October 6 Deadline for Local League Grants

The next application deadline for the Daniel Scharfman Citizen Education Grant Program is Monday, October 6. The grant program offers funds to help Leagues carry out events and projects in the areas of citizen education and voter service.

Several changes were made to the program this year, included a higher amount $500 for multi-League collaborations (3 or more Leagues).

Click here for guidelines, application, and summaries of the approved grants.

To submit a grant or for questions email jcherdack@lwvma.org.

Generous contributions to the Lotte E. Scharfman Citizen Education Fund have made this successful grant program possible.  Click here to donate.

Improving Elections

LWVMA Executive Director Meryl Kessler (rt.) with Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin and members of the Election Modernization Coalition at a State House press conference to support AVR in March 2018.

Improving the electoral process and educating voters are goals that are central to LWVMA’s mission.

During the 2017-18 legislative session, LWVMA and its coalition partners succeeded in passing Automatic Voter Registration, a common-sense electoral reform that was signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker on August 9, 2018.  Massachusetts is the 14th state to adopt automatic voter registration, which will go into effect before the 2020 election year.

Our success in the 2017-18 session built upon our significant achievements in previous years:

In 2014, after many years of lobbying by LWVMA and its Election Modernization Coalition partners, Massachusetts took a major step to modernize its voter registration and election processes when a far-reaching election reform bill became law.

At a time when too many states are making it more difficult for citizens to register and to vote, Massachusetts should be proud to be moving in the opposite direction.

Specifically the 2014 law implemented:

These are significant improvements, but there is more work to be done.  Going forward, we will continue to push to expand early voting and to implement Election Day registration, the reform that has been shown to have the greatest impact on voter participation. We will continue fighting hard to bring the Massachusetts electoral system into the 21st century.

August 2018

Governor Patrick Signs Gun Control Bill

Updated:  August 14, 2014

Yesterday, Governor Deval Patrick signed An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence into law.  The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts is a member of the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, which worked toward passage of this bill.

Posted August 1, 2014: Legislature Passes Gun Control Bill

In the final hours of the legislative session, both the House and Senate passed a bill strengthening Massachusetts’ gun laws.

A conference committee reached a compromise on language giving police chiefs discretion to turn down some requests for a firearms identification permit for rifles, though with a district court’s approval.  The bill brings the state into compliance with the national background check system and requires a background check for private gun sales.

The final version of the bill, H.4376, passed by a vote of 122-29 in the House and 37-3 in the Senate.  Gov. Deval  Patrick is expected to sign it.

“The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts salutes the legislature for passage of this bill, which reinforces Massachusetts’ position as a leader among states in keeping its citizens safer from gun violence.  We applaud the impact this law may have on a reduction in domestic violence,” said Anne Borg, co-president.

The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, of which the League is a member, released this statement when the bill was reported to the floor:  “Stop Handgun Violence and The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence are pleased with the gun violence prevention bill that emerged from the Senate and House Conference Committee last night. It meets many of the goals that the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence and Stop Handgun Violence set out to accomplish. Key provisions of the bill bring the Commonwealth into compliance with the Federal NICS background check system, require background checks for private gun sales and give police chiefs greater discretion in issuing rifle and shotgun licenses. The bill also advances suicide awareness and prevention in the Commonwealth through a multifaceted approach and ensures collection of important data to inform future policymaking efforts.”

Carolyn Lee and Terry Yoffie, LWVMA legislative specialists, served as our representatives to this coalition and spearheaded our efforts on this bill.


Senate Passes Gun Control Bill With Amendments

Updated:  July 18, 2014

Yesterday, the Senate passed its own version of the gun bill. While there are strong dimensions of the bill, the bill includes a problematic amendment.  You can read the full text of the bill here. The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, of which LWVMA is a member, has issued the following statementl:

“The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is disappointed by the Senate’s actions today, which significantly weaken the gun violence prevention legislation passed by the House. Removing discretion from police chiefs makes it more difficult to keep rifles and handguns out of the hands of those who pose a risk of suicide or domestic violence, in addition to the public at large.

