STATE VOTER
Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy
May 2021
STATE CONVENTION!!!! June 7-12, 2021 Virtual
It’s not too late to register delegates or register as a visitor! Register online at: https://secure.lglforms.com/form_engine/s/sZpfeEihvqiA-AOCUoRKMQ

You can see the full Registration Kit here:

The Pre Convention Kit is also now available. View and download it by clicking here: Pre Convention Kit. In the Kit is all the information that will be voted on during the plenary sessions at Convention: Nominating Committee Report of 2021-2023 Board, Proposed 2021-2022 LWVNYS Budget, Proposed 2021-2023 Program, and Proposed Bylaw Amendments.

The Agenda for Convention is as follows:
Monday, June 7
5:30-7:30 pm     DEI training: Shay Stewart-Bouley
   Beginning Our Journey Toward a More Equitable and Inclusive Organization
 
Tuesday, June 8-Thursday, June 10
5:30-9:00 pm     Workshops and Caucuses
 
Friday, June 11
5:30 pm          Opening Plenary Session       
6:00 pm          Speaker: Dr. Deborah Turner, LWVUS President 
6:30-9:00 pm  Plenary Session (continues)
 
Saturday, June 12
9:30 – 10:30    Workshops and Caucuses
10:45 -11:45     Workshops and Caucuses
1:00 - 5:00        Plenary Session

 
The list of workshops and speakers are also in the Pre Convention Kit. After your register, you will be emailed a chart of all the workshops with links to register for the specific ones you choose. But, read about all the great workshops planned:
Monday, June 7, 5:30-7:30 pm
  • DEI Speaker: Ms. Shay Stewart-Bouley
Beginning Our Journey Toward a More Equitable and Inclusive Organization
 
Tuesday, June 8, 5:30-7:00 pm
  • GOTV: Building Effective Programs
  • People Powered Fair Maps: Redistricting in NYS
  • Media: Fact or Fake
Tuesday, June 8, 7:30 – 9:00 pm
  • Concurrence with LWV of California’s Position on Criminal Justice
  • Nonpartisanship: How to Lift Up Our Voices in Hyper-partisan Times
 
Wednesday, June 9, 5:30 – 7:00 pm
  • 2020 Elections: Lessons Learned and Moving Forward
  • Social Media and Websites for Local Leagues
Wednesday, June 9, 7:30 – 9:00 pm
  • Healthcare Through a DEI Lens
  • Ranked Choice Voting
  • Virtual and Hybrid Candidate Events
 
Thursday, June 10, 5:30 – 7:00 pm
  • Rural Places Matter: the LWV and the Other New York
  • Modernization of Election Systems
Thursday, June 10, 7:30 – 9:00 pm
  • Carbon’s Big Foot and You
  • NYYCI: Engaging Youth in Our Communities
  • Stand Up, Speak Out: The Personal Politics of Women’s Rights
 
Saturday, June 12, 9:30 – 10:30 am
  • LWVNYS Proposed 2021-2022 Budget
  • Meet the Nominated Slate of Officers and Board Members
Saturday, June 12, 10:45 – 11:45 am
  • Program Planning
  • LWVNYS Proposed Bylaw Amendments
  • Proposed Climate Change Resolution
 
REGISTER NOW SO YOU DON'T MISS OUT! Click on the link: https://secure.lglforms.com/form_engine/s/sZpfeEihvqiA-AOCUoRKMQ
LWVNYS DEI (Diversity Equity and Inclusion) Task Force (open to all members)
Beginning Our Journey Toward a More Equitable and Inclusive Organization
Monday, June 7th, 5:30 to 7:30 pm (click here for flyer)
Special Guest Speaker: Shay Stewart-Bouley
Creator of award-winning blog “A Black Girl In Maine”
and Executive Director of Community Change Inc.

Opening Welcomes by Toni Zimmer, LWVUS DEI Committee Chair;
Suzanne Stassevitch, LWVNYS President; and Regina Tillman, LWVNYS 3rd VP for DEI and LWVNYS DEI Task Force Chair

Learn how your League can:
  • Ensure it will serve the community at large;
  • Build lasting multicultural relationships and partnerships;
  • Embrace social justice work and equity practices;
  • Shift its culture to that of being more welcoming of diversity - in all forms!!


People's Hearing on New York State Redistricting
April 29th the League held its first ever People's Hearing on New York State Redistricting. In total we had 325 attendees on our Zoom webinar and the event's livestream on Facebook has been viewed more than 750 times.

Testifiers gave passionate accounts of how redistricting has impacted their communities of interest and why this redistricting cycle is more important than ever to ensure equitable representation for all New Yorkers. Our testifiers included:

New York Law School
LatinoJustice PRLDEF
APA VOICE Redistricting Task Force
Chinese-American Planning Council
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
NYCLU
NALEO Educational Fund
Disability Rights New York
New York Immigration Coalition
Hispanic Federation
MinKwon Center for Community Action
South Queens Women's March
Caribbean Equality Project
Academy of Medical Health and Public Services
The Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, CUNY
Southern Tier Independence Center
Capital Region One Person One Vote Coalition
League of Women Voters of St Lawrence County
League of Women Voters of Westchester County
League of Women Voters of Nassau County
League of Women Voters of Tompkins County

Thank you to all of our testifiers and to everyone who joined us for this event!

The recording of the People's Hearing is available on YouTube here. You can find a full list of our testifiers name, titles, and organizations here. All written testimonies and the transcript of the hearing are available at nyredistricting.org.

Redistricting Commission Funding Finally Released
On May 21st it was announced that funding for the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission was finally released. Although the funding had been appropriated in the state budget in early April, it took over a month for the funds to actually be released to the Commission. In early May, the League partnered with 23 organizations to sent a letter to the State Comptroller urging him to immediately release the $4 million in funding so the Commission can begin its work. 

At their last Commission meeting, the Co-Executive Directors confirmed that the funds were now available and that they will now begin to advertise the new employment positions. With funds now available the Co-Executive Directors are also seeking a website vendor and have set up a Gmail account for the Commission while they wait for formal email addresses.

Although originally the Commission planned to begin holding hearings as early as June, the Commission has now stated that it is more likely hearings will start in July. Unfortunately, even with funds available there are many logistics related to the hearings that must be decided before the hearings can officially be scheduled.

Legislative Update
Jennifer Wilson, Jennifer@lwvny.org

Governor Signs Legislation to Restore Voting Rights for all People on Parole
In May we were thrilled that the Governor finally signed into law legislation to allow any person on parole to have their right to vote restored automatically upon release. The law states that all individuals will be notified both verbally and in writing that their voting rights will be restored, and that the person will be provided a voter registration form and assistance in filling it out, along with voter education materials by the Board of Elections. Either the person registering or the Department of Corrections will transmit the completed registration application to the local board of the individual's residence.

The League will be updating all of our voter education materials regarding this issue in the coming weeks.

Legislature Passes Voter Registration and No Excuse Absentee Constitutional Amendments
In May Assembly passed two constitutional amendments to allow for no-excuse absentee voting and to remove the constitutionally mandated 10-day voter registration deadline. These amendments have already been passed by the Senate and will now appear as a ballot referendum in November. The League has long supported these amendments and will be urging voters to vote “Yes” on these ballot measures. 

Safe Staffing Legislation Passed in Legislature
After many years of advocacy, the Legislature passed two safe staffing bills for nursing homes and hospitals to ensure both patients and healthcare workers are protected requiring them to meet minimum staffing levels of nurses and other health care staff.

Under the new laws, the state health commissioner will establish minimum staffing levels for nursing homes and will impose civil penalties if the homes fail to meet the minimum standards. Each resident would receive an average of 3.5 hours of care a day, with at least one hour from registered or licensed practical nurses and two hours from certified nursing assistants.

The new legislation also sets up clinical staffing committees in hospitals to determine staffing guidelines and decide the proper ratio between patients and staff. The panels would include hospital administrators as well as registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and other staff members who provide direct patient care.

The League has been supportive of this legislation since 2016 and we are pleased it has finally passed.

Senate Passes Bill to Ensure Voters' Ballots are Not Discounted
This week the Senate took up legislation requiring boards of elections to count affidavit ballots of eligible voters if a voter appears at a polling place that is in the voter's correct county but incorrect election district.

Currently voters who show up to the wrong poll site are told to vote by affidavit ballot. Although these voters may not be eligible to vote in all races on the ballot, they are frequently qualified to vote in certain races that may appear. Rather than counting races where the voter was eligible to vote, the current law disqualifies the voter's entire ballot. Under the current law, 13,800 New York ballots in the 2020 General Election were disqualified because the voter appeared at the wrong poll site.

