicholas released the following statement:

    “For North Carolina to comply fully with federal and state law, including the Voting Rights Act, the redistricting process must be transparent, open, and responsive to constituents. While we applaud the Committee for the efforts it has taken to ensure transparency and invite public input, we are deeply concerned that the proposed plans repeat the mistakes that have shortchanged all of us—the voters—for decades.

    “The proposed Congressional and state legislative maps are drawn with one outcome in mind: to maximize partisan gains while diluting the power of minority of voters.  These maps attempt to ‘pack’ minority voters into districts in order to stifle their influence.

    “As a significant number of individuals, and civil rights, civic, and community organizations, testified today, these maps benefits lawmakers’ partisan interests while shortchanging minority voters, diluting communities of interest, and paving the way for near-certain Voting Rights Act challenges in court.

    “Every redistricting brings renewed tactics designed to manipulate redistricting for partisan gain, and this year is no different,” Nicholas concluded.  “Before green-lighting any redistricting plan, lawmakers must incorporate a broader spectrum of voices and ideas for drawing districts that best represent the interest of all North Carolinians.” 

    LWVNC has testified at multiple hearings held by the Redistricting Committee and is available for further comment upon request. More information can be found at www.rtpnet.org/lwvnc.
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    The League of Women Voters of North Carolina, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

     

  • Washington, DC – The League of Women voters today announced a new television ad in Massachusetts that is part of their ongoing “People not Polluters” (www.peoplenotpolluters.org) campaign to educate voters about the public health consequences of anti-Clean Air Act votes in Congress. 

    “Our elected officials are taking bad votes that would block new clean air standards.   Our officials must not endanger public health by failing to limit pollution,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League of Women Voters. “The ad campaign’s goal is to raise public awareness of how Senators voted to endanger the health of women, seniors, families and children by blocking new clean air standards that would limit pollution.”

    The new ad highlights an April 6 vote to block clean air standards taken by Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown. To see the Massachusetts ad click here. The ad is part of a major television campaign announced by the League last month. The ads depict a child suffering from respiratory illness and ask viewers to consider the vote and “imagine what it could’ve done – to her.” 

    On April 4, days before the Senate voted on four amendments that would have limited the EPA’s ability to protect public health and clean up air pollution, the American Medical Association warned doctors that increased levels of carbon dioxide, ozone, and other greenhouse gas pollutants make chronic conditions like heart disease and asthma worse.

    There is overwhelming bipartisan support for stricter EPA pollution standards.  A bipartisan survey released on February 16 by the American Lung Association examined public views of EPA’s updating and enforcing clean air standards.  The bipartisan survey, which was conducted by Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, and Republican firm Ayres, McHenry & Associates, finds that 68 percent of voters oppose congressional action that impedes the EPA from updating clean air standards generally and 64 percent oppose congressional efforts to stop the EPA from updating standards on carbon dioxide. 

    About the League of Women Voters:  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 has been a strong and active supporter of the Clean Air Act since its enactment in 1970.  

     

    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. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages.

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    Contact: Kelly Ceballos

    kceballos@lwv.org
    (202) 263-1331

  • Three Local Leagues Recognized for Outstanding Youth Engagement

    Washington, DC - As many elections officials begin preparations for next year’s presidential election, League of Women Voters national president Elisabeth MacNamara today announced the winners of the first-ever Smackdown Your Vote! ® Democracy Award, a nationwide effort to recognize state and local Leagues for their outstanding work to engage and empower young voters. Receiving awards will be the Leagues of Pittsburgh, PA; Houston, TX; and Mobile, AL.

    “With Election 2012 right around the corner, this award announcement could not come at a more critical time,” said MacNamara in a statement.  “The outstanding work of the Pittsburgh, Houston and Mobile League volunteers represents the best of what our organization is doing at all levels to ensure young people, especially those living in underrepresented communities, have the information they need to cast a vote next year.”

    The awards were made possible through the League’s longstanding national partnership with WWE through Smackdown Your Vote! ®, an effort to encourage young people to vote and become active participants in their democracy. The winning Leagues will receive grants to expand their youth engagement efforts in 2012.  Find out more about the League’s youth-focused activities at www.lwv.org/highschoolregistration.

    “By empowering young people to become actively involved in our democracy, we can help maintain its health and vibrancy,” said Robert Zimmerman, SVP, Corporate Communications, Media Relations & Public Affairs for WWE. “We are honored to be able to recognize the outstanding contributions of the local League volunteers.”  

