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 League of Women 
 Voters of Berrien 
 & Cass Counties
August, 2018
Newsletter

Good Source of Information for Voters
     
 
     
     An excellent source of information about contests, candidates, and issues is the website maintained by LWV: vote411.org.  
      By simply entering your home address, you will be able to see what contests will be on your ballot and to access information provided by candidates (if they have responded to our invitation to do so) about their background, qualifications, and positions on issues.  If you wish, you can select candidates two at a time to compare them side by side.  You also will see other matters (such as millages) that will appear on the ballot when you go to the polls.
      Vote411 has this type of information for primary elections as well as general elections.  If you haven't used it before, give it a try.  If you do, chances are good you will go to it again and again for subsequent elections because it is such a valuable and easy to use resource.  It also has links to other valuable information about election process and procedures.
      You do not need to be concerned about entering your address into this website.  It does not store your information after you exit the site.  You will simply enter it anew each time you open the site.
August 7 Primary?
Remember to Vote!
    
      Voter turnout for primary elections in Michigan when presidential candidates are not on the ballot is miserable.  In 2014, only 17.4 percent of our voting-age population cast ballots in the primary. 
     Voter registration may be one problem.  LWVBCC, with help from several community groups, has been working hard to address that issue.  My guess, though, is that apathy is a more significant factor. 
     W hat can we do about that? We can VOTE!  And we can encourage, implore, excoriate, transport-whatever it takes-others to do the same.  One thing to consider: because so few vote in primaries, each vote counts more, relatively speaking, than in a general election.  How's that for an incentive?
      In Michigan, a voter can vote for candidates of either party-but only one party.  It doesn't work to vote for one party's candidate for governor, for example, but the other party's candidate for U. S. House of Representatives.  The answer is either party, but only one.  No mix and match allowed.             
Upcoming Candidate Forums
     Each election year, LWVBCC focuses on its commitment to supporting an informed and engaged electorate. An important component of that focus is candidate forums or "debates."
     As soon as the outcome of the August 7 primary election is known, we will invite candidates to participate and identify dates they are available. Then we will find venues and moderators and identify major issues for them to address.
      The key to debates is candidates' commitment to participate. This is where every League member can help in a meaningful way: contact candidates and urge them to participate. We do not hold "empty chair" debates. Each candidate for an office must participate in that debate or it will not take place.
      Over the years, LWVBCC has gained-and, we think, earned--the trust of candidates that debates sponsored by LWVBCC will be fair, nonpartisan, focused, and disciplined. We intend to keep earning that trust. We hold informative debates that provide valuable information to voters. Dates, times, and venues will be provided in the September newsletter.
      Please do what you can to assure full participation by candidates and good attendance by affected voters.
LWVBCC Book Group Gathering
to Discuss New Book by Pulitzer 
Prize-Winning Writer Jon Meacham  
            
     The book group will meet Monday, September 17 to discuss 
The Soul of America, described by one reviewer as "a brilliant, fascinating, timely, and above all profoundly important book."
     Troubled by today's partisan political climate, Meacham seeks to understand it by putting it in the context of history. There have been other troubled times, he shows, when elected leaders and citizen activists such as Martin Luther King, Jr.; Carrie Chapman Catt, founder of the League of Women Voters; Eleanor Roosevelt; John Lewis; and others have led the way to look forward with hope. "The good news," he says, "is that we have come through such darkness before."
      The discussion will be at Emelie Shroder's home at 10:00 a.m. on September 17. Please call Emelie at 269-266-7299 by September 14 to let her know you will be there because she is planning to stimulate the discussion with snacks and drinks.
      But above all, please do come. A few regulars are sure to be there, but we especially hope some who have not come before or who have come rarely will join us this time, as well. This is sure to be a good book you will be glad to have read. (But you are welcome to attend and learn about it even if you don't have time to read it before then.)
LWVLake Michigan Region 
Annual Meeting
     
