President’s Message – October 2013

Amid the backdrop of a looming local election season, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration met in Center City to discuss how to improve current election policies.

The commission—a bipartisan commission – which has 10 members chosen by the White House—was first publicly announced by Obama in his State of the Union address, during which he expressed concern about long wait times at the polls in 2012. The commission is tasked with presenting recommendations in six months to the president to improve voting, specifically focusing on members of the military, overseas voters, voters with disabilities and voters with limited English proficiency. It will also look at the training of polling workers, the operation of polling places and voting machines, and ballot design per the president’s executive order, which included a long list of other potential areas of study.

The commission, which was co-chaired by Benjamin Ginsberg, former counsel to Mitt Romney, and Bob Bauer, former counsel to President Obama was established in March. It held a public hearing on Wednesday, September 4th, at the Philadelphia Convention Center, at which directors of state election bodies from the east coast testified about their home state’s electoral practices. (South Carolina, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey)

Speakers at the PCEA meeting discussed a range of issues, from methods of preparing for a natural disaster to the use of electronic voting systems. However, voter identification issues, specifically Pennsylvania’s controversial voter ID law, were not on the day’s agenda, as they were beyond the scope of the commission’s purpose.

The opportunity for testimony was offered to me as your State and Local President. What an information filled day and a reaffirming day to have the League of Women Voters invited, encouraged and welcomed! Hearing the testimony from four other state’s election officials served to reinforce the League’s positions on the serious need for election reform.

“The co-chairs from the Presidential Commission conceded they have a large challenge before them related both to the scope of their task as well as logistically given the short time frame and a commission staffed by volunteers. But they expressed hope the CEA wouldn’t join the list of past commissions criticized for their ineffectiveness.”

The voters of Chester County and across this large state deserve a reasonable expansion of opportunities to participate in the democratic process. We look to our state, not to be recognized as the state that has fallen behind, but rather as the state of Pennsylvania that will be viewed as a “Voter Supportive” state!

The Pennsylvania Senate took a great step in the right direction for voting rights. The Senate unanimously passed SB37 to establish an online voter registration system. The Senate’s vote showed bipartisan cooperation and we hope the House shares their dedication to protecting voters’ right and moves quickly with the same kind of collaboration. We will watch the progress of this bill closely as it moves through the House and hopefully to the Governor’s desk soon.

October 1st will be a DAY OF ACTION in Harrisburg. The League will join in with a number of organizations in support of election modernization. You are all welcome to participate in mind, body and spirit! SB37 is no HB1505 – providing for Electronic Voter Registration.

The press conference will begin at 10:00 in the Capitol Rotunda followed by visits to your elected officials. As always you are encouraged to reach out by phone to declare your support. For further details, look to the link:

In the meantime……Thank You to all our volunteers working so hard all across our county, registering voters and providing opportunities for candidate forums. We could not do it without you!

Remind your contacts, friends and neighbors that SMARTVOTER is now their best link to who’s who and what’s what for the November 5th Election.

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