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

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.



Climate Change and the Environment

Recent Posts on LWVMA Action on the Environment

The League of Women Voters is committed to promoting an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest by recognizing the interrelationships of air quality, energy, land use, waste management and water resources.

LWVMA Steering Committee for Environmental Action and Advocacy

The mission of the Steering Committee for Environmental Action and Advocacy is to inform and engage members across the state on critical environmental issues and policies impacting Massachusetts, and to support and promote sustainable energy and environmental policy, legislation and local action.

The Committee coordinates a series of forums, live events and webinars, called the “LWVMA Climate and Energy Solutions Series.

Watch LWVMA Climate and Energy Solutions Series

International and National Climate Warnings Sound the Alarm: Window for Action Closing

Two important reports on climate change were released in late 2018: the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  special report and the US National Climate Assessment. Together, these reports sound the loudest alarm yet that devastating climate change is happening now and will continue to get far worse without immediate, large-scale action. In the starkest possible language, these reports tell us of the looming, catastrophic impact if we fail to respond appropriately and quickly.

The world is warming at an unprecedented and accelerating rate, and the window to effectively mitigate and adapt to the increasingly destructive effects of climate change is closing fast—leaving no “reset” option. The effects of climate change are already impacting our lives, public health, and our economy. These reports emphatically state that major efforts to decrease our carbon emissions and transition to a clean energy economy must be made within the next 10 to 12 years. Failure to take bold action now will result in a future with conditions beyond our capacity to manage.

Because of the complexity and politics of the issue, climate change has largely been left on the cutting-room floor of political agendas. Deliberate obfuscation of the facts by fossil fuel interests creates a cloud of confusion that keeps the public in the dark. Fossil fuel interests outspend environmental advocates 10:1 on climate lobbying, and that money has been very effective at stopping work on this critically important, existential issue. Climate change will easily slip back down the queue of concerns unless the public insists that elected officials prioritize immediate action on climate change.

The League has fought hard for meaningful climate action since the 1960s, and we continue the fight now. The most effective action we can take as individuals is to call and write our elected officials—those with the power to act at the level required—and demand that they take meaningful action on climate change without delay.

Supported Legislation 2019-2020

The League of Women Voters has been at the forefront of the environmental protection movement for decades, consistently supporting legislation to preserve our nation’s natural resources and protect our public health. We support legislation that seeks to protect our country from the physical, economic and public health effects of climate change while also providing pathways to economic prosperity.

LWVMA supports and opposes legislation after reviewing the bills  filed each 2-year session. For information on the LWVMA supported state legislation related to the environment, including energy and resource conservation, natural resources, and water resources are currently being considered and will be listed soon.

For information on efforts at the national level, coordinated by LWVUS, click here.

Regional Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI)

The recent Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) agreement signed on December 18, 2018 is seen as a major regional effort in its pledge to cap regional greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector – the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the region at 40%.

The TCI plan will be modeled on the “cap and invest” approach used in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), focused on emissions’ reductions from utilities. Six of the 9 TCI states are part of RGGI, with the exception of New York, New Jersey and Maine. As described in a Boston Globe article  about the agreement, “With the addition of just New York, the coalition would constitute more than one-fifth of the nation’s population and a quarter of the country’s overall economic output. If the states were a single country, they would rival Japan as the world’s third largest economy.” TCI states are committed to developing a plan for moving forward by the end of 2019. While a plan has yet to be developed and implemented, the blueprint exists in the RGGI program. More importantly, the agreement sends a clear message that the region understands the imperative to act on climate.

With the latest climate reports telling us that climate change is accelerating at an alarming rate and is already threatening our health, the environment and our economy, the urgency to act has never been clearer. We have the means; we need the political will and leadership to move forward.

LWVUS Price on Carbon Webinars

LWVUS Local League Toolkit for Climate Change

The LWVUS Climate Change Task Force encourages League members to consider adopting a Climate Initiative as part of their local program at their annual meetings this year.  There are two issue areas in particular where Leagues can make a real impact on greenhouse gas emissions — energy efficiency in buildings and renewable energy. The Grassroots Action Priorities section of the LWVUS Climate Action Toolkit includes detailed information about climate solutions. To share your League’s story, please send your answers to these questions to Task Force Chair, Eleanor Revelle (

Equality and Justice

Criminal Justice

In the 1970’s and 1980’s the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts developed strong positions on our courts and corrections systems; since then, however, our rate of incarceration has more than tripled. For the last several years, LWVMA has been actively advocating for criminal justice reform. For more information click here.


Immigration is primarily governed and enforced through federal law and federal agencies. The League of Women Voters position on immigration was developed after a national study in 2006-2008, and was adopted by the LWVUS Education Fund board in April 2008. For more information on LWVMA’s current work on immigration click here.

Meeting Basic Human Needs

More information will be available soon.

Gun Safety

Click here for more information.