Election and Voter Information- HIgh School registration drive nets hundreds of new voters!
IF NTHS Board votes 8/13/14 to place referendum on Nov 2014 ballot.
According to Michael Kolenc, the lead for the coalition, the lawsuit was anticipated. In a recent note to the League, Kolenc indicated that the coalition includes a diverse group of supporters, including former U.S. Attorneys, top-tier legal scholars, and many of the state's most well-respected lawyers of all political stripes. He said, the legal advisors spent two years making sure the amendment could withstand scrutiny, and they are confident in the proposal. He added "... this is exactly the kind of referendum that the drafters of the Illinois Constitution believed should bypass the legislature and go directly to the voters.
After all, the leaders of the Illinois General Assembly have no reason to fix the system that has kept them, and their hand-picked successors, in power for decades."
This was an opportunity to do something about gerrymandering and a more open and transparent legislature.
The following is a letter of explanation of the events leading to the closing "Yes - for Independent Maps."
First, I am unbelievably grateful for the opportunity to work on this campaign with such passionate volunteers as you. You are what made this campaign a success.
Unfortunely, today we are closing down the operations of the campaign to get on the November 2014 ballot. We were handed a ruling today in the Circuit Court declaring our redistricting amendment unconstitutional on narrow grounds. Judge Mikva did declare that if we were to slightly change our language, then redistricting reform as a whole would certainly be constitutional. This should give you plenty of hope for future endeavors, but it (along with a massive, unprecedented opposition effort and problems in the board of elections process) has been too much for us to continue on this campaign.
I encourage all of you to continue this fight. Together, we have achieved so much success:
Over 5,000 volunteers and circulators
Over 500,000 signatures to support redistricting reform
Truly bi-partisan coaltion of supporters representing local community groups and statewide organizations.
Support from every major newspaper in the state
Hundreds of volunteer meetings that has produced the infrastructure for future efforts
You have shaken up Illinois politics and this state will never be the same.
I will send around another email to all of you over the weekend to fill in some of the details of what is happening next with the campaign and with redistricting reform in Illinois.
All I can say is that you should be extremely proud of the work you have done. I know I am.
As for me, I would agree with Teddy Roosevelt when he said "far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."
This is work worth doing and I hope you will continue to work hard with me as we look to achieve ultimate success.
Thank you as always,
Thank you to all in the LWV-Wilmette members + and their friends who pitched in to make this citizen initiation to change the Illinois Constitution a possibility.
By Betty Hayford (LWV Evanston ) and Mary Reynolds & Carole Weber ( LWV Glenview)
On April 22, five North Shore leagues + Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Wilmette and Winnetka-Northfield-Kenilworth -- hosted their Springfield representatives for a lively and rich exchange on activities and trends in the Illinois legislature. Senator Daniel Biss (9th District), Representative Laura Fine (17th District) and Representative Robyn Gabel (18th District) met League members at the Glenview Public Library to respond to questions developed by LWVIL. All three responded fully to the questions and, in addition, provided thorough background on the issues and insights into legislative possibilities for the current term.
The three representatives expressed similar views on most issues, although they also provided their individual thoughts on the various questions. They acknowledged that their relatively affluent North Shore districts were similarly distinct from those of their legislative colleagues in other parts of the state, particularly southern Illinois.
All three are working on a fix to the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards. Sen. Biss pointed out that the introduction of electricity aggregation contracts in many municipalities has changed the environment for renewable energy. They also support legislation to "ban the box" on private sector hiring applications, which is related to a number of other steps that need to be taken to improve the criminal justice system. Excessive prison populations need to be reduced to cut state spending and strengthen our communities.
All support increasing state education funding, working to ensure both adequate funds and equitable distribution of funds. State education funding needs to be focused on the neediest communities. Rep. Fine is calling for increased state funding for higher education, currently too expensive for many students. They agree on the need for a moratorium on fracking in order to develop stronger environmental safeguards before it is allowed.
Sen. Biss believes additional restrictions should be put on concealed weapons, particularly in houses of worship and any places serving liquor. Rep. Gabel suggests that different parts of the state might have different gun regulations to reflect community views.
