1. Election Lawsuit Updates & What it Means for Voter Service
a. Voter Purge Case Update
As many of you know, in April 2016 a group of voting rights advocates filed suit against Ohio Secretary of State (SOS) Jon Husted. The suit alleges that how the SOS removes voters from the rolls violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) because it uses voter inactivity as a basis to trigger removal. In late June, a federal court ruled in favor of the SOS, and the voting advocates appealed. You can read more about the case here. Appeal briefs were filed in July. The US Department of Justice filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief agreeing with voter advocates that failure to vote cannot be a basis for removal, and a similar joint amicus was filed by Common Cause, LWVUS, and Project Vote.
Regardless of what happens with the lawsuit, we are forced to deal with the reality that approximately two million names have been removed from Ohio's voter registration list in recent years.
LWVO and our voter coalition partners are highlighting the need for a strong voter verification push this election year. Many people assume they are registered, but aren't anymore. We're advising anyone doing voter registration (VR) work to change up the script -- stop asking "are you registered to vote?" and instead ask "have you updated or checked your registration recently?" Our partners at the Ohio Unity Coalition set up an easy-to-use web portal for VR verification.
We're urging all voters to verify their registration well before the October 11 deadline.
b. "Golden Week" Lawsuit Update
On May 24, 2016, a federal judge ordered Secretary of State Husted to restore "Golden Week," the week of early voting prior to the voter registration deadline in which someone can register and vote at the same time. You can read more about the case here. Husted and the state appealed this decision to Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Briefs have been filed, and parties are waiting for the appeals court's decision.
Due to the ongoing lawsuit, voter education is complicated by uncertainty over when early voting begins. If the current decision restoring Golden Week is upheld, early voting will begin October 5 and Husted will have to issue a directive about voting hours October 5-11. Otherwise, early in-person voting will start October 12 and the current days and hours for early voting will remain unchanged.
LWVO's "Voting 123" cards will be updated to reflect any legal changes, so check the website for the latest version.
2. Young Voter Outreach Tools
In our recent survey of Local League needs, many of you told us you want more tools to engage young people, especially during this high-profile election year. LWVO created the following new tools for use this fall in high schools, colleges, and other outreach to younger generations.
a. Voting 1-2-3 for College Students (card) - This updated card is specifically designed to help college students decide if they want to vote at their home address or at school, and it walks them through how to register and vote. Click here to download the card. The new card is also available on the LWVO website to download, print and share with others; or you can order print copies from the LWVO office.
b. Pledge to Vote card - Encouraging voters to sign an "I pledge to vote" card and then following up by sending them helpful reminders has been shown to increase voter turnout. LWVO designed a Pledge to Vote (PTV) card geared towards young people that your League can use at high schools, college campuses, and other community events. Click here to download the card. Please promptly send completed PTV cards to the LWVO office so that we can include those voters in our election reminder system. Keep a copy for your local League so you can send them local election announcements such as inviting them to a LWV candidate forum.
c. Informal Voter Pre-registration for Teens - How many times have you held a voter registration drive at a high school and had students say with regret that they won't be old enough to vote this year? Now we have a way to give them a voice! LWVO's new PTV card includes a check box where teens under 18 can informally "pre-register" with LWV so we can get them registered when they turn eighteen.
Turn in any completed PTV cards to the LWVO office, and we take care of tracking and follow-up.
LWVO shared a preview copy of our new PTV card for the informal teen "pre-registration" program with the statewide association of election officials for their feedback prior to launch. The election officials provided helpful input on the final version, including adding a check box to express interest in being a poll worker. If your League plans to encourage teens in your community to "pre-register" it might be a nice gesture to let your local Board of Elections know, in case anyone asks them about it.
d. Election Reminder Text Message (SMS) Program - Younger generations prefer electronic communication, so LWVO set up a new SMS program that allows us to send election reminders by text message directly to cell phones. The new PTV card featured above includes a check box to sign up for text messages and provide a cell phone number. Voters can also sign up for text message reminders from the League of Women Voters of Ohio on key election dates and activities by texting "votereminder" to 31996.
3. More Voter Education Materials!
a. Voting 1-2-3 (card)
- Our 2016 Voting 1-2-3 card provides information on both VOTE411 and important Ohio election dates and resources.
to download the voter information card. It is also available to download, print, or share electronically on the
website, or you can order print copies from the LWVO office. The LWVO office is happy to work with local Leagues or partner organizations to customize a Voting 1-2-3 card with local information for your community.
b. Judicial Votes Count (card) - Our partners at Judicial Votes Count have created an information card to guide voters to the JVC website that includes voters' guide information for every judicial race in the state, as well as civics information about the common pleas, county, district appellate and the Ohio Supreme courts. Click here to download the card.
c. What's changed since the last time Ohio voted for President? (factsheet - coming soon!) - LWVO will be publishing a one-page factsheet with valuable information to help prepare new or infrequent voters about what to expect when they vote this year and what has changed since 2008 and 2012. We expect this factsheet may also be useful for LWV speaker requests and inquiries from the press. We'll let you know when it is available.
4. Report from the LWVO July Board Meeting
a. 2016 General Election Voters' Guide Information Packet Now Available
The Voters' Guide Information Packet for the 2016 General Election is now available. Click here for the packet.
Please share this information with all individuals in your League working on voter service. The packet is also available, in both Word and PDF formats, under the Member Area of the state League website. Please contact the state League office at 614-469-1505 if you have any questions.
Please note that the LWVO board approved updated candidate questions. There are some carry-over questions form the primary, a few questions were revised, and new questions added.
