Communications & Website

I. LWVUS Policy on League Mail, Phone, and Email: Every League needs a permanent address and phone number. For those without offices, this could be a post office box and a telephone with voicemail (Google phone is a free option), both of which need to be monitored routinely and often. The contact information, namely, the name(s), address(es), phone/fax numbers and email addresses for League President/Co-President/Team Leader is generally confidential, except when the League has no official contact information.

II. Website/Online: The development and maintenance of a website is an undertaking that requires regular and constant attention. The website (and other online activities such as Facebook or Twitter) must continue to be a visible, informative, and action-oriented tool available to our members and to the public. This objective led to the launching of the LWVMD website in September 1995, which also aided the development and installation of LL websites.

A. These LWVUS Website Policies are applicable to state and LLs as of September 1995:

B. Publishing on the Internet is another method of publishing. Therefore, it is subject to the usual policies for publishing, for example:

1. Copyrights must be honored.

2. Privacy of individuals must be respected.

3. Material must be in keeping with our mission, beliefs, intentions, and continue our nonpartisanship policy.

III. Each League level must take responsibility for the material it publishes online. The President remains the spokesperson for his or her League. Items and information appearing on League sites should be authorized by its President, its board, or an individual authorized by the President to act in that capacity. The President is responsible for ensuring that the information posted online is appropriate for public presentation.

IV. Links to other League web pages are permissible without prior approval. Creating links to appropriate government entities and any organizations and groups with whom the League is allied is encouraged.

V. Website Design

A. The LWVMD Online Services Director initially produces the design and format of the State and LL web pages. Revisions and modifications to those sites continue to be the responsibility of that Director, thus relieving LLs of substantial technical design responsibilities and encouraging the posting of information that furthers the visibility, vitality and effectiveness of the League.

B. Local Leagues may use the design provided or provide a design of their own with the permission of the LWVMD Online Services Director. Notice of such planned redesign and its scheduled implementation by a LL should be reported to and coordinated with the LWVMD Online Services Director.

C. Requests or recommendations for additions, modifications, or other changes to the respective websites, or proposals to undertake new or pilot projects using online access should be submitted to the Online Services Director for consideration, decision, and approval, if necessary, by the Board to ensure uniform or expanded installation in all LWVMD websites, where practical.

VI. Online Security

A. To ensure the appropriateness of the information on the League websites, the LWVMD Online Services Director or those individuals appointed to serve as online editors will approve new and updated information.

B. Usernames and Passwords used to upload information and access individual or administrative accounts must be protected by the individual members and website managers.

C. Avoid posting personal contact information online. A League phone number or post office box should be used. Use of the online contact forms or LWV aliases (pres@lwvmd.org, info@lwvmd.org, etc.) is recommended instead of using personal email addresses. 

VII. Each League should upload their own information. The State President and LL Presidents are expected to assign responsibility for maintenance of their sites to members of their League. The same person may have multiple roles.

A. Writer(s) people who upload information. Often board members, committee members, and newsletter writers.

B. Online Editor(s) people who review and approve uploaded information. This is often a Newsletter editor or Board member. Defaults to the President.

C. Online Membership Manager. Someone with administrative access to the LWVUS membership database.

D. Website Manager a person with more technical expertise who supervises and develops the website. Defaults to the LWVMD Online Services Director

E. People who post online should:

1. Be informed of all LL activities and actions to ensure up to date postings on their website.

2. Be available to post and update information as promptly as possible. If the LWVMD On-Line Services Director observes out of date content, the Local League will be informed. If nothing is done to remedy the situation within two weeks, the On-Line services Director shall have the authority to hide the content.

3. Inform the LL President of difficulties encountered in receiving information for the website or in keeping the site updated regularly.

4. The name, address, telephone, and email address of the local Online Editor and Website Manager are to be included in the State Directory.

5. If a LL finds it is unable to staff the position of Online Writers and Online Editors to ensure regular updating of its site, that should be reported to the Online Services Director so appropriate redesign of its site can be installed, or other corrective action can be taken.

F. Suitable Information to post online

1. Be careful about people's privacy by redacting home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and other private information. Pictures of people identified by name should be uploaded only with permission from those people.

2. To ensure accessibility by everyone, all uploaded files should be in a universally accessible format (PDF, TXT, HTML, or CSV) instead of in proprietary formats such as those used in Microsoft Office products.

