We have been approved by LWV Ohio as a Local League.


It’s official:  We have been approved by LWV Ohio as a Local League.  Hooray!

I know that some of you have been awaiting this good news before renewing your membership or joining for the first time.  Wait no longer!  We will still use the same membership form and the process outlined on our website.  Here is a link to the form.  Just print it, fill it out, and mail it to the address listed on the bottom along with your dues.  If you are renewing, please write Renewal at the top of the form. In the future we may also work out a way to pay by credit card.

Do you have a child, grandchild, or neighbor who is a student and who would like to be involved in our work?  Notice that student members can join for a mere $5 per year now.

Here are some things coming up soon.  Get involved!


The Hands that Feed Us: Migrant Workers in Licking County

A Panel and Discussion, Open to the Public

September 25th 7:00 at United Church in Granville


LWV Social Hour

October 5th at 5:30

Trek Brewing Company


Voter Registration


  • September 25th (National Voter Registration Day)
    • Denison University, Newark High School, Granville High School
  • September 26th – OSUN-COTC
  • September 29th – Granville Farmers Market
  • October 6th – Granville Farmer’s Market

Contact Anne Goodge (anne.goodge@gmail.com) if you want to be on her list of registration volunteers.


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The League Reflects on the Kavanaugh Hearings

Since its founding in 1920, the League’s core values aim to empower voters and expand participation in our democracy through public education and advocacy throughout the nation. We believe that we must challenge the discriminatory laws in our country and build a system that allows all citizens to have an equal voice. We fight for a representative government because protecting the right to vote is indivisibly part of the League of Women Voters’ basic purpose.

Today, our core work focuses on voter engagement, protecting voters’ rights, improving elections, campaign finance/money in politics, and redistricting. We are leaders in this space through the many decades of work by the League’s dedicated service at the local, state, and federal levels of government and throughout communities nationwide.

The League does not take a position on appointees and we don’t dispute an appointee’s qualifications. Our steady focus is on public policies—namely, the decision-making process, enforcement, and the relevant administrative rules. Yet, we are advocates and we fiercely understand the importance of our role as advocates for nearly a century.

And, while we do not take a position on appointees, we are obliged to stand up when and if ideologies—spoken or implied—threaten the people, the rights and the public policies the League has long worked on to protect and expand fundamental voting rights.

With that framework laid, it is critical to share how our work and legacy measures up against the ideology of the next Supreme Court Justice. After three days of hearings, this is what we’ve learned about Judge Kavanaugh’s record as it relates to our priority issues.

Judge Kavanaugh has not demonstrated a commitment to protect voters

The League believes that voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed. The fight to protect voters’ rights, especially those whose voices are least heard– specifically communities of color – is ongoing and fierce.

Judge Kavanaugh’s voting rights record causes some concern and we need clarification around how he will handle important voting rights protections and whether those protections are at risk of being further eroded.

In South Carolina v. United States, Judge Kavanaugh precleared a voter photo identification law, after the Department of Justice deemed it a threat to the voting rights of tens of thousands of minority voters in the state. The separate concurrence by Judge Bates, in that same decision, is significant because it shows a clear distinction between the two judges with similar worldviews of precedent and the historic importance of not only section 5 but the Voting Rights Act generally. Ultimately, it shows that regardless of which side of the political aisle a judge sits, the ability to leave precedent undisturbed is the standard unless a compelling reason exists.

Secondly, the case of Rice v. Cayetano has also come up. In Rice, an amicus brief by Judge Kavanagh was filed that was co-authored with Robert Bork and Roger Clegg. In this brief, they argued that Hawaii violated the Constitution by permitting only Native Hawaiians to vote in elections for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a state agency charged with working for the betterment of Native Hawaiians. However, Justice Stevens wrote a compelling dissent asserting, “there is simply no invidious discrimination present in this effort to see that indigenous peoples are compensated for past wrongs, and to preserve a distinct and vibrant culture that is as much a part of this Nation’s heritage as any.” Judge Kavanaugh’s record in these voting rights cases raises red flags about how he might rule from the highest court in future decisions.

The late release of the SCOTUS nominee’s full record undermines much needed public transparency

The League has long worked for the citizen’s right to know and for broad citizen participation in government. We further believe that the government bodies protect the citizen’s right to know by giving adequate notice of proposed actions, holding open meetings, and making public records accessible.

As an organization that promotes and reveres transparency, the current Supreme Court nominee process has been unusually opaque to the public. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings were scheduled before obtaining the nominee’s full record, and over 42,000 records were released just hours before the first hearing. The proximity of the documents’ release to the hearings does not pass the transparency sniff test. When a full record of a SCOTUS nominee is not available, the public, and those officials elected to represent us, are at a disadvantage and cannot capably assess whether the nominee reflects American democracy.

Judge Kavanaugh’s record shows a consistent refusal to uphold campaign finance restrictions

The League believes that the methods of financing political campaigns should enhance political equality for all citizens, ensure maximum participation by citizens in the political process while protecting representative democracy from being distorted by big spending in election campaigns. We are fighting to reform money in politics in Congress, with state legislatures, with the executive branch, and, where appropriate, the courts. Without further inform, Judge Kavanaugh’s level of concern for the influence of money in politics runs counter to the League’s principles.

In the campaign finance case of Emily’s List v. Federal Election Commission, Judge Kavanaugh reversed a lower court’s opinion that enacted regulations to limit an influx of spending from outside groups to nonprofits. He held that contributions and expenditures constituted speech, and thus are afforded First Amendment protection. This decision laid the groundwork for the holding in the landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, giving corporations the ability to spend unlimited sums in political campaigns.

Similarly, in Independence Institute v. Federal Election Commission, he wrote the opinion for two-panel members utilizing what Demos and Campaign Legal Center deemed “a novel theory that would limit disclosure based on a spender’s tax-status, a theory subsequently rejected by a three-judge court and the Supreme Court.”

It goes without saying that the Supreme Court plays a critical role in protecting the rights of voters in this country. While we won’t assess the qualifications of the Supreme Court nominee, we exercise our obligation to diligently review Judge Kavanaugh’s record and the testimony made before the Senate Judiciary Committee to determine how this appointment could impact the fundamental values that the League of Women Voters of the United State works to protect and enhance, now and for decades to come.


Source: League of Women Voters – National

LINK: read:https://www.lwv.org/blog/league-reflects-kavanaugh-hearings?utm_content=buffer21350&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

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Migrant Workers in Licking County: The Hands That Feed Us

The Hands That Feed Us

When Marshall Branstool, owner of Branstool Orchards in Utica, steps behind his market table filled with fresh peaches and ripe apples many are quick to notice his shirt does not have the well-known Branstool Orchards logo but instead reflects the heart of the business. The T-shirt simply reads, “Immigrants Feed America.”

In today’s political climate it may feel surprising to have a business owner make such a bold statement at what feels like a simple Saturday morning outing. To those within the food chain, however, recent focus on immigration policy is a constant reminder of how essential immigrant labor and families are to our agricultural economy.

Marshall wears his shirt to remind customers who is behind their food.

“People need to be aware and know about the work that goes on for operations of our size. We aren’t large enough to be mechanized and we aren’t small enough for just a family to manage. Our immigrant employees pick each peach and apple by hand.”

Branstool Orchards and other U-pick and agritourism farms are often the only intersection a shopper might have with the labor aspect of the food system. For one afternoon a year a family will pile into the car and drive to the countryside to pick a bushel of apples before paying the farmer for their work. Picking fruit for the afternoon feels like the perfect fall day but the U.S. fruit and vegetable industry requires a labor force of millions.

Marshall Branstool, owner of Branstool Orchards, with one of the signs he displays at his farm market on the farm.

Statistics vary and are hard to collect given the nature of a migrant and seasonal workforce but according to industry associations 2.5 million farmworkers are hired annually. This includes those working to harvest fruits and vegetables as well as farmworkers tending to livestock, ranches, nurseries and fisheries. While we may imagine picturesque scenes of fresh fruit being picked from the vine, for these farmworkers work starts in the late winter to plant, prune, thin, mow grass, spray for disease and pests, build trellising, maintain fencing and infrastructure, harvest, grade, wash, pack and deliver product.

These daily tasks begin before the sun fully rises and last until it sets 14 hours later. For most farmworkers these long hours do not pay off as they would in any other industry. While Branstool Orchards ensures their employees are paid time-and-half, the agriculture industry is exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Farmworkers have the lowest annual family income of any U.S. wage workers—averaging $17,000 to $19,000 a year.

Agriculture, by nature, is unreliable and lacks job security. Produce is perishable and needs to be harvested within a small time frame. Many farmworkers migrate to follow the harvest between Florida’s winter citrus, California’s spring strawberries, the Midwest’s summer sweet corn and the Carolinas’ fall sweet potato harvest. About 13,700 migrant farm workers travel to Ohio each year through H2A visa programs alone for orchard work.

Most consumers are aware of the notion that “Mexicans pick our food” and in a real sense they are correct. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS), immigrants account for 73% of all farmworkers and the survey showed up to 75% of those were born in Mexico. The NAWS survey reported 47% of those foreign born are undocumented immigrants, but farmworker justice surveys have shown up to 70% of the workforce goes undocumented. This is a wide range and no matter which survey results one accepts it still leaves a large portion of the workforce vulnerable.

Fruits and vegetables are not the only products that require a large immigrant population. The poultry, dairy and meatpacking industries depend on immigrant labor. More than half of all dairy workers in the U.S. are immigrants, according to a 2015 industry-sponsored study, and farms that employ immigrant labor produce 79% of the nation’s milk with over half of the immigrant labor coming from Mexico. Declining rural populations, increased herd sizes to increase farm income and family members seeking off-farm jobs for health insurance purposes has shifted family dairy farms to hired staff over the last 20 years. Dairy workers account for the highest-paying farm labor jobs.

In Licking County, Stacey Atherton of Shipley’s Dairy Farm simply says, “We do not look at our immigrant labor as cheap labor. In fact, we look at them as dependable and hardworking employees.” In this competitive labor market, employees make almost double minimum wage and have stayed employed for over a decade on the farm. Stacey has worked hard to learn Spanish to create a better work environment for everyone.

Photo 1: Heading out to the orchard for a days work.
Photo 2: At Shipley’s Dairy Farm.

Most consumers may assume the nationality of those employed to harvest their food but most are unaware that an estimated 430,000 under-age children are working in the fields. U.S. labor laws provide no minimum age for children working alongside their parent on small farms with their parent’s permission. Children may work for hire on any farm with parental consent from age 12, and there are no legal limits on the hours children can work in agriculture outside of being enrolled in school fulltime. Industry studies have shown 25% of our food picked in the U.S. is by children as young as 6 years old.

For these children, they will go to school and then join their parents in the field through the afternoon and weekends, often working over 40 hours a week. It is a common misconception that these standards are higher for certified organic produce but the certification process does not have any labor conditions incentives. Our country’s desire for the cheapest food possible, competing with imported goods, has led to a human rights crisis in our fields.

For Columbus Rabbi Jessica Shimberg it was an article similar to this in a 2001 Gourmet magazine that opened her eyes to whose hands were picking her food and the privileged role she had held in the food system.

“My mother gave me an annual gift subscription to Gourmet, because we both enjoyed cooking and reading about great restaurants. One day, I opened the magazine to a stunning article by Barry Estabrook about the tomato industry. There was a picture of brown hands holding green tomatoes with the town of Immokalee, Florida, listed. I stopped to read the article, recalling that our family had taken a day trip to Immokalee for a boat ride and realizing that the impoverished homes we had driven by housed these migrant farmworkers. Here my family was sightseeing while human rights abuses were occurring within miles of our destination.”

The article was one of the first mainstream publications to shine a light on the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). The CIW is a worker-based human rights organization organizing the farmworker community since 1993, and was reinforced with the creation of a national consumer network in 2000. In 2011, CIW launched the Fair Food Program (FFP), which focuses on a Worker driven Social Responsibility (WSR) model based on a unique partnership among farmworkers, Florida tomato growers and participating retail buyers. Companies such as Taco Bell, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and more have signed on to this agreement to pay one penny more per tomato and purchase from ethically responsible growers. Other firms continue to resist joining the agreement.

As a rabbinical student, Jessica began to consider more about what it meant for her to keep kosher, not just to obey scriptural laws but also as a spiritual practice of blessing those who cultivate and harvest the food. Through this introspective learning, Jessica connected with T’ruah, an organization that brings a rabbinic voice and the power of the Jewish community to protecting and advancing human rights in North America. In October 2012, Jessica spent time in Immokalee learning from the CIW and has worked, locally and nationally, as part of T’ruah’s Tomato Rabbis (#tomatorabbis) ever since.

Rabbi Jessica’s work as the spiritual leader of The Little Minyan Kehilah has allowed her to connect and organize with other Central Ohio faith leaders and with the active Ohio State University Farmworker Alliance. The OSU chapter is a part of a national network of students and youth organizing in partnership with the CIW. Students Rachael Birri and Alex Hoey have been organizing with students on campus. Students volunteer to educate, organize, train and demonstrate the plight of the farmworker. Each year students host farmworkers from Immokalee to share their story. The CIW has been fighting for over 20 years, longer than some student organizers have been alive, but the students say they are not disillusioned and instead view the work of the CIW in holding space in a larger movement inspiring and renewing every time they take action together.

The work to create a fair food system involves protesting with your food dollars every day. Simple choices make a difference, such as buying in-season produce, especially avoiding imported and out-of-season berries. Buy directly from producers where you can ask about farmworker conditions and seek out farmers like Stacey and Marshall who respect their employees and are grateful for their labor. Joining a CSA program and purchasing meat and dairy products from those who utilize independent meat processing facilities also helps.

As Rabbi Jessica explains, as fellow human beings, we have an obligation to “do our best to ensure the food we put in our mouths is clean, free of human exploitation; if we can know that basic human rights have not been violated—that those who tend the crops weren’t sprayed by pesticides, that they have adequate bathroom and shade access and are free from sexual assault in the fields and other work locations, why would we choose not to? In this way, the food we eat can truly nourish our bodies and our souls.”

To get involved in Central Ohio visit: Ohio For Fair Food and Farmworker Justice on Facebook. And to learn more, Rabbi Jessica recommends reading I’m Not A Tractor: How Florida Farmworkers Took On the Fast Food Giants and Won (2017) by Susan L. Marquis. The book chronicles how farmworkers have greatly improved their working conditions on farms and more.


Source: Edible Columbus

By:  Bryn Bird

LINK:  http://ediblecolumbus.ediblecommunities.com/food-thought/hands-feed-us


Here’s the link to the LWVUS position on immigration:


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The furious fight to win US women the vote

‘The Woman’s Hour’ wonderfully recalls the furious fight to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment

March 14, 2018 —This year, more than 400 women are considered likely candidates for US Congress, while another 79 are exploring runs for state governorships as of the beginning of this year. It’s a grass-roots movement also known as “the pink wave,” and some Americans are hoping that it will change the country, if not the world.
If only Carrie Chapman Catt were here to see it.
Catt is one of the principal players in The Woman’s Hour, award-winning writer Elaine Weiss’s excellent book about the last-minute dramatics surrounding the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment granting American women the right to vote.

Looking back today, we marvel that it took until 1920 for women to gain their full rights as United States citizens. But it’s easy to forget that at the time, the conferral of that right was anything but certain. In fact, Weiss’s narrative is an out-and-out nail-biter.
Up until the very last moment, the “Suffs” (the suffragists, of whom Catt was a leader) were in despair. The “Antis” (a formidable group opposed to women’s suffrage headed up by a highly educated college professor named Josephine Pearson) had mounted a fierce and very effective attack against the amendment, and it looked as if they very well might succeed.
“The Woman’s Hour” focuses on a few tense weeks in the summer of 1920. Thirty-five American states had ratified the 19th Amendment. Thirty-six “yes” votes were needed to make the amendment law, and now Tennessee’s moment of decision was at hand with a vote scheduled for August.
Weiss sets the stage, writing, “If the Tennessee legislature ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, woman suffrage would become the law of the land and twenty-seven million women would be able to vote, just in time for the fall presidential elections; if the legislature rejected it, the amendment might never be enacted. It all came down to Tennessee.”
Starting in mid-July, Suffs and Antis from around the country began converging on Nashville.
Catt, a former school superintendent and the anointed heir of Susan B. Anthony, had already devoted three decades of her life to this battle. The evening she arrived in Nashville by train from New York she was weary and discouraged. “At this time, I do not believe that there is a ghost of a chance of ratification in Tennessee,” she wrote to a friend.

Pearson, the champion of the Antis, was by contrast thrilled by the telegram that called her to Nashville from her home in southeastern Tennessee. “She knew she was doing God’s will,” Weiss writes, “fulfilling a sacred vow to her beloved mother, who had understood the dangers of female suffrage, how it mocked the plan of the Creator, undermined women’s purity and the noble chivalry of men, and threatened the home and the family.”
But talk of chivalry and purity – as genuine as that was on the part of many Antis – masked the real struggle in Tennessee that summer. The most powerful force behind the battle over female suffrage was race. If the 19th Amendment allowed women to vote, that would include black women.
“This amendment will not only hurl women into political competition and battle with men,” read an ad the Antis ran in The Tennessean on the day of the vote, “but it will and must involve political warfare between the races – a thing that no thinking American, white or black, should advocate.”

There was scheming, double-dealing, and flip-flopping up to the last moment. Weiss tells the story in gripping detail. We all know, of course, how the vote ended, but most modern readers will be astonished to learn exactly how it all went down.
Weiss wonderfully describes the drama in the Tennessee statehouse that day: crowds packed into the visitors’ gallery, the Suffs draped in saffron, and the Antis wearing red flowers. When the vote finally came, a mother’s letter and a last-minute defection were game changers so unexpected that for a few minutes history reads like outlandish fiction.
On Nov. 2, 1920, about 10 million American women voted in the election that brought Warren G. Harding to the White House. Almost two-thirds of eligible women chose not to vote, but Catt rightly predicted that the League of Women Voters – which she founded earlier that year – would gradually bring women voters into the system.

Catt, who died in 1947, went on to spend the rest of her life fighting the persecution of Jews in Europe. On Election Day 2016 – when for the first time a woman was the presidential candidate of a major US political party – thousands of women visited the gravestones of Catt, Anthony, and other suffragists, paying silent tribute with their I VOTED stickers.
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Would Catt have been disappointed that it took almost a century for such an event to occur? Perhaps, but probably not surprised.
Marjorie Kehe is The Christian Science Monitor’s books editor.

3 mins read
Elaine Weiss’s superb book focuses on six key weeks in the suffrage battle.

LINK:  https://www.csmonitor.com/Books/Book-Reviews/2018/0314/The-Woman-s-Hour-wonderfully-recalls-the-furious-fight-to-ratify-the-Nineteenth-Amendment

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Engaging New Voters


This study evaluates the potential of nonprofit service providers and community-based organizations to increase voting among their younger clients and constituents, while also assessing best practices for doing so. To do this, we tracked 39,000 individuals who registered to vote or signed a pledge-to-vote card at one of 122 nonprofits across nine states in the lead up to the 2016 elections. The participating nonprofits included a diverse set of community health centers, food pantries, family service agencies, multi-service organizations, community development corporations, and others. This year’s report differs from our 2014 Engaging New Voters report 1 both in its more rigorous methodology as well as its narrow focus on voters under 30 who are the most challenging to engage. We focused our analysis on 5,835 young voters that were successfully matched to the voter file across the study counties. In addition to determining who from a demographic standpoint the nonprofits reached, we used voter files to assess the rate at which those contacted turned out to vote in the November 2016 election as compared to a demographically-similar group of registered voters in the same counties. Throughout this report, we use the term “nonprofit voters” to refer to people who registered to vote or signed a voter pledge card at one of the 122 nonprofits. We use the term “comparable voters” to refer to a demographically-similar group of registered voters from the same counties which we use for comparison (See Methodology for more).


  • Half as likely to be White
  • 1.6 times as likely to be Black
  • 2.1 times as likely to be Latino


  • Overall, voter turnout among young nonprofit voters was 5.7 percentage points higher than turnout among other comparable young voters (61.0% vs. 55.4%).
  • Turnout was higher among all racial groups engaged by nonprofits, with Latinos showing the largest gain.
    • Young Black nonprofit voters turned out at a rate 5.1 percentage points higher than comparable young Black voters (59.9% vs. 54.9%).
    • Young Latino nonprofit voters turned out at a rate 6.0 percentage points higher than comparable young Latino voters (52.8% vs. 46.8%).
    • Young White nonprofit voters also performed well, turning out at 5.5 percentage points higher than comparable young White voters (71.5% vs. 66.0%).
  • Turnout was higher among both men and women engaged by nonprofits.
    • Young women engaged at nonprofits turned out at a rate 6.5 percentage points higher than comparable young women (66.7% vs. 60.2%).
    • Young men engaged at nonprofits turned out a rate 4.4 percentage points higher than comparable young men (52.3% vs. 47.9%).
  • Pledge-to-vote cards were particularly effective.
    • Nonprofit voters who signed a pledge-to-vote card turned out to vote at a rate 14.1 percentage points higher than comparable registered voters.


  • To assess best practices, we asked the 122 participating nonprofits to fill out an in-depth online survey. We also conducted interviews with several of the higher and lower-performing nonprofits. We then compared the results of the high and low-performing groups to identify factors common to more successful organizations.
  • Successful agencies had high levels of support from executive and senior leadership as well as frontline staff. This level of buying into the initiative was seen across the entire organization including intake personnel, program staff, and case managers. They also were more likely to have more than 10 individuals asking people to register.
  • High-performing groups started early in voter registration efforts as opposed to later in the electoral cycle. They were more likely to get started in June or July than less successful groups.
  • For all respondents, getting their message out in high traffic areas proved successful. Tabling at events or in their own lobby were successful tactics in their efforts.
    National Voter Registration Day participation was also a strong indicator of success with nearly all successful groups participating.
  • Successful groups were significantly more likely to provide additional voter engagement services, including providing collateral (voter guides, ballot measure informational sheets, etc.,) in addition to going literal extra miles in providing transportation to the polls.

SOURCE: Nonprofit Vote

2 mins read

LINK:  http://www.nonprofitvote.org/engaging-new-voters-executive-summary/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Executive%20Summary&utm_campaign=report-blast-12-2-15

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Women’s HIstory Month: Marjory Stoneman Douglas

With the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., last week, the name Marjory Stoneman Douglas has entered the grim lexicon of mass killings.

But just who was Douglas? Long before her namesake would be associated with tragedy, she gained fame as a crusading journalist, author, women’s suffrage advocate, and conservationist. Most notably, she was a passionate steward of the Everglades, 1.5 million acres of fragile wetlands at the southern tip of Florida.

Here are six things to know about Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

■ She was born in Minneapolis in 1890. Her father founded the paper that became the Miami Herald and her mother was a concert violinist. Douglas was a straight-A student at Wellesley College, where the class of 1912 elected her “class orator.’’

In addition to graduating from Wellesley, Douglas had other ties to New England. After her parents separated, she and her mother moved to Taunton, where her mother had family. Douglas also worked in a Boston department store.

■ In 1915, she became a reporter for the Miami Herald, where she began to learn of the problems associated with rapid development in South Florida. At the time, many believed that wetlands were useless swamps that should be drained and cleared for farming and housing.

■ Her 1947 best-seller, “The Everglades: River of Grass,’’ was a plea to preserve the delicate ecosystem. “There are no other Everglades in the world,” Douglas wrote. “They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth; remote, never wholly known. Nothing anywhere else is like them.’’ Her impact on US wetlands policy has been likened to that of Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring,” on the harmful effects of pesticides.

■ In her later years, Douglas, who was known to sport a straw hat, large glasses, and a string of pearls, embraced other causes. She was a charter member of the first American Civil Liberties Union chapter in the South and supported efforts to protect migrant farm workers.

■ Well into her second century, she remained active — and cantankerous: she was known to admonish reporters for asking stupid questions. In 1993, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. She later donated the medal to Wellesley College. Douglas died in 1998, at age 108, in the English-style cottage she had built in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood in 1926.

The Associated Press

Source: The Boston Globe

By Roy Greene –  February 20, 2018

LINK:  https://www.bostonglobe.com/2018/02/20/who-was-marjory-stoneman-douglas/I2qSAItF3Es3WOJrCFkUbP/story.html

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Shaping districts nationwide – Races for governor, state legislature key for redistricting

Races for governor, state legislature key for redistricting

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Buoyed by a string of electoral victories during President Donald Trump’s first year in office, Democrats will be waging a renewed battle to wrest control of Congress from Republicans this year.

Yet the contests with the greatest long term consequences for Congress could be elsewhere on the ballot — for governors and state legislators who will shape the boundaries of congressional districts for the decade to come.

Voters in two-thirds of the states will be electing governors to new four-year terms in 2018. Of those, 26 will be vested with the power to approve or reject congressional maps that will be redrawn after the 2020 census.

Although most of the thousands of state lawmakers responsible for redistricting will be chosen in 2020, a total of 766 will be elected to four-year terms in nearly two dozen states where they will play a role in approving congressional maps.

Winning a governorship ensures a political party has at least some say in redistricting. Matching a governor with a legislature led by the same party — as Republicans have done in three times as many states as Democrats — gives a party the potential to draw favorable districts that could cement its power for a decade.

This year is “enormously consequential for redistricting,” said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who tracks redistricting nationwide. “The 2018 elections will in some cases decide — and in the rest of the cases, tee up — who is actually in charge of drawing the lines in 2020.”

During the last redistricting, Republicans who swept into control of numerous governorships and state legislatures in 2010 used their newfound power to draw lines that helped them win and retain majorities in the following years.

An AP analysis published earlier this year found that Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats in 2016 over what would have been expected based on their average vote share in congressional districts across the country. That helped provide the GOP with a comfortable majority — instead of a slim one — over Democrats.

While Democrats also have drawn congressional districts to their advantage, the AP’s analysis found nearly three times as many states with Republican tilted House districts among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress.

“There is an epidemic of gerrymandering,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who recently took over as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, “and the best way to cure it is to elect some Democratic governors so at least there is a person at the seat of the table.”

A total of 36 governor’s races are on the ballot next year, though two of those are to fill out two-year terms.

The Democratic Governors Association is targeting races in eight states — Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — that it believes could nearly wipe out the GOP congressional advantage if Democratic governors were able to forge favorable maps.

Republicans are targeting many of the same states while also hoping to flip Democratic governorships in Minnesota and elsewhere, and protect their turf in Arkansas, South Carolina and Texas.

“The majority of the House of Representatives is absolutely on the line,” said Jon Thompson, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association. “If Republicans want to hold on to the House in this next decade, governors’ races are immensely important.”

The GOP will be defending 26 governorships in 2018, nearly half of which will be open because incumbents can’t or chose not to run again. Democrats will have nine governorships on the ballot. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, also is up for re-election.

Republicans control two-thirds of all state legislative chambers and hold a trifecta of the governor’s office and both legislative chambers in 25 states, compared with just eight for Democrats.

In places such as Illinois, Republicans will be hoping to re-elect a GOP governor who could counteract a Democratic-led Legislature during redistricting. Elsewhere, such as in Pennsylvania, it’s Democrats who are hoping to re-elect a governor to offset a Republican- led Legislature.

Gains by the minority party in either of those states’ legislatures also are important, because they could prevent the majority from overriding a gubernatorial veto of redistricting maps.

The stakes will be particularly high in Alabama and Maryland, the only two states where the governors and all lawmakers in both state legislative chambers will be up for election to four-year terms. In many other states, staggered Senate terms mean only half the members will be on the ballot, and House or Assembly members serve two-year terms.

Alabama has been a solid Republican state, but Democrats have new hope in state contests after Democrat Doug Jones narrowly defeated Republican Roy Moore in a special U.S. Senate election in December.

Maryland, by contrast, has been traditionally dominated by Democrats, who used a governmental trifecta to draw pro-Democratic congressional districts after the 2010 census. But it’s now led by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who holds generally favorable public approval ratings heading into the 2018 elections.

Hogan declined to say whether redistricting makes his re-election more important for Republicans, noting instead that he will continue to push for creation of a nonpartisan redistricting commission.

