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Category: Front Page News

League Night at Fenway Park

On August 28, 130 League members and guests attended the first “League Night at Fenway Park.” The League was recognized before the game, with Natalie Kassabian representing LWVMA on the field with Wally, the Green Monster. We also had a table near Gate A where Sharyn Roberts led the voter registration effort. During the 5th inning, a message from the League was displayed on the outfield message board saying “Happy Women’s Equality Day from the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts”. Thanks to everyone who came to see the Sox beat the Orioles (4-3).

LWVMA Meets Delegation from Vietnam

LWVMA officers met with seven members of the Vietnam National Assembly who were touring the United States under the auspices of the U.S. State Department. The U.S. visit was designed to acquaint the Vietnamese with Congress and with our political system, and we were asked to talk about how a non-government organization works to achieve its legislative goals, both individually and in coalition with other such organizations.

Marilyn Peterson and Anne Borg, co-presidents, Karen Price and Nancy Brumback, vice presidents, and Natalie Kassabian, program and administrative coordinator, discussed the League’s history and mission, our programs at the local and state levels, and our efforts to lobby the legislature on such topics as election law reform, gun control, and environmental issues.

Our visitors included the seven members of the National Assembly—one woman and six men, two interpreters and guides from the State Department and WorldBoston, a local council which first invited us to participate in such foreign exchange visits last year.

We met in a conference room at the State House, thanks to the effort of Sen. Michael Barrett’s staff, and Sen. Barrett also spoke to the group about the state legislative system and the work that the League does.

Questions from the delegates indicated their interest in the League. They asked whether we had any men as members and how many, where our funding comes from, how we prepare information for the legislature, and what a legislative hearing is like. They were curious who the League would support in an election between a woman who didn’t support our programs and a man who did, and we hope we made it clear that the League never supports individual candidates. And as one noted, “If you could get all the women to join you, you could take over. No one can stop all the wives and mothers.”

June 2013 Awards to Three Local Leagues

Congratulations to the three Leagues to be awarded citizen education grants under the fourth funding cycle of the new program of the education fund. These three Leagues submitted grant applications, and were recommended for funding by the grant review committee. The deadline for the next funding cycle is October 3, 2013. The total amount dispersed in this cycle for the three grants was $671.

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

The June grant recipients are:

LWV Andover/North Andover: Promoting Town Meeting ($250)

LWV Andover/North Andover plans to promote Town Meeting among Andover and North Andover residents by

1)      Printing reusable yard signs promoting Town Meeting. The signs will be distributed to League members for display
2)      Producing two pamphlets (one for each town) that includes

  • History of Andover/North Andover Town Meetings
  • Process and procedures
  • Terminology related to Town Meeting
  • Where to go for more information

Pamphlets will be available to distribute to new residents via realtors, library, town offices, autumn civic events, etc. for citizen education well in advance of spring Town Meeting.

This request will fund a portion of the total project cost.

LWV Waltham: Display for Waltham Visions ($250)

One of the tasks in the Waltham Visions project is to find out what the people of Waltham want their City to look like in the future.  LWV Waltham has a table that they take to local events which provides League membership and Voter Registration information, but to increase visibility, they have built a display.

The display has three sections.  The central section is a large aerial photo of Waltham.  People are invited to mark their homes on the photo.  The right-hand section has pictures of Waltham old and new, to show people how the city has evolved.  The left-hand section is for people to place cards on which they have written what they like and what they would like to see improved about Waltham.  LWV Waltham offers to send the cards to their city councilors.

The grants funds would be used to pay for materials to build the display, a banner to identify the League of Women Voters to go with the display, and a foam board mounted aerial photo of Waltham.

This request will fund a portion of the total project cost.

LWV Acton Area: Town Meeting How To ($171)

“Town Meeting How To” will be distributed at the upcoming special town meeting on June 3, 2013.  It is a vertical half sheet card that tells town meeting participants the steps to speak, move the previous question, make an amendment, make a point of order, and the commonly used motions.  League members will distribute the cards to town meeting participants after they have checked in but before entering the auditorium.

The goal is to familiarize more people with the mechanics of town meeting so they will be more likely to participate with confidence at the meeting. The grant would fund the printing of 1,000 cards. The card may be viewed here.

This request will fund the entire cost of the project.

LWV Blasts Supreme Court Voting Rights Decision, Urges Congress to Act

The League of Women Voters accused the U.S. Supreme Court of erasing basic protections against racial discrimination in voting with its decision June 25 striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.  The League urges Congress to act quickly to restore the strength of the Voting Rights Act.

