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The Alabama Voter 
Fall 2012 Edition
Published September 5, 2012
Read here online or download for printing or reading offline [available soon].


A Byrd's Eye View: Voter Service is Every Member's Job

by Kathryn Byrd, LWVAL President
As I am writing this column, we are in the midst of Election Season. Today many municipalities are choosing their new mayors and councils. Several of our local leagues held candidate forums and similar events as part of our voter service programs. Of course, functions such as League-sponsored debates are held under the direction of the local league’s boards. Official proclamations, official letters to the editor, and the like are performed by the President/Spokesperson or designated representative. But there is so much individual members (and friends) of the League can and should do during the 2012 elections. Here are several examples:
  • September 18th is the date Alabama voters will vote on the so-called Alabama Medicaid Amendment referendum as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure would authorize the transfer of $145.8 million from an oil and gas trust fund to the General Fund for the state Medicaid budget. Information on the referendum can be found on our website ( or on our Vote411 website.
  • September 25th is National Voter Registration Day. Hopefully local leagues will be participating in an official capacity. But individual members can tell their friends, neighbors, working associates, church members how to register to vote or change their address if they need to. You can clear up the misconception that Photo ID is needed before 2014. Tell them where they can get a voter registration form (public places like the library, where they get their driver’s license, etc.). Importantly, you can tell potential voters that all the information they need can be located at the League’s Vote411 website to obtain forms, locate their polling place, and more.
  • November 6th is the General Election. October 26th is the final date for voter registration. November 1st is the last day for a voter to apply for an absentee ballot. November 5th is the last day for a voter to hand-deliver or postmark an absentee ballot.

    In addition to the presidential election, various local elections are also held for such positions as probate judge and sheriff in Alabama. Local leagues will likely hold some candidate forums for these offices.

    The LWVAL will have voters guides for the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and for President of the Alabama Public Service Commission on Vote411. In addition, we will have a voters guide for the several proposed constitution amendments. For each amendment we will have prepared a brief summary of its intent, following by a discussion of what would happen if that amendment passes and what would happen if it does not.

What can you do to help?

  • Spread the word about
  • Urge those whom you contact to register/change their address.
  • Tell them the importance of all these elections - including the constitutional amendments.
  • Write letters to the editor as a private citizen (not in the name of the League - save that for the president / spokesperson).

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Voter Service Impartiality and Supporting Our Positions: How Can We Do Both at Once?

During the 2012 elections this fall, the League of Women Voters of Alabama will be wearing both its Voter Service and its Advocacy hats, in some cases on the same issues. How can we do that? The quick answer is very carefully.
The official answer: We are really two organizations:

  1. The League of Women Voters of Alabama (and the local leagues from which it is comprise) can advocate for positions, based on position statements developed after extensive study and arriving at consensus. We can speak officially and publicly through the media, at rallies, and other functions appropriate for the LWVAL to participate in. We can join alliances and coalitions, after the board has determined that the purpose of the participating organizations match those of the League. Money donated to this arm of the League is not tax-deductible.
    2 The League of Women Voters of Alabama Education Fund is the organization that does not take positions on issues, but rather presents information and participate in related activities that are entirely unbiased for the benefit of all citizens and voters. This arm can receive tax deductible activities.

This fall, our LWVAL will be supporting the Forever Wild amendment and the three constitutional revision amendments. Local leagues and individual members are encouraged to do so also through forums, rallies, letters to the editor, on talk radio, etc. Individual members should remember, though, to speak as individuals and not as official spokespersons for the League.

The LWVAL-EF will be supporting our Voter Service activities such as Vote411, with its information on how to register, vote absentee, look up one’s polling place, and related information. Similarly, we will have our voters guides for the elections of the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and President of the Alabama Public Service Commission. The voters guide will also include all the statewide amendments, including those discussed above. But in this case we will present a brief description of the amendment, as well as what would happen if each amendment passes or if it fails to pass. These descriptions are unbiased, and prepared for the voters’ information only.

So, members and friends of the LWVAL and LWVAL-EF, we ask for your support for both arms of the Alabama League. Let’s make 2012 a highly visible and effective year!

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Happy 70th Birthday, Tuscaloosa!!

The League of Women Voters of Greater Tuscaloosa is celebrating its 70th birthday this year! Organized in 1942, the LWVGT has a long and proud history of serving citizens in the Greater Tuscaloosa area. In addition to voter registration and voter education campaigns since its formation, the League also was involved during the civil rights era and has been a long-time presence in the community with its candidates and issues forums, Meet Your Legislators Nights, and working in support of the public library, transparency in government (including public schools), and more. This league has also provided leadership at the state and even national level. We look forward to the LWVGT’s service during the next 70 years.

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LWVAL Participates in Disability Access Presentation

On August 7, LWVAL co-sponsored a presentation to over 150 people at the Alabama Probate Judges Association annual meeting. The presentation focused on ensuring access to polling places.

The program was presented by Kirk Walter, Staff Attorney, Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program. LWVAL provided funding to create a CD for each of the 67 counties in the state, containing the information in Mr. Walter's power point. Under state law, the probate judges are responsible for the polling places in each county, and Mr. Walter's presentation outlined the accessibility requirements that have been described by the U. S. Justice Department. He also explained a recent court decision in Pennsylvania that required the state to undertake expensive remedial measures because their polling places did not meet the federal requirements.

Both the power point and the CDs credited LWVAL as co-sponsor of the program.

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Arise Votes on September Amendment

At a general meeting in Birmingham Alabama Arise members agreed, reluctantly, according to lobbyist Melissa Oliver, to support the constitutional amendment that will be presented to Alabama voters in a special election on September 18. This amendment authorizes the transfer of funds from the Alabama Trust Fund, which is supported by royalties from oil and gas production in the Gulf, to prevent drastic cuts in state services. Nearly everyone agrees that frequent raiding of “rainy day’ funds is a bad idea, and Alabama’s record in repaying these funds is not good, but the cuts to Medicare, children’s and elderly services, and other essentials are not considered acceptable in the face of the needs of the people of Alabama.

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Local League News

LWVGB Continues Its Work to Empower and Engage Voters

The League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham is continuing in its work to engage and empower voters in our community. The League’s “Election Year” efforts include co-sponsoring two candidate forums in the month of August for the cities of Homewood and Hoover. In addition to co-sponsorship of the forums, League members volunteered to set-up membership tables, provided Voter Services information, vetted audience questions, promoted forum events and offered logistical guidance to other community groups on hosting a successful forum. These are the talents, resources and skills that League members possess, and what solidifies The League of Women Voters as a respected organization throughout the country.
LWVGB is also excited about our upcoming Membership Meeting on Constitutional Reform, on September 20, 2012, at St. Paul United Methodist Church (1500 6th Avenue North Birmingham, AL 35203). Featured speakers include Alabama Constitutional Revision Commission (ACRC) members Carolyn McKinstry (a survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing) and State Representative Patricia Todd (District 54). The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
In October, LWVGB is planning “Critical Thinking: AL Elections Forum,” scheduled October 28, 2012. Featured speakers will discuss the following:
  • State-wide amendments on November 6 ballots
  • Campaign finance issues: State vs. Federal laws, PAC contributions vs. 527’s, Political Party contributions vs. Candidate Campaigns
  • Changes in Alabama voter registration laws and its impact on voting
  • 2013 Legislative Session election bills
  • Tips on how to effectively advocate or oppose legislation (including election law legislation) at the State House
In addition to our involvement in educating voters, LWVGB members are actively advocating in other areas. Locally, Observer Corp volunteers can be seen listening in and taking notes during a public hearing on Jefferson County’s bankruptcy, local school board meetings and attending hearings on the proposed closure of a county-funded hospital that provides healthcare to underserved populations.

