On August 24, LWVPDX Action Chair Debbie Aiona testified before the Portland City Council on the proposed Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing (PCCEP). She expressed appreciation for the steps being taken to involve the public in the selection of PCCEP members, while also strongly recommending that all PCCEP meetings be open to the public. Read all of her testimony here.
Celebrating the Right to Vote
In August 2020, the Oregon Women’s History Consortium(OWHC) is encouraging Oregonians to decorate their sidewalks and stairs. In 1913, sidewalk chalk messages were used by women demanding the right to vote. In 2020, we celebrate the many times when our nation has expanded the right to vote to more and more citizens. We love this idea for having fun while highlighting the importance of the vote! #ChalkTheVoteOR
This fun project fits the LWV mission!
Defending voting rights is central to the mission of the League of Women Voters: “Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.” Our democracy depends on voter participation! Let’s continue the fight to expand the right to vote and to combat voter suppression. We hope you will also speak out for voting rights with chalk messages on your sidewalk.
As the OWHC notes:
The year 2020 is the:
- 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment (removed race, color or prior servitude from denying voting rights)
- 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment (removed sex from denying voting rights)
- 56th anniversary of the 24th Amendment (ended the poll tax)
- 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (prohibited racial discrimination in voting)
- 49thanniversary of the 26th Amendment: right to vote cannot be denied on account of age for those 18 or older (This amendment has roots in an Oregon legal case, Oregon v. Mitchell, 1970)
The week for writing chalk messages is August 23-29th. August 26th is the day the 19th Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution. To learn more about #ChalktheVoteOR, click here.
The League of Women Voters of the U.S. published this essay on reasons to trust vote by mail. It was written by the co-president of the LWV of Johnson County, Kansas. Below are summaries of her five reasons. Click here to read the whole article.
- Americans have voted by mail since the Civil War! (And all Oregon elections have been by mail since 1999.)
- It is difficult for someone to vote another person’s ballot. Every signature is checked to make sure it matches the signature of a registered voter.
- The mailing, delivery, processing and counting of mail-in ballots are protected by security measures.
- Vote-by-mail does not favor any party over another. Research has shown that making voting easier helps all voters.
- Research shows that voter fraud is very rare.
Watch our video showing all the ways we protect mail-in voting in Oregon.
Speaking out again for better community oversight of police
The Portland League has sent testimony to the City Council, supporting Commissioner Hardesty’s proposed charter amendment on police oversight. The City Council will discuss this proposal on Wednesday, July 29, at 3:30.
Below is an excerpt from our testimony. You can read the whole statement here.
Although we recognize that it will take more than a charter change, this proposal has the potential to bring us much closer to the type of system envisioned by the majority of Mayor Katz’s workgroup in 2000. That workgroup called for an independent civilian agency guided by a community board with the power to investigate complaints of police misconduct, compel officer testimony, and make policy recommendations to the police bureau and city council.
In addition, the League’s testimony recommends building on the successful parts of our current oversight system. We also believe that improving the current system requires input from the community.
From Protests to Progress
In beautiful and mostly peaceful Portland, we have experienced almost two months of civil protests. First, demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism. Recently, also resisting unwarranted and unwanted federal intervention. Portland and Oregon are fortunate to have many politically active and informed citizens. We need our governments to listen and to act.
Fortunately, our local, regional and state governments have paid attention to our concerns. Elected officials have begun changing some important policies and laws. We want the federal administration to also take our concerns seriously. Federal action is needed to speak out against racism and to begin healing the the years of suffering that racism has caused.
It is a ridiculous fiction that Portland is under siege by anarchists. We regret that a few of the demonstrators have set fires, thrown fireworks and damaged statues and stores. However, compared to the history of lives ruined and lost to racism, the amount of damage and violence in the weeks of protests is minor. Without federal interference, it would have been even less.
What is Portland really like?
While crowds gather downtown nightly, our quiet neighborhoods are filled with signs of support. Yard signs in gardens and chalk messages on sidewalks support the demands for changes in laws and policies.
Portlanders are friendly, kind, law-abiding and interested in government. Far from being anarchists, we are politically engaged, with a high voter turnout. In the recent Primary Election, record numbers of candidates ran for office. Portland citizens participate in our government not only by voting, but also by attending town halls and issue forums. Many volunteer to work on political issues with various nonprofits, like the League.
What the League is doing
For decades, the League of Women Voters has worked for equal rights for all Americans. We emphatically support Americans’ constitutional rights of free speech and peaceful protest, easy access to voting and equality of opportunities for jobs, housing, education and health care. We fight for justice in our courts and in law enforcement. We celebrate the diversity of America.
Most Oregon League members are not Black, Indigenous, or other people of color. But we seek to be reliable and effective allies. We are calling for the changes needed to bring more justice and equality to our city, state, and nation. We seek to overcome the effects of racism in Oregon and in the US, which have harmed people of color.
As many have observed, this is a challenging and difficult time. Our country is facing the kind of crises that cry out for changes in attitudes and in government actions. The League is working to help enact these changes. We do this through advocacy in the US Congress, the Oregon Legislature and before the Portland City Council. Delegates to our national (LWVUS) Convention approved the resolution quoted below and the Portland League has approved a study of Police Accountability to identify the improvements needed.
Resolution approved at the 54th National LWVUS Convention – June 27, 2020 .
We Resolve First, That the League advocates against systemic racism in the justice system and, at a minimum, for preventing excessive force and brutality by law enforcement. We also call for prompt actions by all League members to advocate within every level of government to eradicate systemic racism, and the harm that it causes;
We Resolve Second, That the League help our elected officials and all Americans recognize these truths to be self-evident; that Black, Indigenous and all people of color (BIPOC) deserve equal protection under the law; and that we demand solutions for the terrible wrongs done, so that regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and gender identity or sexual orientation we may truly become a nation “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”.