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   League of Women 
  Voters of Berrien 
   & Cass Counties
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Oct., 2018

Students Rally for 
National Voter Registration Day
    Inspired by their political science mentors, students at our two local community colleges came out to register to vote on Sept. 25, National Voter Registration Day.  
     At LMC, Prof. Tiffany Bohm has organized an elections and political interest study group called "LMC Votes!"  Members of this group and Dr. Bohm worked with LWVBCC to register more than 100 motivated students.  
     On election day, this student organization also will provide a shuttle service to polling places in the vicinity.  Dr. Bohm also hosted League President Marilyn Klawiter in her classroom where the topics being studied included "Why register?" "Does my vote really count?" 
     League representatives also participated at SMC's annual "Campus Bash," where students enjoy outdoor activities, learn about on-campus clubs, take advantage of free hot dogs and snacks as well as water and soda.  
     Political Science Professor Mary Young-Marks directed her students to the League registration table and offered extra credit to those who came back to class with an "I Registered to Vote" sticker from the League table.  More than 50 SMC students went back to class with a special sticker.
Oct. 11 Townhall on Ballot Proposals:
What Are They?  What Will They Do?
      At 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 11 LWVBCC will host an educational forum at Berrien RESA, 711 Saint Joseph Avenue in Berrien Springs, on the statewide ballot proposals that will be on the ballot November 6.
     The presentation will include information on three proposals: to legalize marijuana, to establish a citizen's redistricting committee, and to secure elections and voting rights. The presentation will allow voters to learn more about the proposals and discuss the pros and cons. 
     Leading the discussion will be Paula Manley, a member of the Board of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. She is a member and past president of the League of Women Voters of the Kalamazoo Area. 
     This Townhall is open to the public. Everyone is invited and encouraged to come.
Michigan House 59th District 
Candidate Forum
      Voters in the 59th District have an opportunity to hear from candidates for the Michigan House from their District at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 18 in the Mathews Conference Center West at Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac. The candidates are Aaron Miller and Dennis B. Smith.
     The forum will begin with the moderator asking questions prepared in advance by LWVBCC, followed by questions submitted in writing by the audience. Candidates will not receive any of the questions in advance.
     This will be an excellent opportunity for voters to learn about the candidates' positions on important issues. LWVBCC appreciates both candidates' willingness to participate so that this service can be made available to voters in the 59th District.
Voter Information Event at 
Benton Harbor Arts
and Culture Center

    From 1:00 until 3:00 p.m. Saturday, October 20,
LWVBCC and several other nonpartisan community groups will provide an opportunity for voters to discuss issues of interest to them in the upcoming election, including the statewide ballot proposals. The discussion will be at the Benton Harbor Arts & Culture Center, 275 Pipestone Avenue.
      Co-sponsors of the event are the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Voters Not Politicians, the OutCenter, and Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship's Social Justice Committee.         
     Hot dogs and other refreshments will be provided.
Reflection by our Newest Member

I was one of those people. I didn't decide not to vote. It's just that when it came time to vote, I never had confidence that I understood who was running, what they were running for and what any of it meant for me. 
     My vote seemed so insignificant among the millions of others. I also suffer from anxiety, so for a very long time, I didn't read the news. I happily went about my life in the dark about anything that didn't happen on my front porch or that didn't impact me personally. I was very happy being insulated from the news. I had no political insight.
     I'm not proud of this fact. I never told anyone. It was embarrassing. I knew that people in other countries die for the right to vote. Women fought long and hard to get the right to vote. I was shirking my civic duty. I'm a professional, well-educated woman, but I buried my head in the sand when it came to our government.
     The election of 2016 woke me up. I knew so little about our government and our elections. The world was coming apart at the seams. Friends were not speaking to each other. My family members were at odds. Fear was rampant, and Facebook was no longer a safe place to be. This election seemed to have an importance to others that I could not fathom. I began to pay attention. For the first time in a long time, I studied the candidates and I voted. I was proud to be an American and to cast my vote.
     I learned about the electoral college. I listened to podcasts that provided background on the events in the news. I saw the content from my Civics class come to life. I read a biography of Richard Nixon and listened to some podcasts about past Presidents. I realized that I'd been missing out on a lot of interesting material that had a clear impact on my life. I was fascinated with the U.S. Constitution. What's more, the people I talked to were "waking up" too. This was a time of great importance in our country, and I wanted to be a part of it. I felt - and still do feel - like I am living in interesting times.
     I've been wanting to get involved, and I am an educator. I know there are others like me who secretly abdicated their duty. We all have reasons for learning more, and I'm thrilled there are so many places today to get information. Healing the divide in our country is important, so I joined the non-partisan League of Women Voters. We each - conservative and progressive - have something to give, and now is the time to show up and be counted. I want to be a part of that.                                                           -- Sharon King
Get Out the Vote
      Yes, your vote makes a difference. So do the votes of your family, friends, and neighbors. If you need help persuading them to go to the polls, tell them about the many elections that have ended in ties or been decided by miniscule margins. A persuasive sample is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_close_election_results.
     The last date to register to vote this year is October 9. After that, the energy we've been putting into registering citizens now will be directed to the point of it all: assuring that as many as possible actually cast their votes. Doing so is both a privilege and a responsibility. Let's do everything we can to help citizens do what's necessary to exercise that right. It's important.
      In the month that remains until the November 6 general election, LWVBCC members are urged to do whatever they can to encourage every registered voter in every precinct of Berrien and Cass Counties to learn about candidates and issues by visiting vote411.org and then to vote--either by absentee ballot or by going to their polling places on November 6. 
     That is both the privilege and the duty of a citizen in our democracy. Let's do it.
LWVBCC Book Group
        Emelie Shroder hosted a stimulating discussion of Jon Meacham's Soul of America on September 17. 
     A historian troubled by today's polarizing partisanship, Meacham tells of troubled times in our nation's history when elected leaders and citizens have led the way to look forward with hope. "The good news," he says, "is that we have come through such darkness before." It's an uplifting read.
     The next gathering of the book group will be at 10:00 a.m. Monday, November 12 at Marilyn Klawiter's home. The focus will be on the Flint water crisis, which is the subject of three recent books: What the Eyes Don't See by Mona Hanna-Attisha, The Poisoned City by Anna Clark, and/or The Death and Rebirth of a City by Gale Glover.
    Take your pick--or pick all. LWVBCC members and their guests are invited and encouraged to come. (FYI: Gale Glover is scheduled to be at Forever Books in St. Joseph at 7:00 p.m. October 16.)
Lack of Candidate Forums in Berrien County
     This year, for the first time in decades, LWVBCC is unable to host any debates or forums with Berrien County candidates seeking legislative posts in Washington and Lansing. 
    That is because we do not host "empty chair" debates, and one of the candidates in each of the following races has declined LWVBCC's invitation to participate: U.S. House of Representatives from the 6th District, Michigan Senate from the 21st District, Michigan House from the 78th District, and Michigan House from the 79th District.
     LWVBCC can provide meaningful, nonpartisan candidate forums only when candidates from both major parties agree to participate. In the past, such events have provided voters with an excellent opportunity to learn about the candidates' positions on important issues in a respectful, informative environment.  
     LWVBCC believes voters value those opportunities and are entitled to have that information from candidates who are asking for their votes. We deeply regret that we cannot make it available to Berrien County voters this election cycle.
     To experience the value of such events, we encourage you--regardless where you live--to attend the forum for candidates to the Michigan House from the 59th District (referred to above) on Oct. 18.
Environmental New s
     In just the past few months, the earth has demonstrated for us that it is a living, breathing organ, rarely truly quiet.  
     In the U.S. alone, there have been forest fires, the scope of which is hard to comprehend; hurricanes; unprecedented flooding; volcanic eruptions.  
     And elsewhere in the world typhoons, tsunamis and even more volcanic eruptions. It seems as though the earth is having a "fit" or going through some crazy, torturous growth spurt.
     We in southwest Michigan have our own water and air-quality issues, invasive species problems, but the earth treats us very kindly.
     For the sake of all the hundreds of thousands of people affected elsewhere on this planet, I hope there is a good, long break from these fierce activities.                                         -- Chris Zilke
LWV Lake Michigan Region NEWS
     At the August meeting of our local board, hosting the 2019 annual meeting of the LWVLMR was approved.  
     On September 15, at the Lake Michigan Region board meeting, the Michigan committee (consisting of the 4 Michigan delegates) discussed with that full board options for next year's meeting - structure of the event, focus, possible speakers, location, date, etc. The meeting is generally held in September or October, and that will be the case in 2019.
     I am excited that LWVBCC will be acting as host to League members from throughout the four States that make up LWVLMR (Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan). Although we won't begin serious planning until early next year, I will be interested in hearing your ideas for possible activities and know that many of you reading this newsletter will become active participants in helping make this meeting a huge success for our League.
     You can expect more information starting with our February 2019 newsletter.                                        -- Chris Zilke

