March 8, 2012

Dear League Leader:
This is International Women’s Day. Throughout our history, the League has worked in the global arena as well as the domestic, focusing much of our work on the status of women. It has been my privilege over the last couple of days to join my fellow Sisters on the Planet here in Washington for Oxfam America’s Sisters on the Planet International Women’s Day Summit. Oxfam America is supporting Feed the Future, an innovative initiative that supports agriculture and promotes food security by supporting smallholder famers, especially women, in the developing world.
In any discussion of food security, domestic behavior can’t be ignored, and I had the opportunity to participate in a small group discussion aimed at changing local behavior with respect to buying local and wasting less. Since the ultimate goal was to encourage grassroots action to influence behavior on Capitol Hill, the issue of money in politics soon entered the conversation. A member of our group suddenly asked whether there was any member of the League of Women Voters in the room. We need the League, she said, because this is what the League does! Such unexpected moments are a testament to our history and our hard work, and I was proud to identify not only myself, but another League member in the group.
Also, today we have another testament to that history and hard work. The League of Women Voters has been chosen by the State Department as the only nongovernmental organization to partner on a project that will organize 10 meetings in eight different countries in the Middle East and North Africa over the next 10 months, culminating in the Ninth Forum for the Future of North Africa, Levant and Gulf Countries in December. It is a great honor to receive such an assignment and we look forward to an exciting year on both the global and domestic front.
Over the past week, we have seen that our work is never done. In the run-up to Super Tuesday, while we were busy Powering the Vote in those ten primary states, we were reminded that treating women with respect and empowering women to control their lives requires constant vigilances. Issues that we believed had been laid to rest decades ago were once again front and center in the Presidential election. On this International Women’s Day we remember that we are all Sisters – and Brothers – on the Planet playing key roles in supporting our families and our communities, our nation and our world!
In League,
National Board Slate Announced for June Convention (NEW)
The Nominating Committee is pleased to announce the LWVUS Slate for 2012-2014. During our deliberations we took into consideration visioning for the future of the League as well as the long range view for developing future League leadership. This is a very important and serious undertaking, and our committee looked at a balance of talents needed for the work to be done, the mixture of current Board members and new ones, and a balance of members from across the nation. We are confident that we have chosen outstanding candidates to continue the ongoing great work of the LWV. Many thanks to the national Nominating Committee (Elaine Blodgett, chair; Laura Blackburn; Jennifer Vidrine; Janis McMillen; and Carol Reimers) for their hard work.
Trevor Potter to Speak at Convention (NEW)
If you were at our first LWVUS Convention webinar on February 21st (archived here) you know that Trevor Potter will be one of our speakers. He has become something of a celebrity since he became Stephen Colbert's lawyer and advised Colbert on how to create his own Super PAC. Potter is the founding president of the Campaign Legal Center and helped defend the 2002 McCain-Feingold law, which enacted campaign finance restrictions. Recently, he was a guest on NPR's Fresh Air. You will want to be with other League leaders in DC this June to hear him!
Time is Running Out: Apply by March 15 to Win a Convention Award!
Has your League been energized using online opportunities with blogs, Facebook and Twitter? Has your League reached out to energize, educate and engage community members who traditionally don't vote? Nominate your League to win a Convention Award and be honored for your good work at this year’s National Convention! The deadline is March 15Apply here.
EDUCATION FUND (Elections; Global Democracy; Fair Judiciary; Open Government)
Elections: Voter Registration – New WWE Dates Available and Planning Tips (NEW)
Leagues are invited to conduct voter registration at WWE wrestling events in their areas.  Check the updated schedule, and contact Maggie Duncan ( if you see an event in your area where you’d like to conduct registration.  More dates will be published as they become available.  What else is your League doing on the voter registration front? Now is the time to be thinking about potential voter registration partners and activities – especially at places like naturalization ceremonies, community colleges, transit hubs and other areas serving likely new voters. Read more tips or listen to a recent registrationwebinar here. Finally, be sure to check in with your local elections officials about your plans and theirs in this important election year!
