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EDUCATION FUND VOTER OUTREACH AND EDUCATION

VOTE411.org, the LWVEF one-stop shop for election information, was a resounding success! Hosted by Yahoo!, Vote411.org provided comprehensive nationwide election information about ID requirements, voting machine systems, provisional voting, polling places and more. Visitors to the site reviewed over four million pages of election information in the 10 days leading up to and on Election Day. Nearly 4,000 Web sites linked to VOTE411.org. With the support of Leagues nationwide we posted more than 200 voters' guides, providing the public with state and local candidate and ballot information. More than a thousand local and state debates, candidate forums, and other election events were posted on VOTE411.org.

As part of our Public Advocacy for Voter Protection project, about 1.5 million 5 Things You Need to Know on Election Day cards, which give voters simple steps to take on Election Day to make sure their vote is counted, were distributed nationwide. State and local leagues distributed these cards in their voter service efforts (candidate forums, debates and election events) and at schools, libraries and community centers. Also, we posted an online survey on our national Web site to capture voters' experiences at the polls. The results of the survey reinforced the message we heard from state League Presidents: voters' experiences are directly related to where they live, who they are and what voting mechanism they use, and that the League's work is not yet complete.

The LWVEF and the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) again partnered for election 2006 to help register, educate and motivate voters. The NAB made TV and radio NAB-LWV Public Service Announcements (PSAs) from 2004 available for the 2006 elections. Leagues were encouraged to tell area television stations how to download the PSAs from the NAB's satellite or send copies directly to the stations. The League advised the NAB on their Election 2006 guidebook for local independent radio and television stations nationwide. This guidebook contained ideas for voter education, script PSAs and promotional ideas to help stations convey the importance of casting an informed vote.

ELECTION REFORM

This past fall, LWVUS President Mary Wilson traveled to the six states participating in the Public Advocacy for Voter Protection project. She met with members of the media and state and local elections officials as well as League members to advocate for all voters and to ensure that all votes would be counted on Election Day. See her story on p. 11.

Building on focus group research the League undertook last winter, a poll worker recruitment, training and retention guidebook was created and piloted by elections officials during the 2006 Election. A revised guidebook using information from the pilots has been submitted to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) which commissioned the project. This EAC Poll Worker Project represents the first national undertaking to research effective strategies and current practices for poll worker recruitment, training and retention. It was a joint project of IFES, the Poll Worker Institute and the League.

Thinking Outside the Ballot Box: Innovations for Polling Places, the latest League monograph in our Helping America Vote series, was released in October 2006. The report highlights new approaches that elections officials are using to administer the voting process. The League hopes this report will lead to further improvement in Americans' voting experience at the polling place. The report is posted on www.lwv.org.

The D.C. Voting Rights Education Project is a public education and outreach project that aims to build wider public awareness of the unique relationship between Congress and District of Columbia citizens, specifically their lack of full voting rights. Research shows that most Americans do not know this inequality exists. The League has undertaken this yearlong nationwide education and outreach project with support from the Government of the District of Columbia. Leagues continue to apply for pass-through grants for this project.

GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

In September, the LWVEF received a grant from the Herb Block Foundation to continue the national League's work on government transparency and accountability. The primary goal of this effort is to create a "how to" resource guide for Leagues on organizing and conducting Observer Corps--an organized approach to observing and monitoring local government meetings. Although many Leagues already operate this type of program, the booklet and related training will provide tips on topics such as how to better share the collected information with the public. Leagues with successful Observer Corps programs and other experts provided input. The guide will be available in early spring 2007. Copies will be distributed to local and state Leagues and posted on www.lwv.org.

JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE

Activities related to Safeguarding U.S. Democracy: Promoting an Independent Judiciary continue in 33 states. Twenty-four state Leagues are directly involved with state projects and 82 local Leagues are directly involved in bringing forums and other educational activities to their communities. A total of 274 Leagues are participating.

To date, more than 6,000 persons have attended League-organized forums on different topics. Further, countless persons have been exposed to reruns of these forums through local TV access channels. More than 630,000 voters' guides were distributed for the primary elections and more than one million for the general election. These numbers do not include the guides published in audio form and in Braille.

