League of Women Voters of NYS


September 2019

Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.

From the State President
The 2019-2021 LWVNYS September board meetings included board trainings and a review of a 5 -year Strategic Plan for the state organization. The strategic plan has been in the works for over 2 years using surveys, focus groups, board and committee discussions. The strategic plan that will guide our work through 2024.
Our goals include the heart of our great work; Voter Participation, election and ethics reforms, promoting youth participation and civics education and building our infrastructure to support statewide outreach and a fully supported professional staff. Action initiatives will be detailed by appropriate leadership for each Goal or category in the next several months. 
The 5- year Strategic plan will give us the basis for a case statement for development and a fundraising plan, a broad view of the organization for board and leadership recruitment, a basis for our DEI Action plan and targets and benchmarks we can use to evaluate our work, our capacity and our impact. 
Does your local League have a strategic plan? The process of developing a plan helps bring focus to our work. On November 5, 2019, when you are thinking about, what next? Try strategic planning!
We have established a Development Committee at the state League to advise and review ongoing development plans, strategies and fundraising initiatives. A Big thank you to the members from across the state who have agreed to serve: Susan Wilson (Hamptons), Mary Hussong-Kallen (Rochester), Kathy Stein (St. Lawrence County), Margie McIntosh (Cattaraugus & Allegany Counties), Kate Jankowski (Rensselaer), Nancy Rosenthal (SW Nassau and state Board rep), Laura Ladd Bierman (State Executive Director and Co-Chair) and me (NYC and Co-Chair).
We will miss LWVNYS Board Director Carol Mellor who has stepped off the board. Her efforts as grassroots director to promote LWVNYS positions and her tough questions for board members and committees she sat on will be missed. Thank you for all of your tremendous work for the LWVNYS.

Suzanne Stassevitch, President
League of Women Voters of NYS
lwvnypres@lwvny.org; Tel: 518-465-4162
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS
What will YOU and  your League be doing on November 19, 2019 ? We encourage Leagues across the state to raise a glass, cut the cake or celebrate together 100 years of activism of the League of Women Voters of the state of New York.
Local Leagues are the heart of our grassroots tradition and we celebrate our Leagues across the state and all they have accomplished in the last 100 years. On this day 100 years ago the LWVNYS began its tenure as a leading advocate for universal suffrage and building a community in New York state of an informed and engaged population in their government.

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Party Enrollment Deadline Finally Signed
League Day at the United Nations  
December 4
Jennifer Wilson
On Monday, September 30, Jennifer Wilson will rejoin the state League staff as the new Deputy Director.  She will assist in all of the educational and legislative programs and resume her work as the legislative director for the state League. Thank you to everyone who has donated to help fund this position. We know everyone agrees how critical this position is to an effective state office. We gratefully accept any donations to ensure continuance of this position.  Jennifer's email will be Jennifer@lwvny.org.
Travel with the League
Click here  for trips and itineraries.
Join us to Celebrate our Centennial
On November 16, 2019, the League of Women Voters of NYS will be 100 years old and the League's Education Foundation is hosting our 100 th Anniversary Celebration at The Buffalo History Museum! The Buffalo History Museum is a generous co-sponsor of our event and will have a suffrage exhibit at this time. We invite you to join the Honorary Committee to celebrate our centennial and recognize influential leaders in our communities.
At the celebration, we are thrilled to be honoring:
        • Kathy Hochul, Lt. Governor of New York State, and William Hochul, Jr., Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary to Delaware North Companies,
        • Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner, President, SUNY Buffalo State, 
        • Alice Jacobs, President, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and
        • Ariel Palitz, Senior Executive Director, Office of Nightlife for New York City
All are distinguished trailblazers in their fields!

Tickets to the Celebration will be available online or by paper registration next week! We'll share all the links and info with everyone then!
Early Voting Education Project
The state League continues to work on the grant as part of the Making Democracy Work sponsored by The League of Women Voters of US Education Fund.  The project, to educate citizens throughout New York State on early voting and also to evaluate the implementation of the early voting during the election.  