“Today is a sad day in America: Through its decision in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, the U.S. Supreme Court erased fundamental protections against racial discrimination in voting that have been effective for more than 40 years,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. “Only strong action from Congress can fix this huge mistake made by the Court.”

“Today, the Court weakened the Voting Rights Act (VRA) as a mechanism to fight discrimination by striking down Section 4, which determines the states and jurisdictions that must secure federal approval before changing election laws,” said MacNamara. “We believe that today’s Supreme Court decision is naïve. The fact that the Department of Justice blocked over 700 voting changes they found to be discriminatory from 1982 through the VRA’s 2006 reauthorization speaks for itself.”

“The impact of this decision on voters will be significant and far-reaching,” MacNamara said. “This decision will only embolden those who seek to create barriers to voters’ rights. Without a strong VRA, our ability to fight off anti-voter legislation and keep our elections free, fair and accessible is significantly weakened.”

During the 2006 Congressional reauthorization of the VRA, a record of thousands of pages of testimony helped illustrate the continuing problems in covered jurisdictions. Overwhelmingly bi-partisan Congressional action was taken based on a solid case for the continued need of the VRA.

“The progress we have made eliminating discrimination in voting is because of the VRA and its enforcement over the past four decades,” said MacNamara. As Justice Ginsberg wrote in her Shelby dissent:

“In truth, the evolution of voting discrimination into more subtle second-generation barriers is powerful evidence that a remedy as effective as preclearance remains vital to protect minority voting rights and prevent backsliding. Beyond question, the VRA is no ordinary legislation. It is extraordinary because Congress embarked on a mission long delayed and of extraordinary importance: to realize the purpose and promise of the Fifteenth Amendment. For a half century, a concerted effort has been made to end racial discrimination in voting. Thanks to the Voting Rights Act, progress once the subject of a dream has been achieved and continues to be made.”

“We need the VRA to combat these ‘second-generation barriers’ and the pernicious discrimination that is less visible than what occurred decades ago but no less harmful to the right to vote,” MacNamara said.

“We will be going to Congress to fix this issue and ask them to restore the VRA to its full strength,” said MacNamara. “Solutions for voters are required on an issue as fundamental as the voting rights of all Americans.”

“The Shelby decision is a great disappointment,” concluded MacNamara, “but it should also be a great call to action by those who believe in free and fair access by every eligible voter. Congress must act and voters must vote at every opportunity.”

For related resources visit the LWVUS website.

Arizona v. ITCA Supreme Court Decision Protects Voter Registration Process

Significant Victory for Voters in Supreme Court Decision

Washington, D.C. – “Today’s Supreme Court decision in the case Arizona v. ITCA, Inc. is a strong decision protecting voters,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, President of the League of Women Voters of the U.S.

“The decision is a strong endorsement of Congress’ power under the Elections Clause.
In this case, Arizona overstepped by imposing restrictions on the voter registration process,” said MacNamara.

“State restrictions lost:  Voters won today,” said MacNamara.

“Arizona wrongfully rejected thousands of voter registration applications,” said MacNamara. “The Court ruled that this was inconsistent with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).”

“The Court’s ITCA decision safeguards the voter registration process from political manipulation and will help block attempts in the states to restrict the right to vote,” MacNamara said.

“In its decision, the Court also recognized the importance of interstate voter registration drives like those conducted by the League of Women Voters.”

Arizona v. ITCA is a critically important voting rights case that examines whether the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) prevents states from passing laws that restrict the voter registration process. In this case, the League of Women Voters of the U.S. submitted an amicus brief and the League of Women Voters of Arizona was a named plaintiff.

“The NVRA was intended to and has succeeded in bringing millions more citizens into the democratic process since its passage in 1993,” said MacNamara.

“Restrictions on the use of the national voter registration application form like those tried by Arizona make it much more difficult to register eligible citizens to vote,” MacNamara said. “Independent registration drives by citizen groups like the League are often the only effective means for some voters to get registered and participate in our great democracy.”

“The Court’s ITCA decision safeguards the voter registration process from political manipulation and will help block attempts in the states to restrict the right to vote,” MacNamara said.

“This is a victory for voters plain and simple but we will need to continue to fight against limitations on the voter registration process.” concluded MacNamara. “This is an extremely important ruling that says the U.S. Congress has the power and authority to protect our right to vote.”

This press release was copied from lwv.org, click here for the full post and related links.