August 6, 2015
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. When Lyndon Johnson signed the bill into law, he called it a triumph for freedom. In fact, the Voting Rights Act is one of the most significant pieces of legislation in American history. Over the years, the VRA has been renewed and its protections expanded. The VRA ensures the right to vote of every eligible American regardless of race, ethnicity or language. It protects against election laws and practices that have disparate impact on disparate groups of voters, whether state and local officials intended that impact or not. But the most significant provisions of the VRA were Sections 4 and 5 which created criteria for requiring federal oversight of states and localities based on patterns of discriminatory practices.
As we all know, two years ago the United States Supreme Court in a divided opinion declared the Section 4 criteria unconstitutional, effectively gutting the Section 5 preclearance structure. Preclearance literally changed the face of American politics by dismantling the Jim Crow laws and practices that had prevented racial minorities from registering and voting in seven states, later expanded to all or part of 14 states. While the almost immediate result of that Supreme Court decision was passage or implementation of laws that would not have been pre-cleared under Section 5, the effort to reverse the Voting Rights Act goes back much further. A fascinating article in this past Sunday’s New York Times magazine traces the impact of the VRA and details the efforts to undo it.
None of this is news to the League of Women Voters. We have supported the Voting Rights Act every time it has come up for renewal. More recently, we have been on the front lines of the fight to keep the VRA intact and to roll back successive waves of restrictive state legislation aimed at suppressing the voices of significant groups of voters. Our League in North Carolina is awaiting a decision on our lawsuit challenging an omnibus election ‘reform’ bill signed into law within a matter of weeks of the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County vs. Holder. The voter service that we engage in for every election should be seen for what it is and what it has always been, voter protection of the most immediate kind.
The good news is that Congress can fix the Voting Rights Act to restore at least some of the protections the Supreme Court stripped away. The League has been a vocal supporter of provisions currently pending that would repair the VRA. We need to keep up the pressure and get the word out that the vote is our most fundamental right. To deny it to any eligible voter is wrong. Ninety-five years ago, the League was founded because women were finally given the vote and the voice we deserve in our democracy. Today, we honor the legacy of our founders and of all those who have fought so hard to make ours a more perfect union. The League was founded to finish the fight that is never finished and we continue that fight today to ensure that our elections are free, fair and accessible to every eligible voter.
Thank you for all you do every day to make a government of the people, by the people and for the people a reality.
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IN THIS ISSUE:
MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP
- League Studies Can Help Build Capacity (NEW)
- Join the National Coaching Team! (NEW)
- LWVUS Online Database Build - Progress Report (REMINDER)
- Messaging for Impact (REMINDER)
EDUCATION FUND - ELECTIONS
- National Voter Registration Day: Join 140+ Other Leagues on September 22! (REMINDER)
- LWV North Carolina’s Voting Rights Lawsuit Now in Judge’s Hands (NEW)
EDUCATION FUND - KEY STRUCTURES OF DEMOCRACY
- Sample Money in Politics Voter Template (NEW)
- Study Webinar Available in Webinar Library: Overview of MIP and Constitutional Amendment Studies (REMINDER)
- Constitutional Amendment Study: Consensus Questions and New Deadline! (REMINDER)
- EPA Announces Final Carbon Regulation (NEW)
- League Urges Senators to Oppose S. 1324 (NEW)
- League Advocates for Continued Funding to Restore the Great Lakes (NEW)
- Mark the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (NEW)
- Websites: Why Consider a New Website in 2016? (REMINDER)
- Importance of Local Studies to the League Clearinghouse (REMINDER)
MEMBERSHIP & LEADERSHIP
League Studies Can Help Build Capacity (NEW)
This fall, many Leagues will hold meetings/events around the League’s Key Structures of Democracy study. The study process is a wonderful way to build your League’s capacity by engaging the larger community in your League’s educational events. This “guidance”, created as part of the Membership & Leadership Development (MLD) program, has some concrete ways of how to leverage your work. To learn more about the Money in Politics Review and Constitutional Amendment Study, please review this Study Webinar in the LWVUS Webinar Library.
Join the National Coaching Team! (NEW)
Are you passionate about the League’s mission? Do you want to see LWV be the strongest organization possible as we start our second century of democracy-building work? Do you want to network with Leagues across the country? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you could be a great fit for the 2016-2018 class of Ruth S. Shur Fellows (a.k.a. national coaching team). Application forms will soon be available. In the meantime, read about the top 7 reasons to become a Fellow and consider nominating yourself or another League leader.
LWVUS Database Transition (REMINDER)
We are getting closer to “rolling out” the new database to Leagues and appreciate your continued patience. In the meantime, we’d like to take care of some of the workload. You may email your League’s leadership changes to Membership@lwv.org and we will put them into the system for you. Please give us the names of the new officers as well as who they are replacing.
Messaging for Impact (REMINDER)
Continue to take advantage of the League’s 95th anniversary year and to start laying the ground work with some common messaging to use for greater impact as we march toward our 100th! Listen to a recording of a webinar with nonprofit branding expert Michelle Molloy and utilize the League’s messaging toolkit available online.