Local League district assignments are for the most part unchanged, except that a few have been updated based on Leagues' feedback from the primary.
The state will contact US Senate candidates for the voters' guide and make their responses available on Vote411 for local Leagues to use.
There are filing deadlines in August for minor party, independent, and write-in candidates. State candidate profiles will be updated to reflect any additional candidates certified for the ballot during the month of August.
Reminder: Judicial Votes Count will be responsible for contacting candidates for ALL judicial races throughout Ohio - state, county, city and other local courts. Leagues are encouraged to download judicial candidate information from the website judicialvotescount.org.
Our sincere thanks to you and your League for all of your hard work preparing the voters' guide and Vote411!
b. LWV Ohio Calendar for 2016-2017
Many local Leagues and League members have requested a calendar of state League activities to help plan for the coming year. Click here to download the LWVO/EF calendar for 2016-2017.
The calendar includes actual or approximate dates for LWVO board meetings, fundraising appeals, Primary Election System study consensus meetings, state Program Planning, Statehouse Day, MLD application and training, and state Convention.
c. Updated LWV Ohio Nonpartisan Policy
At the July retreat, the LWVO Board held its annual review of our Nonpartisan Policy. It is advisable that every League review its nonpartisan policy annually. In light of the growing influence of "dark money" on our elections, the LWVO Board modified our nonpartisan policy by adopting wording from the latest LWVUS policy - inserting "or other entities contributing to such races" into the line prohibiting contributions to state political parties or candidates. The new version of LWVO's nonpartisan policy is available here.
d. Primary Election Systems Study & Consensus Questions
The Primary Election Systems (PES) study committee is currently working on finalizing the study guide and consensus questions, which we hope to make available to local Leagues this fall. An announcement will be sent to all local League presidents when the PES study guide and consensus questionnaire are available.
5. Sharing How-To-Use Vote411 Information with Political Party Leaders
In the spirit of "good ideas should be shared," here is an idea to encourage more candidates to respond to the voters' guide candidate questionnaire, especially for Leagues using Vote411. The local Leagues in Summit County are preparing information on Vote411 to share with the Democratic and Republican party leaders in their county - to explain what it is, how it is being used (and the huge numbers of people from Ohio who used it right before the Primary) and ask them to encourage all of their candidates to respond to LWV voter guide requests promptly so we can prepare Vote411 well in advance of early voting. LWV Ohio plans to conduct similar outreach to state political party leaders and stress that many voters look to the LWV voters' guide to decide how to vote. If your local League has been having trouble getting candidates to respond, you may want to give the Summit Leagues' approach a try in your area.
6. MLD Tip: Election Season + Event / Activity Planning Checklist = Success
Election 2016 is an enormous opportunity for Leagues to encourage informed and active participation in government - while simultaneously growing and engaging membership, developing leaders, and enhancing our visibility. A key MLD tool to help Leagues become even more successful in achieving these is the Event / Activity Planning Checklist.
to download the Event/Activity Planning Checklist. This easy-to-use checklist will help your League reach out to nonmembers, the media, and potential coalition partners - plus engage members and develop leaders - in every activity. And it's flexible; just use the ideas that best meet your League's needs. This is a great tool!
a. New Membership Materials Coming Soon!
NEW! Updated LWVO membership materials will be available soon from LWV Ohio.
- New Member Welcome Brochure
- LWVO Membership Flyer
These resources will be available on the LWVO website to download, print, or share online. Print copies may be ordered by contacting the LWVO office at 614-469-1505.
b. From the LWVUS - New Committee Established to Explore Engagement
Five League leaders (representing different levels of League) have been appointed to the newly formed Membership, Engagement and Structure (MES) Steering Committee. Joined by LWVUS President Chris Carson, the group will explore alternative engagement models across the organization to focus on sustaining and strengthening our organization and reaching new audiences moving forward. LWVUS looks forward to sharing more detail as the Committee's work gets underway and to engaging League leaders across the country for their input. Committee members include Sondra Cosgrove (NV), Carrie Davis (OH), Amy Hjerstedt (LWVUS), Ann Luther (ME), and Robyn Prud'homme-Bauer (AZ).
8. August All Member Conference Call
Our next all-member conference call will be on
Tuesday, August 2, 12-1 pm
. The call will focus on technology issues related to implementing Vote411 and new
voter engagement tools.
CALL-IN NUMBER: 866-740-1260
PIN NUMBER: 4691505#
The recording of the all-member call will be available following the call until the end of the month. Please note that the podcast is intended for LWV members and guests (just like the calls) and, therefore, should not be shared with anyone outside the League family. Thank you.
9. Election Observer Training by the Carter Center
We are honored that the League has been chosen by the Carter Center for election observer training. Their renowned international program, which to date has observed 102 elections in 39 countries in an effort to help establish and strengthen democracies, will be applied domestically to the upcoming November election. LWVO and our partners at the Voting Rights Coalition will integrate the Carter Center election observer training into Ohio train-the-trainer events in Cleveland and Columbus in late September. There will be a sign-up for League & voter coalition partners-attendees must commit to holding local trainings to pass along the Carter Center program. More information will be forthcoming soon.
10. Looking for a Speaker Idea for Your Event?
Are you are looking for speaker ideas for an upcoming program? Invite a member of the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission to come talk about their work. LWVO has testified before the Commission on a variety of League issues including redistricting reform, voting rights, term limits, and composition of the state Board of Education. Commission members come from around Ohio, so there are likely some near you. Contact Shaunte Russell, Communications Director at the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission, at 614-644-4174 or email at Shaunte.Russell@ocmc.ohio.gov.
to read more about the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission.