LWV Austin Area Kickoff Meeting = Big Success

On Sunday September 7, about one hundred people attended the annual kickoff meeting for the League of Women Voters Austin Area. The highlight of the meeting was the presentation of Texas Tribune Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Evan Smith. He offered his observations on the state of the Texas political scene – from primaries to political parties and their platforms to matters that may influence voter turnout like photo ID, gender issues, and money in elections. Smith provided his perspectives from his unique position with the Tribune and previously as editor of Texas Monthly for a decade and PBS host of “Overheard with Evan Smith.”

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Evan Smith, Texas Tribune Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief

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Austin League of Women Voters Kicks Into High Gear

A busy year for the League of Women Voters of the Austin Area (LWVAA) will kick into even higher gear at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, September 7, 2014, at the Annual Kickoff Event in the Trinity United Methodist Church Sanctuary, 4001 Speedway, Austin, TX 78751.

Members and guests are invited to hear about 2014-15 activities, including production of its most ambitious Voters Guide. The historic Guide covers all candidate races, propositions, and bond issues in the five-county area. Of special note is inclusion of the 78 candidates running in the historic Austin City Council races. For the first time, the entire publication will be offered in English and Spanish, in print and online. The League will celebrate the successful special fundraising drive to defer costs of the full translation and expanded distribution of both English and Spanish versions. Charles Stuart, Vice President of Government Relations for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas, will be recognized for providing major corporate funding for this Voters Guide effort.

Helping to get League membership and guests in gear for the busy election season, Texas Tribune Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith will offer his observations on the state of the Texas political scene. From primaries to political parties and their platforms to matters that may influence voter turnout like photo ID, gender issues, and money in elections, Smith will provide his perspectives from his unique position with the Tribune and previously as editor of Texas Monthly for a decade and PBS host of “Overheard with Evan Smith.”

In addition to preparing the historic Voters Guide, LWVAA is conducting Austin City Council candidate forums organized by the City of Austin Ethics Review Commission. The seven forums began Thursday, September 4, 2014. A full listing of forums can be found on the City of Austin’s website about the municipal election, http://austintexas.gov/department/10-one; and on the League’s website, https://lwvaustin.org/page/2/ .

LVWAA leaders will present reports on other LWVAA activities and highlight opportunities for involvement. Studies underway this fall include the subjects of poverty and education.

The Austin American-Statesman (AAS) will include the Voters Guide in the Sunday, October 20, 2014 edition. Both English and Spanish versions also will be offered on the AAS, Ahora Si!, and LWVAA websites. Orders of 100-copy bundles of the Guide are being accepted by LWVAA until October 1, 2014. Personalized ballot information is offered at LWV-sponsored Vote411.org.

League of Women Voters of the Austin Area Kickoff Event

The League of Women Voters (LWVAA) invites members and the public to its Fall Kickoff event from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m., Sunday, September 7 in the Trinity United Methodist Church Sanctuary on 4001 Speedway, Austin, 78751. Hear about planned LWVAA activities for the 2014-15 year and get involved.

Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, will speak about the state of the political scene in Texas – covering such topics as the 2014 primary election results, the current state of the political parties in Texas, whether political platforms influence voters’ decisions, and other matters that may impact voter turnout such as photo ID, gender issues, and money in elections.

Evan Smith spent more than a decade as editor of the Texas Monthly, co-founded the Texas Tribune (a nonprofit, non-partisan public media organization), and hosts “Overheard with Evan Smith,” a weekly interview program that airs on PBS stations across the country.

For questions, email lwvaustin@lwvaustin.org  or call 512-451-6710.

Anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote

Ninety-four years ago on August 26, after decades of tireless advocacy, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the 19th amendment, granting women the right to vote. The fight for universal suffrage continues today, so as we mark this historic anniversary, we are reminded how valuable our right to vote remains.

With the signing of this constitutional amendment, the work of the newly formed League of Women Voters, which was founded to finish the fight for suffrage, really began. An estimated 25 million women were, with the stroke of a pen, eligible to vote. The task of registering and informing those new women voters was enormous. Add to that the understandable desire of those who had worked so long and hard for woman suffrage to make a difference with their votes.

It is tempting to look back on those early days of the League for inspiration, especially as we look forward to a federal midterm election where much is at stake, but where too often voter enthusiasm is low. While it may be challenging, we are also inspired by the fact that so many Leagues and members are already out in their communities registering and educating voters through voters’ guides, candidate forums and VOTE411.org.