-- Cyrondys Jackson
President, LWV Greater Birmingham

LWV Mobile

We have a meeting in late August with the Baldwin County probate judge to discuss ways the LWVBC members can assist his office in registering prospective voters.  
Plans are underway to register voters on National Voter Registration Day. We're looking into setting up a table to register voters at a local shopping mall or big box store. [Also, see "LWV Mobile and Mobile Public Library Partnership" below.]
In November 11th we are holding a forum on local environmental issues.
-- Lynne Switzky
President, LWV Mobile

LWV Mobile and Mobile Public Library Partnership

Many people have been asking how the League of Women Voters of Mobile and the Mobile Public Library have joined forces to provide more and better voter services to Mobile citizens.

The partnership has included the League purchasing plexiglass holders for the Voter Registration forms (a big plus), signage and information about

These are used to set up Voter Registration Stations near the library entrance. (Before, the Voter Registration forms were kept stacked behind the desk and the library patrons had to ask for them without seeing them; or, they checked a box on the library card registration form and were given one.)

The Voter Registration Stations include the registration forms in the holders, easel displays with upcoming election dates, registration deadlines, sample ballots, and information about These stations increase the visibility of these resources to the public who are just browsing – library patrons do not have to remember to request a registration form from the librarian but can see and get the information as they walk into the library.

The library collects the completed registration forms and submits them to the Voter Registration office down town, saving the patron a stamp. The Voter Registration office keeps track of how many forms come from the libraries so it is easy to get statistics on how many people are taking advantage of this service.

Also, this fall there will be a laminated sign at each computer station in all county libraries telling patrons they can find nonpartisan election information at the online voter guide at

Simply by entering his or her address, the voter will be able to see what races are on their ballots, and compare information about each candidate’s viewpoint (provided by the candidates); they will be able to compare viewpoints side by side and even print out their own ballot selections. The League will update Vote411 for the general election in November to include easy-to-understand descriptions of ballot issues.

Any local League can probably duplicate this partnership by contacting the Publicity Services in the Administration Department of their local library.

-- Rachel Dudley,
LWV Mobile member

Also, the League of Women Voters of Mobile’s (LWVM) Vote18 project recently won the 2012 Strengthening Democracy Award from the League of Women Voters of the United States at the organization’s 50th national Convention in Washington, DC. LWV Mobile was the only local league in the nation to win one of these prestigious award! Congratulations, LWV Mobile!! Read this LWV Mobile success story in "Reports from the National Convention."

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Reforms at Samford

Lenora Pate
of the ACCR and Wayne Flynt, keynote speaker. League members Charlotte Ward and Ruth Wright are the gray heads at bottom of picture.

The Constitutional Revision Commission and reform in general was the theme of the  Bailey Thomson ACCR Annual Meeting that almost filled the Moot Court Room of the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University on August 11th.

After a welcome by Dean John Carroll, Professor Wayne Flynt described reform efforts over the years.  He said the current effort toward reform, a piecemeal approach that does not touch taxation, creates problems in ACCR, because people differ in how they see that reform should be achieved.

He said supporters of reform include pragmatists and idealists.  Idealists see failed reform efforts as proving that the only to bring reform is total collapse of the system.  Pragmatists, such as the business community, local governments, and incrementalists, urge reform in any way possible.

When asked why there was such reluctance in the citizenry to move forward, he said there is a "hunker-down fear" based on years of seeing cotton and industry flee the state, leaving poverty behind.

Bob McCurley, newly retired Executive Director of the Alabama Law Institute, who coordinates the Constitutional Revision Commission described the creation of the Commission, including his role together with that of the Governor, Speaker Mike Hubbard and President Pro Tem Marsh.

He feels it will bring reform based on the people who are behind it.  "Look at who's pushing it now, the number-one person in the Senate and the number-one person in the House."

The three amendments that begin the process, are revisions of the Banking Article, revisions of the Corporations Article and elimination of the racist (unconstitutional) language.

They will appear on the ballot as Statewide Amendment 4 (racist language), Statewide Amendment 9, revision of the Corporations Article and Statewide Amendment 10, revision of the Banking Article.

The Commission is now focused on Article IV, the Legislature, which could give home rule authority to counties.

Craig Baab, Appleseed's Home Rule Project Director, enumerated some options that the Commission could consider, including grant of authority to counties when the legislature is not in session, with the caveat that the legislature could nullify those decisions when they come into session the following year.

