Voter Services Update
With the Presidential election year on the horizon, the LWVLA Voter Services Committee began its work in late summer 2015 to organize for action to educate the public about voting and facilitate citizen participation in elections. Developing a core group of Special Registration Deputies (SRDs) in multiple municipalities was an early focus of the committee. Both committee and other LWV members were trained and certified by municipal clerks and have partnered with staff and student contacts in local school districts, Viterbo University, UW-La Crosse and other community groups to hold registration drives. At a Logan High School registration event over 2 days in December, Mary Nelson and the SRD team, in concert with the classroom teacher, highlighted the importance of voting as a right and responsibility of citizenship.
Registration and/or education events have reached diverse audiences. League SRDs with campus contacts and Viterbo University students staffed registration tables at the Martin Luther King celebration at Viterbo in January. League SRDs were on hand at the UGetConnected Volunteer Fair at UW-L last September and at two fall listening sessions of the La Crosse Human Rights Commission. These were opportunities to share general information for registering and voting and the new legal requirement, in most cases, for showing a voter photo ID at the polls.
Several media outlets have helped League to get the word out on what people need to know when they vote this year. Ellen Frantz joined a panel with Ginny
Dankmeyer and Marilyn Pedretti for a January WLSU Newsmakers program with John Davis. The Tribune published LWVWI Executive Director Andrea Kaminski's editorial, "Get ready to vote in Wisconsin elections," in January 28 which was followed by Mary Nugent's editorial on February 11. The committee plans to engage voters in this message through individual letters to the editor before each election this year.
Before the February 16 primary, posters were distributed in the community to publicize 2016 election dates and promote a voter readiness checklist: Register to Vote; Bring a Photo ID to the polls; and at the polls, State it - Show it - Sign it - Vote! The posters prominently feature websites for voter information, Bring It to the Ballot (bringit.wi.gov), My Vote Wisconsin (myvote.wi.gov), and LWV's VOTE411 (vote411.org).
The committee is looking at special challenges for elderly voters and reached out to the
coordinator of senior site managers for La Crosse County
. In March voter information will be distributed through the Mobile Meals program mailing.
Several voter forums to be held before the April 5 election are in the planning stages. These will include school board races, with the West Salem forum confirmed for March 21. A Holman school board forum was held in February.
Looking head, the committee anticipates that SRDs will be in place through the end of 2016 despite the passage of bills by the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly in February for the elimination of SRDs with the implementation of an online registration system. It is expected that the Governor will eventually sign the final bill into law. The committee will continue to track this development, while educating and registering a broad spectrum of voters with the League credo in mind:
Democracy is not a spectator sport
Members of the committee (2/2016) are: Nancy Danou, Anita Evans, Ellen Frantz, Jan Gallagher, Sheila Hilke, Cindy Killion, Maureen Kinney, Deb Lutjen, Kathy Mulliner, Mary Nelson, Mary Nugent, Sandy Sechrest, Pat Skewes, Kit Thomas, Pam Thiel.