Holiday Party -- Save the Date!
    It's never to early to think about a party--even when it's a holiday party and most of our trees still have most of their leaves. So here we are!
     The date: Sunday, December 9
     The time: 4:00-7:00 p.m.
     The place: Judy Scully's home (thank you so much, Judy!)
     The food: Potluck
     The drink: BYOB
     The mood: celebratory!
Put it on your calendar now. More details will follow in November.

League to Host Two Forums in Three Oaks
     Two nonpartisan forums will be held on Tuesday, October 9, as a "double feature" in the Village of Three Oaks. 
     From 6:30 to 7:30pm, candidates for the office of Three Oaks Village Trustee will answer questions in a fast-paced format. On Nov. 6, village voters will elect three of six contestants to the office of Village Trustee. Those participating are candidates Dustin Blaszczyk, Steve Graziano, Nick LaFlex, Colleen Nyquist, and Becky Thomas. 
      Then at 7:45pm, the two candidates for Three Oaks Village President, Tom Flint and David Grosse, will debate. All the action will be at the Three Oaks Elementary School .
Excellent Source of 
Information for Voters
     An excellent source of information about contests, candidates, and issues is the website maintained by LWV: vote411.org 
      By simply entering your home address, you will be able to see what contests will be on your ballot and to access information provided by candidates (if they have responded to our invitation to do so) about their background, qualifications, and positions on issues.  If you wish, you can select candidates two at a time to compare them side by side.  You also will see other matters (such as ballot proposals) that will appear on the ballot when you go to the polls.
      Vote411 has this type of information for primary elections as well as general elections.  If you haven't used it before, give it a try.  If you do, chances are good you will go to it again and again for subsequent elections because it is such a valuable and easy to use resource.  It also has links to other valuable information about election process and procedures.
      You do not need to be concerned about entering your address into this website.  It does not store your information after you exit the site.  You will simply enter it anew each time you open the site.
Committee Coordinators
Energy and the Environment : Chris Zilke
Health and Social Services: Judy Scully
Public Education: Linda Cheek & Jane Raymond
Voter Services : Mike McCaffrey & John Ripley
Budget and Finance: Mike McCaffrey, John Ripley, Chris Zilke
Membership: Marilyn Klawiter & Mike McCaffrey
Nominating: Karen Ristau
Special Events: Chris Zilke
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.  

LWVBCC: Contact Us

P.O. Box 1032
Niles, MI 49120

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Tuesday, October 9
Last day to register to vote in November 6 general election.

Tuesday, October 9
1:00 p.m.
Board Meeting
Niles District Library
Tuesday, October 9
6:30 p.m.
Three Oaks Forum
for Village President, Trustees
Three Oaks Elementary School

Thursday, October 11
6:30 p.m.
Ballot Proposal Townhall
Berrien RESA, 711 S. Joseph St., Berrien Springs

Thursday, Oct. 18
Mich. Dist. 59 Candidate Forum
6:30 p.m.
Southwestern Michigan College
Conference Center West

Saturday, October 20
1:00 p.m.
Save the Vote event
Benton Harbor Arts
& Culture Center, 
275 Pipestone

Tuesday, November 6
General Election

Monday, November 12
10:00 a.m.
Book Group
Marilyn Klawiter's Home

Sunday, December 9
4-7 p.m.
Holiday Party
Judy Scully's home

Board of Directors
Marilyn Klawiter, President
Dorothy Parker, Vice President
Karen Ristau,  Secretary
John Ripley, Treasurer &
        Communications Coordinator
Linda Cheek
Kathleen Fleming
Michael McCaffrey
Jane Raymond
Judy Scully
Christiana Zilke

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The League:  Helping to Make Democracy Work Since 1920!
And about to Celebrate 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.

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