Press Releases

Election Modernization Coalition Statement on Illinois Governor Rauner’s Signing of Automatic Voter Registration Bill

Boston, MA/August 28, 2017–Today, Illinois became the tenth state, along with the District of Columbia, to successfully enact automatic voter registration (AVR). Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed into a law a bill that creates more accessible and secure elections by automatically registering voters unless they opt out of the program. The bill won bipartisan support and passed unanimously in the legislature earlier this year.

The new law will add roughly one million new eligible voters to the voter rolls. Similar laws in other states have been proven to increase turnout and make elections more secure by modernizing the voter registration process. It is a common sense and long overdue reform.

As organizations that have worked tirelessly together for many years to remove barriers to voting, we applaud the action of Governor Rauner and the Illinois state legislature and call on the Massachusetts legislature to pass Automatic Voter Registration in our state. As the cradle of liberty, Massachusetts should lead the way towards removing unnecessary barriers for voting and ensuring that every Bay Stater has a voice in our democracy.

Pam Wilmot, Common Cause Massachusetts

Meryl Kessler, League of Women Voters, Massachusetts

Beth Huang, Mass Voter Table

Janet Domenitz, MASSPIRG

Cheryl Clyburn Crawford, MassVOTE

Jonathan Cohn, Progressive Massachusetts

A pdf of this statement is available here.

 

Massachusetts League of Women Voters Announces New Leadership Team

BOSTON, MA/June 30, 2017-Mary Ann Ashton of Acton and Linda Matys O’Connell of Springfield begin their two-year term as co-presidents of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVMA) July 1.  Ashton and O’Connell were elected, along with other LWVMA board officers and directors, at the biennial LWVMA Convention in Framingham this spring.

The other Massachusetts League officers and their local Leagues are Marilyn Peterson, Acton Area, first vice president; Lee Bona, Worcester Area, second vice president; and Andrea Kozinetz, Newton, treasurer.

Elected as LWVMA directors are Kate Boland, Hingham; Nancy Brumback, Sudbury; Kris Eastman, Marion-Mattapoisett-Rochester; Scotti Finnegan, Cape Cod Area; Donna Hooper, Lexington; Karen Price, Needham; and Judy Zaunbrecher, Concord-Carlisle.

The Massachusetts League’s priorities over the coming two years will be improving the state voting system, including lobbying for the implementation of automatic voter registration; advocating for campaign finance reform; promoting civic education and civil discourse; educating voters about climate change and the environment; and addressing issues of justice and equality, including criminal justice reform.

LWVMA includes 44 local Leagues across the state. The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government and works to increase understanding of major public policy issues.

Additional information is available at www.lwvma.org.

LWVMA Testifies in Support of Automatic Voter Registration

BOSTON, MA/June 8, 2017– Advocates for modernizing Massachusetts’ elections showed up in force for a hearing on Beacon Hill today, held by the Joint Committee on Election Laws. The hearing was in support of the Automatic Voter Registration bill, which would establish a system for eligible citizens in Massachusetts to automatically register to vote when they interact with a state agency like the registry of motor vehicles. The legislation, introduced by Sen. Cynthia Creem and Rep. Peter Kocot, has popular support in both houses; with 80 House co-sponsors and 22 Senate sponsors as of hearing time.

More than twenty leaders from the labor movement, universities, environmental groups, political organizations, civil rights and good government advocacy organizations testified on behalf of the legislation, while dozens of supporters looked on. Many spoke of how automatic voter registration ensures that all eligible citizens in Massachusetts have the opportunity to participate in elections.

“By passing automatic voter registration, Massachusetts can lead the way towards giving all citizens a voice in their government,” said Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts. “The system would give the nearly 700,000 eligible citizens that are not registered to vote an opportunity to have their voices heard through our election process. At the same time, Automatic Voter Registration would update and modernize our election system by increasing the accuracy, security, and efficiency of the process.”

Eight states and the District of Columbia have already passed automatic voter registration, all in a bipartisan manner: Oregon, California, West Virginia, Alaska, Vermont, Colorado, Georgia, and Connecticut. In Oregon, the first state to implement Automatic Voter Registration, 230,000 voters registered in its first six months and more than 500,000 inaccurate registrations were updated. About 100,000 (97,000) voters participated in the 2016 election because of the reform.

Representatives from several other leading citizen organizations testified for the bill, including Nancy Brumback, Legislative Action Chair of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. “The League strongly supports automatic voter registration as the next logical step in the modernization of the electoral process here in Massachusetts,” she said.  “AVR will improve the accuracy of voter rolls, create a more efficient and reliable voting system, help control the costs of voter registration over time, and improve the voting process on Election Day.”

