Victory for League Lawyers

Lawyers Denise Lieberman, Sabrina Khan and Gillian Wilcox with League members Nancy Miller, Jean Dugan, Nancy Price and Evelyn Maddox

The League is glad that our pro bono lawyers on a voting rights lawsuit will be fairly compensated for their work.

The 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals just confirmed that the state must pay the attorney costs for a case brought by the League of Women Voters of Missouri and the A. Philip Randolph Institute. The state was found to be violating the federal National Voter Registration Act by not automatically updating voter information after residents changed their addresses.

LWVMO President Marilyn McLeod said, “It’s sad that the League had to file a lawsuit to get the state to comply with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. We notified state officials about this issue but had to go to court to see any improvement. We are very grateful for the work of a great team of lawyers who support the League’s work to overcome obstacles to voting in Missouri.”

Court Gives Medicaid Expansion

League members advocated for Medicaid expansion in Jefferson City and across the state.
Pictured are Victoria Turner, Angie Dunlap, Mary Pat Robben and Gloria Garidel at a June rally in St. Louis.

The Missouri Supreme Court just unanimously agreed that Medicaid Expansion is the law of the land, upholding the constitutional amendment voters approved in August 2020 against budget challenges.

“It has been almost a decade since Missouri Health Care for All started fighting to make Medicaid expansion a reality. Today, we are excited to see Missouri cross the finish line and bring health care to 275,000 people,” Drew Noblot and Sarah Willey, Missouri Health Care for All interim co-executive directors said in a statement.

Click here for the full opinion.

Redistricting Panels Named

“The process for voting and redistricting should be fair and not partisan. Fair maps count everyone and reflect the political will of voters from across the state,” LWVMO President Marilyn McLeod said after Governor Michael Parson named his appointments to bipartisan redistricting commissions. “Districts should be drawn to empower voters to pick the leaders who will represent them, not politicians picking the voters.”

The League will be contacting the new commissioners to request transparency as they work to draw new House and Senate district maps. The first meeting is set for the State Capitol on August 10. Click on the People Powered Maps image at right to see the list of commissioners.

LWVMO President Marilyn McLeod explained the redistricting process recently on the “Radio Friends with Paul Pepper” program. Watch the video at https://youtu.be/z0958wB6NNA.



Women Power Democracy

Women Power Democracy is the League’s four-pronged approach to building trust in our elections, growing our electorate, creating fair voter access, and ensuring community districting reflects our population. Its components are: 

  • Democracy Truth Project: Countering mis- and disinformation in our government and advancing public understanding of the democratic process;
  • Expand the Franchise: Increasing voter participation, with a focus on underrepresented populations and low-propensity voters;
  • Democracy Defense Fund: Protecting voting rights and advancing a more equitable democracy through advocacy and voter protection efforts; and 
  • People Powered Fair Maps™: Leading with advocacy, public education, and organizing to create transparent, people-powered electoral maps and eliminate gerrymandering during 2021 redistricting. 

Mary Merritt Bench Dedicated

Sedalia Mayor Tom Kehde dedicated a bench in honor of Mary Merritt by the fountain in front of city hall on July 2. It was made by welding students at State Fair College and paid for by donations to the LWVMO Education Fund. Pictured are Debby Howard, Elaine Blodgett, Evelyn Maddox (front row) Jean Dugan, Kathleen Farrell, Nancy Thompson, Carol Portman, Linda McDaniel, Carol Schreiber, Kathleen Boswell and Donna Hoch (back row).

LWVUS President Keynotes 65th State Convention

LWVMO held its 65th annual convention on Saturday, May 15, on Zoom. The convention speaker was Dr. Deborah Turner, President of LWVUS. In inspirational remarks, she stressed that the League’s non-partisanship is the bedrock of the organization. “Wanting every eligible voter to have equal access to the ballot box is not partisan. Wanting a robust democracy in which everyone has an equal voice and equal representation is not partisan. Wanting to see more elected officials that reflect the diverse makeup of our country is not partisan – it is American.”

“I know that you have not been deterred in your efforts to create a more perfect democracy in Missouri,” Turner said. “You fought hard to protect clean elections and fair maps in your state, and although you did not get the result you wanted with Amendment 3 in the last election, I have every confidence in your ability to keep up the good fight. At national, we are here to partner with you to continue moving the dial on fair maps, voting rights, social justice, and democracy.”

