League of Women Voters of Oak Park & River Forest Newsletter January 2023 Volume 10 Issue 6

Co-Presidents' Letter

Dear Friends,

We hope you had a hygge-like December and found comfort during its dark, rainy, and freezing days. If you celebrate, we hope the holidays were merry and bright. As Punxsutawney Phil readies his forecast, enjoy the hot tea and longer days of January. Hello 2023! 


And farewell 2022. It was kinder to democracy than feared, and for that we are grateful. The midterm election was uneventful and a victory for democracy. It’s been almost two years since the attack on the people’s house and more than 960 people have been charged, nearly five hundred have pled guilty, and the investigation continues. Among the leaders, the Oath Keepers were found guilty of seditious conspiracy and after an 18-month investigation, Congress has issued a criminal referral for federal prosecution of a former president on four charges, including inciting an insurrection and conspiracy to defraud the United States. None of this is reason to celebrate, but it's a timely reminder of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s wise words: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” 


In another win for democracy, the Electoral Count Act (ECA) was included, and passed, in the end-of-the-year spending package. Per the Washington Post, “It would clarify that the vice president’s role in counting electors is ceremonial. It would raise the threshold for Congress to nullify legitimate electors. It also combats state-level subversion and requires governors to certify electors in keeping with state popular vote outcomes. It creates new avenues to legally challenge fraudulent electors and requires Congress to count electors that are validated by the courts.” It is naïve to think the danger to the republic has passed, but 2022 was indeed kinder than feared.

 

It’s been a busy year for LWV OPRF. There were over two dozen public educational events on topics like reproductive choice, the state of local news, ranked choice voting, and the national popular vote. Over 35 members registered 250 voters and distributed hundreds of QR voter registration cards and posters. The Environmental Committee successfully advocated for a significant reduction of plastic utensils in Oak Park restaurants. The League took an active role in helping pass the Cook County Forest Preserve referendum. For the first time in several years, the Fundraising Committee developed partnerships with local businesses to help support the League’s work. And, the Observers Corp is operational again. Outstanding efforts!


Democracy is defended by the actions of everyday people, and this is where you come in. Whether you have a few hours or a few days to volunteer, please consider working with one of the League’s committees in 2023.

  • It will be another busy year with elections in all three of our communities. LWV OPRF, along with the 750 other US chapters, has adopted the Making Democracy Work campaign, including expanding voter access and helping fight voter suppression. Plenty of opportunities here.
  • Are you a party planner? In 2024, LWV OPRF will celebrate its 100th anniversary, and this year we will be forming a committee to begin work on the celebration.
  • The League also will begin advocating for a 2025 referendum on ranked choice voting for Oak Park.
  • Or are you an event planner? We are always looking for people to help arrange our public education events.

Please contact Tina Birnbaum to learn more about all these volunteer opportunities. 


Want to welcome 2023 with an easy-to-do action? Consider ways to broaden your support for journalism at the local, state, and national level. The importance of quality journalism to a healthy democracy could not be made clearer than what is seen in the story about the Long Island, NY representative elect.


And would you like to welcome 2023 with a smile? Read Dave Barry’s irreverent review of the past year: Dave Barry’s 2022 Year in Review - The Washington Post  


And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been. Rainer Rilke


Jane and Joan 

Training Sessions Last Reminders

This is the last reminder for some January training being offered by the LWV IL. On Saturday, January 14, there will be three trainings: Illinois Voter Guide at 9:30am, Candidate Forum at 10:00am, and Moderator Training at 11:00am. You can register to attend all or any of these opportunities here.

April Municipal Elections

Candidate petitions have been filed in local municipal races. Oak Park has contested races for Village Trustee and the Library, School District #97, and Oak Park-River Forest High School District 200 Boards. River Forest has only one contested race, and that is for School District #90. The upcoming candidate forums for these contested races are posted on our League calendar; all of these forums will be online in partnership with our local libraries.


Please go here to check our our new calendar where you can click on a posted entry for more information and to register for online events. Other community organizations that are scheduling candidate forums will also be listed on our calendar. Do you know of a community organization that is planning to do a candidate forum? Please have them contact us so their forum can be included on our calendar.

PreTrial Fairness Act

The LWV Cook County's Criminal Justice Group completed a 6-week project in partnership with the Civic Federation to compare pre-trial hearings before and after the Pretrial Fairness Act took effect January 1, 2023. Fourteen League members along with two members of the Civic Federation listened in on 25 sessions of Central Bond Court. Over 1000 cases were heard. These findings will be compared to those in 2023, when the project will be repeated. Read the report with analysis and recommendations on the Civic Federation's website.

Deputy Registars: Last Reminder

It is time to renew your commission as a deputy registrar! All commissions expired on November 30, 2022. Please complete the new Deputy Registrar oath and email it back to deputy.reg@cookcountyil.gov in order to be re-commissioned for another 2 years. You can also mail it back to the address at the bottom of the oath. Once the Cook County Clerk's Office receives the oath, they will mail you a new card (same DR number.) Would you like to watch a refresher video on how a deputy registrar should register voters? Go here.

LWV US December 1 Update

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