News and Updates

  • 22 Oct 2018 4:00 PM | Anonymous

    Seattle –The League enthusiastically joins De-Escalate Washington in urging voters to pass I-940 to improve training for law enforcement and help save lives. Equipping law enforcement officers with additional training in mental health and violence de-escalation techniques will make our communities and our officers safer. Passing this initiative is the best way to achieve this goal.

    “This initiative is a testament to the perseverance of families who have suffered a terrible loss and turned their heartache into a call for action,” said Ann Murphy, president of the League of Women Voters of Washington. Murphy continued, “The commonsense reforms embodied in Initiative 940 are urgently needed, and the League is proud to support it.”

    After the League voted to endorse I-940 on August 1, 2017, members worked closely with volunteers from other endorsing organizations to gather signatures across the state. As a result of these joint efforts, De-Escalate Washington turned in 355,000 signatures, nearly 100,000 over the threshold to qualify for the ballot. “We know voters overwhelmingly support this reform. Now we need people to communicate that support with their vote,” said Ann Murphy.

    Initiative 940 is a life-saving measure in more ways than one. The law will also provide police officers with first aid training and, after rule-making done by law enforcement and the Criminal Justice Training Commission, will direct them to use it whenever it is safe for them to do so. Expanding the role of police officers as first responders is consistent with their mission to serve and protect the public.

    The League applauds the way in which I-940 will improve accountability, transparency, and relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve. An investigative report by the Seattle Times revealed that 213 Washingtonians were killed by police between 2005 and 2014. Only one officer was criminally charged and he was acquitted under the current law. Initiative 940 seeks to prevent these tragedies from happening in the first place, and will help fix gaps in our laws by updating our standards to those used in 27 other states. Initiative 940 will also provide for fair and independent investigations when a tragedy does occur. “The League believes this reform is urgently needed to promote just outcomes for families who have lost loved ones during police encounters, as well as communities and law enforcement,” said Ann Murphy.  

    The League supports both the practical and symbolic benefits of I-940. People of color, people with disabilities, and other communities have disproportionate contact with law enforcement. Initiative 940 requires that these and other stakeholders work together with law enforcement to shape new policies under the law. The League believes that this collaboration will ensure the benefits of I-940 are meaningful and long-lasting. 

    About the League: The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization. We encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government. The League acts in support of, or in opposition to, selected governmental issues which its members have studied. It does not support or oppose candidates, factions or political parties. League members, as individuals, are urged to work in the political party of their choice. To protect the League's nonpartisanship policy, guidelines regarding the political activities of the Board of Directors are reviewed frequently.


    League of Women Voters of Washington

    Ann Murphy, President, League of Women Voters of Washington

    Heather Kelly, Criminal Justice Issue Chair, League of Women Voters of Washington

  • 06 Sep 2018 6:02 PM | Deleted user

    US and Canada Begin Negotiations on a Modernized Columbia River Treaty

    by Raelene Gold,  LWVWA - Representative for CRT 

    The United States and Canada started negotiations to modernize the Columbia River Treaty (CRT) this May in Washington DC. The 1964 treaty is an acclaimed model for transboundary water management and has been highly successful in meeting its goals of maximizing hydropower generation and preventing downriver flooding. Certain provisions of the treaty are set to expire in 2024, necessitating current negotiations. 

    The Columbia River has its origin in the Rocky Mountains of the Province of British Columbia and its basin includes the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, 
    and Oregon. The l930’s saw a period of dam building, including the l938 Grand Coulee Dam, that blocked salmon from British Columbia and northern Idaho. There are now 14 federal dams on the main stem of the river, as well as three storage dams in British Columbia and one in Libby, Montana. Besides power generation and flood control, the treaty also benefits irrigation and municipal water supply, water levels for navigation on the lower river, and recreation opportunities.

