I think it's safe to say that spring 2020 doesn't look anything like we thought it would 6 weeks ago. Depending on our individual circumstances, we're each experiencing this time of isolation and social solidarity differently. We want you to know that although we've had to adjust our events schedule and switch to Zoom meetings, we're still here, learning to adapt to this new normal.

Maybe just navigating things right now takes all of your energy. Let us know if we can support you in any way.

However, if you have the capacity for other projects or ideas, we have a few for you in the columns below.

One project that's been stymied is the 2020 Census. We hope that all of you have responded to it already, but if you haven't, there's no time like the present. As of today, Franklin County's response rate is 54.2%!

To help ensure an accurate count of our region's children, who are frequently undercounted, our League ordered 100 copies of a children's counting book on the Census, We Count! , which we'd intended to send to all the elementary schools in Franklin County. Now we need a new plan. Do you have any ideas for how else we might distribute them and get out the word? Let us know!

Read more about what's going on with the League below, and please, reach out if there's anything you need.
LWVMA 100th Anniversary Webinar Series

in celebration of the League's 100th birthday and centennial of women's suffrage

The webinars are free and open to the public, and most will be recorded and available from our website. You can find all the details  here . A  flyer  is available.

Next up is a talk by Dr. Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, author of  The Untold Story of Women of Color in the League of Women Voters . She was president of the national LWV from 1998 to 2002, the only African-American woman to head the League. She is an authority on the voting rights of African-Americans and currently a professor at the University of North Carolina. Her talk is Wednesday, May 6, at 7 p.m.  Click here to register.   Registration is required and limited to 500 people. 
Be a Judge!
This year's student video contest, the Teen Voting Rights Challenge, asked high school students throughout the Commonwealth to make a 30-second video answering the question "Should 16-Year-Olds Have the Right to Vote?" We've extended the deadline for submissions to our video contest until April 30.
We need judges for this contest. All the work is done in May from your own computer on your schedule. You will receive a link to all the videos and information on how to rank them. If you want to be a judge, email Taylor Grenga at LWVMA.
Update on Holding Elections in Massachusetts

LWVMA and our partners in the Election Modernization Coalition are working on draft legislation modifying election laws for the Sept. 1 primary and Nov. 3 general election to deal with the effects of the pandemic. The emergency legislation that allows for postponement and expanded early voting by mail for this spring's local elections sunsets June 30, so new legislation will be required. We expect the legislature to continue to deal with emergency situations from COVID-19 for the next 2 to 3 weeks. But we will be pushing for new election legislation shortly after that. 
Among the changes we will be seeking are:

  • continuing to allow COVID-19 concerns to qualify under the "physical disability" excuse for an absentee ballot
  • expand vote by mail opportunities, including covering the postage for requesting and returning ballots
  • expand deadlines to ensure early access to ballots and to ensure that delayed mail does not result in disenfranchisement
  • print mailed ballots in numerous languages

It will be difficult for Massachusetts to go from its current 5% mailed ballots to a much-larger percentage because we lack the infrastructure to handle anything like a 95% mail ballot election. Changes can and should be made, both to simplify and increase the use of mail ballots and to make in-person voting safe for both voters and poll workers.
Click   here  for more information on holding elections, including how local Leagues can help.
Every year, the LWV of Maine organizes the New England States Leadership Development Conference . This year they had to cancel the in-person conference, but they quickly got to work to transfer it over to an online space. It is now a four part series, and you can tune in on Mondays at 2 PM. They are committed to a program that promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion, and this year's conference will use that lens to empower us to better engage disengaged and disenfranchised voters. Check it out and sign up here .

The 54th LWVUS Convention scheduled for June in Washington, DC. is also transitioning to a virtual event. Stay tuned for more information on that.

These are both great opportunities for those of us who can't typically afford the time, funds, or travel to attend. This time of virtual living offers to teach us some valuable lessons about true inclusion for the future.

Be well, and be in touch.
In League,

Marie Gauthier, President
Nicole Moore, Vice President
Marge Michalski, Treasurer
Laura Luker, Secretary
Jean Cherdack, Director
Christine Turner, Director
Joannah Whitney, Director