Organiza.gif (1182 bytes)

Home     Organizations

Forward to December 2003 DC Voter —  Back to League of Women Voters home pageBack to October 2003 DC Voter

The DC Voter
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
Vol. 79, No. 10, November 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
Don’t Miss These Events
Affordable Housing Committee
Education Committee

Congressional Representation
International Relations Committee
Voter Services Committee
Presidential Primary Election January 13th
National Program
Citizen Summit III Slated for November 1st
Unit News
November Unit Meeting Schedule
Has Your League Membership Expired?
Member News
Calendar: November 2003
DC Vouchers: What Is the Next Step?


"A university without walls" the League might well be called, says Louise Young, author of "In the Public Interest,"- a history of the League, published in 1970s and a book I recommend for your reading. This October and November certainly offer a generous number of opportunities to learn more about issues near and far, from Affordable Housing in D.C. to public school vouchers, the United Nations and International issues, and last but not least, the Help America Vote Act.

In October thanks to Grace Malakoff and the National Capital Area League, we read about and discussed regional transportation issues, from transit to bus, to highways. On October 27, elected school board member Tommy Wells (District 3, Wards 5&6) joined our Brown Bag Dialogue to share with us his perceptions about the status of the D.C. Public Schools.

November will offer a noontime briefing on Affordable Housing (November 10) by some of the most knowledgeable people in our city about this subject. "School. Vouchers: What Is The Next Step?" will be our next learning opportunity, a thoughtful discussion by a panel on November 12. Be sure to attend this event, at the Sumner School, at 6:30 p.m., to prepare for your final exam in the units to follow for consensus, on November 18, 19 and 20.

My circuits are already overloaded, but Kathy Schmidt and the Voting Rights Committee have three fascinating speakers lined up for their committee meeting on November 13. See this Voter for more details, and have a Happy Thanksgiving. — Frances Gemmill, President

Back to top of page

Don't Miss These Events

Monday, Nov. 10th 12 noon, Special Briefing on Affordable Housing
Wednesday, Nov. 12th 6:30 pm, "DC Vouchers - What Is The Next Step?" Panel Discussion
Thursday, Nov. 13th 2:30 pm, DC Voting Rights Committee Mtg. Three speakers slated
Tues.-Thurs., Nov. 18th -22nd, Unit Meetings on DC Vouchers
Monday, Nov. 24th 11:30 am, Brown Bag Dialogue, Speaker: Joel Segal, (invited), Legal Assistant to Rep. Jim Conyers

Back to top of page


Monday, November 10, 12 noon 
Where: 1730 M Street, NW, Suite 1000
(LWVUS Board Room)

Cheryl Cort, Executive Director, Washington Regional Network for Livable Communities
Nina Dastur, housing attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow with the Center for Community Change
Robert Pohlman, Executive Director, Coalition for Nonprofit Housing and Economic Development.

Escalating housing prices and the disappearance of affordable housing continues to be a serious problem in Washington. It affects not only low-income working families, but also young people just starting out in life and our colleagues facing retirement. Fortunately, more is happening in housing now than at almost any other time in our city's history. Our expert/advocates will explain the latest developments on the legislative and zoning fronts as well as possible new initiatives that are in the works. We'll also learn about the first round of Housing Production Trust Fund projects and prospects for full funding in the next budget cycle.

League members and friends are encouraged to attend this discussion.


Frances Gemmill gave the following testimony on Thursday, October 9th in a Public Hearing before the Committee on Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Sharon Ambrose, Chairperson, concerning "Rental Housing Conversion and Sale Act of 1982 Amendment Act of 2003," Bill 15-133.

I am Frances Gemmill, President of the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia. I am here to express the League's strong support for Bill 15-133.

The tenants' first right of purchase expands home ownership opportunities, prevents displacement, and helps stabilize neighborhoods. It is very good public policy. The loophole that interferes with this policy must be closed without delay.

Last December, League members attended the hearing on Bill 14-813 and testified in support of the original legislation to close the partial transfer loophole. Neither the record of that hearing nor the legislative history of the .1994 amendment that created the loophole provides any justification for the loophole. The League urges this committee and the Council to act quickly to close it. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

— Elinor Hart (387-2966) & Janet Brown (332-0789) Members of Committee for Affordable Housing

Back to top of page



The Education Committee continues to prepare for the forum on school vouchers to be held on Wednesday, November 12, at 6:30 p.m. at the Sumner School. Legislation proposing a federally funded voucher bill "The D.C. Parental Choice Incentive Act of 2003," HR 2556, was passed by the House by one vote, sending the Senate a plan that would provide tuition grants to D.C. children next year. The Senate subsequently decided to postpone consideration of the bill, so that its future remains uncertain as of this writing.

As its study progressed, the Education Committee agreed that its primary focus will be on evaluating outcomes for students, leaving the political implications for other groups to consider. A panel of professionals whose expertise represents a range of experience related to vouchers agreed to participate in the forum.

The forum participants are: Arnold F. Fege, President and Founder of Public Advocacy for Kids, and Director of Public Engagement and Advocacy for the Public Education Network; Warlene Gary, Director of National Education Association Human and Civil Rights Division; Cornelia Spinner, State Education Officer of the District of Columbia, and Marnie Shaul, Director of Education Issues, U.S. General Accounting Office. See the enclosed flyer.

The next meeting of the Education Committee will be held Tuesday, November 11 in the DC League office. For more information contact Connie Tate (882-0387), Gladys Weaver (554-3055), Barbara Luchs (363-0853) 

Back to top of page

Don't Miss This Brown Bag Dialogue With

Joel Segal (invited)
Legal Assistant to US Rep. John Conyers.

Health Care in the District

11:30 am - 1:30 pm

1730 M Street, NW

Bring your own lunch and a friend

Back to top of page


Save the Date: June 11-14, 2004
The Hilton Washington Hotel
Need Volunteers for the following Positions:
Registration - Hospitality - Ushers
Credentials - Dine-Around - Monitors
Information - Doorkeepers - Time Keepers
Elections - Ushers

Mark your calendar now and watch for signup sheets in the DC Voter in early 2004.

Back to top of page

Welcome New Members

JoAnn Marie Liner Collins
Kendra Davis
Michelle Dominguez
Thelma B. Player
Rene Wallis

Welcome Back

Jay L. Bisgyer
Amy K. Dunbar
Hilda J. Mintzes

Back to top of page


DC Voting Rights Committee

Speakers Planned: At our next two meetings--Nov. 13 and Dec. 11--we plan to have representatives from various organizations supporting Voting Representation. Scheduled to speak on Nov. 13 are: Matt Marcou from Get the Vote, Scott McLarty from Statehood/Green party, Betty Ann Kane for the Committee For a Capital City. 

Each will speak 20 minutes allowing for 20 minutes for questions from the audience. All League members are invited - Come join us at Cleveland Park Library at 2:30pm.

Progress Update: Three bills are to be considered by the 108th Congress House of Representatives in support of voting rights for the District. One would grant DC citizens full voting rights in Congress.

The current year DC Appropriation bill will go to a House/Senate conference committee. The House version again contains the prohibition against DC using even locally raised revenue in pursuit of Congressional voting rights. The Senate bill limits the prohibition to federal tax money only. If the Senate version survives, locally raised taxes would be available for lobbying Congress and in support of our shadow Senator and Representative.

At the committee meeting on Oct. 9, members reported on the solutions to our lack of voting rights supported by various groups--Amnesty International, Committee for the Capital City, DC Agenda, DC Chamber of Commerce, DC Democratic State Committee, DC Statehood/Greens, and Get the Vote. — Kathy Schmidt (237-5550) Chair

Back to top of page


Co-chair Susan Rao reports the October informal "salon" was a rousing success with 13 League members participating. The second informal "salon" to discuss India and its relationship with the United States and the global community will be on Sunday, November 16, 2 pm at the home of Anne Porowski, 4200 Cathedral Ave., NW #1018. — Anne Porowski (364-0557) Co-chair

Back to top of page


URGENT NEED: League Member Volunteers to

Assist in the Voter Registration activities on the various college and university campuses in the District.

Staff voter registration tables at supermarkets and other places throughout the District.

For more information or to volunteer, call to Judy Smith (882-3021) or the League office (347-3020). Provided in the box below is pertinent information about the first election of 2004. — Elinor Hart (387-2966) & Judy Smith (882-3021), Voter Service Co-chairs

Back to top of page

Presidential Primary Election January 13th for the DC Democratic and DC Statehood Green parties will be held Tuesday, January 13, 2004. The DC Republican Party voted earlier this year to hold a Presidential Preference Caucus in February 2004. Deadline dates for this election are:

  • Voter Registration deadline is Monday, Dec. 15, 2003.
  • In-person absentee voting will be available at the DC Board of Elections and Ethics (BOEE) office between 8:30 am & 4:45 pm from December 29-31, 2003 and January 2-12, 2004.
  • Written requests for a mail-in absentee ballot must reach the DC BOEE no later than Tuesday, January 6, 2004. The BOEE address is 441 4th Street, NW, Suite 250N, Washington, DC 20001. Request forms are also available in the DC League office.

Election Workers needed to work the polls for the above election.