    The treaty had a period of review between 2012 and 2014, with public hearings in the northwest resulting in the 2014 Northwest Regional Recommendation for the CRT, that included a recommendation to add “ecosystem function” as a third treaty goal.
    The League has had an interest in the Columbia River since 1959 when northwest Leagues published their seminal, "The Great River of the West.” The Leagues of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon formed a Columbia River Task Force (1980) to reach a regional position (see Program in Action 2017-2019 page 30) and continue to maintain their involvement. The group submitted comments during the Review process contributing to the 2014 Northwest Regional Recommendation for the CRT. The LWVWA is represented in the NGO Caucus for the CRT and joined 31 other signatories to an August 30, 2018 letter to the US Chief Negotiator.
    At a public meeting on July 25th in Spokane, Chief U.S. Negotiator Jill Smail and Canadian Negotiator Sylvain Fabi began with diplomatic congeniality, stressing their joint priorities for flood control, reliable and affordable power, ecosystem improvement and flexible and adaptable management. Though the treaty negotiators rejected the request of Columbia River First Nations and tribes to be included on the negotiating team, they now are agreeing to look into the reintroduction of salmon into the upper Columbia River Basin, which has been blocked by the Grand Coulee dam. They also both spoke to the need for treaty flexibility and adaptive management, especially in the face of climate change and changing energy markets.
    The meeting allowed those in southeastern British Columbia and Lincoln County, Montana to raise the negative aspects of the four Treaty dams that removed farm, forest, 
    andwetland acreage, replacing it with reservoirs that drain into dusty mudflats. The area has suffered substantial economic damage without the benefiting from the CRT. British Columbia has been given some compensation. Montana is now also requesting compensation.

    There is recognition that including a third treaty goal of “ecosystem function” to benefit salmon and wildlife will result in trade-offs, impacting hydropower production and flood control. An important issue for the NW Power (utilities) Group has been the “Canadian Entitlement,” what they pay Canada for water storage, which they say is now too high.
    A public meeting held yesterday in Portland addressed issues including the 2024 end to assured Canadian storage, and preventing lower Columbia flooding. You can read U.S. Chief Negotiator Jill Smail's remarks from the meeting here. Treaty negotiations will continue in Portland on October 17-18.

  • 16 Aug 2018 11:57 AM | Deleted user

    We are thrilled to share that on August 10, 2018, Secretary of State Kim Wyman immediately eliminated the option for email return of ballots for non-overseas and non-military voters in Washington. The reason: this voting method is highly vulnerable to hacking. 

    This decision is a huge step forward in improving election security in our state. LWVWA has sounded the alarm about the insecurity of this practice and advocated for this change prior to the midterm election. We're proud of our role in bringing this risk to Wyman's attention and demonstrating how easily emailed ballots can be compromised. 

    LWVWA Election Security Issue Chair Kirstin Mueller has been front and center on this critical issue. In an early August appearance on KIRO TV, she encouraged Secretary Wyman to eliminate the option for domestic, non-service voters to use email ballot return. 

    Mueller's impact has reverberated in the national media, as well. 
    In an interview from Las Vegas last week, where he was attending the annual hacking conference DefCon, Washington Deputy Secretary of State Mark Neary cited an email hacking demonstration conducted by Mueller back in March, as well the concern for malware transmission by email ballot files as being an impetus for the August rule change in Washington.

    Mueller's public education effort has also included an interview on KEXP. You can listen to that interview here
  • 01 Aug 2018 9:48 AM | Deleted user

    It is with mixed feelings that the League of Women Voters of Washington Lobby Team announces the retirement of two of our long-serving members, Ann Aagaard, Issue Chair for Shorelines, Wetlands, & Land Use, and Susan Eidenschink, Issue Chair for Healthcare, Behavioral Health, and Reproductive Rights. 

    Ann and Susan are skilled experts in their fields and have been an extraordinary addition to LWVWA's 10-person Lobby Team, which is led by a Lobby Chair and leads LWVWA's statewide advocacy. 

    Please join us in thanking Ann and Susan for their service and the great work they have done all these years in Olympia advocating for League values. Questions in regards to their issues can be directed to Maddy Vonhoff, Lobby Team Chair. Read on for more about Susan and Ann's impressive work!

    Susan Eidenschink

    Susan grew up in Minnesota and was a math and science teacher for about 15 years. She decided to study for an engineering degree and after she received that degree, she worked as an engineer at Boeing in Seattle, Auburn and Wichita for about 15 years. Susan joined the League in 2000, and also joined Health Care for All – WA in 2000. In 2005, she began working with the LWVWA Lobby Team and participated in two LWVWA studies (WA Ferry System and Conservation Districts in WA) and some local League studies. 

    As Issue Chair, she testified a number of times in the Washington State Legislature for single payer health care and participated in a group of League members throughout the United States entitled 'Health Care Reform for the United States (HCR4US)' in monthly teleconferences.  She attended LWVUS Conventions and helped the HCR4US group with caucuses for health care reform at these conventions.  Similar caucuses were organized by Susan at the LWVWA Conventions. Jo Rodman will be stepping up as Issue Chair.

    Ann Aagaard

    Over the past 40 years, Ann has led, or been involved in setting precedent on environmental issues on the State and Federal levels.  Attempting to save the Farmlands in North Creek Valley led to the support of the Farmlands Preservation initiative to purchase the development rights to farmlands in King County.  After the passage of the Growth Management Act, she became more involved in Land Use issues, and led the challenge on several appeals to the Growth Management Hearing Board.

