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   League of Women 
  Voters of Berrien 
   & Cass Counties
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"The Voter"
Oct., 2019
Newsletter

Promote the Vote:
October 7, 5:30 p.m.

     Attend Proposal 3 Town Hall Meeting October 7

     Last year (on November 6) Michigan electors passed Proposal 3, a Constitutional Amendment that affects when voters can register to vote, how they're registered, and who can vote by mail among other things. 
     The Office of the Berrien County Clerk will hold a public presentation at the County Conference Room, Berrien County Health Department, 2149 E. Napier Ave., Benton Harbor, on Monday, October 7, at 5:30 p.m.
     The public is invited to this informational session covering topics such as automatic voter registration, registration by mail up to 15 days before election, in-person registration extended to Election Day with proof of residency, and no-reason absentee voting. For more information, contact the Elections Department, 269.983.7111, Ext. 8264 or at: elections@berriencounty.org .
Let's Talk About Voting Rights:
October 23, 7 p.m.
          
      As noted above, voters have approved sweeping changes in our state's voting procedures. Now, as state and local election officials are implementing those procedures, a number of organizations, including the League of Women Voters, are taking additional steps to help voters understand them. LWVBCC encourages these efforts and offers help making information available.
     One such program is scheduled at the Berrien Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. 4340 Lincoln Avenue, (south of Glenlord Road) in St. Joseph, from 7 until 9 p.m. on Wednesday, October 23. The program will include a screening of "Suppressed, the Fight to Vote." This non-partisan event will focus on helping citizens know their voting rights and understand the new procedures.
     Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend and participate in the community conversation.
Book Group: October 14
        
      Bridge-building is the theme of books selected by the LWVBCC book group for discussion this month:
  • Building Bridges Across the Racial Divide by local writers Larry and Sandy Feldman (Peter Long Publishing, Inc. 2019);
  • The Other Side of the River: A Story of Two Towns, A Death and America's Dilemma, by Alex Kotlowitz, exploring implications of the 1991 death of a young man in the river between Benton Harbor and St. Joseph (Nan A. Talese an imprint of Doubleday, 1999); and
  • Across That Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America, by U.S. Congressman John Lewis (Hachette Book Group, Inc. 2012). 
When we meet on Monday, October 14, at 10:00 a.m. at Chris Zilke's home, we will be exchanging various ideas of the authors and the Bridges we can build. You are welcome to come and participate in the discussion even if you haven't yet read any of these books. Please call Chris at (269) 449-2225 to let her know that you plan to attend.

LWV  Lake Michigan Region
Annual Meeting and Conference
THE GREAT LAKES AND GROUNDWATER
October 25-26

     Information and registration for the annual LWVLMR meeting is now up and running on the LWVLMR website:  https://www.lwvlmr.org     
     The Conference will be held on the shores of Lake Michigan at the Lakeside Inn, 15251 Lakeshore Road, Lakeside, Michigan. Even if you live nearby, why not treat yourself to a night at this historic Inn at a reduced conference rate?
     The schedule for Friday, October 25, includes Field Trips beginning at 2:30 p.m. You can select one from the following: Pokagon Environmental Programs; Galien River County Park; or Galien River Sanitary District. 
     After taking a field trip and registering at 5:00 p.m., you can enjoy a social hour before the banquet at 6:00 p.m. The topic of this year's Keynote Address is "Groundwater: The Sixth Great Lake." 
     Guest Speaker Liz Kirkwood is Executive Director of 'For Love of Water', known as FLOW.
     After breakfast on Saturday, the schedule includes a Business Meeting followed by a Lightning Round: LWVLMR Interest Groups. 
     At the noon luncheon, the presentation, " PFAS and the Michigan Response,"  will be given by Suzanne Dixon and David Mueller. There is so much to learn!!
     I look forward to seeing you there.       -- Christiana Zilke
Students, LWVBCC Rally for 
National Voter Registration Day
     
      Along with thousands of elections officials and organizations, LWVBCC registered voters on National Voter Registration Day, Sept. 24. 
     Lake Michigan College student volunteers, inspired by their political science mentors, turned out at their college bookstore and the Todd Center lobby to talk to potential voters who then sat down at the League's registration tables and completed the State of Michigan Voter Registration Application.
     Dr. Tiffany Bohm, LMC Political Science Instructor, has organized an elections and political interest study group called "LMC Votes!" The "LMC Votes!" volunteers became assets to LWVBCC by encouraging fellow students to register to vote.
    Dr. Bohm reported that 64 registration forms were collected from the Napier campus, "...a fantastic number considering it is a non-presidential election year." In 2018, 106 forms were collected on National Voter Registration Day before that year's state and national elections.
Making Democracy Work
       
     
     The LWVUS Education Foundation has given LWVMI grant funds to share with local Leagues to educate members and the people of our cities, townships, and villages about Voting Rights (Proposal 3), the Citizens' Redistricting Commission (Proposal 2) and the 2020 Census, the results of which will guide the work of the Citizens' Redistricting Commission.
     It is the responsibility of local Leagues to arrange for Town Hall meetings that provide voter education. Since League members will be the speakers sharing the presentations and materials made available by LWVMI, they also have access to training sessions. Town Hall meetings can be scheduled any time from this month until March 2020.
     Are YOU willing to help educate audiences in Berrien and Cass Counties at Town Hall(s) about Voting Rights and the Citizens' Redistricting Commission (Ballot Proposals passed by voters in 2018) and also provide an explanation of the importance of a total count of all people living in Berrien and Cass Counties for the 2020 Census? If so, Please contact Anita Rutlin at anitarutlin@hotmail.com
Environmental News
     
     I have just returned from a lovely trip to Alaska. This is the first time I've been there, and I must say I'm more than willing to return.
     Fires continue to smolder in the vast peninsular area of Homer, Seward, and Anchorage. There's been little rain in the entire region to help extinguish fires that may continue to smolder even after snowfall. Firefighters concentrate their efforts for burn control on populated areas. Brush and tundra fires are generally left to burn, and such fires may burn for months or even years.
    I was shocked to learn that salmon can have heart attacks and die because waters are too warm, and thousands of salmon have been killed. In Ketchikan, the people are praying and waiting for either rain or snow to raise the rivers' waters to levels that allow fish to swim, be caught, dried, and then stored for winter. The weather in this 'southern' region has been unseasonably warm and dry.
    Although Alaska's climate is changing, the glaciers, volcanos, and mountains are glorious. We were treated to moose burgers and caribou roast thanks to two hunters who had shared their bounty with a family member and friend.
    If you've ever thought of visiting Alaska, why not make plans now?                                       --  Christiana Zilke
'Suffragist' Program was a Sell-out!
Megan Burnett (inset) as Mattie Griffith Browne at the sold-out Box Factory for the Arts in Benton Harbo.


     "Conversations with a Suffragist" was a resoundingly successful program for the LWVBCC! 
     The sold-out events at the Vickers Theatre and the Box Factory for the Arts began with committee members asking "Do you want to get sashed?" They asked that question over and over again to 270 men and women who attended the performance of Megan Burnett's one-woman live performance of "Conversations with a Suffragist".
     The symbolic-purple-suffragette sashes were created by a group of women responsible for the positive outcomes of the event.  We cannot begin to thank Jude Burnison, Melissa Clapper, Donna Dutton, Marilyn Klawiter, Barb Lackner, Audrey Lester, Laura Oldenwald, Jane Raymond, Janna Riley, Anita Rutlin, Judy Sokolowski, Gloria Weberg, and Chris Zilke (some are shown below). These dedicated women served on the suffragette committee and deserve to be commended for their time, efforts and outstanding talents. Their collective efforts yielded a great outcome -- celebrating 100 years of the women's vote.    -- Judy Scully
      Editor's Note:  Special thanks to Judy Scully for heading up the year-long effort leading to this successful program.

     Megan Burnett's thoughtful and engaging presentation of Mattie Griffith Browne captivated the audience. Listening to the "story" of Mattie opened hearts and minds to the plight of enslaved communities in 1865. Many learned of the important role of abolitionists in the suffragette movement, a movement that helped to ensure the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. Many also learned in discussions afterwards of the League of Women Voters role in educating the new voting populace -- WOMEN.
     Thank you to Megan Burnett for bringing Mattie Griffith Browne's "story" to life, and thank you to all who attended "Conversations with a Suffragist." As League members, we are proud of the success of "Conversations with a Suffragist", an event that reminds us to continue our commitment to the values and mission of the LWVBCC.  

LWVBCC: Contact Us

P.O. Box 1032
Niles, MI 49120

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Calendar/Notes

October 7
5:30 p.m.
'Promote the Vote'  Town Hall
at Berrien County  Health Dept.,  Benton Harbor
________________________

October 8
6:00 p.m.
LWVBCC Board Meeting
Niles District Library
________________________

October 14
 10:00 a.m.
Book Group
Judy Scully's Home
________________________

October 23
7:00 p.m.
"Let's Talk Voting Rights"
Berrien Unitarian 
Universalist Fellowship
St. Joseph
________________________

October 25-26
LWVLMR Lake Mich. Region
Annual Meeting/Conference
Lakeside Inn
Lakeside

LWVBCC
Board of Directors
Anita Rutlin, President
Laura Odenwald,  Vice President
Michael McCaffrey, Secretary
& Voter Svc.
John Ripley, Treasurer & Communications Coord.
Linda Cheek
Sharon King
Jane Raymond
Amy Scrima
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.  

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