League of Women Voters of NYS

 STATE VOTER

May 2019

Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.



From the State President

It's not too late to sign up for Convention - we even take walk-ins! Yes, it's at least one day (if not three) away from home and we know it's not free. But here are just a few reasons why I hope your League is sending as large a delegation as possible:

  1. Convention won't happen again for two years! That's 24 months! Don't "throw away your shot"!
  2. There is an impressive ROI (return on investment) for each attendee and for the local Leagues they represent - in contacts, in information, in tips on how to do things faster and better....I could go on.
  3. It's inspiring. I still remember speakers I heard years ago and some I got to chat with personally. I also still remember some League leaders who seemed to know EVERYthing. I was in awe. And over the years, many of us newbies gradually became those leaders, amazed at what we've absorbed from the League.
  4. It's historic. We turn 100 on 11/19/19 and it'll never happen again. At the last convention we celebrated what happened in Seneca Falls in 1848 and how NY won the vote for women in 1917. This year the remarkable Elaine Weiss will bring 1919 and 1920 to life for us and we'll share ideas for our own local celebrations this fall and into 2020. And our state League history ("A Force to Reckon With") and collected local League histories will be for sale!
  5. It's fun! Yes, we think hard, stay up late/get up early, argue passionately - but we are with others who share our concerns and are determined to make a difference. So there is joy in the air and no small amount of laughter.
  6. I (and the whole state board and staff) will be so happy to see you! We delight in seeing old friends, in having phone voices become actual people, and seeing a brand new batch of convention-goers we can get to know. 
  7. The times are asking a lot of us all. By getting to know and learn from one another we will become an even fiercer "force to reckon with" for the century ahead!
Dare Thompson, President
League of Women Voters of NYS
darethompson@gmail.com; Tel: 518-465-4162
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS
IN THIS ISSUE
Travel with the League
Click here  for trips and itineraries.
Support the League
Father's Day Tributes
State Convention is Next Week! It's Not Too Late to Register!
2019 Students Inside Albany Conference
Just last week, 60 high school students from across the state came to Albany to learn how to engage with their state government. The students were excited and interested in learning how to become part of the governmental decision-making process. The 60 students came from 43 local Leagues, MAL Units and ILOs; 16 boys and 44 girls. We will have a full summary of their activities posted on the state website under Youth Programs in the next week - but as usual, the highlight was shadowing their Assemblymember and Senator each afternoon. They also visited the Court of Appeals and heard speakers on running for office and from other lobby groups. The comments from the students at the end justified the hard work:
 
  • It really gave me an in-depth look at the inner workings of our government
  • I've become more motivated to bring up issues that matter to me and start change in my community
  • A lot of my opinions were challenged and it was a great learning experience
  • I was surprised how closely my assemblymember and senator work together for my community
  • Politicians are real people, too! I wasn't afraid to ask any kind of question.
  • I learned that the politicians are actually there for the people, not themselves
  • I was surprised at how much Democrats and Republicans compromised and worked together
  • I want to run for state assembly now!
  • It change my view on politics from why don't they pass that bill to where are they getting the funding for that bill.
  • It shed light on the legislative process and made me rethink things.
 

  

Advocacy
Sally Robinson, sally.s.robinson@gmail.com
League Testimony
During the past month, the state League provided testimony on many issues (click on name to read testimonies):

Laura Ladd Bierman, LWVNYS Executive Director, is quoted in an online article by Spenser Mestel about blue states that also have poor voting rights records. See the article here
Early Voting Education Project
The state League received a grant as part of the Making Democracy Work sponsored by The League of Women Voters of US Education Fund. Our project is to educate citizens throughout New York State on all of the new voting laws and also to evaluate the implementation of the new laws during the election.  

The new election laws provide new procedures and locations for the public to vote early, but without the specific knowledge of their county's implementation of the new laws, the impact of increasing voter participation may not be realized.  As part of this education campaign, we plan the following:

* A website which will educate all New Yorkers especially those in underserved areas on the impact of the new voting laws. This online presence will reach across the state to inform citizens of new polling locations, hours and instructions specific to each county across the state;
* A brochure on the changes, with an insert of the specific implementation for each county and distribution focused for each county (available in the summer);
* Local Leagues will be asked to meet with other organizations serving under-represented populations to provide training and ensure understanding of the new procedures;
* PSAs, template Letters to the Editor, sample Facebook and Twitter posts, and other communication tools provided to local Leagues for their own media outreach;
* Connection, link or marketing of Vote 411 on this new page and of this information on Vote 411 page;
* A survey of voters after the fall election to evaluate the implementation of the new procedures and determine issues for future advocacy.

Data is being gathered by Sarah Bracken (former SIA student and this summer's intern) who is in contact with all local Leagues and counties officials where there is no local League. The local Leagues have been asked to meet with their county Board of Election officials to obtain the county-specific information, but also to determine what issues or problems the officials are having in implementing the new laws. Sarah will collate and standardize all the information from each county to create a template of the specific implementation procedures.  A page on the state League's website will be created, which will also have its own direct URL, with all of the necessary voter information specific to each county (locations, hours of polling sites, info on absentee balloting, etc) and links to the county Board of Elections.

A separate brochure just on the new laws, with specifics for each county as an insert, will be distributed throughout the state. Communication tools will also be created and shared with local Leagues and other organizations serving diverse populations. 

