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LWVUS National Popular Vote Task Force

LWVUS National Popular Vote Task Force Background, Information, and Resources

Background

Over the years, The League of Women Voters of the United States has believed that the direct-popular-vote method for electing the President and Vice President is essential to representative government.  In 1970, a League study of the presidential electoral process culminated in a position supporting direct election of the President by popular vote as essential to representative government. The League testified and lobbied for legislation to amend the U.S. Constitution to replace the Electoral College with direct election of the President.  The measure, which passed the House and nearly passed the Senate in 1971, has been revived in each Congress without success. In 1997, LWVUS again called for abolition of the Electoral College and for direct election of the President and Vice President in testimony before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution.

Support for the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact

In 2008 the League’s Convention voted to conduct a study of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) proposal, which would establish the popular election of the President through a compact among the states governing how they would cast their votes in the Electoral College. A two year study was completed and the 2010 Convention adopted a position, via concurrence, to support the NPVIC as another method of selecting the President, specifically stating “We support the use of the National Popular Vote Compact as one acceptable way to achieve the goal of the direct popular vote for election of the president until the abolition of the Electoral College is accomplished.”  [The NPVIC plan does not abolish the Electoral College, but instead works with it to accomplish a national popular vote by eliminating the state-by-state winner-take-all systems.]

The LWVUS Convention in 2018 voted, by resolution, to add advocacy of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact to the 2018-2020 Campaign for Making Democracy Work®. To support this effort, the LWVUS National Popular Task Force (the “LWV Task Force”) was established.

Purpose of the Task Force

The LWVUS National Popular Vote Task Force (the “LWV Task Force”) was established in May 2019 to explore and evaluate state League support for the NPV interstate compact which, if enacted, would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The LWV Task Force has been working diligently to evaluate state League support for the NPV Interstate Compact throughout the country and to assess the momentum and support behind the NPV effort.

We found that there is a sufficient amount of interest and support within our state Leagues for us to provide current information and valuable educational resources for members to support the NPV Bill and the NPV interstate compact.

 

Meet the Task Force

Toni Zimmer – Chair, NPV Task Force; Secretary, LWVUS, 2018-20

Toni brings more than 20 years of professional experience as a small business owner, project manager and seasoned writer to her position as Chair of the LWV NPV Task Force. “My experience working with many different groups of people throughout my professional and personal life, from office workers, to volunteers working on projects in the field, to presidents of large corporations and senior partners in prestigious law firms, has given me the ability to understand that each situation is different, each person is unique. Each decision made is essential.” Toni believes that the ability to be able to connect with people -- to communicate clearly, honestly, and appropriately with members -- is truly important to help make the LWV NPV Task Force a success.

Toni became the first African American woman to run for State Assembly in L.D. 24, Sussex County in New Jersey. Sussex County is considered a highly conservative area in a very blue state. While she did not win that race, she gained a lot beyond the race: as she was encouraged to join the LWV of Sussex Highlands in 2007. In 2011, Toni became the first African American woman to become president of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. She is also a trained moderator and loves moderating debates throughout the state, including many primary election debates on both sides of the aisle. She continues to enjoy a position of trust and respect in that role among voters and many politicians throughout the state.

During her four-year term as president of LWVNJ, one of the most challenging situations included cultivating relationships and building consensus which was crucial during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which struck days before the general election. Toni recalled that time. “It was critical that the LWVNJ worked closely with several organizations (including ACLU) and the state government to ensure that we could proceed with an election that would allow as many voters to get to the polls as possible.” They were successful, but it took great teamwork, listening, understanding, and thinking outside of the box to make it happen. As a result, the relationships that were cultivated during that time remain strong even today. A documentary was made about the experience: “Hurricane Sandy – Storming for the Vote.” LWVNJ received an award from LWVUS for its hard work to ensure voters got the opportunity to vote under difficult and devastating circumstances.

As a proud and active member of the LWV Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, Toni believes it is critical that we demonstrate our commitment to integrate DEI into every aspect of our work. “This can only be accomplished if we view our world through a richly faceted DEI lens.” She said. “I believe it is important to understand that as a single entity, we cannot achieve this on our own. We must identify and partner with organizations that represent, advocate, and protect the interests of groups we feel would diversify our membership and broaden our outreach to voters.” Toni is also a member of the LWV Bylaws Committee and is responsible to ensure that the DEI lens is reflected in language throughout our bylaws and policies within the organization.

 

Kathleen Crampton – LWV of Palm Beach County / LWV of Florida

Kathleen was the driving force behind LWVUS delegates voting to make NPV a part of “Making Democracy Work” during the LWV 2018 Convention. Building on the efforts of previous NPV support, her efforts ran the gamut between creating documents recommending NPV as a Convention Resolution and crafting a motion, to sponsoring an NPV Caucus, including procuring the room, producing NPV handouts, and developing an informative PowerPoint Presentation.

Kathleen was first introduced to NPV in 2017. “For years I believed the Electoral System was outmoded and unfair but thought that modifying the US Constitution was impossible,” she continued. “In 2017, I attended the LWV Florida Biennial Convention and was introduced to National Popular Vote. Already passed by 10 states and convinced of its merits, I began working on implementing NPV in Florida.”

