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Celebrating Women in the Americas: Yesterday and Today

by Odetta MacLeish-White and Zaida Arguedas
Recent advances in women’s political participation are heralded and viewed in a historical context. Highlighted is the successful March 2007 LWVUS cosponsored forum, “Women in the Americas: Paths to Political Power.”

Presidential Signing Statements: Above the Law

by Mickey Edwards
Until April 2006 when a reporter from the Boston Globe revealed that President George W. Bush had quietly issued more than 750 written statements in which he challenged portions of the very laws he had just signed, there was little notice taken of “presidential signing statements.” This article summarizes arguments from both sides on this “new” usage of presidential signing statements, from those who support it and those who oppose it. It further emphasizes the grave ramifications of this use beyond the particular laws it affects.

Immigration: A Historical Perspective

by Katherine Fennelly
This introductory article for the League's three-year Immigration Study is the first in a scheduled series of three articles. It provides a historical overview of immigration issues and immigration legislation in the United States, and brings us to the current situation and ongoing debate. The author points out that few subjects are as controversial as immigration and have as contentious a history.

Traveling to Protect the Voter

by Mary G. Wilson
During the six weeks prior to the November 2006 election, LWVUS President Mary Wilson traveled to six states to visit and work with Leagues carrying out our Public Advocacy for Voter Protection project. She met with elections officials, the media, League members and the general public to champion the importance of voting, voters’ rights and everything related to the voting process. She learned a lot and recounts some of her experiences and lessons learned.

Protecting the Voter

by Jeanette Senecal
The Help America Vote Act of 2002 established important new federal requirements and authorized funds to help states meet them. Unfortunately, some states are using this opportunity to make changes in election procedures that can result, deliberately or inadvertently, in voter disenfranchisement. Particularly vulnerable are underserved populations such as minorities, people with limited resources and the elderly. The League of Women Voters’ “Public Advocacy for Voter Protection” project supports state-based advocacy by state Leagues to ensure that all eligible voters’ registration records are successfully included in the statewide voter registration database and to oppose the alleged need for photo identification at the polls.

Clean Elections: Antidote to Unhealthy Campaign Financing

by Nick Nyhart
What if House or Senate candidates had a source of disinterested money to run their campaigns? What if they didn’t have to rely on the likes of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff to organize fundraisers and funnel cash their way? What if lawmakers could spend their time talking with constituents instead of well-heeled donors? Clean Elections, publicly financed elections, is a reform that people want, and the states are leading the way.

Who's Watching Whom?

by Aziz Huz
In this new era of electronic surveillance and unilateral executive branch action in response to terrorism, tough questions must be answered. Should we make difficult policy decisions involving a balance of liberty and security in the absence of congressional or public oversight and outside the framework of the rule of law? What kind of electronic surveillance appropriately parries the threat posed by contemporary terrorists? What is the role of Congress? Evidence suggests that evasion of the constitutional structures for making national decisions carries heavy costs.

Thinking Outside the Ballot Box

by William H. Woodwell, Jr.
Early voting and the use of “vote centers” are just two innovations that elections officials around the country are experimenting with in their efforts to make the voting process more efficient and more convenient—to put the “service” back into “Voters Services.” This article presents the thoughts of elections officials in various locales across the country. Included are the early voting experiences of Clark County, NV, and Travis County, TX, and the “vote center” innovations in Larimer County, CO, and Boone County, MO.

New Barriers to Voting: Eroding the Right to Vote

by Mike Slater, Laura Kyser, and Jo-Anne Chasnow
While countless citizens nationwide are working to engage their neighbors in democracy, many states have developed laws, rules or procedures that limit access to the ballot box. In some states, the new developments are restrictions on voter registration activities, while in others, they are voter ID requirements. Many states have chosen to implement the statewide database requirement of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in ways that make it harder for eligible applicants to register. Together, these new requirements disproportionately impact those citizens who have been historically marginalized in the political process.

VRA Reauthorization: What You Need to Know

by Wade Henderson
This year Congress is debating reauthorization of the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), widely considered the most effective civil rights law in American history for its ability to protect the right to vote of all Americans. When passed in 1965, the VRA put teeth into the 15th Amendment’s guarantee that no citizen can be denied the right to vote because of the color of their skin. Nonetheless, there is no question that barriers to equal minority voter participation continue to exist today, making VRA reauthorization imperative.