Making Democracy Work

Helping to Make Democracy Work Since 1920!

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

SCOTUS on Gerrymandering

"The districting plans at issue here are highly partisan, by any measure," the U.S. Supreme Court observed on June 28 in Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek. Nonetheless, the Court, in a 5-4 decision, held that "partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts." Accordingly, it vacated the opinions of the lower courts (in North Carolina and Maryland) and remanded to dismiss the cases for lack of jurisdiction.

"Our conclusion does not condone excessive partisan gerrymandering," the Court said, noting that states "are actively addressing the issue on a number of fronts," specifically including Michigan voters' passing of an amendment to our state Constitution last November that puts future responsibility for redistricting in the hands of an independent commission.

That redistricting will come after the 2020 census. But the current gerrymandered map will remain in place for the 2020 election because the 6th Circuit's favorable decision in LWV Michigan et al v Benson on April 25 cannot be implemented in light of this decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Conversations with a Suffragist September 18 & 19

"Conversations with a Suffragist," two live performances featuring Megan Burnett, will be presented at the Vickers Theatre in Three Oaks at 3 p.m. on Wednesday September 18 and at the Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday September 19. The performances are in celebration of 100 years of women's right to vote.

Tickets are $10 in advance, or $12 at the door, with limited seating for students at $5. VIP seating at $15 per ticket will be available for the Box Factory performance only. To purchase tickets online, visit the specific venue's website: vickerstheatre.com or boxfactoryforthearts.org. Or you can call Judy Scully at 773-677-2528.

In her one-woman show, Burnett brings to life Mattie Griffith Browne, a 19th century Kentucky suffragist, abolitionist, and author. Born in Owensboro, KY to a slave-holding family, Browne was determined to free the slaves she inherited from her parents. As an adult, she wrote "Autobiography of a Female Slave" to raise money to free those slaves. She then turned her activism to suffragism and worked to obtain the right to vote for all citizens.

Burnett shares the basis for her portrayal of this little-known woman in the suffragette movement:

Mattie Griffith Browne continued to reinvent herself, regardless of the thoughts and pressures of others or society. She petitioned politicians to end slavery. She sought the right to vote for women as well as all freed slaves. She inspired respect from men and women working in the abolitionist and suffragist movements with her moral and patriotic convictions. She was a true agent of social change, and she is someone I have come to admire.

Megan Burnett is the Theatre Program Director and Assistant Professor of theatre at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY. She has taught acting and voice for Folger Shakespeare Library, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, University of Louisville, Eastern Kentucky University, Alice Lloyd College, and Spalding University.

Burnett will conduct a post-show discussion following each performance. For more information on Megan Burnett's performances, contact Judy Scully at jscully@luc.edu .

If you already have tickets to "Conversations with a Suffragist," thank you! We sold more than 60 of them at LWVBCC's annual dinner meeting on June 12. That's a good start, but we need to sell 140 more. So spread the word about this live performance to your friends and family to help make this an event that LWVBCC indeed can be proud of.

Annual Meeting: Moving Forward Together

June 12 was a beautiful spring evening for LWVBCC's annual dinner meeting. Looking out over lush vineyards, 60 or so LWVBCC members and guests filled the Tabor Hill dining room with warm greetings, laughter, reflection, and resolve.

Judy Karandjeff (photo left), outgoing President of the Michigan League, was the evening's featured speaker. She reminded us of the League's democracy agenda and important strides in accomplishing its goals of empowering voters and defending democracy. It's an impressive list.

Under Judy's leadership, the League (among other things) supported two successful ballot proposals in 2018 that amended Michigan's Constitution in ways that significantly enhance voting rights in our state. For a more complete list of the ongoing efforts, go to lwvmi.org. We are grateful indeed to Judy for joining us and for her dedicated, energetic, and effective leadership.

LWVBCC secretary Karen Ristau reviewed LWVBCC's activities in Berrien and Cass Counties during the past year, including two that will continue in coming months: (a) cultivating civil discourse and (b) celebrating women's suffrage and passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. LWVBCC member Judy Scully described the upcoming "Conversation with a Suffragist" program (see article above).

During the business meeting, members present (constituting a quorum) approved the treasurer's report, the secretary's report, and proposed amendments to the bylaws. Bonnie Pollock, budget committee member, presented the proposed budget for 2019-20. It was approved, as amended on motion of Elizabeth Ennis from the floor (adding funding for student tickets to the suffragist program); and four new nominees were elected to the LWVBCC Board. (Photo below, left to right: Laura Odenwald, Anita Rutlin, Sharon King, and Amy Scrima.)

2020 Census

The Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) recently hosted a "2020 Census Webinar." Some of the things I learned while "participating in" the webinar are:

The official tally date is April 1, 2020.

Census postcards are sent to most homes in March.

March 12-20 - Letter offering on-line option to complete census is sent to the majority of residents.

Between March 16 and early April, a reminder letter, a postcard, a letter, a questionnaire, and an "It's not too late" postcard are sent to non-responders.

It is only after these steps are taken that Census Enumerators visit addresses from which no response has been received.

One of the more fascinating things shared during the webinar is that there is a "transitory" category of people with addresses in marinas, carnivals, campgrounds, etc. Who knew !?!

Puerto Rico, remote parts of Alaska, and Native American reservations get consideration and attention.

There is a wealth of information on-line. Google "2020 Census" and become enlightened.

LWVBCC Newsletters

View our informative e-newsletter, published almost monthly. Links to past newsletters can be found here. The newsletters are copies of an e-newsletter and do not have the same professional appearance as the originals. If you would like to join our mailing list email webmaster.