The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing challenges to Maryland’s congressional map, as well as to a Wisconsin state Assembly map that favors Republicans.

If justices adopt a new standard for determining whether partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional, it could affect districts in those states for the upcoming elections and force all states to rethink the way they draw lines after the 2020 census.

“The majority of the House of Representatives is absolutely on the line. If Republicans want to hold on to the House in this next decade, governors’ races are immensely important.”

Jon Thompson

a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association

“There is an epidemic of gerrymandering, and the best way to cure it is to elect some Democratic governors so at least there is a person at the seat of the table.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

Source: The Advocate

By: David A. Lieb


LINK:  http://newarkadvocate.oh.newsmemory.com/?token=1fc67f357af3795465e74946c49ba3d4&cnum=3161198&fod=1111111STD&selDate=20180107&licenseType=paid_subscriber&

Posted in National Voting | Comments Off on Shaping districts nationwide – Races for governor, state legislature key for redistricting

Melinda Gates: It’s Time for a New Era for Women

 Melinda Gates: It’s Time for a New Era for Women

Melinda Gates is the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

You may never know their names. They work beneath the headlines and far from the spotlight. When they receive formal recognition from bodies like the Nobel Committee, it is the exception, not the norm. But the fact remains: under the radar, grassroots organizations led by women are quietly changing the world.

The year 2017 has been a painful reminder that when men hold most of the power it’s all too easy for them to abuse it. But the moment of reckoning prompted by the “Me Too” conversation has also proven that by coming together and speaking in one voice, women can tip the balance. Thanks to these brave women, men are being held accountable for their actions as never before. It’s easy to dismiss the whispers of one woman. It’s much harder to ignore a movement.

This is a story that repeats itself all over the world. Women’s movements have successfully campaigned for workers’ rights in Pakistan, widows’ rights in Ethiopia and disability rights in Indonesia. They successfully pushed for an end to Liberia’s brutal civil war in 2003 and won suffrage in the U.S. back in 1920. In fact, a 2012 study, published in the American Political Science Review, looking at 70 countries over four decades found that women’s movements were more effective at advancing policy change–particularly on violence against women–than most other factors, including a country’s wealth and the number of women lawmakers in a legislative body. Simply put, women get things done.

Why? For one, women’s movements tend to be driven by people who share a deep, personal stake in the future of their communities. When I talked to Leymah Gbowee, who helped lead the movement that brought peace to Liberia, she told me that part of their success stemmed from the fact that the women she organized weren’t motivated by power or politics in the abstract–it was personal. “It was about our livelihood,” Leymah says.

Not only do women’s movements bring a sense of urgency to the work that they do, their deep knowledge of the customs that shape their communities offers important insight into solutions. When development policies are set from the top down, even though they may be well-intentioned, their impact doesn’t always reach everyone equally. Women’s organizations help drive progress that is more inclusive and sustainable.

What makes their track record even more remarkable is that many local women’s organizations are running on a median budget of just $20,000 a year. Considering their enormous potential to make life better for all of us, I think it’s time we give them a raise.

So here is my pitch: if we want to change the world, we should invest in the people who already are. In 2018 that will mean challenging ourselves to do a better job of finding and funding grassroots women’s movements. Right now, less than 2% of global funding for gender issues goes to local women’s organizations.

In recent years, governments like those in the Netherlands and Canada have invested significant resources in women’s movements, and I hope that others will follow suit. You can be sure that Bill and I will. Over the next three years, our foundation will be investing in women’s funds like Mama Cash and networks like Prospera, which provides financial support to women’s funds and grassroots women’s organizations in over 170 countries, spanning Africa to Asia to Latin America.

Imagine what’s possible if the world decides to partner with these organizers as their allies. Imagine how much more we can accomplish if the women who are doing so much to move the world forward finally have our full support behind them.

I’m hopeful that in 2018, we’ll do more than imagine that future. We’ll start making it a reality.

Gates is a co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

This appears in the January 15, 2018 issue of TIME.

 Source:  Time Magazine
LINK:  read:http://time.com/5087358/melinda-gates-its-time-for-a-new-era-for-women/
Posted in Women | Comments Off on Melinda Gates: It’s Time for a New Era for Women

The Ohio state legislature is trying to undermine our efforts to end gerrymandering

The Ohio state legislature is trying to undermine our efforts to end gerrymandering by putting a watered-down version of redistricting reform on the May ballot. Their proposal will likely leave the legislature in control of drawing the congressional district map. We need an independent commission to take charge of the map. 

 Legislative action is imminent.  Please choose one of the following options. And please share this email with your friends.

 Here are the legislators you need to contact and their phone numbers:

 Sen. Matt Huffman: 614.466.7584

Rep. Kirk Schuring: 614.752.2438

Senate President Larry Obhof: 614.466.7505

House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger: 614.466.3506

 Here’s a script for your call:

I’m an Ohio voter, and I care about redistricting reform. I’m calling today to let you know that I will be keeping an eye on what the Congressional Redistricting Working Group proposes, and I hope it will be meaningful, real reform — something I can support and, ideally, something very similar to the Fair Congressional Districts for Ohio proposal.

Source: OH12East <indivisibleoh12east@gmail.com>

Posted in Ohio Voting | Comments Off on The Ohio state legislature is trying to undermine our efforts to end gerrymandering

Supreme Court to take up Ohio’s purges of inactive voters

Supreme Court to take up Ohio’s purges of inactive voters


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Joseph Helle was expecting a different sort of reception when he returned home from Army tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and showed up to vote in his small Ohio town near Lake Erie.

His name was missing from the voting rolls in 2011, even though Helle had registered to vote before leaving home at 18 and hadn’t changed his address during his military service.

Helle, now the mayor of Oak Harbor, Ohio, is among thousands of state residents with tales of being removed from Ohio’s rolls because they didn’t vote in some elections. The Supreme Court will hear arguments Jan. 10 in the disputed practice, which generally pits Democrats against Republicans.

The case has taken on added importance because the parties have squared off over ballot access across the country. Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to suppress votes from minorities and poorer people who tend to vote for Democrats. Republicans have argued that they are trying to promote ballot integrity and prevent voter fraud. Only a handful of states use a process similar to Ohio’s, but others could join in if the high court sides with the state.

Adding to the mix, the Trump administration reversed the position taken by the Obama administration and is now backing Ohio’s method for purging voters.

READ NEXT: Electoral College is ‘vestige’ of slavery, say some Constitutional scholars

Helle, 31, describes himself as a “red-state Democrat” and did not vote for President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

“I’m not one of these people that flaunts their military service, by any means, but to be told I couldn’t do one of the fundamental rights I went off and served this country for was just appalling,” Helle said, recounting his reaction after being dropped from voter registration rolls.

Ohio has used voters’ inactivity to trigger the removal process since 1994, although groups representing voters did not sue the Republican secretary of state, Jon Husted, until 2016. As part of the lawsuit, a judge last year ordered the state to count 7,515 ballots cast by people whose names had been removed from the voter rolls.

A federal appeals court panel in Cincinnati split 2-1 last year in ruling that Ohio’s process is illegal. In May, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Under Ohio rules, registered voters who fail to vote in a two-year period are targeted for eventual removal from registration rolls, even if they haven’t moved and remain eligible. The state says it removes names only after local election boards send notices and there’s no subsequent voting activity for the next four years. Ohio argues this helps ensure election security.

“It’s important for us to keep up-to-date, accurate voter logs,” said Aaron Sellers, a spokesman for the Franklin County Board of Elections in Ohio’s largest county.

Helle said he had no idea his name had been dropped, and said he mailed in absentee ballots in some years and not others. His local elections board said it has no record that Helle voted while he was away.

But even if he hadn’t voted, Helle said opting not to cast a ballot should be a voter’s choice and shouldn’t be penalized.

“That’s part of the free-speech argument to me,” he said. “Choosing not to vote is as important as choosing to vote. It’s one way to say, I do not believe in what’s going on here, or in either candidate, for instance.”

The main argument on behalf of voters whose registrations were canceled is that federal voting law specifically prohibits states from using voter inactivity to trigger purges. The state “purges registered voters who are still eligible to vote,” former and current Ohio elections officials said in a brief supporting the voters.

At the Supreme Court, voting cases often split the court’s liberal and conservative justices. Civil rights groups contend that a decision for Ohio would have widespread implications because there is a “nationwide push to make it more difficult and costly to vote,” as the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund told the court. A dozen mainly Democratic states also want the Supreme Court to declare that Ohio’s system violates federal law.

Ohio, backed by 17 other mostly Republican states, said it is complying with federal law. The state, where Republicans have controlled the secretary of state’s office for all but four years since 1991, said it first compares its voter lists with a U.S. postal service list of people who have reported a change of address. The problem, the state said, is that some people move without notifying the post office.

So the state asks people who haven’t voted in two years to confirm their eligibility. If they do, or if they show up to vote over the next four years, voters remain registered. If they do nothing, their names eventually fall off the list of registered voters.

The Trump administration said the practice complies with federal law because people are not removed from the rolls “by reason of their initial failure to vote.” They are sent a notice, the administration said in its Supreme Court brief, but only removed if “they fail to respond and fail to vote” in the elections that follow the notice.

A decision in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, 16-980, is expected by late June.

Sherman reported from Washington.

Source: WOSU


LINK:  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/supreme-court-to-take-up-ohios-purges-of-inactive-voters

Posted in Ohio Voting | Comments Off on Supreme Court to take up Ohio’s purges of inactive voters