League of Women Voters of NYS

 STATE VOTER

December 2018

Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.



From the State President
With Thanksgiving already behind us, you are probably distracted by holiday preparations and gatherings. Enjoy yourself! 2019 will be upon us soon enough, and we need to be refreshed and ready to make the most of the opportunities that some shake-ups in our governmental entities appear to be offering us.
 
CIVICS
     If you can't resist talking about the state of our democracy at your gatherings, you can startle your fellow party-goers with the fact that nearly 10% of recent college graduates think that "Judge Judy" is on the Supreme Court. This is according to a report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which you can read here and get even more startling facts:
 
     Thank goodness the state League has been working with NY's social studies teachers' association to develop lesson plans on civics that have since been shared with all the high schools in the state. Click here to learn more about these https://my.lwv.org/new-york-state/civics-education
 
       We plan to translate these lesson plans into programs that you can put on in your communities, but don't feel you have to wait for us. Most Leagues include savvy teachers in their membership, and I'm guessing many would love to help you do this. If a local high school is using the lesson plans, maybe some students would like to participate in the community teach-in - and maybe the PTA would co-present the event.
 
DIVERSITY and INCLUSION
       Many of you already know that working with students and the PTA is one great way of integrating your League into your community, and you also know that this sort of integration is critical to the League's health and success. Fortunately our state League is one of 20 state Leagues participating in a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) effort that the national League is spearheading. LWVUS is asking us to dig deep personally and as state (and eventually local) Leagues to be more aware of our own biases and our very human tendency to stay within the comfortable cultures we know. Now we will not just intend to do a better job of connecting with our wider communities. A self-assessment period begins in January, and by early March the participating state Leagues should have created action plans. This important work can be put off no longer.
 
       You can read more about the DEI program here:
https://www.lwv.org/League-management/leadership-development/diversity-equity-and-inclusion   While we will eventually be including local Leagues in our plans, don't wait for us in this work either. As you'll see at the link above, there are provocative, helpful resources on the LWVUS website that you can put to use right away personally and with your League. Finally, if this work is especially interesting to you, please let me know. We will try to involve you as soon as possible.
 
         Happy holidays, all. "See" you in 2019, our centennial year!

Dare Thompson, President
League of Women Voters of NYS
darethompson@gmail.com; Tel: 518-465-4162
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS
IN THIS ISSUE
Travel with the League
Click here  for trips and itineraries.
Local League Youth Programs
Advocacy Training Day in Albany - April 30
Voter Services
Judie Gorenstein, Judiel728@aol.com
2018 saw a record turnout of voters for our midterm elections. While efforts of LWVNY certainly cannot claim to be the main catalyst for the high turn out, LWVNY and our local Leagues, MALS and ILOs all did contribute to increased number of people who registered, were educated and did turn out to vote. This certainly was an extremely busy election season where Leagues took advantage of the opportunities and met the challenges they faced.   In spite of all their hard work before and on Election Day, most, in fact 35 completed their voter service surveys by November 27. What did the completed surveys show?
 