    In 1985-1993, she was appointed to the Washington State Ecological Commission which reviewed all Shoreline Master Programs. Later, she was appointed by Christine Gregoire to serve on the negotiation team for the Shoreline Master Program Guidelines for the Department of Ecology. Her honors include the Ralph W. Johnson award by Center for Environmental Policy (CELP) for years of environmental work and particularly for the preservation of the 53-acre wetland located on the Bothell Campus of University of Washington/ Cascadia Community College in June 2014. After retiring from the Lobby Team as Shoreline/ Wetlands/ Land Use Chair, she will continue to represent the LWV on the Puget Sound Environmental Caucus, a coalition of over 20 environmental groups who support the Puget Sound Partnership.  She currently serves on the Salmon Recovery Council for the PSP-- and will continue with that position as the LWV representative.

  • 20 Jul 2018 6:30 AM | Deleted user

    Many people are surprised to learn that any voter in Washington State can vote via email. Most assume that option is limited to service voters and those overseas. But just because we can (currently), that doesn’t mean we should.

    The LWVWA has been working with legislators, the Secretary of State, and cybersecurity experts to raise awareness about the cybersecurity concerns of returning ballots over email. Kirstin Mueller, the LWVWA Election Security Chair, organized a meeting for this group and other public policy decision-makers in which she demonstrated how easy it is to hack an email and literally change which candidate gets someone’s vote. Almost everyone in the room was stunned at how quickly and easily this could be done.

    A recent Seattle Times article brought attention to Washington's response to the threat of election hacking or interference. Many laudable steps are being taken by Secretary Wyman including working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and partnering with Washington’s Air National Guard to test for weaknesses and detect any intrusions into their network. Washington is also utilizing federal funding to expand the cybersecurity capabilities within the secretary of state’s office.

    The article points out that Washington has work to do to improve election security, including the practice of email ballot return. Kirstin Mueller responded with a letter to the editor to outline concerns with email ballot return.  

    What is email ballot return?

    Email ballot return is attaching a voted ballot to an email, then emailing the ballot to a designated county elections email address in order to vote.  

    Is email ballot return a common practice in the US?

    Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia allow for some form of email ballot return. A couple of states restrict this practice to military stationed outside the US receiving imminent danger pay. Idaho allows those citizens directly affected by national or local states of emergency to email return their ballot. Washington is the only state that allows any voter to return their ballot via email attachment.  

    What are the email ballot return laws and rules in Washington?

    Based on the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) all voters in Washington can return their voted ballot to their county auditor via an email attachment prior to 8pm on election day. Voters who are overseas or military do not have to additionally mail in their physical paper ballot. All other voters must mail in their physical paper ballot prior to election certification in order for their vote to be tabulated. There does not need to be an emergency for a voter to return their ballot via email.

    What happens if a voter doesn’t mail in their paper ballot after emailing their ballot?

    If a non-military, non-overseas voter doesn’t mail in their paper ballot prior to election certification after emailing their ballot, then their vote will not count. Different counties have ways they reach out to voters to educate them on the need for the paper ballot including phone calls, letters, and emails.The rate of return of the paper ballot varies widely by county.

    What are some of the security concerns with returning a ballot by email? 
    Email is an insecure method of transmitting a marked ballot across the Internet. Email is not encrypted, therefore ballots can be intercepted, deleted, and modified in transit by a number of different mechanisms without either the voter or the election official knowing. In addition, when election officials download ballot file attachments, the attachments can carry malware into an election network.  

    Does email ballot return ensure voter privacy or anonymity?

    Email returned ballots are not encrypted, and can be vulnerable to inspection. For example, if an emailed ballot is sent from a work email, some employers reserve the right to monitor incoming and outgoing email. Some states require voters to sign an affidavit waiving the anonymity of their votes if they choose to email their voted ballots, although a waiver is not utilized in Washington. When an emailed ballot is received by an election official, the ballot will be printed out and it is highly difficult, if not impossible, to maintain separation of the voter’s signature page from their ballot during this process. Also, for non-military/non-overseas voters, the email returned ballot must be kept associated with the voter’s name until the physical paper ballot is received.

    The LWVWA supports and encourages voters to vote via a paper ballot, if at all possible. Paper ballots are the safest and most reliable way to ensure votes are counted as cast in addition to maintaining voter privacy. The paper ballot allows voters to verify that their vote accurately reflects their intent, and provides a physical record for audits and recounts.

    Would you like to help us make elections more secure in Washington state? Or do you have election security questions? Please contact  Kirstin Mueller, LWVWA Election Security Chair.