While there are some good provisions in the bill, particularly the inclusion of background checks for private gun sales and the ability to trace guns used in crimes, our Coalition cannot support the Senate’s version of the bill as drafted. We hope that police chief discretion – an important public safety provision that has the overwhelming support of the public, Chiefs of Police, the Speaker’s taskforce and the House – will be restored in conference. We look forward to working with the conference committee to achieve a final bill that will continue Massachusetts’ national leadership on this critical issue.”

Posted Jul 10 ,2014

A revised gun control bill passed the Massachusetts House July 9 by a 111-37 margin. It now goes to the Senate. The League urges its members and other supporters of stronger gun control to contact their Senators and ask them to support this bill and to strengthen it. The Senate will have to act on the bill before the legislative session ends on July 31 for it to become law.

The bill, now numbered H.4278, contains versions of four the provisions advocated for by the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, of which LWVMA is a member. Among those provisions are participation by Massachusetts in the National Instant Background Check System; the ability of police chiefs and other licensing authorities to reject applications for a firearms identification card allowing the owner to carry rifles but requiring a written statement for such a rejection; a requirement to trace and report firearms used in a crime; and increases in the penalties for some crimes committed with firearms.

The bill also requires development of a school safety framework by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and requires school districts, subject to appropriations, to employ a school resource officer to provide law enforcement and security services; to develop plans to address the mental health needs of its students and faculty; and to have access to two-way communication devices for communication with police and fire departments during emergencies.

The bill allows private firearms sales between individuals to be conducted on a state website rather than requiring they be conducted in the presence of a licensed dealer, though such a website and an enforcement mechanism does not now exist.

It does not place any restrictions on the number of guns an individual may purchase in a month, a provision the Coalition is seeking to have added in the Senate.

Both the Coalition and the Massachusetts arm of the National Rifle Association indicated their support for the House-passed bill.

June 2014 Awards to Three Local Leagues

Posted Jul 14, 2014

Congratulations to the three Leagues awarded Daniel Scharfman Citizen Education Grants: Hamilton-Wenham, Acton Area, and Needham. The total amount dispersed in this cycle for the four grants was $750.

For information on the grant program click here.

The grant program offers funds to help Leagues carry out events and projects in the areas of citizen education and voter service. Generous contributions to the Lotte E. Scharfman Education Fund have made this successful grant program possible. Please consider donating to the fund. Donations can be made through the website, lwvma.org, and a big thank you to those of you who have donated in the past, making this grant program possible.

Hamilton-Wenham put updated “Know Your Town” information on its website, along with information about town meeting in the two towns. It is printing basic town information and links to further information on a card to be mailed to all residents, and the grant will go toward that effort.

The Acton Area League grant goes toward its annual Civics Bee.

Needham will use its grant to update its large public signs used to promote candidate forums, to purchase pitchers and League mugs to replace plastic water bottles for candidates at the forums, and to purchase League buttons to identify members working at the forums and other League events.

LWVMA Positions on Nov 4, 2014 Ballot Questions

Posted Jul 7, 2014

Four ballot questions will be on the statewide ballot Nov. 4. The Massachusetts League has positions on three of them.

Here are the questions, in the order they will appear on the ballot, and our positions.

Question 1: Eliminating Gas Tax Indexing.   This proposed law would repeal a law passed in 2013 and eliminate the requirement that the state’s gasoline tax be adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index.   LWVMA opposes this question and urges a NO vote. We believe indexing the gasoline tax to the CPI provides funding needed to maintain and improve the state’s transportation infrastructure.

Question 2: Expanding the Beverage Container Deposit Law. This question would update the state’s current deposit law, the Bottle Bill, to include most non-carbonated beverages. It would also increase the handling fee and make other changes to the existing law. LWVMA supports this question and urges a YES vote.   We believe an expansion of the Bottle Bill will greatly increase the rates of recycling and reduce litter.