3. Suitable Content

a. News Articles (testimony, press releases, upcoming or recent activities of your League, action alerts, announcements, president letters)

b. Documents (Fact Sheets, Voters' Guides, pamphlets, books, resources, newsletters, website manuals, information about government)

c. Events - any LWV or LWV-sponsored Event.

d. Postings of events not sponsored by the League of Women Voters may be posted only if: They are non-partisan in nature AND they address an issue that is a League priority AND the League President, after consulting with relevant member(s) of the Board has approved the posting. Such events should include a disclaimer saying that the League is not a sponsor and the League believes they are non-partisan and of interest to the public.

e. About LWV (history, organization, contact information, pictures, membership info, contact pages)

f. Donation Pages and Information about the Education Fund

g. Links to other Leagues and to Government sites. Links to locations (restaurants, hotels, parks, etc.) may be added to help people attend an event. If you link to other organizations, visit their site every so often and make sure they're still non-partisan.

G. Features for the Future - Electronic communication and website publication are not static and changes can always be expected and should be encouraged. The Board encourages submission of ideas for new data content, expansion or changes to current LWVMD web pages and new projects using electronic communication. These should be forwarded to the Online Services Director. New online projects initiated by LWVMD will be communicated promptly to all LLs and cooperation and participation will be encouraged.

VIII. EMAILS, SUBSCRIPTION LISTS, AND ONLINE FORUMS

A. LWVMD email aliases - Email Aliases in the form of name@lwvmd.org are available through the website. These e-mails should be listed on the website to avoid using personal emails and to make maintenance easier. These addresses can be used to send out official League notices. Each LL has been assigned a minimum of three emails, namely:

1. pres@LL.lwvmd.org

2. info@LL.lwvmd.org

3. web@LL.lwvmd.org

B. Subscription Lists

1. State - LWVMD sends out notices such as Action Alerts and information about upcoming events as well as publications like MD Voter, State Board Letter and Report from State Circle using member information that is in the LWVUS data base. Therefore, it is very important the LL keep their membership information up-to-date with LWVUS. Members and non-members may also subscribe themselves to lists on the LWVMD site, and LLs can subscribe their members.

2. Local Leagues may also use their web-sites to archive newsletters and to send out notices and publications.

IX. PUBLICATIONS

A. Approvals

1. All published materials, such as "When You Go to Annapolis," that are made available to the general public, go through a concurrent checking process by key members of LWVMD. All comments are pulled together, and any editorial changes are checked with the writer. The material is then proofread--a process essential for producing accurate, quality publications.

2. Publications must be approved by the Board; final copy approved by the President.

3. Publications should be marked "Material may be reproduced in whole or in part with written permission of the LWVMD."

4. Office files contain copies of each publication and information about each publication (including cost, publication number, distribution, printer used, number ordered, how funded).

B. Style and Editing

1. LWVUS Policy: To facilitate a uniform image of the League, it is advisable for every League to use the League's registered (trademarked) logo on all publications, League letterhead and the Web site. (Downloadable logo files and standards for use of the League logo are on the LWVUS site.)

2. Include the publication date.

3. Be clear and concise but most important, be accurate.

4. The Board may appoint a reading committee. Any changes made by the reading committee other than spelling, grammar or punctuation will be checked with the original writer.

5. Assume that readers are unfamiliar with your material. Make it clear to an uninformed reader.

6. Use abbreviations only after writing the name in full, followed by the initials in parentheses, e.g., State Board of Elections (SBE).

7. Submissions must include the author's name and date, clearly indicated. Computer discs, emailed, or typed contributions may be submitted. Keep a copy for your own reference.

8. Re-read all copy before it is submitted.

9. Proofreaders should make no changes unless an obvious error in spelling or punctuation is encountered.

C. Ongoing Publications

1. MARYLAND VOTER

a. LWVUS policy: Every League should name its newsletter The Voter and include the League's registered logo on the masthead.

b. Objective/Purpose: There are two primary objectives of the Maryland Voter:

• To communicate with all League members in the state, sharing upcoming and past activities, philosophies and goals.

