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   League of Women 
  Voters of Berrien 
   & Cass Counties
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Sept., 2018
Newsletter

Thank you, John McCain
   
       

Despite our polarized world, we come together in thanks for a life well-lived--with integrity and commitment to the values that sustain us.  

Thank you, John McCain, 
for reminding us of what binds us together. 
Rest in peace.

Please Support LWVMI'S Gerrymandering Lawsuit
     
     Since 1999, responsibility for redistricting in Michigan has been vested in the state legislature. The redistricting maps now in place were approved by the legislature in 2011, based on the census of 2010.
     On December 22, 2017, the League of Women Voters of Michigan and 11 individuals living in different Michigan districts filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan challenging those maps. In the lawsuit, the League asks the Court to declare the 2011 maps unconstitutional; to bar their use in future elections;
and to establish a Constitutional apportionment plan itself if the Michigan legislature fails to do so. You can read the pleadings filed and orders entered in the case at
https://www.brennancenter.org/legal-work/league-women-voters-michigan-v-johnson.
     Trial of the case is set to begin in February. If that date stands, new maps might be in place for use in 2020. Trial may well be delayed, though, because eight U.S. Representatives from Michigan have been allowed to intervene (become parties) in the case, and certain members of the Michigan House likewise are seeking leave to intervene.
     Attorneys representing LWVMI are doing so--very generously--pro bono (without charge for their time). Out-of-pocket expenses, though, will be very significant--for
experts, depositions, and other unavoidable costs. The Michigan League has asked our members to help cover those expenses through contributions to the education fund.
     You can do so either online using a credit card to make a donation via  PayPal or by check made payable to LWVBCC and mailed to LWVBCC at P.O. Box 1032, Niles, MI 49120. In either case, designate the education fund, lawsuit expenses. And please be generous. It's for a  good cause critically important to our democracy.
Candidate Forum Update
     
     LWVBCC has invited candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 6th District, the Michigan Senate from the 21st District, and the Michigan House from the 59th, 78th, and 79th Districts to participate in forums on one of four dates in September and October.       We can complete arrangements for each forum as soon as both candidates for an office accept our invitation to participate.
     So far, both candidates for only two races--Districts 59 and 79--have accepted our invitation. Those forums will be scheduled for October 16 or 18, and details will be provided in the October newsletter. Please save both dates on your calendar now.
      We are disappointed to report that unless conditions change, we will not be able to host a forum for candidates for the Michigan Senate from the 21st District or the Michigan House from the 78th because one candidate in each of those races has declined our invitation to participate.
     We will continue efforts to schedule a forum for candidates for the U.S. Congress from the 6th District. Please urge those candidates to accept our invitation.
LWVBCC Book Group
to Discuss New Book by Pulitzer 
Prize-Winning Writer Jon Meacham  
            
     As previously reported, our next book is
The Soul of America -- The Battle for Our Better Angels, by John Meacham.
     I have a tendency -- all right, a real habit! -- of marking sentences or paragraphs that resonate with me, and then noting the page number at the end of the book. So far, I've marked 36 pages of the 206 read. That may give you some indication of how important I feel this book is.
     There's still plenty of time to get and read the book. 
The Date: Monday, September 17, 10 a.m.
The Place: The home of Emelie Shroder. Please let Emelie know you're coming by calling her: 269-266-7299. Join us!
                                                          -- Chris Zilke
Votes for Women!

      In the next year, the U.S. will be celebrating ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Nineteenth Amendment established the right to vote for all women. 
     Although the suffragettes' journey for the right to vote was a long and arduous process (beginning in the mid 1800's), the suffragettes persisted. They marched, protested, lobbied their state legislatures, and often were jailed for their activism.
     How proud we are today that the state of Michigan was one of the first three states to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment! The date--June 10, 1919. By August of 1920, 36 states adopted the Nineteenth Amendment, granting all women the right to vote.
     The 100th anniversary of Votes for Women will herald a year of parades, exhibits, and discussions to call attention to the past and strengthen our resolve for future voting endeavors. LWVBCC needs to be part of the centennial celebration of women's suffrage in Michigan.
     Won't you consider joining the Health & Social Services Committee of the LWVBCC to plan events for this momentous occasion? We need your ideas, your suggestions, a course of action to celebrate the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.
     The Committee will meet for a preliminary planning session on Tuesday, September 24, at 10:00 a.m. at Lake Street Eats, 4228 Lake Street, Bridgman. The women suffragettes worked tirelessly for Votes for Women. Let's match their effort and energy!                -- Judy Scully
Wide Range of Voter Turnout in Primary
     
     Voter turnout in this year's primary election varied dramatically from precinct to precinct in Berrien County -- from a low of 8.5 % in one precinct to a high of 37.6 % in another.
     In the three precincts with the highest percentage of turnout, 22,088 people are registered to vote, and 8,020 of them (36.3%) voted in the primary. In the three precincts with the lowest percentage of turnout, 30,248 are registered, but only 3,850 (12.7%) voted in the primary.
     Thus even though the low-turnout precincts have half again as many registered voters as the high-turnout precincts, three times as many votes were cast in high-turnout precincts as were cast in low-turnout precincts.
     These and other statistics on turnout in the August 7, 2018, primary election can be found at electionreporting.com. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find comparable statistics for Cass County.
     In the two months that remain 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.
Ballot  Initiatives to be Discussed
     
      One of the most challenging aspects of LWV's voter education efforts is helping people understand ballot proposals that they will be asked to vote on. Several of them will appear on the ballot this year, including two strongly supported by the Michigan League: Voters Not Politicians (redistricting) and Promote the Vote (voting rights). 
     In October, LWVBCC will host an educational public Townhall on all such initiatives that will be on the ballot in November. A speaker provided by the Michigan League State Office will guide us through the proposals and answer questions from the audience.
     Date and location of the educational Townhall meeting on ballot proposals will be announced as soon as we have the necessary information. Stay tuned.
Environmental Tidbits
     
      A front page photo (below) and article in the Chicago Tribune early in August showed the Arcelor Mittal plant in Burns Harbor, IN, and related disturbing information about the amount of lead and benzene emitted by this plant in 2016.
      Nearly 18,000 lbs. of brain-damaging lead was spewed into the air that year. In addition, the plant emitted 173,000 lbs.of leukemia-causing benzene. I'm not sure how these quantities are determined, but I do know air currents carry these chemicals into SW Michigan and beyond, and we are all impacted by them. 
      We seem to be more concerned about statistics such as these in summer, but winter clouds, rain and snow also carry these chemicals to us; so pay attention year-round to local air quality warnings.
     Opportunities to "clean up the beach" are coming up in September. Wonderful chance to wriggle your toes in the sand, wade in the water and gather up things that just don't belong there. Go to https://greatlakes.org/event/2018-september-adopt-beach/.                                --  Chris Zilke
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 millages) 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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Calendar/Notes
 
Monday, September 17
10:00 a.m.
Book Group
Emelie Shroder's Home
_______________________________

Monday, September 24
Health & Social Services 
Planning Committee Mtg.
10:00 a.m.
Lake Street Eats Restaurant, 
4228 Lake St., Bridgman
____________________________

Have a new address???
Tuesday, October 9
Last day to register to vote in November 6 general election.
__________________________

Candidate Forums
Tues., Oct. 16 & Thurs. Oct. 18
6:30 p.m.
Location & details to follow in October newsletter
_________________________

Tuesday, November 6
General Election

LWVBCC
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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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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