The Women’s Voices Project: Training
the Next Gen of Women Leaders
LWVLC Development Committee met to determine the approach for this year’s
Women’s Voices Project. The Committee’s
plan was to reach out to a targeted list of four high schools and set up a
Program Introduction Event at a central location with representatives and
students from those schools. Additionally, the goal had been to target a total
of 20 students for the Mentoring and Leadership program. For these students,
annual membership dues to our League would be paid by LWVLC.
Watkins Memorial High School and one Heath High School student made the
commitment to the program and were paired with LWVLC mentors. Mentors and mentees met to design a
personalized program of three events or activities to meet the grant
were created due to the late start in organizing and gaining access to the high
schools. Further, once into the Spring
Semester the students engaged were also committed to other curricular and
co-curricular activities. Scheduling
time for mentor/mentee meetings and activities was often difficult. However, the girls engaged in a variety of
political and issue-based activities that included observing city council
meetings, attending LWVO Statehouse Day, and attending panel discussions.
Both mentees and mentors expressed satisfaction
with the experience but all desired more time.
Our experiences this year have helped inform our recommendations for
next year. This includes beginning
outreach to the High Schools early in the year (August/ September). Additionally, we believe that a liaison at
the school, who can assist in providing a space for the students to share their
experiences, coordinate activities, and highlight concerns would be highly
Over the last few weeks, Ben Lanka,
Editor of the Newark Advocate, has held informational talks on The
Future of the Advocate. Five of us in the League attended the one
at the Granville Public Library on May 21st.
We learned that the Advocate
(and its affiliated papers in Granville and Pataskala) are not in imminent
danger of disappearing, but the ever-declining percentage of the population
that subscribe and the crash in advertising revenues over the decades paint a
telling picture. The staff is greatly reduced compared to the past, and
other cost-savings, such as reduced frequency of publication or pricing that
relies on bundling, are being considered.
This picture is far from unique to
Licking County. Many local newspapers across the country have disappeared
in the onslaught of digital information, much of it for free. More and
more people access the news through their mobile devices, which is also true of
the Advocate’s readership. Over 33,600 follow it on Facebook while an
estimated 20,000 readers per day see the print version. In fact, by
measures of this and other online traffic to the Advocate’s digital
pages, interest in the local news remains in high.
Since covering our first organizing
meeting in August of 2017, the Advocate has been a good friend to the
League in Licking County. It is it hard to imagine how we could have
grown as we did and become so widely known without it. Here are some
specific ways the Advocate has partnered with us:
Published brief announcements of coming events
Collaborated with us on the voter guide for the November 2018 election
Wrote a detailed and balanced story about our candidates’ night ahead of the May primary
Published several of my voter education columns – about gerrymandering, HR1, and recently, legislation to stop the take-over of “failing” schools from locally elected Boards of Education
Like us, the Advocate also
promotes elections and voting. For example, the editorial board interviewed each of
the candidates running in the primary for Municipal Judge and published
profiles of each. Because the League is not allowed to profile judicial
candidates due to an agreement with Judicial Votes Count, this was an
especially significant service. The editorial board endorsed one
Republican and one Democratic candidate.
Another recent article — on the
Newark mayoral race—explained why that race is important but then declined to
endorse either candidate, urging voters instead to study their options
carefully before the fall election.
Licking County enjoyed a high profile
at the recent LWV Ohio state convention due to winning the award for Voter
Outreach. Our rapid growth and accomplishments are now well known in
League circles across the state. When people ask me, “How did you do
it?” my explanations usually include the use of social media and the press to
build name recognition.
Losing our local newspaper, an
essential part of this community for almost 200 years (!), would be a huge loss
for the League but also for citizens in general. There is no other reliable
source for local news. Recent stories about Newark City Council’s
response to the homeless, and the continuing controversy over the future of the
Newark Earthworks are the kinds of stories that hit closest to home and that we
would miss if our local paper were to disappear.
Bottom line? Subscribe! The
regular digital subscription is very reasonable, and for a limited time, you
can get a three-month digital subscription for just 99 cents. Find the
link at the end of the piece linked here.
Next week, the Ohio Senate Health, Human Services &
Medicaid Committee will hold a third hearing for opponent testimony on
Senate Bill 23, the six-week abortion ban. Hearing
hearing on six-week abortion ban, opponent testimonyTuesday,
February 263:00 pm
(or after session)South
Hearing Room of the Ohio Statehouse
Senate Bill 23 would criminalize doctors and ban abortion as
early as six weeks – at a time before most women even know that they are
pregnant. This extreme, dangerous, and cruel bill is a direct attack
on reproductive health care access – and we need your help to stop it.
are 3 ways you can take action:
1.) Testify against the six-week abortion banMembers of the Senate Health Committee need to hear from
Ohioans who stand against this ban. At the next public hearing, on Tuesday,
February 26 at 3:00 pm, opponents of the six-week ban will have an
opportunity to present in-person testimony or submit written testimony.