Rep. Fine described her impression of "two states," northern Illinois and southern Illinois, stating in her replies related to hydraulic fracking and gun violence prevention that one solution might not be right for the entire state but that she is committed to finding answers.
All support the creation of an Illinois Health Insurance Exchange which can provide greater consumer protections. They have a strong commitment to preserving a woman's control over reproductive choices, in consultation with her doctor, and reject the need for new laws to further regulate abortion clinics.
Voter rights get strong support from all three. There is no support for photo I.D. requirements, since there is no evidence of systemic voter fraud to justify this change. All believe early-voting is important to expand voter participation, and weekends and extended hours are more useful than extending the number of days. A longer period for early voting could complicate awareness of the issues and could be costly without being effective.
Sen. Biss expresses support for the Graduated Rate Income Tax (GRIT) amendment to the Illinois constitution, but is not optimistic about it getting the votes in the legislature necessary to be on the ballot in November. He believes that GRIT could be part of a broad set of options to strengthen the financial base of the Illinois government. Rep. Fine added that there is a lot of false information in the media from anti-GRIT foes and also that the proposed millionaires' tax will not be on the ballot.
None of our Springfield legislators is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization which they consider a reflection of the influence of excessive corporate money in government and a danger to the political environment.
The five host Leagues are very appreciative of the thoughtful and informative presentations of all three representatives. The Leagues working together and the representatives responding collectively produced a valuable encounter.
To see the full set of questions and responses, see below:
GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner recently turned in a petition to election officials with more than 590,000 signatures for a referendum to get an eight-year term limit in place for state politicians. This measure was also met with legal action from Mike Madigan and his lawyer in an attempt to keep election authorities from including the proposed term-limit referendum on the November ballot.
Do you know LWV IL's Position on Term Limits? The League of Women Voters of Illinois opposes constitutional or statutory term limitations for members of the Illinois General Assembly based on the League's support for accountability, representativeness, and effective performance and for a dynamic balance of power between the legislative and the executive branches. This position is in line with the national League's position on Congress and the Presidency.
This was an active year for voter registrations. The new law allowing 17-year old to vote in a primary election if they would be 18 by a presidential or mid-term election meant we had almost double the number of eligible students to register at our local high schools. David Orr's office honored our League for the record-breaking number of students we helped to registered before the primary (409). This year we tapped into some social media venues to encourage students to register and were more successful in reaching out to students through school adviseries and clubs.
More change will follow this summer as the online registration process becomes active July 1, 2014. We will continue to assist new voters, but now using iPads as well as paper applications. The online system will be restricted to new voters or those who wish to update their voter information who have an authentic Illinois driver's license or Illinois-issued identification card. This requirement for state ID is in place because electronic signatures will be copied from the Secretary of State database. For all others, the traditional options for registration remain (eg, Village Hall, Secretary of State offices, County Clerk's offices, and voter registration drives like ours).
Along with five other North Shore league members, three candidates from our League were trained as moderators in January. This new group of trained moderators will greatly help to relieve the shortage of trained moderators League-wide as we face a busy year for forums (November 2014, March 2015). The League is well served by our nine trained deputy registrars. A class for new registrars is planned for early this fall.
David Orr has recognized LWV Wilmette for our outstanding efforts in registering students at Loyola Academy and New Trier High School. In his letter of congratulations, he said "Your League has set a high standard that pushed other schools and organization to go the extra mile. It also gave our office a sense of momentum as we pushed schools and groups to be ambitious about engaging their students." He goes on to say, "You are true Champions of Democracy and we are lucky to have you as partners.",
The outpouring of students to our high school voter registration events was overwhelming. Just take a look at the front page article in Trib Local this week to get a sense of what the New Trier High School event looked like. Click here to read the article.. One teacher brought his entire advisery to register with ID information in hand. In response to the large number of applicants, we tapped additional League members to help shorten the wait. Many thanks to league members from Glenview, Winnetka, and Glencoe for their support and to Wilmette members Lali Watt, Susan Morrison, Saima Abbasi, Therese Steinkin, Beth Nyhan, and Leslie Parsons.
