Working together, we empower voters and defend democracy.
Recent action alerts are highlighted in red below. Click the links and follow the steps.
In League, Dec 12, 2020*
Contact Your Legislators, Dec 5, 2020
The New Advocacy Challenge Starts Now!, Nov 30, 2020
* Note: Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins was president of LWVUS from 1998-2002, while chair of the LWV Education Fund.
Does it really work? Yes, your voice counts.
As with members of Congress, your Virginia legislators want to represent their constituents and get reelected, so they need to know the opinions of people who live in their district. Legislative aides count calls, letters, and messages from constituents. They also note letters to the editor in local papers.
This New York Times article explains that calling can be better than email. One of our Virginia Delegates recently said he treasures a handwritten letter. Above all, what is important is to reach out. The national PTA has a thoughtful discussion of how to build these relationships.
• Always let aides know you are a constituent, and give your name and town or zip code.
If you are a member of the League of Women Voters of Virginia and are not receiving alerts, check your email promotions folders.
To join the League and receive alerts, click Join Us and follow the steps.
Alternatively, visit whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov for your lawmaker’s contact information and then email them a request to support these bills. Let them know you are a constituent, and your address.
Week of January 20-25
Tip: Are you on facebook? Join the League’s Advocacy discussion group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/373903886296976/ & answer the questions.
☎️☎️☎️ Remember to log your advocacy! A little competition makes it fun. Click here to be counted for your Local League: http://bit.ly/LogYourAdvocacy ☎️☎️☎️
Privileges & Elections (“P&E”) Committees
Topic: no excuse absentee voting
Date: Tues, Jan. 21, 7 AM
Location: House Room 1
Topic: campaign finance reform, voting rights, efficient elections, the ERA (on crossover), and gender equality.
Date: Tues, Jan. 21, 15 minutes after Senate adjournment (approx. 2 PM)
Location: Senate Room 3, the Capitol, Richmond
Livestream Video should be available during and after the hearing at this link: http://virginia-senate.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3
What to Say
if you are a constituent, mention that and state your name and address.
Please use your own words. Ideas below. We suggest one or two topics per contact. You may also sign up here to join other League members for a preparatory briefing and visits to legislators on League Day.
No excuse absentee voting
“Please copatron and pass no excuse absentee voting so people will not need to name a reason for voting absentee, which can deter voting. Please cosponsor and vote for HB 1, 25, 208 & 209 / SB 111. Thank you.”
Campaign finance reform
“Please copatron and vote for the campaign finance bills in the P&E Committee this week, Senate Bills 25, 166, 205, 266, 488, 889 and 979, to give you greater freedom to vote as you think is right. These bills will help ensure other legislators have to follow the same rules.”
“Elections should be efficient and designed to facilitate voting. Please cosponsor and vote for Senator Ebbin’s SJ 63, which synchronizes state general elections with federal election years. It will save the state money by reducing the frequency of elections, and will expand voting because voters will see federal as well as state campaign notices during voting years.”
While not on the P&E docket for this week, the state League supports second passage of the Redistricting Amendment. Please urge your legislators to copatron, support, and vote for the redistricting constitutional amendment this session, HJ 71 / SJ 18, with enabling legislation, HB 758 / SB 203 & 204. Click here for a FAQ from the League of Women Voters of Virginia.
Voting rights / felons
“Please copatron and vote for SJ 14, which authorizes the General Assembly to provide by general law for the restoration of civil rights for persons convicted of a felony. The essence of our system of government is the right to vote, and that right should not be abridged.”
While this bill is not in committee yet for this week, schedules are still being posted and supporting it is helpful. “Please copatron and vote for HB 973, which will repeal racially discriminatory laws relating to the racial segregation of students in elementary schools, secondary schools, and institutions of higher learning. For Virginia to fully improve its future, we must clean up harmful laws of the past.”
“Please copatron and vote for the House Equal Rights Amendment resolution, HJ 1, which will be heard in Senate P&E on Tuesday. This is a crossover vote. The Constitution should provide equal treatment under law, because statutory protections can be rolled back with a simple majority vote; the Constitution is more enduring.”
“Every person deserves the dignity of equal treatment under law. Please copatron and vote for SJ 3 and SJ 7, which will repeal the constitutional amendment prohibiting a legal status for same sex unions. This is already invalid due to the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.”
“Please copatron and vote for Del. Plum’s SB 618, which adds gender, disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation to the categories of victims whose intentional selection for a hate crime involving assault, assault and battery, or trespass for the purpose of damaging another’s property results in a higher criminal penalty for the offense.”
☎️☎️☎️ Remember to log your advocacy! Click to be counted for your Local League: http://bit.ly/LogYourAdvocacy ☎️☎️
Why LWV-VA Supports Constitutional Amendment S.J. 18 to End Partisan Gerrymandering
What is independent redistricting and why is it needed? Redistricting is the process of drawing maps to determine election districts for members of Congress and the state legislature. In many states, the legislature wields the power to draw these maps. When one party controls this process, it can rig the maps to stay in power by choosing the electorate in each district (“gerrymandering”).
