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The League's Blog

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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A step backward on health care reform

Last night's vote by the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the comprehensive health care law passed by Congress in 2010, was a step backwards in dealing with America's health care crisis. In the few short months since passage, the new law has already made a difference - improving health care access and coverage for millions of Americans.  We are urging the Senate to oppose attempts repeal the Affordable Care Act and stand for health care coverage for all Americans!

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Government of the people, by the people, for the people

Please take a few moments to read my statement expressing our profound shock and sorrow over the tragic events in Tucson last weekend.  We hope that moving forward our nation will come together to foster and strengthen the very essence of our representative democracy: "government of the people, by the people, for the people."

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Transparency and Accountability Should Be a Priority in the Senate

The League has engaged Congressional leaders for years on the rules that govern the Senate and the House of Representatives.  2011 is shaping up to be no different.  Yesterday I sent a letter to Senators urging them to reform the rules of the Senate.   The League also joined coalition partners to urge the same.

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Looking ahead to 2011

Thank you for all your dedicated support this past year - our 90th anniversary year.  Without your commitment, the League of Women Voters could not continue our mission to make democracy work.

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Celebrating the League

We are proud of the League's work in 2010.  Take a look at the photobook we put together to highlight all that Leagues and members accomplished this past year!

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The next rounds on health care reform

Nearly one year ago, on Christmas Eve, health care reform overcame Senate roadblocks and headed toward final enactment by the Congress, with the President’s signature coming in March.

This week, one of the many legal challenges to this new law was successful, with a federal district court judge in Virginia ruling that the individual mandate is unconstitutional.  But, importantly, he didn’t block implementation of the other provisions of the Affordable Care Act.   And other attempts to block the law have failed thus far.  (Here’s a listing of the many legal challenges.)

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A true public servant takes leave

Tomorrow will be the last day that Gracia Hillman sits as a commissioner on the Election Assistance Commission (EAC).  Gracia, who, in full disclosure, served as the League’s executive director from 1990-1994, has been at the EAC since its inception seven year ago.  The League family will miss her voice and dedication and so will America’s voters and election officials!

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To cut or not to cut?

With the lame-duck session of Congress winding down, one of the key decisions that will be made before they adjourn for the holidays is whether to extend the “Bush tax cuts” -- the huge cuts enacted when our nation was running a surplus early in the George W. Bush Administration.

This debate is proving to be a fascinating discussion coming on the heels of voters ongoing concerns about the economy, big money in politics and ethics in Washington.

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You can't fire the cop and say you are against crime!

Today, we joined with an interesting and diverse array of groups (Judicial Watch, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Common Cause, Democracy21, U.S. PIRG, CREW, Campaign Legal Center and Public Citizen) for a press conference calling on Speaker-elect John Boehner to retain the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) in the upcoming 112th Congress.  The League is deeply concerned that many in Congress, apparently wishing to return to a time when there was no meaningful ethics enforcement in the House of Representatives, have called for steps that would substantially weaken the OCE.

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League keeps up the fight for disclosure of secret cash

Several nonpartisan organizations, including the League and Common Cause, literally took a stand at a media event on Capitol Hill on Thursday calling upon the Senate to pass a stripped down version of the Disclose Act which is focused solely on disclosure by special interests.

And with the wind whipping our prepared statement, the League of Women Voters in the form of your president, pointed out that all this money corrupts, absolutely and that disclosing the sources of election financing was the only protection permitted to voters after Citizens United.

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Elisabeth MacNamara is the 18th president of the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) and chair of the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF).

Nancy E. Tate is the Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) and of the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF)