Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy
August 2021
President's Message
Judie Gorenstein,
Summer, my very favorite season, is coming to an end. However, this year I am looking forward to the fall.  There so many opportunities for LWVNYS to accomplish our mission of engaging and educating voters and having them be active participants in our government. In addition, this fall there are so many opportunities for LWVNYS to build our power together and increase our membership, visibility and influence while always being certain to adhere to our nonpartisan policy and to look at everything through DEI lens. 

It has been less than three months that I have been president but I am so impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication of our new board members to work together and with the Leagues throughout the state. As you read the articles from our staff and board members in this August Voter, I am sure you will agree with me. This year offers us so many opportunities to educate voters: redistricting and crucial ballot proposals are only two. LWVNYS is offering so many opportunities ( zoom meetings, webinars, workshops) and so much material and tools to help us all power together.   

I know that local Leagues, MAL Units and ILOs are enthusiastic, dedicated and eager to work together. This is so important if we are going to be successful statewide. It is the local Leagues and their individual members who know best who is in their communities, what the important issues are, and what resources they have.  Individual Leagues not only can know which communities are underrepresented as voters, but those communities who are not engaged with the League. Each community may be different and require different methods to engage but they all will require first identifying who they are, what their needs are, and then how to better work with them.

Let’s all take advantage of all the opportunities this year offers. Our government works best when everyone participates. Our Leagues work best when we all work together with all our communities.
Join Us! Virtual Public Educational Forum on 5 NYS Ballot Proposals
Thursday, September 9 @ 6:30 pm
Join the League, Environmental Advocates, and VoteEarlyNY for a webinar discussing the five ballot propositions all New York State voters will have the opportunity to vote on in November. The five propositions include:

  1. Amending the Apportionment and Redistricting Process
  2. Right to Clean Air, Clean Water, and a Healthful Environment
  3. Eliminating Ten-Day-Advance Voter Registration Requirement
  4. Authorizing No-Excuse Absentee Ballot Voting
  5. Increasing the Jurisdiction of the New York City Civil Court

Our expert speakers will describe what the proposals will change in our New York State Constitution and discuss pros and cons for each. This event is open to the public so feel free to share with any interested New Yorkers!  
Democracy in Action
September 23, 7:00 pm

Join the Archives Partnership Trust (and the state League) for an engaging evening of conversation between current New York State Attorney General Letitia James and former Attorney General Robert Abrams, author of Luckiest Guy in the World: My Journey in Politics. Be there or watch streaming live as they discuss the importance of public service, and Abrams’ groundbreaking work on environmental, consumer protection and civil rights issues that forever transformed the role of the office of Attorney General. Hear firsthand the legacy he leaves behind for all New Yorkers and the nation.

Event is free and open to the public; advance registration required.

New State League Office Staff: Milly Czerwinski (
We are pleased to welcome our new Organizer, Milly Czerwinski (they/them)! Milly will be working to assist Jennifer with the People Powered Fair Maps New York campaign by helping to prepare local Leagues and the public to analyze the Independent Redistricting Commission’s draft maps this fall. They will also be seeking new local redistricting partners throughout New York State and working with existing partners to deepen our work. Milly will be working with the New York State League full time and will serve as an organizer and liaison to our local League chapters.

Before joining the League, Milly served as a Communications Associate to the Office of New York State Senator Shelley Mayor. Milly has a strong background in communications and organizing and even served as a Student Organizer to the New York State Public Research Interest Group (NYPIRG) while studying for her BA in Literature at SUNY Purchase. Milly is a Hudson Valley native and currently lives in Troy. They are a big fan of NPR podcasts, baking, and crossword puzzles. Please join us in welcoming Milly to our team!
Voter Services
Nancy Rosenthal,
Did you know that there will be 5 proposals on the ballot in November?

The Voters Guide Part II which includes information (pros and cons) on the 5 proposals on the ballot in November is into its second printing and we anticipate more to come. We have shipped over 25,000 copies already. There was one error in the English version of the Voter Guide Part II but that has been corrected on the version on the state website and is available by clicking here. The correct date for receipt of absentee ballot applications is Oct. 18, NOT Oct. 26:
  • Oct. 18 Last day for board of elections to receive application or letter of application by mail, online portal, email or fax for general election ballot.  

The Voter Guide Part II has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Karen, Arabic and Burmese. All of these are posted on the state website: . Paper versions are available in Spanish, Chinese and Korean. 
Legislative Update
Jennifer Wilson,
Kathy Hochul Sworn in As First Female Governor of New York State
This month history was made after former Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was sworn in as the first female Governor of New York State. The seat change came after former Governor, Andrew Cuomo, resigned amid sexual harassment allegations following the release of an independent investigation conducted by the Office of the Attorney General. Following this report, the League issued a statement in support of the women who came forward to tell their story and calling on the Assembly to conduct their own investigation.

Prior to the former Governor’s resignation, the League and our good government partners issued a letter to legislative leaders urging them to continue their investigations into the misconduct by the Cuomo administration - including the COVID nursing home deaths and the Governor’s book deal; restore the Comptroller's oversight of government contracts; replace the Joint Commission Public Ethics (JCOPE) with a truly independent ethics body; and force Cuomo to refund contributions to his $18 million campaign war chest to all his donors.

