League of Women Voters in Kansas and nonprofits halt voter registration drives to avoid being jailed under new law
For more details on the story, including response, see this article in the Kansas Reflector newspaper on July 1, 2021.
The League of Women Voters of Kansas and other nonprofits are suspending voter registration drives for fear of criminal prosecution under a new state law. The groups filed a lawsuit over new election-related restrictions enacted by the Legislature this session, and a judge has yet to act on a request for a temporary injunction to block enforcement of the laws until the case is resolved. One of the provisions makes it a crime to engage in activity that “gives the appearance of being an election official.”
Without clarity from the court, the organizations argue in court filings, there is a “serious risk” that someone will mistake people who are knowledgeable about voter registration as election officials.
Jacqueline Lightcap, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, says she has asked the organization’s nine local leaders to temporarily suspend their voter education and registration efforts.
“It’s very disheartening,” Lightcap said. “We’re not happy about it. We’re not pleased. We don’t want to do it. But at the same time, it needs to be known that this is not a good law.”
The League of Women Voters Kansas, Loud Light, Kansas Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, and the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center filed a lawsuit June 1 in Shawnee County District Court challenging the constitutionality of the two bills. The groups on June 17 asked Judge Teresa Watson to issue a temporary injunction before the laws went into effect, but the judge has yet to rule on the request.
Text adapted from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/john-lewis-voting-rights-advancement-act-bill-passes-house/
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act passed the House on Tuesday, with the 219-212 vote going along party lines. All Republican House members voted against the bill.
The bill, named after the late Georgia representative, would restore a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that was gutted by the Supreme Court. It would require certain jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting to receive approval, known as preclearance, from the Justice Department before making changes to their voting rules.
The bill, also known as H.R. 4, now heads to the Senate, where it faces stiff GOP resistance.
Source: Capital News Illinois, printed in the Pantagraph.
Lawmakers will head back to the Capitol on Tuesday, August 31, to consider changes to the legislative maps that Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law earlier this year.
Those maps – which set the new boundaries for the 118 state House and 59 state Senate districts for the next decade – were passed based on survey data in May, as the full U.S. Census block-level numbers were not made available until Aug. 12. The release of that data, however, appears to show population deviations far exceeding the 10% threshold allowed under Supreme Court precedent, so some changes are necessary to put the maps in compliance.
For more information, see the original Pantagraph news story.
Additional Option for Voting by Mail Announced by Champaign County Clerk: Continuing Vote by Mail List
This announcement was adapated from an email sent by County Clerk Aaron Ammons on 8/20/2021.
Ilinois registered voters will soon have a second option if they want to vote by mail. In addition to the current option of requesting a mail ballot each time there is an election, Public Act 102-0015 of 2021 created a permanent, also called "continuing," vote by mail list. Those who sign up once will receive a mail ballot for all elections, primary and general. Click here to see the complete County Clerk's announcement and to sign up to receive continuing updates about this new option for voting.
lllinois lawmakers passed an Omnibus Election bill this spring which was signed into law by Governor Pritzker on June 17. Public Act 102-0015 makes major changes to the state's election code to strengthen cybersecurity measures, cope with delays to 2020 U.S. Census data, and further expand access to the ballot box for Illinoisans across the state.
Illinois Extension's Local Government Education program hosted this recent one-hour webinar, which featured a summary of key portions of the new law (see the slides). It also featured four county clerks, who shared their takes on what the changes will mean administratively and for voters. A recording is available at https://youtu.be/vnHvtEi40cw, and slides may be accessed at https://uofi.box.com/s/eg1jnjn0cflz4a0m6xqlevhrylaba3sv.
Source: Bend the Arc newsletter. The webinar is sponsored by the Secure Elections Network.
Join the Brennan Center for Justice’s Turquoise Baker on August 15 at 6:00 pm for a webinar discussing the current raft of verbal, physical, and legislative attacks on election officials and how these attacks may affect upcoming elections.
From Alaska to Arizona, election officials, including volunteer election judges, have endured everything from doxxing to fistfights from voters who think that election results they don’t like are fraudulent. The official and unofficial intimidation has become so severe that, according to a recent survey, more than one in six election officials plan to retire before the 2024 election (https://bit.ly/2X9YgeT).
The webinar on this danger to future elections is sponsored by the Secure Election Network. Sign-up is at https://bit.ly/3xvmEUK.
