CALENDAR
Monday, Oct. 30

LWVMA/LESF Board Meeting, Worcester Public Library, 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

 

Monday, Oct. 30
Automatic Voter Registration Twitterstorm

Saturday, Nov. 4
"Extreme Events and Climate Change: What We Know and What We Can Do," Falmouth Public Library, 1 p.m.
From Our President

Dear League Members,                

Each of you and your work is essential to the vibrancy of our League, offering each member a meaningful way to become engaged in the civic life of our communities. Our local Leagues have offered a wide variety of programs and public forums this fall. Some Leagues have offered educational forums to understand pressing national issues such as gerrymandering, the role of the media and discerning fact from fiction, and democracy at a crossroads. Others have focused on timely advocacy topics such as health care, criminal justice reform, and safe communities for everyone. Leagues located in our cities are busy with fall elections, and have created Voter's Guides in VOTE411.org and hosted numerous candidate events for preliminary and general elections. All of you have participated in voter registration events in your communities, celebrating National Voter Registration Day and making sure voters are ready to participate in local elections.

At the state level, we've been busy supporting your work and undertaking our own projects. This past week many of us gathered for Day on the Hill, to help bring our legislative priorities up for a vote. The LWVMA Board has used your feedback at last April's Convention to select key priorities to accomplish in the next year. We hosted a lunch for League Leaders around the state, and are already planning a variety of voter service activities to support the 2018 elections. We have been asked to host a booth at the December Massachusetts Conference for Women, where we'll offer attendees voter registration and information about the League and ways to become engaged in their communities.

I'd also like you to consider a donation to our fall appeal, if you haven't already done so. Our Fall Appeal and Phonathon are our biggest fundraisers each year. Your donations enable both LWVMA and the Scharfman Citizen Education Fund to fulfill our mission to provide high quality voter education and citizen engagement programs. Thank you to those of you who have already generously donated.

I am grateful to each of you for the many ways in which you make the League come alive in our communities and provide ways to expand civic engagement. Let me know if you have suggestions how I and the rest of the LWVMA Board can support your work. We are committed to partnering with local Leagues and to expanding our collective reach and visibility at the state level.

Best to each of you,

 
 Mary Ann Ashton 
HAPPENING NOW 
Could You Be a Legislative Envoy?

LWVMA is creating a corps of Legislative Envoys to link local Leagues with our legislative efforts at the State House and make those efforts more effective. We are looking for one or two interested members in each local League to become envoys. The program begins in January.

The Legislative Envoy Program formalizes the links between the state League's Legislative Action Committee and local Leagues. With better connections between our state League legislative specialists and local Leagues, we can be more effective in moving legislation and acting on legislative priorities when swift, coordinated action matters most.

We'll start with a small group of envoys from different local Leagues who will be responsible for building relationships with the State Representative and Senator in their districts and engaging their own local Leagues. We plan to grow this group over the next several years.

Are you interested in being more involved with the League's activity in the state legislature? Take a look at the information on this program
here , and if you have questions or are interested, contact Colleen Kirby, the program's administrator.
LWVMA Teamed Up with Local Leagues for Climate and Energy  Solution Series

Four of the five regional forums in the 2017 LWVMA Climate and Energy Solutions Series  have been completed with high praise for all of the speakers and topics. The LWVMA Steering Committee for Environmental Action and Advocacy, in collaboration with local Leagues in Worcester, Boston, Winchester, Lexington and Falmouth, developed this program.

Information is available on all five forums on the
LWVMA website . Eventually we will have links to the presentations of all five forums. Financial support for this series was provided by the New England Grassroots Environment Fund. For a list of organizations partnering the Climate and Energy Solutions Series, click here.
Final Series Forum Focuses on Extreme Events and Impact on Cape Cod
 
The Falmouth League and LWVMA are bringing Dr. Ellen Douglas to the Cape for "Extreme Events and Climate Change Boston Area and Cape Cod: What we know and what we can do." The forum is
Saturday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m., at the Falmouth Public Library, 300 Main St.

Dr. Douglas was our presenter at the Boston Aquarium in September. Her frank discussion of sea level rise and climate change will especially resonate with Cape Cod and south coast residents. Two Cape-based speakers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Woods Hole Research Center will provide local perspective.

This event is the fifth and final forum in the
2017 LWVMA Climate and Energy Solutions SeriesPlease add this event to your League calendars and help spread the word. Consider organizing groups to come to Falmouth. The event is free and open to the public.
LWVMA Depends on Your Support


Many thanks to the donors to our Fall Appeal for your generous support! Our annual Phonathon fundraiser is getting under way to reach members who have not yet contributed. Thank you in advance for saying "Yes!" when you receive a call from a fellow League member. Our success depends on you!

Several local Leagues have already volunteered to make calls-will yours? This is a win-win opportunity for local Leagues: your League will earn 10% of the contributions solicited by your team. If your League would like to participate, please contact
Brynne Gorman .
ADVOCACY
Automatic Voter Registration Twitterstorm Oct. 30!
 
If you're on Twitter, we need your help! On Monday, Oct. 30, LWVMA and our partners in the election modernization coalition are creating a "Twitterstorm"-a flurry of tweets, all on the same day-to help pass automatic voter registration this legislative session. On that day, please tweet this message using the hashtag #AVRinMA: "Why #AVRinMA? It's simple: we want elections to be more inclusive, accurate & secure. AVR is the solution. @SpeakerDeLeo @SenStan #mapoli"    

Passing automatic voter registration (AVR) this legislative session is a priority for LWVMA. Please contact your state Representative today.  Contact information is
here .               

