Election 2000: Civics lesson writ large
League of Women Voters president calls for electoral, campaign finance reform

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs

28 February 2001 | The fall 2000 presidential election was “a wake-up call,” and in that sense “a great thing” for American democracy, said Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, the national president of the League of Women Voters, in a Feb. 21 campus lecture.

It “captured public attention” and offered “a rare civics lesson,” she said. Yet the very issues it brought to light — problematic voting machines, balloting systems and polling place procedures, among others — “threaten to hold our attention through Election 2004.”

Speaking at the Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy, Jefferson-Jenkins noted that the right to vote has been a subject of contention since the nation’s founding. Through the years, laws tying it to property ownership, race, gender, residency, literacy, language and religious requirements have been challenged and changed. Yet, as Election 2000 made clear, much work remains if the faulty mechanisms of our election process are to be set right.

She noted that the U.S. government makes no significant contribution to federal elections. In 2000, she said, “the results of that neglect” were evident. “Florida was a lightening rod,” Jefferson-Jenkins said. “It exposed inequities (that exist) in a lot of states.”

In the wake of those events, the League of Women Voters — a nonpartisan political organization founded 81 years ago — and 24 other public interest, civil rights, labor and disability rights organizations have agreed on a set of criteria that they think the 107th Congress should include in the election reform legislation it puts forth.

Their statement calls for a multiyear federal grant program to upgrade election technologies; protecting the Voting Rights Act and the National Voting Registration Act (commonly know as “motor voter”); federally approved “best practices” for elections, with standards to ensure accessibility and convenience for voters; and ensuring that funding goes to jurisdictions with the most significant problems.

The organization has also joined a coalition of grassroots groups mobilizing to pass meaningful campaign finance reform. One such proposal, the McCain-Feingold bill, is set for introduction in the Senate in late March. She also called for abolition of the Electoral College.


Home | Search | Archive | About | Contact | More News

Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.

Comments? E-mail