VoteEarlyNY has released a comprehensive report detailing the areas of the state where ballot disqualifications for this issue are most prevalent. You can find a copy of VoteEarlyNY's report here.

The League is supportive of this proposal and has additional information about all of the election issues we are continuing to work on in our Legislative Packet.

Remote Advocacy Training Recap
On May 12th, the League held a remote advocacy training on our post-budget legislative priorities. The training included an expert overview of the NY Health Act from our State Health Committee and Issues Specialists Madeline Zevon, Judy Esterquest, and Kathy Stein, and an overview of Medical Aid in Dying and Salary Parity issues from Barb Thomas, our Issues Specialist on Women's Issues and Medical Aid in Dying. LWVNYS VP of Issues and Advocacy, Sally Robinson, gave an overview of Joint Commission on Public Ethics reform, and Jennifer Wilson, LWVNYS Deputy Director, covered pending voting reforms.

You can find documents for each of these policy areas on our website under Legislative Packet: https://lwvny.org/legislative-packet-2021/

The materials include memos of support for the bills, sample social media posts and letters to the editor, and information about each of the reforms we are supporting. We will continue to update these materials as things change between now and the end of the legislative session on June 10th.

If you missed the meeting you can watch the archived video here.

Local League members wishing to participate in advocacy meetings on behalf of the League should contact their Local League's Issues and Advocacy Chair or Local League President.

Petition for Clean School Buses in New York State
The League of Women Voters is partnering with the League of Conservation Voters on a petition to expedite the implementation of clean zero-emission electric school buses in New York State. Almost all of New York State's school buses currently run on dirty diesel fuel, which causes pollution that negatively impacts children's health and causes climate change. Diesel exhaust and its byproducts have been linked to respiratory diseases like asthma, cardiovascular illnesses, cancer, and higher mortality rates.

Clean, zero-emission electric school buses provide a clear alternative to improve air quality and protect children's health. We believe our elected officials need to prioritize policies that would provide funding, cut red tape, and minimize costs for school bus purchases throughout the state.


2021 Students Inside Albany Virtual Conference
On May 21st and 22nd the League hosted our first ever virtual Students Inside Albany Conference.

Although last year we invited students who had been selected before the pandemic to join us for an afternoon of learning about state government, this was the first time the League has ever arranged a full conference including speakers and virtual meetings with the students’ legislators. 

In total 43 students joined us from around the state. On Friday the students learned about different types of advocacy and how to get involved as a civic minded young person. They had a NYS Politics 101 training and ended the evening with fun trivia about New York State.

On Saturday the students enjoyed a media panel featuring young up-and-coming Capitol reporters who spoke about their time in Albany and all the strange things about being a reporter covering New York State politics. After the media panel the students met virtually with their Assembly Members and Senators. The students were divided into Zoom break out rooms of 4-8 students so they could get a more personal experience when meeting with their legislators. In total 10 Senators and 8 Assembly Members met with students from around the state. Most students said this was their favorite part of the program.

We ended our virtual conference by encouraging the students to register to vote and showing them how they could register and where to find more information about voting. Although the conference had to be held remotely it was still a success and thus far the students have given us excellent feedback of the program. 
LWVUS Annual Congressional Reception
The League of Women Voters is proud to host our annual Congressional Reception.
Since the 19th amendment passed in 1920, various civil rights strides have been made to expand the right to vote and increase access to the ballot box. This event is aimed at reflecting upon these achievements and envisioning a future where we can all work together to make sure our democracy remains strong and inclusive.

This virtual panel will stream live on Facebook Live on Wednesday, June 2. LWV CEO Virginia Kase will moderate, facilitating a discussion on the "Next 100 Years of Democracy" with prominent Members of Congress and staff, including:
  • Laura Peterson, Legislative Counsel for Senator Tester;
  • Allison Hunn, Policy Advisor and Counsel for Senator Merkley; &
  • Bill VanHorne, Chief Counsel for Senator Cardin's.

We will also see video presentations from:
  • Majority Leader Chuck Schumer;
  • Senator Angus King; and
  • Senator Raphael Warnock.

This panel will thrive on audience engagement, with opportunities to ask questions both before and during the event.

Join the event on Facebook here.