Cheryl Clyburn Crawford of MassVOTE said, “Automatic voter registration is a step in the right direction to removing one of the barriers that disproportionately affects our most disenfranchised communities. It is our strong belief that automatic voter registration in Massachusetts will increase voter participation and turnout while continuing to modernize our electoral process.”

“…Our Commonwealth must set an example on voting rights for the nation to follow,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy in written testimony submitted to the Committee. “We need to prove how strong a system can be when it is inclusive, progressive and fair. The rollout of early voting in 2016 was an enormous success, with over one million residents casting early ballots. Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) must come next.”

“This is a bipartisan, common sense, 21st century bill which will make voter registration more accessible, more secure and less costly in the Commonwealth,” said Janet Domenitz, Executive Director of MASSPIRG. “We have Republican and Democrat supporters in the Legislature here, the Republican Governor of Illinois indicated that he would sign similar bill into law that passed the legislature unanimously a few weeks ago, and in a time of hyper-partisanship in this country we’re inspired to call for this bill’s passage.”

Advocacy organizations behind the effort, including Common Cause Massachusetts, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, Progressive Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice have worked together for many years to promote voting access and reform. They see automatic voter registration as a continuation of earlier efforts in the state, like early voting, to improve access to the ballot. Early voting was a resounding success; In its first debut, over one million voters cast their ballots early in October 2016, accounting for over 22% of registered voters and 35% of those that voted.

 

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“Making Democracy Work in My Community” Student Video Contest Winners Announced

May 12, 2017 / Boston, MA – The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVMA) has announced the winners of its “Making Democracy Work in My Community” Student Video Contest.

The winners are:

First Place:  Owen Doherty, Jake Latini, and Luke Marcheski, Quincy High School (The Voters of America: Making Democracy Work)

Second Place:  Natalie Harder and Emily Belt, Newton South High School (L’ Taken: Learning How to Make Democracy Work in Our Community)

Third Place:  Maggie Stefanowicz, Millis High School, (Ms. Ziemba; A Democracy Advocate)

Honorable Mention: 

Jacob Applebaum, Wellesley High School, (Boston Stands for Democracy);

Tyler Hamlin, Marblehead High School, (Making Democracy Work in Marblehead)

The League invited Massachusetts high school students to create to create a two-minute video showing how someone is making democracy work where they live.LWVMA will distribute and publicize the winning videos and others from the contest.

Many students participated in the contest, and the winning videos were selected from entries submitted from across the state. The Judging Committee selected the winning videos based on their clear and compelling messages, memorable content and delivery, and creativity.  The winners will receive awards of $500 (first place); $250 (second place); $100 (third place); and $50 (honorable mention).

“We were thrilled to receive so many very creative and powerful videos,” said LWVMA Executive Director Meryl Kessler.

“We are proud of all of the young people who shared their visions and messages through this contest,” said Jean Cherdack, president of LWVMA. “And we are proud that the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts provided them with a platform to make their voices heard.”

An award ceremony to honor the winners will be held in June. More details on the ceremony will be provided soon.

The contest was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts Citizen Education Fund, which supports programs designed to encourage the active and informed participation of citizens in democracy and increase understanding of public policy issues.

Support for this program was provided by the Salem Five Charitable Foundation.

 

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League of Women Voters of Massachusetts Publishes Online Voters’ Guide

August 18, 2016 / Boston, MA – To assist Massachusetts voters as they go to the polls on Thursday, September 8 for state primary elections, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVMA) has published an online Voters’ Guide, www.VOTE411.org, that features biographical information about all candidates in contested state primary races, as well as responses by those candidates to questions posed by the League.

The VOTE411.org online guide will allow voters to access personalized ballot information simply by entering a street address.  Voters will also be able to find in-depth information about candidates, voter registration, voting requirements and rules, and poll locations. LWVMA is bringing this digital platform to Massachusetts voters across the state for the first time for the September 8 primary; only those candidates who face a challenger in the primary election on September 8 have been asked to respond to this primary guide.

Later this fall, the information on www.VOTE411.org will be updated for the November 8 general election and all candidates will respond to a new set of questions.  The general election guide will contain complete information about candidates for the presidential, congressional, state legislature, sheriff, Governor’s Council, register of deeds, and county commissioner races, as well as about the statewide ballot questions.

“We hope Massachusetts voters will use this Voters’ Guide to help make informed choices as they vote on September 8,” said Jean Cherdack, president of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.  “We are pleased to be able to provide this information and thank the candidates for their willingness to participate in the guide.”

The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government and works to increase understanding of major public policy issues.  Since its founding in 1920, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts has been a respected and trusted voice for citizen participation in our democracy.  With 44 local Leagues throughout the state, LVWMA has been at the forefront of efforts to empower and educate Massachusetts voters and effect change on a wide range of issues. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages. For more information, please go www.lwvma.org.

Support for this program was provided by Lincoln and Therese Filene Foundation and an anonymous donor.

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