REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS DO AGREE ON SOMETHING:   INCREASING VOTER PARTICIPATION!

21 Organizations Team Up for Bi-Partisan Forum

 “Election Protection:  Creative Solutions for Increasing and Sustaining Voter Participation”

 


 

When:     March 26, 2015 from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.

Where:   Dysart Unified School District, Nathaniel Dysart Education Center, Main Conference Room, 15802 N. Parkview Place, Surprise (Click here for map)

 


 

On March 26, 2015, the League of Women Voters of Northwest Maricopa County and 21 other organizations will host a community forum on ways to increase voter participation in elections.  The speakers are Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, Yavapai County Recorder Leslie Hoffman, and Yavapai County Election Director Lynn Constabile.

 

The program will feature working solutions used by election officials in two Arizona counties.  The goal is to present ways to increase voter turnout and educate voters.  The speakers will address new voting technologies and practical ideas to increase eligible voter turnout.  They will highlight innovative programs that accomplish a single goal, increased voter participation.

 

Carol Mattoon, program coordinator for the LWV Northwest Maricopa County, states:

 

For 95 years, the League of Women Voters, a non-partisan organization, has been at the forefront of efforts to strengthen our democracy, including registering, educating, and engaging voters, and striving to improve the voting process.  Without citizen participation, our democracy cannot work.

Arizonans elected Helen Purcell in 1988, and is now serving her 7th term as County Recorder.  She received the National Kids Voting Excellence Award and served on the Board of Advisors for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission where she helped develop draft standards for all U.S. voting systems.  In 2010, the National Association of County Recorders and Clerks named her public official of the year.  Under her leadership, the Recorder’s office has received many achievement awards.

 

Leslie Hoffman was appointed to serve as the Yavapai County Recorder by the Board of Supervisors on January 1, 2012, and elected by Yavapai voters in November 2012.  Ms. Hoffman was instrumental in the creation of multiple voting centers for the 2012 election.  Voting centers have printable ballots from every precinct, which allows Yavapai County voters to cast their ballots in a convenient place irrespective of their specific district.  Moreover, Yavapai County has a travel board, which visits assisted and independent living facilities throughout the county to register voters, update information for existing registrants, and thereby enabling residents to cast their ballots easily.  This service allows those who face transportation challenges an opportunity to vote.

 

The County Board of Supervisors appointed Lynn Constabile as the Yavapai County Elections Director in June 2004; a post she continues to hold.  The Election’s office, in coordination with the County Recorder’s office, is responsible for conducting all of Yavapai County’s elections.  The office also contracts with cities and towns, school districts, and special districts to administer their elections.

 

The Organizers invite attendees to stay after the presentations to discuss and brainstorm ways we could continue to facilitate the accessibility and ease of voting.

Program Co-Sponsors

  1. Independent Newspapers
  2. Dysart Unified School District
  3. City of Surprise
  4. City of El Mirage
  5. City of Avondale
  6. AAUW:  Northwest Valley Branch & AAUW of AZ
  7. Metro Phoenix LWV
  8. LWV of Arizona (state chapter)
  9. NOW:  Sun Cities\West Valley
  10. Arizona Clean Elections Commission
  11. Sun City Grand Republican Interest Group
  12. Democratic Interest Groups: NW Valley, SC Grand, and Legislative District 22
  13. Arizona Advocacy Network
  14. Adult Education Program of the UU Church of Surprise
  15. The Area Ministerial Association
  16. Dysart ASSET
  17. YES for Dysart Children
  18. Surprise-El Mirage PTA Council


Background on “Restrictive Voter Access Legislation” Efforts:

Recently, state legislatures across our nation have introduced or enacted laws to make it more difficult for some to vote by crafting policies that make voting inconvenient or extremely challenging.  Localities administer elections in the United States, thus voter accessibility policies vary widely among jurisdictions.

Some of the restrictions include:

  • limiting the acceptable forms of identification
  • reducing hours and/or number of days allowed for early voting
  • ending opportunities for students to vote at their college residency by relocating election sites many miles away
  • fewer precincts and an inadequate number of voting machines in specific precincts resulting in extremely long lines on election day
  • massive purging of voters from the rolls
  • increased regulation of voter registration drives

These laws affect and burden students who are away at college, seniors, people of color, and low-income and minority voters who lack acceptable forms of identification.  Many, like students, the elderly, and the poor do not have transportation to get to voting sites when they are located a long distance from their residence.

At the founding of the country, most states limited the right to vote to property-owning white males.  Over time, Congress formally granted the right to racial minorities, women, and youth.  However, throughout the latter 19th and early 20th centuries, Southern states passed Jim Crow laws to suppress poor and minority voters; among other things, such laws included poll taxesliteracy tests, and grandfather clauses. Most of these tactics are now illegal due to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

However, new Restrictive Voter Access Legislation (RVAL) is now reality.  Research has shown that tactics to depress voter turnout have become an integral part of elections in the USA.  When political entities advocate for such policies, they typically use positive language such as “voter security” and “anti-voter fraud” to justify their actions; but there is little evidence to prove that voter fraud is a significant problem in the United States.  One might even say a new poll tax is the status quo considering that a person must spend money to purchase a copy of their birth certificate or a picture ID from a Secretary of State.

Regretfully, voter restrictions and limited accessibility efforts played a crucial role in driving voter turnout to historic lows in 2014.

The LWV NWMC Forum Report by Carol Mattoon

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