LWVMA Convention Report
June 7,8 2019
Guest speaker, Bill McKibbon, founder of 350.org, was the highlight of the convention. Thirty years ago McKibbon began writing books about the threat of climate change. He explained that if we had acted then, we would have had more, less aggressive options for slowing warming. Now there is no wiggle room; the only negotiations left are between humans and the laws of physics, so we must act aggressively and with great speed. On the scale of the Green New Deal.
McKibbon called on the MA League to be leaders in a great movement, to be a “scary force” and to “do great damage.”
A panel of experts discussed election technology. Michelle Tassinari, Director & Legal Counsel for the MA Election Division explained that the state’s team of cybersecurity experts has been well-trained since 2016 by DHS, the state department, and the FBI. The voter’s database is secure on an internal, separate network; backup data is stored daily and audited continually. Emergency plans have been developed. Now they are identifying the IT people in every town and training all local election officials. The biggest future need is keeping voting infrastructure secure and removing old voting machines. All machines must, and do, use paper ballots. They emphasized that paper ballots are the most reliable. The country is not ready for internet voting because nobody has figured out how to make it secure. The US must conduct more research on election infrastructure before we can move to internet voting. Panelists predicted that election day registration would soon be passed in MA. African Americans, Latina voters, and students frequently move from one residence to another, which makes registering difficult. Election day registration would give these groups much easier access to the polls.
An outstanding panel of newly elected women state legislators spoke about their legislative priorities. They were most passionate about the need to hear from supporters of the ROE Act (An Act to Remove Obstacles and Expand Abortion Access). Their priorities include support for the climate fee and rebate bill, funding the foundation budget bill, and rural school transportation funding. Each one cited the lack of transparency in the legislative process and the over-riding power of the speaker of the House. They are working, one step at a time, for greater transparency, especially in publicizing the work of committees.