Question 3: Expanding Prohibitions on Gaming. This question would prohibit casinos, any gaming establishment with slot machines, and wagering on simulcast greyhound races, even if licenses have already been granted. LWVMA supports this question and urges a YES vote. We have long opposed casinos and other gambling in Massachusetts, arguing the costs in services needed and social impact outweigh projected gains in tax revenue and employment.

Question 4: Earned Sick Time for Employees. This question would entitle employees in Massachusetts to earn and use sick time according to certain conditions. The League has no state or national positions that would enable LWVMA take a stand on this question and so we neither support nor oppose this question.

Detailed information on each of the ballot questions is available on the Secretary of State’s website.


LWVMA Delegation Attends LWVUS Convention

LWVMA Co-President Anne Borg addresses LWVUS Convention

Posted June 15, 2014

Listen to Anne Borg, Co-President of LWVMA, as she addresses the LWVUS Convention on Saturday, June 7, 2014 in Dallas TX. Click the play button on the bar below.


The LWVMA held a caucus on Friday, June 6 in support of its resolution.  Over 100 people attended.

Becky Shannon and Launa Zimmaro led the caucus

Becky Shannon and Launa Zimmaro led the caucus

On Saturday, June 7, LWVMA co-Presidents Marilyn Peterson and Anne Borg welcomed members and guests at the LWVMA breakfast. There were 27 delegates from MA.

On Sunday, June 8, Becky Shannon introduced the resolution in the plenary session. The resolution was debated and passed on Tuesday, June 10.

Also, on June 8, the three winning videos from our “Dear Future Governor” Student Video Contest were shown to a full house on the big screens in the convention hall.

On Monday, June 9, LWVMA Campaign Finance Study Committee members Kathy Campbell and Launa Zimmaro were presenters at a workshop on Money and Politics attended by 200 people. They presented the Primer and Presentation/Script, currently available here.

On Tuesday, June 10, Karen Price gave Guidance to the Board.

Daily reports of convention action are posted on the LWVUS website.

During the 5-day convention, LWVMA gave out 700 buttons in support of a strong position on Money and Politics.

LWUS-14 button





LWVMA Collects 4400 Signatures for Bottle Ballot Question

Posted June 14, 2014

Once again the League made a major contribution to the signature collection effort, with 4,426 signatures to contribute to the over 27,000 signatures collected by the coalition. This number gives us confidence that we will have the required 12,000 certified signatures. This was a tremendous team effort, congratulations to everyone involved!

We are heartened to see a recent Boston Globe’s editorial in support of the bill and a front page article,

Many thanks to these eighteen Leagues and the coordinators who contributed signatures:

500-1000 SignaturesUBB Groton

  • Concord-Carlisle
  • Sharon-Stoughton
  • Needham
  • Lexington


  • Shrewsbury
  • Sudbury


  • Wellesley
  • Amherst
  • Plymouth Area
  • Newton
  • Cape Cod Area
  • Hamilton-Wenham
  • Winchester

Less than 100

  • Brookline
  • Falmouth
  • Greater Haverhill
  • Williamstown
  • Northampton Area

If you have any questions on the LWVMA updated bottle bill campaign, email updatedbottlebill@lwvma.org.

Campaign Finance Reform

Recent Posts on LWVMA Action on Money in Politics

“Restore Democracy” takes on money in politics and wins LWVMA high school video contest.

button for convention 3 inThe pernicious and distorting effect of money on our political system at every level is a matter of grave concern to the League of Women Voters, particularly since the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court Citizens United decision opened the floodgates to unprecedented amounts of outside spending in elections and catalyzed the formation of “dark money” groups that do not have to disclose their donors.

The Massachusetts League has been deeply committed to reforming the federal campaign finance system. Beginning in 2010 with a local League endeavor that soon grew into a statewide Campaign Finance Study Committee, LWVMA has played an especially active role bringing attention to the urgent need for federal campaign finance reform through public educational programs, online materials, and strong public opposition to decisions that create loopholes in campaign finance protections, such as McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission (2014).  The Massachusetts Committee also focused its efforts on garnering support from League members across the country for action at the national League level on campaign finance reform, culminating in the formation of an LWV Money in Politics Committee to update the national League position on campaign finance regulation and to shape the contours of the League’s future advocacy on this important issue. In April 2016, LWVUS announced this new position statement, broadening the scope of the League’s campaign finance reform advocacy.