Related content - report, fact sheet and audio recording) can be found on the Brennan Center's website: https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/policy-solutions/election-officials-under-attack
The following is adapted from this WAND-TV storyt on the search for a new Police Chief for the City of Champaign. Also see this announcement from the City of Champaign.
The public is invited to attend community meetings where they can give their thoughts on the important priorities, professional qualities and leadership the city should look for, which a successful candidate needs to have to best serve community needs.
Public comment schedule:
Responses must be received by August 20.
Below is a report on the LWVCC Taskforce on Misinformation About Elections. For more on this group, see their webpage on this site. Or click here to download the report.
The group countering misinformation about voting and elections has been keeping an eye on letters to the editor (LTE) in the News-Gazette. On April 11, 2021, we noticed one that may have undermined confidence in mail voting. Without providing any facts that such events have occurred in Illinois or elsewhere, the letter writer asserts drop boxes and remote mail boxes “could and eventually will” be vandalized. The writer then concludes that ballots would be stolen, thereby breaking the chain of custody for mail ballots. The letter goes on to conjure up the prospect that elections would have to be held again, incurring large costs and legal challenges:
Our team thought this LTE writer might have been misinformed or was not aware of mail voting security procedures. We wanted to provide that information to the writer and to the public.
Step 1: Get the Facts
We emailed our contact in the County Clerk’s office, who outlined the security procedures that this office follows:
Step 2: Use the Facts to Respond
Using this information, members of the group honed a response. Our letter presented authoritative information, presented calmly and clearly. We couched the letter as an effort of the League to provide the community with solid information about the issue. We submitted it over Trisha Crowley’s signature as League president. The LTE appeared in the News-Gazette on June 6.
Voting by mail is safe, secure
Our letter leveraged the League’s reputation as a nonpartisan, trustworthy source of information in order to debunk charges that could undermine confidence in election procedures that include voting by mail.
Our group continues to pursue this method of countering misinformation in the local media. Let us know if you see something in the paper, on the internet, or in social media. It is important to reply to both misinformation and deliberate disinformation and not let them circulate unchallenged.
More information about the Misinformation About Elections Task Force.
This announcement was adapted from an email from the President of the Illinois League of Women Voters (LWVIL), July 16, 2021. See the LWVIL website Action Alerts page for other suggestions on taking action.
In a recent speech about challenges to voting rights, President Biden said, “I’m not saying this to alarm you, I’m saying this because you should be alarmed.”
The League of Women Voters of Illinois is alarmed. I am alarmed, are you?
I am alarmed because across our country state legislatures are passing bills which are anti-voter, enacting laws which restrict voting opportunities, disproportionality suppressing the votes of certain groups of people. The health of our democracy depends on more voters, not fewer.
What’s the answer? It is the For the People Act - a federal bill which establishes national standards that will guarantee the freedom to vote for every voter in the country. Why? Because your right to vote and your access to the ballot should be the same in every state in our country.
Each of us must act to protect our democracy. We all have two jobs:
Be the trusted source of information for your friends, your family, your neighbors, your faith group, your book club … call, write, send emails, share LWVIL’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter messages. Ask people to do the same. Everyone needs to know how important this is, and everyone needs to take action. We all need the For the People Act
Allyson E. Haut, Ph.D. President, League of Women Voters of Illinois
The announcement below was adapted from an article in Capitol News Illinois. The full article can be found here.
Public high schools in Illinois will soon be required to teach students how to access and evaluate various kinds of news and social media they see online and elsewhere as part of their regular curriculum. That was among the 53 bills that Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed on Friday, bringing the total number of bills signed from the current General Assembly so far this year to 97.
House Bill 234 provides that starting in the 2022-23 school year, all public high schools will provide a unit of instruction on media literacy that will include instruction on how to access information and evaluate the trustworthiness of its source; analyzing and evaluating media messages; creating media messages; assessing how media messages trigger emotions and behavior; and social responsibility.
The State Board of Education is tasked with preparing and distributing instructional resources and making professional learning opportunities available for educators.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, D-Cicero, and Sen. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago. It passed both chambers largely along party lines: 68-44 in the House, and 42-15 in the Senate.
LWVCC has a taskforce on Misinformation About Elections. See this page on this site to follow their progress and learn about resources.