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Proposed 2016-2018 LWVUS Program



The vote on the Proposed Program at Convention 2016 will be the culmination of months of Program Planning by state and local Leagues and Inter-League Organizations (ILOs). A proposed program was sent to Leagues along with the Program Planning Leaders Guide. A total of two hundred and thirty (230) Leagues submitted recommendations to LWVUS. In addition, the LWVUS Board considered input received on an online survey in Fall 2015 in which members strongly supported a League-wide focus on core democracy issues, including voter service and protection, money in politics and redistricting. In April 2016, the LWVUS Board adopted a Proposed Program based on recommendations from Leagues. Delegates to Convention will vote on the Proposed Program and on any not-recommended items submitted in accordance with the LWVUS bylaws and voted consideration by the Convention delegates.


The LWVUS Board recommends retaining all current LWVUS positions in the areas of Government, International Relations, Natural Resources and Social Policy for the 2016-2018 biennium. Based on forty-nine (49) program planning responses from state and local Leagues and ILOs, the LWVUS Board recommends a concurrence with the Behavioral Health position of the League of Women Voters of Colorado. And based on two hundred twenty nine (229) program planning responses from state and local Leagues and ILOs, the LWVUS Board recommends a League-wide Campaign for Making Democracy Work® including a concurrence with the Redistricting position proposed by the LWVUS Redistricting Task Force.


To be moved for consideration at Convention, a not-recommended item must be moved for and granted consideration before delegates can debate adopting them as amendments or substitutes to the Proposed Program. Those moving for consideration for concurrence at Convention must have met the requirements of LWVUS Bylaws Article XII, Sec. 2 (b). Delegates advocating a not-recommended item should refer to Convention Rule 10.


Based on Program Planning responses, the LWVUS Board recommends retaining all current LWVUS Positions in the areas of Representative Government, International Relations, Natural Resources and Social Policy.

The LWVUS Board recommends a League-wide Campaign for Making Democracy Work®.


This comprehensive program would build on our accomplishments as part of the 2014-16, Key Structures of Democracy Program. It would engage Leagues nationwide in advancing core democracy issues.

  • Voter protection and mobilization
  • Election reform
  • Money in politics, constitutional amendment and redistricting

This includes Concurrence on the Floor of Convention with the Redistricting position proposed by the LWVUS Redistricting Task Force.

Looking Ahead to 2016 and Beyond

Overview of a Possible Program Focus: Campaign for Making Democracy Work

As Convention 2016 and Election 2016 and their outcomes draw near, it is abundantly clear that our work is far from finished in making democracy work for every voter and every voice in our communities. From our interactions with League leaders and members, from the results of a recent member survey, and based on the political outlook for the next two years, we believe that every League will likely continue to focus resources on the core democracy issues that are part of the 2014-2016 program. The LWVUS Board believes that our 2016-2018 program should recognize this reality and do the same. The opportunities that we see over the next biennium are as follows:

  • Voting Rights and Voter Protection

In Congress, we must continue to push for restoration of the Voting Rights Act by supporting the bipartisan Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA). We must continue to support positive reforms such as online voter registration for all, portable voter registration within each state, and reforms to provisional voting, areas for which there are already pending bills. We must continue pushing this administration and the next to comply with the National Voter Registration Act by allowing voters to register through the federally-facilitated health care exchanges.

  • Money in Politics

Congress can take action to reform money in politics. Including the Stop Super PAC-Candidate Coordination Act in the House, there is legislation on each of the three pillars of our work on campaign finance: disclosure, stopping Super PACs, and public financing of congressional and presidential elections. There is also an anti-bundling bill. In addition, Congress can and must ensure meaningful enforcement of existing and future laws. The Federal Election Commission can’t fix itself, but Congress surely can. These reforms can be made despite recent decisions of the Supreme Court.

