Home » News » Monthly Highlights for June 2024

Monthly Highlights for June 2024

As the summer temperatures rise, our efforts at the League are heating up too! Check out the latest updates on what the League of Women Voters of California is currently tackling in this monthly update.  You’ll also find ways to get involved and join our efforts!

LWVC Among Most Effective Advocacy Organizations in CA

A June CalMatters analysis identified the League of Women Voters of California as the third most effective advocacy organization in the state, achieving 85% of our desired policy outcomes during this legislative session so far. The League rises to the top in effectiveness because we are grassroots and we stand firmly in advancing equity for all people. Each day, we fight for equity across voting rights, government transparency, affordable housing, racial justice, climate, environmental justice, and criminal justice reform (and much more!). In total, the LWVC has taken a position on 101 bills this legislative session.

LWVUS Announces New CEO

Celina Stewart headshot

Stephanie Doute, LWVC Executive Director, joined League members and delegates from across California in Washington D.C. for the LWV United States National Convention, themed “Turn Up and Turn Out.” Among the valuable networking and collaboration opportunities, an exciting announcement was made: Celina Stewart will be the next CEO of the LWVUS. Formerly the League’s Chief Counsel, Celina received a warm and enthusiastic welcome during her acceptance speech, where she declared that, “women are being called to save Democracy.” Her vision is clear: “Together, we will,” and the LWVC wholeheartedly shares this vision. We are thrilled to welcome Celina as the new CEO of the League of Women Voters of the United States.

Open Call – LWVC Development Committee Seeking Members

The LWVC Development Committee is a dynamic and enthusiastic group dedicated to ensuring the LWVC Education Fund and Action Fund have the resources needed to continue our vital advocacy and education efforts. By partnering staff and the Board, the Development Committee works to secure the funding that empowers our mission. While experience in fundraising and development is a plus, what truly matters is your passion for our work: building a more equitable California, closing the voter participation gap, engaging voters, and driving inclusive policy change. Join us and be a part of shaping a democracy that represents and includes everyone! Apply today, or contact Maya Paley, LWVC Development Chair, for more information. 

Update on AB 544 (Bryan) – Voting in Jails

The LWVC is a proud co-sponsor of AB 544 (Bryan), designed to increase voter participation in jails through a grant-supported pilot program. As the bill has gained traction in the Capitol, we joined fellow advocates and supporters to testify on June 18 in support of SB 544 at the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments.

Dora, Assemblymember Bryan, and supporters of AB 544

Dora Rose, our Deputy Director, emphasizes the significance of this bill, sharing that, “People in jails have the right to vote, but many are unable to do so due to lack of access to their ballots. And because Black and Brown communities are over-policed, access to the ballot in jails is a racial justice issue.” This bill represents a critical stride towards ensuring that all eligible incarcerated people have the opportunity to exercise their voting rights.

Joined by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Pillars of the Community, and Initiate Justice, we are committed to the passage of AB 544. We must work towards securing this bill to empower incarcerated individuals and uphold their fundamental right to participate in the democratic process.

Alameda County Leaders Condemn Exclusion of Black and Jewish Jurors

Helen Hutchinson, LWVC Area Director for Government, and member of LWV of Alameda County joined local leaders and other advocates at a press conference at the Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland on June 18 to demand resentencing in all death penalty cases. This urgent call to action follows revelations that Black and Jewish residents have been systematically and unlawfully excluded from serving on capital juries in Alameda County for decades. Helen stated, “we are appalled and disgusted by these practices in the District Attorney’s office and we join with our allies in the call for resentencing and accountability.” Helen’s powerful representation of the League’s position made it clear that the League both advocates for the laws that prohibit this sort of discrimination and backs that up by standing strong against injustices as they occur. Read more about the rally here

Helen Hutchison

Photo Credit: David Greenwald, The Davis Vanguard

Juneteenth Legacy – ACA 8

Last month we commemorated Juneteenth, a significant milestone in American history. Juneteenth marks when the last enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were informed of their freedom, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. This day serves as a powerful reminder of the enduring journey toward freedom, equality, and justice. At the LWVC, our commitment to combating racism and institutional injustice is unwavering and we recognize the journey toward freedom, equality, and justice for all is far from over. Juneteenth is more than a day of reflection, it is a call to action. 

The LWVC advocacy team’s work on ACA 8 is one example of our commitment to stand with partners to end slavery in all forms. ACA 8 is a long overdue amendment to the California Constitution to prohibit involuntary servitude from being used as a punishment for a crime.

Adrianna of the LWVC testifying for ACA 8

California New Motor Voter Program – Annual Report and Legislative Update

The New Motor Voter Program has successfully registered nearly 26 million Californians through the Department of Motor Vehicles since its launch in 2018. Much of the program’s success has been accomplished through a partnership between government agencies and voting rights organizations like the LWVC.

Each year, the Secretary of State is required to work with the DMV and the Motor Voter Task Force to review the California New Motor Voter Program every year. They must write a report that shows how many people registered to vote through the program, how quickly registrations were processed, and any problems with the system from the past year. We are excited to announce the 2023 Annual Report is now available. The 2023 Annual Report on the California New Motor Voter Program highlights several key findings. The program has continued to streamline the voter registration process by integrating with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The report shows an increase in voter registrations processed through the DMV, demonstrating the program’s effectiveness in reaching eligible voters. For example, in 2023, 4,931,101 people registered to vote. Of these, 89.8% were registered through the California New Voter Program (this includes new registrations, updates to registrations, and pre-registrations).  The report shows an increase of 436,161, or 10.9% of motor voter registrations between 2022 and 2023.

Despite the successes of New Motor Voter, about 4.6 million eligible adults in California remain unregistered. This group disproportionately includes youth, people with disabilities, Black and Brown people, those with limited English proficiency, and those with low income. The task force plays a critical role in recommending solutions to facilitate the registration of underrepresented communities. AB 2127 (Berman) is an LWVC co-sponsored bill to extend the operation of the task force for five years to January 2030. The extension would allow the task force to continue its work, avoid the rollback of critical gains that the DMV has made in increasing voter registration and keeping registrations current, and allow us to improve the system to promote more equitable access to voter registration.  Read more about the bill in our letter. AB 2127 passed the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments, and the Senate Transportation Committee. It will next be heard in Senate Appropriations.  

Staff Highlight: Renee Rocha joins the LWVC as the Finance Manager

Renee Rocha headshot (with blue border and name ribbon)

Renee Rocha joined the League of Women Voters of California in June as Finance Manager. Renee’s financial background and passion for serving her community led her to nonprofit finance in 2016. Renee utilizes her financial and business background to continuously strive for the creation and sustainability of efficient and progressive financial and administrative support systems, ensuring continued accessibility to critical services and information for our community. She is honored to be a part of the LWVC and the mission we uphold. Please join us in welcoming her to the LWVC!