For nearly three years, Kathleen has been working on getting NPV passed in Florida and has accomplished a great deal. “While Florida remains a very conservative state,” she said, “we believe that by 2024 Florida will finally have the Florida legislature hear and pass NPV.” Kathleen developed Floridians for NPV with the help of the LWVFL and its eight-member Steering committee which oversees all state NPV activities and meets by conference call twice a month. She developed a Florida-based NPV mailing list of over 850 recipients. “We also conducted a comprehensive NPV Workshop in Orlando in January 2019, which was attended by more than 60 LWV members.” she said.

When asked why she was interested in joining the LWVUS NPV Task Force, Kathleen shared her thoughts with enthusiasm. “By building upon its grassroots structure, LWVUS can be critical in supporting states as they pass NPVIC legislation,” she went on. “Combined with the League's brand recognition and local feet on the ground, the resources required may be modest, while the payoff is huge.”  Kathleen’s extensive experience in all that is NPV is incredibly valuable to the Task Force. She can focus on crafting the LWVUS's role in the passage of NPV. “My goal,” she said, “is to make the League’s 1970 commitment to electing the President by popular vote, a reality.”

 

Dr. Barbara Klein – LWV of Rogue Valley / LWV of Oregon

For more than a decade, Barbara has been involved with championing the passage of NPV in both Arizona and in Oregon. Working hard to see adoption of the 2-year study, Barbara served on the national study committee and was one of the authors of the LWVUS report to membership.  After the 2008 LWV National Study -- but prior to the 2010 Concurrence -- Barbara met as an individual with lobbyists, as well as the public, in support of the NPVIC.

While President of LWV Arizona, she led the LWVUS National Concurrence effort in 2010. This campaign ended up successfully adopting the NPVIC position as an alternative, until the Electoral College is abolished. “I spoke on NPVIC for Leagues in many areas of Arizona, and also trained other Leagues.” she said. In Arizona, the NPV bill passed the House several times, but has (so far) managed to be stalled in the Senate.

Barbara has a rich history of conducting NPV work in Oregon. “I taught several courses in Oregon, which included NPVIC for Osher Lifelong Learning Institute through Southern Oregon University.” she added “I have also spoken on NPV as the action chair for LWV Rogue Valley of Oregon at multiple locations.” She is an accomplished speaker and writer on other subjects but admits NPV is one of her favorites. “I have done public speaking and worked with the LWVOR Chair / lobbyist on NPV to develop language for literature and other details.” She explained that “at that time, the bill had passed the House, but not the Senate.” Barbara recalls how, rather famously, the Oregon Senate President made numerous attempts to block the bill leaving the Rules Committee. “He wished - along with some others,” she said, “to have the bill placed before the voters.” Despite attempts to thwart progress, on June 12, 2019 Governor Kate Brown signed the bill (SB 870), and Oregon became the 16th jurisdiction to enact the National Popular Vote Bill.

As a member of the LWV NPV Task Force, Barbara believes she can help decide the most effective and practical uses of LWVUS resources (time, staff or leaders) to best serve all Leagues. “If LWVUS can encourage and support certain states to work toward adoption of the NPV plan, the quicker we may get the public to realize that our current system is no longer working for voters in a fair manner.  While the NPV plan relies on the Electoral College to function, the Winner-Take-All approach in most states is no longer useful to the nation, perhaps even detrimental to our democracy.”

 

Sharon Reynolds-Mixon – LWV of Space Coast / LWV of Florida

Sharon is no stranger to working with members in a task force environment. She has a rich history of collaborative work, starting early on during her career in Florida public schools as Library Director. Sharon was an instrumental team member involved in the Florida Teens Read (FTR) program. FTR is a student-choice reading award program designed to determine which Young Adult books are recommended for special recognition with an annual award as the favorite of teens in Florida. “I’m very proud of FTR and our successful statewide teen reading program.” she said.

Sharon was also a member of the Common Sense Media team, the leading source of entertainment and technology recommendations for families and schools. Common Sense Media rates movies, TV shows, books, and more so parents can feel good about the entertainment choices they make for their kids. Sharon felt this was a necessary component to ensure ‘safe surfing’ in light of the wide access young people have to various sources on social media. “Millions of parents and educators trust Common Sense Media reviews and advice to help them navigate the digital world with their kids.” she said.

So, how did Sharon come to land a spot on the LWV NPV Task Force? For starters, her exceptional knowledge and experience regarding NPV issues make her a valued member of the Task Force. Sharon is an active member of the LWV of Florida NPVIC Leadership Team and Chair of the LWV Space Coast NPVIC Committee. She is a talented writer and seasoned presenter who has created and conducted multiple civic presentations in support of NPVIC throughout the state of Florida. “The presentations are available upon request for groups or organizations that would like to learn about the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.” she said.

Sharon feels positive and hopeful that the work of the LWV NPV Task Force will result in increased interest in the NPVIC, not only among League members, but among voters in the communities they serve. “I honestly consider the NPV to be a reflection of the desires of the populace, and our country deserves such a system.” she said.

