Friday, Aug. 26
Women's Equality Day
Thursday, Sept. 8

Massachusetts Primary Election

Saturday, Sept. 17

League Leader Lunch, Hingham Community Center, 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

Tuesday, Sept. 27

National Voter Registration Day

Wednesday, Oct. 19

Last Day to Register to Vote in General Election

Tuesday, Nov. 8

General Election

A Word From Our President
Dear Massachusetts League Members,

As summer comes to an end and we begin to think about leaves turning colors, cool nights, fall festivals, apple picking and apple cider donuts, we also begin to think about candidates' nights, primary elections, more candidates' nights and then the big one - The General Election - and this year it's more important than ever that EVERYONE has the opportunity to vote.

The League Matters.

Just say those words to yourself a few times. Is it true? Ask yourself these questions during the days and weeks leading up to the November 8 election:

Does ensuring that every eligible citizen has the right to vote matter?

Can a few thousand votes affect the outcome of a national election?

In a flood of misinformation, misquotes, sound bites, and slick campaign ads, can providing impartial accurate information from a trusted source make democracy work better?

Does who gets to run this country matter?

Does the League Matter? The League Matters!

If your answer is yes to all these questions, go out and be the League. Participate, find out what your local League is doing; help out. Talk to your friends, children, neighbors, co-workers, tell them about the League, ask them to join. Make a contribution to support the League's work. Get informed, get involved. Make sure everyone you meet is registered to vote. Tell them how easy it is. Now, more than ever, America needs the League. Now, more than ever, the League needs you.
Yours in League,
Jean Cherdack, President

Vote411 Goes Live in Massachusetts

LWVMA's Online Primary Voters' Guide is now available. Voters using this guide will be able to find out who is on their Sept. 8 primary ballot simply by entering a street address, and we have invited all candidates in contested primary races to answer questions developed by a group of local League volunteers. After the primary, we will invite all remaining candidates to answer a new series of questions and publish a new guide for the general election. We hope these VOTE411 online guides will be a useful tool for all voters in Massachusetts.

Help us spread the word about by telling your friends, colleagues, and other organizations about, and by sharing on your social media. Please be sure to check out LWVMA's online 
Voter Service Toolkit for more information about all of the state League's election activities this fall. The Voter Service Toolkit also contains information about upcoming candidate events in your area, voter registration, pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and ballot questions.
LWVMA Positions on Ballot Questions

There will be four questions on the statewide ballot Nov. 8. LWVMA is taking a stand on only one of them, opposing the additional slots parlor. The League does not have positions on the issues in the other three ballot questions, on charter school expansion, farm animal containment practices and legalization of marijuana.

Our decisions on these questions are based on policy positions taken after study of issues at the state and national levels and consensus by League members.
Here are the questions, in the order they will appear on the ballot, and the League's stand on each. Read more...
Opportunity for Voter Protection Work

During this election cycle, LWVMA will again participate in the Election Protection coalition,, to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their ballot and have their vote counted. Election Protection has a national voter hotline (866-OUR-VOTE), available in English, Spanish and several Asian languages.

In Massachusetts the coalition will provide an Election Day field program for "on the ground" assistance and guidance with the voting process.

Massachusetts Election Protection is led by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, with other coalition partners including MassVote, Common Cause, ACLU of Massachusetts, the Anti-Defamation League, and LWVMA. The field program is staffed by attorneys, community advocates, non-partisan organizations, and students. Training is provided for all volunteers to spot common voting problems and guide voters through the voting process.

If you would like to volunteer and receive training, please contact Attorney Sophia Hall from the Lawyers' Committee.
Teens Can Pre-register to Vote

LWV Sudbury HS Voter Registration
The teen pre-registration law passed in 2014 went into effect Aug. 1. People 16 and 17 years old can now submit a voter registration form to their local election official. They will receive a pre-registration notice by mail, confirming receipt of the application. Pre-registration may be done online, by mail, or in person at any voter registration location. When the person turns 18, the local election official will send confirmation that the person has been moved to the list of registered voters.

When you do voter registration drives, you can now pre-register those teens, but make sure they understand they cannot vote until they turn 18. Please be sure you use the new voter registration forms, which note that people can register when they are 16. Use the same form to register teens and people over 18. Check this
link to see what the new form looks like.
You can print 4" x 6" information cards with pre-registration information to distribute at events. Here is the front and here is the back.
Early Voting in Effect for November Election

During the fall election season, for the first time, Massachusetts will offer early voting.  As part of the Election Modernization Coalition, LWVMA has worked hard to ensure robust implementation of the new early voting law.               

Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 24, and ends Friday, Nov. 4. The law establishing early voting, passed in 2014, requires early voting be available during normal business hours at the city election official's or town clerk's office or a designated location. Many cities and towns are expanding on that law to offer early voting during some evening hours, during the weekend of Oct. 22-23, and at more than one location.

Check with your election officials to see when and where early voting will be available, and spread the word through a letter to the editor, postings on social media and talks with friends. It's going to be a busy Election Day Nov. 8; early voting is a way to avoid the lines.
LWVUS Teams Up with Google
LWVUS has unveiled a major undertaking with Google and, which will likely result in tens of millions more people seeing our voters' guide content this year. There will be much more information about this exciting partnership coming, but as a first step,
read the letter recently sent to state Leagues.

