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

Join Us: Annual  Dinner Meeting for  Members & Guests
in Less Than Two Weeks!
   
The gallery and exhibit space of the Buchanan Art Center will be arranged for our Dinner and Annual Meeting on June 14.

    Come schmooze and nosh with other LWVBCC members and friends -- in less than two weeks -- at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, in the Buchanan Art Center. This will be a good opportunity to welcome new members and to explore shared interests and commitments that bring us all together as members of the League. 
     You are welcome to bring guests, as well.
With a menu of heavy hors d'oeuvres, "casual" will be the word of the day. We invite you to bring with you a beverage of your choice.
     The caterer needs to know a week ahead of time how many will be attending. You can make your reservation ($20 per person) by credit card by clicking here for PayPal or by check mailed soon(!) to LWVBCC, P.O. Box 1032, Niles, MI 49120. If you reserve by mail, be sure to post your payment in time for it to reach LWVBCC by Thursday, June 7.
     Although most of the evening will be devoted to schmoozing and noshing, we will have a short business meeting to elect directors, pass the budget, reflect on the past year's activities, and garner ideas to further our mission: Making Democracy Work.  You can review the budget by clicking here.
     We look forward to seeing you. Please make your reservation now.                                        
Redistricting?  Join Us on July 11
     
 
Margaret Leary
      At 2:30 p.m. on July 11, LWVBCC will host  a public forum on redistricting in the Norris Room at th e St. Joseph Public Library. The speaker will be Margaret A. Leary, retired Director of the University of Michigan Law Library.  
          The subject of redistricting and looms large thi s year for a number of reasons. After the upcoming census in 2020, congressional districts will be redrawn consistent with shifts in population reflected in census data. Some states likely will gain seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and others states will lose them. Even states that neither lose nor gain seats, however, will draw new lines so that their population is distributed among districts in roughly equal numbers. At least that is the stated goal.
      The party that has control of a state's legislature generally has control of the redistricting process. When it exercises that control to draw distorted districts with the goal of protecting or enhancing its own political position, redistricting becomes gerrymandering-a term that has significant political currency this year because cases raising the issue are pending in several courts throughout our country, including the U.S. Supreme Court and a Federal District Court in Michigan, and because Voters Not Politicians is working to put on the ballot in November a proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution that would take control of redistricting away from the legislature.
     These are complicated matters. At the July 11 forum, Ms. Leary will help clarify them so that when we go to the polls in November, we will have a better understanding of the issues and can vote for or against a proposal that may determine how redistricting will take place after the 2020 census.
     Please join us for a glass of iced tea, a cookie or two, and -most importantly-an opportunity to gain understanding of the important issues of redistricting and gerrymandering.
Retired Director of Michigan Elections Offers Insights
    
Chris Thomas
     As Michigan's Director of Elections, Chris Thomas helped shape our state's election policies and procedures. 
     Although he retired from that position last year, he remains involved in election issues through his work with the Bipartisan Policy Center based in Washington. His vast experience and valuable insights into election issues were evident at LWVBCC's forum on 
May 15 in the Lincoln Township Library.
     According to Thomas, Michigan has one of the least centralized election procedures of any state in the country except Wisconsin, and the process rests heavily on elected officials: the Secretary of State as chief election officer and under him or her, clerks of counties, cities, and townships. The Director of Elections, though, is a civil service employee who will not be out of a job when the office of Secretary of State switches from one party to another.
     Election security, Thomas said, is a big concern. The Russians have interfered with U.S. elections since 2014-though not in Michigan, where election records are kept behind a centralized firewall. They clearly were involved in the 2016 election, targeting eighteen states, gaining some access to records in six states, and making their way into the systems of some states, including Illinois.
     Claims that millions have voted illegally, however, are "bunk" according to Thomas. Claims of voter fraud and voter suppression, he maintains, are used as fund-raising ploys.
     Nonetheless, Michigan will use a new voting system in 2016-a paper-based system that offers a good degree of security. Moreover, vote tabulators are isolated, and not connected to the internet. Further assurance of election integrity comes from post-election audit.
     All in all, we can conclude from Mr. Thomas's remarks that when we vote in Michigan, we can do so with confidence that our votes will be counted and reflected when results are made known.
     Many thanks to Chris Thomas for an informative and reassuring message about election integrity in Michigan.
Conventions!! Annual Meetings!!