  • Supporting Voting Rights and Voter Protection in the States

In the states the fight continues in statehouses and courthouses to prevent legislation that suppresses the vote. Support also continues for reforms like on-line voter registration and expansion of early voting. These efforts are most successful when state Leagues can rely on LWVUS for resources in the form of shared expertise and coordination of strategies and messaging. State Leagues play a critical role, too, in developing partnerships and coalitions to protect the vote, not only in state legislatures but also in local communities. Collaborating with LWVUS, state Leagues take the leading role in advocacy for voter protection but also in coordinating statewide campaigns around voting issues.

  • Supporting Voting Rights and Voter Protection in Local Communities

In recent years local League voter service has joined the front lines of voter protection. The 2016 election will be the first presidential election in 50 years in which voters cannot rely on the protections of the Voting Rights Act to ensure free and fair access to the polls. Never has a local presence--real people in real communities--been a greater asset for the League. Registering voters in underserved communities, high schools, community colleges, and at naturalization ceremonies has become the primary focus of our voter service work. Long-standing relationships with elections officials have already produced good results in preventing careless or not so careless decisions regarding precinct locations and distribution of polling place resources in the wake of the Shelby decision. More is required. It is critical that, in this upcoming election, we promote and support a local presence in our most vulnerable communities by working together with community partners and using our 95 years of election experience to protect voters in the next election.

  • Voting Rights and Voter Protection Following Election 2016

The past five years have shown that elections have important consequences for both candidates and voters. Long lines at the polls in 2012 prompted the president to appoint the Presidential Commission on Election Administration to examine best election practices from the perspective of voter experience. The resulting recommendations provide an excellent road map for election reform at state and local levels. The League and our partners will be on the ground next November, but our election observations are meaningless unless we take them back to the appropriate decision makers.

Election 2016 will be the most expensive in our history. The issue of money in politics does not end the day after an election, nor is it confined to federal elections or the federal government. Leagues are working hard to update our campaign finance reform position, and it is incumbent on all of us to work at every level of government to ensure that power is in the hands of the many and not the few.

Redistricting reform continues to be a goal for the League. Armed with a position every state League can use, we look forward to more robust efforts to accomplish this goal. LWVUS will provide both venues for coordination and expert assistance. Progress has been made already, but League-wide support can strengthen the effort. State Leagues will take the lead in their states as we look to 2020 and beyond.

In addition, given the current political climate, there will likely be continued calls to amend the U.S. Constitution through a convention. The lessons learned through our study of the amendment process will inform LWV’s education and advocacy in this area.

Proposed Concurrence: Position on Redistricting

Redistricting Position in Brief:

Support redistricting processes and enforceable standards that promote fair and effective representation at all levels of government with maximum opportunity for public participation.

Redistricting Position:

1.      Responsibility for redistricting preferably should be vested in an independent special commission, with membership that reflects the diversity of the unit of government, including citizens at large, representatives of public interest groups, and members of minority groups.

2.      Every redistricting process should include:

a.       Specific timelines for the steps leading to a redistricting plan;

b.      Full disclosure throughout the process and public hearings on the plan proposed for adoption:

i.      Redistricting at all levels of government must be accomplished in an open, unbiased manner with citizen participation and access at all levels and steps of the process,

ii.    Should be subject to open meeting laws;

c.       A provision that any redistricting plan should be adopted by the redistricting authority with more than a simple majority vote;

d.      Remedial provisions established in the event that the redistricting authority fails to enact a plan. Specific provisions should be made for court review of redistricting measures and for courts to require the redistricting authority to act on a specific schedule:

i. Time limits should be set for initiating court action for review,

ii.  The courts should promptly review and rule on any challenge to a redistricting plan and require adjustments if the standards have not been met.

3.      The standards on which a redistricting plan is based, and on which any plan should be judged, must:

a.     Be enforceable in court;

b.    Require:

i. Substantially equal population,

ii. Geographic contiguity, and

iii. Effective representation of racial and linguistic minorities.

c.       Provide for (to the extent possible):

i.      Promotion of partisan fairness,

ii.    Preservation and protection of “communities of interest,” and

iii.  Respect for boundaries of municipalities and counties.

d.   Compactness and competitiveness may also be considered as criteria so long as they do not conflict with the above criteria

e.       Explicitly reject:

i.      Protection of incumbents, through such devices as considering an incumbent’s address, and

ii.    Preferential treatment for a political party, through such devices as considering party affiliation, voting history and candidate residence.