Both New Trier and Loyola have agreed to send follow-up notices to their student body to remind them about the March 18th primary. The new Illinois law allowing 17-year olds to vote in primary elections if they will be 18 by the November mid-term or presidential elections has clearly sparked interest in participation in our election process. We heard over and over how frustrated students were with the inaction in Springfield and Washington. On a very positive note, several students shared with us that they are already serving as election judges or volunteering on campaigns. With stronger youth participation, hopefully, it will become increasingly clear to our legislators that gridlock is not acceptable.
Trudy Gibbs Voter Services Chair
Note: for County Commissioner, we are in district #13. For Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, we vote for 3 commissioners out of a list of many -- in other words, we are not restricted to a specific district.
The full ballot for Suburban Cook County's March 18th primary election has also been posted on the Cook County Clerk's office website, click here.
Information can be found on the Yes, For Independent Maps website.
From the website: Voters do not have a true choice if they cannot choose candidates who have a fair chance of winning. Redistricting behind closed doors stymies the will of the people.
Political leaders from both parties own redistricting--the process of drawing legislative maps. Behind closed doors, they rig the district boundaries to control who will be elected, leaving voters without a voice. These same politicians choose their voters, instead of the people deciding who will represent them. Legislators have little reason to listen to the needs of Illinois residents, because there's no way for voters to hold them accountable.
Last year, Illinois House incumbents won 97% of their general election races; two-thirds of them did not even face a challenger.
The campaign is going well with a steady stream of completed petitions returned each day. More are still needed, so please continue to get signatures and turn them in. Mail completed and notarized petitions to:
Michael Kolenc, 300 N. Elizabeth, Ste. 220B, Chicago, IL 60607.
At the State Issues Briefing Meeting on February 1st, organizers and the League's Issue Specialist, Paula Lawson, elaborated on why it is important to fight for this citizen's initiative to amend the Illinois Constitution. Some of their main points include:
The effort by these legislators goes a long way toward preventing racial and language discrimination in our elections and protect the fundamental right to vote for all Americans. Congress can pass this legislation this year and ensure that the electoral process is free, fair and accessible. US LWV President Elizabeth McNamara has encouraged us all to tell our representatives and senators the Voting Rights Act needs to be repaired and vote for the new legislation. The following link takes you to the League of Women Voters form.
The League held a Candidate Forum at the Village Hall on Sunday, March 17th. Ccandidates answered questions about how they would deal with pressing issues before the Village Board, Park Board, District #39 School Board and the Wilmette Public Library Board of Trustees.
Rebroadcasts of the event will be on Wilmette Local Access Channel as follows:
8:30pm LWV Forum - Park Board
7 pm LWV Forum - Library Board
6 pm LWV Forum - Park Board
7 pmLWV Forum - School District #39
8 pm LWV Forum - Library Board
8:30pm LWV Forum - Park Board
9:30pm LWV Forum - Village Trustee and President
10:30pm LWV Forum - Library Board
League of Women Voters of Wilmette's Voter's Guide contains written answers to questions posed to all the candidates, even those in uncontested races. It will be distributed at public buildings throughout Wilmette and is available online at the League of Woman Voters website.
1 to 2 Village Board Presidential Candidates
2 to 3 Candidates for Park District Board of Commissioners
3 to 4 Candidates for Wilmette District #39 Board of Education
4 to 5 Candidates for the Wilmette Public Library Board of Trustees
Once on the website, go to Elections. Then put in the required information, which includes your name and address. Click GO and you will then see your polling place.
To save Cook County money on election costs, a number of polling places are being consolidated. Of the current 65 precincts in New Trier Township, 19 will be eliminated. As yet, not all of the consolidation decisions have been finalized. However, by the end of February, voters affected by the change in the location of their polling place will receive a notice by mail. Look for those postcards yourself and spread the word about the closings to neighbors and friends. Due to the late date for decisions on closings, it is best to use the Cook County website at cookcountyclerk.com to confirm a polling place rather than the National League Polling Place Finder at Vote411.org.Here is a telephone number for the County Clerk: (312) 603-5656
Find information about the next election at .....
