The League of Women Voters® of Bellingham & Whatcom County invites the public to a program examining voting demographics, the decline of voter turnout, and potential options for increasing citizen involvement in the democratic process. This program, Voting: Can We Turn Up the Turnout?
, will be held on Thursday, February 25th, and will feature Cathy Allen, President/Owner of The Connections Group, Inc, and co-founder of the Center for Women & Democracy at the University of Washington.
Thursday, February 25th
6:45 - 8:30 PM (doors open at 6:30)
Bellingham Public Library
210 Central Avenue, Bellingham
Following Ms. Allen’s remarks, a panel of local experts representing the diversity of demographics will join her to discuss challenges and possible opportunities to increase voter turnout. After her remarks, joining Ms. Allen for a moderated discussion will be:
- Dean Wright - digital journalism pioneer, co-owner of Connell Wright Media
- Samuel Seftik - student and political activist
- McKenzie Dent - local issues co-coordinator for WWU Student Association
The program will explore the following topics:
· Who votes, and who does not?
· Why are more & more Americans failing to exercise their right to vote?
· Are changing voter requirements impacting voter turnout?
· Would changes in voting process increase voter turnout?
· What strategies have worked to increase turnout?
Voting: Can We Turn Up the Turnout? will be held at the Bellingham Public Library (210 Central Ave, Bellingham), in the downstairs lecture room, on Thursday, February 25th. Doors open at 6:30pm and the program will begin at 6:45pm. The program is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served. For further information, contact League of Women Voters of Bellingham & Whatcom County’s Program Committee Chair, Caroline Correa, at (360) 647-1232.
Founded in 1920, the League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization with 800 affiliates across the country. It encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership is open to men and women of all ages.
Your cookies are kindly requested.
League members whose last names begin with H-M are asked to bring cookies or snacks to share at this meeting.
Our dear friend and League member, Harriet Spanel, passed away on February 2 following a long battle with cancer. She was 77.
Harriet jumped into electoral politics after, what she described as, a life-changing experience as a student in a class on psychological development of women, taught by Dana Jack at Fairhaven College. Through a class project to write her own story, she discovered that politics was her true calling. This led her to run for the Washington State Legislature - where she served 6 years in the House followed by four terms (16 years!) in the Senate.
Her League training was valuable in helping her to see all sides of an issue and collaborate with members of the opposing political party during her career. Through studying issues with the League, she had also learned the importance of knowing the facts of an issue before speaking out and taking a position.
Harriet Spanel was a member of the League of Women Voters for 50 years. She firmly believed that League involvement prepares one to be an informed voter and citizen, and we were delighted that she found satisfaction undertaking occasional League projects – such as chairing our nominating committee the past two years. The following are some kind remembrances of her friends and colleagues:
"She was that old-school, reach-across-the-aisle kind of person".
"When she retired in 2009, she was the Senate Democratic Caucus chairwoman. She was the glue that held the caucus together".
"She had strong opinions but she was not showy about it".
"We have lost an incredible leader and a dear friend".
"I always wanted her on my side".
A memorial service will be held in Harriet's honor on Saturday, February 20, 10:30 AM at Assumption Church.
Dearest Harriet, you were a model of citizenship that will live on in all who had the honor of knowing you!
Precinct Caucuses - One Month Away for Some
In Washington State, the Democratic
and Republican precinct caucuses are the first step in participation in the presidential candidate selection. Precinct caucuses are used to identify delegates to the County party conventions, where, in turn, delegates to the national party conventions are selected.
Delegates to national conventions are usually obligated to vote, at least at first, for specific candidates, based on instructions given at the state convention. Delegates are generally elected to represent specific candidates. Many campaigns are organizing now to get people to the precinct caucuses to support their specific candidates.
The other function of precinct caucuses is to identify issues that can be carried forward in each party's platform.
What about the Presidential Primary election in May? That is advisory and not binding. But it will tell the story of how voters (at least, those who participate) feel about the various presidential candidates, beyond those attending party caucuses. With so many of Washington's voters claiming to be independent, it could point to different results about voter preferences than the caucus system does.
