• Independent redistricing commissions declared constitutional

    Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a big victory for citizen-led democracy. In a 5-4 decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the Court found that voters can set up independent redistricting commissions.

  •  Supreme Court Backs Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

    Washington, DC – Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission was a big victory for citizen-led democracy, ruling that independent redistricting commissions set up by voters are constitutional. The decision maintains the Arizona system put in place in 2000 by voters through a ballot initiative, as well as California’s system, which was also put in place directly through the initiative process. 

    “This is a tremendous victory for democracy,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “Today’s decision reinforces a key principle in redistricting reform:  that voters should choose their representatives rather than letting politicians choose their voters. Drawing the boundaries of legislative districts is too important to leave to politicians,” she said. 

    “This decision is all the more important because partisan gerrymandering has reached dangerous levels across the nation,” MacNamara said. “Its harmful effects are not hard to find: the practice undermines the concept of majority rule, reduces the competitiveness of elections, and contributes to the political polarization that feeds gridlock.”

    “The Arizona legislature argued in this case that only they can conduct federal redistricting under the U.S. Constitution,” said MacNamara. “Today, the Court rejected that argument, reasoning that the initiative power of the people of Arizona was a valid exercise of legislative power.”

    “With the Arizona opinion, independent redistricting commissions are reinforced as an important process by which the voters can protect themselves and their state from excessive partisan gerrymandering,” said MacNamara. “We will continue to work at the state and national levels to pursue reforms through legislative action, constitutional amendment or citizen initiative,” she said.

    The League of Women Voters of the U.S. joined with other concerned organizations in an amicus brief in this case arguing that the Court had already ruled that excessive partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional. The Leagues of Women Voters of Arizona and Illinois also joined amicus briefs in this case.

    “Today, the highest court in the nation strengthened the power of the people to protect themselves from excessive partisan influence and incumbency protection in redistricting,” concluded MacNamara. “This is a great for democracy and for those that believe in fair, effective representation for all.”


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

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

  • Advocating at the U.S. Supreme Court for Campaign Finance Regulations, Independent Redistricting and the Affordable Care Act

    Not everyone is familiar with the work the League does in the courts. But advocacy in the judicial branch is a key part of the League’s overall efforts. Here at the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS), we take action with all three branches of government.


    Statement by Elisabeth MacNamara, President, League of Women Voters of the U.S.

    Washington, DC – “Today, a federal appellate court issued an important decision in the case Kobach v. EAC, handing voters a strong win against unnecessary barriers to voter participation.

    “The court’s opinion found that documentary proof of citizenship requirements for voter registration added by the states of Kansas and Arizona are illegal.

    “Voters should not have to face an obstacle course in order to participate in our democracy. This is a good, strong ruling for voters and for Americans’ essential right to vote.”


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

    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.


  • Use VOTE411.org to learn about elections laws in your state

    In just over two weeks, you’ll be joining with your neighbors, friends and family to weigh in on the important issues facing your community by voting on Election Day. Now is the time to start preparing by thinking about how and when you’ll vote.

    In addition to getting ready to vote as you have in years past, voters in many states may also need to show voter identification in order to cast a ballot.

  • 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


    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.