     As a member of the LWVBCC and therefore a member of LWVMI, LWVUS and LWVLMR, you are entitled to attend the various conventions held by the Michigan, US, and Lake Michigan Region Leagues. 
     You must be sent as a delegate of a local League in order to vote, but your attendance as a general member is encouraged, and you will learn a lot about the organization and its procedures - plus meet interesting people and have a good time.
     The LWVUS convention is being held in Chicago this year from June 28 through July 1. I encourage you to attend. Go to LWVUS convention 2018 to learn more and to register.
     Also being held in Chicago this year on June 27 is the LWVLMR (Lake Michigan Region) annual meeting. A lot is being scheduled for this one-day event. You can learn more about it and register to attend at: lwvlmr.org/annual meeting.
                                                                 -- Chris Zilke
 Voter Registration Stats: We're Working Hard With Your Help
     
     
This spring, LWVBCC members, with the help of other community groups and individuals, have spent hours at 11 area high schools registering almost 200 students, making them eligible to vote in upcoming elections.
     Over the summer, the focus will shift away from schools to the larger community. 
      Farmer's markets, festivals, and other gatherings during the summer may offer opportunities to make more people eligible to exercise their franchise in November. If you are interested in staffing a table at such an event, please let the Voter Services coordinators, John Ripley and Michael McCaffrey, know. You can contact them by email: lwvbcc@gmail.com .
      When classes resume in the fall, though, the focus will shift back again: to students who for the first time will be eligible to vote on November 6. Those autumn efforts will be concentrated, though, because October 9 is the last day a person can register in time to qualify to vote in the November 6 general election.
      Whether summer or fall, your participation in this effort that is so central to LWV's mission will be most welcome.  
Too Few People Who Can Vote Do Vote!
   
     The U.S. Census Bureau has some discouraging statistics on voting. In the 2016 election, only 61.4 percent of the U.S. voting-age population voted. That means that more than a third of people who could have voted didn't. Moreover, although 70.9 percent of citizens over age 65 voted, only 46.1 percent of citizens between 18 and 29 did so.
     Those are voices that were not heard. There have been some encouraging signs lately that the turnout may be better this year. Student activists are making their voices heard. They are raising issues important to them, and people are listening-on national television, in Michigan, in Berrien County-indeed throughout our country. That's encouraging.
     This fall, LWVBCC will do all it can to improve voter turnout in Berrien and Cass Counties. It's an important part of our commitment to Making Democracy Work. Your ideas for ways to promote voter turnout will be welcome.
Environmental News
       
     Though I tend to concentrate on issues relevant to Lake Michigan and its environs, I've recently become aware of a threat to the reefs and waters of south Florida. Another invasive species - the Lionfish. Lionfish are quite beautiful, but they have no known predators and are voraciously eating the food usually eaten by fishes that populate the reefs in those waters.
     
They're apparently quite hard to catch and sports fishers are trying all sorts of methods to catch them - mostly one at a time. Chefs have created delicious recipes using the lionfish and it appears they are quite delicious. Local restaurants are doing their best to promote them. If you get the chance, try one!
     
The news of threats of all sorts to safe drinking water, invasive species affecting lakes and oceans, a huge chemical dump in the waters of the Amazon in Ecuador described as an Amazon Chernobyl - all unsettling, all requiring our attention.  -- Chris Zilke
June Book Group 
            
     The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan will be discussed next Monday, June 4. From alewives to sea lampreys, salmon to quaga mussels, chemicals and the contents of ship ballast tanks dumped into the Great Lakes, Dan Egan doesn't miss a threat that has affected these magnificent bodies of water since before the Erie Canal was built.
 We hope you can attend, but if not, please read the book and gain a greater understanding of how the lakes have arrived at their current state and what is being done today - both good and bad - regarding their future health.

The Date: Monday, June 4
Time: 10:00 a.m.
The Place: The home of Ginny and Dick Burd
If you plan to attend, please let them know by                                   calling 269-465-3132.                            -- Chris Zilke
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.  

LWVBCC: Contact Us

P.O. Box 1032
Niles, MI 49120

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Calendar/Notes
 
Monday, June 4
Book Group
10:00 a.m.
"Death and Life of the Great Lakes
by Dan Egan at Ginny Burd's home.  Please call 269-465-3132
if you intend to attend.
_______________________________
Thursday, June 14
Annual Meeting & Dinner
5:30 p.m.
Catered
Buchanan Art Center
Reservations Required
(see details in story at left)
_________________________________
Monday, July 9
Last day to register to vote in August 7 primary election.
       _________ ______________________
Wednesday, July 11
Public Forum on Redistricting
(see details at left)
_______________________________
Tuesday, August 7 
Primary Election
_________________________
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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