In addition, LWVMA has long played a key role reforming the rules governing the campaign finance system here at home in Massachusetts.

  • In 1975, LWVMA helped ensure passage of the state’s Campaign Finance Act that established the Office of Campaign and Political Finance to monitor compliance with reporting rules.
  • We were at the forefront of efforts in the late 1990s to pass the state’s Clean Elections legislation (which enjoyed overwhelming public support, but was later repealed by the legislature).
  • And, most recently, our advocacy helped pass the Disclose Act to combat the rise of “dark money” spending by outside groupson elections. Signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in August 2014, the Disclose Act requires Super PACs to reveal the sources of their funding no more than seven days after making an expenditure, such as placing a television ad.  The reporting deadline changes to within 24 hours for the 10 days before an election. Groups placing television, print and internet ads must list their top five donors in the ad and include the website of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, where voters can find a list of all contributors. Corporations, labor unions and special interests would be required to disclose expenditures in statewide, county or local races under this bill.

We are proud of our work. But much more needs to be done.

 You can help us drive reform of our campaign finance system, both at the federal and the state level. Remember: Advocating for state level reform while we work on change at the federal level is an important part of the reform effort. In order to fight the corrupting influence of money in politics, we need to:

Strengthen Regulations on Coordination: Although independent groups such as Super PACs are legally prohibited from coordinating with campaigns, in practice this prohibition is routinely circumvented at both the federal and state level.

Improve Disclosure: The Massachusetts Disclose Act was a step forward, but Congress has failed to pass a federal Disclose Act mandating disclosure of donations and spending to shine a light on secret money. The League is a longtime supporter of this important piece of legislation.

Establish a Public Financing System: The League believes that public financing of elections is the best long-term solution to getting big money out of politics.

What can individual citizens do?

  • Be informed. Information on our campaign finance position can be found at our state and national websites
  • There is strength in numbers. Connect and be an active member of organizations dedicated to campaign finance and fair elections like the League of Women Voters.
  • Urge your state and congressional legislators to pass legislation to strengthen campaign finance laws. Constituent in-district meetings are a particularly effective option. Be prepared by reviewing state and national positions regarding the issues you care about.
  • Attend candidate events and talk to candidates and legislators at every level about campaign finance reform and your concerns as
    a voter.
  • Write letters-to-the-editor for your local paper.
  • Vote! Voting is the most powerful form of expression available to individual citizens and the single best way to drive money out of politics. We must improve voter turnout and engage with our communities to combat the undue influence of money in our political system.  Register and participate in election 2016!


Civic Education and Civil Discourse

Governor Charlie Baker signs the landmark civic education bill into law in November 2018

Civic education and civil discourse are at the very core of the League’s work. An active and informed citizenry is the foundation of a well-functioning democracy, and the League devotes much of its activity to ensuring that citizens have access to the information, skills, and resources to play an active role in their government.

LWVMA works to ensure that the youngest residents of the Commonwealth are informed about our nation’s history, our electoral system, and issues of public importance.  We advocate for more civic education in schools, identify books on U.S. history and voting appropriate for children and teens, and sponsor an annual video contest designed to encourage high school students to engage in civic life.  We are especially proud to be a key member of the Massachusetts Civic Learning Coalition which, in the 2017-18 legislative session, successfully passed a landmark civic education bill in the Commonwealth.

Additionally, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts Citizen Education Fund provides programs, publications and forums on major public policy issues and disseminates information and training that help all citizens of Massachusetts to thoughtfully engaged in the democratic process.  More information about the fund and its programs is available on the Citizen Education Fund page.



RSVP July 23 LWVMA Member Event