Letter from the President
Dear League members and friends of the League,
To write this letter to you today is a struggle to gather and address all of the thoughts and feelings swirling in this time of two great challenges, one never before experienced in our lifetimes and the other a breaking point after centuries of systemic injustice and racism in our country. This letter from Sheri Latash, LWVIL Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Specialist and former co-president of LWV Glenview-Glencoe gives us a beautiful pause to reflect, to connect and to act.
ACTION  in RESPONSE to the DEATH of GEORGE FLOYD... and Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin...Emmett Till...and Thousands of Other Black Americans
Many eloquent and compelling pieces have been written regarding the death of George Floyd and the ongoing aftermath. His death (and those that preceded him) triggered a reaction that has given a wide public voice to a sentiment so concisely expressed in 1964.
In a bid to get credentialed for the 1964 Democratic Convention, civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer declared, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired." She was referring to the humiliation, discrimination, police & vigilante violence, and lack of civil and human rights suffered by her in particular, and by Black Americans in general, at the hands of their fellow White Americans.
Here it is, 56 years later, and Fannie would still be declaiming her now-famous quotation. The record is clear. Police practices need an overhaul and the the criminal justice system must be reformed so that there is equal justice for all.
But the criminal justice system does not exist in a vacuum. It's part of the fabric of our country that for 400+ years has created and tolerated a two-tiered society--one for White Americans and a separate and unequal one for People of Color, particularly African-Americans.
Enough is enough. Time's up. To remain silent is to be complicit with the status quo.
Fortunately, all across the country, we are seeing Americans of all hues come together peacefully to affirm that they will no longer tolerate the status quo. As for the riots, instigation of which is under investigation, we don't need another study to tell us why people riot. The 1968 Kerner Commission report said it all. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. explained it succinctly: Rioting is the language of the unheard.
What can the League do to help bring about racial justice?
  • Participate in the Criminal Justice Study Update. The elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels. Every LWVIL local League must participate in some way. Partnering with neighboring Leagues can both lighten the load and expand our friendship circles.

  • Respond quickly to the TFAs (Time for Action) sent to you by the LWVIL Issues and Advocacy Committee when legislative or regulatory action is imminent. Many League positions are rooted in social justice and we cannot amplify our message without you.

  • Learn about the League's history with respect to race Read the authoritative history written by Dr. Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, president of the national LWV from 1998 to 2002, the only African-American woman to head the League. The Untold Story of Women of Color in the League of Women Voters is a mirror of American society. View Dr. Jefferson-Jenkins, May 6, 2020 webinar.

AND, what can you do as an individual to bring about racial justice? 

  • Support racial justice organizations such as the Color of Change (the largest online racial justice organization) with your time and/or money. Join the NAACP. Subscribe to online magazines such as The Root to learn about current news, politics and cultural life through a Black lens.

  • Seek out through your library or the internet, TED talks, webinars, books, photo exhibits, cultural events by Black Americans. Expand your understanding and appreciation of their foundational contributions to our history and cultural life.
  • Increase your awareness of local racial dynamics by joining a group that examines, educates, and acts on racial justice issues (e.g. Northbrook-based R.A.I.N.--Racial Awareness in the North Shore.)

  • Form a group with people in which to have 'safe', honest, private, non-judgmental conversations about race. Based on the participation at LWVIL's 2017 convention workshop, we know that many of you have a deep desire to talk about your own experiences with race as well as hear those of others.

  • Work on identifying your own unconscious biases. We all have them but are unaware of them. They might emerge accidentally, involuntarily as "micro-aggressions" related to race, gender, or sexual orientation. Once they are acknowledged, they can be addressed.
In the meantime,

Do something. And keep doing something. 
League of Women Voters of Illinois 
LWVUS DEI Resources
LWVUS  wants to elevate the conversation around diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). For  those looking for guidance, these resources may help you  to understand and practice anti-racism work.

  • DEI Webinars: Each month LWVUS hosts a webinar around a specific topic. These webinars are recorded and posted along with additional resources.  As Leagues continue to look at ways to commemorate our 100th Anniversary, we want to elevate the following: 
  • Our August 2019 webinar with former LWVUS President Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins on Acknowledging our Past and Reimaging The Future 
  • Our February 2020 webinar hosted by the LWV of Ohio on inclusive ways to create and share 100th Anniversary content 
  • DEI Guide: This guide contains four sections of resources that relate to various aspects of DEI education: DEI Basics, Individual Work, Organizational Work, and Beyond the Basics.

Update on LWVUS 54th Biennial National Convention
Our 54th Biennial National Convention is less than one month away! Join League members, both nationally and internationally, for our centennial year convention now in our new virtual space. Meeting online gives us the opportunity to connect with League members from around the globe in numbers never before possible.  LWVUS is excited to welcome CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor, Norah O’Donnell, who will deliver the keynote address for Women Power the Vote for 100 years. Registration (for delegates) is closing soon. For more information visit the  LWVUS website.
LWVIL to be Featured at LWVUS Convention
LWVIL will be well represented during the upcoming LWVUS 54 th Biennial National Convention with the presentation of three caucuses. LWV La Grange Area will be presenting How To Coordinate a Successful Candidate Forum , LWV Evanston will be presenting Climate Emergency - Time for All Hands on Deck and the LWVIL Electoral College Committee will be presenting Abolishing the Electoral College . To learn more about the other caucuses and workshops that are scheduled, please visit the LWVUS website . Thank you to our LWVIL members for helping raise national awareness on these issues.
LWVUS Convention Observer Registration
Observers will be able to view plenary via a livestream from Zoom to YouTube. Observer status is offered only to current League members.
  • There is no cost to register.
  • Observers are not permitted to submit motions, amendments to motions, participate in debates, or vote. Observers will not have access to any of these functions. 
  • Registrants will receive access instructions to the Youtube stream by the morning of June 26. 
  • Streaming access:
  • Observers will be able to stream the Friday and Saturday plenary sessions on Youtube.
  • Thursday's panel event is open to everyone and will be streamed on Facebook.
  • The plenary training session on Thursday will not be streamed. 

2020 LWVIL Lobby Day is an Advocacy Success
In response to the COVID 19 pandemic, LWVIL Lobby Day was reconfigured as a virtual day of advocacy. More than 150 League members from throughout the state listened online to senate minority leader Senator Bill Brady. Then attendees discussed how to advocate for mail-in voting along with initiatives and funding to address the basic needs of populations hardest hit by the pandemic. League members’ calls, emails and amplification advocacy were instrumental in helping pass important legislation during the pandemic-shortened legislative session.

Significant strides in ensuring wide access to voting were made when SB 1863 passed both the House and Senate of the General Assembly. This bill now awaits the Governor’s signature in order to become law. Major provisions of the bill that apply to all election authorities include:

  • Registered voters may apply for a ballot online as soon as the bill is signed into law;
  • Expands vote-by-mail by automatically sending ballot applications, no later than August 1, 2020, to those who applied to vote in 2018, 2019, and March 2020 either by mail or voted in person at the polls.
  • New registrants or change of address registrants will be allowed to apply for a mail-in ballot at time of registration;
  • Mandates a statewide vote-by-mail public education program in cooperation with the Secretary of State office, State Board of Elections and local election authorities;
  • Allows Election Authorities to establish a 3 member election judge panel to process (not tally) mail-in ballots as received. This 3 member election judge panel must be unanimous in its decision to reject a completed ballot;
  • Election Authorities will accept mail-in ballots even if insufficient or no postage.
  • Election Authorities may establish collection sites for postage free return of mail in ballots;
  • Expansion of early voting hours will include weekends and holidays;
  • Recruitment of election workers as young as 16, to avoid putting elderly workers at risk should there be a resurgence of COVID-19;
  • Those receiving unemployment payments may be paid as an election judge without penalty;
  • Election Day on November 3rd 2020 becomes a state holiday allowing schools to safely be used as polling places;
  • Each polling site must comply with Illinois Department of Public Health safety and health practices;
  • Curbside voting will be allowed as a safe alternative to in-person voting;
  • Local Election Authorities will be able to apply for reimbursement for funds incurred by implementing the bill. 

SB 1863 is a step in the right direction to increasing wide access to the polls. Importantly, the provisions of the bill are only for the November 2020 election. LWVIL advocacy must continue in the future to work towards the goal of a ballot being sent to every voter. LWVIL will work with local Leagues on partnering with their local election authorities and educating voters about the new law. Voter access is not a partisan issue, but a right that the League has championed for 100 years, and we are not done yet.

In addition to voter protections, significant funding was passed for services to those populations most severely affected by the pandemic. The General Assembly began with the following statement of intent, highlighting the issues:

"The GA recognizes that there are historically underserved populations in the State of Illinois who have been overlooked and discriminated against in the course of this state’s history. Today, as Illinois with an unprecedented public health and economic crisis, these inequities appear more starkly than ever... The General Assembly recognizes these injustices and seeks to address them here.” 

Items passed included:

Access to Healthcare
The Public Health budget was increased 144% over FY20, including federal awards ($416 million) for services such as testing and contract tracing. A 12% increase over FY20 was made to the Healthcare and Family Services budget in anticipation of more than 1 million more people becoming eligible for Medicaid. This included a Medicaid coverage expansion to legal permanent residents 60 years and older, regardless of immigration status. Tele-health and mental health increases were also approved.

Rental and Mortgage Assistance
Assistance was budgeted at $396 million (up from the $210 million originally requested) and appropriated to Illinois Housing and Development Authority for those affected by the pandemic. Subordinate “gap” financing to complete affordable housing development projects is one allowable use of the funds.

NOTE: Extensions of the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures are still pending, but it is expected that Governor Pritzker will issue an extension of his executive order. These orders are only in effect until June 27.

Income Assistance
An increase of $59.2 million was given to the Illinois Dept. of Employment Security to help with managing unemployment claims.  

Relief for Immigrants in addition to healthcare for seniors:
The Department of Human Services received an increase of $23.5 million for welcoming centers for immigrants. An additional $32 million was allocated from the federal COVID relief fund to assist immigrant families affected by the pandemic.

Questions? Reach out to the LWVIL Issues & Advocacy Committee.
LWVIL Legislative Hours Available Online
More than 500 LWVIL members connected with legislators through our LWVIL Legislative Hour series. The series consisted of four highly successful forums; three recordings are available here and on the LWVIL website .

  • April 27: Protecting the Vote in November and Equitable Funding for Education with US Senator Dick Durbin and State Senators Julie Morrison and Kimberly Lightford

Questions? Reach out to the LWVIL Issues & Advocacy Committee .
Fair Tax Advocacy Training Webinar Available
Watch LWVIL’s recent webinar to learn how to advocate for Fair Tax legislation. Local support is vital and local Leagues can be instrumental in educating their communities. In the webinar LWVIL Issues & Advocacy Co Chair Jean Pierce and Issues Specialist Ann Courter discuss how to:

Additional materials are available on the LWVIL website, including this map showing the percentage of taxpayers in each county who will get relief with a Fair Tax.   
100th Anniversary Article - The League in the 80's
New Article sharing the history and legacy of the League.
There is a NEW 100th anniversary article available on the LWVIL website entitled League in the 1980s . During this busy decade the League fought to stop threats to the environment, civil rights, and women's equality, while reaffirming a commitment to end poverty and reform the welfare system.
If you have any questions about the 100th Anniversary Committee , the tool kit or articles, please reach out to 100th Anniversary Chair Mary Kubasak .
Important Dates to Remember

Please note that this list of important dates is not exhaustive. You can find more events on the  LWVIL Events Calendar . Dates are subject to change due to the COVID-19 virus and safety protocols.
The League of Women Voters Illinois Education Fund (LWVILEF) encourages the informed and active participation in government by providing civic education and voter services. Make a difference today for you and your community with a  tax-deductible gift to support our work to defend democracy and empower voters.
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