Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy

August 2022

President's Message

Judie Gorenstein,

 It was less than three weeks ago that you received the Summer 2022 State Voter. At that time, I asked each of our members to do what they could to help us achieve our goal of empowering voters and defending our democracy. One of my suggestions was to sign up for the League’s texting service Text VoteNY to 474747. To my dismay, I recently learned that less than 1/4 of our members are signed up for this service. It is so easy to use and gives timely update and alerts.  This primary season alerts were sent out with the deadline to register to vote, deadline for enrolling or changing party affiliation, when early voting began, when it ended including links to VOTE 411 and to look up your county’s polling site. Before Primary Day this Tuesday August 23, there will be another alert sent to all those signed up.  So much relevant information is only a click away. My message to you today is:

  • If you are not already receiving texting service, sign up now Text VoteNY to 474747.  
  • If you are enrolled in a political party having a primary and you haven’t voted by absentee ballot or during early vote, make sure you vote on Election Day and bring someone else who is eligible to vote with you.

 Remember our democracy works best when everyone participates. 

Summer is almost over and the fall is going to be especially busy for your League. Election Day is November 8, less than three months away.  I hope you will help your League in whatever way you can to register, educate and then Get Out The Vote. I also hope you will find some time to enjoy the last days of summer.   

NY State Fair - It begins this Wed and we'd still love your help!

The state League will have a booth at the NYS Fair in Syracuse again this year! The League will have a table at the fair where we will register voters, educate them about the League and Vote411, recent changes in election law, and the upcoming November election.


Thank you to those who have volunteered to staff the table! So far, we have 45 volunteers who have filled 70 volunteer spots. We still have 8 spots open if you are interested in volunteering! Reach out to Erica at if you’re interested. We will provide the admission ticket and parking ticket and only ask you to staff the table part of the day so you’ll have the rest of the day to explore the Fair. 

Voter Services

Nancy Rosenthal, VP for Voter Services,

With August 23rd tomorrow, we have now have to start planning for election day on Tuesday November 8, 2022 and our GOTV efforts:, many virtual, in person and hybrid candidate forums plus National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. Thanks to the many volunteers for the State Fair in Syracuse who are helping League have a presence at this event, registering voters, providing absentee ballot applications, and wealth of info about the upcoming election and Vote 411.

Texting Service (text VoteNY to 474747)

Encourage members and voters to sign up for the League’s texting service (text VoteNY to 474747) to get timely reminders on voting. 

Vote 411 Data on August Primary

Thanks to all who helped get candidates to participate!

  • Congressional Primaries: 19
  • State Senate Primaries: 11
  • # of Congressional Candidates: 71
  • # of State Senate Candidates: 35
  • Total # of Candidates: 106
  • # of Candidates Who Responded: 80
  • Percentage of Candidates Who Responded: 75%

GOTV Mini Grants

Thank you to all of the Leagues who submitted a 2022 Making Democracy Work mini grant proposal! Thanks to a grant we received, we are so pleased to be able to grant $18,550 to local Leagues across the state for the upcoming fall election activities. Thanks for your great ideas for GOTV and we will share results with all so that others may replicate activities in the future. Congratulations to the following Leagues receiving funding:


Cattaraugus and Allegany

Albany County (on behalf of capital region Leagues)

Broome Tioga


Central Nassau

Cooperstown / Oneonta

Cortland County


New Castle

New Rochelle / Scarsdale



Port Washington

Rensselaer County

Rochester Metro Area


Syracuse Metro Area

Westchester ILO

Issues and Advocacy

Sally Robinson, VP for Issues and Advocacy,

Erica Smitka, Deputy Director,

League Joins the Environmental Bond Coalition

The State League has joined the Vote Yes for Clean Water and Jobs Coalition in support of the Environmental Bond Act that will be on the ballot in November. The coalition is led by The Nature Conservancy and the site can be found here:   

Here is the link to the campaign toolkit. It includes materials that can be used to promote and educate voters about the measure. If you would like to join the email list and coalition phone calls, please sign up for that by visiting


PowHer Summit

The PowHer Coalition (a statewide coalition of organizations committed to accelerating economic equality for all New York women) will be hosting a summit on October 13, 2022 from 3pm -6pm. The State League has agreed to co-host this event. This summit will build on PowHer’s successful work in policy reform as well as the coalition’s anti-racist, gender-focused agenda outlined in A Roadmap to Inclusive Gender Justice in New York. The hope is that this gathering will expand our collective power and inspire us all to act boldly in the face of escalating challenges women face in New York and the U.S.

Youth Committee

Crystal Joseph,, and Nick Doran,

Toolkit for Youth Programming

The Youth Committee is pleased to release the new Toolkit for Youth Programming which is posted on the state website under Local Leagues and then League Toolkits. This Toolkit is just a sampling of the many great programs organized by our local Leagues across the state. We want to add to the Toolkit with any programs that you are running – please share them with us so we can include them in the Toolkit. And, all local Leagues should read and consider replicating any of these wonderful programs. A contact and email address is included for each program so you can email and get more information about each. Use it well and often!

Seal of Civic Readiness

NYS Education Department recently reported about the implementation of the Seal for Civic Readiness by the school districts and schools around the state. Over 320 approved schools have been approved for the 2022-2023 school year for the Seal of Civic Readiness!

Schools approved by category:

Category                            # Of Approved Schools

Low Needs                                       47         

Average Needs                              110

High Needs Rural                            33

High Needs Urban/Suburban          14

Big 5                                               102

Charters                                           15

And, 7 of the 8 districts in the Big 5 Conference have been approved:



Mt. Vernon





Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) 

Regina Tillman, 3rd Vice President for DEI,, and Crystal Joseph, DEI Task Force Co-Chair,

While it seems that defining our lives from thus forth as “normal” is passé, I hope that this summer has been a nourishing and replenishing time for us all. Kindness and self-care have been elevated in importance in our activism and with our ever growing awareness of how much we actually can aid in improving the world, perhaps we will begin to see the beginnings of a “new -normal” that we all can be proud of.

I have begun reconnecting with the authors, Kimberlee Yolanda Williams and best-selling author, Debby Irving, for rescheduling of the workshop based on Ms. Williams’ book entitled, Dear White Woman, Please Come Home. It was originally planned for April 2022, and I hope that it will be conducted in mid-October. Please look for updates within the upcoming weeks so you can save the date after it is announced.


In November, I hope you can join me and the DEI Task Force members in a 21-Day Racial Equity Indigenous Challenge that will enlighten us on both the past and the present as related to the Indigenous American population and its demise at the hands of European colonizers. It is planned to conclude on or near Native American Heritage Day, November 25th. The Task Force has been working on recommendations to provide you on how to create an authentic local approach to conducting “Land Acknowledgements” and those will be issued in that time as well. Be assured, learning of the amazing history of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, let alone of those of the land in what we now refer to as New York State, will be eye-opening!


From the 21 Day Challenge description: “Too often the framing of racial justice gets limited to the Black/white experience. We find that by broadening our lens of how white supremacy marginalizes multiple groups, we both deepen our understanding of white supremacist strategy and impacts and learn about particular histories and current issues of historically targeted groups. As you work through this challenge, bear in mind the degree of invisibility experienced in US Native communities. The process of reclaiming Indigenous history is a work in progress and therefore not always complete or aligned. Not to worry. Take in what you can in the spirit it is offered – from perspectives and experiences as diverse as the millions of descendants from the 574 nations on whose land we in the US now stand.”


And DEI Online Drop-In Meetings will be scheduled monthly beginning in September. These meetings are informal, unrecorded gatherings of our NYS League members as they wish to attend (thus, the drop-in nature of the meetings). These meetings are held to discuss with each other and available members of the DEI Task Force, your challenges, successes, questions, and answers. I will be looking forward to hearing about how the 4 P’s are deployed locally to get past “performative compliance” with our DEI policies, reactions to the 21 Day Challenge and how the information is used on an individual basis or at the local league, opinions on we can best help each other navigate these times of heightened ‘isms’, and more.


