May 26, 2020
In This Issue:
Elayne Berger, Book Sale Chair
Nancy Dimattio, Recorder
Trish Farrington, Publicity
Bonnie Isman, Voter Service
Ann Kieser, At-Large
Phyllis Lehrer, Membership
Susan Millinger, E-bulletin
Deanna Pearlstein, Event Organization
Janice Ratner, Treasurer
Adrienne Terrizzi, Spokesperson
May 27, 2-3 p.m., Budget Caucus
Contact Kathy Campbell if you have not received the link.
May 28, 2-3 p.m., Bylaws Caucus
. Contact Kathy Campbell if you have not received the link.
June 1, 1-3 p.m., Drop-in Zoom practice.
Contact Kathy Campbell if you have not received the link.
June 2, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Gun Violence Prevention Advocacy Zoom meeting.
See Calls to Action section, below, for more info.
June 2, 7-8:30 p.m., ANNUAL MEETING on Zoom.
Contact Kathy Campbell if you have not received the link.
June 25-27, 2020, LWV 54th National Convention on Zoom. All members are welcome. Currently registering voting delegates. Contact the editor if you are interested in being a delegate. For more information, see LWVUS NEWS below.
June 2, 7 p.m., Barbara Berenson speaks on
"After Suffrage: The Campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment." See Committees: Centennial Commemoration for more info and to register.
June 8, 1-3 p.m., Steering Committee Meeting
. All members are welcome. Contact Kathy Campbell for the link.
10 a.m.-12 p.m., LWVMA Council on Zoom.
All members are welcome. For more information, see LWVMA NEWS below.
To subscribe to the e-bulletin, visit
and click on the blue tab "Sign up for Email Updates".
Don't forget to visit the Amherst League of Women Voters
and "like" us. Marla Jamate, our Facebook editor, does a great job and deserves a wider LWVA audience.
Our website is LWVAmherst.org
STEERING COMMITTEE: A message from this month's chair, Phyllis Lehrer
One hundred years ago women won the right to vote. Women and their male allies accomplished that major victory using a variety of methods. They marched, held meetings, lobbied, had items published in newspapers and magazines, sent letters.
> Fast forward one hundred years. Men and women can vote. But how do we get residents to participate in a pandemic?
> We have more means of informing the public about elections beyond newspapers, magazines and the mail. We have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, television, all the platforms on various devices.
> Options and proposals to protect voters and poll workers include early voting, easier access to absentee voting and vote by mail. This last item is generating a lot of controversy.
> Legislation is pending on some items and needs our support. Contact our legislators. If you have friends in other states tell them to support easy voting access.
> Check Vote411.org to keep informed.
> Our mission is active citizen participation in government. Nothing is more active than voting.
> Thanks for all your help.
> Phyllis Lehrer
"100 Years of Getting Out the Vote!" Have you seen the Northampton & Amherst Leagues' Centennial Commemoration ad on the back page of Saturday's Hampshire Gazette? Thanks to Nancy Polan of Northampton and the Northampton Steering Committee.
ANNUAL MEETING ON ZOOM TUESDAY, JUNE 2
Because of the ongoing public health emergency, the League of Women Voters of Amherst will hold its Annual Meeting online this year, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2.
The meeting will focus on t
hree essential pieces of LWVA business: election of officers, approval of budget, and approval of changes in the bylaws.
You have already received the agenda; the report of the Nominating Committee; the report of the Budget Committee; the revised bylaws together with a short explanation of the changes; and general instructions for zoom. If you did not receive them, contact
You can find the reports of the Nominating Committee and the Bylaw Review committee, with the proposed changes in the bylaws and and a review of the changes
at lwvamherst.org. Instructions about use of Zoom can also be found there.
Reports from other League committees
will appear in the June e-bulletin, and will be online at
when they become available.
Nominations from the floor
If you wish to nominate someone to the Board in addition to those nominated by the Nominating Committee, please send your nomination to
by June 1.
Directions to the Board
If you have suggestions for the Board, either before or after Annual Meeting, please e-mail them to
by June 8.
PRE-ANNUAL MEETING CAUCUSES:
Two on-line "caucuses" are planned in order to provide interested members with an opportunity to ask questions and make comments about the budget and the bylaw changes.
The budget caucus is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27.
The bylaws caucus is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 28.
Zoom invitations for the online caucuses will be e-mailed to members on May 26. Zoom invitations for the practice session on June 1 and the Annual Meeting on June 2 will be e-mailed on May 31. Please contact
if you fail to receive this information.
Zoom Practice/Help Sessions
All meetings will be conducted by Zoom. There will be a drop-in practice session for those wishing to be sure that they understand how to use Zoom or to verify their connections.
The practice session is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. on Monday, June 1, and you may join any time during those hours. In particular, if you will be joining the Annual Meeting using a device that lacks a built-in camera, built-in audio, or both, please try to attend this practice session.
In addition to the drop-in practice session,
the two caucuses will be open starting at 1:30 p.m., and Zoom help will be available up to the caucus start time of 2 p.m.
If you need additional help with Zoom, or if you plan to join only by audio (which will limit your options for participation), please
contact Kathy Campbell.
--Kathy Campbell is the source for the whole section on Annual Meeting.
CALLS TO ACTION :
WHAT WE CAN DO
FROM OUR HOMES
OUR LEGISLATORS TO SUPPORT
LWVMA-ENDORSED VOTING CHANGES
a message from Voter Service
LWVMA and our partners in the Election Modernization Coalition are asking the legislature to send all registered voters a ballot for the November general election. (
is the bill--then only proposed-- discussed in last month's e-bulletin.)
An Act ensuring safe and participatory 2020 state elections in response to COVID-19
was filed by Rep. Michael Moran, assistant majority leader, and Rep. John Lawn, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Election Laws. It will make important changes to expand voting by mail and safeguard voters and election workers at the polls. Sen. Comerford, Rep. Domb, and Rep. Blais have signed on as co-sponsors of this bill, which is currently before the Joint Committee on Election Laws. Northampton's Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa is a member of this committee.
Even though the Legislature will be in recess for the Memorial Day break, you can take action and thank Sen. Comerford and Reps. Domb, Blais, and Sabadosa for their support of this bill and encourage quick enactment so that our cities and towns can prepare for smooth implementation before the September primary.
At the recent Field Service Meeting, members from the State Board requested that we ask our legislators to urge the Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Election Laws to move H4737 out of Committee as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State William Galvin has proposed his own approach to expanding election access and has stated that he wants to begin printing ballots as early as June 2. According to
The Springfield Republican, there are 8 different election reform bills currently before the joint committee, plus the Secretary's proposal.
You can find more information about this bill
on lwvma.org, but given the importance of the issue to the League, more details are included below. Don't be confused by the number change: when House Document 5075 became a House Bill, it became H4737.
H4737 calls for ballots to be mailed to all voters, with prepaid return postage, at least 19 days before the Nov. 3 election. Ballots will be returned to city or town election offices, which would also install a secure dropbox where voters can deposit ballots.
In-person voting will still be an option, and the bill requires the Secretary of the Commonwealth to adopt regulations to safeguard the health of voters and election workers at the polls.
Other provisions of the bill include:
- Expand early voting in person to two weeks before the Sept. 1 state primary election and three weeks before the Nov. 3 election
- Cut the deadline to register to vote in the two elections from the current 20 days to 10 days
- Create an online portal for voters to apply for absentee ballots
- Establish that concern about COVID-19 qualifies as a "physical disability" and permits any concerned voter to vote by absentee ballot
- Permit local election officials to scan absentee and early voting ballots in their offices before election day, rather than deliver them to individual polling places to be counted on election day; no results will be determined or announced before polls close.
--Bonnie Isman, Voter Service Chair
LWVA TASK FORCE TO 'GET OUT THE 2020 CENSUS'
NEEDS MORE HELP
How are we doing? Judge for yourselves. Amherst's current census response rate is at 61.8%, an increase of 7.3% from last month. We're still making phone calls to push those numbers upwards, reminding residents about the importance of completing the census.
More volunteers are needed and welcome!
What does it take? Two hours of your time, a phone, and a computer on a Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Wednesday or Thursday, 5:00-7:00 p.m., or Saturdays, 1:00-3:00 p.m.. The 2 hour sessions include a 20-30 minute training, and provide a script to follow.
How can you help?
Once you sign up, you will receive an email from Eventbrite with log in information and passwords. Once you call? You'll have the satisfaction of working toward our fair number of MA representatives in Congress and in the Electoral College, fair redistricting maps at the national, state and local levels, and for our fair share of the annual allocation of $600 billion a year for ten years for programs such as Medicare/Medicaid, housing, transportation, education, and SNAP.
To Be on Ballot, Ranked Choice Voting Needs Signatures
For Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) to be on the ballot November 3,
Voter Choice for Massachusetts
, the RCV campaign, must submit a second round of 13,374 valid signatures by June 17. The Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that, given the difficulty of collecting signatures in person during this pandemic, voters can sign the petition electronically.
The campaign needs thousands of registered voters to
sign the RCV petition
electronically from home.
If you did not sign the RCV petition in the fall or aren't sure whether you did, please take a minute to sign the RCV petition right now by
. When you get to the actual petition, you sign your name using either your touch screen, the trackpad on a laptop, or your mouse. After you create your signature, click "Adopt and Sign" and it will be added to the petition document.
with your friends and family on Facebook or via email. Encourage them to sign the petition too and to pass the link along to their friends.