    The three winning Leagues have each developed innovative youth outreach programs in their communities: The Houston League conducted more than thirty high school voter registration events during 2010; the Mobile League conducted dozens of voter registration presentations at schools, transitional homes and “Welfare to Work” programs in local community colleges; the Pittsburgh League developed a mock elections program and contest to engage young people in developing their own electronic voting systems.  

    “From the persisting high unemployment rate among young people, to the rising costs of education, health care, and energy, young Americans simply cannot afford to sit on the sidelines when it comes to elections,” MacNamara concluded.  “We’re committed to helping them get in the game.”

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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. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages. With more than 90 years of experience and 850 local and state affiliates, the League is one of America’s most trusted grassroots organizations.

     

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  • But Public Financing of Elections Survives

    Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters today expressed profound disappointment at the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McComish v. Bennett.

    “Unfortunately today, we see another poorly reasoned decision by the Supreme Court on campaign finance, one that is untethered to the Constitution,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League of Women Voters.  “While the McComish decision is another blow by this Court against clean elections, public financing itself has not been put in jeopardy.”

    The League alongside seven other public interest groups filed an amicus brief with the U.S Supreme Court earlier this year.  The amicus based its arguments primarily on the legal principles set forth in Buckley v. Valeo, the decades-old precedent upholding campaign finance reform efforts.  According to the brief, “the legal principles set forth in Buckley in its review of the presidential system govern this Court’s review of the challenged provisions and compel the conclusion that the trigger provisions of Arizona’s Citizens’ Clean Elections Act (“Act”) are constitutional.”

    “The League believes in the need for campaign finance reform and has fought for decades in support of public financing systems,” concluded MacNamara.  “The Court’s watering down of protections against corruption in our elections  is profoundly disappointing.  We will continue to fight for public financing of elections because it protects the very integrity of our democratic form of government.”

    The full text of the League’s amicus brief in this case can be found here.

     

    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. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages.

    Contact: Kelly Ceballos
    202-263-1331
    kceballos@lwv.org
  • League of Women Voters Urges House to Oppose HR 672

    Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters today urged Members of Congress to oppose HR 672, proposed legislation which would terminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and transfer some of its functions to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

    “Seventeen months before the next Presidential election is not the time to shut down the nation’s elections agency,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national President of the League of Women Voters.  “Instead of eliminating the EAC, Congress should strengthen the commission and expand its responsibilities.” 

    “Unfortunately, elections in our country are still not well-run, and we are concerned that many states and localities are not doing a good job ensuring federally-protected voting rights,” added MacNamara.  “A GAO report on the 2008 election said that there are significant problems for persons with disabilities in gaining access to the polls and 31 states reported that ensuring polling place accessibility was ‘challenging.’” And there are other areas of concern outlined in the League’s letter to the U.S. House of Representatives last week.

    “The value of the EAC far outweighs its monetary costs; in fact, the costs of poorly run elections are intolerable. It is time for election administration to move into the 21st Century, not back toward the 19th,” MacNamara said.  “With these continuing problems, now is certainly not the time for Congress to turn its back on federal efforts to ensure election integrity and improve voter access to the polls and election systems.”

    In addition to terminating the EAC, HR 672 would transfer significant responsibilities to the Federal Election Commission.

    “This is a remarkably bad idea,” stated MacNamara.  “The FEC is a dysfunctional agency. It is overwhelmed by its current responsibilities, as evidenced by repeated court orders to correct its regulations to bring them in line with the laws of the United States. The FEC is starkly divided on partisan lines, making it particularly inappropriate for election administration responsibilities. And the FEC is increasingly unable to make decisions or even to agree on staff-negotiated recommendations.”

    “Elections are the life blood of a democracy,” concluded MacNamara.  “The League strongly urges Members of the House of Representatives to strengthen the Election Assistance Commission instead of terminating it. Now is not the time for the federal government to step back from its responsibilities for federal elections.”

    For a full list of recommendations for how to broaden and enhance the EAC and issues to be examined, read the League’s full letter to the U.S House of Representatives.

     

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

     

    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. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages.

     
  • League of Women Voters Unveils High School Voter Registration Training Manual

    Washington, DC- As Election 2012 begins to heat up in earnest across the country, League of Women Voters President Elisabeth MacNamara today announced the release of a new training manual geared toward empowering organizations to help eligible high school students register and vote in 2012. 