Testimony will need to be submitted 24-hours in advance of the hearing. Contact us if you are interested in testifying against
2.) Attend Tuesday’s hearing at the StatehouseOn Tuesday, witnesses who support access to safe and legal
abortionwill be testifying before the committee to express their
opposition to Senate Bill 23. The hearing on the six-week ban will begin
at 3:00 pm or after session in the South Hearing Room. Join us at the hearingto show the legislators that Ohioans stand against this
The Ohio Women’s Public
Policy Network is a coalition or more than 30 organizations working
collaboratively to advance policies that create economic security for women
and strengthen families. Using a collective voice that represents the women
of our state, this network works to ensure that public policy reflects the
true needs of women and families.FIND OUT MORE
Posted inUncategorized|Comments Off on Hearing Notice: Senate Bill 23, The Six-Week Abortion Ban
The League of Women Voters is experiencing a surge of new blood, new resources, and new energy. But it is the League’s “old” values that are attracting new members. Values like nonpartisanship and integrity, civility, and a refusal to be bullied.
The organization was born nearly 100 years ago, founded by suffragettes unafraid to call out the elected officials who stood in the way of securing the right to vote for American women.
With suffrage achieved, the group sought to educate new female voters and help them engage in the pressing issues of their time. For generations, League members have been nonpartisan stalwarts and champions of civic engagement.
The ladies of the League were always polite but never pushovers. The League, which began to sponsor televised presidential debates in 1976, insisted on including third-party candidate John Anderson in the 1980 presidential debate, angering candidate Jimmy Carter, who declined to participate. In 1984, the League disclosed that the political parties had failed to approve 83 suggested moderators, embarrassing both parties.
By the next election cycle, Democratic and Republican political operatives had formed their own debate commission, attempting to dictate the terms of engagement for candidates. The League refused to go along. “The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public,” said League President Nancy M. Neuman.
League values have not changed, but the way the organization expresses those values is moving with the times. Over the past three years, the League, which had “unashamedly been the League of your grandmother,” has been on a “transformative journey,” said Celina Stewart, the group’s new director of advocacy and litigation.
“With this  election and how hyper-partisan things have become, people want a safe space to be themselves and get things done,” she said. “People wanted to engage with a truly nonpartisan partner. They were tired of taking sides.”
The League’s membership is up 20 percent. The group is drawing new members, whose diversity has spanned age, race, and sexual orientation, Stewart said.
The League now has 400,000 members and supporters in more than 700 communities in every state. New Leagues “are popping up all over,” Stewart said, noting organization growth in Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and Ohio — all of which will be crucial battlegrounds in 2020.
Celina Stewart, Director of Advocacy and Litigation for the League of Women Voters (left). Patti Brigham, President of the Florida Chapter of the League of Women Voters (right). Photo credit: League of Women Voters
Along with more members, the League has seen a healthy increase in resources. Since 2016, its total net assets have jumped from just under $6 million to more than $10 million. The League’s existing donors gave more, and new donors joined their ranks.
The League is also using social media to extend its reach. One increasingly popular online tool for voters is the League’s vote411.org. “All candidate information is up there” as well as information about local ballot questions, Stewart said. In 2018, more than five million citizens used the tool, including more than 800,000 voters on Election Day.
Stewart is helping to shape the League’s future. Under 40 years old, although “just barely,” she jokes, she concedes she is “a little bit younger” than most League members.
An African American attorney, she was chief operating officer and director of philanthropy for the nonpartisan nonprofit FairVote, and worked for 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, when Abrams was minority leader of Georgia’s House of Representatives. Her League job, she said, was an ideal fit, because it was at “the intersection of my two passions” — practicing law and working for civil rights and social justice.
The organization has embraced new issues — like the country’s obligation to address climate change. “It’s something outside our traditional box,” Stewart said.
Working with its Oregon chapter, the League has submitted two “friend of the court” briefs supporting a climate-change lawsuit by 21 young people. The suit would require the government to submit to a court-ordered plan to reduce harmful carbon levels, and to move domestic energy away from reliance on fossil fuels.
“Climate change is certainly important as an issue in and of itself, but I also think that this case is a really good reflection of the transition the League is making,” Stewart said.
“At the center of this case are young plaintiffs who feel [that] the adults of this world — the people making decisions and empowered to make decisions — have an obligation to leave them with a safe planet. We agree.”
The League is using its power, and the power of its members, to amplify the message of young people, many of whom do not yet have the right to vote, “To leverage the power that they don’t have through the power we do have,” Stewart said.
“Leverage” is a word Stewart often employs to discuss the willingness of the League to use every means in its advocacy toolbox to advance its agenda.
Litigation is one of those tools, and the group’s increasing willingness to go to court is “reflective of the times,” Stewart said. Since the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which no longer requires that states with a history of discrimination get federal permission before changing election laws and processes, voter suppression tactics have increased, Stewart said.
In recent years, the League has partnered with democracy and civil rights groups, such as Common Cause and the Brennan Center for Justice, to pursue scores of lawsuits, most of them on voting and elections.