Registration
  • All but one of the reporting Leagues held voter registration drives, with 32 collecting them and delivering them in person to the Board of Elections or doing combination of hand delivered and mailed.
  • If collecting, be certain they're postmarked or hand delivered on time. (One League missed deadline)
  • The number of drives Leagues held ranged from 2 to 190 (LWVNYC) and number of voters that Leagues registered ranged from 20 to 3,300 (LWVNYC).
  • 19 Leagues provided voter service training some with and or for other groups or organizations.
  • LWV of Huntington offered training action workshops at libraries   before their candidate events.
  • LWV of Broome and Tioga County worked on training manual for senior populations
  • Many Leagues have plans to do them next year, one with both BOE commissioners.
  • 27 Leagues who indicated that they held voter registration drives at different venues than in past.
  • St Lawrence Mal used captivating sticker on back of clipboard at vr drives to draw attention.
  • Venues for voter registration drives, included Office of Criminal and Community Service( for paroles who received pardons to vote),jails, barber shops, bus depots, cultural festivities, street fairs, picnics, assisted and independent living centers, rallies, youth marches, Planned Parenthood Centers, YMCAs food pantries ,concert venues ,wellness fair, state parks, and an increased number of libraries and schools both high schools and colleges.
Education
  • LWVNY published VG Part I and Part II and most Leagues did purchase and use them.
  • Leagues indicate Part II was distributed too late as a result of BOE delay in certification of ballots.
  • Westchester ILO published Vote 411.
  • Leagues did have different opinions of online voter guide "VotingNewYork.org"
  • 8 Leagues found VotingNewYork.org easier to use than Vote 411
  • Majority of reporting Leagues preferred Vote 411.  
    • Use to VOTE 411
    • LWVUS promotes VOTE 411 and using another one adds to confusion
    • Able to compare candidates own answers side by side that Vote 411 offers.  
  • Problems they cited with VotingNewYork.org
    • Delay in going live
    • Lack of any local candidates or races
    • Faulty information
    • One League said they were embarrassed to be Associated with this guide.
  • LWVNY will NOT be using VotingNewYork.org and will pursuit options
  • Many Leagues would like to go back to VOTE 411. Westchester did use VOTE 411 this year.
  • While some Leagues did find it hard to get volunteers to do Vote 411, others had no problem
Candidate Forums
  • As in past years, most Leagues held one or more candidate events. Only four did not.
  • Two Leagues did not because there were no contested elections in their area.
  • Leagues held from 1 to 8 forums
  • Majority of Leagues found revisions to Road to The Voting Booth helpful.
    • Based on surveys and suggestions during election season, there will be additional revisions.
  • Although all reporting Leagues followed no empty chair policy, several want this policy revisited.
    • Five Leagues had to cancel a candidate forum because of the No Empty Chair Policy.
    • Six Leagues had to eliminate some races from a larger forum due to No Empty Chair Policy      
    • When cancelled, they notified public in newspapers, e blasts, facebook, websites, and flyers.
    • A League expressed frustration that public became angry at the League and not the candidate.
    • If we can get candidates to attend, this problem would be alleviated.
    • When asked how to increase candidate participation, many indicated they wished they knew.
      • Suggestions included   being courteous and persistent and notifying them ASAP.
      • Others tried outing them, putting pressure from public, opponents, etc.
      • LWVNY will continue to help Leagues resolve this issue.
  • The good news from surveys is that most of the 69 forums that were held, ran very smoothly.
  • Moderators seemed to be handle to the very few (3) disruptions that occurred.  
  • Sixteen Leagues cosponsored events with other organizations:
    • Chamber of Commerce, AAUW, NAACP, American Academy of Pediatrics, Latino Association, etc.
  • Most had questions from the audience that were written and vetted.
    • At one when questions were not screened, the League recommended doing so in the future.
  • Most of the candidate events were covered by the media.
    • LWV of Cazenovia got excellent coverage that they provided with survey.
  • 21 Leagues had their clearly stated videotaping policy sent to the candidates with their invitation.    
  • Majority of the Leagues did have their forums taped.
  • They were live streamed, aired on utube, tv, radio, and posted on websites and facebook pages.
  • There were only a few problems this year with taping and airing.
    • In two cases members of audience had to be reminded by moderator not to record.
