LWVMA Joins Boston Women’s March

The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts is proud to be a community partner of the Boston Women’s March for America – Saturday, January 21.  The march starts at 11 a.m. on Boston Common and will proceed down Commonwealth Avenue.

As women and defenders of our democracy, there is more that unites us than divides us. We march for voting rights. We march to reform money in politics. We march for health care. We march for the environment.

Together, we will send a message to our leaders and the world, that the United States of America stands for values of human dignity, equal rights and freedom from discrimination.

http://bostonwomensmarchforamerica.org/

Join Us for a Conversation with Juliette Kayyem on Cybersecurity, Terrorism, and Democracy on Feb. 6

Concerned about the impact of cyberterrorism on our democracy?

Join LWVMA for an inside look at the threats and challenges ahead with Juliette Kayyem, former Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security. Kayyem currently serves as the Robert and Renee Belfer Lecturer in International Security at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where she is Faculty Director of the Homeland Security Project.

Date:  Monday, February 6
Time:  Lecture and Q & A:  5 to 6 p.m. followed by reception from 6 to 7 p.m.
Location: Bentley University, Wilder Pavilion, 175 Forest Street, Waltham

This event is free and open to League members and their guests, but we request that you register yourself and any guests to ensure sufficient seating. Please register below:

Questions? Please contact the LWVMA office at 617-523-2999.

Join LWVMA for Clean Energy for All Lobby Day on Jan. 25

Join League colleagues and Mass Power Forward coalition partners to shape the future of energy legislation in Massachusetts. Grassroots leaders and advocates from over 150 clean energy groups will gather at the State House to draw attention to and recruit co-sponsors for priority clean energy and climate legislation in advance of the Feb. 1 bill cosponsor deadline. Please note: this event will begin promptly at 10:00 a.m. at the Appalachian Mountain Club, 5 Joy St, Boston. Legislator meetings in the State House will begin at 11:00 a.m.

Schedule

Breakfast and gathering: From 10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Remarks for the media: From 10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Training and lobbying: From 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

You can register to attend below:

Clean Energy for All Lobby Day -- January 25, 2017

Sign up now to let us know you're coming! The Appalachian Mountain Club is in walking distance of the Park Street and Downtown Crossing MBTA stations and the State House. Parking is available in the nearby Boston Common Garage.

Join LWVMA for Sexual Health Lobby Day on Jan. 31

Feel the need to Do Something? As the new session of the legislature begins in January, LWVMA is joining 30 other advocacy groups for a Sexual Health Lobby Day on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the State House, starting at 9:30 a.m. Please join us!

In this uncertain national political climate, it is essential that we here in Massachusetts proactively pass legislation that protects and expands access to sexual and reproductive health care. Together, we must ensure that all Massachusetts residents, especially young people, have the ability to access the health care and education they need to stay safe and healthy. We must set and pursue an agenda that shows the rest of the country that Massachusetts is a place where these rights will be protected.

We need activists like you to join us in this endeavor, meet with your state legislators, and advocate for birth control access, comprehensive sex education, and confidential health care.

Among the target legislation is a bill for comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education, a bill we have been working to have passed for years. It made it through the Senate last session; it’s time to get this done.

Schedule

Sexual Health Fair: From 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m., grab some coffee and meet representatives from the state’s leading sexual health providers and advocacy organizations to learn about opportunities to get involved, take action, and take care of your health.

Raising Our Voices: From 10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., hear from activists who will share their stories and mobilize with us to protect sexual and reproductive health care. Stay tuned for more information about the speaking program!

Lobbying 101: From 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., come learn what lobbying is and get all the information and practice you need prior to meeting with your elected officials.

Meetings with Legislators: From approximately 12:00 p.m.– 2:00 p.m., join a group of your peers from your legislative district(s) in meetings with your state legislators and let them know sexual health matters to you! You will have the opportunity to speak directly with your elected officials and their staff to advocate for important legislation to protect and increase access to birth control, comprehensive sex education, and confidential health care.