It is vital that the three Amendments that will be on the ballot this fall, succeed, he said.  "They are the easiest ones.    If we can't make the case for them, we are going to have trouble down the road."

Throughout the program, the public was invited to speak or ask questions.  Voicing the opinion of the LWVAL, which has supported constitutional reform for 40 years Charlotte Ward said, "Allowing more power to local governments is the key to correcting many abuses in the current system of government in Alabama, including freeing the Legislature to attend to matters that affect the entire state instead of spending a major portion of its time on purely local issues.

The League was instrumental in assisting Justice Howell Heflin reform the Judicial Article more than 30 years ago, the only article that has been substantially revised in 111 years.

Next meeting of the Commission will be September 28 at 9:30 a.m. in room 617 of the State House. All Commission meetings are available at
<>    and all are open to the public. Stories about the meeting are available at

-- Nancy Ekberg

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In Memory

The League of Women Voters of Alabama expresses sympathy to
the Mobile League upon the loss of their president, Jane Everest,
who died unexpectedly on August 20, 2012,
to the East Alabama League
on the death of long-time member Sara Hudson on July 30, 2012,
and to the Greater Birmingham League
on the loss of member Rev. Richard (Dick) Sales who passed away on August 20, 2012.

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Statewide Amendments

Nancy Ekberg has supplied the following summary of statewide amendments that will appear on the November 6 ballot. There are an additional eighteen amendments affecting single counties.

From the League perspective, the crucial amendments are numbers 4, 9, and 10. These are the first offerings of the Legislature-appointed Constitutional Revision commission. The Commission tackled the “easy” ones first. ACCR and Commission members consider the passage of these relatively small changes crucial. If these cannot pass, they see little hope for the passage of more substantive changes.

Leaguers, who have been working for a new constitution for forty years, should take every opportunity to talk up the passage of these amendments to pave the way for greater changes later on.

Amendment 4 removes those sections that are now unconstitutional under the United States Constitution relating to school segregation and poll tax. Amendment 9 updates the antiquated regulations on corporations, and Amendment 10 does the same for banking.

STATEWIDE AMENDMENTS Numbers 4, 9. And 10 are the first offerings of the legislature-appointed CR Commission.

1. Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, relating to the forever Wild Land trust, to reauthorize the trust for a 20-year period.

2. Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to allow issuance by the State from time to time of general obligation bonds under the authority of Section 219.04 and Section 219.041 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, so long as the aggregate principal amount of all such general obligation bonds at any time outstanding is not in excess of $750 million. This amendment would replace the maximum aggregate principal limitations currently contained in said Sections 219.04 and 219.041. The proposed amendment would also allow issuance by the State of general obligation refunding bonds under the authority of Sections 219.04 and 219.041 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, subject to certain minimum savings thresholds and limitations of maximum average maturity.

3. Relating to Baldwin County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to define the Stockton landmark District within the county and to prohibit the annexation by local law of any property within the district into any municipality.

4. Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal portions of Amendment 111, now appearing as Section 256 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, relating to separation of schools by race and to repeal Section 259, amendment 90, and Amendment 109, relating to the poll tax.

5. Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide for the transfer of the assets and liabilities of the Water Works and Sewer Board of the City of Pritchard to the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners of the City of Mobile, presently known as the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System.

6. Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit any person, employer or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any health care system.

7. Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to amend Amendment 576 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 177 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to provide that the right of individuals to vote for public office, public votes on referenda, or votes of employee representation by secret ballot is fundamental.

8. Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal the existing provisions for legislative compensation and expenses and establish the basic compensation of the Legislature at the median household income in Alabama; to require legislators to submit signed vouchers for reimbursement for expenses, and to prohibit the Legislature from increasing the compensation or expenses payable to its members.

9. Proposing an amendment to the private corporation provisions of Article 12 of the Constitution of Alabama or 1901, to become effective January 1, 2014, to continue the authority of the Legislature to pass general laws pertaining to corporations and other entities; to continue the authority of the Legislature to regulate and impose a business privilege tax on corporations and other entities; and to repeal various provisions concerning private corporations, railroads, and canals.

10. Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, effective January 1, 2014, to amend Section 247 relating to the authority of the Legislature concerning banks and banking, to repeal various other provisions of Article XIII concerning banks and banking; and to repeal Amendment 154 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 255.01 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, subject to the contingency that a new Article XII of the state constitution is adopted that repeals existing Section 232 of the state constitution, and subject to the contingency that Sections 10A-2-15.01 and 10A-2-15.02, Code of Alabama 1975, are repealed.

11. Relating to Lawrence County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit any municipality located entirely outside of Lawrence County from imposing any municipal ordinance or regulation, including, but not limited to, any tax, zoning, planning, or sanitation regulations, and any inspection service in its police jurisdiction located in Lawrence County and to provide that a municipality prohibited from imposing any tax or regulation under this amendment shall not provide any regulatory function or police or fire protection services in its police jurisdiction located in Lawrence County, other than public safety mutual aid. (Proposed by Act 2012-308)

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Legislative Report Summary for the 2012 Regular Session

Legislation supported by LWVAL during the 2012 Regular Legislative Session that passed both houses is listed below. All of these items were in the League’s highest priority category.

The full Legislative Report detailing the history of each item below and the other legislation that the League took a position on or monitored is still available on the LWVAL home page ( The Legislative Report is organized based on the Legislative Priorities list set by the State Board.

Several pieces of legislation that we supported or opposed did not pass this session are likely to be considered again next year. Many deal with constitutional reform issues, election practices and voting.

Priority I (Highest)

Constitutional Reform

HB357 – Under the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, portions of Article XII relate to private corporations and railroads and canals. This bill proposed an amendment to the Constitution which would rewrite certain sections of Article XII.

HB358 – Under the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, Article XIII relates to banks and banking. This bill proposed an amendment to the Constitution which would rewrite one section of Article XIII and would repeal other sections.

Both amendments will appear on the November ballot.

Campaign Finance and Elections – General

SB11 – This bill makes it unlawful for a representative of an automated dialing service to knowingly misrepresent himself or herself on behalf of a political candidate, principal campaign committee, political action committee, or political party and requires clear identification of sponsor at the end of the call.

Ethics in Government

HB466 – Ethics legislation defining the term de minimis in relation to the value of gifts public officials/employees may receive. “A $25 or less per occasion and an aggregate of $50 or less in a calendar year from any single provider. . .” It allows the Ethics Commission to adjust the values based on increases in the cost of living.
Government Transparency and Accountability

SB14 – Competitive bids, contracts of higher education institutions, minimum amount increased.

SB30 – Establishment and maintenance of statewide database for bids or proposals for public contracts, required, database accessible through Internet. Division of Control and Accounts with the State Department of Finance made responsible for the database.

More information is available on the website,

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Plan Ahead for LWVAL Convention 2013

Summer is wrapping up, but it isn’t too early for your State Board to begin planning for the League of Women Voters of Alabama 2013 Convention. The dates have been set for the last weekend of April in Tuscaloosa. We have arranged for the Capstone Hotel (previously known as the Sheraton Five Points), located on the edge of the University of Alabama campus. It is the hotel we used six years ago for the state convention. We are presenting our plans, so local leagues can plan accordingly:
  • Friday, April 27th: Full day hands-on workshop on Social Media and the League. It will be held in the Conference Room of the Paul W. Bryant Museum (next door to the Capstone Hotel). This room has wifi capability. Each League is asked to send 1-2 members for the instruction. More details later.

    Hotel rooms will be available Thursday night at the convention rate (TBA) if any local leagues wish to come early, and on Friday night. A casual dinner is planned at University Lutheran Church, which is across the parking lot from the Capstone for those who will be spending the night Friday night.
  • Saturday, April 28th: Continental breakfast at Capstone. Business Session I of the Convention. Lunch on the premises, with luncheon speaker. Afternoon workshops. Banquet with dinner speaker at the new Temple E’manuel (across the street from the Capstone)
  • Sunday, April 29th: Continental breakfast at Capstone. Business Session II of the Convention. Very brief LWVAL Board Meeting after conclusion of Business meeting, as needed. Depart at Noon.