LWVEF staff is working with other organizations such as the American Bar Association and The Constitution Project on additional educational means of reaching the public on this important topic.

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GLOBAL DEMOCRACY

In mid-November, Zaida Arguedas, LWVUS deputy executive director and director of Global Democracy Programs, participated in events sponsored by the U.S. Public Affairs office in Ukraine. Arguedas opened the U.S. Embassy-sponsored Women in Governance conference and conducted a training workshop on how to enhance gender equality for 30 women elected officials from 20 regions of the Ukraine. She also led a discussion with more than 20 representatives from women's NGOs, government agencies, universities and U.S. government exchange program alumni. Subsequently, Arguedas traveled to Lviv in western Ukraine to participate in a roundtable organized by the Women's Perspectives organization to encourage greater women's involvement in decision-making processes. Local television and radio stations covered the event. Joyce Benson, chair of the LWVMN International Committee, traveled with Arguedas to Ukraine.

LWVUS 2nd Vice President Sarah Diefendorf represented the League in Nigeria, leading workshops on organizing debates and as a keynote speaker at the ceremony launching the "Stick to the Issues Campaign" on December 8. Nigerian civil society organized the events in preparation for Nigeria's April 2007 presidential, gubernatorial and legislative elections.

Between September and October 2006, 50 Russian and Ukrainian visitors were hosted by 10 Leagues in Tyler, TX; Montclair, NJ; Bartlesville, OK; Lane County, OR; Minneapolis, MN; San Luis Obispo, CA; Washington County, AR; Rochester Metro, NY; Oak Park, IL; and Ames, IA. Here are some testimonials to the success of the program: "The hosting program enhanced the League's visibility and good relationships with the media, non-profit organizations, and government agencies in the county ... our League has gained new members as a result of the program." (LWV of San Luis Obispo, CA) "... All the delegates [participants] were impressed that the League 'had the courage' to show foreigners the good and bad in politics and in economic development." (Ukrainian participant, Oak Park, IL). In early spring, the LWVEF will submit new proposals to the Open World Leadership Center for hosting Russians and Ukrainians in 2007. Guidelines for participation are available at www.lwv.org.

Using funds donated by recently deceased former national Board member Willie Campbell's family and friends, the Global Democracy Program is co-sponsoring a conference on recent political gains made by women in the Americas with the Inter-American Dialogue and the Inter-American Development Bank. The goal of Women of the Americas: Paths to Power is to ask a series of questions about why women have made such dramatic gains in the region and whether these gains are sustainable. Speakers will also present recommendations for building on these successes. This year, women in Latin America and the Caribbean have achieved the highest executive office in two countries, and they have reached the 30 percent mark in several legislatures. The program is scheduled for March 15, 2007, on Capitol Hill.

Ten participants have been selected from 27 applicants from Kenya's Northeastern Province for the second year of the Kenyans Working Together for Good Governance project. They arrive on March 18, and after a brief program in Washington, DC, they will travel to their host Leagues: Wichita Metro, KS and Greater Tucson, AR. This program will conclude when representatives from the host Leagues visit Kenya in June 2007.

The Millennium Development Goals Campaign of the United Nations Foundation is funding 22 forums on the importance of exerting citizen pressure on governments to achieve the goals approved in 2000. These Leagues received participation grants: South Bend, IN; Charlottesville, VA; North Pinellas, FL; Broward County, FL; Duluth, MN; Schenectady, NY; Metro Columbus, OH; Elmhurst, IL; Akron, OH; Baltimore, MD; Calvert County, MD; Montgomery County, MD; Kalamazoo Area, MI; Metro Phoenix, AZ; Wichita Metro, KS; and Montclair, NJ.

For the fourth consecutive year, The People Speak forums were organized in the fall by the LWVs of: Santa Barbara, CA; Clemson Area, SC; Columbia Area, SC (in cooperation with the Leagues of Florence and Charleston, SC); Sacramento, CA; South Bend, IN; Fairfax Area, VA; Marin-Polk Counties, Salem, OR; Maplewood/ South Orange, NJ; Lexington, KY; and Tyler, TX. The theme was "Working Together with the World: What's in it for the U.S.?"
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Publication:National Voter
Date:Feb 1, 2007
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