Volunteers from Voter Choice for Massachusetts made history last fall when they submitted 111,000 certified signatures to the Secretary of the Commonwealth; the most ever by a Massachusetts ballot initiative campaign. Now we need to get 13,374 more from people who didn't sign the first time.
Ask Congress to Fund Election Needs
At the recent Field Service Meeting, members from LWVMA's Board said it is not too late to write our Federal legislators to work for funding for election needs. LWVUS is working to ensure elections and equality are prioritized as Congress drafts stimulus bills for COVID relief. The three provisions LWVUS is asking for are:
- Ensure that $4 billion in election funding is included to help states to make the remaining primaries and the November general election safe for all to participate.
- Ensure that all families and individuals receive aid from the government, regardless of their immigration or tax status.
- Ensure that Washington D.C. is treated like a state and not a territory in funding distribution.
You can help ensure these provisions are included in the next relief package by taking action.
Gun Violence Prevention Advocacy Zoom,
June 2, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Many things have come to standstill during the pandemic. Gun violence isn't one of them.
Please join the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence for a VIRTUAL Advocacy Day 2020 on Tuesday, June 2, from 11:30-1:00 p.m.via Zoom.
There will be a 30-minute speaking program followed by breakout sessions by geographic region. The breakout sessions will bring advocates and constituents together with their legislators to share stories and outline action steps to decrease gun violence in our communities. We will provide all the tools and talking points you need beforehand to make advocacy asks directly to legislators.
We will highlight two priorities: An Act Relative to Crime Gun Data Analysis and Reporting (H2045, S1388) and SSYI: Safe and Secure Youth Initiatives. We need your voice. Can we count on you to help us to #EndGunViolence? Register here
Centennial Commemoration Committee
While we wait for the return of times when we can again schedule centennial-celebrating events, members of the Committee will provide brief articles about aspects of the history of the League.
"Amherst has new Suffrage League"
On Sunday, May 17, 1914, the
announced, "The movement in favor of equal suffrage has at last reached Amherst." An Equal Suffrage League had been organized to promote votes for women. Led by Mrs. Arthur H. Dakin as President, the League's first lecture was scheduled for the next evening at 8 p.m. in College Hall. The occasion featured Mrs. Maud Wood Park, secretary of the Boston Equal Suffrage Association and organizer of 50 branches of the College Equal Suffrage League. Mrs. Park was a graduate of Radcliffe and a well known speaker on behalf of women's rights, women in the Orient, and settlement work. Six years later in 1920, the same Maud Wood Park would become the first President of the national League of Women Voters. (See the March e-bulletin for a brief biography of Maud Wood Park.)
As far back as 1903, an Amherst group opposed to woman suffrage had 254 members, and in 1915 Amherst voted against a referendum on voting rights for women, 706 no and 321 yes.
How times have changed in 106 years!
Centennial Webinars Sponsored by LWVMA
The second in LWVMA's 100th Anniversary Webinar Series was a talk by Dr. Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, author of
The Untold Story of Women of Color in the League of Women Vote
rs. 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. You can watch this webinar, given on May 6,
The third webinar in this series unfortunately conflicts with Annual Meeting on June 2. Barbara Berenson, historian, author, lawyer, will speak on "After Suffrage: The Campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment, 1920-2020." LWVA is still hoping for an autumn talk by Berenson, initially scheduled for this spring, but in case that's not possible, this is an opportunity not to be passed up. If you're not attending Annual Meeting, you might enjoy this. Hopefully it will be available later at lwvma.org. Register
for the webinar.
Affordable Housing Task Force
There is a vacancy on the Amherst Municipal Affordable Housing Trust; if you are interested, fill out a Citizen Activity Form (available on the Town website).
2 Northampton Road - Studio Apartment project: the hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals is likely to be at the end of June or beginning of July. Because of COVID-19, the hearing will not be a public meeting; it will be held on Zoom, with members of the public able to log in as observers. The most likely process will involve an initial hearing in which the project is presented to the ZBA and members of the ZBA can ask questions. Materials will be visible to Zoom participants and, probably, on the town's website before the hearing. There will then be another (or more) meetings for public questions and comments, plus the opportunity to send written comments.
The town's Affordable Housing Trust, and the state, are working on various proposals to assist with rental payments for low- and moderate-income people whose incomes have been hurt by the virus and shut-down. The town's program will be only for current residents of Amherst; the state program is for residents of Hampden and Hampshire County. No information yet about application dates.
Health Care Update:
"Going" to the LWV National Convention 2020, Washington DC
I'm going to the LWV National Convention in its Centennial Year. Since I'm on a national LWV Health Care Caucus committee AND on our local centennial committee, I'm excited, right?