But while it is the case that all the ‘isms” seem to be standing front-and-center currently, I have also read or heard it said several times in the past months that it is the individual that changes… and that is what changes the world. Individuals with their freedom of choice, can choose to think differently and act differently. "There is no social-change fairy. There is only change made by the hands of individuals." – Winona LaDuke. For any questions or assistance in your local DEI efforts, please contact me at your convenience: Regina Tillman,

Reluctant Reformer, Nathan Sanford in the Era of the Early Republic 

by Ann Sandford

Author and Member of LWV of Hamptons, Shelter Island and North Fork

I became involved with the League of Women Voters in 2002 after hearing a panel discussion between members of the Southampton Town Board and the audience. These nonpartisan and informative conversations about local issues on eastern Long Island appealed to me. As a League member, I focused primarily on state and local government issues and this experience helped motivate me to begin a biography of my “famous” cousin, an ambitious and accomplished lawyer-legislator I had heard stories about while growing up. The result was my book, Reluctant Reformer, Nathan Sanford in the Era of the Early Republic (SUNY Press, 2018). It addresses issues that resonate today in New York state and the nation: they include the impact and legacies of slavery, bank regulation, racism, and most important to Sanford, defining the requirements to vote. Was Senator Sanford a man of principle, compromise, or both?

Local League News

The Buffalo-Niagara League recently took a day trip to Chautauqua Institution to attend the morning lecture hosted by Jelani Cobb. A staff writer at The New Yorker and a Professor of Journalism at Columbia University, Mr. Cobb writes on topics of race, history, justice, politics, and democracy.

The Rochester Metro League hosted a postcard party on July 21st with the Center for Common Ground, a non-partisan voting rights organization led by people of color. The Center’s goal is to educate and empower under-represented voters in voter suppression states to engage in elections and advocate for their right to vote.

Postcards from the Center for Common Ground were sent to individuals in Florida, and encouraged them to Get Out the Vote for their primary elections.

Members of the Geneva League registered voters at National Women's Rights Park during the “Convention Days,” which marks the anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention. The Geneva League had people from all across the country stop by their table, including a few League members from different states!

The New York City League partnered with BronxNet Community Television to prepare a Public Service Announcement (PSA) to help educate all New Yorkers about the upcoming elections. The PSA included input by the community in the Bronx, which was facilitated by League of Women Voters interns, Eleni Gonzalez-Molina and Iza Choudrey. Eleni and Iza conducted onsite interviews with members of the community, stopping pedestrians on the street and asking them questions about primary dates, general election dates, and eligible voter criteria. Their answers were included in the PSA. The PSA also provided information to the community regarding the upcoming primary and general election and educated voters on the difference between a special election, primary election, and a general election.

The Mid-Hudson League had members attend presentations made by the students who had participated in an innovative Civics & Social Justice Class for high school students at Tri-Valley Central School in Grahamsville. League Members had spoken to the class, earlier in the year about the work the League of Women Voters does, and the League was excited to make this connection with the teachers and students. The presentations were done in a "Gallery Walk" format. Not only did the students study issues, they also had to do a project to address the concern and then explain the entire project to the public and fellow students. It was a remarkable day and one that left League members very hopeful for the future!

The Cooperstown League has begun a project aiming to reduce polarization. The project will begin with a book discussion of Ezra Klein’s Why We’re Polarized, which analyzes political polarization in the United States. After reading the book, the group will participate in two or three conversations based on Klein’s book. These conversations will be completed before the November 2022 midterm election.


League of Women Voters of New York State
62 Grand Street
Albany, NY 12207
Tel: 518-465-4162 FAX: 518-465--0812
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram