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ELECTION AND ELECTION REFORM ACTIVITIES

This fall, the League continues its work on an ambitious agenda of outreach and education for the 2004 elections in November. These efforts can best be summed up by the phrase "Everyone Should Vote--And Every Vote Should Count." This slogan reflects the spectrum of efforts that range from traditional League voter registration, outreach and candidate information activities to new information on the reforms underway in the aftermath of Election 2000.

VOTER OUTREACH AND EDUCATION

The League provides citizens with key information on the election system and the importance of voting. LWVEF is working in partnership with Smackdown Your Vote! (SYV!), Working Assets and the Register in Advance Campaign to promote Voter Registration. In addition, the League Web site contains online registration (www.lwv.org/voter/register.cfm) and much more in the Voter Information section (see page 17).

The League has also worked with various partners to create a number of different Public Service Announcements (PSAs). In addition to the latest SYV! PSA produced in August and the one featuring Kay Maxwell, two Spanish PSAs "Tu Voto, Tu Voz" were produced with Telemundo in the spring. Now, three new PSAs, produced in collaboration with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), are available to all Leagues (call: 202-429-5448). NAB has sent these PSAs to all its radio and TV affiliates. The three messages are: GET REGISTERED. GET EDUCATED. GO TO VOTE.

LWVUS has created two new Publications in the last year that provide comprehensive and reader-friendly election information. They are Choosing the President 2004 and the VOTE brochure, an attractive overview of the steps in the voting process and a list of voter rights. See back cover for ad.

The League provides NEW information about Election Day that voters need to know. This crucial message for voters is informing them of what they should watch for at their polling places this year. The League is undertaking a nationwide targeted media and public outreach campaign to inform voters of the 5 Things You Need to Know for Election Day (see cover story, p. 4). LWVEF has produced 5 Things cards for voters that are available for distribution by state and local Leagues and other organizations. Simultaneously, the League is reaching out to media to bring the message about these key issues to voters in time for Election Day 2004. LWVUS President Kay Maxwell is traveling to several states, promoting this new emphasis as well as the other League election messages mentioned here.

The League continues to provide unbiased information on candidates and issues online. Our primary service to the public in this regard is DemocracyNet (DNet, www.dnet.org), the one-stop online election tool for voter education, which is receiving major prominence through key media portals such as Yahoo! and AOL. League members nationwide make DNet a success by promoting its use to candidates, media and local communities, and by volunteering to help gather information. Free DNet brochures are available (see ad on back cover).

Another new tool is the "18-30 Voter Issues Paper" (VIP). This tool for improving dialogue between voters 18-30, candidates, and their political parties was created by SYV! partners and others. To see what the presidential and other candidates for office say on issues of importance to young adults, visit the League's DNet. VIP itself is available online: www.lwv.org/voter/geteducated.cfm?pid=issues. For free hard copies of VIP and VIP posters, contact: pubsales@lwv.org.

Of course, Leagues around the country are busy during the election season with candidate debates. A Debate Watching Party Toolkit is available online in our Voter Information section under Get Out the Vote/Voter Outreach. League members can gather families, friends and neighbors, and host a Debate Watching Party. This guide urges viewers to turn off the TV once the debate is over to learn what those gathered think about the debate, instead of what the TV commentators think.

After a spring kick-off in Washington, DC, the Smart Women[TM] 2004 Elect to Make a Difference Tour counts down to Election Day with stops in cities nationwide. Local rallies featuring FREE treats, plus Election Kits/bumper stickers/t-shirts present inventive opportunities for local Leagues to register new voters, share voter information, and promote League membership. The Smart Women Election Kit contains the League's VOTE brochure and other items imprinted with slogans to promote voting. For every kit sold, Smart Women[TM] donates $1 to the LWVEF. Contact Smart Women at info@smartwomenvote.com (651-645-7298).

ELECTION REFORM

The League provides policy guidance and best practices to assist state and local election officials. LWVUS continues its work on public education and implementation concerns related to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The League's second monograph, Helping America Vote: Safeguarding the Vote, was published in July. The monograph (see p. 6) makes recommendations about sound election management systems and administrative practices, based on a review of the approaches used in a variety of jurisdictions. Pdfs are available at the League's Web site in the E-Library. The League inaugurated this monograph series for election officials and voter advocates in August 2003 with Helping America Vote: A Guide to Implementing the New Federal Provisional Ballot Requirement (also found in the E-Library).

In May 2004, the LWVUS, together with our coalition partners, released the Top Five Risks to Eligible Voters in 2004, laying the groundwork for the more substantial Safeguarding report and ongoing voter education messages.

The League is partnering in an election protection program. The LWVUS joined with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the People for the American Way Foundation and Unity '04 who are leading a comprehensive voter empowerment project. The 2004 Know Your Rights/Election Protection Program seeks to limit voter disenfranchisement through compliance with federal, state and local legislative mandates. Grassroots activists will be working with lawyers and election officials to address the needs of the grassroots community, educate voters and serve as a resource both on and before Election Day. There will be Election Day poll monitors and a nationwide hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE) as well. Additional information on this program can be found at www.electionprotection2004.org.

The League continues campaign finance reform activities including the Our Democracy, Our Airwaves campaign. As political advertising reaches its peak in this 2004 election, this is a perfect time to educate your League and your community about this issue and effort. Contact kmcfarland@lwv.org. to obtain meeting materials (a grassroots program kit, video, and more). We applaud the many Leagues already deeply involved in this project and invite you to join them.

