2017 LWVMA Convention in Framingham April 28-29

Brian McGrory, Editor, The Boston Globe

The 2017 LWVMA Convention “The Future of Democracy: Facing the Challenges” will be held April 28-29 at the Sheraton Hotel in Framingham, MA. Convention brings local League delegates together to hear distinguished speakers, approve program for the next biennium, elect a new board of directors, approve the budget, and network with leaders from across the state.

Make plans to have your League well represented at LWVMA Convention 2017.  Click here for more information and to register now! Click here for a Convention flyer.

Schedule of Events:    

Friday
April 28
Saturday
April 29
Registration
11:00 a.m.
Registration
8:00 a.m.
Lunch Buffet and Welcome
12:00 p.m.
Continental Breakfast
Speaker: Wylecia Wiggs Harris, Chief Executive Officer, LWVUS, Impact, Engagement, Sustainability
7:30 a.m.
Panel Discussion: Time for Us To Be Heard: Millennial Voices in the Massachusetts State Legislature
2:00 p.m.
LWVMA: Ready for the Challenge
9:30 a.m.
First Plenary Session
3:45 p.m.
Focus Groups: Members Speak Out
10:35 a.m.
Cocktail Reception, LWVMA Board Candidates Meet & Greet
6:00 p.m.
Lunch Buffet
Speaker: Rachael Cobb, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Government, Suffolk University
12:00 p.m.
Banquet
Speaker: Brian McGrory, Editor, The Boston Globe
7:00 p.m.
Second Plenary Session
2:00 p.m.
Budget and Convention Q & A’s
Caucuses
8:45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New “Money In Politics” Toolkit Now Available

The new Money in Politics Toolkit from LWVUS is now available. This latest version represents the culmination of many years of work on this critical area of League advocacy.

As stated in the introduction of the kit: “YOU have a right to know WHO is running for office, WHO is raising money for WHICH candidates, HOW MUCH money are they raising, and HOW that money is being spent. YOU have a right to elections that are free from corruption and undue influence. CANDIDATES have a right to a fair and equitable contest that promotes strong citizen participation. WE ALL have a right to a democracy that works for all. Reform starts at home! Dive into how your community and state regulates money in politics and then advocate for reforms where needed. We’re here to help! Use the ACTION Kit to get you started.”

The Action Kit, sample letter to the editor, and questions for elected officials can all be found here. It’s time to take this action to the next level! The Action Kit will be an invaluable resource for local Leagues and all concerned citizens working to take on this issue.

League To Co-Sponsor March 5th Environmental Action Conference

LWVMA is pleased to be a co-sponsor of Local Environmental Action 2017 Conference: Growing the Grassroots for a Greener New England. State and local advocacy has never been more important given the current political climate. Join League members and others from around the state to learn what is happening on the ground and how to hone our environmental advocacy skills for effective advocacy at the local and state level.

This annual conference, in its 30th year, is an excellent opportunity to connect with community leaders and environmental advocates and activists from across the state for skills training and inspiration. LWVMA’s co-sponsorship role means that League members are eligible for a discounted registration fee of $25. Click here to go directly to the member discount link.

And be sure to stop by the LWVMA table and say “hello” if you attend!

Date: Sunday, March 5

Time: 8:30-4:30, with reception at 4:30

Location: Northeastern University, Curry Student Center,

360 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115

Roxbury Crossing T Stop Free street parking

Directions

LWVMA Environmental Committee Awarded Grant!

We’re pleased to announce that the LWVMA Environmental Advocacy and Action Committee has received a $2750 grant from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund to expand our outreach and public education efforts on environmental issues to local Leagues and the public .

The role of the Environmental Advocacy and Action Committee is to create a coordinated, state-wide plan of action to advance meaningful clean energy policy in the Commonwealth. The Committee includes local League members from around the state who will work within their local Leagues and League regions to share information and resources with League members and the general public through forums, webinars, print and social media, etc.

The grant will help build the Committee’s outreach capacity and development of educational resources.

For more information about the work of the Committee, contact Launa Zimmaro  or Karen Price.

January 2017 Awards to Three Local Leagues

Three Leagues received Daniel Scharfman citizen education grants in January.

LWV Arlington received a grant for its Candidates’ Night. LWV Hamilton Wenham received a grant for a program bringing books about civics to elementary schools. LWV Plymouth received a grant for its civics bee.

The next deadline to apply for a Scharfman grant is April 17. Information and an application form are available here.

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.