The IL Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) will honor Mary-Lou Aagaard with the 2012 Paul Simon Public Service Award for her longtime work as a watchdog of democracy and fair elections February 20, 2013 at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. The ICPR is a non-partisan public interest and is Illinois' leading advocate in the areas of campaign finance, government ethics, judicial selection, and voter education. ICPR has worked hard to maintain a bipartisan dialogue on how best to improve the processes of government and elections. In honoring Mary-Lou Aagaard with the Paul Simon award they are recognizing the many years of leadership, work, & support of their shared goals of voter education, campaign finance, integrity and accountability that Mary-Lou and the organization share.
Mary-Lou's every action is a vivid demonstration of her commitment to an educated, informed and active citizen working for honest, ethical government. Her participation and service to the League of Women Voters included president of the Glenview League from 1973-75 and a LWVIL Board member from 1975-1983 serving as secretary and vice-president. Since 1985 she has served as parliamentarian for all LWVIL conventions.
After leaving the State Board, Mary-Lou has served as LWVIL observer to the State Board of Elections and has served for many years as Elections Law Issues Specialist. In this role she monitors legislation and elections laws keeping all Illinois League members informed of the laws and changes made to the laws.
She has served on several state task forces looking at election related issues, including ones to implement National Voter Registration Act and the creation of a state-wide registration data base.
When the state of Illinois decided not to implement the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), Mary-Lou Aagaard, representing the League of Women Voters of Illinois (LWVIL), led a coalition of organizations in legal action. The plaintiffs sought compliance first in federal court. After protracted litigation, including a federal court appeal and a second lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court, the state decided in October of 1996 that it would no longer appeal. Less than four years later, the State Board of Elections reported "that nearly one-half of all valid voter registrations and address changes are taken through motor vehicle" facilities. Mary-Lou also led a coalition in a successful effort to redesign the mail-in voter registration form so that applicants can clearly see the requirements to register and will no longer try to register if they do not qualify to do so
In addition, Mary-Lou served as a member of the Glenview Bicentennial Commission in 1975-76,
as a trustee of the Glenview Public Library from 1983-1995, as a member of the Board of Directors of the North Suburban Library System from 1985-1991 including president the last two years, and served as Delegate to the White House Conference on Libraries and Information - chairing the Illinois Delegation.
Mary-Lou's many contributions to the League and voting residents of Illinois are significant. Her wisdom and knowledge in all these areas have had meaningful impact on the work of the LWVIL, its members and the public.