Making Democracy Work

LWV-AAA In Action

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Volunteers at LWV Art Fair Booth July 2012

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PUBLIC MEETING WAS HELD FOR MEMBERS AND INTERESTED CITIZENS:

October 2, at Eastern Michigan University Student Center
Featured Speaker: Jocelyn Benson
  • Dean of Wayne State University Law School, 2012-2016
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Southern Poverty Law Center
  • CEO of the Ross Initiative in Sports Equality (RISE)

Specializing in Election Law and Law Education, Professor Benson is a frequent commentator on voting rights and election law, and has advocated for fairness, transparency, and accountability in our political process throughout her career.

IN JULY, LWVAAA PROVIDED VOTER INFORMATION FOR THE AUG 8 PRIMARY

Videos of Ann Arbor City Council candidates' Q&A can be seen ON YOUTUBE

VIEW the Ypsilanti Water Street Millage proposal at

The City of Ypsilanti, Lyndon Township, Northfield Township and the Dexter School District, all have proposals on the ballot. Go to WWW.VOTE411.ORG to see what is on your ballot.

JUNE 2017 EVENTS WERE VARIED AND WELL ATTENDED

June 10 was the first meeting of the new Tecumseh LWV Unit. Formed under the sponsorship of LWV-AAA, this group already has ten members. Interested? Contact Tecumseh@lwvannarbor.org

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. See video of the event at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXmXQDq2UGntHGjD5-Qr5fw

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.

2017 ANNUAL MEETING CELEBRATED LWV-AAA

Kerrytown Concert House was the perfect venue for this year's annual meeting. Almost 50 LWV-AAA members applauded as Life Members Sunny Morse (left, with daughter Suzi and President Nancy Schewe), and (right) Mary Hathaway and Shirley Axon were recognized. Doug Koop, Director of the Legacy Land Conservancy, described the goals and benefits of the conservancy movement, which are supported by the LWV position on natural resources: "Promote an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest.". And the annual business meeting concluded with the President's report by Nancy Schewe, adoption of the 2017-18 budget and election of the Board of Directors for the upcoming year.

PUBLIC MEETING ABOUT THE NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE COMPACT

Should we change how we elect our President? The National Popular Vote Compact might be a feasible way to do this. Or is it? Prof. John Chamberlin, UM emeritus political science and LWV-AAA member, shared the pros and cons of the Compact and also some alternative election methods at a public meeting sponsored by LWV-AAA on April 24.
View the entire talk on YouTube: YouTube

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.

NEW MEMBER MEETING FEB 20, 2017 DREW AN ENTHUSIASTIC CROWD

It was a bit like Speed Dating without the time clock Monday night. Advocacy, Voter Service, Program Planning, Communications and even League Basics were the main topics of conversation as an estimated 89 new and prospective members gathered around stations for each topic for an overview of what is going on. Of course there were other conversations as people greeted old friends and made new acquaintances. One novel new connection was two women who discovered they have a Finnish connection (that's right, Finland). Watch for further information as we develop teams to carry out the League's non-partisan mission to ensure good government.

LWV MEETING ON REDISTRICTING SAW AN OVERFLOW CROWD

It was standing room only Feb. 6 to hear Sue Smith, LWV representative to the Michigan Redistricting Collaboration, explain what must be done to make Michigan re-districting a non-partisan process. The Collaborative started in 2010 as a group of (c)3 organizations working to educate their members and clients. Over time they have been joined by Good Government Groups (like LWV), communities of color, environmental groups and others. Changing how we redistrict will mean putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot. To do this requires reaching a consensus on what policy/redistricting process would be best, testing it to be sure the voters will approve it, raising funds to promote the amendment and broadening the coalition of supporters. All of this must be done while staying in compliance with Michigan campaign finance law. It's a tall order.
Many at the meeting were ready to dive right in and make things happen. When asked what can be done now, Sue said that an important activity will be explaining to voters how redistricting is done today and why it should be changed. Presenters are needed for the LWV power point presentation explaining this. You can attend one of the two LWV-AAA training sessions for presenters scheduled for February 22 or March 4. Registration is required - go to the Calendar page anduse SignUpGenius to register for the date you choose.

Meeting Handout

SUMMARY PREPARED BY MEMBER KATHY EDGREN

LWV-AAA joins state-wide study of LWV-MI position on State Taxation and Budgeting

A Member Meeting was held at the UU church, Feb 4 to review the LWVMI Position on State Taxation and Budgeting and to reach a consensus on our input to the state-wide update of the position.(For background information go to http://lwvmi.org/member/mem_studies.html) Facilitator was Sue Smith, LWV-AAA member and also chair of the study for LWV-Michigan.

LWV-AAA and AADL co-sponsor panel discussion of MUNICIPAL TAXATION AND BUDGETING

JANUARY 26, 2017 DISCUSSION OF STATE REVENUE SHARING

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.

2016 WAS A BANNER YEAR FOR LWV-AAA

WE WERE BUSY BUT THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO DO

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
1 civic engagement event

6100 VOTE411.org bookmarks &
5000 LWV Voter Guides distributed
24 poll watchers in 5 precincts

You can join or renew your LWV membership using PAY PAL

or click HERE for a mail-in registration form.

LWV-AAA's LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIP WITH CTN TELEVISION

We have a long history of working with local TV network CTN to bring candidate information to area voters. Check out this recent interview

LWV-AAA co-sponsored forum on "Running For Office 101"

Video of is available on-demand at this LINK