2018 Spring Internship Experience

240 Hours Later


What can you do in 240 hours? You can drive from Annapolis to San Francisco three times (roundtrip), you can watch the all the Star Wars films 11 times, or you could earn 6 college credits. I don’t think I could drive to San Francisco and back without stopping, I love Star Wars but watching 11 times straight would be taxing. But earning credits towards graduation seems to be the perfect way to spend 240 hours, and that’s what I did this past spring as an intern for the League of Women Voters Maryland state office.


Ashley and Brielle at NationBuilder Event in DC

Ashley & Brielle at a NationBuilder Event in DC


 

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Highlights from Council

The LWV State Council went off on June 9, 2018, without a hitch. Harford County Executive Barry Glassman opened to program with a brief talk about LWV and Harford County. Amy Hjerstedt gave a presentation on the Transformation Road Map which focused on who LWV is and what our main concerns should be. The council then broke into small “work groups” to discuss the presentation and the reactions of the individual members and local LWVs. When discussing the things we either approved of or found concerning, notes were made to the 2018-2019 State Board which will be discussed out the Board Retreat in July.

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True Grit on the Eastern Shore

The LWVMD teamed up with the League of Women Voters of Prince George’s County to host a Spring Fundraiser over to the Eastern Shore, the highlight of which was a stop at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center where we were greeted personally by one of the park rangers. Exhibits at the Center feature information about Tubman’s childhood and young adulthood, living and laboring under slavery in Dorchester and Caroline Counties. The center immerses visitors in the secret networks of the Underground Railroad and Tubman’s own daring rescue missions. Exhibits also feature Tubman’s actions during the Civil War, and her later years as a suffragist, civil rights worker, and humanitarian.

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Lobby Day on Capitol Hill

It is so worthwhile for our elected officials to see and hear from their constituents and that is something we Maryland Leaguers do at least once a year when we make our annual "LWVMD Day on Capitol Hill." We talk with our US Senators and/or their staff members in their offices in the Hart Senate Office Building in the morning then walk across from the Senate side to the House of Representatives side of Capitol Hill. Passing the Capitol on our right and the US Supreme Court and Library of Congress on the left, we settle in for a fun lunch at the House staff food court in the basement of Longworth House Office Building.

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Voter Registration at Naturalization Ceremonies

One of the most gratifying volunteer experiences for League members is registering new citizens to vote. People are excited to become United States citizens and part of that excitement is registering to vote. The new citizens often express their appreciation to the League for helping with voter registration at these ceremonies and our volunteers enjoy the festive nature of the occasion – children dressed in their finest as smiling parents take the oath, new citizens proudly displaying their naturalization certificates for family photos, and, on one occasion, the choir from a new citizen’s church singing “America the Beautiful” as part of the ceremony.

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LWVMD Advocates Metro Funding

In the fall of 2016, the Board of the League of Women Voters of the National Capital Area voted to actively engage in the pursuit of a dedicated funding source for Metro. This interleague organization was founded in the 1960’s and one of their initial priorities was to advocate for a regional public rapid rail system. Its member Leagues include the state Leagues of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia and eight local Leagues that surround DC. The original name of LWVNCA was “the Metro League Council”. A 1965 transportation study by this League documents that in 1963, members of the Metro League Council testified before Congress in favor of a $793 million rapid rail system with a total length of 83 miles, 19 of them underground. This ambitious plan was rejected, but negotiations continued over the next decade.

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Membership News

Welcome, Young Leaguers!  LWVUS and LWVMD Waive Student PMP

This April, LWVUS announced an exciting new initiative to engage the next generation in active participation in the League. As a key first step, the national board voted to waive Student Per Member Payments (PMP) at the national level through January 2021.  The LWVMD board followed suit in May, voting not to charge PMP for any local League’s student members as long as the LWVUS program is in effect.

