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The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 79, No. 5, May 2003

Making Our Voices Heard — Making Our Votes Count

733 15th Street, N.W., Suite 432, Washington, DC 20005
202/347-3020,  fax: 202/347-2522
Website:, E-mail:

President’s Message
Bed and Breakfast Hostesses Needed June 5-9, 2003
News from the Units
May Unit Meeting Schedule
Congressional Representation
Member News
Transportation Committee
International Relations Committee
Great Decisions Meetings
National Program
Voter Services: LWVDC Hosts New Citizens’ Reception
LWV-National Capital Area
Election Reform: Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Public Law 107-252
LWVDC Board Member to Appear on TV
Volunteers Needed to Help Count Ballots
Calendar May 2003

President's MESSAGE

The LWVUS Board recently met and decided to enter into negotiations with Capitol Advantage (Cap Ad) firm to support DNet for Election 2004 that will have Cap Ad cover virtually all the national staffing and technical costs. The DNet content will be displayed in the election section of the major media sites, and the League will still own DNet and the DNet name.

The LWVUS Board added civil liberties to the third level of the advocacy priority list alongside CEDAW, DC Voting Rights and Financial issues, Health Care and Global Warming. This inclusion is the result of a quiet groundswell from the states about Patriot Act II. Many states, including Florida, California and Alaska, are expressing opposition to the Act by holding caucuses at their conventions, major forums, and lobbying the state legislators. There is a feeling among some Leagues that it is a return to McCarthyism. LWVUS President Kay Maxwell has received letters urging immediate action because of the fear of intrusion into our civil liberties. President Maxwell is being asked for help in advocacy and information in understanding what is involved and why.

The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) is well on its way in D.C. as our members have become involved in the State D.C. Committee at the Board of Elections and Ethics in assisting in developing new guidelines. Elinor Hart and I are participating in the work of community advisory committees. See below for information on HAVA and its requirements.

Be sure to attend a Unit meeting May 20, 21, or 22 on Children At Risk. The committee has prepared background material on the current status of DC programs (see below) and will provide fact sheets to serve as a basis for an interactive discussion. — Patricia Hallman, outgoing President

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The National League's Council meets in Washington June 6-8, which means there will be many Leaguers coming into town who need housing. This is an opportunity for us AND YOU to make some money as well as promote good will.

Of the $40 per room we charge ($60 couple), half goes back to the hostess. As a hostess, you are asked to provide a private bedroom, access to a bathroom, cold breakfast (with hot coffee or tea?) and some friendly conversation. Please contact Chris Mathews if you can help at or 269-3890.

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CHILDREN AT RISK And Future League Action

"Children at Risk" is the topic for Unit Meetings in May. Who are these children? How many are there? Why are they at risk? What can be done to improve their lot? Is there a role for the League?

According to an analysis of the latest census statistics, 31.7 percent of all children in DC under the age of 18 live below the federal poverty level. The numbers would be higher if poverty were measured by median income, which is $46,500 for the District, $82,500 for the metropolitan area. DC is not the only city with such statistics. The poverty rates of Baltimore, Richmond, Detroit, and New York, to cite a few, are slightly higher.

Out of a total DC population of some 570,000, 109,500 are children. Of these, 35,000 live in poverty and consequently are at risk. Poverty means that a single mother and one child live on $12,500 or less a year, in a city which ranks in the top three cities of the country for housing costs. For a family of four, the federal government defines poverty as an annual income of $1,522 per month or less.

The connection between poverty and children at risk is self-evident, but little noted in government priorities. A child born to a poor family suffers from little pre-natal care, poor nutrition, unhealthy housing and neighborhood, and few enrichment opportunities like quality day care or summer camp; not to mention lead free paint, healthy diet, or the many other numerous advantages provided by a sustainable family income.

What is needed to reduce the risk? How can remedies be prioritized, particularly in a nation facing the most severe budget crisis of the last five decades? Almost every solution bears costs, and children have no vote to advocate for their fair share of the budget. Where can dollars be most efficiently invested for protecting children and the city's future? Where should the League speak out?