Of course, local leagues will receive specifics as to prices, speakers, workshops, times, etc., next spring. Special thanks go the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission, who will be underwriting some of the meals, and LWVAL 2nd VP Scarlett Gaddy and her husband, Kenneth Gaddy. Kenneth is the Director of the Bryant Museum. Note: All Auburn members and supporters welcome!

-- Anne Permaloff

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Conservation Alabama Asks Our Attention to a Landfill Problem:

Alabama households produce about 13,000 tons of municipal and solid waste per day, yet state landfills have the capacity to accept more than 51,000 tons per day.  Accepting the nation’s trash has become big business in Alabama, but the harm it causes our communities has led our elected officials to halt the permitting process and seek feedback from the public before agreeing to allow any more landfills in the state. 

You can speak up for the need for solid waste policy reform at a series of public meetings being hosted by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. Past meetings were held:
  • Tuesday, August 21, 2012, 6- 8 p.m.
    AL Cooperative Extension Meeting Room
    1702 Noble Street
  • Thursday, August 23, 2012, 6-8 p.m.
    AU Student Center, 255 Heisman Drive, Ballroom B
  • Friday, August 31, 2012, 3-5 p.m.
    Gulf Coast Research & Extension Center Auditorium, 8300 State Highway 104, Fairhope

Upcoming meetings include:
  • Wednesday, September 5, 2012 6-8 p.m.
    Pike County Cattlemen's Association, 4200 U.S. 231 South, Troy
  • Thursday, September 6, 2012, 6-8 p.m.
    Alabama A&M University, Auxillary Services, Huntsville
  • Wednesday, September 19, 2012, 6-8 p.m. City of Uniontown,100 Front Street,

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Vote Yes on Amendment 1 Nov. 6 to continue Forever Wild

Forever Wild helps to provide some of the most unique outdoor recreation opportunities in Alabama, while also helping to protect our rivers and streams to benefit all citizens. NO funding comes from taxes. For 20 years, Forever Wild has helped to improve Alabama’s water quality, while also providing additional access to land for public recreation like hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, and much more. A constitutional amendment one will appear on the November 2012 general election ballot to allow voters in Alabama a chance to continue Forever Wild by voting yes.
Forever Wild is funded by fees paid to the state by natural gas companies that drill off Alabama’s coast.  It makes sense that the money generated by these companies should help pay for protecting our state’s beaches, lakes and rivers in Alabama for future generations to enjoy.
The League of Women Voters of Alabama is part of a broad-based and bipartisan coalition of businesses, conservation organizations, hunting and fishing groups, and Alabamians who support constitutional Amendment One on the November 6 ballot to continue to protect Alabama’s beaches, rivers, fish and wildlife habitat and other outdoor recreation areas through Alabama’s Forever Wild program – with no tax dollars. 

Donate Now – any amount is welcome – and spread the word
Alabamians for Forever Wild needs all of us – tell your friends to vote yes and donate what you can to help spread the word at - click on Donate Now.

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Alabama Water Management Policy

Governor Robert Bentley has given five state agencies the task of developing an Alabama water management plan by December 2013. The Alabama Rivers Alliance and the Southern Environmental Law Center hosted a meeting at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens August 3 for almost 100 citizens. Specific focus was on protecting environmental flows in our rivers and waterways and the State’s plans to involve stakeholders in the planning process.

The state agencies have produced document, the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group Report. Comments may be submitted to ADEM Director Lance LeFleur at and to the Alabama Water Agencies Working Group. For more information contact or call (205) 322-6395.

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Reports from National Convention 2012

LWV Mobile Receives National Award!

The League of Women Voters of Mobile’s (LWVM) Vote18 project recently won the 2012 Strengthening Democracy Award from the League of Women Voters of the United States at the organization’s 50th national Convention in Washington, DC.

Mobile’s League stands out among almost 800 local and state leagues being awarded this honor for effectively and creatively activating community networks at the grassroots level to promote change around priority issues such as youth voting, clean air, climate and protecting voter rights.

