Election Modernization Coalition Applauds Ruling On Voter Registration Deadline

Boston,MA/July 24, 2017–A decision handed down today by a Suffolk Superior Court judge opened a huge window that has been shut to many eligible voters. As a result of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Massachusetts, MassVOTE, and the Chelsea Collaborative, Judge Douglas Wilkins ruled that the 20-day voter registration deadline in Massachusetts disenfranchises thousands of potential voters and is unconstitutional.

As organizations that have worked tirelessly together for many years to remove barriers to voting, we are thrilled with this decision and we applaud the work of the plaintiffs and their attorneys. We are also gratified that the decision refers to the successes of early voting and online voter registration, reforms for which we advocated for years.

We still have more barriers to voting in Massachusetts than we should tolerate, and more solutions—such as automatic voter registration and election day registration—than we are using. We look forward to continuing our work to make democracy thrive in Massachusetts.

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

LWVMA Thanks Secretary Galvin for Refusing to Comply with Voter Record Request

The League strongly condemns the recent request from President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission for voter records, including private information, from all 50 states; at the same time, LWVMA applauds Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin for refusing to comply with the request and has sent him a letter thanking him for his stance.  We encourage LWVMA members to also contact Secretary Galvin to thank him for his refusal to comply with the commission’s request.

The letter to Secretary Galvin from LWVMA Co-presidents Mary Ann Ashton and Linda Matys O’Connell reads:

July 5, 2017

Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
McCormack Building
One Ashburton Place, Room 1719
Boston, MA 02108

 

Dear Secretary Galvin,

The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts applauds you for your refusal to turn over voter records to the Election Integrity Commission, as reported in several media outlets this past week.  We thank you for your continuing efforts to ensure that voters’ right to privacy and to vote are protected in our Commonwealth.

The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) has issued a strong statement condemning this week’s request from Kris Kobach, vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, for state voter records.  We agree with you that the law in the Commonwealth has established that the voter record is not a public record, and stand firmly with you that these records should not be released and that voter’s privacy should be protected.

With our partners in the Election Modernization Coalition, we have worked with your office to improve and protect elections, and recognize that you are committed to ensuring that there are no opportunities for voter fraud or for voter suppression in our state.  We thank you for your many efforts on behalf of the Commonwealth’s voters, and look forward to continuing to work with you.

Sincerely yours,

Mary Ann Ashton                                                       Linda Matys O’Connell
Co-president                                                               Co-president

League Condemns Kobach Voter List Request

The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) has issued a strong statement condemning this week’s request from Kris Kobach, vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, for state voter records.  In addition, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts applauds Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin’s refusal to comply with the Commission’s request.

The statement from LWVUS President Chris Carson appears below:

WASHINGTON, DC/June 30, 2017- The request for voter records confirms fears of Kris Kobach continuing his tactics of voter suppression and the genesis of the Elections Integrity Commission in general. The League of Women Voters president, Chris Carson released this statement on the issue:

“There is no justification for this giant fishing expedition. The Commission itself is a distraction from the real issue of voter suppression, and that efforts to ‘investigate voter fraud’ threaten our most fundamental voting rights.

“This most recent move by Mr. Kobach is an indicator that the so-called Election ‘Integrity’ Commission is not interested in facts, but false accusations and dangerous policy recommendations.

“State laws govern the release of voter registration information, and, at a minimum, election officials must follow those laws before releasing data. The League stands with those state leaders who have already come out to support their voters and refuse these requests from Mr. Kobach and the EIC.”

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.

One Hundred Citizens Attend Automatic Voter Registration Day

Advocates voice support for modernizing elections in Massachusetts through adopting Automatic Voter Registration

BOSTON, MA/June 28, 2017 — Advocates for modernizing Massachusetts’ elections showed up in force for a lobby day on Beacon Hill today, held by the Election Modernization Coalition led by Common Cause Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, MASSPIRG, MassVOTE, the Massachusetts Voter Table, and Progressive Massachusetts. Citizen activists from 41 cities and towns and 55 State Representative districts attended: Acton, Amherst, Andover, Arlington, Beverly, Boston, Brockton, Brookline, Cambridge, Charlestown, Chelmsford, Chelsea, Eastham, Georgetown, Gloucester, Hingham, Jamaica Plain, Kingston, Lexington, Marblehead, Mattapoisett, Medford, Milford, Millville, Needham, Newton, North Dartmouth, Norwood, Plymouth, Quincy, Roxbury, Salem, Somerville, South Dennis, South Hamilton, Sudbury, Topsfield, Waltham, Wareham, Watertown, Westborough, and Westwood.

Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) 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 AVR legislation, introduced by Sen. Cynthia Creem and Rep. Peter Kocot, has popular support in both legislative chambers, with 80 House co-sponsors and 22 Senate sponsors and received a public hearing before the Joint Committee on Election Laws earlier this month.

The legislation is also endorsed by 48 organizations including environmental, civil rights, consumer, community, labor, and good government groups (see list below).

“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, who led a training about the legislation. “The system would give the nearly 700,000 eligible Massachusetts 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 its accuracy, security, and efficiency.”

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.

Nancy Brumback, Legislative Action Chair of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, led a session on how to lobby the legislature. “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, who led one of the event’s breakout groups, 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.”

“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 who also led a breakout group. “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.