The state League office has been filled with boxes during this past few weeks as we have been printing the early voting brochures in English, Spanish, Bengali, Korean and Chinese, and then a separate insert for each of the 62 counties in NYS that identifies where and when people in that county can vote early. For your information, 34 counties in NYS have only one early voting poll site as required by the statute and their population; 18 counties have multiple early voting poll sites and voters can go to ANY site in their county; and, 9 counties, including the 5 boroughs or NYC, Albany, Suffolk, Orange and Westchester, have assigned voters to specific poll sites to vote early. The important notice to tell people is that if they vote on the regular Election Day, November 5, they MUST go to their usual poll site, not one of the early voting poll sites. Flyers and a press release on the League's activities and website ( www.nyearlyvoting.org); please share widely. The foreign language brochures are available on the early voting website, as well as links to each individual county's early voting poll sites and times.

Local Leagues have been creating some of their own materials, too - palm cards with just locations and times, etc. - and having educational program on early voting.   LWV of Mid Hudson reported, " We also had three Early Voting educational sessions in different places in our county. A fourth was held in Dutchess last night. The BOE came and demonstrated the Poll Pads and talked about the new process and changes in voting law." 

LWV of Schuyler County also arranged for an educational program on early voting and our own  Kathy Smith and Judy Sternberg from LWV of Rochester presented that program - Leagues helping Leagues!
Issues and Advocacy
Sally Robinson, sally.s.robinson@gmail.com
Consitutional Convention Position Update
At the State Convention in June, the delegates approved an update to the State League's position on a Constitutional Convention. The purpose of this update is to determine whether there is member agreement on deleting the first sentence of the League's 1993 Constitutional Convention position, as revised June 2015.
The first sentence to be deleted is below:
"The League of Women Voters of New York State does not support or oppose the holding of a constitutional convention."
Click here to find the materials for consideration by your local League of this update:
  • Current Constitutional Convention Position
  • Background and Other Information
  • Update Form to be Returned to the State League office by March 1, 2020
NYS Commission on Public Financing
The state League did present testimony before the NYS Commission on Public Financing in New York City in September.  See testimony here.
Voter Services
Judie Gorenstein, judieL728@aol.com
The LWVNYS  has worked diligently throughout the summer to prepare for what is a very busy and challenging time for our leagues.  The voter service committee has edited and updated  the voter registration toolkit and compiled a new Get Out the Vote (GOTV) toolkit which had been emailed to all local league presidents and voter service chairs (click on titles to view toolkits).   Within  the next week, an updated toolkit for Candidate Events will be emailed to all leagues. The booklets/brochures entitled First Vote and Your Right To Vote have been edited to reflect the new election laws and will be posted on the LWVNYS website shortly.  

Thanks to the grant from LWVUS and all the work Laura, staff, interns, board members,and local leagues put into getting information from county Board of Elections on Early Voting, the brochures for Early Voting  have not only been compiled, but printed and shipped to all our local leagues.  If you as individual members have not yet seen the brochures including inserts on the selected poll sites in your county, you can go to our new website www.nyearlyvoting,org.  As league members we all can and should do our part in educating voters on Early Voting. Check with your local league to see if they have brochures you can help distribute. 

Local leagues have been working diligently to register and educate voters.  Most have held numerous drives on National Voter Day and in fact some held them throughout the week.  Getting Out The Vote begins at voter registration but needs to continue. We hope that all leagues will participate in getting out the vote efforts, that the toolkit will help them in planning and that afterwards they will share their accomplishments.

As always, we all do best when we work together.  We know leagues are planning their candidate events. Click here for the revised  guidelines for candidate events that reflects  concerns local leagues brought up during convention. it is more important than ever to make sure that leagues are perceived as nonpartisan.  Together we will meet the challenges and maintain our gold standard as we engage, educate, register voters and then Get Out The Vote. 
Redistricting Efforts
All 50 state Leagues and the District of Columbia have joined the new LWVUS People Powered Maps Campaign to ensure fair representation across the country. On June 27, 2019 Supreme Court abdicated their role deciding cases involving partisan gerrymandering with three decisions (including Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina). 

This is not a one-size-fits all campaign. ( Click here for more info from LWVUS on this new campaign.)  For New York State this means working with a new redistricting process passed by the voters in 2014. Our new Deputy Director, Jennifer Wilson, will lead our state efforts to achieve fair maps during our redistricting process in 2021. Stay tuned for more information as we train and work with LWVUS to develop strategies to ensure our redistricting process works for the people and not the politicians across New York state.
The Census, counting all the people, in the right place, once, is the first step toward a good redistricting process. Local Leagues can help facilitate an accurate census in New York State in their community. Is there a Community Counts committee in your community? Check out the resources on the US Census website. Would you like to identify the hard to count populations are in your community? Use the Census tool, ROAM (Response Outreach Area Mapper).  

