League Letters to the Editor and Op-Ed Articles
VOTE411.org: One-stop source for election information
Op-Ed published in The Bluffton Sun, September 20, 2018
In the mid-term elections of 2014 less that 37 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, the lowest turnout in 70 years. In the 2016 presidential election 102 million people didn't vote—far more than voted for any single candidate.
The reasons people don't vote are varied. Some think their votes don't count. Razor-thin margins in some recent elections prove otherwise. Some find it too hard to find out what candidates are running, who they are, what they stand for, and where to vote.
In the weeks leading up to the mid-term elections of 2018, the League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area is working hard to educate, and thereby empower, voters and increase turnout.
In advance of the June primaries, we launched Vote411, an on-line, non-partisan source of voter information about electoral races and competing candidates in our area's voting districts. In preparation for the November 6 general election, voters can visit Vote411.org., enter their address and access a list of races and candidates, at the national, state, county, and local levels, which will appear on their ballots.
Every candidate from governor on down has been invited to enter his or her biographical information and answer a number of questions posed by the League of Women Voters so that voters can compare candidates' backgrounds and positions side-by-side and, thereby, make informed choices before going to the polls. Information about polling places, ballot issues, and candidate forums will also appear.
In the League's first launching of this site in May, 568 voters In Bluffton and Hilton Head visited Vote411 before the primaries, and 78 percent of local candidates participated. As word of this valuable resource gets out, we anticipate much greater usage as we approach the mid-term elections.If you see that a candidate has yet to respond, please encourage him or her to do so.
In the months of September and October our League will also be hosting and moderating candidate forums in Bluffton and on Hilton Head Island so that local voters can hear directly from competing candidates. A forum for state representatives for Districts 118, 120, and 123 will be held on Wednesday, September 12 at 5:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Lowcountry in Bluffton. A forum for Beaufort County Council candidates, Districts 6, 8, 9, 10, and 11, will be held on Thursday, September 20 at 5:30 p.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church on Hilton Head Island. All candidates have confirmed their intention to participate.
The League is also planning October forums for the Beaufort County Board of Education (Districts 7, 8, and 10), Hilton Head Island Mayor and Town Council (Wards 2, 4, and 5), and the 1st Congressional race.
Voters are encouraged to visit Vote411.org, attend one or more candidate forums, make informed choices, and then let their voices be heard-- by voting.
Nancy Williams, Co-President, League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Area
Abbeville Ruling: State of SC Schools
Letter to the Editor of The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette, December 1, 2017
Our state Supreme Court's decision to dismiss its landmark Abbeville ruling, 24 years in the making, marks another set-back in ensuring equity in education for all our state's students. That stark education disparities exist between the poorer and more affluent districts in our state was made clear to many of our citizens in the 2005 documentary "Corridor of Shame," which depicted the deplorable state of the under-resourced rural schools along the I-95 corridor.
The League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area differs with the court's assessment that since the 2014 Abbeville ruling there have been "transformational" changes in education in our state. Although some steps have been taken, they are small and fail to deal with an inequitable education funding formula in need of an overhaul.
Now that the court has retreated on this issue, it is the responsibility of the General Assembly to make good on its recent public assertions that it wants to ensure a 21st century quality education for all our students. This means moving far beyond the "minimally adequate education" requirement posed in our state Constitution.
Maintaining the status quo is unconscionable.
Nancy Williams, Co-President, League of Women Voters of Hilton Head-Bluffton Area
Letter to Editor of The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette, July 13, 2017
The League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area strenuously opposes seismic testing. Regarding the proposed "Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Geophysical Surveys in the Atlantic Ocean," the League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area strenuously oppose seismic testing in the waters off our coast as a prelude to possible offshore drilling for oil and gas. These tests, which are loud and jarring, are detrimental to all marine life. The economy of South Carolina depends on the health of the marine animals off our shore for fishermen, crabbers, and oystermen, and are important to our tourism industry.
Whatever benefits might be realized from offshore drilling, should seismic testing reveal substantial oil and gas deposits, are far outweighed by the substantial damage to our environment, health and quality of life. The negative impact on our fisheries, business climate and tourism industry would be enormous. Seismic testing and offshore drilling must not be permitted off the shores of the State of South Carolina
Nancy Williams and Dot Law, Co-Presidents, League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Area
Termination of Election Assistance Commission
Letter to Editor of The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette, April 17, 2017
Along with the League of Women Voters of the United States, the League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton area is very concerned about the current movement in Congress to terminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). With continuing controversy about the accuracy, conduct and participation in American elections, this is not the time to abolish the only federal entity devoted exclusively to improving election administration on a bipartisan basis.
The EAC does invaluable work to improve our nation's election systems on a voluntary, non-regulatory basis. It oversees the federal voting system certification program that sets standards for the upgrade of America's voting machines and that 47 states depend on to maintain their voting machines. The EAC also improves accessibility at the polls for more than 37 million voters with disabilities. Finally, local election officials rely on the EAC to provide best practices on voting and election administration.
The EAC instills confidence in our election system. Rather than eliminating the EAC, Congress should provide the agency with resources and a renewed commitment to sponsoring and encouraging information state and local officials.
Elections are the life blood of a democracy. We urge readers of The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette to join us in asking Representative Mark Sanford to oppose The Election Assistance Commission Termination Act.
Fran Holt, President, League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Area
Hilton Head National Golf Course Development
Letter to Beaufort County Council, February 21, 2017
The members of the League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area urge the Beaufort County Council to move with extreme caution before approving a development as large as Scratch Golf LLC is proposing for the Hilton Head National Golf Course property.
The impact on the natural environment would be huge--new demands on our regional water supply, possible pollution of air and water, destruction of green space and wildlife habitat. The impact on the built environment would also be huge--long lines on roads and bridges, greater use of energy, expansive impervious surfaces leading to erosion and water pollution and trapping of heat. We are also concerned the development, as currently proposed, would overburden services provided by government including schools, the sheriff's department and fire protection.
As stated by the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, we believe in promoting "an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest by recognizing the interrelationships of air quality, energy, land use, habitat preservation, waste management and water resources." We urge the members of the Beaufort County Council to proceed with such goals in mind when agreeing to the parameters of this proposed development.