    Additional election security reading can be found here

  • 12 Jul 2018 9:44 AM | Deleted user

    The League of Women Voters of Washington has been working with legislators, the office of the secretary of state, and election officials to ensure the security of our elections. Be sure to read our letter to the editor to learn more about one way we can protect our elections.

  • 07 Jun 2018 10:09 AM | Deleted user

    In today’s divisive political comment can we move beyond snarky Twitter exchanges and engage in civil conversation? League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County thinks so and has engaged in a year-long process and increasing number of partners to move toward action, while encouraging civility and demonstrating the power of conversation. 

    We've already highlighted the results but for those of you who want to know what process led to those results, read on! 

    Civility Forums 

    In early 2017 LWVT-PC joined with community partners NAACP, AAUW, and RAD (Restoring the American Dream) to hold a series of three public forums on the topic of civility. 

    The three forums, “Civility, Incivility and Civil Disobedience,” were:

    • Civility in Public Discourse—Whose Job Is It, Anyway?
    • Maintaining Civility at Home, at Work and on the Street
    • Political Civility

    This award-winning series was popular not just because of the topics but because of the format, which gave audience members the opportunity to discuss topics in small groups for one hour.  While some initially declared that a three-hour forum was too long, evaluations later suggested participants could have used even more time! A favorite part of each forum was the small group conversation.

    Community Conversations 

    Based on that feedback, the four sponsoring organizations decided to initiate public Conversation Cafes in the Fall of 2017.  These have been held twice a month, one in the Tacoma/Lakewood area and one in Puyallup each month.  These provide an opportunity for the public to discuss a wide variety of controversial topics within the safety of the Conversation Café model.  

    Ground rules include use of a talking stick, requiring the group to listen as each speaker talks, and other rules of civil discourse.  The topics have been:

    • Can Democrats and Republicans Actually Talk to Each Other?
    • What effect is the media having on civility in our conversations?  If this effect is not something we value, how might we get the media to change?
    • What is the state of public education in Washington? Is financial support of public schools sufficient?  Are there changes that should be made in the public education system?
    •  Bring Your Own Topic. What would you really love to discuss with people of different persuasions?
    • What are...or should be...American values?
    • Homelessness:  What is our individual or collective responsibility to work on and solve it?  Whose responsibility is it?
    • What are the things we value in the community we live in?  How can those features be preserved in the face of significant growth change?
    • How Can We Assure a Free Press?

    It was these initial successful endeavors that inspired and gave the participants the confidence to move from conversation and discussion into this actual problem solving, all while maintaining the civility that seems so elusive in so much of our current public discourse.

    Holding Forums 

    The next step was to move from conversation and discussion into this actual problem solving, all while maintaining the civility that seems so elusive in so much of our current public discourse. The success here was detailed in a previous post

    Follow Up Action 

    Following the successful forums and community recommendations, LWVT-PC sent a letter to the Pierce County Council outlining the recommendations stemming from the public feedback at the event.  

    LWVT-PC presented to the results of their work to the Pierce County Council's Human Services Committee. You can see their presentation online (starts about 20 minutes in).

    For more info on the process or the outcomes of this work, contact Cynthia Stewart, President, LWVT-PC.

  • 07 Jun 2018 10:03 AM | Deleted user

    Why take on the issue of homelessness?  It is a problem that everyone is talking about, which doesn’t seem to be getting better despite the resources being invested.  

    The League of Women Voters of Tacoma Pierce County spent almost a year building partnerships to collaborate on community forums on the issue of homelessness.

    After holding a series of successful civil conversation forums, the League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County and their community partners NAACP, AAUW, and RAD (Restoring the American Dream), decided to do a deep dive and some actual problem solving around the issue of homelessness. 

    Homeless CoLab Workshop  – October 20-21, 2017

    Led by League member Larry Seaquist the groups tried the “Community Laboratory” (CoLab) model  – a new method of engaging the public in a civil problem-solving strategic planning session. Based on role playing, the model gets to the heart of the matter very quickly.

    Using the CoLab model, LWVT-PC and partners held a session at which approximately 40 stakeholders currently involved in the homelessness issue met.

    The participants included shelter providers, city and county government officials, realtors, churches, McKinney-Vento Program liaisons, United Way, educators, library representatives, economic development experts, law enforcement, people experiencing homelessness and others.

    Working in mixed groups, each table was assigned a role: Opportunity-Makers, Homeless Communities, Rule-Makers, Housing Owners and Makers, Community Protectors and “Ministers of Chaos” (nay-sayers).