Republican party caucuses are only a month away, on February 20
this year. Democratic party caucuses will be held on March 26
. Please see your local party organizations for local times and locations.
“Don’t Squawk, if you Don’t Vote!!”
I was talking to my 23 year-old granddaughter the other day about the 2016 election and voting generally (actually trying to pick her youthful insight to the upcoming League program) ‘Don’t worry Grandma, I’m going to vote (it’s in the genes!!). But I can see why my friends don’t bother.” One of them doesn’t vote because with a complete misunderstanding of the Electoral College, he believes the election is rigged. Some are too busy—working and going to school—some don’t see the relevance between their vote and the policies that affect them. Not that they don’t have opinions—one of which is politicians are all the same—there is no difference between the political parties and it is all a bunch of noise. Well who can blame them? The race for the presidency started more than a year in advance and most of us are tired of it already. The media doesn’t help—latching onto to anything that is sensational and ignoring the substantive statements (there are some occasionally).
We have come to the end of the Obama presidency and change is really coming, no matter who is elected. I don’t have to tell Leaguers that the issues of climate change, jobs, income inequality, military ventures are just a few of the challenges facing us—challenges that will affect our younger generations' lifestyle, work and in the case of climate change their very existence. So they especially need to pay attention.
Join us at the League’s “Voting: Can We Turn Up the Turn Out program Feb. 25th—as we examine the reasons our youth and others are tuning out and we look for strategies to tune them in. Bring some of your younger friends and relatives. We know everyone should be invested in the future and one of the mantras of the League is “Don’t Squawk, if you Don’t Vote!!”
Judy Jayne Rebecca
MONEY IN POLITICS
League favors spending limits & disclosure for all money in political campaigns
Members of the Bellingham/Whatcom County League studied campaign finance regulations as a part of the LWVUS Money in Politics Review. On January 23, the League prese
nted an educational program including an engaging discussion with panelists, Phillip Buri, Partner, Buri Funston Mumford, PLLC; and Todd Donovan, Professor of Political Science, Western Washington University and County Council member.
( Click here for meeting recording
League members had a lively discussion about the issue in the context of specific questions that were developed by the LWVUS Money in Politics Review during the afternoon session. Members agreed that some spending limits should be required for all individuals, corporations and political organizations that are using money to influence our elections. Bellingham/Whatcom County League members strongly support full disclosure of contributions to campaigns and they support structural reforms to the Federal Election Commission to enable FEC to meet its regulatory and legislative mandates.
Goals of Campaign Finance Regulations:
Our League believes that campaign finance regulations should protect representative democracy from being distorted by big spending. Members also believe that voters need access to sufficient information about candidates and issues to make informed choices and that the public has a right to know who is donating money to influence elections.
Our membership’s responses to the questions raised in the Money in Politics Review are available here
. The responses have been submitted to the LWVUS. The national League will evaluate responses from various League’s throughout the country and then update our Campaign Finance Position for advocacy on the issue.
WES Study Featured at City Club Presentation
Our League’s 2014 Women’s Economic Study was featured at the January City Club presentation. Click here for meeting video
. Professors Sarah Elwood and Vicki Lawson from the University of Washington and Founders of the Relational Poverty Network used our study to tie in a local connection to their talk on how the rhetoric in our country changes when we talk about the middle class vs. the poor. While the middle class is touted as hardworking, aspiring, stable……., those words are not very often ascribed to the poor, rather the opposite is true.