    “By next year, people under 30 will make up nearly 25 percent of our country’s electorate.  Young Americans hold enormous power to drive our future energy security, demand policies to bring about sustainable job growth, and determine our place in the long-term global economy.  We have one message for candidates running for all levels of office in 2012: young voters are not to be underestimated.”

    “Despite this, young people’s political participation has traditionally lagged far behind other age groups—especially when we look at non-college, minority, or low-income youth,” she stated.  “We know that this is largely due to lack of access to quality voter registration information, and we know we can do a better job at engaging young people when they first become eligible to vote.”

    Census Bureau data shows us that 90 percent of registered voters reported that they went to the polls in 2008.  But too many Americans, especially young people in underrepresented communities, never make it past the initial step of getting registered—in fact, more than half of the 18-year-olds in our country were not registered and as a result, could not vote, in 2008.

    In 2010, the League piloted a five-state project to test voter registration approaches in dozens of high schools with large minority student populations. The results of that research program, as well as a wide range of field-tested resources and best practices, are laid out in the training manual being released today.  

    Leagues throughout the country will utilize the new training manual as they embark on voter registration programs in the remainder of 2011 and 2012.  The manual is also being shared with a wide range of partners nationwide. 

    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. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages.

     

  • League of Women Voters launches seven-figure television ad blitz and online campaign criticizing votes by Massachusetts Senator Brown and Missouri Senator McCaskill to block air pollution standards

    April 29, 2011 - Washington, DC: The League of Women Voters today launched a seven-figure television ad campaign calling public attention to the votes by Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) earlier this month to block new air pollution standards. The accountability ads call on both Senators to “protect the people, not the polluters.”

    “Air pollution is a life or death issue. Senators Brown and McCaskill cast dangerous votes that put public health at risk,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League of Women Voters.  “In 2010, according to the EPA, the Clean Air Act saved the lives of 160,000 adults and 230 infants.  Clean Air Act protections also prevented 130,000 non-fatal heart attacks, 86,000 emergency room visits, and 1.7 million acute asthma attacks that year alone.  Voting to block clean air standards is bad for America and deadly for many Americans.”

    On April 4, days before the Senate votes, the American Medical Association warned doctors that increased levels of carbon dioxide, ozone, and other greenhouse gas pollutants make chronic conditions like heart disease and asthma worse.

    The campaign includes 30-second spots that point to the public health consequences of the Senators’ April 6 votes. The ads depict a child suffering from respiratory illness and ask viewers to consider the votes and “imagine what it could’ve done – to her.”

    The television ads in Massachusetts and Missouri will run at a significant level to ensure that millions of citizens will see this important message several times in the coming weeks. In addition to the television ads, a six-figure online campaign will also target high traffic in-state websites and social media outlets.

    The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts and the League of Women Voters Missouri joined in this effort. To view the ad airing on Massachusetts television and cable, click HERE. To view the ad running on Missouri television and cable click HERE.

    About the League of Women Voters: 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 has been a strong and active supporter of the Clean Air Act since its enactment in 1970.

    AD URLs:
    MA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vTd9nmSpbI
    MO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0arWhRuXUc

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  • Washington, DC - The League of Women Voters is dismayed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent decision to allow the state of Georgia to implement a discriminatory requirement that new voters provide a Passport or other proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. 

    This requirement will disenfranchise thousands of citizens who do not have or cannot afford to acquire the needed documentation to prove their citizenship due to disability, age, illness, transportation, or financial issues. The greatest impact is expected to fall on the elderly and on racial and ethnic minorities. 

    The Voting Rights Act (VRA) bans racial discrimination in voting practices, but the U.S. Department of Justice recently approved the Georgia law.  This decision undermines effective enforcement of the VRA.

    The burden of the new law will be greatest for citizens for whom it is most cost prohibitive or inconvenient to take off work, get transportation, stand in line, and apply for documentation. Thus, this requirement would disenfranchise the very people who currently must work the hardest to vote.  The vast majority of Americans do not have a Passport and obtaining copies of birth certificates can be difficult and costly. 

    The League of Women Voters strongly supports the voting rights of all citizens and is working throughout the country to block restrictive legislation. 

     

    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. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages.

     

  • Washington, DC - The following is a statement by Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the U.S.:

    “Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted to stop the Clean Air Act from going forward. 

    “If the House gets its way, EPA would be permanently blocked from regulating harmful carbon pollution. 

    “The House of Representatives is out-of-touch with reality -- the climate change tsunami is coming.”

     

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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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