- REDISTRICTING CHALLENGES ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Leagues across the country continue to see an uptick in membership as new Leagues form
and League leaders pen letters to the editor welcoming all interested voters. Pennsylvania League President Susan Carty was our "Voice from the League" on The Union Edge yesterday. Her segment focused on the redistricting challenges in the Keystone State
as well as national problems with gerrymandering.
In North Carolina, League Leaders are also speaking out on redistricting reform. With an eye on 2018, voter suppression and voter ID laws are hot topics for which League experts continue to provide analysis. In Iowa, a new voter ID law proposed by the Secretary of State would be costly to tax payers and the League is out front in pointing out the many problems with this legislation.
- NORTH CAROLINA VOTING LAWS OVERTURNED
On Friday, July 29, 2016, a federal appeals court sided with the League in our lawsuit against the state of North Carolina and overturned one of the worst voter-discrimination laws in the entire country.
The court barred North Carolina from requiring photo IDs and ordered the state to restore a week of early voting and pre-registration and maintain same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting.
In finding that the new law would disproportionately impact communities of color, the judges noted in their decision that "we can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent."
This is an overwhelming victory--not just for the League but, far more important, the hundreds of thousands of voters in North Carolina whose right to vote had been imperiled by the new law.
Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters applauded that statement: "We are grateful to the Court of Appeals for seeing this bill for what it was: a race-based, chilling attempt to silence the voices of eligible voters."
The North Carolina law was one of many passed in states across the country shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act back in 2013.
This decision was the third major victory for voters' rights in recent weeks, following similar decisions against anti-voter laws in Wisconsin and Texas.
June 25 marked the third anniversary of the decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Join the League and tell your Senators and Representatives that it is time to modernize and repair the VRA!
As a preconvention activity, League members
from around the country lobbied their members of Congress
on legislation that would repair the VRA to its full powers. This legislation, the Voting Rights Advancement Act,
will level the playing field and ensure that all Americans have fair and equal access to the voting booth. Members of the League who attended Lobby Day may also wish to use our template press release
to spread the word about the lobbying activities with their local media.
- ONE SMALL STEP FOR VOTING RIGHTS
On June 20, 2016, the Westchester County Board of Legislators unanimously passed legislation that mandates the availability of voter registration forms in all County departments in addition to those where the County already was required to do so under federal and state law.
The Board of Legislators did so with the full support of the League of Women Voters of Westchester
(LWVW), whose letter to the Board and the County Executive said, in part: "From its very inception, the mission of the League of Women Voters has been to encourage the active and informed participation of citizens in government, and it is our firm belief that the current legislation under consideration will not only make voter registration more accessible to prospective voters but will encourage their further desire to become part of the democratic process." The LWVW had noted the abysmally low voter registration and turnout in the United States in general and in New York State specifically.
With the final enactment of this legislation, which awaits the County Executive's signature, citizens may obtain voter registration forms in both English and Spanish at: the Westchester County Clerk's Office; the Departments of Community Mental Health, Health, Social Services, Parks, Recreation & Conservation, Human Resources, Senior Program & Services, Probation, Public Works & Transportation, and Information Technology; the Human Rights Commission; the Taxi & Limousine Commission; the Youth Bureau; the Veterans Service Agency; and the Office for People with Disabilities. http://www.lwvw.org/files/boykin.pdf