EDUCATION FUND - ELECTIONS
National Voter Registration Day: Join 140+ Other Leagues on September 22! (REMINDER)
Time is running out sign up to host a voter registration drive in your community on September 22nd, National Voter Registration Day! Leagues who sign up as partners soon are guaranteed to receive free posters and stickers if you want them. Join hundreds of Leagues and other groups in celebrating democracy nationwide this year. Additional training opportunities and toolkits will be made available once you sign up. Contact Maggie (Duncan) Bush (email@example.com) with questions.
LWV North Carolina’s Voting Rights Lawsuit Now in Judge’s Hands (NEW)
A federal trial that will likely shape voting rights protections across the country came to a close in North Carolina last Friday. Judge Schroeder’s ruling is not expected for many weeks and regardless of how he rules there is likely to be an appeal.
EDUCATION FUND - KEY STRUCTURES OF DEMOCRACY
Sample Money in Politics Voter Template (NEW)
A sample template is now available for Leagues to use in state and local Voters outlining how your League can take part in the Money in Politics (MIP) Review. For questions or further information, contact Study Chair Barbara Zia at MIPCommitteeChair@lwv.org.
Study Webinar Available in Webinar Library: Overview of MIP and Constitutional Amendment Studies (REMINDER)
On Wednesday, July 29, LWVUS Board Members including the Chairs of the LWVUS Money in Politics Review and Constitutional Amendment Study Committees put on a webinar with general background on national studies and an orientation to the two current studies. The Study Webinar is now available in the LWVUS Webinar Library.
Constitutional Amendment Study: Consensus Questions and New Deadline! (REMINDER)
At its post-Council 2015 meeting, the League Board approved the Constitutional Amendment study questions so that Leagues can begin to meet and discuss this all important issue. LWVUS will be asking for the results of your consensus meetings by December 1, 2015. The consensus questions are accompanied by short PRO and CON statements that will help League members consider their responses. Educational materials can be found at the Constitutional Amendment Study page and others will be posted in the coming weeks. This will be an interesting, exciting and important way to kick off fall activities for the League! Questions can be sent to CACommitteeChair@lwv.org.
EPA Announces Final Carbon Regulation (NEW)
Monday, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and President Obama unveiled the final regulation limiting carbon from coal fired power plants! The Clean Power Plan will improve public health while saving lives, creating jobs and protecting our environment. League supporters have generated over 90,000 comments and letters in support of this historic regulation. Please show your support by signing our thank you card to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and President Obama thanking them for their leadership on this important regulation. You can also see our press release and blog for additional information on this life-saving regulation.
League Urges Senators to Oppose S. 1324 (NEW)
The League joined a letter to members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee urging them to oppose S. 1324, a bill from Senator Capito that would gut the Clean Air Act and block the EPA's Clean Power Plan.
League Advocates for Continued Funding to Restore the Great Lakes (NEW)
The League joined other organizations in sending a letter to the Office of Management and Budget requesting continued funding for Great Lakes restoration priorities. Investments in Great Lakes restoration projects are having on the ground effects in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Mark the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (NEW)
Today, marks the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Help mark this occasion by using this letter-to-the-editor template to tell your local communities about the importance of restoring this vital law. You can also join the celebration on social media by tailoring these draft Facebook and Twitter messages for your Leagues. Additionally, the national coalition has been having Twitter storms every Thursday at 1 pm ET to keep the pressure on Congress to restore the VRA and will continue to do so following today's anniversary. Help beat the drum by using the hashtag #RestoreTheVRA. These draft social media messages can also be tailored and repurposed for the Twitter storms. You can also share President MacNamara's recent Huffington Post blog and, finally, please continue to raise your voice and tell Congress that now is the time to restore the VRA!
Websites: Why Consider a New Website in 2016? (REMINDER)
In 2014, we asked users of the League Easy Web (LEW) web hosting service how to make it better. Based on League member feedback, the new LEW (coming in 2016) will make a typical League website even better. For example, you will be more likely to have people visit your website from search engines. Your site will meet higher accessibility standards (for vision impairment, for example). Sharing content between Leagues means no more double entry! Reports and alerts to help you improve your site will be included. A media library will liven up your site. Multiple accounts with different access levels will be permitted. Read this comparison flyer to learn more of the differences between the current LEW, the new LEW, and Wordpress (a popular alternative). Training webinars will be announced this fall. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Importance of Local Studies to the League Clearinghouse (REMINDER)
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The League Clearinghouse definitely wants your local studies--they help other Leagues learn how your League handled the scope and focus of a topic, the research methodology, experts consulted, clues about positions and consensus questions, etc. All studies provide valuable information and benefit other Leagues. Note: the Clearinghouse accepts positions without their supporting studies, even as multi-position documents, if they are accompanied by a single submission form. The description section could have "Resulting Position:" and the position statement or a link to the position. Complete studies are preferred, and Leagues may add study documents at a later date. Share your studies! Share our strength!