Cartoon above is a political cartoon from 1812. The cartoon illustrates the electoral districts drawn by the Massachusetts legislature to favor the incumbent Democratic-Republican party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry over the Federalists. The cartoon depicts the bizarre shape of a district in Essex County, Massachusetts as a dragon. The painter, Gilbert Stuart, likened it to a salamander, and the editor, Benjamin Russel, advised "Better say a Gerrymander." The name stuck. Source: Wikipedia.
Diversity-Equity-Inclusion (DEI)
Regina Tillman, rmt370@gmail.com
What is different about DEI today? Although we have had a Diversity-Equity-Inclusion Policy for some years, both nationally and at local levels of the League, today we are looking for ways to transform policy into dynamic actions... actions that actually get the results we all subscribe to in our policies, and done in the spirit in which those policies were intended.

At the national and state level, our DEI policy begins with: "LWV and LWVNYS is an organization fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in principle and in practice. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to the organization's current and future success in engaging all individuals, households, communities, and policy makers in creating a more perfect democracy." It goes on to say that, "there will be no barriers to participation..." However, clearly there must be barriers because our membership make-up does not sufficiently reflect the populations we are a part of.

The plan? We will begin with recruitment of league members in certain positions such as Membership Chair or Nominations Committee Member, to join me on a DEI State-wide Task Force. This Task Force will assist in developing the first LWVNYS Action Plan for DEI.

The announcement requesting local representation on DEI implementation will be forthcoming soon. DEI related actions have already begun at some local leagues and we will seek them out to see what is working. These appointments will offer training. It is the hope of the state League Board that all Leagues of NYS will join us in the creation of our very own roadmap to transformation as we collectively pursue our mission of creating a more perfect democracy!
Education, Youth and Civics Programs
Crystal Joseph, campus@lwvnyc.org
As we move into a new school year, I am excited to share that young people in New York State are thinking of creative ways to encourage civic engagement and work alongside their peers to tackle issues of diversity, equity and inclusivity. In August, I was invited to a "Y Vote" campaign lead by a 2019 SIA participant, Elizabeth Lopez. The Town Hall served as a resource hub of information on the importance of the ever-changing voting demographic and also centralized the importance of social movements as a catalyst for change. As an event participant, I had the privilege of attending activation stations. In short, the stations were a comprehensive source of information for campaign interest areas. The focus this year amongst the Gen Z cohort included: Criminal, Environmental, Gender and Immigration Justice. I look forward to learning more about the actionable steps each local league is taking in support of the next generation of voters. Please use this time to begin to think of creative ways young people in your region can come together and support educating and informing the voting population. Email me any thoughts you have on reform trends happening in your local league community. I look forward to learning more about your upcoming youth projects.

Women's Suffrage Celebrations
Dare Thompson, darethompson@gmail.com
As the LWVNYS president when the suffrage celebration began in 2016, I had a wonderful time learning more about the last 17 decades of NY history as the League representative on the NY Women's Suffrage Commission chaired by Lt Gov Kathy Hochul. Suzanne has asked me to continue in this role, which is lovely, because no state has more to be proud of than NY. The Commission was very busy in 2017 celebrating NY women getting the vote in NY in 1917 and will soon celebrate all women getting the vote in 1920 (with a quick and painful slip backwards for some, due to Jim Crow laws). It has given us some good connections with a dozen or so other savvy players in the state who care about this topic and has given us access to state resources like I LOVE NY. The Commission also supported our LWVNYS history book with a $5000 grant, recognizing the League's place as the living legacy of the suffrage movement.
Meanwhile many more of us have benefited from the efforts of "Spike" Herzig and all his helpers who have been putting on annual come-one-come-all conferences for all suffrage celebrants to share ideas, events, and more. You may remember Spike as our cheerful tour guide in Seneca Falls in connection with our 2017 state convention and maybe you saw him that November when the conference was held in Albany in connection with the opening of the amazing exhibit at the state Museum on women's suffrage. The reception LWVNYS held there that evening was packed and even earned us some precious dollars.
Spike tried to turn over the reins of his conference-creating organization but instead, a new 501(c)(3) called the Women's Rights Alliance of NYS was formed with Spike reluctantly but still cheerfully at the helm. Visit it at wranys.org and pull down the About menu to learn more about it. Naturally, the state League is a member and you can join too. But click right here to see the details about attending their exciting conference on November 1-2 in Liverpool.; https://wranys.org/post.php?pid=26  Be sure to click through to the agenda from the above site or simply click here to see what the conference will offer: https://wranys.org/post/_docs/2019ConferenceAgenda.pdf All members can attend!
Wow, what a collection of topics and speakers!  Whether you like learning about fashion, how to run for office, racism in the suffrage movement, new biographical info on some NY suffragists, historical research techniques, or even the Yellow Brick Road (did you know about Gage's connection to the Wizard of Oz?), or more, you will surely find at least one thing to sink your teeth into. I can't wait.  Let's all get behind this organization so that it becomes a vibrant living legacy of NY's HUGE contribution to women's suffrage.  Start by attending what's sure to be a great conference.
Meanwhile PLEASE POST YOUR CENTENNIAL ACTIVITIES ON THE LWVNYS WEBSITE!  Barb Thomas (Saratoga) and Joan Johnson (Syracuse) chair our 100th Anniversary Events Committee and encourage us all to share what we're doing and pick up some new ideas  at https://my.lwv.org/new-york-state/programs/celebrating-our-100th-anniversaries  The Suffrage Commission wants to know what we're doing too and we encourage it to look there, so we need you to share. Let's celebrate our past and future with gratitude and fun.
Finally, you'll find a toolkit on the LWVUS site at https://www.lwv.org/league-management/guides/100th-anniversary-activities-leagues. We waited so long for 2020 and omigosh, it's finally almost here. Don't miss the opportunities it presents.