    • At one an independent videographer insisted he had right to tape although eventually stopped.
    • One could not be aired on public access tv as planned as event lasted longer than time slot and
    • The biggest problem was a candidate posted only a clip and would not take it down.
      • The candidate had received, agreed to and signed the League's recording policy.
      • Recorded policy states League owns the tape and must be shown in entirety.
      • LWVNY will explore if we need to reword recording policy. Check for templates in revised RTVB
Get Out The Vote
  • LWVNY had stressed the importance of not only registering voters but turning out the vote.
  • Nine Leagues collected information at their voter registration drives and followed up with reminders.
  • Reminders were   by texts, emails, e blast, calls, and post cards.
  • Several Leagues indicated plans to do follow up next year.
  • Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties MAL had "I VOTE BECAUSE" campaign at vr tables.
  • LWVNY will try to recommend best tool(s) to use based on feedback from local Leagues.
  • Some members of LWV of Syracuse decided to focus on GOTV and not voter registrations.
    • They used grant money to go door to door in a low turnout area registering voters and GOTV.
  • LWV of Schenectady had GOTV committee and placed lawns signs in low turn out districts (20%)
    • They also shared data with reporter, which resulted in an article in local paper.  
  • LWV of Chautauqua also identified low turn out areas and went door to door to turn out voters.
  • Leagues used PSAs, letter to the editors, social media, messages on theater marquees.
  • Leagues used electronic signs both at schools and in towns.
  • LWV of Rochester hands out voter registration forms with the League stamped on it.
    • After election, their BOE tells them how many of their people registered and how many voted.
    • This may not increase the turnout but gives data of how successful they were in their turn out.
    • Leagues are encouraged to bring this up when you meet with your County BOE.
Naturalization Ceremonies
  • Registering new citizens at naturalization ceremonies is an inspiring experience for members.
  • Twenty four of the Leagues who responded do participate in these ceremonies.
    • LWV of Buffalo Niagara registered more than 1000 new voters in 2018.
    • LWV of Geneva has covered Seneca Falls naturalization for past 10 years.
  • Their experiences are different depending on the area and venue.
  • Some allow the League members to speak to the group and others do not.
  • All but one League collects and then brings or mails the completed vr forms to the BOE.
  • At one locations BOE is also at the ceremony and therefore the BOE collects them.
  • Leagues hand out various materials including First Vote, facts for voters, palm cards, voter guides.
  • One League gives out the US Constitution, some give flags, and others pens.
  • One League bring crayons and coloring pictures to the children.
  • At times court employees give erroneous information; I.e., LWV not allowed to hand out vr forms.
  • LWV of Albany recommends LWVNY develop a brochure for new citizens at these ceremonies.
  • In NYC the ceremonies are independently conducted with no centralized process or practice.
  • Now is good time for League members to see if process can be coordinated throughout state.
  • Ceremonies should all maintain high standards and not disenfranchise new citizens.
Future for LWVNS Voter Services
  • LWVNY anticipates opportunities and challenges in the years ahead.
  • We understand frustrations our local Leagues face while trying to abide by our policies.
  • The LWV of the Rivertowns would like us to look at our policy for judicial candidate forums.
  • Revised Road to the Voting Booth 2018 part II page 17 states what can be covered.
  • We will set up a committee to see if more can be included.
  • LWVNY will continue to try to resolve problems.
  • Leagues are encouraged to continue to share their questions, concerns and ideas.
  • LWVNY has been asked to design and sell lawn signs
  • There will be a voter service workshop at 2019 convention.
  • Together we do and will continue to do so much.   
Successful Gubernatorial Debate
After failing to find a media co-sponsor, the League pursued holding a Gubernatorial Debate without a media sponsor. Of the 5 gubernatorial candidates, 4 (Stephanie Miner, Larry Sharpe, Marc Molinaro and Howie Hawkins) immediately agreed to participate when we announced the debate. Governor Cuomo was the only one to refuse to participate. The College of Saint Rose graciously agreed to host the debate and provide the technology to livestream the event on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. The state office organized a Go Fund Me to raise money to support any costs that would arise around the debate. We were able to raise over $5,000 much of which was raised from donors who had never donated to the League.
 
