April 2021
Congratulations to everyone who took part in last week’s elections. You ran for office. You worked at the polls and you voted. You made our democracy work.

Free, fair, accessible elections are the heart of our working democracy. Right now, that heart is being threatened in an attack as real as any in our country’s history. Right now, we can all be defenders of democracy by telling Congress that we support S1, HR4 and HR51—because those three bills are at the heart of our democracy.

S1 - For the People Act of 2021  
Passed in the House and now waiting in the Senate, this once-in-a-generation bill will address money in politics and protect voter access, election integrity and security so that our democracy gives voice to all Americans. With voter access being threatened by bills in 43 states, S1 would guarantee your right to be heard and represented no matter what state you call home.

HR4 - John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act
This bill will directly tackle issues of racial discrimination at the ballot box by restoring and strengthening the protections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

HR 51 - Washington DC Admissions Act
We ALL need to care about DC statehood—because if we don’t, we are turning a blind eye to the willing and continued disenfranchisement of 712,000 DC residents who pay more in federal taxes than those in 21 states, and more per capita than any state in the nation. Add to this the fact that the majority of the population of DC is Black and Brown, and the goal of statehood cannot be separated from the goals of racial justice. Period. Learn more from the League of Women Voters of DC

Here, in Illinois, what can we do that will have an impact on the national stage? 

We can, and we MUST do the following:
REACH out. FAR. 
It is time to do the grassroots work we know best, and reach out, one by one, to everyone we know around the country. We all have family, friends, colleagues, in other states. We all are connected.
One by one, we must explain what is at stake.
Our democracy is at stake.
One by one, we can all be defenders of democracy.
Contact your friends.
Tell them to contact their senators.
League of Women Voters of Illinois 
Filibuster Reform
Although a strong majority of Americans are in favor of the For the People Act, S1 is in danger of failing without filibuster reform. 

Using the filibuster to block legislation supported by American voters destroys representative democracy, which is why the League of Women Voters advocates for filibuster reform. 

Majority whip Illinois Senator Dick Durbin told the Senate he would support discussing any proposal that ends the misuse of the filibuster as a “weapon of mass obstruction.” 

“I have been long open to changing the Senate’s rules to restore the ‘standing filibuster.’ If a senator insists on blocking the will of the Senate, he [or she] should have to pay some minimal price of being present.” Durbin said on the Senate floor. “No more phoning it in.”

When senators are required to hold the floor of the Senate during a standing filibuster, voters can see clearly which of their elected senators are blocking the vote and hold them accountable.  

“As long as senators can hide behind the filibuster, they are not beholden to the American people. said Virginia Kase, CEO of the League of Women Voters of the US in a recent statement. “Our nation deserves better…It is time to amend the filibuster for the health and safety of our democracy.”  

Contact your legislators today to advocate for filibuster reform. Without it, are you being fairly represented?
Maps for Representation
Redistricting. Once a decade, legislative maps all over the US are redrawn based on new federal census numbers. Once a decade, voting districts can, and do, shift on local, state and federal lines. 

COVID-delayed Census counts will not be available until September, yet the Illinois Constitution requires that maps be drawn and approved by the state legislature by June 30—so Illinois lawmakers are moving forward. Both the House and Senate Redistricting Committees are currently in the midst of a month of more than 40 public redistricting hearings being held statewide. 

Public hearings allow community members to provide input about their interests, needs, and demographics that might have shifted in the past decade. 

LWVIL’s mission to protect voter representation puts it squarely in support of fair and equitable map drawing. For the past decade, LWVIL has advocated unsuccessfully for a legally-mandated independent mapping commission as a way to provide permanent protection from partisan gerrymandering, ensuring that the needs of a community precede the political goals of legislators. 
In the absence of an independent commission, transparency and community input must be part of the redistricting process. LWVIL’s testimony during current hearings suggests that additional public hearings should be held after maps are drawn, so adjustments can be made based on public input prior to voting on the final maps.