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Transformation Journey

Recognizing the changing external environment -both in the nature of volunteerism and the growing number of competing organizations in the democracy space- the League of Women Voters of the United States, with input from state and local Leagues around the country, has been working over the past several years to ensure that the League enters its second century strong, visible, and relevant. We’ve been referring to this as our “transformation journey.”

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The League's Future: Presidents' Message

League members find ourselves in an interesting position. We are witnessing many of the social and environmental laws that LWV and other organizations fought so hard for being eroded. The League is experiencing some growth in membership from people who are interested in correcting this trend, but in many cases, the "old League" is not meeting their needs. Instead we see numerous organizations popping up that seem to be usurping “our” agenda. What is the answer? 

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Focus on a Local League: Anne Arundel County

Anne Arundel County League: Mobilizing To Inform Voters

LWVAAC is determined to maximize the impact of its Annapolis-centric membership in reaching and informing voters throughout Anne Arundel County this election year. League volunteers who are both certified registrars and trained VOTE411.org instructors will offer their services to libraries and community centers in all parts of the county. In May, LWVAAC will host a panel discussion to address the public’s concerns about election security. A videotape of the program will be posted online, and offered for viewing by other organizations and communities. Prior to the general election, our League will sponsor public forums for the General Assembly candidates in legislative districts 30, 31, 32 and 33, once again videotaping and posting each session online.

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A Look at Legislative Day 2018

On March 6th League members filled West One in the Miller Senate Office Building to attend LWVMD’s 2018 Legislative Day. Some members and friends visited their legislators to tell them about the League’s legislative priorities, while others toured the Senate and the State House, learning about how our state government operates. We shared the feedback we received from our legislative visits and discussed key bills affecting our legislative priorities. For our speaker on the budget, we had “two for the price of one.” Ryan Bishop, Director of the Office of Policy Analysis of Legislative Services, began the presentation about the FY2019 budget and the structural budget outlook, revenue and spending, potential impacts of federal tax reform and potential legislative issues. After a delay due to action in the House of Delegates, Victoria Gruber, the new Executive Director of the Department of Legislative Services, joined Mr. Bishop for an extensive question period.

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Legislative Testimony: How it Works

Now is the time we act on the legislative priorities we developed last fall and on other issues based on state and/or national consensus positions. Some bills have already had hearings. For example, the League testified for HB 152, the Secure and Accessible Registration Act (SARA). By registering to vote through a convenient dual-purpose application at the time of routine and necessary transactions with certain state and local agencies, voters won’t have to worry about registration deadlines or application submissions. Also, name and address changes will be automatically sent to election officials allowing them to keep voter rolls current.

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Focus on a Local League: Baltimore City

Baltimore City League: Focused on Youth Voter Registration

Voter Registration: The Baltimore City League wanted to prioritize high school voter registration and voting this year. A grant from the LWV Education Fund (LWVEF) has provided an additional incentive. To help us identify schools that might be underserved in voter registration, we contacted League member, Julia Baez, Executive Director of Baltimore’s Promise (a collaborative for youth programs). She helped us work with the Baltimore City Public Schools Office of Family and Community Engagement which put us in contact with Community School Coordinators in five high schools—Ben Franklin, Patterson, Frederick Douglass, Reginal Lewis, and Western. We will also return to Baltimore City Community College (BCCC) where we have been registering voters around National Voter Registration Day.

 

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Presidents' Letter: Many Ways to Engage

During the past few weeks I have had the privilege of testifying before the 2018 Maryland General Assembly Session on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Maryland. Nancy Soreng, former LWVMD President, and I have testified on several election bills and will be testifying on more as the session evolves. It is interesting to note how little in-person support, either pro or con, these bills receive. It seems that the League of Women Voters is one of the few go-to organizations that legislators count on to speak to the important topic of election and voting reform.

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Beware the Ides of March

March 15th is rapidly approaching. All consensus study reports for our PRIMARY ELECTION study must be in by March 15th. At this point only one local League report has been received. Hopefully your League has scheduled a date for your consensus meeting. All material needed for the study are on the Primary Study webpage here.

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