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Making Democracy Work for All:
A Report from the LWVUS Convention

Making Democracy Work for All. What a goal this is. And this is the title for the League of Women Voters National Convention 2016. It was stellar. The LWVSB delegates were Jane Benefield, Linda Phillips, Amanda Pelch and Lindsey Baker. Susan Shank also attended. You could say we partied until we dropped; of course our party was lobbying Congress, caucusing, learning through workshops and attending many plenary sessions. We started at 7:15 a.m. and usually ended about 10 p.m. Sleep? Not much and it has taken several days to recover.  

Here's a brief recap of our activities. The details will be shared through future articles and discussions. The most exciting piece of news is that our very own Management Training Advisor (MTA) Chris Carson was elected LWV National President. She is the first National President from California. All CA Delegates were so proud when she was elected.

Personally I learned to Tweet more effectively--not perfectly but better. I'm committed to tweeting and facebooking. This is a good way to reach our younger members.

Thursday, June 16 was Lobby Day. About 150 Leaguers had appointments to meet with their Representatives and Senators. Jane, Linda, Lindsey and I, along with delegates from LWV San Luis Obispo, met with Lois Capps. We were directed to talk about the Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Discharge Petition. It was a fun half hour; Lois was gracious and listened. She has already signed on to both of these. Jane and Linda also met Senator Dianne Feinstein along with a group of other CA Leaguers.  

Friday June 17 opened at 7:15 a.m. with eight caucuses and workshops to choose from. The first plenary was jam packed with welcome statements, required business and two excellent talks. "Engaging Millennials for our Elections" was delivered by Jennifer Lawless, Director, Women & Politics Institute, American University. Then Amanda Taub of Vox News and New York Times spoke about "Understanding American Authoritarianism." In the afternoon we heard from a panel on "Protecting the Right to Vote and Expanding the Electorate." We also heard from Wylecia Wiggs Harris the new CEO of LWV. We worked through lunch that day talking about League Easy Web, the tool used to build our local websites. After dinner was a production of the Capitol Steps; we laughed a lot. And the evening ended with more workshops.

Saturday was another busy day, starting with many 7:15 a.m. workshops, then the Plenary at 8:30. We had another two informative talks that continued to expand our knowledge. First was NPR Correspondent Peter Overby, who talked about "Money In Politics."  Then Joe Goldman, President of the Democracy Fund, spoke on "Our Democracy - Complex Systems and Major Forces at Play in 2016."

We also adopted our new Program for 2016-18 and made some Bylaw changes. For Article III Membership. Sec. 2. Types of Membership. A. Voting Members. was changed from Citizens at least 18 years of age, to Persons at least 16 years of age. Our Bylaws will be changed accordingly. After lunch we had three large workshops.

The evening ended with a lovely banquet and scintillating talk by Ari Berman who is a senior contributing writer for The Nation magazine and a Reporting Fellow at The Nation Institute. He discussed his new book "Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in American." It is worth all of us reading and understanding how our voting rights have been challenged through SCOTUS' decision in Shelby v. Holder.

On Sunday morning there were only seven workshops at 7:15 a.m. The last Plenary Session started at 8:30. We adopted the budget for 2016-18; this includes the local league contribution for the next two years, which will remain at $32 per member. The budget was reduced to maintain this level of income. Unfortunately LWV is not supporting League Easy Web as it has in the past. LEW will continue, but its future is uncertain. On Sunday morning Chris Carson and the new LWV 2016-18 Board was elected. Chris gave a rousing speech in the plenary.  

All your delegates will be making detailed reports on the Convention and these will be shared with you over the summer. We are all open to questions, comments and concerns. Please email or call us (see our contact information on our website). We are all thankful for the support LWVSB gives to the delegates; it makes our participation possible. Thank you!
Amanda Pelch

LWVSB Holds Annual Meeting
Saturday, June 11
Beverly King, membership chair, congratulates new 50-year League member Linda Phillips. Linda previously served as LWVSB president and is now state and national action director.
Take Action:
Tell Congress to Restore Voting Rights Act
Saturday marked the three-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision to gut key provisions of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). We've had three years of bad laws that make voting harder in states all across the country. But there is a solution. Tell Congress to repair and modernize the Voting Rights Act TODAY!
The Voting Rights Advancement Act was introduced to address the voting discrimination unleashed in the wake of the Shelby County v. Holder decision. Yet the legislation is being held up on both sides of Congress. It is an unfortunate fact that discrimination in voting against racial, ethnic and language minorities continues in America.  This should be unacceptable in the greatest democracy in the world.
Add your voice! Tell your Senators and Representatives to move the Voting Rights Advancement Act forward.
Without congressional action to repair the VRA, 2016 will mark the first presidential election in 50 years without its full protections. Throughout the 2016 primaries we saw voters face a variety of obstacles, from reduced polling places, to long lines, to removal of registered voters from the rolls, and these challengers are just a canary in the coalmine for what's to come in November without the VRA's protections.
It's time we all call on our Senators and Representatives to take action and end voting discrimination in this country.
Chris Carson
President, League of Women Voters
Our League has recently taken positions on several local issues. To read the complete statements, please visit our website.

Amanda Pelch and Lindsey Baker
League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara 

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