|League Links – May 2020Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.In this issue:President’s Message: Technology powering our mission Register for Town Hall with SOS Jocelyn Benson on May 21 Voter Services: State Voter Guides, Clerk Engagement ProjectVote 411 – contacting candidates for August 4 primary Advocacy – Line 5 update, LWVMI letter of support2020 LWVUS Convention is virtual! Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Giving Tuesday – Thank you! Local League Spotlights: Detroit, Copper Country, Ann Arbor AreaPresident’s Message |
Using Technology to Empower Voters and Defend DemocracyLocal Leagues continue to provide the work we do to empower voters and protect elections and to defend democracy – ONLY now it is done virtually. And local Leagues are getting pretty darned good at it. Their annual meetings and related elections have been – and that many still plan to do – in the Zoom format. League membership and committee meetings are held through the Zoom platform.
At the state level, we hold our 6-hour monthly board meeting; voter service, membership, program planning, advocacy, DEI, and development committee meetings; and meetings with our stakeholders and partner organizations through the power of the internet and computers – and do so effectively.
Town hall meetings are conducted in the virtual platform. Register for the MISOS-LWVMI meeting schedule for May 21 at 5 p.m. – see the next article for details.
Candidate forums are next on the list to perfect as discussed during the local League Presidents’ video conference this past week. A couple of options were debated with the highlights of each presentation reviewed. One format is holding a webinar and the other is recording a meeting and posting the link.
Even the LWVUS 2020 Convention will be held virtually!
These events are detailed in the following articles.
Good for you Leaguers to not let a Pandemic stop you from empowering voters, protecting elections and defending democracy!
Thank you for what you do. Be Safe. Be well.
— Christina Schlitt, LWVMI President
ICRC Deadlines Getting Closer
Applications for the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) will be accepted only until June 1, 2020.
Learn how and why to apply for the ICRC!
Join us for a ZOOM webinar presentation by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and LWVMI Vice President Sue Smith, followed by a Q & A, on May 21, 2020, from 5 – 6 p.m.
Register in advance for this webinar: Click here.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
If you have questions for the Secretary of State Benson or staff or LWVMI VP Sue Smith, please send to [email protected] Serving on the Commission
The Commission will begin meeting by Fall of 2020, no later than Oct. 15.The Commission must solicit public input from communities across the state through open meetings and public hearings (at least 15 total).Each of the 13 commissioners will receive compensation of about $40,000.The deadline for the Commission to adopt a redistricting plan for Michigan’s House and Senate and U.S. Congressional districts is Nov. 1, 2021.These new districts will take effect for the 2022 elections.
Voter Services Preparing Voter Guides
Thank you to League Leaders at all levels of the LWV for your tireless energy in making VOTE411 the success it is! Thanks to your dedication, voters are more informed, more encouraged to register to vote, and absolutely more likely to vote. The State VOTE411 Team is working hard, too. “Heads Up” notices to candidates VOTE411 are being sent, and missing email addresses chased down. I want to give special thanks to the other team members – Megan Chenoweth and Deborah Bunkley. We are fortunate to have them.
Local Leagues/Units will be receiving a Request Form for the quantity of printed Voter Guides you would like for the November 3 Election, scheduled for delivery about September 20. We realize that it is hard to know this early how many copies and in what ways to best distribute Voter Guides in this Pandemic year. Luckily, Paula Bowman volunteered to organize a group to discuss this very subject, and we will keep you informed of the resulting suggestions.
Although it is tempting to stop printing paper voter guides, their need has never been greater. There are people who do not have access to computers, especially in underrepresented communities. If libraries are open, people are unlikely to spend their precious computer-time looking up candidates online – but they would likely read voter guides at home. There is no available/reliable internet in some parts of Michigan. There are many voters, especially older voters, who do not or cannot access the internet. In recent years, many Local Leagues have developed relationships with underserved community organizations, and distributing print guides in partnership with them might be a new way to nurture these relationships.There is also a great need to promote VOTE411 online, and suggestions for new ways to do this would be appreciated. Some Board members volunteered to investigate – we’ll keep you informed.
Successful participation in our Democracy in 2020 includes making voting convenient and accessible to all eligible citizens, especially those who have been historically disenfranchised. The LWVMI works with the Election Protection Coalition to do Clerk Survey & Engagement, Poll Worker Recruitment, Public Education using all forms of media, and Legislative Advocacy.
In a Clerk Survey, League Leaders are being asked to help lift up the voices of those in their communities who have been underrepresented. Local Leagues can support Coalition organizations who most closely represent their communities, working together to survey and support local clerks. If your League wants to get involved, please contact me at [email protected].
There are at least 3 PowerPoint presentations developed by Michigan Local Leagues or Units on voter registration for students. The Ann Arbor Area, Dearborn / Dearborn Heights, and Leelanau Charlevoix Emmet County Unit each have great presentations. Paula Bowman volunteered to post them on our website.
If you have questions and/or suggestions for any Voter Service area – VOTE411, promotional ideas, Voter Education ideas, Social Media, Candidate Forums – please contact me. There’s a lot going on!!!
— Betsy Cushman, LWVMI VP Voter ServicesVote411 Update: State Races 2020Election season sneaks up on me every year, but here we are! With filing deadlines for the primary election now past, we’re gearing up to publish Vote411 information by June 20, the date absentee ballots are sent out.
The state voter service team – Betsy Cushman, Deborah Bunkley, and I – has been preparing Vote411 to cover the state-level races on the ballot for the August 4 primary. The state Vote411 guide will include 128 races: U.S. Senate (one race), U.S. House of Representatives (fourteen races), and Michigan House of Representatives (110 races plus one special election to complete the term of the late Isaac Robinson in District 4). The target publication date for state races will be June 19.
After publishing 49 races and initiatives for the May 5 election, local Leagues are now turning their attention to the August 4 primary. A small army of Vote411 volunteers will cover the partisan county and township races, plus a handful of city and judicial races, that will be on the ballot in August. Thank you to the twenty-nine Leagues that have signed up to participate this year, including two new users: LWV Copper County and the Calhoun County geo unit.
We are very happy to be providing coverage for three new regions with no local Leagues this year: Bay, Muskegon, and Saginaw Counties. Our thanks go out to Lynne Kochmanski (LWV Ann Arbor), Sue McCollister (LWV Midland), and Cindy LeVasseur (LWV Midland) for their help covering these areas.
The LWVMI voter service team wishes you all much success with Vote411 this year! We’re here to help if you have any questions.
— Megan Chenoweth, LWVMI Director Vote411Advocacy: Updates on Line 5State regulators this week turned back Enbridge’s application for a permit to build a Line 5 oil tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac, saying the Canadian oil transport giant failed to evaluate other alternatives under Michigan’s environmental laws.
The decision to send the oil tunnel permit request back to Enbridge because it was incomplete — although not a death knell for the controversial project — was applauded by legal experts and environmental organizations. The setback to Enbridge’s plans may also be an important signal that the administration of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to take a closer look at the threat of oilpipelines in the Great Lakes and their damage to the climate.
LWVMI signed on to the letter with the following excerpt:
The undersigned environmental and civic organizations and Tribes, representing citizens throughout Michigan and the Great Lakes Basin, respectfully requests that the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) extend the public comment period on Corps File No. LRE-2010-00463-56-A19 by a minimum of 120 days beyond the currently scheduled public comment deadline. We also write to request a public hearing be held to consider this application when it is safe to convene members of the public after the risk of COVID-19 transmission subsides.
Public comment period on Enbridge Permit with Army Corp of Engineers currently begins May 15 and runs through June 4th.
Bay Mills Indian Community has enlisted the services of Earthjustice and the Native American Rights Fund to assist in the legal battle against Enbridge. Both organizations are representing Bay Mills Indian Community pro bono. Earthjustice is a nonprofit public interest environmental law organization working to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.
Additionally, the Native American Rights Fund has provided specialized legal assistance to Indian tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide since 1970. It works in critical areas as tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, natural resource protection, voting rights and education.
The Bay Mills Indian Community, Earthjustice and the Native American Rights fund intention is to pursue all avenues to prevent the construction of the tunnel and the pipeline’s presence in treaty-ceded waters. Their attorneys filed a Petition to Intervene to participate as a party in the Enbridge Line 5 Tunnel Project proceedings before the Michigan Public Service Commission.
— Tricia Denton, LWVMI Advocacy Committee2020 LWVUS ConventionARE YOU A LWVUS CONVENTION DELEGATE?
As we all know. the LWVUS Convention (June 25-27) will be held online. Registration is now open and along with other convention news, can be found here. The registration cost is $50, and is restricted to delegates only. Local League presidents should submit the names of their delegates to Christina Schlitt by the end of May. To find out how many delegates your League is entitled to, click here.
Though this is a virtual convention, delegates should be committed to attending the convention plenaries and other events – lots of quality time in front of your computer! Be sure to review the “Schedule at a Glance” on the Convention page. A pre-convention Zoom call for all LWVMI delegates will be on Friday, June 19, at 10 a.m. Please save that date and time and watch for the link in mid-June. We will be discussing the votes that delegates will make at the convention concerning the budget, program, and the slate of officers. Like local Leagues in Michigan, handling this bylaw-required business virtually is not the same as an in-person celebration, but we hope all Leagues will “send” their allowable delegates to this historic convention.
— Paula Bowman, LWVMI VP Program
Update: Diversity, Equity, and
InclusionHow are your DEI practices going? What are you working on right now? How are you integrating DEI into all your League work? Remember that DEI is a practice, it’s a continuum, it’s not something that ends or that we achieve. The goal of this learning and practicing is to move closer to being “perfectly adequate human beings.”
This week, LWVMI received a $500 grant from LWVUS. The goal of the grant is to help provide resources to state and local Leagues for customized DEI learning. Our obligation is to attend several hours of online training (on DEI topics) and develop an action plan for using the grant funding. As we just applied for, received, and heard the initial webinar about this grant this week, we will share more information in the future.
If your local League has a DEI coordinator, please send the name and contact info for that person to Tera Moon [email protected]. I will compile these contacts for the purpose of information sharing and coordination of efforts.
— Tera Moon, LWVMI Director, Membership/DEIThank you for supporting #GivingTuesdayNowTHANK YOU to all who participated in our Giving Tuesday Now online fundraiser. We are heartened and very grateful for the support we received. You recognized the importance in supporting us as we move toward the 2020 elections.
Our goal is to Empower Voters and Defend Democracy. Thank you for helping us reach our goal of enfranchising all eligible voters.
–Diana Neering, LWVMI Development DirectorLocal League Spotlights:Detroit, Copper Country, Ann Arbor AreaLeague of Women Voters of Detroit
Stuart Baum, a Detroit League member, joined the League several years ago as a student atWayne State University and will be graduating this month. As Student Senate President, he and Senate members have registered student voters and established a polling place at WSU.
After the 2016 election, Stuart received feedback that the polling place was not conveniently located, had long lines and other problems. He researched, developed a plan, and working with local entities was able to change the polling site. The Student Senate reported they were pleased with the outcome of the March 10th primary election at the new site.
League of Women Voters of Copper Country
During these challenging times, many Local Leagues are holding annual meetings and events via Zoom. The LWV of Copper Country held their 60th Annual Meeting on April 18th via Zoom. Jerry Wuorenmaa and Rachel Pressley of the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region (WUPPDR) discussed the role and impact of their organization. You can view the meeting and presentation on the LWV of Copper Country website.
League of Women Voters of Ann Arbor Area
The Ann Arbor League has moved its monthly “Brews and Views” gatherings to the virtual world. In April 96 attendees heard Barbara L. McQuade, professor at the University of Michigan School of Law and former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. She spoke on the Impact of the Covid-19 on the 2020 Election.
On May 20 Attorney Patrick Levine Rose will be the guest speaker. His topic is Why We Must Save the U.S. Postal Service During the Pandemic. Mr. Rose is the Legal Fellow at Michigan State University’s Center for Local Government, Finance and Policy. All “Brews and Views” are open to League members and the public by registering on the LWVAAA website. Participants may submit questions in advance.
— Paula Manley, LWVMI VP Membership
May 18 – 22 Michigan Week
May 21 Virtual Town Hall with MI SOS Jocelyn Benson
June 13 LWVMI Board Meeting
June 19 Zoom meeting for LWVUS Convention Delegates
June 19 Target date for Vote411 for August Primary
June 22 Absentee ballots available for August 4 Primary
June 25-27 LWVUS Convention
September Printed Voter Guides for November General ElectionLocal LeaguesAnn Arbor Area (with theBrighton Howell Geographical Unit)Berrien/Cass CountiesCopper CountryDearborn/Dearborn Heights