The House leadership needs to know right now that AVR has widespread support and interest so the bill comes out of committee and to the floor for a vote. Ask your Representative to let the leadership know AVR (S.373/H.2091) is important and deserves a vote in the House. Learn more about this major voting improvement on our website
here .
This Is the Time to Take Action
 
LWV Needham members meet with Representative Garlick 
Right now is a key time to contact your Senator and Representative to urge action on the bills LWVMA is supporting (or opposing) in this session of the legislature. You can find contact information
here.  The joint committees have now held hearings on most of the bills and are in the process of deciding which bills will be reported out of the joint committees for a vote on the floor and the chance to become a law.

Please look at the Mass Action Newsletter that comes the first of every month and pick at least one way to make your voice heard. Also watch for action alerts-we will send those when we learn after the newsletter goes out that, for example, a bill is coming up for a vote in the House or Senate. There will be a lot of activity before the legislature takes its holiday recess starting Nov. 15.

The complete list of bills we are working on is
here ; please contact your legislators on the ones you feel strongly about. For tips on how to talk to your legislators, see The Citizen Lobbyist handbook here. 
Strong Showing at Day on the Hill
 
The League showed up on Beacon Hill Tuesday, October 24 to "move the needle" on our legislative priorities-automatic voter registration, carbon pricing/energy, safe communities and immigration, and criminal justice reform, with presentations on those bills from Nancy Brumback, Launa Zimmaro, Karen Price and Colleen Kirby.

Sen. Cynthia Creem and Rep. Patricia Haddad lauded the League for its commitment to voting rights and citizen action. Creem, who is the sponsor for AVR and a criminal justice reform bill repealing mandatory minimums, urged League members to continue their pressure on the legislature to pass those bills. Haddad noted the voting reforms, including early voting, that the League was instrumental in passing in the past and noted that AVR is the next step in making it more convenient for people to vote.

LWVMA also saluted Carole Pelchat, legislative director, who was at her final Day on the Hill before she moves to North Carolina.

More information on Day on the Hill, copies of handouts, and photographs are on our website here.
 
LWV and Ranked Choice Voting 
 
We have received several inquiries about ranked choice voting and the League position.

LWVMA has a position in favor of what was called "instant runoff" voting when the position was adopted and is now called ranked choice voting (RCV).  The LWV of Maine, in fact, was a major supporter of the ballot question in that state last November, when Maine became the first state to approve RCV.

Here's the League position from Where We Stand: "Voting systems should be easy to use, administer and understand, encourage high voter turnout, encourage real discussion on issues, promote minority representation, and encourage candidates to run. When electing someone to a single executive office at the state level, such as governor or attorney general, including primary and general elections, the voting system should require the winner to obtain a majority of the votes. The League supports instant runoff voting. Cost and complexity make two-round runoff not acceptable."

LWVMA is in contact with Voter Choice Massachusetts, a group considering a ballot question on ranked choice voting in Massachusetts. You can learn more about their efforts
here and about ranked choice voting generally from Fair Vote here . LWVMA is not currently working on RCV.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
LWVMA Board Commits to Three Strategic Priorities
 
The LWVMA Board has approved three key priorities developed from member input at last April's Convention. These priorities--in Governance and Leadership Development, Membership, and Strategic Planning-will guide our work in the coming year. A summary document can be found here .

The 100-plus members at Convention participated in focus groups to share their thoughts about ways to engage members in grassroots activism, balance the League's thoughtful approach with a need to be more nimble, and keep the League relevant. These responses, which dovetail with some of the work being done by LWVUS, have guided our work these last several months.

The Board broke into four groups to identify themes in the responses. These included membership categories and options; PMPs and roster management; consensus/study process; partnerships; non-partisanship; engagement; and visibility. Some of these themes (such as PMPs and roster management) we deferred pending the work being done by LWVUS. Read more...
Ballot Question Study Gets Started
 
The ballot question study committee has started meeting to delve into the laws, history, impact, and other procedural issues involved in statewide ballot questions. The study was approved at the 2017 Convention.

The approved scope of the study is to review the Massachusetts laws and regulations that govern the ballot question process, consider the consequences of current law based on past ballot questions, and propose concrete next steps that LWVMA could take to enact change, if the study results in recommended change.

Members of the study committee are Karen Price, committee chair, LWVMA board and LWV Needham; Donna Hooper, committee vice-chair, LWVMA board and LWV Lexington; Karen Callanan, LWVMA; Carlyn Carey, LWV Cape Cod Area; Shelley Drowns, LWV Waltham; Patricia Grove, LWVMA; Carol Patey, LWV Needham; and Florence Seldin, LWV Cape Cod Area.

The Committee plans to have consensus questions and study materials available to local Leagues in late 2018, with the goal of presenting a new position to Convention 2019.
LWVMA Leadership Change 
 
Linda Matys O'Connell has informed the Board that she is unable to continue in her positions as Co-President and Director of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. The Board has accepted her resignation with regret, but it is our hope, and hers as well, that she will be able to resume her involvement with LWVMA in the future. This was a difficult decision for her, and we respect her decision, but will miss her voice. We thank her for her work and wish her the best.
First Call for LWVUS Convention Next June
 
The League of Women Voters' 53rd National Convention will be held at the Hilton Chicago in Chicago Thursday, June 28, through Sunday, July 1, 2018. More information and the full first call is
available here .
 
The Mass. League Voter is distributed to all LWVMA members. Anyone can request the Voter by clicking here. Please review this Update for articles of interest to your League and include them in your local Bulletin.

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