However, unless things change, once hearings are completed on April 24, the Illinois General Assembly will begin drawing maps. If approved by the House and Senate, these can be sent directly to the Governor. Illinois voters will have to rely on Governor Pritzker’s repeated public statements that he will veto any partisan map. 
Elected representatives are the voice of their communities, and the impact of new maps and new districts will be felt for another decade. Voters must speak up now while the maps are being drawn.
Contact your legislatorlet them know you want a district that reflects your community of interest.  
Set aside April 29 for an LWV Day of Action. See information below.
National Redistricting Day of Action
Thursday, April 29, 9:00 am
Join the national pep rally for Fair Redistricting, hosted by LWV CEO Virginia Kase. Use April 29 to contact your legislators and tell them you want fair, representative maps. On April 29, repost LWVIL's social media posts on your own channels. Help amplify the message: redistricting must be fair and equitable so that all voices are heard!
Community Mapping: A Deeper Look
Watch LWVIL's Issues Briefing session on redistricting, featuring information from CHANGE Illinois and a demonstration of Representable's online community mapping tool. Learn about how individuals and organizations can use this online platform to construct, share and submit maps of their communities of interest to mobilize for representation.

Representable is presenting to LWVIL's Redistricting Google Group on Tuesday, April 13. Contact issues@lwvil.org to join the Google Group and participate in the session on April 13.
Gun Violence is a National Health Crisis
As our nation reels from the aftermath of another mass killing, it is important to recognize that these shootings are part of a national health crisis. 

Gun violence is a public health crisis that needs to be treated with the same urgency as COVID-19, according to University of Chicago Trauma Center Director Selwyn O. Rogers, Jr., MD, MPH. 

Like COVID-19, gun violence disproportionately affects communities of color. Although young Black men made up 2% of the US population in 2019, they accounted for 37% of the gun homicides, according to a recently released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis.

Dr. Rogers spoke at a recent Senate hearing on gun violence led by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, saying, “When we look at gun violence through a public health lens, we collect data, understand causes, and develop strategies for prevention and targeted interventions.”

LWVIL is a strong advocate for equitable public health solutions for all communities, and it is imperative that this include gun violence prevention as an element of overall community wellness.

Contact your legislators today and ask what they are doing to promote gun safety as a public health initiative.
Congratulations to all Candidates, Voters and Volunteers. Thank for Defending Democracy.
Leagues a Valuable Source of Voter Information
The state’s 42 local Leagues were undaunted by the pandemic in their determination to keep voters informed for the April 6 Consolidated Election. Thanks to their efforts, the Illinois Voter Guide (IVG) featured 150 of the League's signature nonpartisan voter forums. Along with an additional 150 candidate videos, IVG held video on a combined total of nearly 800 candidates.

In total, IVG covered 4,376 races, 8,818 seats, and had information on 10,590 candidates across the state. 
Safe Ballot Access Becomes Law
Four days before the April 6 Consolidated Election, Governor Pritzker signed HB1871 into law, making vote-by-mail drop boxes and certain aspects of curbside voting permanent features of Illinois elections. These measures, first put in place for pandemic safety during the 2020 election, strengthen ballot access just when it is being undermined by challenges in 43 other states. 

It is notable that prior to April 2, drop boxes were not prohibited (nor addressed at all) in Illinois Election Law. For this election, almost 20 drop boxes were used in DuPage County, seven in Cook County and seven in other counties around the state.
LWVUS Amplifies League Voices
LWVUS advises and advocates on behalf of more than 500,000 members nationwide on a variety of critical issues. Most recently, LWVUS:
Monday, April 19, 4-5 pm
Join state legislators for a discussion of the latest developments in bills advancing through the General Assembly. This time, we'll talk equity at the ballot box and in all areas to meet basic human needs. Registration required. The access link will be sent on the day of the event.
Local League Educational Events
Local Leagues regularly host virtual events related to both voter education and action on issues.Events are open to the public. See what's coming up on the LWVIL calendar.
Defend Democracy with LWVIL
LWVIL is seeking an Executive Director to work in partnership with the Board to achieve the strategic goals and objectives of the League. The Executive Director is accountable for the day to day administration of the LWVIL and provides management and oversight in multiple areas. Read the job description and apply by sending resume and cover letter to the Human Resources committee at hr@lwvil.org. Resumes and letters will be accepted until the position is filled. 
The League of Women Voters of Illinois is nonpartisan and neither supports nor opposes candidates for elected office but does work to influence public policy on specific issues after member study and consensus.

The League of Women Voters of Illinois Education Fund (LWVILEF) encourages informed and active participation in government by providing civic education and voter services. Make a difference today for you and your community with a tax-deductible gift to support our work to defend democracy and empower voters.