Those who attend these May units will receive several fact sheets, describing the current status of DC programs for child care, health, schooling, housing, welfare, juvenile justice, with information on current budget allotments. This will be an opportunity to chart directions for League action in the coming year. — Joan Wilson (237-6264), Co-chair

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Tuesday, May 20 at 9:46 am
Southwest Unit at the home of Leona Rumsey, 863-7484, 550 N Street, SW #S202

Tuesday, May 20 at 12:45 pm
Northwest Day Unit at IONA Senior Services, 4125 Albemarle St., NW, Co-chairs June Bashkin 337-0949 & Barbara Kemp 362-4529

Tuesday, May 20 at 6:30 pm
In-Town Evening Unit at the Irish Channel Restaurant/Pub, 500 H St., NW in Chinatown. (Gallery PI/Chinatown Metro stop). We will reserve tables for the meeting. Members can choose to eat or not. Call Sheila Willet by 3 pm on the 20th at 347-3020 if you plan to attend.

Wednesday, May 21 at 9:45 am
Upper 16th Street Unit at the home of Reggie Yancey, 726-1929, 1762 Redwood Terrace, NW

Thursday, May 22 at 9:46 am
Chevy Chase/Ingleside Unit in the Lounge at 3050 Military Rd., NW, Co-chairs: Ruth Allen 362-8953, Leslie Dunbar 364-6457, Joan Wilson 237-6264

Thursday, May 22 at 7:30 pm
The Evening Unit at the home of Joan Domike, 966-3865, 4200 Massachusetts Ave., NW, #304

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DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced her "No Taxation without Representation Act Of 2003", H.R. 1285, on March 12. The bill emphasizes our lack of voting rights.

DC VOTE, with other groups, held its annual event on April 15 at Freedom Plaza. This year the event was called "Voting Rights Day", and for the first time it was endorsed by our DC Council and the Mayor. Miss DC, Mayor Williams, members of the DC Council, two poets, and a church choir participated. — Kathy Schmidt (237-5550), DC Vote Liaison

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WELCOME NEW MEMBERS: We welcome new member Dawn M. Cooper.

CONTRIBUTIONS: We gratefully acknowledge and thank the following for their contributions to the League support. Frances Gemmill, Virginia L. Gorman, Audrey Hatry, Sheila & Spurgeon Keeny, Barbara Luchs, Ruth Miller, Marilou Righini, Mary Weiler.

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About 200 jobs will be cut from the staff of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to save half of the $48 million budget deficit projected for 2004. A proposal to raise the remaining amount by raising transit fares and Metro parking fees is the subject of protracted argument in WMATA where the District, M Maryland and Virginia each have two votes. If one jurisdiction casts both of its votes to oppose a motion it fails.

Maryland and Virginia oppose increased parking fees, now subsidized at an estimated $11 million annually. These rates, as low as $1 per day, have already helped draw enough users to the Transportation trains to fill most lots by 8:00 AM and bring peak hour ridership to capacity on the six-car trains now available. Of the 56,000 Metro parking spaces, about 3,000 are in the District of Columbia.

The proposal to raise transit fares by 27% has met a cool reception. Drastic cuts in service to meet the 1995-96 budget shortfall and the continuing complaint that service information is inadequate, particularly at street transit stops, has left users dependent on service with many gaps both in geography and schedules. In fact, in the District of Columbia, the number of street-miles on which buses run is now the same as it was twenty-five years ago.

If you would like to participate in the DC League committee on transportation, call Grace Malakoff or leave your name at the League office, email: — Grace Malakoff (387-7540), Transportation Chair

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There will be no IR Committee Meeting in May.

Former Presidential Adviser on HIV-AIDS to speak at June 3 IR Meeting

Sandra L. Thurman, President of the International Aids Trust and former advisor to President Clinton on HIV-AIDS issues, will speak at the June 3rd meeting of the IR Committee. Ms. Thurman is one of the nation's foremost experts on HIV-AIDS, particularly as it affects Africa. The IR Committee is very pleased to have Ms. Thurman as our speaker, and we invite all League members and friends to attend this meeting, whether active IR Committee members or not.

The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. See the June DC Voter for location. A Q&A session will follow Ms. Thurman's remarks. If you have any questions, please contact Susan Rao at — Anne Porowoski (364-0557) & Susan Rao (636-1688) Co-chairs

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In-town Group

The In-town Great Decisions group will meet to discuss Europe: State of the Union, on Wednesday, May 14, with Naomi Glass serving as discussion leader. We will meet again on Wednesday, May 28, to discuss The Global Struggle for Women's Rights, with Geraldine Whitley the discussion leader. We meet at noon in the Rosalie Goodman room at LWVUS Headquarters, 1730 M St. NW, 10t" floor. Visitors are welcome. Call Sheila Keeny for information at 966-1692

Ingleside Group

On Friday, May 16th the subject of China will be discussed. This meeting will be held at Ingleside Apartments Lounge, 3050 Military Rd., NW. A Foreign Service Officer will be the speaker. (The name was not available at the time this Voter went to press.) For more information call Joan Wilson, (2376264). 

