League of Women Voters of NYS


September 2020

Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.

President's Message
Greetings to all of you members, volunteers and supporters. We need you now to help us get to the finish line with every voter having accurate information.

Thirty-four days to go and we are being bombarded with information about Election 2020. Not all of this information is accurate and some intentionally misleading.

League members, you are a trusted source for election information. Use your platform. Send people to VOTE411.org for voter information and voter guides. Share this handy list of DO's and DON'T'S with everyone you know on social media platforms.

All of us can help make sure voters have accurate information to vote safely and be reassured that their vote will be counted. Leagues and League member, volunteers and supports across the United States can all work together to stem the flow of inaccurate and bad information about Election 2020. Please share these easy Do's and Don'ts (see graphic below) with your friends, children, grandchildren, neighbors and teachers ( they can share with their students).

Detecting and Addressing Mis and Disinformation
Many states have already started early voting and lately, there have been increased concerns and questions about mis and disinformation including what to do and how to spot the difference. Last week, LWVUS staff conducted a webinar for Leagues to provide a messaging strategy for countering mis and disinformation. You can view the recording and check out the slides here!
In addition to this training, LWVUS published social media graphics about this message strategy for the public on Twitter and InstagramLWVUS will continue to message about the accurate election information voters need and the solution is often to counter with VOTE411.org - now also in Spanish at VOTE411.org/es!  

Suzanne Stassevitch, President
League of Women Voters of NYS
smstass@mac.com; Tel: 518-465-4162
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS

Donate to Support our Voter Education Efforts
Texts to Stay Informed
Lawn Signs for Sale
Healthcare Position Update
At the state Convention in June 2019, the delegates voted to update the current state League position on healthcare financing. A committee was formed and has been working hard to gather information and materials for a consideration of this update. The full packet of materials is now ready (click here).  Read through the materials and if you are interested in working with members in your local League on presenting this to your members, contact your local League President. EACH LOCAL LEAGUE SHOULD SCHEDULE A MEMBERSHIP MEETING SOMETIME BETWEEN OCTOBER 2020 AND MARCH 1, 2021, TO DISCUSS THE UPDATE. The local League's decision on the proposed new position will be due on March 10, 2021 to the state League office.

Issues and Advocacy
Sally Robinson, sally.s.robinson@gmail.com, and Jennifer Wilson, jennifer@lwvny.org
Our 2020 electronic voter guide Vote411 is now live for the general election. The guide provides candidate information for all candidates running for President, Congress, State Supreme Court, State Senate, State Assembly, and many local races. This will be our fifth year providing this nonpartisan information to voters. To date, our New York State guide has been viewed by over 2 million New Yorkers. The guide is now also available in Spanish at https://www.vote411.org/es 

Absentee Ballot Cure Lawsuit Settlement (A Huge Win!)
The New York State League has successfully settled our lawsuit to allow voters to address and correct issues with their absentee ballots. New York voters will also now be protected from having their ballots thrown out for small technical issues.
Under the League's settlement, voters will no longer have their ballot invalidated if they complete their ballot in non black or blue ink, mark outside the designated areas, or seal the inner ballot envelope, also called an affirmation envelope, with tape or other sealing agent.
Voters will now also have the opportunity to correct issues with their affirmation signature and witness declaration including:
  • if the affirmation envelope is unsigned;
  • if the affirmation ballot envelope signature does not match the voter's registration signature;
  • if the affirmation envelope does not have the required witness signature for voters who had assistance completing their ballot;
  • if the ballot is returned without an affirmation envelope in the return envelope;
  • if the affirmation envelope is signed by the person that has provided assistance to the voter but is not signed or marked by the voter him/herself; or
  • if the voter has failed to sign the affirmation envelope and someone else has signed the affirmation.
For this election, voters will be given five to seven days (depending on the date of receipt of the ballot) to verify their identity and fix any problems with their ballot after being notified by the Board of Elections. The settlement specifies that the Board must contact voters by phone, email or mail. Voters can resolve any issues raised by the Board by returning a cure affirmation form and providing their name, date of birth, and voter registration address to affirm their identity.
These new changes are above and beyond the policy change that was passed by the legislature last month. With these additional protections, voters will not have to worry about their ballots being invalidated for small errors and will have the opportunity to ensure their ballot will not be rejected if there are issues with their signature.
Executive Order on Absentee Ballot Drop Boxes
In September the Governor announced an Executive Order mandating all county board of elections to set up absentee ballot drop boxes at all early voting and Election Day poll site locations. Although the Executive Order has not been officially released, a press release for the Governor's office states:
"The Governor issued an executive order requiring boards of elections develop a plan to allow a registered voter to drop off a completed absentee ballot at a board of elections, early voting location, or election day voting location, without requiring they wait in line with in-person voters, to help minimize delays during in-person voting and promote contactless voting."
League Signs Joint Letter on Funding for 2020 Elections 
This month the League was active in calling for funding for boards of elections to conduct the 2020 elections. The League signed onto a joint letter to Governor Cuomo urging him to make funds available for the State Board of Elections. The New York State Board of Elections estimated last month that at least $50 million will be needed in order for the state and local boards of election to adequately prepare for the eightfold increase in voter turnout anticipated in November. Although Congress allocated $20 million emergency funding for New York State's elections, the State Board of Elections has spent nearly all of these funds on the June primary.
The letter cited the importance of providing funds for PPE and sanitizing products, pre-paid postage for absentee ballots, and additional funds for voter outreach and education. In addition to this letter, the Let NY Vote coalition sent a letter to the Governor's office urging him to cover the cost of pre-paid postage for absentee ballots. We will continue to advocate for funding for the election in the coming weeks.
Voter Services
Judie Gorenstein, judieL728@aol.com 
I first want to thank all the local Leagues, MAL Units and ILOs and their members for all their efforts and successes prior to and on National Voter Registration Day. While in this time of social distancing, there were far less in-person voter registration drives making it all but impossible to know the exact number of people that we registered, Leagues had many successes:
  • networking with other organizations and groups (more than ever before)
  • printing and distributing flyers and voter registration packets
  • having digital signage and other signs on voter registration throughout towns
  • holding zoom webinars and training workshops on voter registration.
  • using all forms of social media from Facebook, to Twitter to Instagram, etc, as well as newspapers, TV and radio, to educate voters with facts and deadlines
I do believe that our Leagues were able to reach more people than ever before. I welcome any ideas or efforts you have made to quantify our work. We were able to maintain our gold standard as evidenced by the large number of people and organizations that contacted us for our help and the many media outlets that interviewed our presidents and voter service chairs which were printed or aired.
Now we are only five weeks away from Election Day with probably more than half of New Yorkers voting either by absentee ballots or early voting. Leagues are busy planning their virtual candidate events and hopefully finding the Toolkit on Virtual Candidate events helpful. We welcome any questions and concerns.
Leagues have also been working to GOTV (get out the vote). More than ever, it is important to educate voters on how and where to vote and make sure they have a plan. More than ever it is important to work with your BOE. More than ever it is important that we learn from one another.   On Sept. 30 at 5 pm, we will be holding a zoom meeting on GOTV while social distancing. Register here to receive the Zoom link:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0vce2urD8jG9Teg3j0wKvjNEw77KCL4Qwq Four Leagues will be presenting what they are doing that can be duplicated in your Leagues now to GOTV. Of particular interest may be ideas to engage and register youth so we encourage your student members or chairs of your youth committees to attend. After the presentations, there will be time for questions and answers as well as time to share what your League is doing.
There already is much information on the LWVNYS website to help with your GOTV
  • Vote 411 has gone live.
  • TEXT VOTE NY 474747 sends up-to-date reminders to vote
  • On the homepage is already a section which includes GOTV while Social Distancing. This will be expanded following our zoom meeting.
Together we have done so much. We will not only meet our challenges but exceed expectations. We will register, educate and GOTV.

Educating Individuals with Disabilities on Voting
Zoom Meeting for Individuals with Disabilities and Their Families/Caregivers
As part of the recent grant received by the state League, we have partnered with Disability Rights NY to organize four interactive Zoom meetings on educating individuals with disabilities on how to vote safely. Please encourage anyone who may benefit from these meetings and any organizations who serve this population to join our Zoom meetings. Jennifer Wilson will be presenting information on how to ensure that your vote counts when you vote by absentee ballot. The four meetings will be the same but are offered at different times to encourage more participation. The dates and times (with the Zoom links) are as follows:
Youth Programs
Crystal Joseph: campus@lwvnyc.org
Sept. 2020 Civics and Education
As we prepare for the upcoming elections, young adults are using 2020 election momentum to discuss issues that are relevant to their generation. Please join us on Thursday, October 8th at 6:00 pm as we learn from youth leaders and organizers with the New York City Youth Civics Initiative as they inspire the youth to stay civically engaged. Register here to join the meeting:
LWVUS Trainings
Racism and Redistricting: How Unfair Maps Impact Communities of Color Event & Social Media Toolkit 
On October 8, at 7pm ET, the LWVUS, along with LWV of Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia will host a discussion on the role systemic racism plays in silencing voters of color and how it's shaped one of the most important processes for ensuring voters' voices are heard. These community leaders will share information on the work being done to end some of the most egregious racial gerrymandering in the country-and what all is at stake in this year's election. This is a FREE live event on the LWVUS Facebook Live. Share the event with your networks! Additionally, we have created graphics and social media content for Leagues to share leading up to the event. Use this link to access content to share on your social media platforms.   
On Thursday, October 1st, at 3 pm ET join LWVUS for Direct Voter Contact training! Contacting voters directly is the most effective way to get out the vote in our communities. This direct voter contact training will outline how to build your direct voter contact muscle to ensure that we are equipped to do everything we can to ensure people turn out for the election. Click here to register and feel free to forward this email to any interested League members!
On Thursday, October 15th, at 3 pm ET join LWVUS for General Election GOTV Best Practices webinar. We know that during these unprecedented times now more than ever, educating voters on how they can participate in upcoming elections will pose unique challenges. Click here to register today!

National Voter Registration Day
      Some photos from local Leagues who shared them with us on their activities on National Voter Registration Day!  
League of Women Voters of New York State
62 Grand Street, Albany, NY 12207
Tel: 518-465-4162;  FAX: 518-465-0812
Facebook: League of Women Voters of NYS
Twitter: @LWVNYS
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