March 2015 Meeting
The League's focus for 2015-16 is Voter Service, and there was a good turnout and some very welcome volunteers at the March meeting's Voter Service Workshop offered by Chrystal Schivell, Voter Service chair.
Joan Bharucha, who years ago took the initiative to register voters at the West Windsor Farmers' Market every Saturday in September, described why she enjoys registering. The leisurely pace of a farmers' market allows her to explain the steps in registration and to encourage voting. Because West Windsor and Plainsboro are growing communities, Joan's services are needed by the many newcomers, and she feels rewarded. Ellen Kemp and Rita Ludlum, who live in retirement communities that constantly welcome newcomers, said that their registration drives were also successful and satisfying.
League members are encouraged to initiate their own drives—whether alone or with another member or friend—wherever they see a need. All that's needed is permission to be on the premises and forms that you can pick up from your county clerk or that Chrystal can provide.
Although Chrystal will no longer be organizing registration drives, the Princeton League plans to help the Lawrence League with its drives at Mercer County Community College. Sandy Smith, our liaison, will be looking for volunteers for both daytime and evening next fall.
Chrystal explained the steps involved in compiling a Voter's Guide, which is like a virtual debate. It contains the written responses of all candidates to League questions and is published either in newspapers or on the League website or both. Sandy Shapiro reports there were over 1,700 visitors to our website in the fall of 2014—evidence that voters look to League for non-partisan information about candidates.
Chrystal stressed that volunteers can set their own schedule and that, because correspondence with the candidates is done by email, identical messages can be copied from the templates she will provide and quickly sent to all candidates. Sandy Smith, who has compiled Voter's Guides for West Windsor and Plainsboro, estimated that she spends about an hour per candidate over the course of four weeks in correspondence and compiling the responses that result in the Guide.
Chrystal hopes that we will have enough volunteers to produce Guides that cover not only the municipal and school board elections in West Windsor, Plainsboro, Princeton, Montgomery, and South Brunswick, as we have in the past, but to increase our coverage to include the freeholders in the three counties encompassed by the Princeton League. Please contact Chrystal. To read the handout, distributed at the workshop, that details the steps in compiling a Guide, click here.
Simona Brickers from the Lawrence League gave an impassioned talk about the need to convince registered voters to actually vote. She said that she tackles voter apathy everyday—at MCCC and in the checkout line at the supermarket. Her advice: Ask everyone if they vote and, if not, why. Listen to their reasons. Know enough about government—local, state, and national—to counter their apathy on a personal level; for example, explaining to students the role of government in determining student loans.
Chrystal hopes to compile a list of specific, personal reasons to vote based on Joan's and Simona's experiences with non-voters during registrations. Voter education is as important as registration and might be an area that League members explore more fully in 2015-16.
LWVNJ Annual Appeal and Callathon
A reminder to all those who are helping with Callathon to turn in completed forms to Lee Forbes. It’s important to write a personal note at the bottom of each form, so that our League is given credit for contacting the donor. We’ll earn a percentage of donations.
LWVNJ Gala and Biennial Convention
A Gala will take place in Hamilton, NJ on Friday, May 1, followed by the 61st Convention at Mercer County Community College on Saturday, May 2. Registration will be available online within the next few weeks. Our League is entitled to 4 voting delegates, in addition to Lee Forbes who is a LWVNJ Board Member. We’ll be honoring our 50-year members with a tribute in the program book. Check the State website: http://www.lwvnj.org/ for more information.
Annual Meeting and Dinner
Our annual meeting and dinner will take place on Monday, June 8, at the Salt Creek Grille in Princeton Forrestal Village. Please save the date for this enjoyable evening. More information will be distributed after we decide on a speaker.