Delegates to the June 2015 League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania State Convention voted to approve a review and update of current election law positions, “focusing specifically on apportionment and redistricting, election procedures, registration requirements, alternatives to closed primaries and alternatives to ‘winner take all’ election systems.”
The topic is timely, given concern about 2016 primaries and caucuses, interest in alternatives to Pennsylvania’s current closed primary system and discussions about other ways to ensure responsive government.
In the summer of 2015, the LWVPA Board formed an Update Committee to prepare materials for local Leagues to use in preparing their members for participation in and arriving at consensus. First, the committee reviewed the current LWVPA positions, as presented in Where We Stand, the LWVUS position as presented in Impact on Issues, and various other LWVUS and LWVPA documents. This included testimony presented at the national and state levels.
The committee found that existing materials already covered well most of the issues presented for review and update. Knowing that LWVPA could take action at the state level based on national positions, the committee investigated the following four broad categories: voter registration, election day procedures, alternative election systems and primaries.
The committee has provided a detailed study guide, consensus questions and powerpoint presentation. Because of the length and the complexity of the material, we suggest that local committees divide the materials into parts, present each section to local League members, and decide on the consensus questions related to that section. This will require at least two meetings to really address all the questions.
Since much of the Alternative Elections Systems portion of the study introduces complex concepts that may be entirely new to some people, Leagues are encouraged to consider holding a public informational meeting, followed by a separate consensus meeting for League members to continue the discussion.
In approaching this material, the committee hoped to provide not just information for discussion, but ideas for advocacy and engagement on the local level.
Consensus questions and implementation of current positions should be undertaken with awareness of essential League principles:
- The League of Women Voters believes that voting is a fundamental citizen right that should be guaranteed.
- Elections should be accessible, transparent, fair, and secure.
- Voters should have meaningful choices when they go to the polls.
- Election policies should aim to achieve universal voter participation.
- Access to voting should be barrier-free.
- Every vote should count, and every vote should matter.
- Outcomes should reflect the values and opinions of all Americans.
- LWVPA Review and Update 101 (A quick how-to) (pdf)
- Election Law Review and Update Leader’s Guide (pdf)
- Election Law Review and Update Study Guide Section 1 (pdf)
- Election Law Review and Update Study Guide Section 2 (pdf)
- Election Law Review and Update Study Guide Section 1 (editable document)
- Election Law Review and Update Study Guide Section 2 (editable document)
- Election Law Review and Update Consensus Questions (pdf)
- Election Law Review and Update Consensus Questions (editable doc)
- Election Law Review and Update Section 1 (downloadable powerpoint)
- Election Law Review and Update Section 2 (downloadable powerpoint)
- Election Law Review and Update Suggestions for Powerpoint Use
- Election Law Review and Update References and Suggested Readings
At the request of local League leaders, the deadline for consensus question responses has been adjusted. Responses for the sections on Voter Registration and Election Day Procedures has been moved back a month to April 1, 2017. The deadline for sections covering Alternative Election Systems and Primaries is now December 1, 2017. Materials divided to reflect this change will be available in early January.