A Message from the AAUW President
Here we are, five days until Election Day. Many of us are still reeling from Hurricane Sandy, and our thoughts are with the AAUW members and friends who have been affected. Yet we must not forget what we came here to do: turn out millennial women on Election Day and make our voices heard. With five days to go, we have some important questions to ask: Do you know your voting rights? Are you sure? Because they can differ between states, and not knowing your rights could leave you unable to vote on Tuesday, November 6.
AAUW is a member of the Election Protection coalition, which has released state-by-state voting rights fact sheets. With this resource, you can find out your state’s polling hours, what you need to bring with you to the ballot box, and what you should do if your vote is challenged. For example, did you know that while Nebraska’s polls are open until 8 p.m., South Dakota’s close at 7 p.m.? If you’ve moved, you definitely don’t want to assume that voting rules and polling times are the same in your new home. These handy fact sheets are also a great resource to share on Facebook and other social media platforms, and to email to family and friends; this is a clear case of forewarned is forearmed!
Early voting can be a great way to avoid the long lines on Election Day, and make sure you have time to cast your vote. You never know when our busy lives will throw obstacles in the way of voting, so make a proactive plan to avoid these hurdles and ensure your voice is heard. Most states will finish early voting over the weekend, so there’s still time. Concerns about election protection are all the more reason to vote early, just in case you encounter any problems! (To our AAUW friends in the many states affected by Hurricane Sandy, please check the Internet and/or call to ensure early voting is still available in your area. Some states have extended early voting hours to accommodate the time that was lost due to the storm.)
When you do head to the polls, keep the Election Protection website, www.866ourvote.org, and hotline, 1.866.OUR-VOTE (1.866.687.8683), handy. The Election Protection coalition works to protect voting rights to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to participate in the political process. They’ve also launched a new smartphone app!
Before you head to the polls, also check out the AAUW Action Fund’s voter education resources, including our issue fact sheets, VoteHER Toolkit, and ballot initiative summaries. These valuable resources will brief you on key policy issues and examine the candidates’ policy positions and voting records in the context of AAUW’s member-adopted Public Policy Program.
Remember, if you encounter any difficulties in casting your vote, see someone who is turned away, or notice problems with voting machines, ballots, or other irregularities, please call 1.866.OUR-VOTE (687-8683). Think of this voter protection information as your must-have accessory on Election Day, or whenever you vote. It’s My Vote: I Will be Heard isn’t just the name of our campaign—it’s a promise!
Yours in AAUW,
- Featuring AAUW branches from California, Florida, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
- Lilly Ledbetter Appears on The Colbert Report
- Report Confirms High Levels of Student Debt a Major Issue for Millennials
- Obama Endorses Marriage Equality Ballot Initiatives
- Will You Take the 3×3 Challenge?
- Hurricane Sandy May Affect Voter Turnout
- Hurricane Forces Presidential Candidates to Alter Campaign Plans
- Tennessee Supreme Court Orders County to Accept Memphis Library Cards as Voter ID
- Volunteers Help Patients in L.A. Hospital Request Absentee Ballots
- A Special Note about AAUW Action Fund Voter Guides
- Voting Shoes Campaign – Put Your Right Foot Forward and VOTE!
- Use AAUW Action Fund Voter Education Tools
- AAUW Action Fund Debuts “The To Do List,” Other Social Media Efforts
If your branch used It’s My Vote postcards for your get-out-the-vote efforts, it’s time to get those postcards in the mail! Here’s what you need to know:
- After the voter fills in their address and returns the postcard to your AAUW volunteers, make a list of all the people who filled out postcards and their contact information so you can use that list for potential member recruitment and to advertise upcoming It’s My Vote events.
- As soon as possible, send the list of names and contact information to VoterEd@aauw.org so AAUW can sign up those individuals for Two-Minute Activist alerts and inform them of other voter education resources and events.
- Also as soon as possible, buy the required number of stamps and get those postcards in the mail! The volume of mail going through the U.S. Postal Service increases drastically leading up to an election, so it can take longer than usual for a postcard to arrive.
- You can submit your receipt for the postage to VoterEd@aauw.org.