LWVM began its Engaging Young Voters Project in October 2008 at Murphy High School. Using Vote 18, a 45-minute highly interactive non-partisan voting program and empowerment tool (, the project energizes the next generation of young Americans to be involved citizens, offers them the opportunity to register to vote, and empowers them with the tools they need to be informed voters. The goals include increasing political awareness, promoting dialogue and encouraging today's young people to become tomorrow's voters and community leaders. LWVM has provided voter education in high schools, community colleges, welfare-to-work employment readiness programs, and public housing facilities to reach young and first-time voters. More than 3,500 students have participated in Vote 18 across Mobile County since then.

“This year, the League is working tirelessly to redouble our efforts to engage voters, especially new voters and those not traditionally represented,” said national League President Elisabeth MacNamara. “Projects like this by the Mobile, Alabama League of Women Voters build upon the League’s 92-year mission of ensuring all citizens have the information and tools they need for making an informed vote.”

“We are very appreciative of our community partners and supporters which include Mobile County Public Schools, Bishop State Community College, Career Inc, Junior League of Mobile, Boys & Girls Clubs, Orange Grove Housing Community and many others,” said LWVM President Jane Everest. These partners opened their doors to Vote 18 and made this national award and recognition possible.”

We thank all of our supporters who cast their vote on Facebook helping LWVM take home this exciting award!

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National Convention Report from Joyce Lanning

LWVAL President Kathryn Byrd lead a seven-member Alabama delegation to the 50th National Convention of the League June 8-12, 2012 in Washington, DC. Appropriately, most of the team was from LWV Mobile, which received the Strengthening Democracy Power the Vote award for their highly successful Vote 18 project. See more on their website at . Congratulations LWV Mobile!

The LWVGB was represented by board member Joyce Lanning, who thanks the board for financial support for the trip. Lanning spoke to a caucus sponsored by the LWVUS Climate Change Task Force on which she has served for four years. The program covered the recent additions to the national Toolkit for Climate Action which is available on the LWV website at - or just search for LWV Toolkit.

With little international or national progress being made to control the emissions and land use changes which are increasing temperatures and acidifying oceans, the LWV is supporting local and state improvements in efficient use of energy in buildings and implementation of renewable resources. The presentation will be available on the LWVUS website. Go to the Toolkit, <> or contact for more information.

The LWVFL was commended in a presentation by Attorney General Eric Holder for its role in filing an amicus brief in a Justice Department suit successfully challenging the illegal and inaccurate voter purge initiated by the state of Florida.

The LWV is a deliberative body and models the processes it promotes. A half-day each of four days was spent on League process and program and the rest of the time was available for very useful and informative workshops and informal sharing. The major decisions made by the delegates were:

  • Raised Per Member Payment due to National for each member from $30 to $31.

  • Concurred with the LWVDC Sentencing Policy position:

    The LWVUS believes alternatives to imprisonment should be explored and utilized, taking into consideration the circumstances and nature of the crime. The LWVUS opposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses.

  • Decided to undertake a comprehensive program to educate members and communities on the issue of campaign finance in order to inform our education and legislative efforts as needed.

  • An additional motion calls upon the LWVUS Board to “advocate strongly for all appropriate, duly-considered measures …. to set reasonable regulations on campaign contributions and expenditures; and insure that elections are determined by the voters. How to address the impacts of the Citizens United decision was a major topic of discussion.

  • Approved a new study to review and update the LWVUS agriculture position, which dates from 1988.

  • Retained all other current LWVUS Positions in Representative Government, International Relations, Natural Resources, and Social Policy.

For a full report on the results of the Convention, see

Lanning suggests that anyone who has the opportunity attend a National Convention do so. “You will learn more about the LWV programs and procedures and be energized and informed.” She reports returning home with a broader perspective and even greater dedication to our programs while feeling the support of members all over the country who are making democracy work for all in their own communities.

