Our Annual Meeting in June was a productive meeting with the adoption of budget, adoption of local programs and election of officers. After dinner, we enjoyed a presentation on Climate Change by Cathy Buckley from the Massachusetts Sierra Club. She reminded us that there are many ways to work on this problem at the local level. We enjoyed the gardens and hospitality of Shirley Williams, who always makes us feel welcome.
The national and state leagues are doing studies that members of the Grafton League can participate in. We may want to do this regionally with the Worcester and Shrewsbury leagues.
The two LWVUS studies are:
Constitutional Amendment Process Study: a study of the process of amending the U.S. Constitution.
Money in Politics (MIP) Review and Update: a review of money in politics issues and update of the LWV’s campaign finance position as to whether the League believes that financing a political amendment is protected by the First Amendment.
LWVMA is setting up a committee to work state-wide on the Money in Politics study since this grew out of a study done by the state LWV in 2013-14. We should be able to participate in this study and if anyone would like to get involved please let me know. Launa Zimmaro of the state board is organizing this study along with several other state league board members.
Charter Schools Study:
At its May Convention, LWVMA approved a two-year study aimed at developing a position on the issue of charter schools.
Currently, a committee is being formed to develop information materials and consensus questions. If you are interested in serving on that committee, please contact Anne Borg, at LWVMA
Since local Leagues will be involved with the two LWVUS studies on the Constitutional amendment process and on money in politics through the first of next year, the charter schools study committee will work to have information on that study available to local Leagues by spring 2016, so that work on the study can begin then and into fall 2016, with consensus reports due in early 2017.
Election Reforms: When They Happen and What They Mean
The 2014 Election Modernization Law calls for online voter registration, early voting, pre-registration of teens, post-election audits and a task force to evaluate these reforms and recommend additional changes.
The first three changes, in particular, will impact League voter service efforts, especially in voter registration. Here is the implementation schedule for the changes, and suggestions for ways your League can work with those changes.
Online voter registration went into effect in late June, ahead of the scheduled August start. Anyone with a driver’s license or Registry of Motor Vehicles-issued ID can register to vote online at the Secretary of State’s online voter registration site. As you plan voter registration efforts, take into account that you can offer to help voters register instantly on their phone or tablet, but it’s a good idea to have paper registration forms available if something goes wrong.
The step-by-step instructions for filling out the registration form are clear and easy to follow. LWVMA has screen shots of the registration form on our website so you can review them before going out to register voters. If you plan to bring a computer to do online voter registration, be sure to confirm availability of internet service at the venue in advance.
Early Voting takes effect with the Presidential election in November 2016. The law allows early voting only in the regularly-scheduled biennial state elections, i.e. November of even-numbered years. There is no provision allowing early voting to be expanded to primaries or town/municipal elections. The law allows early voting to start the Monday two weeks before the election and end on the Friday before the election, during normal business hours. Any weekend early voting would have to be the weekend before the weekend before the election. The law permits more than one early voting location and hours beyond regular election office business hours at the discretion of towns and cities.
The Secretary of State’s office will issue its recommendations on implementing early voting in September for public comment. LWVMA and the Election Modernization Coalition will be offering comments, particularly to encourage multiple early voting locations in larger cities and some evening and weekend early voting hours.
Pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds goes into effect in August 2016. Teens can register to vote at the RMV or online and will receive notification and automatically go on the voter rolls when they turn 18.