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 will share his insights on the 2021 redistricting process. Click here to join the event at 7 pm sponsored by LWV of Kansas City/JCP Counties.

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 release statewide data on April 26, but more detailed population data for drawing new maps for legislative districts won’t be released until September. 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 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.

65th State Convention Goes Virtual May 15

Workbooks are now being sent to delegates to LWVMO’s 65th State Convention. Members can click here to join the pre-convention caucuses at 6:30 on the preceding Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Register here to observe the virtual convention which will begin at 9 am on Saturday, May 15.

The convention speaker will be Dr. Deborah Turner, President of LWVUS. She served on the LWVUS National Board from 2016-present. She served as vice president of LWV Iowa from 2011–2015 and President of LWV Des Moines Metropolitan from 2010–2015. She obtained her JD from Drake University and her MD from University of Iowa. She has been a Gynecologic Oncologist for 30 years. Deborah served on the Board Regents for the State of Iowa (1999-2006), and was entered into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013. She lives in Nebraska and has two grown children – a son and a niece. She says, “I believe no child should be restrained by the circumstances of their birth. The League, through our leadership in the democracy space, can make this dream a reality.”

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.

League Opposes Photo ID Proposal

The League is against HB334, the General Assembly’s latest proposal to require all voters to show a government-issued photo ID. Vice President Nancy Copenhaver submitted written testimony to a House Elections Committee hearing Jan. 27 saying, “The League of Women Voters of Missouri is concerned that this committee is again considering strict photo ID legislation that could disenfranchise thousands of voters and discourage voting by many people of color as well as older and disabled voters. Evidence shows that there is no voter impersonation fraud in Missouri; there is no need for this legislation.”

In Memoriam: Mary Merritt

Past LWVMO President and Treasurer Mary Merritt passed away Jan. 15 in her home in Sedalia after contracting COVID-19 in November. Mary joined the League in 1979, serving at the state level as Secretary/Treasurer for 12 years and President for four years. On the national level, she served as a member of the National Budget Committee. In 2015, she won LWVMO’s Harriett Woods Award for Exemplary Service. At the time of her death, she was Co-President of the LWV of Sedalia-Pettis County. Last October, she moderated its forum with candidates for the Pettis County sheriff’s race.

LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox said, “Mary was always generous in giving me time and counsel while I learned ‘the League way.’ Whether it involved managing League finances, selling merchandise at Convention or via the website, or working through administrative matters with the Board and Joint Office, Mary knew the right thing to do.”

A celebration of Mary’s life will be held in Sedalia at a later date. Mary’s family encourages donations to the LWVMO Education Fund in lieu of flowers. Any mailed condolences may be sent to the Family of Mary Merritt at 1812 S. Grand, Sedalia, MO 65301.

Extend Safe Voting Provisions

Voters should be able to cast a ballot in 2021 without fear of getting or spreading COVID-19. Provisions to allow absentee voting for those who have or are at high risk of COVID-19 and provide remote voting options for Missouri voters expired on Dec. 31, 2020. Urge Governor Mike Parson to extend safe voting provisions to ensure that all Missourians can safely cast ballots during the 2021 municipal elections.

The League’s Register & Vote brochure has information on Missouri’s voting laws.

Missouri Notary Rule Stands

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled against the state chapters of the League of Women Voters and NAACP in their absentee ballot lawsuit on Oct. 9. The petitioners sought to protect the right to vote guaranteed by the Missouri Constitution and waive the notary requirement for absentee and mail-in ballots in 2020 elections.

“We are disappointed that the court didn’t waive the notary rule to protect voters’ health during the pandemic,” said LWVMO President Evelyn Maddox. “We are grateful, however, for the justices’ reminder that absentee rules leave it to the voter to determine if they expect to be confined due to illness on Election Day.” Voters can use the second excuse to vote absentee without a notary if they expect to be confined due to illness or are caring for someone who is ill or disabled.

Celebrate Women’s Vote

August 2020 marked the centennial of the final ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Virginia Minor

At the League’s virtual celebration, author Nicole Evelina shared the story of Virginia Minor, the Missouri suffragist who wanted to vote and took her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1874!

The celebration included a virtual tour of the Historical Exhibit “She Got the Vote” from the Boone County History & Culture Center. Click here for a video shared by the St. Louis League.