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A War on Voting…

by Elisabeth MacNamara

In 1920, a major effort to register newly enfranchised voters and educate them in the political process was prominent on the agenda of the just formed League of Women Voters. A few years later, state Leagues were challenged to increase voter turnout by 25 percent, leading the Alabama League to note: “…it is a very difficult matter to qualify for the vote in Alabama…”

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Happy Constitution Day!

Join with us as we celebrate Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.  

This is an opportunity to reflect upon the remarkable foundations we continue to rely on today.  Let us all remain dedicated to the hard work required to protect individual liberties, ensure an open and responsive government, and promote a fair and independent judiciary.

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Texas redistricting plan is blatantly illegal

This week, we joined with the League of Women Voters of Texas in urging the U.S. Department of Justice to object to the Texas congressional redistricting plan.

The Texas plan is by far the most extreme example of racial gerrymandering among all the redistricting proposals passed by lawmakers so far this year. This plan is blatantly designed to stifle the voices of minority voters in favor of locking in partisan gains. Read our statement and letter here.

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9/11: We cannot give up or give in to those that hate

League President MacNamara's statement marking this weekend's 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks calls on Americans to "honor [those that died] by renewing our efforts to reinvigorate our democracy."

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A day that paved the way for future generations

On Friday, we celebrated the 91st anniversary of gender equality with women achieving the right to vote. Today is the 48th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which called for racial equality and an end to discrimination.

It’s curious that even decades after these monumental changes, we still count the anniversaries. Some would say it is so we never forget, while others might argue it is because our quest is not over.

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Kansas League speaks out on voter id law

Late yesterday, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a restrictive new voter id and proof of citizenship bill into law. Kansas President Ernestine Krehbiel expressed "deep disappointment" with yesterday's events

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Why government transparency matters in our everyday lives

Anyone who knows the League knows that government transparency and accountability are core to our mission as an organization, and to us, they are core to a strong and healthy democracy.  But why should these be important to people in their everyday lives?

The answers came from a speaker at today’s 6th annual Sunshine Week panel discussion (which the League co-sponsored and was webcast nationally):  It empowers people; It provides government accountability, which stimulates trust; and It creates an informed and strong democracy, in which we know how to participate. At the event, “The Road Forward on Open Government,” there seemed to be consensus on two important points:  progress is being made at the federal level, but there remains a long road of work ahead of us.  Join the League’s work on this important issue!  

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President must protect voting rights

Late last week, major civil rights and voting rights organizations - including the League - called on President Obama to act quickly in appointing new commissioners to the Election Assistance Commission, which is charged with improving the administration of the nation’s elections.

We call on the President to step up to this challenge.  These essential positions have been empty for an unacceptably long time.  Failing to appoint commissioners … risks reducing the voting and civil rights of our citizens -- rights for which many have given their lives. 

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Leagues front and center on redistricting reform

I was proud to represent the League at a special Brookings Institution event: Toward Public Participation in Redistricting.  Together with my colleagues from the civic engagement world we discussed how to foster a more transparent and fair redistricting process in 2011.   The League has worked for many decades to reform the redistricting process.   In 2011, Leagues are gearing up to host public events, preparing testimony, educating the media, engaging key allies and taking advantage of exciting new mapping technology to ensure districts are drawn in the open and that the public has meaningful opportunities to weigh in. We look forward to sharing more details about our state Leagues’ successes in the coming weeks. If you want to get involved, please contact your local League!

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Reform, don't repeal presidential public financing

Today we urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives to oppose the move expected this week to eliminate the public financing system for presidential elections.

Where are the hearings or other committee action on the legislation to repeal the presidential system?  The rush to the floor, without following the normal procedures of the House, is deeply disturbing.

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