Dr. Turner stressed the continued mission of empowering voters and defending democracy. She commended the Missouri League for registering and educating thousands of voters in 2020. Click here to watch her keynote address to the convention.

The convention elected Marilyn McLeod from Columbia as President. Other new officers are Louise Wilkerson from Metro St. Louis as Vice President, Kathleen Boswell from Sedalia as Secretary, and Diane Suhler from Columbia as Treasurer. Joining the board are Joan Hubbard, Anne Sappington, and Catherine Stenger from Metro St. Louis and Jill Smull and Julie Steiger from Southwest Missouri.

People Powered Day of Action

We partnered with Show Me Integrity for an Advocacy Day on Wednesday, April 28. President Evelyn Maddox led 18 members from across the state in sharing our support for Fair Maps and a transparent redistricting process, as well as our opposition to changes in the initiative petition process and strict photo ID rules that would disenfranchise voters.

On April 29, Sharon Geuea Jones gave an excellent presentation on “Can Gerrymandering Be Stopped?” Click here for a PDF of her slides or here for a recording of the webinar. We debuted a recording of singer/songwriter Shanna Jones performing People Power Makes Us Strong with lyrics written by Bill Clause. Look for the recordings on our YouTube channel.

Jones encouraged League members to help map communities of interest. Fair Missouri’s Sean Nicholson trained 14 members of LWV of Metro St. Louis in Districtr map-making software earlier on the 29th.

On May 4, Nicholson shared his insights on the 2021 redistricting process.

Response to Chauvin Trial Verdict

The Board of LWVMO believes that the Derek Chauvin conviction represents a turning point in police reform nationwide, and that our nation’s reckoning on racism has shown that we must address investments in economic opportunities, education, healthcare, and other community-led solutions throughout our country to cure the ills brought on by racism.

As we work to address racism and policing issues in Missouri, we encourage each member of our Missouri Leagues to include focus in their League programming on racial justice in policing and on the eradication of racism in their community.

Click here for the statement from LWVUS in response to the jury decision to hold Derek Chauvin accountable for George Floyd’s murder.

Redistricting Process Must Be Transparent

The Census released statewide data on April 26, but more detailed population data for drawing new maps for legislative districts won’t be released until August 16 or later. As legislative redistricting proceeds, League members across the state are actively working for fair maps and a transparent redistricting process, including submitting testimony at hearings by the House Special Committee on Redistricting. Click here for Fair Maps Matter, a guest column by Evelyn Maddox.

A Fair Redistricting committee headed by Sharon Schneeberger of Columbia hopes Missouri will follow the PACT guidelines proposed by Dr. Sheldon H. Jacobson of the University of Illinois.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is fair-maps.png

P: People over politics in carrying out the redistricting process.
A: Accountability of those involved in making the maps.
C: Compromise in making decisions about the goals.
T: Transparency in each step of the process.

Amendment 3 overturned the redistricting reforms voters approved in 2018 and could allow twice the level of partisan gerrymandering typically described as “severe,” but it doesn’t have to. The League is especially concerned about language calling for “one person one vote” since it could make Missouri the only state not using the total population count when drawing legislative districts. That would leave out 1.5 million Missouri children.

Click here for LWVMO’s Fair Maps resource page.

Supporting Election Reforms

The League is calling on U.S. Senators to act on democracy reforms recently approved in the U.S. House. LWVUS has called for national advocacy on the For the People Act, HR 1 in the House and S1 in the Senate. Click here for a fact sheet.

This pro-voter legislation ensures free, fair and accessible elections. This comprehensive bill would transform our political system into one that is more inclusive, responsive, and representative of the American people. Its reforms would:

  • Expand and protect voting rights and access to the ballot;
  • Put ordinary Americans ahead of Big Money donors;
  • End gerrymandering so that electoral districts are fairly drawn; and
  • Clean up government and hold elected officials to the highest ethical standards.

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (HR 4) will be introduced again this summer to restore parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court eliminated in Shelby County vs. Holder (2013). States would again have to receive preapproval from the Department of Justice or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before making legal changes to their voting practices.