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   League of Women 
  Voters of Berrien 
   & Cass Counties
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"The Voter"
March 2020

Census 2020 Town Hall Meeting
     The 2020 Census is important for us and the communities of Berrien and Cass Counties. The results help us understand how demographics -- including income and education level -- and population are changing in our area. Businesses, researchers, and policy makers depend on the data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau to make decisions that impact Berrien and Cass Counties. We want our share of the more than $675 billion in federal funds distributed annually to communities for the support of vital programs.
      LWVBCC, in partnership with the Berrien Community Foundation, will hold a Census 2020 Town Hall meeting on Thursday, March 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Berrien Regional Education Service Agency (RESA), 711 St. Joseph Avenue, Berrien Springs. Presenters will review what the 2020 Census is, why the Census matters, when the Census occurs, who educates about and conducts the Census, and where the Census will happen.
     The meeting will give attendees the opportunity to get answers to questions about the Census. Some questions come quickly to mind: How are people counted? What about privacy and confidentiality? How is Census information used? Why does the count in Berrien and Cass counties matter? What is the reasoning behind the questions on the census? 
     More questions identify specific concerns: What if a question is skipped on the form, will other answers still be considered? Why ask about Hispanic origin? What questions are asked about race?
     Key dates for the 2020 Census of note in the next month are: March 12-20 when households will begin receiving Census Bureau mail; March 30-April 1 when the Census Bureau will count people experiencing homelessness; and April 1 when Census Day is observed nationwide.
    Why should you attend the Town Hall? As a trusted voice, you have a critical role to play in reaching the communities we serve in Berrien and Cass counties. You can help ensure that the people you care about are accurately counted and represented, which in turn will increase the accuracy of the census data that are used to make important decisions for Berrien and Cass counties.
Promoting Voting Rights
      On November 6, 2018, Michigan voters passed Proposal 3, a Constitutional Amendment that affects when voters can register to vote, how they are registered, and who can vote by mail. On February 27, 2020, LWVBCC held a Town Hall meeting promoting Voting Rights as part of a public education campaign to review how these new voting rights are being implemented.
     The program included a slide presentation and discussion during which members of the audience were able to ask questions and get answers about new voting rights, especially anytime registration and voting early by absentee ballot. In addition to LWVBCC members who responded to questions, there were Township Clerks who provided specific and very helpful information regarding the implementation of the new voting rights. 
     The League is very grateful to Suzanne Renton, Clerk of Oronoko Township for her participation. Several 'handouts' including voting rights, FAQs about voting, dates for the 2020 election cycle, voting precincts/places, and MI Absent Voter Applications were made available.
     Everyone was encouraged to use VOTE411.org or the Michigan Voter Information Center. Check out VOTE411 before you vote. Read and compare the candidates' unedited responses to questions in their own words. Be informed for the Michigan Presidential Primary on March 10.
     The procedures for a Presidential Primary have not changed. You will be asked to mark for which party you want the ballot. This primary requires separate ballots for Republican and Democrat party nominees. If there is a ballot proposal, such as a millage request, you will be able to request a proposal only ballot.
The League's 100th Anniversary Story
     By mid-February, Leagues across the country demonstrated League power through League action. LWVBCC chose to do Electoral Outreach as our means of celebrating all 100 years. We held voter registration events at 10 high schools in Berrien and Cass Counties during eight school days in the first two weeks of February.
     Principals, teachers, school office staff, and custodians graciously helped our League make the necessary arrangements for the day, the times (class and lunch periods), the locations (classrooms and cafeterias), and the set-up (posters, announcements, tables, chairs, microphones). These 50+ school staff members definitely made our voter registration events successful.
     LWVBCC Board members collectively were registrars for 17 days, which meant that each contributed time on multiple days. Nine volunteers also served as registrars at eight high schools.
     Students who were 17.5 years of age and older, U.S. citizens, and Michigan residents gave of their class or lunch time to register to vote and learn about completing the Michigan Absent Voter Application. 
     In so doing, 296 students joined their classmates who had already registered to vote earlier in the school year. One of the high schools can boast of having 74% of the graduating class registered to vote.
     Many thanks to the school staff members, the students, and the registrars for their contributions to our 100th Anniversary Story.
     Our League has once again demonstrated how we serve as a pillar in our communities by empowering voters and defending our democracy.
Book Group on April 6
     Picture a librarian on horseback hauling books over the rugged terrain of coal country thanks to Roosevelt's Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project in the 1930's. 
      This is the setting used by author Kim Michele Richardson as she shared the story of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek which is the novel selected for the next meeting of the LWVBCC Book Group at Jane Raymond's home on Monday, April 6, 10 a.m.  Sourcebooks Land-mark, 2019. 320pp.
     If you plan to attend, please let Jane know by emailing her at jraymond42@frontier.com or calling her at (269) 208-4043. We hope to see you there.
Environmental News
     I'm obsessed with trees these days, so here's more information for you:  There are 60,065 tree species in the world. One thousand species are found in the United States, and a similar number thrive in temperate Asia.   There are two categories of trees - deciduous and coniferous. Within these two categories, there are 60 different types of trees.
     One of the world's most useful trees is the Moringa Oleifera, which can hold many gallons of water within its system.   The Giant Sequoia is one of the largest trees in the world; the largest concentration of these trees is found in California, and the largest among the California Sequoias is known as "General Sherman." Another giant species is the Bristlecone Pine found in California and Nevada.
     The oldest known tree was a Bristlecone Pine calculated to be nearly 5,000 years old. Two other Bristlecone Pines are listed as being 4,847 years old and 4,844 years old, respectively. Among the oldest of the Sequoias are three trees calculated to be 3,266, 3,220 and 3,200 years old.
     Amazing, fascinating, and hard to imagine.   I may be able to write about a different element in our environment next month, but don't bet on it!                      --  Chris Zilke
Women's Suffrage Program: April 13
     On April 13 at 6:00 p.m. at the New Buffalo Township Library, members of the Rebecca Dewey Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution will present "A History of the American Woman's Journey to the Vote." 
     Members of the League of Women Voters of Berrien and Cass Counties will provide an introduction. Please join our discussion of the suffrage movement of the mid-nineteenth century; the Seneca Falls and the women of the Iroquois Nation influence; the intense fight for the 19th Amendment; and happenings after the ratification.
     Mary Ellen Drolet, Sandy Wilhoit, and Tifanni Dash of the Rebecca Dewey Chapter will make the presentation and lead the discussion. Refreshments will be available. Contact the New Buffalo Township Library for further event details. NSDAR is non-profit and a-political. LWVBCC is non-profit and non-partisan.
     -- Kathy Alton, Regent, Rebecca Dewey Chapter, NSDAR
Spring Workshop
     It's time to think about the 2020 LWVMI Spring Workshop. The day-long Saturday workshop will be held at two locations -- Mt. Pleasant on April 25 and Escanaba on May 16. 
     Plan to attend so that you can network with other local Leagues and learn more about How to Make Democracy Work in our League and community. There will be sessions on implementing the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion lens, Development and local League fundraising, Voter Service, and Advocacy.
     Registration will be open on the LWVMI website in mid-March. Cost for the day that includes continental breakfast, lunch and materials is $25.
Annual Meeting Coming June 10!
      Yes, our Annual Dinner Meeting will be June 10 at Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant again this year.  What could be better than good friends and good food in a beautiful setting?
  • The friends: your fellow members of LWVBCC
  • The food: salad and your choice of raspberry chicken, cedar-wrapped salmon, or orecchiette pasta (vegetarian)
  • The location: the aptly-named Vineyard Room looking west toward the sun setting over Tabor Hill's beautiful vineyards.
     You are welcome to bring guests who are not members of the League, as well.
     Although the event is several weeks way, it's not too early to make your reservation. You may do that either by mail to LWVBCC, P.O. Box 1032, Niles, MI 49120, along with a check made payable to LWVBCC in the amount of $30 per person and the names of those attending with each person's menu choice; or by PayPal through our website.
     One hundred years ago the League of Women Voters was formed a few months before the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified that guaranteed women the right to vote in the United States. Let's celebrate.
National Convention 2020
     From Thursday, June 25 through Sunday, June 28, the National LWV Convention will be held at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Avenue NW, Washington D.C. 20001.
     Those who have attended LWV conventions in the past report that they have found the meetings and events wonderful opportunities to learn and to share.
If you consider attending the 2020 convention:
  • Registration fee for authorized delegates
          is $360 (paid by LWVBCC)
  • Lobby Day on Thursday is $20
  • Gala on Saturday evening is $110
  • Check the registration form for hotel room costs

LWVBCC: Contact Us

P.O. Box 1032
Niles, MI 49120

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March 11
5:45 - 7:45 p.m.
LWVBCC Board Meeting
Niles District Library

Thursday, March 19
5:30-7:30 p.m.
Census 2020 Town Hall
Berrien RESA

Monday, April 6
10:00 a.m.
Book Group
Please call Jane Raymond
if attending

Monday, April 13, 
  6:00 p.m. 
Women's Suffrage Program New Buffalo Township Library

Saturday, April 25 
Mt. Pleasant or
May 16 Escanaba
LWVMI  Spring Workshop 

June 10
6:00 p.m.
Annual Meeting 
Tabor Hill

June 25-28 
LWV National Convention Washington, D.C.

Board of Directors
Anita Rutlin, President
Michael McCaffrey, Secretary
& Voter Svc.
John Ripley, Treasurer & Communications Coord.
Linda Cheek
Jane Raymond
Karen Ristau
Amy Scrima
Lisa Vetne
Christiana Zilke
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Non-Partisan Policy

The League as an organization does not support or oppose any political party, candidate for elected office, or any group that supports candidates. As individuals, though, but not as representatives of the League, members are encouraged to participate in political activity and to run for office.  Our non-partisan policy does require two Board members--the President and the Voter Service Chair--to totally abstain from partisan political activity.  

The League:  Helping to Make Democracy Work Since 1920!
And Celebrating our 100th Anniversary!
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Interested in joining the League?  
Please go to our website or 
click here to email us.