Elections: Voter Photo ID Updates (NEW)
Good news: Enforcement of WI voter photo ID has been halted. A Dane County judge on Tuesday barred the enforcement of the state photo ID law at polling places during the general election on April 3, calling it an "extremely broad and largely needless" impairment of the right to vote. Read more. LWWI also has a lawsuit moving forward to permanently stop implementation of the photo ID law arguing that the law violates a provision of the Wisconsin State Constitution. A hearing will be held Friday, March 9, and we are hoping for more good news. Learn more here. Now the bad news: The Pennsylvania Senate passed a voter photo ID bill on Wednesday. The legislation now goes back to the House for concurrence. It will likely pass in the House, and we are expecting the Governor to sign it into law in the near future. The ACLU has already announced it will challenge the law in court. Learn more here.
Elections: Voter Registration Fight Continues (NEW)
Last week the US Justice Department objected to new provisions of Florida’s election law that place strict regulations on independent voter registration groups and shorten the early voting period. The objection was filed in a pretrial submission in the preclearance lawsuit that LWVFL is involved in. You can learn more here.  South Carolina’s voter registration bill was sent back to committee this week. The bill would create massive liabilities associated with voter registration drives administered by third-party organizations like the League of Women Voters. By sending the bill back to the Judiciary committee, the House made it less likely that the bill will pass in its current form. The bill is “sleeping” but not yet “dead.”
Global Democracy: LWV to Serve as U.S. NGO Partner in G-8 BMENA Initiative (NEW)
As noted above in the President’s Message, the League has accepted an invitation to work with the United States governemnt as its 2012 BMENA Initiative nongovernmental organization (NGO) partner. The League will organize 10 preparatory meetings that will take place in eight different countries (in the Middle East and North Africa) between April and October. These meetings will culminate in December with the ministerial meeting (the 9th Forum for the Future for North Africa, Levant and Gulf Countries) in Tunesia. Global Democracy Senior Director Zaida Arguedas is leading LWV efforts. The League’s Global Democracy Program worked in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011 and has strong ties with local organizations. Learn more about this exciting project here.
Sunshine Week Webcast: Updated Information (NEW)
The LWVEF is co-sponsoring the 7th annual Sunshine Week National Discussion, which will be broadcast on Friday, March 16, 1:15-3:30 pm ET. This year's webcast will be broadcast from the Newseum in Washington, DC, and will feature Dana Priest, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Top Secret America.  Leagues can participate in the live webcast by submitting their questions and comments to panelists via email and phone. Find more information here
Fair Judiciary: Pensacola Bay Area League Explores Florida Judicial Elections (NEW)
The LWV of Pensacola Bay Area (FL) will hold a meeting on “What Citizens Should Know about the Selection, Election, and Retention of Florida Judges” on March 21. Scott Hawkins, president of the Florida Bar Association, will speak about the selection, election and retention of state judges. Florida has a complex judicial selection process. It chooses appellate judges through a merit selection and retention process that involves 26 nominating commissions, gubernatorial appointment and retention elections every six years, while the state’s trial judges are chosen in nonpartisan elections.
Meet Marcia Hirshberg: Ruth S. Shur Fellow Working to Strengthen the League (NEW)
Marcia Hirshberg is one of 23 Ruth S. Shur Fellows who are dedicated volunteers working  as national coaches to strengthen the League to better support our democracy. Marcia has been a national coach for about two years and loves coaching because of the wonderful, intelligent people with whom she gets to collaborate. See what Marcia has to say here about being a part of the national coaching team!
Honor Your 50-Year Members at Your Annual Meeting! 
Your annual meeting is a great time to pay tribute to your League’s dedicated 50-year members. Want a certificate to present to your 50-year members? Contact Betty Taira at with the names of the members, your League information and the date by which you need the certificates. Please request certificates at least 2 weeks in advance of your meeting. And, check out LWVUS tips for a successful annual meeting here.
March Visibility Tool:  Sunshine Week & DISCLOSE Act (NEW)
letter to the editor template is available for Leagues to customize and submit to local media outlets.
Leaving a Legacy
Including the League of Women Voters Education Fund in your will is among the easiest ways to offer support of the LWVEF's work for years to come. We suggest the following language to include the League as a beneficiary of a will or trust: " I give, devise, and bequeath to the League of Women Voters Education Fund, a charitable organization formed in the District of Columbia, with offices at 1730 M Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20036, {the sum of $___ } {___ percentage of my residuary estate}." If you already have a will, you can have your attorney add a codicil to include the LWVEF. After you've added the League, please contact the Development office by email so we can list you as a member of our Carrie Chapman Catt Legacy Society.
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