There is little recognition of the man who works two jobs to keep his family housed and fed; our image of the poor is that they are lazy and addicted to handouts. Tax policies including mortgage interest deductions, better schools, attention to parks and infrastructure, better policing and much more are all prerogatives of the middle class but not mentioned when we expect people to climb out of poverty “by pulling themselves up by their bootstraps”. The professors praised our study for actually interviewing poor people to see what they thought of the systematic policies that keep them poor. Poor people are shamed and often do not step forward seeking help from well- meaning agencies as they are afraid of the stigma of being poor. They urged us to examine our own thoughts and words when talking of these two groups and to seek the ideas of the poor in designing the solutions that will help them out of poverty. To see a video of the entire program check out www.bellinghamcityclub.org
Kay Ingram, WES Study Chair
Join Us! Continue the Conversation on Women’s Economic Security in Whatcom County on Thursday, February 18 at 1:00 pm in the Food Co-op’s Community Room.There is some parking available behind the building. Access to that parking area is off the alley off Holly between the Shell Gas Station and the Co-op’s Community Building. Hope to see you there!
Meet a Member
Member Donna Williams' desire to become more active in the community came just as the League was looking for a new treasurer. We are delighted to welcome this experienced accountant to our board. A graduate of the University of Denver with a BS in accounting, Donna lived in Eagle, Colorado for over 20 years running a kitchen and bath business that specialized in remodel projects. She left Colorado after raising her two boys and came to Bellingham drawn by the mountains, water and WWU. In Bellingham she worked in public accounting for 8 years but now is happy to be taking over a new job of running the financial numbers for Daylight Properties.
Donna is a clarinet player and, several years after joining the Bellingham High School Alumni Band (no, you needn’t have gone to school there), she met and married Skip Williams a former music teacher and clarinet player. They are members of the 60 person North Cascade Community band playing in concerts all over the northwest corner.
Donna has felt frustration in not being able, with her heavy workloads of the past, to join in work on community issues. The League is glad she chose us to satisfy this goal. She loves the league for its study component—as she says this is a process that helps you become an informed voter.
Board Briefs - February 2016
Our Board of Directors is working on several endeavors:
- Revamping our local LWV website so it is easier to navigate
- Creating a database of the League interests of our League members so we can more easily connect members with their interests, such as Voter Services, Voter Registration, program development, and much more
- Monitoring local community political activities, including the Redistricting Committee, and state legislative activities through advocacy leadership by board members
- Initiating a High School Voter Services project
- Maintaining a strong League budget to support our many activities
You have a right to be heard
Just last month, nearly 2,000 people attended three public hearings, and a record-setting 290,000 public comments were submitted on the proposed oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver. The public was able to speak up thanks to important laws and rules that ensure your voice can be heard!
After this remarkable turnout several leaders in the State Senate are trying to make it harder for the public to participate in decision making by advancing two measures that would stifle people’s voices.
We cannot stand by and let that happen. Contact your Senator now and ask them to oppose SB 6224 and SB 6527.
The public has a right to be heard when it comes to the impacts of large energy projects. From coal export terminal proposals to oil-by-rail terminals, we have witnessed the massive outpouring of opposition by tens of thousands because Washington State has instilled and embraced the public input process.
Here’s some more details:
SB 6224 forces the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) to make recommendations on an energy project, such as a nuclear facility or an oil-by-rail terminal, in half the time allowed today. A recommendation must be made even if EFSEC does not have all of the information and public input required to make a well-informed decision.
SB 6527 undermines one of the most important environmental laws we have – the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). SEPA gives local communities a voice in understanding the impacts to our water, air, land, and transportation systems from a significant project.
Contact your Senator immediately and urge them to stand up for the people of Washington! Act now!
In light of this overwhelming public response, proponents of the proposed fossil fuel terminals and other energy projects are pushing to cut corners and make it harder for the public to weigh in. Please act today
Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) School Kids
These companion bills, HB 2682/SB 6379, would allow automatic voter registration for eligible individuals who interact with a state agency that requires proof of citizenship. This would include citizens applying for commercial or enhanced driver’s license, and those who receive services from state agencies like the Health Benefits Exchange and DSHS. These bills came at the request of the Secretary of State and have substantial bi-partisan support. HB 2682 is currently in the House Rules Committee and SB 6379 is currently in the Senate Government Operations Committee, and will ultimately have to go through Senate Rules.
Please contact members of these committees and ask them to move these bills forward.