For nearly 100 years, the non-partisan League of Women Voters has studied public policy issues in order to educate and inform the public and our elected representatives. Following this tradition, the League of Women Voters of Bucks County researched and studied voting systems so that we could provide an informed opinion to the Commissioners prior to the decision to select and purchase a new voting system. We concluded, along with cyber-security experts across the nation, that the use of paper ballots hand-marked by the voter, combined with regular audits (preferably risk-limiting audits), is the most secure means for reducing cyber-threat to our elections.
Consequently, the League of Women Voters of Bucks County supports voting systems that employ a hand marked paper ballot or, for those unable to mark the ballot, a ballot marking device to create a paper record. The paper ballot would be the record used for audits and recounts, as opposed to other systems that electronically record the voter's intent.
The League also supports routine audits, preferably risk-limiting, of the paper ballot/record in randomly selected precincts that are conducted in every election, with the results published by the jurisdiction. Risk limiting audits provide statistical assurance that election outcomes are correct by manually examining portions of the audit trail--paper ballots or voter-verifiable paper records. Currently Pennsylvania requires that the county board select a random sample of at least 2% of the votes cast, or 2,000 votes, whichever is less. There is no statutory guidance whether audit results are binding on official results nor is there any statutory guidance for additional targeted samples.
Voters must believe that their votes are secure and accurately reflect their intent. We urge our elected officials to consider the League's position as they engage in the process to purchase new voting machines and we look forward an open and transparent process for selecting our new machines.
Peggy Dator and Jan Hendershot, Co-Presidents
Jean Weston, Chair, Voting Systems Study
Kuniholm explained how Pennsylvania repeatedly ranks among the worse, if not the worse, in studies looking at responsiveness to voters. State rankings show that gerrymandering in Pennsylvania, compounded by the state's porous campaign financing, and voter registration laws, led to the state being ranked 49th in their Electoral Integrity Score, among other reports. The challenge in the courts to the 2010 Congressional districts resulted in a temporary reprieve from gerrymandered Congressional districts. But, following the next census in 2020, the Congressional and state legislative districts will be redrawn in the same partisan, behind-closed-doors manner, unless action is taken. With the support of the growing grassroots Fair Districts PA, state legislators in a bi-partisan effort, have introduced two new bills to address gerrymandering, House Bill 22 and 23. Congressman Fitzpatrick reflected on his work for the FBI that exposed corruption and crime as another consequence of gerrymandered districts. The gridlock in Washington has worsened as a result of uncompetitive districts.
Fitzpatrick cautioned the audience that the 1st Congressional District in Pennsylvania is one of only thirty-five districts, among 435, that are still considered competitive. As Kuniholm also explained, the focus of outside money and influence to control the gerrymandering in Pennsylvania will be that much more intense, especially as a loss of population will require redrawn districts following the next census.
Fair Districts PA is advocating for an independent citizens commission to redraw district lines. Citizens can participate by signing the online petition on Fair Districts PA website and helping to educate voters at the polls. Said Kuniholm," Without change of the redistricting process, nothing else changes," and she advised that every voter, no matter their issue(s) of concern, should be made aware of the problems with the state processes. Summing up the motivation of volunteers to address these issues, Kuniholm stated, "If you are not angry, you are not paying attention."
Note + the program is available to watch on Fair Districts PA YouTube channel
The 38th Annual Bucks County Women's History Month Award will be presented to honoree Jane Grim of East Rockhill Township. Jane was nominated by the League of Women Voters of Bucks County (LWVBC), an organization she joined in 1970 with a desire to promote voting and good citizenship in her community. As past-president, executive committee member, board member and volunteer in numerous capacities for the LWVBC, Jane was not only successful with her objectives, but she has also provided invaluable leadership and role-modeling during these forty-eight years. Jane will receive the award on Thursday, March 21. The public is invited to participate. Invitation and RSVP can be printed here.
Women representing thirteen organizations based in Bucks County served on the 2019 award committee for the 38th Annual Award. The award committee considered Jane's impressive resume of service, not only with the League, but also as the first female trustee of Grand View Hospital and hospital auxiliary volunteer for decades; member and chair of the juvenile diversion program Pennridge Youth Aid Panel; volunteer and leader in educational support groups in the community; and docent for seventeen years at James A. Michener Art Museum.
Selected as the Bucks County woman who best exemplifies the social, intellectual, and creative contributions women have made to the future and quality of life for Bucks County residents, Jane will be feted at the historic James-Lorah Memorial Home in Doylestown. The Home is significant as the birthplace of Henry Chapman Mercer and listed on the National Register of Historic Homes. Attendees of the award program will have the opportunity to tour the home, beginning at 5:00 PM. Refreshments proceed the 6:30 program. Proceeds from the evening will be designated to an organization or charity of Jane's choosing.
February 14, 2019 marks the 99th anniversary of the founding of the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS), six months before the 99th anniversary of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment which granted women the right to vote. The League worked vigorously in the months between the amendment's ratification and the presidential election of 1920 to register women to vote.
Forgotten Heroes takes the audience on the long 72- year old fight for women's suffrage, beginning at the 1848 Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. League member and program developer Sandy Kerr notes that, "the women's suffrage journey wasn't just a political fight" but also about changing cultural and social norms. There was a great fear of women entering the public sphere. The League's efforts to register women to vote encountered these tensions as well as efforts to suppress women's votes. While helping to educate women about their new responsibilities as voters, the League learned that all voters needed to be better educated about voting. The national League and the 700+ state and local leagues have continued this mission of empowering voters and defending democracy into the 21st century.
The League of Women Voters is non-partisan and works to educate all voters. Members reach out to the public with information and assistance on registering to vote, provide candidate information and forums to help voters make informed choices, and study and develop positions on important issues.
Information about Forgotten Heroes: Women and their Fight for the Right to Vote as well as other activities of the League of Women Voters of Bucks County is available at http://www.lwvbucks.org. A curriculum for children on the 19th Amendment will also be made available, upon request. The program is free and open to the public. If the weather is questionable on March 5, please check the Central Bucks School district website. If school is delayed or closed, the program will be re-scheduled to the same location on March 12 at 10 AM.
Candidates running for offices at the federal and state level participated in six candidate forums hosted and moderated by the League. Two of the six forums were in partnership with Bucks County Chambers of Commerce. Delaware Valley University hosted two forums and provided assistance in videotaping, and most other venues were provided free or for a reduced cost. All who participated made these forums a great service for our citizens. We were impressed by the number of people who attended the forums; several were at capacity with 300 - 400 attendees. The candidates and attendees were civil and polite, allowing everyone in attendance to get value from the events.
Voters visited our web site in great numbers during November, looking for non-partisan candidate information in our Voters' Guide and information about our forums. Media partners helped by publicizing information about our guide and forums. Bucks County Transport generously donated signs on their vans publicizing Election Day.
The League's membership of men and women has also grown by well over 25% over the past several years. Interest surveys of our members indicate an increased interest in non-partisan volunteerism with a desire to educate voters and work for fair, accessible elections.
With the holiday season as a special time to reflect and express gratitude, we wish to recognize the candidates who participated in candidate forums, the generous venue hosts and forum partners, the dedicated volunteers of the League and most importantly, you, the voters, who make democracy work.
League of Women Voters of Bucks County
There is also a local Bucks County group already formed. Follow their activities on their Facebook page