The Benicia-Vallejo Branch in California held a voter education forum on October 13 with the Benicia League of Women Voters. The forum presented pro and con arguments for Proposition 34 (to repeal the death penalty) and Proposition 36 (to revise the “Three Strikes” law for criminal sentencing). About 50 community members attended, with others watching the live broadcast.
The Dover Branch in Delaware held a candidate forum with the Kent League of Women Voters on October 24 at Delaware State University. Candidates from the following races attended: U.S. Senate, Tom Carper (D), Kevin Wade (R), and Alex Pires (I); U.S. House of Representatives, John Carney (D) and Thomas Kovach (R); and governor, Jack Markell (D) and Jeff Cragg (R).
The Waterville Area Branch in Maine held voter registration drives at Thomas College from October 10-12 for six hours each day. They registered 92 students in total, which is over 10 percent of the student body!
The Columbus/Mississippi University for Women Branch in Mississippi will hold an Honors Forum Speakers Series event on November 1. Elizabeth Crowell, It’s My Vote campaign organizer for Mississippi, will speak on AAUW’s positions, the It’s My Vote: I Will be Heard campaign, and why others should get involved.
The Bismarck-Mandan Branch in North Dakota held a Get Out The Vote event on October 24 at Bismarck State College. They had a laptop for millennials to look up their voting site and find candidate forums online. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and fill out cards pledging to vote. See photo at left.
The Alexandria Branch in Minnesota held a candidate forum for the Alexandria School District 206 race on October 30. Both candidates, Laura Knudsen and Angie Krebs, attended. The race is nonpartisan.
AAUW members across the country spent their Halloween participating in Trick or Vote, a nonpartisan night of canvassing in costumes! Volunteers went door-to-door reminding people to vote on Tuesday, November 6. There were 11 AAUW Trick or Vote events held in Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin. See photo at right from Wisconsin.
To have your branch’s events featured in Campaign Update, email us at VoterEd@aauw.org. Please make sure to include the date of the event and the AAUW branches and coalition groups involved. If the event has already occurred, please include the results (such as how many people attended or which candidates attended) and any pictures.
Lilly Ledbetter Appears on The Colbert Report
Last night, Lilly Ledbetter appeared on the comedy news show The Colbert Report to talk about fair pay. Lilly has joined AAUW at the forefront of the fight for pay equity since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in May 2007 that she couldn’t collect damages from her former employer for pay discrimination. The Court decided that, even though she had no way of learning about the discrimination in time, she should have filed her lawsuit within 180 days of her firstdiscriminatory paycheck. Together, Lilly and AAUW led the effort to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to reverse that decision, and we continue to work to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
Report Confirms High Levels of Student Debt a Major Issue for Millennials
Last week, Campus Progress released a report looking at student debt and the challenges it presents for millennials. The findings underscored AAUW’s longstanding position that access to higher education needs to be a national priority and action should be taken to address the increasing cost of college and increasing levels of student debt. That’s why college affordability is one of the issue areas of focus for the AAUW Action Fund It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign: Read our fact sheet to learn more about this issue.
Obama Endorses Marriage Equality Ballot Initiatives
The Obama campaign released statements last week voicing President Obama’s support for ballot initiatives in Maine, Maryland, and Washington to allow same-sex marriage. Obama previously spoke against a Minnesota constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Mitt Romney has said he would support a federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Currently, six states and Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage.
Will You Take the 3×3 Challenge?
There are only five days until the election—don’t miss out on the opportunity to make a difference. We’re implementing our 3×3 challenge for everyone to take part in: All you have to do is call three millennial women (ages 18-31) in your life and ask them three questions:
- Will you pledge to vote this year?
- What is your plan for getting to the polls?
- Will you call three millennial women in your life and ask them the same questions?
The millennial women you call could be anyone you know between the ages of 18 and 31: friends, family, friends of the family, neighbors, whomever! Here is an outline if you want something to guide the conversation. Making three phone calls may sound like a small task, but think about the impact it can have: Imagine if you call three people, and those three people each call three more people. We can all make time for three phone calls, and that can make difference! Please fill out our online form afterward to let us know how your calls went: http://goo.gl/dwmVa.