The State House is in walking distance of the Park Street and Downtown Crossing MBTA stations and parking is available in the nearby Boston Common Garage.

You can register to attend below:

We Are Grateful for YOU!

As we enter this season of thanks, we want to express our gratitude for all you do to Make Democracy Work in your communities and throughout the Commonwealth! The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts depends on you — our members and supporters — to advance our mission.

You are the linchpin of our non-partisan, hands-on work to safeguard democracy and create lasting change.  You are the key to our success!

Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the League.

With wishes for a warm and wonderful holiday,

The LWVMA Board of Directors,
the Citizen Education Fund Trustees, and the Staff

It’s Time to Take Action! Stand and Be Counted.

After a polarizing election marked by divisive rhetoric, disaffection, and scandal, it is time for us, as a country and a democracy, to move forward.  At this critical juncture, so much of the work ahead depends on all of us, not just our elected officials.  

As a League, we recommit ourselves to the principles and priorities that define our organization. And, in the coming months, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts will be working hard to address critical issues here in the Commonwealth, regardless of what happens in Washington.

We affirm our principles…
  • Ensuring that elections are free, fair, and accessible
  • Monitoring government and holding elected officials accountable
  • Protecting the environment and addressing climate change
  • Rejecting intolerance and defending individual rights
We are taking action NOW…
  • Pushing Beacon Hill to expand voting rights by enacting automatic voter registration and Election Day registration, changing the registration deadline, and extending early voting
  • Advocating for campaign finance reform, including limits on ballot question contributions
  • Pressuring elected officials to take action to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, and through an accelerated transition to clean, renewable energy
  • Lobbying for strong reforms of the criminal justice system, including eliminating mandatory minimum sentences and increasing felony larceny thresholds
  • Blocking any efforts to weaken Massachusetts’ health insurance system or threaten women’s reproductive rights
  • Supporting efforts to reduce gun violence
What can you do?
  • If you are not a League member:  Join the League and become a grassroots activist!  We are a membership organization that influences public policy and brings change to Massachusetts through the work of individuals like you. You can join through a local League or as a Member at Large.  If there is no League presence in your community and you are interested in forming a local League, please contact us.
  • If you are already a League member:  Introduce a friend to the League — the more voices we have, the louder our message!
  • Continue to work on issues of public importance in your communities.
  • Meet with your state legislators to express your concerns and interests for the new legislative session in such areas as voting rights, climate change, and criminal justice reform.
  • Join our Legislative Action Committee and help advocate for our priorities on Beacon Hill.
  • Pre-register 16- and 17-year-olds to vote.
  • Register new citizens to vote at naturalization ceremonies.
  • Actively speak out as a League and as individuals — write letters to the editor, op-eds, social media posts — to protest any incidents of intolerance or incivility in your community.
  • Support our work by donating now.

October 2016 Scharfman Grants to Four Local Leagues

Congratulations to the four Leagues awarded Daniel Scharfman Citizen Education Grants. The total amount dispersed in this cycle for the four grants was $928.52.

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. A big thank you to those of you who have donated in the past, making this grant program possible.

LWV Concord-Carlisle: Special Election Information

A grant was awarded to LWV Concord-Carlisle for signs to advertise the special election pertaining to funding for the Minuteman Regional High School.  The signs were analogous to handouts or brochures, and the election had different polling places and times than a regular election, so this information was important.

LWV Greater Haverhill: Naturalization Ceremony Supplies

LWV Greater Haverhill conducts voter registration at naturalization ceremonies.  This grant supports the purchase of supplies for this important work.

LWV  Northampton Area: Newspapers in Education “Vote” Poster Contest

LWV Northampton Area co-sponsored a VOTE poster contest and civic reminder for the Daily Hampshire Gazette! The contest was open to all adults and children.

LWV Worcester Area: Naturalization Ceremony Supplies

LWV Worcester Area conducts voter registration at naturalization ceremonies.  This grant supports the purchase of supplies for this important work.