    LWVLMR and LWVUMRR (Upper Mississippi River Region - we refer to it as "Ummer") interleague organizations coordinated their annual meetings in Chicago on Wednesday, June 27. The focus was WATER: water quality, water treatment, water conservation, pollutants in our water, etc.
     We were informed of efforts throughout the U.S. to monitor, improve, petition, and advocate for clean, safe drinking water. Legislators are being called and letters of support are being sent to organizations working to ensure cleaner water for all of us.
     A goal set by LWVLMR of holding 100 water-related events by 2020 - the 100th anniversary of the founding of the League - has already been met. Many more such events are planned.
     I was so pleased that another of our board members was able to attend this day and evening of events. I am hopeful many more will participate in the future. Visit LWVLMR.org to learn about recent, current and future activities and to read of the many ongoing projects.              
  -- Chris Zilke
 
LWVUS Convention
   
      More than 1000 Leaguers attended the 53rd LWVUS "Creating A More Perfect Democracy" national convention in Chicago from Thursday, June 28, through the final Plenary Session on Sunday, July 1. 
     Approximately 750 of those attending were voting delegates who had come from across the United States. A show of hands revealed that more than half of those delegates were at convention for the first time. Many of them had joined the League in the past year-and-one-half.
     Besides all the official business conducted, a lineup of exceptional speakers kept us informed about current initiatives and issues before individual states and across the U.S. In additional, all of us attended work sessions and issue-specific information events. 
     Enough delegates chose to attend an immigration-focused, citizen-organized rally held Saturday afternoon that roll had to be taken to ensure a quorum was present so that voting on issues could proceed. 
     In addition to other issues of concern (redistricting, voter rights, etc.), our priorities at this time are focused on Health Care Reform, Immigration, and The Environment. 
     You can learn so very much by visiting lwvus.org and clicking on any of the many links provided. Please do.
                                                                     -- Chris Zilke
Public Forum on Redistricting
   
     On July 11, LWVBCC sponsored a public forum on redistricting. The speaker was Margaret Leary, retired director of the University of Michigan Law School library and a member of the Ann Arbor League of Women Voters.
     Ms. Leary's presentation was very helpful in explaining the history of redistricting and distortions of the process to advantage one party over the other-a process called "gerrymandering." Using examples from various states, she made clear that gerrymandering has occurred in several states and has been used by both political parties.
     In Michigan, the League of Women Voters is addressing gerrymandering this year in two arenas: the court and the ballot box. Ms. Leary provided valuable information both on LWV's lawsuit challenging the current districting maps, drawn by the legislature in 2011, and on a proposed ballot initiative sponsored by Voters Not Politicians and supported by the League.  See Bulletin at top of right-hand column>>>.
     The subject is both complicated and important. We are fortunate to have had such a knowledgeable and clear-spoken person explain them. If you missed the forum (or were there and want a refresher), you can watch the video of the presentation at Redistricting/Gerrymandering Video.
Committee Coordinators
Energy and the Environment : Chris Zilke
Health and Social Services: Judy Scully
Public Education: Linda Cheek & Jane Raymond
Voter Services : Mike McCaffrey & John Ripley
Budget and Finance: Mike McCaffrey, John Ripley, Chris Zilke
Membership: Marilyn Klawiter & Mike McCaffrey
Nominating: Karen Ristau
Special Events: Chris Zilke
Non-Partisan Policy
The League as an organization does not support or oppose any political party, candidate for elected office, or any group that supports candidates. As individuals, though, but not as representatives of the League, members are encouraged to participate in political activity and to run for office.  Our non-partisan policy does require two Board members--the President and the Voter Service Chair--to totally abstain from partisan political activity.  
SPECIAL BULLETIN!

Michigan Supreme Court
July 31 held 4-3 that the Voters Not Politicians ballot initiative, creating an independent redistricting commission, CAN be on the November ballot! LWV supports the initiative.


LWVBCC: Contact Us

P.O. Box 1032
Niles, MI 49120

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Calendar/Notes
 
Tuesday, August 7 
Primary Election
_________________________
 
Tuesday, August 14
LWVBCC Board Meeting
1:00 p.m.
Niles District Library
_________________________________
Monday, September 17
Book Group
Emelie Shroder's Home
_______________________________

Have you changed address???
Tuesday, October 9
Last day to register to vote in November 6 general election.
__________________________
Tuesday, November 6
General Election

LWVBCC
Board of Directors
Marilyn Klawiter, President
Dorothy Parker, Vice President
Karen Ristau,  Secretary
John Ripley, Treasurer
Linda Cheek
Kathleen Fleming
Michael McCaffrey
Jane Raymond
Judy Scully
Christiana Zilke

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