The debate was moderated by LWVNYS Executive Director, Laura Ladd Bierman, and questions were asked by the following media panel:
  • Susan Arbetter, State Capitol Correspondent and News & Public Affairs Director for WCNY Syracuse Public Television and host and producer of The Capitol Pressroom
  • Ken Lovett, New York Daily News Albany Bureau Chief
  • Josefa Velasquez, Investigative Reporter at Sludge
The media panel also included a College of Saint Rose journalism student, Takora McIntyre. Takora is a junior majoring in communications at The College of Saint Rose with a concentration in journalism. Her work has been featured on the Times Union's Pine Hills blog.
 
The debate itself had great media coverage and our social media posts were shared hundreds of times. The livestream itself has been viewed by over 80,000 people and the Facebook post has been shared by 496 users. Overall we had great engagement and visibility around the event and everyone agreed it was a tremendous success.
Advocacy
Sally Robinson, sally.s.robinson@gmail.com and Jennifer Wilson, jennifer@lwvny.org
Lawsuit with NYCLU on Voter Registration Deadline
The League has signed on as a plaintiff on the NYCLU lawsuit to challenge the 25 day voter registration deadline. Public interest in the people and issues on the ballot peaks in the 25 days before Election Day. Candidates debate each other, new information comes out about their campaign fundraising, endorsements are announced, and ads blanket the airwaves. Yet eligible voters who become motivated to vote by the  flurry of electoral activity in the last four weeks of political campaigns find themselves unable to do so because they failed to register prior to the 25-day cut-off. The lawsuit charges that the voter registration cut-off is no longer necessary in the age of computers and needlessly disenfranchises thousands of voters. The suit claims that this disenfranchisement violates the state Constitution's guarantee of the fundamental right to vote as well as its equal protection clause.
 
Preparations for the 2019 Legislative Session
Now that the election is over, the League is reengaging with many of its coalition partners and planning strategy for the upcoming legislative session. 
 
The League was invited to testify before the Assembly Election Law Committee in NYC in November on early voting and no-excuse absentee voting. The League made recommendations for best practices and outlined the 2018 legislative policies that we believe best addressed these two reforms. Click here to read the testimony.
 
The state League will be organizing advocacy training sessions and legislative updates across the state in February, March and April. Last week, Jennifer spoke to the Capitol Region Leagues at a breakfast meeting. The meeting trained members on state positions, how to best lobby and outlined our legislative plans for the year ahead. Plans are underway for another session in Geneva in early March and the state League is looking to other areas for more presentations. And, the spring Advocacy Training and Lobby Day in Albany is schedule for April 30 - join us for training and lobbying!
Local League News
LWV of Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Saratoga jointly hosted a forum titled "The Times Are A' Changin". The program featured LWVNYS Legislative Director, Jennifer Wilson, who presented background on the upcoming legislative session and guided discussion of the Leagues priorities for 2019. (photo at left)
 
LWV of Brookhaven p resented the facts about ocean-drilling and a film "Shore Stories" by Brian Langloss from Oceana on November 12th.
 
LWV Buffalo also held their annual holiday lunch on December 1st. The lunch featured guest speaker Justin Booth, director of GObike Buffalo. Justin spoke about the group's efforts to make the city more bike- and pedestrian-friendly, and the intriguing Recycle-a-Bicycle program that builds problem-solving skills by teaching children of all ages how to build a bike.
 
LWV Hamptons held its holiday party on December 6th. LWV of Broome Tioga held their annual holiday brunch on December 1st.
 
LWV Nassau held their post-Election super on December 7th. The event included a lively discussion With Commentary on the Election Results by Meena Bose, Executive Dean of Public Policy at Hofstra, and Michelle Schimel, Former NYS Assemblywoman, 16th A.D.
 
LWV NYC held two train the trainer events to train members to participate in voter registration drives in preparation for the Women's March.
 
On Novembers 16th, LWV of Westchester hosted County Budget Director Larry Soule who presented the proposed 2019 county budget in a League meeting that was open to the public.  After the meeting, League members convened to determine the League's commentary on the budget. The League statement will be presented at an open session of the Westchester Board of Legislators on December 5th.

Congratulations to LWV of New Rochelle Board member Susan Fleming (center,) who received the Community Volunteer Award at the Annual New Rochelle Council of Community Services Awards Breakfast on November 29th. Also in November, LWV of New Rochelle was part of an effort by registerny.org to assist inmates at the Westchester County jail in Valhalla as well as those recently released. Throughout the fall, under the leadership of Jen Lackard, LWV members and others visited the jail to offer information and inform on voting rights.

After election day, LWV of Cortland hosted a social and invited city, county and town elected officials to come vist and chat with the public. 

LWV of Rensselaer County supplied "I Voted" stickers to the County polling places for the second year in a row. 

In October, the Chemung County LWV partnered with the NAACP, The Chemung County Council of Women and the YWCA to present "Meet the Candidates Night".  The three candidates for County Executive were present and spoke.  Three legislative districts' candidates spoke and candidates, whose opponents were not present, were introduced.  Following this part of the presentation all candidates had space to meet the public and share their campaign literature.  
League of Women Voters of New York State
62 Grand Street, Albany, NY 12207
Tel: 518-465-4162;  FAX: 518-465-0812
Website: www.lwvny.org
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS
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