  • Any District of Columbia resident who is a registered voter can apply.
  • Pollworkers' hours are from 6:15 am to about 9:00 pm on Election Day and approximately two to three hours
    on Monday before the election for polling place set-up.
  • Pollworkers are paid a stipend of $100.

Youth Pollworkers Needed: In addition to election workers, the BOEE is looking for District youth who are 16 years old or older to assist Election Day workers on Election Day

  • Youth pollworkers will work a minimum of four hours on Election Day.
  • Youth pollworkers can be paid or receive community service credits which are required for high school graduation.

Training is required of all pollworkers with classes provided by the BOEE staff prior to each election. Individuals interested in applying should contact the BOEE by calling 727-2525. Individuals with hearing impairments can call the Board's TDD at 639-8916.

Back to top of page


1) Election of the President - Position Update:

Save Thursday, January 15, from noon to 2 pm, for a General Meeting at the Sumner School to discuss the Electoral College and its Alternatives. Look for details in the December and January DC Voters. In the meantime, you might want to check out the following:

A Little History: Only a few of today's League members were active in the early 80's when we last looked at our position on Election of the President - even fewer were around back in 1970 when we originally adopted it. It was not surprising then that members decided to take another look at the position when we last chose our National Program at Convention 2002. It appears that not all members are convinced that the Electoral College should be abolished and replaced by direct election of the President, as called for in the position. We hope to have a full discussion of this troubling issue at Unit Meetings in February - in the meantime, you may wish to review the position as officially published in the LWVUS's Impact on Issues Z002 - 2004 as reprinted below.

2) Claim Democracy: Securing, Enhancing and Exercising the Power of the Right to Vote:

The LWV is one of over sixty organizations endorsing a Call-to-Action for a major pro-democracy conference at the Washington DC Convention Center November 22-23. Check the conference site, (or call me) for details on the rich program planned. If at least ten LWV members register before October 31, the registration fee is reduced from $40 to $20; after that time, group rates are reduced from $65 to $32.50. Call me soonest to take advantage of this offer.

3) UNA and DC Voting Rights: 

League members will be pleased to learn that the President of the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area has sent a message to all the Chapters and Divisions of the United Nations Association nationwide asking for "support on an issue of great importance to the UNA of the National Capital Area" - i.e., the denial of voting representation to DC citizens, which the UNA/NCA sees as a "serious violation of human rights". Call me for a copy of his letter. — Sheila Keeny (966-1692), 3rd Vice President, National Program

Election of the President: The League's History

A League study of the presidential electoral process culminated in a 1970 position supporting direct election of the President by popular vote as essential to representative government. The League testified and lobbied for legislation to amend the Constitution to replace the Electoral College with direct election of the President, including provisions for a national run-off election in the event no candidates (President or Vice President) received 40 percent of the vote. The measure, which passed the House and nearly passed the Senate in 1971, has been revived in each Congress without success. In 1997, the LWVUS again called for abolition of the Electoral College and for direct election of the President and Vice-President in testimony before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution.

The League believes strongly that the Electoral College should be abolished; reform of the Electoral College should only be considered as a last resort. If undertaken, such reform should include: allocating electoral votes proportionally to the popular vote within each state and the District of Columbia; abolishing the office of elector; or amending the U.S.Constitution to bind electors to vote as directed by the electorate.

The League has supported national voting qualifications and procedures for presidential elections to ensure equity for voters from all states and to facilitate the electoral process. 

In February 2001, a memo was sent to the grassroots outlining the League's position on the Electoral College under the LWVUS position on Election of the President. (IMPACT ON ISSUES 2002-2004, p. 13)

Statement of Position on Election of the President as Announced by National Board, January 1970 and Revised March 1982:

The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the direct-o-ular-vote method for electing the President and Vice-President is essential to representative government. The League of Women Voters believes, therefore, that the Electoral College should be abolished. The League also supports uniform voting qualifications and procedures for presidential elections. (IMPACT ON ISSUES 2002-2004 p. 13)

Back to top of page


DC citizens are invited by Mayor Anthony A. Williams to participate in Citizen Summit III on November 1st at the new Washington Convention Center (Exhibit Hall A), 801 Mount Vernon Place, NW, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Food and entertainment will be provided. There is no charge to participate," states the event brochure. To register by phone, call (202) 727-0882. To register online, visit

Back to top of page


November Units will discuss DC School Vouchers. League members are encouraged to attend the November 12 General Meeting the week before the Unit meetings in preparation for Unit discussion.