48 (and counting) endorsing organizations (alphabetical order):

Action Together Western Mass

AFSC – Cambridge

Berkshire Democratic Brigades

Berkshire Women’s Action Group

Black Directors Network

Boston Democratic Ward 4 Committee

Boston Teachers Union

Cambridge Democratic City Committee

Clean Water Action

Coalition for Social Justice

College Democrats of MA

Common Cause Massachusetts

Democracy for America

Democracy Matters

Environmental League of MA Action Fund

ForwardMA

Garrison Trotter Neighborhood Association

Green Tea Party

Indivisible (Many chapters)

Jewish Association for Law and Social Action (JALSA)

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice

League of Women Voters of Massachusetts

Lift Every Vote

Mass Affordable Housing Alliance

Mass Law Reform Institute

Massachusetts Jobs with Justice

Massachusetts Peace Action

Massachusetts Senior Action Council

Massachusetts Teachers Association

Massachusetts Voter Table

MASSPIRG

MassVOTE

NAACP Boston

National Association of Social Workers, Massachusetts Chapter

Neighbor to Neighbor Massachusetts Education Fund

New England United for Justice

Our Revolution Cambridge

PHENOM (Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts)

Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts

Progressive Democrats of America, Boston chapter

Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts

Progressive Massachusetts

SEIU Local 509

SEIU Massachusetts State Council

Sierra Club

Small Planet Institute

Union of Minority Neighborhoods

 

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LWVMA 2017 Climate and Energy Solutions Series

The LWVMA Steering Committee for Environmental Action and Advocacy is coordinating the LWVMA Climate and Energy Solutions Series, consisting of five regional forums around the state in collaboration with local Leagues and other organizations.

We will kick off the series in the fall with a forum at the New England Aquarium’s Simons IMAX® Theatre on September 14 at 7 pm with “Extreme events and climate change: What we know and what we can do.” This event is part of the Aquarium’s Lecture Series, and is co-hosted by the League of Women Voters of Boston and Massachusetts and the UMass Boston School for the Environment. The speaker, Dr. Ellen Douglas, will discuss observations of our changing climate, what changes may be in the future for Boston and beyond, and some plans for how to adapt to these changes. Click here for an event flyer.

The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required through the Aquarium’s website.

Other Forums in the Series Coming Up

  • October 4 at 7 pm (6:30 refreshments), Winchester Town Hall: “The Health Benefits of Renewable Energy Choices: A Role for Carbon Pricing”
  • October 19 at 7 pm, Lexington Public Library: “Greening the Grid: Preparing for Our Clean Energy Future”
  • November 4 at 1 pm, Falmouth Public Library: “Extreme Events and Climate Change: What We Know and What We Can Do”

 May 2 forum, “On the Path to 100% Renewable Energy” Video Available

The first forum, “On the Path to 100% Renewable Energy,” was held in Worcester on May 2, and was co-sponsored by LWV-Worcester Area. David Ismay, Senior Staff Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation, MA and Eugenia Gibbons, Clean Energy Program Director at Mass Energy Consumers Alliance; presented the case for 100% renewable energy and what is required to reach it. Their presentations have been posted on YouTube.

Take Action: Support a Clean Energy Future

  • Carbon Pricing Lobby Day June 13
  • Carbon Pricing Bills Hearing June 20
  • Senate Clean Energy Future Tour June 12, 19, 20, 26

Join Us for Carbon Pricing Lobby Day Tuesday, June 13

If we’re going to pass a price on carbon pollution in Massachusetts, we need to show widespread support for these bills to our legislators.

Meet face-to-face with your legislators at Carbon Pricing Lobby Day to tell them that now is the time to act on climate change, and carbon pricing bills H1726 and S1821 are crucial pieces of legislation. The League is a big supporter of Carbon Pricing legislation throughout the country.

Let’s fill the State House halls with carbon pricing supporters!

Click on bill numbers to view fact sheets:

H1729

S1821

The planned schedule is:

  • 9am: Meet at Old West Church (131 Cambridge St., near both the Government Center and MGH T stops) to get organized
  • 10am to noon: Meetings with Senators
  • Noon to 1pm: Lunch
  • 1pm to 3pm: Meetings with Representatives

Sign up for Lobby Day here.

Can’t make it to Lobby Day? Our coalition partner, MA Campaign for a Clean Energy Future, can help set-up a meeting for you to meet with your legislators about carbon pricing on another day, either at the State House or in your home district –  just fill out this form. For more information, contact Launa Zimmaro.

Check out this video on how to talk to your legislators about carbon pricing.

 

 

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Carbon Pricing Hearing—Come Show Your Support

Tuesday, June 20: 1 p.m. Hearing on Carbon Pricing bills.  Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, Room 437, State House.  Proponents and opponents will testify before the Joint Committee. A large turnout will show the Committee there is support for these bills.

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Attend a Senate Clean Energy Future Tour

Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change is holding hearings throughout the state.  Hearings will be June 12, Springfield; June 19, Pittsfield; June 20, Danvers; and June 26, Boston.  See the committee’s website for details for each event.  Launa Zimmaro, LWVMA’s Specialist for environmental legislation, has prepared talking points to help guide your comments.

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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League Statement on the Paris Climate Agreement

Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters president, Chris Carson issued the following statement in response to President Trump’s announcement that the United States will leave the global Paris Climate Agreement:

“Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement is a giant step in the wrong direction for the health of the planet and all living beings. President Trump’s decision today will undermine global cooperation and have a harmful impact on U.S. relations with our most trusted world allies. The long-term effects of this decision will make more people sick, especially children and the elderly. The League of Women Voters is gravely disappointed to see the United States on the wrong side of history in the fight to protect our planet.”

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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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