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League statement on Iraq: The LWVDC Board approved sending a message to the LWVUS Board endorsing its statement on U.S. military action in Iraq, which was announced by the LWVUS Board on the opening day of the U.S. offensive. (The LWVUS statement was enclosed with your April DC VOTER). Looking ahead, we encouraged the LWVUS Board to remain seized of the issue and the problems surrounding the post-war reconstruction of Iraq and its civil society. We also assumed that the United Nations will play a leading role in this process. While attending the LWVUS Board meeting as an observer, I was able to deliver our message directly to the members at their opening spring meeting on April 4. They seemed to welcome it.

Congressional Representation: I hope you all saw Kathy Schmidt on DC Channel 5, April 6 and 8, when she represented LWVDC in a panel discussion of our lack of voting representation in Congress and restrictions on our home rule rights. The program was sponsored and directed by the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area whose president, Andrew Rice, recently signed a letter to Members of Congress on DC voting rights. We can assume that Kathy's efforts played a role here.

Anne Porowski to be Panelist: Anne Porowski, Co-Chair of the International Relations Committee, will serve on a panel to discuss. Toward a Just and Peaceful World: Democratic United Nations Governance - or Pax Americana? The event, scheduled for May 10, is sponsored by the World Federalist Association of the National Capital Area. For further information on how to attend, call me. — Sheila Keeny (966-1692), 3rd Vice President, National Program

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VOTER SERVICES: LWVDC Hosts New Citizens' Reception 

Twelve League members attended the Swearing-In Ceremony for new citizens at the U.S. District Courthouse on Tuesday, April 8, and greeted the honorees afterwards at the catered reception we hosted in honor of the League birthday. Elinor Hart, co-chair of the Voters' Services Committee, spoke during the brief ceremony, welcoming the 60 new citizens from 32 countries to citizenship in the District of Columbia, and urging them to register to vote and play an active part in their local government. Judge Paul Friedman presided over the ceremony and introduced the speaker, Esther Lardent, herself an immigrant, now president and CEO of the Pro Bono Institute at Georgetown University Law Center. After the ceremony, League members handed out flyers giving details of the next election in 2004 to each newly sworn-in citizen and collected voter registration forms that were then delivered to Bill O'Field, public information officer of the Board of Elections and Ethics. Mr. O'Field and Shirley Jackson, also representing the Board, attended the ceremony in order to recruit bilingual poll workers from the group of new citizens. League members who attended were: Madlyn Calbert, Frances Gemmill, Laura Harris, Elinor Hart; Sheila Keeny, Amy Proft, Kathy Schmidt, Judy Smith, Linda Softli, Geraldine Whitley, Sheila Willet, Barbara Yeomans. — Elinor Hart (387-2966) & Judy Smith (882-3021), Voter Services Co-chairs

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Annual Convention: This year's NCA Convention open to all League members - will be held on May 10th at 9:30 am at the Marriott Metro Center Hotel, 775 12th St. NW (12th & G Sts). LWVUS President Kay Maxwell will be the keynote speaker.. The membership challenge winner will be announced.

The cost of the breakfast meeting is $25. The registration deadline is May 2"d. Call the League office for a reservation form.

DC League members on the current NCA board are Naomi Glass, Program Chair and Elinor Hart, DC Revitalization Chair. Suzanne Campagna is the liaison to NCA for LWVDC.

Five delegates will be sent to the convention to represent LWVDC. Delegates and alternates are: Suzanne Campagna, Frances Gemmill, Pat Hallman, Grace Malakoff, Mary Rodgers, Sheila Willet, Joan Wilson, and Reggie Yancey.

Coalition Guidelines: At the April 11 NCA meeting, board members adopted guidelines for member Leagues to use when requested to join a coalition.

LeadershipPlenty: Montgomery County Outgoing President Melpi Jefferies will attend the Train the Trainer Seminar in Denver, CO May 1-4. Upon completion, she will conduct LeadershipPlenty training classes for the NCA Leagues. — Andrea Gruhl & Barbara Sherrill, NCA News & Notes

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Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002, and President Bush signed PL-107-252 in October 2002. The bill, which require requires states to make many changes, authorized $3.9 billion over three years for states to improve the operations of elections. In February 2003, Congress appropriated $1.5 billion for election reform in the states for this year.

The League of Women Voters of the United States has been advocating election reform since the 2000 elections and the 2001 LWVUS Convention, through lobbying, panel discussions, publications, websites, testimony, and many other ways. Lloyd Leonard, LWVUS lobbyist, had a major role in the development of the legislation, and Jeanette Senecal is the primary resource person.


  • Each state to have a system for allowing provisional voting;
  • Each state must construct a statewide computerized voter registration system;
  • Voters who register by mail have to prove their identification by some process and,


  • Each state must have a system to allow voters to verify their ballots and correct any errors


  • $3.9 billion over three years to improve the administration of elections;
  • $325 million to purchase and retire punch-card and lever voting machines;
  • $325 million for training of election officials and poll workers;
  • $100 million over three years to make voting places accessible.

HAVA impacts every part of the voting process from voting machines to the provision of ballots. It makes the process as inclusive as possible, reforms the voting process at polling places, and develops a statewide, centralized, electronic list of all eligible voters. It also ensures that I.D. requirements are fair and non-discriminatory, ensures accessible voting, and attracts new voters and broadens participation.

The LWVUS has developed recommendations for the -implementation of HAVA and encourages local League members to work with local and state coalitions and boards of elections on HAVA. The LWVDC has joined the D.C. state planning advisory committee of the BOEE to assist in developing the District of Columbia plan. Pat Hallman is a member of the Pollworker Training and Recruitment sub-committee; and Elinor Hart is a member of the Voter Education sub-committee. Other subcommittees are: Accessibility to Polling Places; Voter Registration, and Voting Procedures. The BOEE State Planning Advisory Committee will hear the sub committee reports on April 27. Plans are to submit the final D.C. report for publication in the Federal Register by June 1. 

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LWVDC Board Member To Appear on TV

Some of you may have enjoyed seeing LWVDC Board member Kathy Schmidt on DCTV Cable Channel 5 on Sunday, April 6, when she appeared on a panel to discuss voting representation for the citizens of the District, Kathy's portfolio on the Board and one of the DC League's leading goals.

If you missed her earlier, you will have another chance on Sunday,. April 27 at 4 pm (repeated on Tuesday, April 29 at 10:30 pm). The other panelists will be Tim Cooper of Democracy First, Mark David Richards, political sociologist, and League member Joe Grano of the Rhodes Tavern Historical Heritage Society - all committed to righting this 200year-old denial of voting rights to the citizens of the District.

For an earlier panel discussion of the same subject, go to DCTV Cable Channel 5 on Sunday, April 20, at 4 PM and Tuesday, April 22, at 10:30 pm when Ilir Zherka of DCVote with whom the League works closely took Kathy's place on the panel. These programs are sponsored by: the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area. Their host and producer is Tom Gause, Board member UNA/NCA. — Sheila Keeny, VP for National Program

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Volunteers Needed to Help Count Ballots

We need people to count mail-in ballots at the League office, 733 15t St., NW, Suite 432 on

  • Thursday, May 29 from 10 am -12noon
  • Thursday, June 5 from 10 am -12 noon

Please call Reggie Yancey at 726-1929 or the League office at 347-3020 if you can assist in this activity.

One of the sources for funding the League is the conducting of Private Elections for organizations in the District. The League will act as a non-partisan entity and count the ballots and provide the results to the organizations.

A big thank you goes to the following who helped with onsite elections in March: Natalie Howard, Christine Matthews, Ken Nesper, Elaine Melmed, Paula McKann, Kathy Schmidt, Sheila Willet, and Barbara Yeomans. — Reggie Yancey, Private Elections

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        1 2 Reservation Deadline NCA Convention 3
4 5 6 7 10:00 am Mtg. LWVDC Board 8 9 10:00 am LWV NCA Brd. Mtg. 10 9:30 am LWV NCA Convention
11 12 13 June DC Voter deadline 14 10:00 am Education Cmte
12 noon Great Decisions
15 16 3:30 pm Great Decisions at Ingleside 17
18 19 20 Unit Meetings
9:45 am Southwest
12:45 pm Northwest Day
6:30 pm InTown
21 Unit Meeting
9:45 am Upper 16th Street
22 Unit Meetings
9:45 am Chevy Chase/Ingleside
7:30 pm Evening
23 June DC Voter mailed 24
25 26 27 1:00 pm Healthcare Cmte 28 12 noon Great Decisions 29 30  

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