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National Convention Report from Carolyn Carr

Let me begin by thanking the local league for allowing me to represent East Alabama at the LWVUS National Convention in June in Washington, D.C. I had never been to the League's national convention before and was not sure quite what to expect. Whatever I expected, I can tell you what I got - energy and information! There were only seven of us there from Alabama and there was no way we could cover all of the caucuses and workshops. Some of the caucuses started at 7:30 in the morning and the workshops often ran over until 10:30 or 11 at night. For a person interested in public policy issues it was like falling into the world's biggest candy many workshops, so little time!

There were two major speakers. The first was Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Among other things the Annenberg Center is the home of "FactCheck," that examines the accuracy of US political advertisements. In her presentation she showed some recent political ads and commented on how facts were used, misused, and abused. The Annenberg Center has become concerned that in this digital age many people, especially younger ones, do not get their information from traditional media that carefully vet information. The center has decided to develop a curriculum for high schools using real campaign ads to educate young people on the misuse and distortion of information in these ads. She showed some of those ads with the center's commentary. Her talk was followed by a lively Q&A session, with especially interesting comments on how negative campaign ads work.

The speaker at the awards banquet was John Zogby, the founder and director of the Zogby Polls. Zogby is considered the most accurate of the political polling firms. He said that until recently he had considered that the presidential race might be tight, but that he did not see Obama losing. However, he now thought that the race was tightening up even further and was a real horserace. He thought that Romney was more popular with conservative Republicans than McCain had been, but that conservatives were thin in their personal feelings toward Romney and basically supported him because he was not Obama. Zogby commented that Romney's greatest asset was his wife and that she connected much better with the voters than he did. As to the president, Zogby talked about the four basic groups that elected the president in 2008 - young people, the "creative class,” African-Americans, and Hispanics. He said that while Hispanics were disappointed in the president, they were very offended by what Republicans said in the immigration debate, which they interpreted as anti-Hispanic. He said that blacks were also disappointed in the president, but felt that the bad economy was mostly the fault of the previous administration and about 95% of blacks intended to vote for Obama. The " creative class,” made up of professors, artists, writers, etc., were still solidly behind the president. The young women of this group were stunned by the remarks about contraception in the Republican debates and said that increased their intention to vote for Obama in the election. Young persons, however, were so disheartened by the current economy that he thought their turnout might drop off in the election. They did not indicate that they would vote for Romney, just that they were less likely to vote at all.

At the end of the banquet, the nicest surprise of all. There were four national Power the Vote awards given - to the LWV of Palm Beach County, Florida; the LWV of Florida; the LWV of New York; and the LWV of Mobile, Alabama! Mobile’s award was for their outstanding voter education and voter registration program in the Mobile-area high schools. When the award was announced, they probably heard our screams in Mobile. Mr. Zogby was so impressed that he offered to do a fundraiser for the LWV of Mobile. He said he would do it for free because he was related to the Zogbys of Mobile and could get in a family visit.

LWV Mobile accepts Stregthening Democracy award at LWVUS Convention 2012
Alabama delegation celebrates Mobile award: Joyce Lanning, Barbara Caddell,
Kathy Byrd, LWVUS President Elizabeth McNamara, Myra Evans, Gina Finnegan,
Andrea Pennington, and Carolyn Carr.

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LWVAL Board and Off-board

Kathryn Byrd

1st Vice-President
Mary Lynn Bates

2nd Vice-President and
Membership Development
Scarlett Gaddy
(Membership Development with Mary McGinnis)

Yvonne Brakefield

Shelly Murray


Laura Hill
Education (Charter Schools Study)

Hattie Kaufman
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(Voter Service with Mary McGinnis)

Joyce Lanning
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Mary McGinnis
Membership Development / Voter Service / Financial Development
(Membership Development with Scarlett Gaddy)
(Voter Service with Hattie Kaufman)
(Financial Development with Jeanine Normand)

Jeanine Normand
Financial Development
(Financial Development with Mary McGinnis)

Anne Permaloff
Advocacy and
Health Care in Alabama

Charlotte Ward
LWVAL Voter Editor


Nancy Ekberg
Constitutional Reform

Jean Johnson
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