A Voice for Citizens, a Force for Change
November | 2020
Message from the Steering Committee
A Message From This Month's Chair, Cynthia Brubaker
These are tumultuous times!  This past year has felt like a roller coaster ride, hasn’t it? As I write this we seem to be on the path toward an Electoral College which officially votes Joe Biden in and hopefully we will have a fairly smooth transition to a new administration. But these next two months will no doubt be rocky. On top of an exhausting Presidential election cycle, we are having a huge surge in the COVID pandemic. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and people will be celebrating it in different ways…all will be untraditional to be sure. We hope for a safe, efficacious vaccine in the Spring. And perhaps our lives will return to some sort of normal.

We are no doubt going to have a rough couple of years getting our economy back on track! People have lost their jobs, family income has withered or dried up, businesses have had to shut down, school life has been disrupted and we have lost many of our citizens to this pandemic. It is a very difficult time.

I hope you all have a Thanksgiving that is full of Zoom family gatherings even if we can’t be with those we love. And as we enter the holiday season with Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa and the New Year to celebrate, we wish you peace and strength as we move forward.

—Cynthia Brubaker

Calls to Action
Join with LWVMA members to stand up for immigrant justice in the Commonwealth this Thursday. LWVMA, as a member of the Safe Communities Act Coalition and the Driving Families Forward Coalition, supports quick and immediate action for these immigrant justice campaigns. The legislative session will be winding down shortly, and immigrants can’t afford to wait another two years for action. Justice Can’t Wait is a Super Alliance for Justice on Housing, Climate, Immigrants' Rights, Indigenous Peoples, and more.

Thursday, November 19th at 1:00 PM 
Rally at the State House: In person COVID-sensitive rally at the State House OR virtual event via Zoom
Power hour: Watch the rally live and then participate in actions with activists in community
Share the FB event with your networks: https://www.facebook.com/events/800315474154446
Post to social media using the hashtags: #JusticeCantWait
Contact Your Legislature


On Nov 12, the House approved a version of the Roe Act as an amendment to the budget; the Senate will consider doing the same this weekClick here jo.comerford@masenate.org  to contact our State Senator Comerford and tell her you support her work to do the same in the Senate. 

Please contact your Representative to ask House Ways and Means to bring H.3983—An Act to create a 2050 roadmap to a clean and thriving Commonwealth— to the floor for a vote. See our Sustainability & Climate Action News from our Committee below for more.

Nothing’s changed in October and that means there is still time to act! Different versions of a policing bill passed the Massachusetts Senate and House (H.4860/S.2820) and have gone to conference committee.  If you haven’t done so already, please contact your legislators and ask them to contact the conference committee to urge that committee to release the police reform bill and then ask your legislators to support the bill.

Ask your legislators to urge the Conference Committee to report out the Economic Development Bill H.4887/S.2842 for a vote before the end of the year. This is the time to provide an updated framework that can address the statewide crisis in modestly priced housing units. 

To avoid first of the year evictions in the tens of thousands and other disasters due to pandemic losses, ask your legislators to push for a vote on H.5018and S.2918 An Act to Guarantee Housing Stability during the COVID-19 Emergency and Recovery, currently in the House Rules and Senate Ways and Means Committees.

Thank the Governor for his Eviction Diversion Initiative which will expand funds for emergency housing assistance and provide some new services to help people at risk of losing their homes. Now that the stronger state moratorium on evictions has expired, we are relying on the Federal CDC moratorium that will expire Dec. 31.
News from our Committees

While many states, including Massachusetts, reported record voter turnout for this November’s presidential election, voter turnout in Amherst was down 25% from the 2016 presidential election.
Based on unofficial results reported on November 3, only 11,387 voters came to the polls or mailed in ballots, compared to 15,096 four years ago.  Mail-in ballots received after Nov. 3 will be added to these totals.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at this low figure, since the COVID-19 virus forced the University of Massachusetts to close classrooms and operate via remote learning.  The on-campus student population was reduced by at least 10,000 potential voters.  Precincts reporting the lowest turnout all included the University campus and neighborhoods.  The lowest turnouts were in Precinct 4 with only 457 voters, Precinct 3 with 510 voters, and Precinct 10 with 539 voters.  

Future League voter service action is needed to remove barriers to registering to vote, such as, enacting  Election Day registration and restoring voting rights for incarcerated people.  It is also time to review the use of town census mailings to determine who is an 'active' or ‘inactive’ voter. 

—Bonnie Isman

It is very important to pass the strongest climate action bill we can before the COVID-19-extended session of General Court ends next month. A recent Action Alert from LWVMA asks us to contact our Representative to ask House Ways and Means to bring H.3983—"An Act to create a 2050 roadmap to a clean and thriving Commonwealth” to the floor for a vote. For more information on the roadmap, and on the need to formally link environmental justice to climate action by codifying much stronger environmental justice language, click HERE
Amherst’s Rep. Mindy Domb can be reached at mindy.domb@mahouse.gov other Reps’ contact info is HERE

Transportation is the number one source of greenhouse gases. Massachusetts is participating in the planning for the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a multi-state compact intended to reduce carbon emissions from transportation and to invest fees on these emissions to create better, cleaner and more equitable transportation systems across the region. TCI is modeled on the notably successful Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). TCI is coming closer to reality: in 2021, states will decide whether to participate; its program could start in 2022. For more information, click link to transportationandclimate.org or here to transportationformass

 —Susan Millinger
Reminder: 50-year League members don’t have to pay dues. However, we would like to know if you are retaining your membership so we can continue to send you the e-bulletin.

Reminder to non-50-year members, please send in your renewal forms. Then you can accrue credit and join the 50-year club.
If you can’t find your membership renewal, call Phyllis Lehrer at 253-5179 or email here.

—Phyllis Lehrer

Black Women’s Struggle for Civil Rights: Film Discussion

Our Centennial Commemoration Committee planned this ZOOM discussion of the award winning documentary featuring Andrea Battle as speaker, Jessica Ryan as moderator, and many of us as the engaged audience. The film is the story of the accomplishments of Black Women in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement.

Andrea, educator, activist, mentor to young people, worker for voter registration, shared her personal experiences, her wisdom and ideas about the past and ongoing civil rights movement. Here are a few examples:

  • Coming from New York, visiting the south and going unknowingly into a bathroom that was for whites only   
  • Reflections on the bravery of the women who were beaten, jailed, and killed to register to vote and who felt like Fannie Lou Hamer, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired"
  • Women realized that voting is the way to having any power
  • So many things have not changed such as the disparities in health care, overuse of force by police as examples
  • The importance of registering and encouraging young people to vote and to get involved
  • Talking to people and helping them realize that prejudice still goes on 

Jessica fielded comments and questions from the audience who added their experiences and insights to the discussion:

  • The fight for Black voting rights in Mississippi garnered lots of positive publicity and understanding just as George Floyd's death has also been a catalyst for change
  • A remembrance of being a white woman participating in a sit-in at a Woolworths counter.
  • The courage of Emmett Till's mother to allow her son's open coffin to be photographed so all could see his beaten body
  • The understanding that ordinary women's simple actions led to ripple effects of real change.
  • Voter suppression still exists—think of the lines during this recent election

If you haven't seen the movie, sign in to Kanopy through Jones or Boston libraries—easy and free.  
Thanks especially to Kathy Campbell who did all the technical work to make this happen including recording the Zoom event if you want to watch.

—Trish Farrington
“Cheers to 100 Years” 

December 13th at 1:00pm, please join us for LWVMA’s 100th Virtual Birthday Gala and a fireside chat featuring Dr. Danielle Allen, James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard who is widely known for her work on justice and citizenship. Danielle will lead us in a discussion entitled: Massachusetts Post-Pandemic: A New Social Compact?
 Let’s look forward to the next 100 years! if you give at least a $25 donation to the State League in the Fall Appeal, you will receive a ticket to the event. 
Click below for event registration/ticket purchase and sponsorship opportunities.

This is a great time to get involved in Massachusetts League advocacy. The new legislative session will start in January, so you could work with the current League legislative specialists to learn about the process. For more information, contact Local Action Chair Kathy Leonardson.

Driving Families Forward roundtable discussion on Monday, November 23rd at 6:30 PM via Zoom. Registration link available shortly. Stay tuned for more details.

Excerpt From the
"Message from LWVUS President Deborah Turner"
in November 5’s League Update

“The FINAL BALLOTS FOR THE 2020 Election cycle HAVE BEEN CAST, and when every vote is finally counted, we will have executed the largest election in American history. No one could have imagined a year ago that we would be carrying out an election in the middle of a global pandemic, but despite the odds, we did it — voters came out in record numbers, proving once again that our democracy is strong and can endure whatever challenges life throws our way. There will be a lot to unpack about the 2020 elections, and we will vigorously engage in honest and mission directed analysis.  
But in the meantime, we should celebrate our successes: the broadening of voter access, the record-breaking early voting turnout, and the expansion of absentee and vote-by-mail are a few. These successes are stepping stones that will lead the way to expanding our democratic process and ensuring greater voter participation in future elections.” 

Post-Election Overview 

Even thought the full user count for VOTE411 is not yet available, it is already clear that it had its biggest year ever in terms of serving voters—surpassing the number of voters served in 2018 (the previous biggest election cycle) in mid-October. A huge thanks goes to the Leagues from 43 states plus DC who spent countless hours creating their online voters’ guides this year and providing detailed candidate information on over 41,000 candidates (and allowing the candidates to speak to the voters in their own words!)
LWVUS signs letter in support of the
Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act   
The League joined a letter for Rep. Pressley’s bill (S4360/H.R.7848) which refocuses federal funds towards school counselors, nurses, and social workers. The legislation would divert funding away from school-based law enforcement and towards services in schools that cultivate positive and safe learning environments, so that all children can grow and thrive.

Want to stay engaged with empowering voters and defending democracy efforts? Follow LWVUS on OutreachCircle, our one-stop-shop for resources, action alerts, and volunteer opportunities. You can even use this tool to send emails and texts to your network and post on social media! The LWVUS Organizing Team regularly posts updates on our Circle to make sure our supporters stay in the loop! Click here to join the LWVUS OutreachCirclePlease note that you will be prompted to create an account.

This monthly message is for anyone interested in the League, not just members. If you know someone who might be interested, forward this message and invite them to subscribe themselves, using the link below.
The Editor of the LWVAmherst e-bulletin, Jessica Ryan can be contacted here. The Associate Editors are Trish Farrington and Susan Millinger; Assistant Editors are Janice Ratner, Phyllis Lehrer, and Kay Fite who checks the links. Contributors to the November 2020 e-bulletin include LWVA members Trish Farrington, Bonnie Isman, Phyllis Lehrer, Susan Millinger, Material on LWVMA and LWVUS comes from the website lwvma.org and the newsletter League Update, respectively, selected by Susan Millinger.