In August 2004, the Presidential Public Financing Reform Project of which the LWV is a partner urged all candidates for election to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to sign a "Pledge" to work to reform and strengthen the presidential public financing system upon their election to office. This action follows the previous "Pledge" to make reform of the presidential public financing system a priority in their Administration that all presidential candidates were asked to sign in the fall of 2003.

The Open Society Institute has approved a grant to continue the Judicial Independence Project through 2004.

The League is sponsoring a post-Election Day Symposium at the National Press Club with panels of experts examining how issues including voter turnout, campaign financing, the effectiveness of voting mechanics, and adequacy of poll worker recruitment and training manifest themselves in this 2004 election.

CIVIL LIBERTIES

The enthusiasm of Convention 2004 on the issue of protecting our civil liberties has given further impetus to the work that LWVUS/EF has been doing. Civil liberties has been raised to the highest level of legislative priorities for the remainder of 2004, a new discussion list (LWV Liberty) has been created, and a Board subcommittee has been formed to make recommendations about establishing an off-Board Advisory Task Force on this topic. LWVUS continues to monitor legislative activities and provide relevant information on the "Get Involved" section of www.lwv.org. This includes sample questions for federal and local candidates, tips on how to hold a community forum, and ideas for self-education and discussion of the Bill of Rights using the Liberty Circles approach. Please consider including the sample questions in your League's voters guide and/or candidate forums. The questions are available at http://interactive.lwv.org/Resources/Resources.cfm?ID=1242.

COMMUNITY FORUMS AND CIVIC EDUCATION

LWVEF has produced a new publication, Building Communities: The ABCs of Public Dialogue for Citizen Involvement, to help Leagues utilize a variety of techniques in citizen engagement--specifically in public dialogue and deliberation. As a "trusted convener" in local, state and national politics, the League has a proud tradition of creating balanced public forums and dialogues by intentionally inviting different perspectives to the conversation. The League has maintained its credibility with different segments of the political spectrum, and often been a bridge between leaders of different parties, between activists of different ideologies and, foremost, between citizens and government. Many Leagues have been able to make new connections, gain more visibility and attract new members through active use of various dialogue models. This is a wonderful tool to help build your League. E-mail membership@lwv.org for information on obtaining a copy.

GLOBAL DEMOCRACY ACTIVITIES

The LWVEF and Fundacion Instituto de la Mujer (Foundation Institute for Women) in Chile presented a one-day program, "Women in Local Governance: Building Capacity for Transparency," on September 6, 2004. The program targeted women running for elective office at the municipal level. Speakers were from Transparency International--Chile and the League, which covered the role of civil society and the U.S. experience.

The People Speak: America's Role in the World, the United Nations Foundation's public education effort of which the League is a partner, is funding 16 Leagues that are organizing events during September 13-31: the LWVs of Brookfield, CT; Duluth, MN; Montclair, NJ; Humbolt County, CA; Greater Red Bank, NJ; Space Coast, FL; the Kalamazoo Area, MI; Mountain Lakes, NJ; Portsmouth, NH; Boston, MA; Washington County, UT; Los Altos/Mountain View, CA; Freemont, CA; Ann Arbor, MI; Copper County/Houghton, MI; and Cleveland, OH.

To date, with funding from By The People: America in the World, a special project organized by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, nine Leagues will be organizing events during October and November: the LWVs of St. Petersburg, FL; Fairfax County, VA; Lewisburg, PA; Charlottesville, VA; Albuquerque, NM; Arlington Heights/Mt. Prospect/ Buffalo Grove Area, IL; and the Kalamazoo Area, MI. LWVEF will partner with the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area to organize a series of debates on issues relating to the United Nations.

As a result of a partnership with the Association of Municipalities of the State of Parana and its president, the League is following municipal elections in Brazil this October. A keystone of the partnership is a reprinting of the revised League manual, Competindo para Ganhar! Um manual para mulheres concurrendo a cargos politicos (Running to Win: A Manual for Women Running for Elective Office), and its distribution to all 27 municipalities. One hundred and sixty women candidates have been trained using this manual. Several participants in the League's 2001-2002 project, "Women in Political Leadership," are running for office.

RELATED ARTICLE: ADVOCACY

Following convention 2004, delegates headed to Capitol Hill to lobby Congress in support of the SAFE Act, the Security and Freedom Ensured Act of 2003, sponsored by Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL). The SAFE Act addresses some of the most problematic provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, passed by Congress in October 2001. Accompanied in many cases by members of the League's Lobby Corps, delegates met with senators, representatives and their staffs to discuss the League's support for civil liberties and our concerns about the impact that the Patriot Act is having on the fundamental principles that guard our liberty--from independent judicial review of law enforcement actions to prohibitions on indiscriminate searches.

Throughout the spring and summer, the LWVUS Lobby Corps lobbied both the House and the Senate in support of extending the Assault Weapons Ban. In 1994, the LWVUS supported passage of the Federal Assault Weapons Act as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. The League has continually supported strong federal measures to limit the accessibility and regulate the ownership of military-style assault weapons such as AK-47s and Uzis. We are concerned that Congress has not acted to simply extend this common sense limitation.
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Title Annotation:League Matters; League of Women Voters' voter education activities in the wake of presidential elections
Publication:National Voter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2004
Words:2079
Previous Article:Convention 2004: engaging members.
Next Article:Voter information section updated!
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