The League engaged with the Summit for Democracy, hosted by the State Department, through civil society consultations over the course of the spring and summer of this year to discuss key issues including election integrity, climate, racial justice, LGBTQIA+ issues, and gender. Following these public consultations, the League shared a letter with the State Department outlining our key priorities and policy positions on the above topics.
Summit for Democracy Core Team
US Department of State
2201 C St NW
Washington, DC 20520
DearSummit for Democracy Core Team:
LWV.ORG |1233 20THSTREETNW,SUITE500| 202-429-1965WASHINGTON, DC 20036August 23, 2022Summit for Democracy Core Team US Department of State2201 C St NWWashington, DC 20520DearSummit for Democracy Core Team: We appreciate the opportunity to participate inthe USDepartment of State’s Civil Society Consultations around the Summit for Democracy. In hosting these consultations, the State Department demonstrates a commitment to transparency and public involvement in democracy, whichare core values of the League of Women Voters of the United States (the League,or LWVUS).
The League is a century-seasoned, nonpartisan, democracyorganization committed to protecting every person’s freedom to vote. We are a grassroots group comprised of more than 500,000 members and supporters across more than 750 local and state Leagues nationwide. The League focuses on advocacy, education, litigation, and organizing to achieve our mission to empower voters and defend democracy.
In attending the Department of State’s consultation meetings, we heard your request that civil society narrowour priorities on each topic to a manageable listof specific actions. In this letter, the Leaguesharesour policy positions and priorities on a selectionoftheproposed topics. We appreciate your consideration of these positions to guidethe US Government’s goal setting aroundits diplomatic efforts in its Year of Action.
Recommendation: As part of the year of action, the US must implement efforts to instillconfidence in election systems and administrators at home and abroad. This includes working with US government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security and the Election Assistance Commission to share best practices on theimplementation of election procedures.
Background: LWVUS supports the implementation of votingsystems and procedures that are secure, accurate, re-countable, accessible, and transparent. LWVUS supports voting systems that are designed to:
- Employ a voter-verifiable paper ballot,or other official paper recordsof the voter’s intent;
- Allow voter verification, either by eye or with the aid of suitable devices for those who have impaired vision, that the paper ballot/record accurately reflects thevoter’sintent;
- Conductverification while the voter is in the process of voting;
- Use thepaper ballot/record for audits and recounts;
- Allowvote totals tobe verified by an independent hand count of the paper ballot/record;and
- Routinelyaudit the paper ballot/record in randomly selected precincts in every election, as well asthe results published by the jurisdiction.
The League has concerns about risks to eligible voters casting a ballotincluding voter registration problems, erroneous purging, problems with voter identification requirements, difficulties with voting systems,and thefailure to count provisional ballots. Toensure election integrity, solutions to these hurdles must be implemented.
It must be stressed that not all action taken in the name of election integrity does, in fact, improve the integrity of our elections. As an example, in 2017-2018 the League actively opposed the creation of the Pence-Kobach Election ‘Integrity’Commission. The Commission was created by President Trump to address the so-called voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election. The Commission met twice but was unable to justify the unfounded claims of voter fraud in the election and ultimately disbanded in the spring of 2018.The League opposed moves by the commission to collect voter registration data from all 50 states and create a national database of registerednames because of voter data privacy issues.
Recommendation: The US should set aggressive goals and take expedient action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,in collaboration with the United Nations and other globalcoalitions,to address the threat of climate change. Sharing science, statistics, and strategies,and setting collaborative goals for the reduction of greenhouse gasses arenecessary to ensure thatdemocracies around the world are able to function.
Background: The League maintains that climate change is a serious threat facing our nation and planet and requires immediate domestic and international action. We supportclimate goals and policies that are consistent with the best available climate science,andwebelieve that an interrelated approach to combating climate change—including energy conservation, air pollution controls, building resilience, and promotion of renewable resources—is necessary to protect public health and defend the overall integrity of the global ecosystem.
Recommendation: The US must institute federal measures to remove and prevent racial discrimination in voting, policing and incarceration, education, employment, and housing. The government should also address barriers to quality health care, which disproportionately burden people of color, and work to implement federal immigration policies that provide an efficient, expeditious system for legal entry of immigrants into the US.
Background: Racial justice is an underlyingdriver ofall of the League’s work on policy issues, especiallyas the effects of discrimination in voting, climate change, the criminal justice system, health careinadequacies, and immigration fall disproportionately hard on communities of color. In this vein, the League urges efforts to dismantlesystemic racism in all of our governmentalsystems.
Within our voting rights work, outlawing racially discriminatory voting restrictions and racialgerrymanderingare high priorities for the League.Since ShelbyCountyv. Holderand Brnovich v. Democratic National Committeegutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, discriminatory voting procedures have spread across the country at the state level. These laws and practices, whichdisproportionately affect racially marginalized communities,can take many forms,including restrictive voter ID laws, the closing of polling locations, and voter roll purges. Largely, these laws are able to be proposed and enacted because of a lack of federal preemption protecting voting rights for all.
Racial gerrymandering distorts and undermines representative democracy by allowing officials to select their voters rather than vice versa. Whetherdone for purposes of racial discrimination,or to ensure the dominance of one political party, or even to ensure the election of a specific legislator, gerrymandering runs counter to equal voting rights for all.We continue to advocate for redistricting reformthat protects voters from gerrymandering.
Recommendation: The US should institute federal efforts to remove and prevent discrimination on the basis of sexuality, gender identity, or sexual variation.
Background: The League supports equal rights for all under state and federal law. We support legislation to equalize the legal rights, obligations, and benefits available to same-gendercouples with those available to heterosexual couples, including legislation to permit same-gendercouples to marry under civil law.
The League believes that the federal government shares with other levels of government the responsibility to provide equality of opportunity for education, employment, and housing for all persons in the United States regardless of their race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, or disability.
Recommendation: The US must take federal action for the achievement and protection of equality for all regardless of sex or gender identity. This includes working with US government agencies like the Department of Justice to overcome barriers to the national enshrinement of sex equity and to fulfill their commitments to protecting access to reproductive health care. This also encompasses leading by example globally, including working in coordination with the United Nations to achieve gender equity domestically.
Background: The League supports equal rights for all regardless of sex. We support ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and efforts to bring laws into compliance with the ERA, including eliminating or amendinglaws that have the effect of discriminating on the basis of sex; promoting laws that support the goals of the ERA; and strengthening the enforcement of such existing laws. We also support the rights of women and those who can become pregnant to self-determination related to bodily autonomy, privacy, and reproductive health care.
On the international stage, the League endorses the full and active participation of the US in the UN system, and UN efforts to achieve the full and equal participation of women in all aspects of civil and political life. This includes supporting the United Nations Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), as well as its ratification by the US Senate.
As an organization that works to defend democracy, the League of Women Voters of the United States greatly appreciates the opportunity to submit recommendations onstrengtheningdemocracy to the USDepartment of State. We recognize the challenge of responding to what is undoubtedly a wide array of stakeholder priorities, and welcome further discussion about the League’s positions, representing a robust network of people nationwide. For questions or additional comments, please feel free to reach out toour staff viaKristen Kern, Federal Policy and Advocacy Manager,at [email protected]
essica Jones Capparell
Director of Government Affairs
League of Women Voters of the US
The Latest from the League
The League signed onto a letter urging the USAID and the US Department of State to take immediate action to demonstrate their commitment to reproductive health, rights, and justice.