Except I'm not *going* anywhere further than my desktop computer. I guess I can say, "I am Zooming to the convention."
This will be my second Convention and my second Health Care Caucus. (I had to learn what the League meant by a "caucus": maybe it would be called "a special interest group" in other organizations, and it puts on a workshop at the convention devoted to their special interest.) Members of the 2018 caucus committee (and others) have been meeting at least monthly since last convention. We began planning for June 2020 in January. It wasn't until late March that we realized the convention would be virtual. So, we moved our planning to Zoom.
The title of our caucus is
America's Choices in the Health Care Debate - Defining the Plans, Understanding the Costs.
The centerpiece will be a short video by Representative Pramila Jayapal (of Washington State), who introduced HR 1384 for the 2019-2021 legislative session: An Act to Establish Medicare for All in the United States. (The House bill is, by the way, considered to be truer to the principles of Single Payer reform than the Senate bill). Her staff edited her "explainer video" slightly for us to take out any remotely partisan statements in it. Beyond the video, we are practicing activism training sessions with Zoom and break-out rooms and will adapt the sessions for different degrees of familiarity with the reform issues. We are also trying to add something that talks about how the COVID19 crisis has made the move to Single Payer/ Medicare for All even more urgent.
I'm still excited, virtually.
You can sign up for the caucus (on Wednesday June 24, 8 p.m., in your home office)
. For general information on the Convention, see
LL MEMBERS ARE INVITED TO LWVMA COUNCIL
JUNE 13, 10 a.m. to noon on Zoom.
The session will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 13, with a brief business meeting where we'll elect Officers and Directors, receive a financial update on LWVMA, and hear from our Executive Director about some of the ways LWVMA is working even during these strange times.
MIT Professor Charles Stewart, the keynote speaker, will bring us an update on elections during a pandemic, highlighting what we need to do in the next five months and what we should do in the next five years.
At last June's Convention, Professor Stewart was one of our panelists, discussing the promises and perils of election technology. His well-received contribution as well as his expertise led LWVMA to invite him back.
Professor Stewart is the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science at MIT. He is co-direc
tor of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab.. He has appeared recently in a number of webinars and other forums, and published a blog on
"Ten Recommendations to Ensure Healthy and Trustworthy 2020 Elections."
Professor Stewart's presentation will follow the business meeting, beginning around 10:30 a.m.
Everyone is welcome to join us, but only delegates will vote for Officers and Directors. Register here,before Council, indicating whether you register as delegate or observer. LWVA is allowed eight delegates. Check with the Steering Committee if you'd like to be a delegate.
For a list of candidates (including two from western Massachusetts), click here and scroll to the link to a pdf in section in Delegates.
LWV's National Convention 2020 on Zoom:
Interested in Attending?
The 54th Biennial National Convention, June 25-27, is now open for delegates to register (LWVA is allowed four; only two spots are currently filled; the cost-- which LWVA will pay--is $50). Registration will open soon for observers. If you are interested in participating either as delegate or observer, find more information at the League Management site
the Steering Committee.
NEW ENGLAND REGIONAL CONVENTION
WATCH AND LISTEN: To Virginia Kase, CEO of LWVUS and others
The New England Regional Conference was cancelled but
on Zoom now are available here.
The presentation of
, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Stony Brook University, focused
on her research on the potential for power in information: her work identifies "points at which new information can have the most profound effect on the way people form political opinions, make political choices, and ultimately, take political actions." The editor missed this session but Krupnikov was most impressive in the
The panel's discussion of how Leagues can maximize the impact of our work to engage disengaged and disenfranchised voters was very informative.
Panelists were Yanna Krupnikov, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Stony
Brook University; Mufalo Chitam, Executive Director, Maine Immigrants' Rights Coalition; and NH senator
In the last session,
the organizers hosted the participants of the webinar in a
conversation about how Leagues are handling the pandemic and the challenges to our elections. It was informative to hear the situations of League members from other New England states, and how they are responding to them.
E-bulletin Staff and Contributors in May
The Editor of the LWVAmherst e-bulletin, Susan Millinger, can be contacted here. The Associate Editor is Trish Farrington; Janice Ratner and Phyllis Lehrer proofread the issue; Kay Fite checks the links. Contributors to the May 2020 e-bulletin include LWVA members Elisa Campbell, Kathy Campbell, Bonnie Isman, Phyllis Lehrer, Barbara Pearson, and Adrienne Terrizzi. Material on LWVMA comes from either the League Leader Update or Mass League Voter or from letters from LWVMA.
This monthly message is for anyone interested in the League, not just members. If you know someone who might be interested, forward this message and invite them to subscribe themselves, using the link below.