 

Karen Nicholson – Vice President, LWVUS, 2018-20

Karen has served as Vice-President of LWVUS and LWVEF from 2016 to 2020 and Secretary from 2014-2016. She was elected to her first term on the National Board in June 2012.  She chaired the Education Committee for 6 years, where she supervised the Agriculture, Money in Politics, and Constitutional Amendment Studies. Karen was also involved in overseeing key Voter Service activities and programs, including LWV’s online VOTE411 program. She is proud and amazed at the breadth of its success. “VOTE411 has been up and running since 2006,” she said. “It’s exciting to know that tens of millions of voters have accessed the program and benefited from its services.” Karen believes that this success is part of the reason VOTE411 has been nominated for two Webby awards. “It’s an honor to see VOTE411 being nominated this way,” she continued. “It’s also exciting to share the spotlight with a well-known nominee in the running, like NASA.”

Karen currently chairs the Advocacy and Litigation Committee.  She has served on the Budget Committee, the Nominating Committee, and chaired the Program Planning Committee.  Karen was a member of a select committee consisting of board members specifically tasked with interviewing candidates for the position of LWVUS Chief Executive Officer (CEO). She recalled the process. “There were many qualified candidates, and our job was to conduct private interviews with each of them, discuss and document our impressions, and report our final hiring recommendations to the rest of the Board.” Karen served to help select a CEO in 2015 and 2018.

Much of Karen’s League work has been in program, both education and advocacy, or training and working with local Leagues. She began her League work in Richardson, TX when she became a stay-at-home-mom with her first daughter.  Her first League job was as local co-chair of a state education study. She has since also served on the Boards of Houston, Midland, and the League of Women Voters of Texas (LWVTX).

At the local level, Karen has been unit discussion leader, Voter editor, Organization VP, Program VP, Voters Service chair, and president of the League of Women Voters of Midland. For LWVTX, she chaired a child care study, followed education matters in the legislature as the public school finance issue chair, was a member of numerous committees including judicial selection study committee and periodic program review, trained local Leagues, was Organization VP and was LWVTX president for the four years prior to joining the LWVUS Board.

She brings that extensive program experience to the NPV Task Force. She had little NPV experience but brings the big picture viewpoint and asks the questions that the non-expert would ask. As a pragmatist, she also regularly asks “What should we do short term vs. long term?” and “Yes, theoretically, that’s a possibility, but what do we really want to accomplish?” 

Karen has spent most of her personal time in education—teaching or advocating. She served on numerous advisory committees for the MISD before being elected to the Midland ISD Board of Trustees where she served as Vice President or Secretary during two of her three terms.  She has taught in the Austin and Richardson public schools, as well as being an adjunct math professor at Midland College (TX). 

Karen was also appointed as a public member to the Commission for Lawyer Discipline and later to the Governance Oversight Committee of the State Bar of Texas by the Supreme Court of Texas. She currently serves on the Committee on Disciplinary Rules and Referenda for the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Legal Services Board.

 

National Staff: Celina Stewart, Esq. – Sr. Dir. of Advocacy and Litigation

Celina Stewart joined the League of Women Voters as Senior Director of Advocacy and Litigation in April 2018. In this role she develops and implements League political strategies and policy positions around election reform and voting rights issues; oversees prospective litigation for the national and state leagues; works closely with League grassroots staff in implementing national agenda; and serves as lead lobbyist and liaison with Congress and the Administration for the League.

Celina brings invaluable professional resources to the NPV Task Force. She is able to provide the team with sound advice from a legal perspective to ensure that the Task Force is operating within required parameters while -- at the same time --  offering sound counsel on which strategies may work best for the Task Force to pursue its long- and short-term goals. Celina worked to help the NPV Task Force identify issues indirectly related to NPV that might have an impact on the efforts of the Task Force.

Prior to joining the League, Celina was acting Chief Operating Officer and Director of Philanthropy at an electoral reform nonprofit where she split her time between managing a small, but mighty development team and managing the day-to-day operations of the organization. Celina’s experience also includes serving as a litigation consultant to several Am 100 law firms handling complex merger and acquisition transactions; legislative aide at the Michigan legislature handling the public interest portfolio for the House Tax Chair; and as Legal and Redistricting Counsel to the Minority Leader at the Georgia House of Representatives. As Legal Counsel, she assisted in developing and implementing the Caucus’s legislative agenda and was appointed to Reapportionment Counsel where she led a team of technical mappers and legal assistants to draw alternative redistricting maps in compliance with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Upon returning home to D.C. in 2012, Celina served as Director for the Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s 21st Century program, where she oversaw all quarterly conferences and worked with corporate giants and Members of Congress to produce the Annual Report, a policy recommendation manual presented to the President of the United States about issues that impacted communities of color.

Celina earned her J.D. from Western Michigan University Law School and her B.A. in Sociology from Spelman College. She currently serves on the Boards of the Bar Association of DC; the Women’s Bar Association of DC; the National Association of Advancement of Colored People (NAACP-DC); and was an American Bar Foundation Law Practice Fellow. Beyond her professional and social accolades, she is an avid foodie and wine tasting enthusiast.