Amherst League of Women Voters

A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change

September 18, 2020
In This Issue:
STEERING COMMITTEE
Elayne Berger, Book Sale Chair
Cynthia Brubaker, Recorder
Trish Farrington, Publicity
Bonnie Isman, Voter Service
Marla Jamate, At-Large
Ann Kieser, At-Large
Phyllis Lehrer, Membership
Deanna Pearlstein, Event Organization
Janice Ratner, Treasurer
Joan Rabin, At-Large
Jessica Ryan, E-bulletin Editor
Adrienne Terrizzi, Spokesperson
Susan Millinger, LWVMA and LWVUS liaison 

E-bulletin Editor, Jessica Ryan

CALENDAR

September 22, National Voter Registration Day
October 5, 1-3 p.m., Steering Committee Meeting on Zoom. All members are welcome. Contact Kathy Campbell for the link. 
Oct 8, 7 p.m., Discussion: "Racism and Redistricting: How Unfair Maps Impact Communities of Color" discussion hosted by LWVUS, LWVGA, LWVNC and LWVVA. Free event broadcast on LWVUS Facebook page  
Oct 17, League Leaders "Lunch" Meeting on Zoom. Program, times, and registration info will be sent out by mini-ebulletin as soon as available. 
October 17-30, Early in-person voting period
 

  
To subscribe to the e-bulletin, visit lwvamherst.org and click on the blue tab "Sign up for Email Updates".
Don't forget to visit the Amherst League of Women Voters Facebook page and "like" us. Marla Jamate, our Facebook editor, does a great job and deserves a wider LWVA audience.

Our website is LWVAmherst.org

LOOKING FOR people willing to take pictures occasionally at a LWVA event. Contact the editor.
 
STEERING COMMITTEE: A message from this month's chair, Adrienne Terrizzi   

The headline read "Record Turnout since 1990."  MA Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, "delighted with this year's election turnout," also stated that state and local officials "need to refine some of the administration procedures seen during the primary." 
 
Based on Amherst's almost double-digit primary voter turnout compared to 2016 and 2018, changes in the 2020 election protocols and its many options, and COVID concerns, I reached out to the Town Clerk's Office to find out what voters should know for the general election and how the League can help. 
 
Acting Town Clerk Susan Audette told us that "with volumes higher than in previous years and postcards received in the office, most Amherst voters requested vote-by-mail ballots for the November election."  Early voting, October 17-30, will again take place at the Bangs Center with no changes expected in polling locations used for the primary.  Pens are disinfected after every voter.  However, those wishing to vote in person can expect better signage, cueing to keep lines short and socially distanced, and more plexiglass shields protecting voters and workers in all precincts. 
 
According to Audette, a major administrative change in Amherst for the November 3 election includes a 'Central Tabulation Facility,' where all early ballots will be processed instead of at the precincts.  Staff anticipates that having such a facility will increase processing efficiency and tabulations and speed up anticipated wait-lines at the polls.
 
How Can the League Help?  The Clerk is seeking the following and asks those interested to call 259-3035 for further information: 
1. Before the Election:  in-house ballot stuffing, filing and any help would be appreciated. 
2. November 3: Seeking election workers at the polls. Must apply and be sworn in. 
3. November 3:  Staff of 4 needed for the Central Tabulation Facility.   It is expected to be in the Bangs Center, Room 101, "where the space is large, and with only 4 people in there, there is plenty of room for social distancing" 
 
If you are available and would like to assist, please call 259-3035 or email audettes@amherstma.gov and let her know that you are a League member.  As in the past, they appreciate our help!
2020 OPENING MEETING    
 
Who would have predicted that our Opening Meeting this year would be virtual, a webinar--there were no refreshments,  no chatting with friends, no need to wear shoes?  As unusual as this format was, the evening was a wonderful success.  Most of us could not even see the other 50 attendees, but there was still a feeling of comradery and intimacy among us and the guest speaker Dr. Traci Parker.  
This can be attributed to...

Kathy Campbell for figuring out her, and our, first Webinar; Adrienne Terrizzi for being the gracious moderator; Meg Gage and Andrea Battle for organizing and leading the Q&A; Marcie Sclove for inviting and introducing Dr. Parker as the speaker; and of course, Traci Parker, author and professor of African American Studies, whose talk was full of interesting facts, (Ever heard of the grandfather clause in voter suppression?) delivered in a serious, but natural, vibrant style reminding us that Black women didn't just become the leaders--they were always doing all the work!--and whose answers to a variety of questions were thoughtful and nuanced: "I have hope, [pause] I think, on racial and gender issues because my students are thirsty for knowledge and want to do something about it." 
    