At this time, the Assembly has stated that they are suspending their investigations of the former Governor indefinitely.

People Powered Fair Maps
This month the Independent Redistricting Commission concluded their first round of hearings on redistricting. A huge thank you to our many local League members who showed up to testify about their district lines and communities of interest! You can find recordings of all the hearings on the Commission’s Youtube page here.

The Commission has not yet posted the transcripts of the hearings nor the publicly submitted written testimony to their website. This month the League called on the Commission to quickly publicize those documents so the public can have the opportunity to review them before maps are released in mid-September. The League also urged the Commission to share the transcripts in additional languages so that New Yorkers who speak a language other than English as their primary language have the opportunity to read about what their neighbors are recommending. Finally, the League urged the Commission to schedule open meetings of mapping deliberations so New Yorkers can watch negotiations of maps for New York State Senate, Assembly, and Congressional districts. You can read our full letter to the Commission here.

Hearing on Reforming Joint Commission on Public Ethics
The Senate Standing Committee on Ethics and Internal Governance held a hearing on reforming New York State’s system of ethics oversight and enforcement on August 25th. The League testified alongside our good government partners in favor of eliminating the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and Legislative Ethics Commission and instead creating a single independent agency, a Public Integrity Commission, to oversee government ethics violations.

Our written testimony called for an independent appointment process of Commissioners that includes a minimum diversity requirement so that Commissioners are representative of the people they are serving. The League also urged the Standing Committee on Ethics and Internal Governance to consider providing statutory language to ensure the new enforcement unit is fully funded and has operational support. You can watch the entire archived hearing here.  
LWVNYS DEI (Diversity Equity and Inclusion) Task Force (open to all members)
Regina Tillman,
Our thanks to the over 180 League members throughout NYS who attended the August 17th DEI presentation by Debby Irving entitled, “I’m a Good Person! Isn’t That Enough?!” This presentation served as a lead-in to her workshop upcoming on October 19th at 7:00pm. Please hold this date on your calendars!

Did you attend but not yet weigh in for post-presentation opinions and thoughts via our Evaluation Survey? You still have time to be included by filling it out by Monday, September 6th! Go to:

We do know that the “DEI Drop-In Sessions” we established for our member engagement after Debby Irving’s presentation were well received. Thus, we will make this a permanent feature of DEI programming, including it as often as possible depending on availability of “Conversation Moderators”. Drop-ins are already being scheduled weekly for the upcoming “21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge”, beginning Sunday, September 19th. Look for the Challenge’s registration link that will be out to you soon. In the meantime, when you have a chance... catch the 22-minute video of the launch of the Racial Equity Challenge: This recording will show you the start of the challenge from the point of view of the originators.

And there is still time to order your Debby Irving book, “Waking Up White” at the discount of $10 by letting your local Board, or President, or DEI Committee Chair know that you want to be included in the minimum purchase volume of 10 books. Deadline for the order placement by your local League to ensure getting the book in time to read before the October workshop is extended to Monday, September 20th!

Vacation and other activities got in the way of letting your local president know that you want to work on DEI for the LWV? You also still have time on that, too. Local Chapter presidents need to have their nominee for representing their local chapter on the State-wide DEI Task Force into me by Friday, September 17th.

The challenges mount for DEI… some of what we will be planning on in the upcoming year or so include:
  • More educational opportunities
  • Establishing measurable indices of our successful movement as a League into DEI
  • Building a website presence on
  • Development of an Organizational Equity Plan for the State League
However, we are excited about what the local leagues are doing and will be finding ways to share that info. Thanks for coming along on this DEI learning journey with us!
Youth and Civics Committee
Crystal Joseph,
Welcome back to another school year. As we prepare to return to campus and school, I encourage each League to set the stage for strong partnerships, new ideas and build on collaborative ways to captivate our youth. One of the ways the state will assist in local league projects is through the newly developed Youth and Civics Education Committee. The goal of the team is to keep our organization moving forward by sharing what local chapters are working on presently and highlight newly developed programs. Additionally, team members will be in contact with Youth Chairs who have shared presentations or modules that were successful templates for both recruiting and retaining young people throughout our organization. My co-chair, Nick Doran and I, will facilitate a discussion on September 28 on the team’s structure, outcomes for the coming year and explain the ways in which our group can support youth leads. During the meeting, we will also provide updates for the youth leadership pipeline project, the Youth Civics Initiative (YCI) and let you know ways young people can continue to work alongside YCI while developing their advocacy and civic voice. Let’s continue the great work and please stay connected with myself and Nick if you have any suggestions or would like to present your youth program to our team at the September meeting.
Local Leagues
Congratulations to LWV of Rensselaer County for their hard work winning more early voting poll sites in more accessible areas for their voters. See the article here: .

LWV of Broome-Tioga created a Powerpoint presentation used in orientation sessions at their colleges about voting. It is here in pdf format but if you want the PPT to customize and use, email Margaret Goodfellow at