A survey will also be developed and widely distributed to ask voters about their voting experiences with the new procedures. From the results of the survey, the input from the meetings of the local League members with their county Board of Elections officials, and the communication with the other community organizations, the state League will make recommendations to the State Board of Elections and appropriate legislative committees and staff about changes to further improve the election systems.

It is a huge project and we will need the assistance and support from many local Leagues and many, many members to make it successful! But, an educated public is always our goal and hopefully this will help to increase voter turnout in NYS. Stay tuned as we progress. 
From LWVUS - Policy Briefings
LWVUS will hold a series of policy briefings throughout Spring of 2019. The briefings will cover ongoing legislative and litigation efforts. Briefings will be offered on April 23, May 21, and June 11, and they will cover HR4 (the  Voting Rights Advancement Act ), HR1 (the  For The People Act ), and include a legislative and legal fiscal year wrap-up in June. The briefings will also be taped and archived on the US League Management Site. Please visit the League Management Site to sign up for the individual webinars. Space is limited, so RSVP soon!
 
Local League News
The  LWV of Scarsdale Annual Meeting and Spring Luncheon were held on May 10 th featuring Cynthia Deitle who is a lawyer, a former FBI Special Agent and the former Civil Rights Chief for the FBI. Currently, she is the Program and Operations Director for the Matthew Shepard Foundation, a group devoted to advocacy and education on issues of tolerance.

Neil Buffett and Nicholas Giordano, Professors of History and Political Science at Suffolk Community College, spoke to the LWV of Brookhaven members and friends about gerrymandering.

Hannah Tupper, the SIA student from LWV of St. Lawrence MAL Unit, was interviewed on North Country Matters, a local affairs video magazine . Watch the interview here

Lisa Scott, President of the LWV of Suffolk County ILO, published an article in TBR Newsmedia, "Making Democracy Work: How Girl Scouts taught us the power of one." Read the article here.

LWV of Broome and Tioga Counties attended six naturalization ceremonies in 2018. During 2018, with our dedicated pool of volunteers, our success rate of registering new citizens was 50%. Since 2016 we have directly provided 558 new citizens with registration packets. It has been an efficient, productive, wise use of League volunteer hours and resources.

LWV of the Hamptons is planning another outing that could rightly be called "Know Your Hamptons". They have had excursions to Shelter Island, Amagansett, Sag Harbor and Southampton and next up is a day in Springs. 

On May 21 the New York City League hosted: Celebrating a 100 Years of Breaking Barriers. The event featured cocktails, cake and fabulous speakers such as Billie Jean King and Stacey Cunningham, President of the New York Stock Exchange. The event chair was Jennifer J. Raab, President Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Karen Dewitt, Capitol Bureau Chief for NYS Public Radio, was the speaker at the annual meeting of LWV of Rensselaer County. See photo on right of newly installed board.   

Representatives of the LWV of Nassau County Inter-League Organization (ILO), including Barbara Epstein of the LWV of East Nassau, met recently with representatives of the NC Board of Elections to discuss early voting, electronic voting books, and other new changes to the way we will be voting in NYS. 

LWV of Huntington held their first Meet the Candidates Night on April 11th at the South Huntington Public Library from 7-9 PM. Both NYS Assembly-10th District Candidates Steve Stern and Janet Smitelli participated. A free Action Workshop on voter registration preceded the MTC forum.

The  Tompkins County League held their annual Board Meeting on May 6 at the brand new Tompkins Center for History and Culture where the executive board members were inducted..  Mary Berkleman a lifetime member was honored.  

Last fall, the Rivertowns League received a phone call from a grandmother who was determined to bring a voter registration form to her grandson's 18 birthday. She said it was the best present she could give him (although it wasn't going to be the only one!). That grandmother inspired us to create these Birthday Bundles (see flyer left) stuffed with voter registration forms, addressed/stamped envelopes, and water bottle/laptop stickers to send to the party for anyone turning 18 (and soon to be 16 and 17). The celebrant can go home with the string backpack. Our goal is that everyone who is eligible at the party will register on the spot. 
 
The sticker was designed by a young graphic designer who worked with a focus group of teens for feedback on a sticker they would actually want to display. We are offering these bundles at cost. Please pass the word to anyone who knows a teen about to become eligible to register. 

The LWV of North East Westchester wants to boast about it wonderful Voter Registration committee who just registered some 325 high school students. Great job!
 
A Social with Elected Officials was held  at the Finger Lakes Tasting Room. This event is a way for LWV of Cortland County and community members to interact with county, city, town and village legislators. It has also been a productive means of recruiting new members. 

Christine Reichmuth started off LWV of Buffalo/Niagara's Great Decisions 2019 by leading the first discussion on refugees and global migration. "Today no country has open borders. Every state in today's global system has its own laws and policies about who is permitted to cross its borders, and how they will do so. What leads someone to seek the status of a refugee or economic migrant? Who determines whether someone is a refugee or a migrant? How have different countries, including the United States, reacted to migration? How effective are the international laws, policies and organizations that have evolved to assist and protect refugees and migrants?" There is much to ponder over this hot topic.
League of Women Voters of New York State
62 Grand Street, Albany, NY 12207
Tel: 518-465-4162;  FAX: 518-465-0812
Website: www.lwvny.org
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS
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