[Congressional Record Volume 142, Number 87 (Thursday, June 13, 1996)]
[Pages S6217-S6218]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                         COMMENDING BECKY CAIN

  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, I would like to take a moment to commend the 
efforts of a fellow West Virginian, Becky Cain, for her enormous 
contribution to her State and country. Since Ms. Cain's days as a high 
school civics and American government teacher, she has worked to 
reverse the trend of low voter turnout and the lack of citizens' 
participation in politics.
  In the 1970's, Ms. Cain began to volunteer for the League of Women's 
Voters, a nonprofit organization aimed at increasing the political 
participation of American women. Constantly on the search for new 
voters, she did not leave her days of manning voter registration tables 
behind when she became president of the League in 1992.
  Mr. President, as president of the League, a volunteer post, Ms. Cain 
decided that the organization should undertake projects that would 
rebuild voters' faith in the political system. She has made it her 
mission to attack the apathy and distance between citizens and their 
government, a recurring problem that the League hopes to cure. Becky 
Cain and the League of Women Voters of the United States have made 
great strides toward this goal with the passage of the National Voter 
Registration Act, or the ``motor-voter'' law, in 1995. The ``motor-
voter'' law has generated the greatest increase in voter registration 
since the late 19th century, registering some eleven million voters.
  Ms. Cain and the League are now focusing on encouraging registered 
voters to take the second step and to responsibly vote. They have 
joined the Ladies' Home Journal in an effort to educate women voters by 
running political features aimed at women's issues.
  Ms. Cain has been active in West Virginia for more than 20 years, 
working on numerous advisory boards to the government on issues such as 
environmental protection and health care reform. Her experience in 
grass roots movements has helped her to keep in touch with the voters 
as she fulfills the responsibilities of her national position in the 
  Mr. President, Ms. Becky Cain has ably served her fellow West 
Virginians and the American people through her participation on 
advisory boards, as well as her volunteer work for the League of Women 
Voters for the United States. She is a West Virginian who embodies the 
qualities and character of a leader, and I salute her for her 
commitment to the American political process. I ask unanimous consent 
that a recent article in the National Journal, entitled ``She's in a 
League of Her Own,'' be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the article was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                [From the Natural Journal, May 4, 1996]

                      She's in a League of Her Own

                        (By Eliza Mewlin Carney)

       When Becky Cain started staffing voter registration tables 
     for the League of Women Voters of the U.S. in the 1970s, she 
     frequently ran into people who were embarrassed to admit that 
     they had failed to sign up to vote.
       Now that she's president of the league, one of the nation's 
     oldest nonprofit dedicated to citizen political 
     participation, Cain still goes to malls and state fairs in 
     search of new voters. But these days the public reaction is 
       ``We get people saying: `No. No way. I don't want to 
     legitimize that system with my participation.' That's a whole 
     different change in attitude,'' Cain said. ``They are 
     choosing--deliberately choosing--not to participate in a 
     system that they think is broken.
       To Cain, a former teacher of high school civics and 
     American government, that change is alarming. Cain's concern 
     has helped prompt the league this year to pursue several 
     projects aimed at rebuilding voters' faith in the political 
     system and at closing the gulf between citizens and their 
       Since 1992, when Cain became president, a volunteer post, 
     the league has scored one of its most important victories: 
     the passage of the National Voter Registration Act, or 
     ``motor-voter'' law, which took effect last year. Some 11 
     million citizens registered to vote in 1995, and another 9 
     million are expected to do so by November--the largest 
     increase since the late 19th century, the league maintains.
       Now it's time to make sure that those voters take the next 
     stop and actually pull the lever, Cain said. In addition to a 
     full roster of league get-out-the-vote and voter education 
     activities, Cain's group has teamed up with the Ladies' Home 
     Journal on a massive ``Power the Vote!'' campaign to increase 
     women's political participation, which poll show has recently 
     declined. (For more on the drop in women's voting, see NJ 4/
     13/96, p. 824.)
       The league and the New York City-based Journal have set up 
     a toll-free number to help people register and vote, as well 
     as a World Wide Web site that offers how-to tips on rating 
     debates, understanding political polls and interpreting 
     campaign ads. Between now and November, the Journal, which 
     has a circulation of 4.5 million, will also run political 
     features aimed at women.
       It's one of dozens of ambitious league partnerships formed 
     under Cain, 48, who has been working her way up the group's 
     ranks since 1975. A citizen activist in West Virginia for 
     more than two decades, her eclectic background includes 
     grass-roots political work and a stint as West Virginia's 
     deputy secretary of state. She's also served on dozens of 
     government advisory boards set up to tackle issues ranging 
     from environmental protection to health care reform.
       Her hands-on political savvy has helped Cain win powerful 
     allies and raise the league's profile. The nonprofit, 
     nonpartisan organization enjoys credibility on both ends of 
     the political spectrum, and a healthy budget adds to its 
     clout. The organization and its educational affiliate, the 
     League of Women Voters Education Fund, spent upwards of $5 
     million last year.
       But Cain's down-to-earth, ebullient personality has never 
     allowed her to lose touch with voters and their day-to-day 
     concerns, her colleagues say. Cain still lives in West 
     Virginia, in a town outside the capital called St. Albans, 
     and commutes by plane two or three days a week to the 
     league's Washington headquarters. (The league reimburses her 
     for the propeller plane rides, which officials say are 
     cheaper than if Cain rented an apartment in Washington.) Much 
     of her time is spent on the road visiting the league's 1,200 
       ``She is very much in touch with not only what league 
     members are doing, but with the politics of the country, 
     which I think is an extremely important thing to bring into 
     an organization,'' said Ann McBride, president of Common 
     Cause, which is collaborating with the league and other like-
     minded groups on a grass-roots lobbying drive to promote 
     campaign finance reform.
       The league's education fund is helping to host a series of 
     ``citizen assemblies'' nationwide that explore the 
     relationship between money and politics. Dubbed ``Money + 
     Politics: People Change the Equation,'' the project is a team 
     effort with the Harwood Group, a Bethesda (Md.)-based 
     research firm. The idea is to improve public understanding 
     and to brainstorm new solutions to the campaign reform 
       If the league can help fight the malaise that's driving 
     citizens from politics, Cain said, the 76-year-old 
     organization will, in a sense, have come full circle. 
     Originally launched by women who'd recently won the right to 
     vote, the league has long sought to educate voters about 
     citizenship and coax them to the polls. To Cain, that mandate 
     is timelier than ever.
       ``We're seeing this erosion of people's trust and faith in 
     the democratic process, in the health of our democracy,'' 
     Cain said. ``Right now, Americans are opting out of the 
     system. That's new, and that scares us. Because

[[Page S6218]]

     we believe in the common good. And you can't get the common 
     good if we're not all at the table.''