    Together, these stakeholders arrived at four consensus recommendations:

    1. Declare an emergency in the county and conduct a marketing/education campaign within the Pierce County community
    2. Establish a core group, a multi-jurisdictional, multi-sector hub, responsible for homelessness countywide.
    3. Provide support in the form of transit passes, access to hygiene and cell phones with expanded data service.
    4. Create a super-village of housing plus support services and a system to graduate people from homelessness through a phased approach back to permanent housing.  Use vacant commercial buildings to create this and employ homeless people to do part of the work.

    The stakeholder participants asked the LWVT-PC to take the lead on implementation of these recommendations. 

    As LWVT-PC began working the issues within the political system, an opportunity arose in partnership with the State Historic Museum to use the Tacoma Convention Center for an event and a forum was scheduled.

    Facing Pierce County Homelessness: Creating "HomeFULLness”  - April, 28, 2018.

    In line with the previous year’s activities, the partnership of four organizations, under leadership of LWVT-PC, held a public forum on the issue of homelessness, calling attention not only to the problem, but also to potential solutions.

    The one-day session included two plenary sessions, one at the beginning and one at the end, a keynote speaker from the Gates Foundation, and two sets of four concurrent sessions on specific issues:

    • Hard Times in Hooverville:  Homeless Settlements During the Great Depression
    • Closing the Affordable Housing Gap
    • Addressing Homelessness through Community Organizing
    • Road to Nickelsville (film and discussion)
    • Health Care and Homelessness
    • Racial Inequity in Homelessness
    • Coordination of Services for People Experiencing Homelessness
    • Homeless Youth
    There were 47 speakers and moderators involved in this program as well as 35 volunteers to support it.  Approximately 300 members of the public attended. Funding was provided by a number of community organizations.

    The next step, political action, was taken when LWVT-PC sent a letter to the Pierce County Council outlining the recommendations stemming from the public feedback at the event. LWVT-PC then presented to the results of their work to the Pierce County Council's Human Services Committee. You can see their presentation online (starts about 20 minutes in).

    If you have questions about these event or about holding events like them in your community, please contact Cynthia Stewart, President, LWVT-PC.

  • 07 Jun 2018 8:58 AM | Deleted user

    With increased public support for stricter gun laws after the Parkland and Mukilteo school shootings, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility filed an initiative to the people to enact safety measures the legislature failed to follow through on.


    Thurston County Leaguers participate in the March for Our Lives

    The initiative incorporates several gun safety measures – all of which League positions support – under the umbrella of increasing public safety.  Key provisions include:

    • raising the minimum age for purchasing an assault-style weapon from 18 to 21
    • requiring an enhanced background check, as required for handguns
    • waiting period up to ten days
    • disclosure of potential risks of guns in the home to be signed by buyer
    • require gun dealers to make safe storage devices available to buyers
    • Dangerous Access Prevention to prevent children and persons prohibited from gun ownership  vfrom obtaining unsecured weapons. This provision has the highest potential for saving lives, especially suicides. Twenty-eight states now require safe storage
    • mandatory safety training for assault-style weapon buyers
    • mandatory reporting of lost and stolen weapons.

    The initiative will be known as I-1639 and petitions will be available May 7. The state league board will consider endorsement of I-1639 at its May 18 meeting.

    The League endorsed I-594 for universal background checks in 2014 and I-1490 for Extreme Risk Protection Orders in 2016. Both passed by wide margins. This initiative will require 260,000 valid signatures by July 7. 

  • 06 Jun 2018 9:49 AM | Deleted user

    At League's Council 2018, held in Richland, we welcomed a keynote panel to talk with us about Hanford. The League's own Susan Leckband (LWV of Benton-Franklin Counties) serves as the chair of the Hanford Advisory Board. 

    In her presentation she explained what the Hanford Advisory Board is, who's on it, how it makes decisions, and why it exists. 

    Susan Leckband joined Alexandra Smith of the Washington State Department of Ecology and David Reeploeg of TRIDEC at the LWVWA 2018 Council 

    In her concluding remarks Susan told us, "Given the magnitude and longevity of the cleanup operations, it is imperative that we remain mindful to adhere to our most crucial priority, which is protection of public health and the environment, now and in the future. As a citizens' advisory board, we keep those values in mind as we advise the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology to complete the Hanford cleanup mission in a timely, safe, and cost-effective manner."

    To read more about the Hanford Advisory Board, please refer to Susan's slides.

The League of Women Voters of Washington is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.
The League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. LWVWA Education Fund contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. The League of Women Voters Education Fund does not endorse the contents of any web pages to which it links.

League of Women Voters of the United States

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software