Powering the Vote to Election Day

Oct 26, 2012 | Updated Dec 26, 2012

While the candidates continue to hammer the campaign trail, I've reached the end of my election season travel. It has been remarkable in so many ways. Unlike the candidates, my mission was not to get individual votes, but to encourage all eligible voters to cast a vote, and make sure they are well-prepared and can do so freely and fairly. That's why the League of Women Voters developed its comprehensive election website, It's vitally important that every eligible voter turns out to vote in this election and takes control of what happens to our families and communities. The stakes are high for our country.

During the past six weeks, I visited eight states and saw firsthand how Leagues are protecting voters' rights and educating voters. As attacks on voting rights proliferated, Leagues across the country have been working to prevent voter disenfranchisement and confusion. Together, with partner organizations, we've secured many victories for voting rights all across the country.

Common sense recently triumphed in Ohio when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the lower court's ruling on three days of early voting just before Election Day should stand. The Ohio League's coalition work was not in vain. Florida, too, was the scene of early voting challenges and voter roll purging efforts to which the League responded quickly. In Colorado, the League's concern was also voter roll purging. I met with the Secretary of State, who, unfortunately, did not help to mitigate our concerns despite an earlier report that he would not pursue this issue.

A high point of my travels was meeting with elections officials, who are doing their utmost to ensure that elections are free, fair and accessible to every eligible voter and working side-by-side with our Leagues to accomplish this goal. In Missouri, Democratic and Republican election commissioners in Independence were truly concerned about the likely confusion over voter ID requirements and are training their workers to give voters correct information.

In Florida, the League's voter registration efforts were put on hold for about a year, while the courts dealt with lawsuits. Ultimately, reason prevailed, but Leagues had to make up for lost time. They worked together with the Secretary of State, despite earlier differences, in support of a common goal - to register as many voters as possible in the short time left. In fact, the Florida Leagues continued the push until the very last minute.

Confusion over voter ID was a common theme along my trip. After winning their lawsuit, one way the Wisconsin League is combating confusion around the issue is by training observers to monitor the polls on Election Day. Its poll observer program opened doors to positive action from the state Government Accountability Board (GAB) in assisting elections officials to improve the process for election officials and voters. GAB, a nonpartisan board comprised of retired judges, is unique and refreshing in election administration and has worked with its constituencies to improve the state's process.

In North Carolina another state where voter photo ID was defeated, it was a pleasure to personally thank Governor Beverly Perdue for supporting the League's efforts to protect the state's voters in this election. Her veto means North Carolinians will not have to produce restrictive, government- issued photo ID at the polls.

In Michigan, also, thanks to the Governor's vetoes during the summer, the League was successful in helping to keep voters from having to produce unnecessary photo ID at the polls and re-affirm their citizenship on their ballots. Remaining doubts on the latter issue were resolved after my visit by a judge's order that the Michigan Secretary of State remove the question asking voters if they are U.S. citizens from ballot applications in the November election.

In Minnesota, the League is still battling an amendment to their state constitution that would require photo voter ID. As in other states, the Minnesota League opposes this amendment because it is costly and complicated, and would create serious consequences, not to mention being unnecessary. While in Minnesota, I had several opportunities to get the word out on the League's mission to ensure free and fair elections for every eligible voter and on why the ballot amendment would be bad for Minnesota.

Observing our Leagues in action, meeting League partners, elections and other government officials, and participating in local activities was energizing beyond measure, and this photo album is a great reminder of my travels this fall.

Today, we are just days away from the main event -- Election Day. The League will be working through November 6th to make sure every voter is served fairly and is prepared to vote. Our premier election website,, stands ready to provide every voter with the information they need to vote. Our members will be serving as poll observers in their communities and answering voters' last minute questions on Election Day. We are certain voters will be empowered to take control of their future because of our members' hard work on the ground.

Together, through our votes, we will take control over what happens to our family, our community and our country. Every vote counts and our votes will make a difference. Join with voters around the country and take control this election -- commit to voting today!

This election is critically important; too much is at stake for all of us -- our jobs, our healthcare, our future. So wield your power -- VOTE!