• To project an image of LWVMD to Leagues in all other states, the LWVUS, and to numerous organizations in Maryland, providing an essential and ongoing public relations and recruiting tool.

c. Content: Generally, the materials printed in the Voter are suggested by the editor and/or Board members. Most of the articles tend to suggest themselves through Board and LWVMD activities. Local Voters are also a source of news. Voters from other states may provide ideas or news items. The editor helps balance ordinary notices and accounts of events with other, more varied articles and graphics. The Voter can become repetitious since LWVMD repeats certain events annually. The editor should find ways to present annual activities in a fresh, imaginative manner. The final determination on content, as well as all other phases of production, rests with the editor and the president. Advertisements may be included in the Voter and are encouraged, provided they meet League nonpartisanship standards.

d. Style: In order that articles in the Voter may meet basic standards, such as spelling, sentence structure, language usage, clarity, style consistency and logical organization and sequence, a Style Sheet shall be made available to Board members and reviewed annually. The individual writing style of contributors should be allowed to come through whenever possible to make the Voter more interesting to read and to encourage originality.

e. Nuts and Bolts: The Voter is published three times per year: Fall, Winter and Spring/Summer issues. Every LWVMD member receives the Voter by bulk mail or email. The Voter is also sent those who subscribe via our web-site or by contacting the office. A fee for print subscriptions sent to non-members is set by the Board.

• The editor works with the Board a month or two before the Voter is published to decide what items will appear in that issue. The editor makes assignments, determines the deadline, and is the recipient of all articles by Word attachment.

• The editor then prepares all items for publication so they meet stylistic standards and are factually correct. • The editor is responsible for layout and production. If convenient, drafts are proofread by a second member of the State Board.

• The League generally produces the Voter in-house.

• After the Voter is printed, it is collated, folded and labeled for mailing to members and subscribers who don't have e-mail by the office manager.

• The office manager also posts the LWVMD Voter on the LWVMD web-site.

2. STATE BOARD LETTER (SBL)

a. The SBL's primary function is to keep LL boards informed of all LWVMD Board news, plans and activities. The SBL is a vital link between the Board and LL boards. It is edited by a Board member with contributions assigned at each regular Board meeting. The SBL frequently features information for LLs to transmit to their members via local Voters. In order that articles in the SBL may meet basic standards, such as spelling, sentence structure, language usage, clarity, style consistency and logical organization and sequence, a Style Sheet shall be made available to Board members and reviewed annually.

b. The SBL is sent by email to all members who have e-mail addresses and local League board members who do not have e-mail are sent a hard copy.

c. The office manager posts the SBL on the LWVMD web-site and sends out the e-mail blast to all subscribers.

3. REPORT FROM STATE CIRCLE (RSC)

a. RSC covers a broad spectrum of bills before the Maryland General Assembly, which the League monitors and lobbies.

b. The primary audience for RSC is League members and members of the Maryland General Assembly. The public may also subscribe to free electronic copies. It is also available to libraries and other potential subscribers, and can be downloaded on the LWVMD Website. There is a subscription rate for members and non-members who would like to receive hard copies. The Board shall determine rates for any hard copy subscriptions.

c. RSC is published five times during the Legislative Session plus a wrap-up issue following sine die to report these results. RSC is edited under the auspices of the Action Chair, and is written by member-reporters who follow assigned bill categories.

4. POLICIES, GUIDELINES, PROCEDURES (PGP)

a. Intended as a reference primarily for State Board members, PGP describes key portfolios and Board functions. It also explains how various ethical questions are treated, and how the Board maintains relations with the LLs and outside entities.

b. PGP is reviewed annually and updated on an ongoing basis as the Board adds or changes policies and methods of doing League tasks.

5. STATE DIRECTORY

a. Every LWVMD Board member, LL president, and other portfolio holders such as local web managers and LL offices are provided a State Directory. The Directory is published annually prior to the Fall Workshop.

b. LLs are required to submit their full board list to the League office as soon as they complete their board assignments.

c. The Directory includes names, addresses and email addresses of the LWVMD Board, LL presidents, LL boards and portfolios, LL liaisons, National, State and Local offices, NCA League, and the LWVUS Board. It also includes the State calendar.

6. STUDY AND ACTION

a. This essential reference catalogues the history and development of LWVMD positions, projected action activities and past action efforts. In addition to stating positions, Study and Action includes background write-ups to set each position into its intended context and aid in interpretation.

b. Study and Action is formally updated and reprinted biannually. Updating is the responsibility of the Program and Action chairs. It is available on the LWVMD Website.

7. "WHEN YOU GO TO ANNAPOLIS"

a. A handy guide to the Maryland General Assembly in brochure form, "When You Go to Annapolis" is updated and reprinted annually.

b. It includes House and Senate committee information, names, phone and room numbers and committee assignments for all state senators and delegates and key state executive branch officials, a map of the State House area and how to obtain legislative information.

c. When funding allows, this publication is printed in quantity to be widely distributed to League members and the public. All efforts are made to secure outside funding for 'When You Go to Annapolis." The pamphlet is uploaded to the website a few days after the General Assembly convenes and is available for a free download.