Welcome to our fourth update! A lot is happening — and we’ve been busy over the past few months, as you can see, buoyed by the many Leaguers who are stepping up their efforts at the local level.
Editorial: Michigan Introduces Popular Vote Legislation
Following on the heels of Connecticut’s passage of national popular vote legislation this past spring, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers are cosponsoring a package of bills that, if passed, would see Michigan join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC).
With this legislation, Michigan joins three other big states that now have national popular vote bills pending in their legislatures: North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. This is in addition to states (like Florida) that plan to introduce legislation again.
However, because the Michigan sponsors represent both sides of the aisle, this is going to be a closely watched issue. Already, the Michigan media has been lighting up with a vigorous debate about the pros (to the supporters) and the cons (to the opponents) of the popular vote, and the state’s plan has also captured national attention. What is refreshing is that the debate — while spirited — is generally thoughtful and civil. We think this is a sign that people may be waking up to what it is going to take to get more voters involved — and to make their votes count regardless of where they live.
What seems to have pushed the issue to the fore in Michigan is the recognition that NPVIC would increase voter turnout and participation in the vast majority of states that aren’t battleground territory. Says one sponsor: “You’ve got people in both parties that are disengaged because the presidential race sets the tone, but that also spills down to people who aren’t as engaged in state politics or other races — and that’s . . . doing a disservice to citizen involvement.”
Michigan has 16 electoral votes. We applaud the bipartisan group of legislators who came together to introduce the legislation and urge their compatriots to carefully consider the many merits of the national popular vote to their state and the nation.
Working to Make NPV a LWVUS Priority
Following up on the vote to make the national popular vote a national priority at the LWVUS Convention in Chicago, Kathleen Crampton met with Celina Stewart, JD, Director of Advocacy and Litigation, and Jessica Jones Capparell, Policy and Legislative Affairs Senior Manager, at the LWVUS offices in Washington, DC. Patti Brigham, President LWVFL, joined the meeting by conference call. The LWVUS staff, despite their frantic workload with the upcoming mid-term elections, expressed their support of the national popular vote and looked forward to developing initiatives to support the passage of local legislation in states with enough electoral votes (98) to activate the election of the president by popular vote.
LWVUS has established an National Popular Vote Action Google Group as a way to facilitate communication between LWV members in states ready to consider passing national popular vote legislation. They will devote more resources to a potential coalition for this effort, which Patti Brigham strongly supports. Having LWVUS on board provides very positive momentum toward the election of the President by popular vote.
Nurturing the Network of Local League Partners
Under the leadership of Bonnie Greenberg, the national popular vote state team held four webinars this summer for local league partners (LLPs), attended by almost half of the LLPs at each session. The goal of the sessions is to engage and orient the LLP network of leaders, through a series of 10 segments that included such topics as available resources, messaging, a review of the 2019 legislative plan; educational “deep dives” into the national popular vote and the Compact; community outreach; and building a team.
Cynthia Archbold, center, meets with new LWVPBC members interested in NPV
“The response has been terrific,” notes Bonnie. “The participants are really stepping up to the plate with their local activities and haven’t been shy about sharing their frustrations along with their successes. In the process, we are learning a lot in terms of what we can do to help them.” In addition to providing additional materials and advice, the state team has committed to continuing the biweekly sessions at least through the end of the year.
In addition, the team was visible at the LWVPBC new member orientation in September. Cynthia Archbold, who serves as co-LLP for the county (in addition to helping with editorial content for the state public relations team), worked the room to cultivate new members interested in the national popular vote initiative, with an eye towards adding them to the team.
Legislative Efforts Start to Ramp Up
Representative Joseph Geller and Senator Victor Torres have agreed to introduce national popular vote legislation in the 2019 legislative session. Kathleen Crampton met with Representative Geller to discuss strategy and planning. Because the legislature is beginning its session next year two months later than the 2018 session, we have a bit more time. Kathleen and Deb Mazzaferro have developed a legislative plan, which has been shared with the LLPs, focusing heavily on the key committees to which the national popular vote bills will be referred. Stay tuned for more information about our plans here!
Left to right, Kathleen Crampton, Rep. Joseph Geller, and Kathy Jens-Rochow, LLP for Broward County
LWVFL to Field 2019 Voter Survey about the National Popular Vote
To gauge where Florida voters stand on the popular vote, the team is ramping up to field a follow-up to the 2017 public opinion poll, conducted by Florida Atlantic University, which showed that the majority of Floridians support the popular vote for President.
To that end, Helen Ostrowski and Kathleen Crampton met with Kevin Wagner, PhD, Chair of the Department of Political Science at FAU, and Craig Agranoff of Political Consulting.com, who works with FAU on social media political programs. The current plan is to conduct the survey in January and release it at a Tallahassee event shortly after the survey is completed so that the findings are in front of legislators as they begin their 2019 committee meetings and legislative session, which will run from early March through April. Also discussed was the possibility of a social media campaign.
Left to right, Helen Ostrowski, Craig Agranoff, Kevin Wagner and Kathleen Crampton meet to discuss 2019 public opinion survey.
Public Relations Team Releases Branding and Updated Materials
Thanks to the talents of Cynthia Archbold, Meryl Davids, Ann Morin, Lorna O’Connell and Carol Rinaldi, we’ve produced a new wave of materials for the public and Leaguers. Over the summer, the team, led by Helen Ostrowski, refined our messaging, using it to revise current materials and develop new ones. We are most pleased with our elegant branding. We’ve also completely revamped and streamlined the presentation about the national popular vote; rewritten our Frequently Asked Questions for League use, with a shorter companion piece for public consumption; revised the elevator speech, sample letter to the editor and the facts sheet about Presidential Elections and the National Popular Vote — and posted all of them on a refreshed national popular vote section of the LWVFL website. And we continued to issue our monthly In the News, our synopsis of major news items about NPV from around the US.