Victories in Legislative Session
Several bills LWVMA strongly supported passed in the 189th session of the Massachusetts legislature, which ended at midnight Sunday, July 31. Your effort in responding to action alerts and talking to your Senators and Representatives was a key factor.

A bill improving access to public records, a strong pay equity bill and an energy diversity bill that increases the state's reliance on renewable energy sources all passed with active League support.
The legislature in this session made major strides in considering bills to reform the criminal justice system. While only the bill to repeal automatic drivers' license suspensions for certain drug-related offences passed, the work done on criminal justice reform is expected to carry over into the new session which begins in January.

In the next session, 
Back the Attorney General on Assault Weapon Ban
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey last month closed a loophole and stepped up enforcement of the state's strong assault weapons ban with a crackdown on the sale of copycat weapons. Despite the law, an estimated 10,000 assault weapons with only minor alterations were sold in Massachusetts in 2015. Healey's enforcement notice clarifies what constitutes a "copy" or "duplicate" weapon under the assault weapons ban.

The Attorney General's action spurred swift opposition from the gun lobby, which unleashed a barrage of public criticism and social media attacks from gun-rights activists, and spurred threats of a lawsuit from a well-funded gun industry trade group.

LWVMA backed successful legislation in the 2014 session that strengthened the state's already strong gun control laws and has supported the assault weapons ban. 

If you would like to express your support of the Attorney General's enforcement of the state's assault weapons ban, you can:

Participate in State Charter School Study
We strongly encourage all local Leagues to participate in the state charter school study in order to reach a true consensus of our state membership on this important issue. Once we have that consensus, the state League can develop a position on charter schools that will, in the future, allow us to support, oppose and suggest changes in legislation, to testify on Beacon Hill on more creative funding proposals and on governance and accountability issues, to take stands on ballot questions, and to play a more active role in this discussion.

The Charter School Study Committee expects to send study materials and consensus questions to local Leagues by Oct. 1. Please ask your League to participate in the study and organize a consensus committee. And please read the materials when they become available so you can be an active member of your consensus meeting.
The consensus report will be due back to LWVMA on Feb. 1, 2017.
Congratulations to Scharfman Grant Winners
Congratulations to the four Leagues awarded Daniel Scharfman Citizen Education Grants in April and the four in June. This grant program helps local Leagues carry out events and projects in citizen education and voter service. Generous contributions to the Lotte E. Scharfman Education Fund have made this program possible. A big thank you to those who have donated.

For information on the grant program and details on the winning projects,
click here.

The April winners were:
LWV Cape Ann: Public Forum on the November 2016 referendum questions; LWV of the Springfield Unit of the Northampton Area: Candidate meet and greet for Hampden County Sheriff; LWV Norwood: Norwood Public Schools Financing Study; and LWV Westford:  "A Guide to Town Meeting" booklet.

The June winners were: LWV Hamilton-Wenham: Civics Bee; LWV of Needham: Needham Votes 2016; LWV of the Springfield Unit of the Northampton Area: Visibility Campaign for; and LWV Wellesley: Vote Signs.
LWVUS 52nd Convention: Change and Action          
LWVMA sent 32 delegates to Washington, DC, at the end of June for the 
52nd LWVUS national convention. Our delegates joined over 700 other League members for workshops and caucuses, riveting speakers and panelists, and a hands-on election 2016 training, plus a banquet featuring author and journalist Ari Berman, who spoke about his book on the Voting Rights Act. We also elected new national leadership, adopted a budget (no US per-member-payment increases this year or next), and committed to strategically align around our national program - the campaign for Making Democracy Work®.
Key themes of convention were change, focus, engagement, and urgency. In her speech, LWVUS CEO Dr. Wylecia Wiggs Harris emphasized the need to embark on an organizational change journey that focuses on accelerating the pace of change within the League and adopting a bias toward action, taking advantage of alternative engagement opportunities, focusing our agenda, and wrestling with the tough questions of whether our current structure and approaches reflect a 21st century organization. Over the next few weeks, LWVUS will be posting materials, handouts, transcripts and videos in the Convention 2016 section of the website. You can view LWVMA's submission to Roll Call of the States here.
Seven LWVMA members participated in the national Lobby Day, speaking with Senators Warren's and Markey's staffs, as well as with Congressmen on the need to restore the Voting Rights Act.
See photos of Massachusetts delegates to the convention on our website.
Sign up for League Leader Communications          
LWVMA has created a League leader email discussion group to connect Leagues across the state. Through this group, League leaders can share local League successes, events, problems, and other points of interest with each other. LWVMA also sends a monthly newsletter (the League Leader Update) to League leaders. If you are not currently part of the discussion group or receiving the League Leader Update and would like to be included in one or both, please email Brynne Gorman.  
Remind your friends: Massachusetts primary election is Thursday, Sept. 8. Last day to register for Nov. 8 election is Wednesday, Oct. 19 

The Mass. League Voter is distributed to all LWVMA members. Anyone can request the Voter by clicking here. Please review this Update for articles of interest to your League and include them in your local Bulletin.

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League of Women Voters of Massachusetts | 133 Portland St | Boston | MA | 02114