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Democracy at risk!

Democracy is at risk when long lines and faulty voting processes keep Americans from voting and having their votes counted. Democracy is at risk when partisan gerrymandering ensures that elections are over before the people even vote. Democracy is at risk when government actions threaten basic civil liberties. And, democracy is at risk when special interests pay for election campaigns. Now is the time to act!

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Years of band-aid solutions and neglect have allowed the mechanisms of many of our government systems to weaken. To remedy this, we launched our Democracy Agenda on the 85th anniversary of the League's founding. It is an advocacy and public education effort to strengthen and renew the basic tenets of American democracy.

The Democracy Agenda offers solutions to help overcome persistent weaknesses and educate communities and citizens nationwide on how to improve things. We must:

* protect our electoral processes through election reform and campaign finance reform,

* advance our representative government through nonpartisan redistricting, and

* preserve our constitutional rights by safeguarding civil liberties.

We are focusing on the key election administration issues that must be dealt with for 2006, 2008 and beyond--provisional ballots, statewide voter registration lists, voting systems, polling place operations, and poll worker recruitment and training.

There are also serious questions about the role of money and special interests in American politics and how financing of elections impacts the process. We believe that "he who pays the piper calls the tune" and that's why public financing of elections is our ultimate goal and a key part of our Democracy Agenda.

Another issue that goes to the heart of the democratic system is the controversy over partisan redistricting. Today, with the advent of modern computers and intensifying partisanship, one can create legislative districts where the results of an election are known before any votes are cast or counted. This is what is happening across the nation.

Basic civil liberties undergird our system of representative democracy and many of the key provisions of the USA Patriot Act of 2001 undermine them. A balance between homeland security and civil liberties is necessary, but finding that balance is challenging. We will closely monitor congressional action as several key provisions of the Patriot Act come up for "sunset," and, through our Local Voices project, we are involving the public in grappling with the interplay of civil liberties and security in their own communities.

Making Democracy Work is the League's mission and our Democracy Agenda is a roadmap for achieving that mission. But a healthy democracy requires the involvement of all citizens. So do your part by inviting each and every citizen in your community to join the League of Women Voters!

BY KAY J. MAXWELL

LWVUS President
COPYRIGHT 2005 League of Women Voters
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:OUT FRONT
Author:Maxwell, Kay J.
Publication:National Voter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Words:451
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