Election Modernization Coalition Awards Early Voting Medals at State House

election-mod-coalitionBOSTON– October 19, 2016 – On the eve of Massachusetts’ first experience with early voting, beginning October 24th, the Massachusetts Election Modernization Coalition today honored 201 of the state’s 351 municipalities with Gold and Silver Medals for offering voters substantial early voting options.

“We are thrilled that so many communities have stepped up to go beyond the minimum required by law and are offering evening and weekend early voting hours,” said Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts during a Coalition press conference and ‘medal ceremony’ at the State House. “Early voting promises to shorten long lines at busy polling places, improve the voting experience, and give Massachusetts citizens more opportunities to participate in democracy,” she said.

The Coalition campaigned for passage of the 2014 Election Modernization Law that established early voting and other reforms. Last fall, it launched the Early Voting Challenge to encourage municipalities to go beyond the floor set by the law (one location operating during business hours) and meet the Coalition’s recommended standards, based on a Common Cause report on best practices from other states.

“The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts is proud to have worked with this coalition to bring robust early voting to Massachusetts,” said Meryl Kessler, executive director. “And we are inspired by all of the cities and towns who went above and beyond the minimum requirements of the early voting law to ensure that voters throughout the state will have a convenient, flexible, and positive voting experience in 2016.”

The Coalition awarded Gold Medals to 34 communities that offer one early voting site for every 35,000, at least two evenings of weeknight voting for each week in the early voting period, and six or more hours of weekend voting. 167 municipalities earned the Silver Medal for offering an adequate number of sites, at least one weeknight of evening voting each week in the two-week early voting period, and four or more hours of weekend voting. Towns under 10,000 people qualified with three hours on the weekend.

“Today we celebrate the cities and towns that have embraced early voting,” said Rahsaan Hall, director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “We believe that voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and the fundamental right upon which all our civil liberties rest. By increasing access to the polls through early voting we ensure that as many citizens as possible have a voice in the preservation and growth of our democracy. Communities with significant numbers of people of color, people living under the poverty threshold and English language learners, who have been historically underrepresented in electoral politics, will benefit the most from this very necessary modification of our voting practices.”

Sophia Hall, staff attorney for the non-profit legal organization, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice echoed the sentiment. “The Lawyers’ Committee’s mission is to provide a safeguard for the civil, social and economic liberties of residents throughout the Commonwealth. On behalf of the communities of color and low-income communities that we serve who disproportionately utilize early voting, we applaud each awardee for their efforts to expand access to the ballot box,” she said.

Cheryl Crawford of MassVOTE added, “MassVOTE was founded to fight for political, racial and economic equality with a mission to increase voter turnout, modernize election laws and engage the next generation.  We have been working to address these challenges by educating residents on early voting, and convincing others to become more civically engaged in this critical program.”

Beth Huang from the Massachusetts Voter Table said that early voting will, “help make the voices heard of the Rising Massachusetts Electorate, especially in communities of color and among low-income people, young people, women, and new citizens.”

MASSPIRG Education Fund executive director Janet Domenitz agreed. “For more than 40 years, MASSPIRG has been campaigning to make democracy more transparent and more accessible—particularly for our youth, in whose hands the future lies. Early voting is one tool that helps us realize that goal.”

The Coalition plans to monitor the early voting process and will make recommendations on improving it for future elections.

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The Election Modernization Coalition is made up of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Common Cause Massachusetts, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, MassVOTE, and more.

2016 League Leaders’ Lunch — A Big Success!

September 19, 2016 — Fifty-five local League leaders descended on Hingham last Saturday for four hours for our annual League Leaders fall get-together. The event included informative presentations on the ballot questions and the charter school consensus process; stimulating discussions; a delicious lunch, topped off with homemade dessert treats from our co-host Hingham League; and an idea-sharing session on local pre-election activities.

We welcomed a large number of newly-elected local League leaders who got a first-hand look at the range of resources available to local Leagues from LWVMA.

League of Women Voters of Massachusetts Publishes Online Voters’ Guide for Sept. 8 Primary Election

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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