Observer
News from the League of Women Voters of Cook County


June 2020

Zooming Forward in 2020

A message from Cook County League
President Cynthia Schilsky

Protesting in the streets is a way to make one’s voice heard. In the last century, the suffragettes took their message to the streets to get women the right to vote. They then determined there was a need for an educated electorate, and the League of Women Voters was born.

Now, the League of Women Voters of Cook County begins its 101st year of educating voters and taking an active role to ensure that government is working. Here we are in 2020 in the middle of a pandemic, widespread economic insecurity, a strained and broken health care system, Black Lives Matter protests, and major concerns about police brutality and the criminal justice system. The protests of today are causing us to pause and listen so we can find new ways to confront the issues of racial and economic inequity which have led to the present unrest.

Criminal justice reform, election integrity, voting rights, ethics and fiscal responsibility of government are all issues LWVCC has been and will continue to work on. League members have risen to the challenges of the day many times over the last 100 years and we can do it again. We adapt. After all – we have all become quite good with Zoom.

Join us in our pursuit of new and creative ways to carry out our mission. To become involved, contact us at info@lwvcookcounty.org.

LWVCC Voter Service Committee
Gets Update on November Election

Any day now, Governor Pritzker is expected to sign Senate Bill 1863 into law. The 26-page amendment proposes unprecedented changes to state elections law to make voting safer and easier in the 2020 general election. The provisions of the bill are for November 2020 only. 

During an hour-long Zoom video conference call June 8, members of the LWVCC Voter Service committee spoke to Ed Michalowski , Deputy Clerk of Elections in Cook County, about which changes Cook County voters should expect as well as how the Cook County league can help.

  • Cook County registered voters will be encouraged to apply online for a Vote-by-Mail ballot. (In Chicago, visit the Chicago Board of Elections.) This will become available once the Governor signs the bill. League members please note: you cannot apply for a mail-in ballot just yet. The Governor needs to sign the bill, then the County Clerk's office needs to update its website.

  • By August 1, 2020, county election officials would be required to mail or email vote-by-mail ballot applications to any voter who cast a ballot in 2018, 2019 or 2020, as well as voters who registered or changed addresses after the March primary.

  • Completed vote-by-mail ballots could be returned in new “collection sites” as well as through the U.S. Postal Service. As for voting in person, the bill would allow local election authorities to provide curbside voting, in which voters can drive up, be handed a ballot and fill it out in their cars.

  • November 3, 2020 will become a state holiday allowing schools to safely be used as polling places and students age 16 and above to serve as election judges to avoid putting elderly workers at risk should there be a resurgence of Covid-19.

  • Local election authorities can establish a three-member election judge panel to process (not tally) mail-in ballots as received. The panel must be unanimous in its decision to reject a completed ballot.

Additional sorters and scanners will be needed to handle the increase. The Cook County Clerk has requested funds for the equipment and an ample supply of sanitizers, masks and gloves through the federal CARES act. Voters will be expected to wear masks inside the polling place in keeping with the CDC guidelines.
Take Action to Prevent Flooding, Waste
Entering Our Lakes and Rivers
 
Cook County is experiencing more rain in shorter time periods than ever before. These heavy downpours and prolonged rain spells often lead to flooding and overflows of our sewers, spreading the waste from these sewers inside and outside our homes and businesses. But if enough people take the necessary actions, we can reduce the number of times and duration that the flooding and overflows occur.
 
Most of Cook County has a  combined sewer system , meaning that the same pipes carry stormwater runoff and waste water from our homes and businesses. The  Metropolitan Water Reclamation District   (MWRD)  receives the combined water from the municipal sewer systems and directs the water to the MWRD’s water reclamation plants, where it is treated to remove most of the harmful contaminants before being discharged into the local rivers. As little as 0.3 inches of rain, depending on location and severity, can trigger a combined sewer overflow.
 
The MWRD and the Friends of the Chicago River recommend the following  steps to reduce the amount of water in the combined sewer system during prolonged and/or heavy rains , and thus help prevent a combined sewer overflow.
 
  • Reduce your shower time. Even a reduction by as little as three minutes can save between 8 and 22 gallons of water running down the drain.
  • Turn off the faucet when you don’t need the water. For example, do this while brushing your teeth, doing dishes, washing your face and cleaning vegetables.
  • Fix a faucet that leaks. Sixty drops per minute will waste 192 gallons per month or 2,304 gallons per year.
  • Delay doing laundry.
  • Delay dish washing.  If you must wash dishes, use a full dishwasher rather than washing by hand. Running a full dishwasher requires about 20 gallons of water vs. 40 gallons if you wash the same number of dishes by hand.

If you own or manage a building, the amount of stormwater runoff going into the sewers will be reduced if you:

  • Remove downspouts from the storm sewer & install rain barrels.
  • Use natural landscaping that can capture more water in their root systems vs. turf grass and ornamental plantings.
  • Use permeable paving vs. asphalt or concrete.

-- Pris Mims
For more information:

  • www.mwrd.org  (in particular, see” Flood Prevention 101” and the MWRD’s “Green Neighbors Guide”)
  • www.chicagoriver.org (see the Tab “Get Involved” and “Overflow Action Days”)
 
On both web sites, sign up to get  “Overflow Action Alerts,”  which will let you know when it’s most important to take these steps to reduce water flows into the combined sewer system.

Also check out our sister League, the League of Women Voters Lake Michigan Region and its “Stormwater Education Project”:  https://www.lwvlmr.org/stormwater-education-project.html
Join the League’s (growing)
Observer Corps! 

The Cook County League Observer Corps promotes government transparency and accountability in government and plays a vital role in helping improve county-wide governments as well as educating voters on decisions that impact their lives.

Members observe the Cook County Board and committees, the Cook County Forest Preserve Board, the Cook County Health Board, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board. 
 
LWVCC observers
  • Attend governmental meetings and monitor issues being discussed and the process of the discussion; 
  • Write reports after each meeting which are posted at www.lwvcookcounty.org and shared on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, contact Diane Edmundson at dianedmundson@aol.com or Carolyn Cosentino at cose1814@comcast.net.
For Your Viewing Pleasure
Programs Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage

A number of excellent documentaries about women winning the right to vote are available for viewing online.

  • “All Citizens: The Lombard Women who Voted 29 Years Before the 19th Amendment and the Story of Those Who Made it Possible.” Videographer Tim Frakes and the Lombard Historical Society debuted the new documentary on June 7. On April 6, 1891, twenty-nine years before the 19th Amendment would be ratified in 1920, Ellen Martin led a group of 14 of the most prominent Lombard women to vote in the town’s election. https://youtu.be/1rw3mWyagog

  • "The Vote." One hundred years after the passage of the 19th Amendment, American Experience's "The Vote" tells the dramatic story of the hard-fought campaign waged by American women for the right to vote, a transformative cultural and political movement that resulted in the largest expansion of voting rights in U.S. history. “The Vote” which will air on PBS/Channel 11 brings to life the unsung leaders of the movement and the deep controversies over gender roles and race that divided Americans then — and continue to dominate political discourse today. Tune in to PBS/Channel 11 or stream "The Vote" Monday, July 6 and Tuesday, July 7 at 8 p.m. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/vote/
2019-2020 Cook County League Board Members 

President: Cynthia Schilsky, LaGrange; Vice-presidents:  Jan Goldberg , LaGrange Area and Karin Hribar Arlington Heights; Secretary: Betty Hayford , Evanston; Treasurer: Nancy Clark , Oak Park/River Forest; BOARD MEMBERS: Carolyn Consentino , Homewood/Flossmoor; Laura Davis , Palatine; Diane Edmundson , Park Ridge; Nancy Marcus , Winnetka/Northfield/Kenilworth; Priscilla Mims , Chicago; Chris Ruys , Chicago; Mary Anne Benden , Arlington Heights; Michelle Niccolai , LaGrange Area; Ann Bolan , Oak Park-River Forest; Kim Inman , Palatine; Georgia Gebhardt , Wilmette; Dianne Schmidt , Glenview/Glencoe.

Observer editor: Chris Ruys
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF COOK COUNTY
332 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 634
Chicago, IL 60604

312/939-5935 x 4
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