This position does not supersede any existing state League redistricting position.

Proposed Concurrence: Behavioral Health

In addition, the LWVUS Board recommends a concurrence with the LWV Colorado position on Behavioral Health including amending the LWVUS Health Care position to include the following as the second sentence under Basic Level of Quality Care:

Every U.S. resident should have access to affordable, quality in- and out- patient behavioral health care, including needed medications and supportive services that is integrated with, and achieves parity with, physical health care.

Position on Behavioral Health

Support for: 
• Behavioral Health as the nationally accepted term that includes both mental illness and substance use disorder. 
• Access for all people to affordable, quality in- and out-patient behavioral health care, including needed medications and supportive services.
• Behavioral Health care that is integrated with, and achieves parity with, physical health care.
• Early and affordable behavioral health diagnosis and treatment for children and youth from early childhood through adolescence.
• Early and appropriate diagnosis and treatment for children and adolescents that is family-focused and community-based.
• Access to safe and stable housing for people with behavioral health challenges, including those who are chronically homeless. 
• Effective re-entry planning and follow-up for people released from both behavioral health hospitalization and the criminal justice system. 
• Problem solving or specialty courts, including mental health and drug courts, in all judicial districts to provide needed treatment and avoid inappropriate entry into the criminal justice system. 
• Health education – from early childhood throughout life – that integrates all aspects of social, emotional and physical health and wellness. 
• Efforts to decrease the stigmatization of, and normalize, behavioral health problems and care.

Program Adoption at a Glance

Friday, June 17, Afternoon Plenary

Board member presents the Proposed Program and moves for its adoption.

Delegates may move consideration of not-recommended items as amendments or substitutes for the Proposed Program. Debate, possibly amend, vote for consideration. Majority vote.

Debate those items granted consideration, possibly amend, and vote in the order granted consideration. Majority vote.

Debate on Proposed Program and any items that were granted consideration.

Saturday, June 18, Morning Plenary

Vote on the Proposed Program and any items that were granted consideration. Majority vote to adopt Proposed Program and any item granted consideration; two-thirds vote to adopt a concurrence.  

Tips for Effective Involvement in Program Adoption

Read the Workbook Program Section and talk to your members before you head to Convention. Delegates go to Convention “informed, but not instructed.”

Review information on the Members site: In the Convention section, you will find information on the Proposed Program, the Program Planning Process and Impact on Issues with all LWVUS positions.

Join the Convention Google Group to find out what other delegates and League members are interested in.

Ask for help in understanding the process both before and during convention by contacting Program Outreach Chair Barbara Zia at [email protected] or LWVUS Program Planning staff Betsy Lawson [email protected] .

Know the Rules: LWVUS Bylaws, Article XII, Principles and Program as well as Convention Rules, especially Rules 10 and 11 for procedure. 

Attend the delegate briefing session at Convention. Parliamentarian Martha Rollins is a neutral source of information. You can reach Martha at [email protected].

Attend the Friday night Program Q & A.

Attend caucuses on issues that are listed in the Workbook.

To move an item for consideration, it must be on the list of not recommended items.  Motions are submitted in writing. Know how to word a motion. The motion would read “I move consideration of the not-recommended item (give exact description of the item that you are proposing) as an amendment to the Proposed Program. Make sure that your motion is clearly stated and grammatically correct.

Watch the microphones during Plenary. In the early stages of discussion, the chair recognizes the floor mikes in continuous sequence. During debate, mikes are designated pro and con, so delegates can hear each point of view presented alternately.

Leave Convention ready to support the Program adopted by delegates. Vigorous debate that ends in organizational commitment is the League way.