The national League, along with its state affiliates in Alabama, Georgia, and Kansas, in 2016 sued the head of the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) over new restrictive state voter registration laws. The League charged that the EAC’s executive director had to consult with his board before approving the new laws.
In Georgia, the League was a major participant in a coalition of nonprofits that sued the state over its “exact match” law that jeopardized the voter registrations of as many as 53,000 voters.
In North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio, the League has gone to court to oppose partisan gerrymandering, which dilutes the power of some voters, particularly minority voters.
In New Hampshire, the League sued to block a new law that required more documentation for voter registration. The League argued that the new proofs of residency called for would have placed an unreasonable burden on students, the elderly, and the homeless.
Florida has been especially active. “We’re not afraid to litigate,” Florida League President Patti Brigham told WhoWhatWhy. “You have to be ready to go to court to fight for your principles, and fight for social justice.”
“We sued to get early voting on college and university campuses; we were successful and all of the major universities in the state provided those early voting sites, as well as a couple of community colleges,” Brigham said.
“We won down in Broward [County] when we sued to make sure the votes received on time were able to be counted.”
When Republican Governor Rick Scott, in an extremely tight race for US Senate, threatened to involve state law enforcement officials in a postelection investigation, the League went to federal court to block him.
“We did not win that federal lawsuit, but it was the ‘winningest loss’ our lawyer said they’d ever seen,” Brigham said. After Federal District Court Judge Mark Walker warned Scott to refrain from any effort to interfere with vote recounts in the tight Senate and gubernatorial races, Scott stopped interfering in the process.
The League also strongly endorsed Amendment 4, which will restore the right to vote to an estimated 1.2 million convicted felons who have completed the terms of their sentences. “That’s a huge victory for democracy,” Brigham said.
League members will be doing all they can to educate these voters, she added.
“Our League volunteers are very anxious to start this process and get these former felons … or as we call them, returning citizens, registered to vote. We’ve very excited about that.”
They’ll also be monitoring the state legislature to make sure that the amendment is implemented “correctly” and in a timely fashion, she said.
Under Brigham’s leadership, the Florida League also has spearheaded gun control efforts, helping create a coalition of more than 100 organizations to lobby for stricter gun control efforts in the sunshine state. Brigham’s efforts to bring together scores of other groups began in 2016, spurred by the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub, which claimed 49 lives.
“We started educating the state about how the NRA works, the Florida gun laws, the issues that we’re dealing with,” she said. “As a result, we had a robust infrastructure in place to address gun violence prevention. When the Parkland shooting happened, [which in 2018 killed 17 students and staff], we were able to bring our coalition’s steering committee together to work with the legislators in Tallahassee on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas [High School Public Safety] Act, and got some good things.”
The law raises the age for purchasing guns to 21, bans bumpstocks that permit guns to shoot faster, and increases the time for background checks for many types of gun purchases.
One continuing point of contention, however, is the law’s permission for many school staff members to carry guns.
The League now is suing Duval county, charging that its “school security assistants,” hired to police elementary schools, are not even subject to the vetting and training requirements required by the new Stoneman Douglas law.
The League was once a target of conservative mockery; a columnist for National Review termed the group “poisonously sanctimonious” and “excruciatingly dull.” But now the organization is facing more serious assaults, as right-wing critics accuse it of “pushing left-wing policies.”
The League’s progressive views on everything from voting rights to addressing climate change and gun control have so angered some Republicans that they no longer respond to candidate questionnaires or participate in League debates.
“We noticed that more this election year,” Brigham said, noting that only one Republican statewide candidate responded to its questionnaire this election. “That is concerning to us,” she said, adding that “it is not surprising,” given the increasing partisan divisions in the country.
The League shows its nonpartisan stripes when it pushes for redistricting reforms. The president of the League’s New Jersey chapter this month strongly opposed a Democratic proposal to redraw New Jersey’s lines, calling the plan a “classic” example of “partisan gerrymandering.”
When federal judges ordered that a congressional district in Maryland created by Democrats be redrawn to more accurately represent state voters, Republican Governor Larry Hogan named a state League staffer to a small “emergency commission” to come up with new lines.
The League’s independent approach likely will continue to irk both political parties during its next century of existence.
“Our focus and our positions come … after study and reaching consensus,” Brigham said. “Our consensus comes from our grassroots.”
It is the political parties that have changed, with Republicans moving to the right and Democrats becoming far less conservative, Brigham contended. “Our positions have remained steadfast.”
As the first of the 2019 Phoenix Rising Roundtable discussions, we are honored, in partnership with Denison, to welcome Mary Frances Berry. Dr. Berry will be the sole speaker as the keynote speaker for Denison’s Martin Luther King celebrations. Following her talk, Dr. Berry will sign copies of her latest book from 2:30 to 3.
Discussion of the issues raised by Dr. Berry
at 3:15 PM on Monday, January 28, 2019
Burton-Morgan room 218 Phoenix Rising Roundtable by the Robbins Hunter Museum