Local League News
Many of our local Leagues were busy this week on National Voter Registration Day (Tuesday). This is a national event and we are proud to participate with hundreds of Leagues and other organizations around the country. Below are photos and some data on the great work done by our local Leagues here in NYS on Tuesday.

From LWV of St. Lawrence Co. MAL Unit:
We had a very successful NVRD up here, especially given that our county BOE had done registration for Constitution Day only a week before at one of our locations (SUNY Canton).  We had a total of 176 registrations and 80 some absentee ballot applications filled out.  Member Jessica Heffner, who teaches at SUNY Potsdam, took some pictures there where she masterminded our drive.  Our own PR Maven Donna Seymour will probably get something out later today.  We also had a notice of NVRD on the marquee of the Canton American Theater which is located at one of the busiest intersections in the North Country. 

Also from LWV of St. Lawrence County MAL Unit
In some other parts of the state there is considerable hostility to local colleges registering students to vote. Here in SLC our BOE is going onto campuses and doing registration themselves!  I always say how fortunate we are in our helpful Board of Elections, and here's the proof!  See article here:  https://www.wwnytv.com/2019/09/17/how-get-college-students-vote/ .

From LWV of Albany County (photo on left):
LWVAC, with partnerships at U Albany and St Rose, registered over 300 people, gave out over 1000 early voting pamphlets/inserts, and connected with thousands of people in the area. 200 of those newly registered are students at St Rose, U Albany, Sage College, and Siena College. We also facilitated 50+ abse ntee ballot request forms, change of address/party, and handed out hundreds of pamphlets for college students, voting in Albany County, First Vote, and more!

Rivertowns League registered voters at Sarah Lawrence College (photo on right) 

From LWV of Saratoga:
We received exceptionally strong support from both venues and volunteers across the three
 counties.  There were approximately 160 volunteers from the Saratoga County League of Women Voters, the Adirondack Women's Bar Association, the NAACP, and the community at large.    It took approximately 110 volunteers to staff 33 venues (2 at Walmart in Queensbury).  Our two training sessions hosted about 110 participants - not all of whom staffed a venue.  Some of these people wanted to be trained to register voters for other organizations or to act as alternates in the staffing on Sept 24. Two mother-daughter teams helped at one site (photo on left)! 

From LWV of Cattaraugus and Allegany MAL Unit
We were at Houghton College and also at Alfred University (photo on right), Alfred State College and Jamestown Community College(all four buildings in Olean) yesterday.  On Constitution day we were at university of Pittsburgh at Bradford and next week to St. Bonaventure.

Photo on left from LWV of Buffalo/Niagara
Janet Goodsell and Terri Parks with Michelle Simpson standing between them at the Urban League on National Voter Registration Day.

And photos from LWVs of Huntington (left), New Rochelle (center), Mid-Hudson (right) and Chautauqua (bottom). Great job by all! 

League of Women Voters of New York State
62 Grand Street, Albany, NY 12207
Tel: 518-465-4162;  FAX: 518-465-0812
Website: www.lwvny.org
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS
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