The Next Unit Council Meeting will be held on Monday, November 17 at 12 Noon at the DC League office. — Joan Domike (966-3865), Unit Director

Back to top of page


Tuesday, November 18 at

9:45 am, Southwest Unit at the home of Anna Marsh 554-7719 1253 Delaware Ave. SW
12:45 pm, Northwest Day Unit at IONA Senior Services, 4125 Albemarle St., NW, For information call Frances Gemmill 362-6784
6:30 pm, In-Town Evening Unit at the Irish Channel Inn (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 14th at 347-3020 if you plan to attend.

Wednesday, November 19 at

9:45 am, Upper 16th Street Unit at the home of Natalie Howard 237-2163 3001 Veazey Terrace, NW #434

Thursday, November 20 at

9:45 am, Chevy Chase/Ingleside Unit in the Lounge at 3050 Military Rd., NW, Co-chairs: Ruth Allen 362-8953, Joan Wilson 237-6264
7:30 pm, The Evening Unit at the home of Kathryn Ray, 244-0770, 4441 Windom Place, NW

Back to top of page

Has Your League Membership Expired?

Please check the address label on the back page of this issue. 1f the membership date above your name has passed, print the membership form and mail with your check (made payable to LWVDC). Thank you.

Questions concerning League membership can be directed to Linda Softli (667-8210) or Suzanne Campagna (338-1055).

Back to top of page


William and Madlyn Calbert announce their granddaughter Edwina Findley is in the cast of the production "Color Me Dark: A Story of the Great Migration North", a play about the Love Family's experiences in Tennessee and finally Chicago following WWI, now playing at the Kennedy Center's Theater Lab through November 3rd, 2003. A resident of New York, Edwina was last seen locally in Runaway Home at the Studio Theatre and Winter's Tale at the Shakespeare Theatre.

Hillwood Museum & Tour: A hearty thanks to each member and guest who attended our Hillwood Museum Fundraiser. It was a very educational and social afternoon.

Dear League members ... the only way that an organization can effectively function is if its members take up their roles as full participants in our programs and it continually brings in new members.

It is our goal for the program year 2003-2004 to bring in 100 new members. Here are some of the ways that you can assist in our recruitment:

  • Talk to friends about joining ... especially young people
  • Invite men and women to your Unit
  • Invite couples or groups of young women
  • As a gift (birthday or holiday) give a League Membership
  • Put up signs in your apartment/condo with information about the League
  • Post the Voter in your building ... where appropriate — Linda E. Softli (667-8210), Membership Chair

Back to top of page


            1 8am-4pm Citizen Summit III
2 3 4 5 10:00 am LWVDC Board Meeting 6 7 10:00 am LWV NCA Board Mtg. 8
9 10 12 noon Briefing on Affordable Housing 11 9:45 am Voter Registration of New US Citizens
10:00 am Education Cmte Mtg
Article deadline for November DC Voter
12 6:30 pm General Meeting Panel Discussion "DC School Vouchers - What Is the Next Step?" 13 2:30 pm DC Voting Rights Cmte 14 15
16 2pm Intl Rel Cmte Mtg 17 12 noon Unit Council Mtg 18 Unit Meetings
9:45am Southwest Day
12:45pm NW Day
6:30pm In-Town Evening
19 Unit Meeting 9:45 am Upper 16th St. 20 Unit Meetings
9:45am Chevy Chase/Ingleside
7:30pm Evening Unit
21 November DC Voter mailed 22 Claim Democracy Two Day Conference (Registration Required)
23 Conf. Cont'd 24 11:30am Brown Bag Dialogue 25 26 27 Happy Thanksgiving 28  29

Back to top of page


DC Vouchers: What Is the Next Step?

November 12, 2003
6:30-8:30 pm

1201 17th St., NW
(corner of 17th & M Streets)


  • Arnold F. Fege, President & Founder, Public Advocacy for Kids
  • Warlene Gary, Director Human & Civil Rights Division, National Education Assn.
  • Marnie Shaul, Director of Education Issues, U.S. G.A.O.
  • Cornelia Spinner, DC State Education Officer

Legislation proposing a federally funded voucher bill "The D.C. Parental Choice Incentive Act of 2003," HR 2556, was passed by the House by one vote, sending the Senate a plan that would provide tuition grants to D.C. children next year. The Senate subsequently decided to postpone consideration of the bill, so that its future remains uncertain as of this writing.

As its study progressed, the Education Committee agreed that its primary focus should be evaluating outcomes for students, leaving the political implications for other groups to consider. A panel of professionals whose expertise represents a range of experience related to vouchers agreed to participate in this forum to educate League members and the public about this issue.

For information contact the
League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
733 15th St., NW, Suite 432
Washington, DC 20005-6020
Phone: 202 347-3020
Fax: 202 347-2522

A Voice For Citizens. ..A Force For Change...

The League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia is a non-partisan, community-based political organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Send mail with questions or comments to
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)