Gerrymandering weakens voters’ voices. It carves up communities, removes competition, increases polarization, and creates gridlock. Redistricting works better when voters get more of a say.
Why Virginia needs a Constitutional Amendment now for fair redistricting. Virginia’s election maps are gerrymandered. Virginia’s constitution gives only legislators the power to draw the election maps. Only a constitutional amendment can change the constitution and let citizens serve on a redistricting commission. A mere law (legislation) cannot amend the constitution.
Last year, after extensive negotiation, Virginia’s legislature passed a constitutional amendment (“CA”) to establish a better way: a commission of 8 legislators and 8 citizens, with a citizen chair.
Timing is critical. Redistricting in Virginia usually occurs only once every ten years. In order to enact the amendment before the next ten-year redistricting in early 2021, the constitutional amendment must pass again this legislative session and then go before voters on the ballot in November.
Why the League of Women Voters of Virginia supports the Constitutional Amendment, SJ 18 / HJ 71:
What do the accompanying bills do?
Shouldn’t we try for a better commission, without legislators? This is the only amendment available to be passed this year, before the decennial redistricting and the next House election. We need to pass it while the window of opportunity is open.
Should voters be concerned about Virginia’s Supreme Court? Accompanying legislation (SB204) requires the court to appoint a citizen special master to draw the maps. Virginia’s justices are bound by canons of judicial ethics and were appointed by Democrat, as well as Republican, controlled legislative chambers.
Who supports S.J. 18? Respected voices include the Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Senator Tim Kaine and Rep. Don Beyer, and the editorial boards of the Richmond Times-Daily and the Virginian-Pilot. Importantly, 70% of Virginians support redistricting reform, according to a recent poll by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University in Virginia.
The eyes of the nation are on Virginia. Without the constitutional amendment, the very next statehouse election, in 2021, could bring in a legislature that would reverse any mere laws. An amendment is the only vehicle strong enough to start real change and ensure fair elections.
The League of Women Voters of Virginia stands up for voters.
The League fully supports SJ 18 and HJ 71.
Virginia’s legislative session is underway! Contact your lawmakers now to support fair redistricting, no excuse absentee voting, and gun violence prevention. You can modify your message before sending.
To review the bills:
For more info:
🔸 No Excuse Absentee Voting, p.4
Alternatively, visit whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov for your lawmaker’s contact information and then email them a request to support these bills. Let them know you are a constituent, and your address. You can note points such as:
🔸 The fair redistricting amendment, SJ18 / HJ71, will finally give citizens a voice and add racial and ethnic fairness.
– The guardrail bills, SB 203 & 204 / HB 758, make it even stronger.
– Only an amendment can change the constitution. A law doesn’t have that power.
🔸 Voting is every citizen’s honor and responsibility. Being required to state an excuse for absentee voting deters voters. Please copatron and vote for no excuse absentee voting bills SB 45, 111, 859, 879 / HB 1, HB 25, HB 27.
🔸 We need common sense gun safety. Please especially cosponsor and vote for SB 70 / HB 2, for universal background checks, and SB240 / HB 674, extreme risk protection order / red flag legislation.
Now is the time to add your voice for the Equal Rights Amendment.
The League of Women Voters of the U.S. supports the Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”), as set forth in this letter.
Please contact your lawmakers now for the ERA.
🔸 Questions? See the U.S. League letter
🔸 Newly elected legislator? See “Special Cases” below
🔸 All others, click here to support the ERA
Alternatively, visit whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov for your lawmaker’s contact information and then email them a request to support the ERA this session. Let them know you are a constituent, and your address. You can point out:
Contact Your Legislators: Support Fair Redistricting
Fair elections are under threat, and all of us are needed at this moment in history. Please contact your lawmakers to support the redistricting amendment. You can click through here to send them a message you can modify before sending.
Alternatively, visit whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov for your lawmaker’s contact information. Then, email them a request to vote for the redistricting amendment this session. Let them know you are a constituent and your address.
In the Senate, the For the People Act faces an uphill battle. But we know that because of the tremendous work we’ve already done to mobilize the effort around this bill, that we can move this forward.
Read more HERE.
Now is the time for us to act. Now is the time for us to make it clear to our members of Congress that saving lives from gun violence should be a priority. We cannot wait for the next mass shooting. We must act today.
April 1, 2020, marks the kickoff of the 2020 Census. This process of counting will ensure that the political power, health, and safety of every community is maintained or enhanced in the upcoming decade.But communities that don’t get fully counted in 2020 will miss out for the next ten years. NOW is the time to get involved.The Census counts. So do you. Pledge to be counted and to educate your community about the importance of the 2020 Census.