The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. We influence public policy through education and advocacy.
New officers and directors elected at Annual meeting include David Burress (Co-President), Cille King (Co-President and President Elect), Marci Francisco (Vice President), Marjorie Cole (Treasurer), Caleb Morse (Secretary), Caroljean Brune, Scott Criqui, James Dunn, Ruth Gibbs, and Midge Grinstead, Directors, and Sharon Brow, Bonnie Dunham, and Kay Hale, Nominating Committee. Continuing in the second year of a two-term term as Directors are Margaret Arnold and Marlene Merrill. Photos soon to follow!
National President, Elisabeth McNamara, was recently in Kansas City on her whirlwind tour of the country promoting League efforts to get out the vote. From left to right: Peg Prendergast, President LWV KC; Elisabeth McNamara, President LWV US; Marlene Merrill, Board Member LWV LDC; and Janis McMillen, LWVUS 1st VP and LWV Johnson County, KS member
Today, September 25, 2012, is the first ever National Voter Registration Day...a nationwide, nonpartisan effort to register thousands of voters on one single day! League of Women Voters volunteers are joining forces with celebrities, businesses, activists, social service providers, local officials, and a whole host of others across the country in an unprecedented effort to help Americans get registered to vote. All in all, more than 1,000 partners are participating in what promises to be a day for all to remember.
And I am particularly proud that League volunteers are a huge part of this effort -- 249 Leagues from 44 states are hosting voter registration vents.
Our national president, Elisabeth McNamara, recently provided the following information:
24% of Americans who are eligible to vote are not registered, but close to 75% who are registered to vote, do vote. Imagine what our elections and country might look like if we did a better job of registering more voters. Voter registration is the key to getting Americans participating in the political process. That's why we're committed to National Voter Registration Day, and it's why League volunteers will be out in force right up until every state's registration deadlines passes.
We already know that the election in November may be the most important of our lifetime. There's a lot more than just residency in the Oval Office on the line -- it's about jobs and economic security, the environment, health care and our communities. Although many believe this election is about the candidates that are running, it really isn't. This election is about voters, like you and me. Know this -- the election in November will impact you and the people in your life. Voting is our chance to stand up for the issues we believe in, so don't skip out, get registered and vote.
Putting more of a local spin on her message, we're often asked why someone should bother registering to vote in a presidential election year, with the Electoral College and this being Kansas and all. My answer to that question is simple: While you might think your vote for the President might not make much of a difference, your votes for every other office on your ballot can and will affect your daily life, right here in Lawrence (and Douglas County). Your vote will help determine who represents you in Congress for the next two years, who your State Senator and Representative will be, even your County Commissioner, depending on where you live. Not to mention a host of other regional and county offices. So NEVER think your vote doesn't count, because it does...especially at the local level.
Since June 1st , the county clerk's office has reported there have been 1770 new registrants 5155 address changes 1412 name changes and 1106 registrant transfers.
Our League, along with 33 volunteers, has registered over 250 voters at 20 events (tonight is our 21st) and there are at least seven more events we'll be visible at between now and October 16th (which is the deadline to register for the general election).
Jamie Shew, who is the most awesome county clerk in the entire country, was unable to be here tonight to accept this proclamation with me, so I want to brag just a bit about how lucky we are in Lawrence and Douglas County to have him and his staff in charge of elections here. Their poll workers are trained to always provide a provisional ballot, so if there is ever a question about a voter's status, no voter is ever turned away from the polls in Douglas County. Jamie makes sure of that. His staff is always friendly and willing to answer questions and have been a delight to work with this summer and fall. AND, Jamie recently made national news when he instituted the first program in the country to provide a free government photo ID to those in need of one. Please rest assured that some of the best tax dollars you spend go to support the staff and activities of the Douglas County Clerk's office.
So thank you, City of Lawrence, for recognizing how important it is to register to vote. We'll be outside in the lobby for the rest of the evening if anyone needs to register or update their registration with a new address or name since they last voted. (And those of you watching on TV...come on down!)
The Lawrence-Douglas County League of Women Voters has selected Scott Criqui to receive the 2012 Helen Fluker Open and Accessible Government Award. He is the Human Resources Manager for Trinity In-Home Care in Lawrence.
The Fluker Award honors a Douglas County resident who shows leadership in promoting citizen participation in government. Criqui was selected in recognition of his community work in Human Relations and Voter Education.
Criqui is currently Chair of the city Human Relations Commission and Vice-President of the Kansas State Transgender Education Project (K-STEP). He has worked as a trainer for Headquarters Counseling Center and as a volunteer coordinator for Hospice Care of Douglas County. He is active in the Lawrence/Douglas County Chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition, the Voter Education Coalition and Kids Vote. Recently, through his education efforts with the Lawrence community and within City government, Gender Identity as a protected class was added to the City of Lawrence Human Relations Code.
Scott was recognized as the recipient of the Helen Fluker Award for Open and Accessible Government at a luncheon held on March 4th at the Smith Center.
Photos from the 2012 Fluker Award luncheon: (right) LWV L-DC President Kay Hale presents a silver platter to recipient Scott Criqui; (left) Fluker Award Committee members (L-R) Janet Roth, Marjorie Cole, and Marguerite Lohrenz (not pictured: Audrey Kamb-Studdard).
The League encourages you to submit a nomination for the 2013 Fluker Award. You may download the nomination form here [PDF].
The Lawrence-Douglas County League of Women Voters has completed its role in the LWV National Study concerning of Privatization. A summary of the LWV L-DC League Consensus Statement is now available at: LWV L-DC Privatization Study Consensus Report [PDF].
Update (June 2012) from LWV US: The LWVUS Board approved a new Education position at the March 2012 Board meeting. The position is based on responses received from the 377 Leagues across the country who participated in the Education Study. The position states that "the League of Women Voters believes that the federal government shares with other levels of government the responsibility to provide an equitable, quality public education for all children pre-K through grade 12. A quality public education is essential for a strong, viable and sustainable democratic society and is a civil right." (Read more.)
This summer, the Consensus Consulting team met with Lawrence residents in a series of seven focus groups on civility. The focus groups add depth to findings from another 15 focus groups the team conducted in metro Kansas City, and will be reported out when the team presents its findings at the Dole Institute on September 27, 2011.
The seven focus groups included Chamber of Commerce members, the League of Women Voters, school site committee members, a rural focus group, neighborhood leaders and senior citizens. Originally, the team had planned just one focus group with businesspersons, but when more than 75 individuals RSVP'd in response to the Chamber's invitation, we added another. "We were so impressed with the level of thinking we encountered in Lawrence, and in people's sincere interest in the topic of civility in public life," said Mary Jo Draper, a partner with Consensus Consulting. While many of the findings echoed what we heard in metro Kansas City, some aspects were quite distinct. To learn more, Download the focus group report.
The focus groups were part of an exploration into whether Lawrence might be the site of a pilot test of The Civility Project. With the help of local leaders, Consensus Consulting invited some 20 key community members to two meetings. After thoughtful consideration, the group determined that the pilot test wasn't feasible in Lawrence at this time. "The fact that almost everyone we contacted was willing to engage in the conversation made a big impact on us," said Jennifer Wilding, a partner with Consensus Consulting. "We appreciated their willingness to engage with us and help us engage their citizens."