Guiding us through a history of the fight for Black voting rights: starting with Fannie Lou Hammer, then examples of voter suppression, the success of the Civil Rights Act, its passage and also its partial dismantling in the Roberts Court, Dr. Parker led us up to the present day detailing the continued curtailing of voting rights of people of color. Too many absorbing examples of the above topics to explain here (although my mind is longing to), but the meeting was recorded and will be available.  Watch for the "how" in coming announcements.
A short  business meeting followed Traci Parker's talk.  Adrienne went over a brief summary of what committees were doing.  Most important for now is the need for help with Voter Services and the Census.  Check notices in this bulletin for details.

An unusual way to start our League's year, but an effective one.  All of us-participants and audience, stepped up to try this new system.  Next year-Deanna's cookies!

-Trish Farrington

WHOSE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATIONS?  

A special message from the Centennial Commemoration Committee

The Amherst League has been celebrating since last fall: a conversation at Applewood was held with long-time members; a delegation dressed in suffrage era outfits carrying our banner at the Springfield Women's March; despite covid-19 putting spring and summer plans on hold: a social distanced march on June 25; a car parade for August 18;  Amherst Town Hall's special bell-ringing for Equality Day;... and more to come.
But whose Centennial Celebrations are these, really? It is important to remember that the anniversary celebration for Black women is August 6, with the signing of the Voting Rights Act of August 6, 1965, "An Act to enforce the fifteenth amendment of the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes." Traci Parker's talk at Opening Meeting made this clear.

Yet can we celebrate the 55th anniversary of that act? New barriers have been and continue to be placed before Black voters as a result of the 2013 decision of the Supreme Court which undermined the protections against discrimination the act was intended to provide. 200 restrictive voting bills have been introduced in 40 states just in the past decade. 
The Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights has a brief history of the fight for the right to vote, linked here
For a report on new voting restrictions, see the report by the Brennan Center for Justice, linked here

So yes, Amherst has good reasons to celebrate the centennials of the passage of the 19th Amendment and the founding of the League. But we must also celebrate the Voting Rights Act, and we must work to ensure that its promise is realized and the retreats from it annulled.

-Susan Millinger
Follow up on a Direction to the Board at Annual Meeting 2020:    
 
Over the years, the League's bank account has increased due to very successful book sales and very generous members and friends.  At the last Annual Meeting, there was a Direction to the Board to spend some of this money, perhaps through contributions.  A committee of three - Cynthia Brubaker, Nancy Eddy, and Adrienne Terrizzi - was convened and it looked at League Policies and Guidelines as well as suggestions from members.  They then developed a recommendation that the League contribute a total of $5,000 to the national LWV Education Fund in support of leagues that are fighting right-to-vote issues and to the LWVMA Citizen Education Fund in support of voter registration and voter education in the upcoming elections.  This recommendation was supported unanimously by the Steering Committee and checks and letters were sent.

Submitted by: Janice Ratner, Adrienne Terrizzi, and Phyllis Lehrer


2020 ELECTIONS

AMHERST VOTING BALLOT DROP BOX

 
Attention all Amherst mail-in voters!

The town has installed a convenient dropbox for your ballot on the Main St. side of Town Hall.

Applications for Vote by Mail must be received at the Town Clerk's office by 5pm October 28th




REPORT ON BALLOT QUESTIONS

This year there will be only two questions on the ballot. 
.  
On Question 1, Right to Repair, though individual members may feel very strongly one way or the other, LWVA cannot take a stand, since advocacy must be based on an existing position of LWVMA or LWVUS. More information about both ballot questions can be found on the LWVMA website linked here
The Amherst League urges you to vote YES on Question 2, Ranked Choice Voting

LWVMA, and therefore all the Massachusetts Leagues, have supported Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), earlier called Instant Runoff, since the League's state study in 2005. LWV Amherst devoted its opening meeting in 2018 to a program on RCV led by VoterChoiceMA, still an excellent source of information on the issue found at this link.
Question 2 would enact ranked-choice voting for primary and general elections for state executive officials, state legislators, federal congressional representatives, and certain county offices. In RCV, voters rank candidates according to their preferences. For a quick refresher on how RCV works, link to one of these videos:


-Susan Millinger
 
 CALLS TO ACTION :  
WHAT WE CAN DO NOW FROM OUR HOMES


LAST CALL FOR 2020 U. S. CENSUS PHONEBANKING 
14 DAYS LEFT TO GET AN ACCURATE COUNT! 

The Bad News:  Census counts are the lowest in history, promising to severely cut federal funds for the next 10 years and impact our fair representation at state, national and local levels! Census counts are set to conclude on September 30, four months earlier than the U.S. Census Bureau data collection period has traditionally ended.  
To date, Massachusetts response rate is at 68.3% and nationally at 66%, a full 8% below final rates achieved in the 2000 and 2010 census.
 
The Good News: You can help in the final push to reach non respondents in Massachusetts by participating in phone banks over the next two weeks:
  • Tuesdays (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) 
  • Wednesday (5 to 7 p.m.)
  • Thursday (5 to 7 p.m.)
Text banks are held on Wednesdays from 4 to 5 p.m.  
A script and brief training are provided for the banks.
 
Please help increase our MA final totals by signing up at https://actionnetwork.org/campaigns/safe-elections-for-all

-Adrienne Terrizzi
 
VOTER SERVICE ACTION


It's time to dig out your 
Vote! It Counts! yard sign! League yard signs remind voters of up-coming elections every year.  
This year early in-person voting starts on October 17, and mail-in voting could start even earlier.  Mark your calendar now to put out Vote! signs on Columbus Day, October 12 through November 3.  

Just remember that the League is nonpartisan, so League signs can't be located next to candidate signs. Need a Vote! yard sign? We are ordering a new batch. Contact Bonnie at 413-256-1021 or bonnie.isman at gmail.com
 
Don't miss the Daily Hampshire Gazette's Suffrage Centennial special section to be published on September 24th. LWV Northampton has compiled local stories about the woman suffrage movement and its impact on the Pioneer Valley. LWV Amherst contributed a profile of our history and current action areas. 
 
We still need voter registration volunteers to help distribute election information at the Amherst Survival Center and at the Amherst Farmers Market.   Information tables are set up according to CDC guidelines on social distancing, wearing masks, and using sanitizers at outdoor tables.  If you can help, we can reach more people. 

 -Bonnie Isman
POLICE VIOLENCE HAPPENS HERE
WEEK OF ACTION

Police violence is a problem even here in Springfield, where the US Department of Justice has launched an investigation into police brutality: so please help us get police reform legislation across the finish line here in MA.

LWVMA in partnership with 100+ organizations linked here, invites you to join a Police Reform Week of Action next week-starting Monday, September 21st at 6 p.m. Find dates, details, and registration links here.

LWVMA has been a leader in advocating for police reform. We see how committed you are to affecting real change. Let's finish the fight! Contact us here with any questions.

-Submitted by Susan Millinger for the The Racial Justice Subcommittee of LWVMA's Legislative Action Committee

NEWS FROM THE COMMITTEES
Racial Justice Task Force

Racial Justice Information from LWVMA's Legislative Action Committee

The Racial Justice subcommittee of LWVMA's Legislative Action Committee has been hosting an informative series of talks related to the police reform bill which is currently in conference committee. (S2820). The last two talks have been recorded, and can be found here:
  • Briefing with Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, Chair of the MA Black and Latino Legislative Caucus found herePasscode: s2w!x%87 
  • Talk on Qualified Immunity (QI) with Oami Amarasingham from ACLU-MA found herePasscode: W8&!s0fX 
An important document for racial justice legislation in Massachusetts is The Ten Point Plan of The Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus which can be found at this link.

Please find the Racial Justice Task Force statement proposing a Resident Safety Committee on our website here.

-Submitted by Susan Millinger and Martha Hanner for the Racial Justice Task Force

 Health Care Committee 

The Health Care Committee did not meet over the spring and summer. The larger regional group we are allied with, Western Mass Medicare for All, has also been semi-dormant throughout the health care crisis, but still maintains a useful website at this link.  
Barbara Pearson is liaison to the LWV national Health Care Reform network (HCR4US, on which she is a member of the steering committee). The network organized the June 24 program, "America's Choices in the Health Care Debate," the most well-attended caucus at the LWV national convention (600+ attendees) and has made an evolving on-line LWV Health Care Toolkit linked here and a Youtube channel, as well as maintaining a full agenda of subcommittee work for the summer and fall.  

In Amherst, we had begun a campaign to get the Town Council to pass a resolution for Single Payer Health Care, in line with the 88% support for a related non-binding ballot question that the LWV HC committee spearheaded in 2018; however, it was put on hold when a health economist on the Town Council took a position against it.  
Therefore, "old business" for the committee to take up in its (virtual) fall meeting will be to pursue the Town Council resolution, perhaps with a small business perspective.  
New business will include exploring what is needed to educate ourselves and others to promote the promising "Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act" (HR6906, Jayapal-Sanders bill), which addresses both the current crisis in HC affordability and access related to the pandemic and the need to reduce the burden of health care funding for the economic recovery at the state and national level. 
A third topic that has been suggested is to investigate the corruption recently brought to light involving Seema Verma, head of Medicare (CMS), in her work to undermine Medicare for All and other reforms by pushing (among other programs) Medicare Advantage plans that profit private insurance companies, but are more costly and unsustainable for the US Treasury.
We welcome new members for study teams and education and advocacy activities.  

 -Barbara Pearson



 
Centennial Commemoration Committee
 Car Parade Commemorating Tennessee's Ratification of Women's Right to Vote and Get Out the Vote Drive
We made the front page of the Gazette!  We had enough participants that we couldn't be ignored, but not so many that we couldn't stay together.

The day was perfect; we set up, then set out beginning at town hall where Phyllis Lehrer cast her vote! Around downtown, we waved and honked, and played stars and stripes. Continued to Colonial Village on to Mill Valley and the Brook, finishing up at the mall. There were more people at the mall, and we got some vigorous waving (and some not-so-vigorous waving).  
Thank you to everyone who came and decorated and caravanned and honked.  Don't know how much we brought out the vote, but I think we successfully "commemorated."
-Barbara Pearson

 Membership 

The membership renewal notice was mailed last week.
Please return the dues and interest form in the envelope provided.
If mailing is an issue, forms can be left at the porch at 197 Pondview Drive. 
Thank you for continuing your membership and support.

-Phyllis Lehrer
LWVMA NEWS
LEAGUE LEADER LUNCH
Save the Date:  Oct. 17
 
The 2020 League Leader Lunch will be held online on Saturday, Oct. 17. The good news is you can attend in your jammies. And you don't have to drive anywhere. Half the fun was the mingling, which we'll miss. Nevertheless, we're putting together a great program and swag bags. Mark the date on your calendar and stay tuned for registration information. The registration info will be out on a mini-bulletin when it becomes available.

WANTED: Poll Workers: Many cities and towns are in critical need of poll workers, especially those who are bilingual. The new election law allows municipalities to hire poll workers regardless of where they live, their voter registration status, or political party affiliation.
Contact town clerks/local election officials about their needs, especially in larger cities. Check the Secretary of State's website to see where poll workers are needed: Elections: Be a Poll Worker, linked here. Keep in mind that young people, including college students, are prime candidates to work the polls given their more flexible schedules this fall.

Important Bills Need Support
Because the Legislature is in extended session, a number of important bills could still be passed this fall: the racial justice bill, the climate policy bill, the ROE Act, economic bills with critical provisions about affordable housing, and more. Consult Mass League Action Newsletter (link at the bottom of the home page: https://lwvma.org)

-Susan Millinger



LWVUS NEWS
RACISM AND REDISTRICTING: 
How Unfair Maps Impact Communities of Color Event

  On October 8, at 7p.m. EST, the League of Women Voters of the United States, along with LWV of Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia will host a discussion on the role systemic racism plays in silencing voters of color and how it's shaped one of the most important processes for ensuring voters' voices are heard. These community leaders will share information on the work being done to end some of the most egregious racial gerrymandering in the country-and what all is at stake in this year's election. This is a FREE live event that will broadcast on the LWVUS Facebook Page. Share the event with your networks! Link to event page here.

Last week, LWVUS officially launched VOTE411 in Spanish! With this launch we will be reaching many voters we have never reached before, equipping them with current and accurate voting resources. This is a great opportunity for all voters to have access to our voting resources. Tell your community about our new launch by sharing our VOTE411video in Spanish, link here, and directing voters to VOTE411.org/es

-Susan Millinger

E-bulletin Staff and Contributors in May  
The Editor of the LWVAmherst e-bulletin, Jessica Ryan 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 September 2020 e-bulletin include LWVA members Trish Farrington, Martha Hanner, Bonnie Isman, Phyllis Lehrer, Susan Millinger, Barbara Pearson, Janice Ratner, and Adrienne Terrizzi. Material on LWVMA comes from either the League Leader Update or Mass League Voter or from letters from LWVMA.

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