Rooted in the movement that secured the right to vote for women, the League of Women Voters has worked to foster civic engagement and enhance access to the vote since its founding in 1920. Our work has evolved to include efforts to ensure that all eligible voters, particularly those from traditionally underrepresented or underserved communities, have the opportunity and information they need to exercise their right to vote. This includes first-time voters, young people, minorities and low-income Americans.
AN INTRODUCTION to PAVP
The League’s mission + Making Democracy Work® + includes ensuring a free, fair and accessible electoral system for all eligible voters. Through its Public Advocacy for Voter Protection Project (PAVP), the League, both nationally and through its state-based volunteers, works to combat voter suppression through advocacy, legal action and public education. Under the PAVP banner, the League seeks to protect voters by protecting their voting rights and improving elections.Voting Rights. The League works to protect and expand voting rights through advocating for reforms such as expanded early voting and online registration, and challenging efforts to limit the ability of voters to exercise their basic right. It has opposed photo ID laws and barriers to voter registration.
Improving Elections. The League also works to modernize voting systems, streamline the voting process, promote transparent and accountable redistricting and make it easier for all eligible citizens to become active participants in our electoral process. Among other efforts, it works to improve polling place management, expand online voter registration and implement electronic streamlining. We also work to ensure compliance with laws such as the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act.
The League of Women Voters of Virginia participates in these efforts to protect citizens’ right to vote, believing that: democratic government depends on the informed and active participation of its citizens and that election laws, regulations and administrative procedures should be uniformly designed and applied and adequately funded to facilitate and increase voter participation throughout Virginia. We have been helped in carrying out both national and state goals in this regard through support provided by the League of Women Voters Education Fund and its PAVP project. Three of the grant-funded projects are described below.
2015 – LEAGUE ISSUES PAPER ON “VOTING BEFORE ELECTION DAY”
Just in time for the opening of the 2015 General Assembly session, the LWV-VA issued a policy paper on the benefits and challenges of expanded early voting in Virginia. This paper was commissioned by the LWV-VA and prepared by the Election Law Program of the College of William & Mary Law School. It is designed to be used as background information by Virginia’s legislators, election officials, civic organizations and citizens. The paper does not advocate any specific changes in law or practice and does not support or oppose any specific bill or regulation.Executive Summary In 1916, Virginia became the first state to allow early voting for civilians residing abroad via absentee ballot. Since then, Virginians in ever-greater numbers have chosen to cast their vote before Election Day. From 1980 to 2012, Virginia has seen a 428% increase in absentee voting. Nationwide, from 1972 to 2012, Americans are voting early by an increase of 700%. Today, thirty-three states and the District of Columbia provide for early voting, while three states conduct all-mail elections. Just as early voting reflected the exigencies of life in an earlier time, 21st Century Americans have grown to expect convenience and made-to-order services that help to fit voting in complex and busy lives. For a copy of the paper, click here.
2014-2015 – PAVP PROGRAM 2014-15 – Panel Discussion of Virginia’s Election Practices and the Presidential Commission on Election Administration Recommendations: April 2014
One of the highlights of the LWV-VA’s 2014 Council in Fairfax was the panel of election experts that discussed ways to improve the election process in Virginia. The panelists included moderator Leslie Reynolds, Executive Director of the National Association of Secretaries of State and a seasoned poll worker in Arlington; Kimball Brace, President of Election Data Services, Inc., member of Prince William’s Bipartisan Election Commission on the Election Process and an avowed election “data geek;” Judy Brown, General Registrar for Loudoun County, one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S.; and Brian Schoeneman, Secretary of the Fairfax County Electoral Board and member of the Fairfax Bipartisan Election Process Improvement Commission. The report of the Panel Discussion can be found here.The panel presentation and Q and A comments were videotaped by James Southworth, executive producer of “Inside Scoop” and a member of the Fairfax Public Access Board of Directors. They can be viewed in total on YouTube.
2015 Update to -Taking Another Look: Virginia’s Public Assistance Agency Compliance with National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) Section 7 (Voter Registration Agencies)
The League of Women Voters of Virginia recently undertook a brief update study of its earlier look at Virginia’s public assistance agencies’ compliance with the voter registration provisions of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Read the report of our 2015 findings, conclusions and recommendations that can be found here. To read the 2012 report click here.The June 2015 report to the members about the update study can be found here.