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June 20 was the first meeting of the Issues and Ale group held at Homes Brewery, on Jackson Ave in Ann Arbor. The evening meeting was a casual event for LWV-AAA members. There was a brief presentation about redistricting followed by discussion of a range of topics.
June 21 a PUBLIC EVENT was held at the Ann Arbor District Library about The Dangers of Oil Spills in the Great Lakes: Why We Need to Retire Line 5. Line 5, a pair of pipelines in the water next to the Macinaw Bridge,is older than the pipeline that spilled oil into the Kalamazoo River, and has already had 29 documented spills.
June 23 This month's topic for Lunch and Learn at the Cedars of Dexter was RAISE THE AGE: PROHIBIT THE PROSECUTION OF YOUTH AS ADULTS. Space is limited so advance registration is required for L&L.
Or read a Member's Impressions
The idea of choosing the President by national popular vote had proponents at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, but the Electoral College system won out. Since then there have been five elections (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016) when the winner of the popular vote lost in the Electoral College. Eliminating the Electoral College system will require amending the US Constitution, a difficult process. Alternatives to an amendment have been proposed over the years, most recently the National Popular Vote Compact.
What is the National Popular Vote Compact? "The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is an agreement among a group of U.S. states and the District of Columbia to award all their respective electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The compact is designed to ensure that the candidate who wins the most popular votes is elected president, and it will come into effect only when it will guarantee that outcome. As of March 2017, it has been adopted by ten states and the District of Columbia. Together, they have 165 electoral votes, which is 30.7% of the total Electoral College and 61.1% of the votes needed to give the compact legal force." (Wikipedia)
To date, 9 states and DC have passed the compact giving a total of 165 electoral votes of the 271 required for the Compact to be put into effect. In 11 states, including Michigan, one branch of the legislature has passed the Compact for 96 additional electoral votes. And in 2 states the Compact has had committee approval.
Supporters of the NPVIC say that it would lead to candidates campaigning nationwide rather than focusing on "battleground states". Voter turnout at the state level would matter more. And, in general, electing the President by popular vote is perceived to be more "fair" by a majority of Americans according to recent polls.
Opponents of the NPVIC say that small states would lose influence, it would impair the effectiveness of non-compacting states, it is a political compact and requires congressional assent, states have different rules and policies for elections, if there are more than 2 candidates voting results could be problematic, and the opt-out provision of the Compact is poorly designed.
If the Compact is adopted by enough states to go into effect, it is certain to face challenges on a Constitutional basis.
Professor Chamberlin suggested that a version of the runoff system is worth considering. He gave an example of this in which candidates were ranked by the voters according to preference. The top two vote-getters were allotted the second choice votes of unsuccessful candidates. This system was used briefly in the 1970's in Ann Arbor mayoral elections.
In summary, given the time elapsed since initial full or partial approval of the NPVIC by states, plus the fact that Republican support will be necessary to gain the required number of participating states to implement the Compact, it is unlikely that the Compact will be implemented any time soon.
Presenters will meet with groups who want to learn about how redistricting is done today, how it could be improved, and what is involved in making a change.
Lunch and Learn is a new LWV-AAA series held on the fourth Friday of each month at the Cedars of Dexter Clubhouse. Watch for announcements in the calendar.
Michigan state revenue sharing policies and budgets have a significant impact on local governments. This was the big take-away from the panel discussion co-sponsored by LWV-AAA and the Ann Arbor District Library. LWV-AAA member and moderator Harvey Somers gave an overview of the topic and then opened the floor to the government representatives present. Kelly Belknap, Washtenaw County Finance Director, described how basically flat revenue-sharing and changes in the allowed timing of tax collections have led to cuts in staffing, pay and services. Tom Crawford, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Ann Arbor, said that shared revenues are 13% of General Fund revenues, second only to property taxes. And having state revenue-sharing means that no local sales/entertainment/or similar taxes can be used to raise revenue. Mandy Grewal, Pittsfield Township Supervisor, said that the taxing jurisdictions represented in township tax collections lost $11 million because of the manufacturing exemption passed by the state. During Q&A, a member of the audience asked what citizens can do to help remedy this problem. Panel members agreed that it is important to contact State Representatives and Senators tell them to look at improving how local governments are financed. And get involved in local government - as an observer or as a candidate for office. They all agreed that the dollars going to local governments are the most accountable of all tax dollars.
THE DISCUSSION WAS VIDEO-TAPED BY THE AADL AND WILL BE AVAILABLE TO VIEW "ON DEMAND" ON THE AADL WEBSITE IN APPROXIMATELY SIX WEEKS.
19 candidate fora
with 55 candidates
in 4 different venues
in 3 cities: AA, Ypsilanti & Chelsea
over 17 days
with the help of 16 volunteers
Plus 2 issue fora
6100 VOTE411.org bookmarks &
You can join or renew your LWV membership using PAY PAL
or click HERE for a mail-in registration form.
Let's face it. We have been in a zone and on our game. Thanks to all the LWV-AAA members and friends who worked together to help area voters learn about the candidates and the issues!
Several volunteers were new members. We are thrilled that your joined our merry band. And hope you will reprise your roles in Forum Fests to come. And many long-time veterans of LWV-AAA added experience and wisdom to the process. But all good things end, and so has this very wonderful forum fest. We will have plenty of time to assess, evaluate, and change the game in future months. But for now, let's celebrate!
Thanks to everyone for your efforts and as our t-shirts say, "Defender of Democracy."
The Forum lady
VOTE411.org was updated with all county primary contests. Candidates were invited to provide biographical information and to respond to questions posed by LWV-AAA. The Michigan LWV and National LWV did the same for national contests. People logging on to VOTE411.org were able to find out if they were registered to vote, where they should go to vote, and see what and who would be on their ballot. They could also compare candidates' responses to the LWV questions.
Radio spot ads were placed with five local stations: WUOM, WEMU, WLBY, WAAM and WSDS. These ads told listeners the date of the primary election and about VOTE411.org.
A print ad was placed in The Observer, telling readers about VOTE411.org and giving the date of the primary election.
During Art Fair, a number of hardy members and friends (remember how hot it was?) staffed a LWV information booth, handing out literature and chatting with interested passers-by.
The opinions voiced during the conversation contributed to a state wide report issued in early May that is being shared with our elected officials and the rest of Michigan's residents. Click HERE to see "THE LAST WORD TO CANDIDATES" from the report.