Hurricane Sandy May Affect Voter Turnout
Election officials across the northeast are concerned that Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath may affect voter turnout. Early voting was canceled in Maryland and the District of Columbia on Monday and Tuesday, Virginia closed many of its in-person absentee voting locations, and West Virginia suspended early voting in six of its counties. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, which were hit hardest by the storm, have been forced to move hundreds of their polling places that are without power or under water. Meanwhile, states are battling with massive road and power outages, and there’s concern that power will not be restored in some regions by next Tuesday, November 6. Officials are working hard to identify new polling places, get information to voters, and encourage uprooted individuals to vote absentee.
Hurricane Forces Presidential Candidates to Alter Campaign Plans
Hurricane Sandy forced both presidential candidates this week to pause their campaigning and focus on disaster relief. President Obama returned to Washington, D.C., to manage the federal government’s response to the storm’s devastation on the east coast, and he visited New Jersey yesterday to view the scene with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Mitt Romney rerouted his Virginia trip and headed inland to Ohio.
Tennessee Supreme Court Orders County to Accept Memphis Library Cards as Voter ID
Last week, a Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld a voter ID law requiring voters to provide government-issued photo identification and ruled that a Memphis library photo ID meets the requirements. The secretary of state and state elections coordinator appealed that decision to the Tennessee Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the appeal, while also ruling that the Shelby County Election Commission needs to accept Memphis library photo IDs for next week’s election, in accordance with the appeals court decision.
Volunteers Help Patients in L.A. Hospital Request Absentee Ballots
At the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, volunteers are helping patients request absentee ballots. Volunteers are visiting hundreds of patients and bringing the absentee ballot requests to the county’s election office. On Election Day, volunteers will also distribute the ballots and return them to the appropriate election office.
A Special Note about AAUW Action Fund Voter Guides
This year, the AAUW Action Fund released, as we have since 1994, a set of voter guides designed to help inform voters before they go to the polls. These guides are nonpartisan and allow voters to compare the positions of candidates in key Senate and House races on issues important for women and girls such as health care, college affordability, and pay equity. AAUW and the Action Fund do not endorse any candidate or political party, and do not tell voters who to vote for. All our voter guides are thoroughly researched and updated continuously based on public statements, voting records, and candidate position papers. All campaigns were contacted through both email and phone to review the voter guides. To read more about our process for researching and compiling the voter guides, see AAUW’s blog.
Voting Shoes Campaign – Put Your Right Foot Forward and VOTE!
On Tuesday, November 6, you have some serious choices to make – and from the ballot box to your closet, we’re with you all the way. That’s why we’re asking you to show off your personal, patriotic style by sending us a picture of the shoes you’ll wear to the polls. To submit your shoes, e-mail your first name, state, age, and the picture of your shoes to email@example.com. Be sure to tell us why you picked these shoes: sneakers for a workout, heels for the office, black flats for a restaurant job, or perhaps some bunny slippers or combat boots for folks filling out an absentee ballot This way, you can plan the logistics of how you’ll get to the polls and the pair of shoes you plan to wear!
Use AAUW Action Fund Voter Education Tools
The AAUW Action Fund’s voter education tools include:
- The VoterHER Toolkit, an essential guide to how candidates and elected officials stack up on issues important to women this election year. The toolkit includes the Congressional Voting Record for the 112th Congress (January 2011-September 2012), voter guides for the presidential and key Senate races, and a report on the Obama administration’s first term.
- Summaries of key ballot initiatives and explanations of AAUW’s position.
- Fact sheets on access to birth control, employment opportunities, college affordability, and fair pay.
Use these tools to educate yourself and others. Share them with your friends and family. Take the voter guides and Congressional Voting Record to town halls to ask candidates why they hold that position. Speak up and make your voice heard!
AAUW Action Fund Debuts “The To Do List,” Other Social Media Efforts
Throughout the election season, the AAUW Action Fund has been producing public service announcements and videos to support the message of the campaign and help get women to the polls. Watch our latest video, “The To Do List,” and share it with your friends, family, and colleagues today! The video is part of the Action Fund’s social media efforts on Tumblr, Twitter, AAUW Dialog (our blog), YouTube, and Facebook to quickly, concisely, and effectively spread information and generate excitement among young women!
AAUW and the AAUW Action Fund is proud to work with the coalition partners featured in this week’s campaign update: Benicia League of Women Voters, the Kent League of Women Voters, Thomas College, and Bismarck State College.