Cook County Clerk:http://www.cookctyclerk.com/
Wilmette voters by a large margin passed the referendum on authorizing the Village managers to form an aggregation of customers to collectively obtain our supply of electricity. The objective is to achieve rates that are lower than currently offered through ComEd.
At the April 27, 2012 Board meeting, we discussed how the Village of Wilmette in conjunction with the Village of Kenilworth is moving ahead very quickly with the selection of an alternative electric supplier for the newly form aggregate of residential and small commercial customers. The Wilmette Village management has been clear in public statements and in their presentation to our Board that the objective of the program is only to save money. With a "cost only" criteria for the selection of a supplier, Wilmette and Kenilworth will buy a standard package of electrical power from plants that produce power as the result of burning fossil fuels along with the required minimum of 7% renewable energy sources. At the first (and only) meeting of the Administration Committee of the Village Board on the topic, three options for suppliers were presented:
Additional information about the program is available on the Village website.
One reason for paying attention to sources selected is that more is at stake than simply cost. Wilmette does not generate any power within our community so that the burden of pollution produced falls in the backyards of other communities. As our managers and elected officials set policy, it is in the people of Wilmette's best interest to be mindful of the total costs of power production and not simply cost savings to our community. More is at stake than just air pollution; there is an enormous amount of water that is fouled in the process of harvesting, transporting, and burning fossil fuels. By selecting providers that will supply a higher percentage of green power, we would be accelerating the important transition from brown to green energy. At the very least, our requests for proposals should ask perspective providers to ask for what is called "power labeling" to disclose energy sources that would be provided. We need to keep in mind that the lowest costs to us come from aging coal and nuclear plants, but these plants are also associated with the highest healthcare burdens on society and they are already receiving large government subsidies.
Illinois voters have rejected a proposed amendment to the State constitution that would have made it more difficult to expand public employee retirement benefits. The proposed amendment fell short of the two criteria needed for passage. The measure needed a favorable vote from either three-fifths of those voting on the measure, or 50 percent of the total number of votes cast in Tuesday's election. Nearly 5 million people voted in the election. With lawmakers stalemated on how to fix a severely underfunded pension system, the amendment would have required a three-fifths vote of the Legislature -- instead of a simple majority -- to increase pension benefits for public employees. Illinois pension systems are in a financial mess, and some critics say legislators too often grant better benefits without worrying about the cost. The amendment was intended to rein in lawmakers who might ram a pension increase through the General Assembly. It's also a reaction to cases of special benefits being provided to well-connected people, such as two union lobbyists who qualified for teachers' pensions after spending just one day as substitute teachers. Critics pointed out the change would do nothing to make up an $85 billion shortfall in the amount owed to five public pension systems. And it would rarely have an effect on pension-boost votes. Most pension "sweeteners" have been approved by overwhelming majorities, and the increases are a small part of the financial problem. They account for only 9 percent of growth in the pension shortfall over the past 15 years. Besides raising the vote requirement in the Legislature, the amendment also would raise the requirement for city councils, school boards and other public bodies to pass anything that would increase pension costs, aside from higher wages. Critics say this invites a storm of lawsuits over exactly what would be covered by the amendment. Copyright © 2012 -- Sun-Times Media, LLC
After reviewing the General Assembly's proposal, relevant League positions and precedents, and researching supporting documentation, League of Women Voters of Illinois Board of Directors has decided to oppose HJRCA 49, the Constitutional Amendment referendum proposal that will be on the November 6, 2012 ballot. The rationale and explanation for this decision are on the LWV Illinois League website. (September 20, 2012)
Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Virginia, Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire and North Carolina are among the states seeing the introduction and/or reintroduction of bills that, if passed, could disenfranchise millions of voters across the country. The New York Times ran an editorial this month that links the influence of big money to the wave of voter suppression laws sweeping the country, specifically connecting these efforts with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its billionaire backers.
For more information read this article on the League of Women Voters U.S. website.
Two bills are pending in the Illinois legislature to required photo IDs for voting in Illinois (HB3903 and SB2496). The premise is that there is widespread voter fraud although no clear factual evidence points to that being the case; the effect is significant voter suppression.
Consider these statistics: