November 2020 Meeting
Jennifer Howard led the November “Words of Gratitude” meeting, which was attended by the members of the Leadership Committee, Sandie Rabinowitz, and Ingrid Reed. The September newsletter detailed our League’s many election projects, and special thanks go to Cindy Gordon and Jeanne Turner for their initiatives. The Princeton, Plainsboro, West Windsor, and South Brunswick libraries hosted via Zoom voter education presentations by Ellen Kemp, Sandy Smith, Jennifer, Cindy, and Jeanne. Other collaborators included Princeton TV, which carried the Princeton Board of Education forum and the League’s National Voter Registration Day celebration. Sandy was invited to speak at Community Without Walls, Princeton Newcomers & Friends group, and PSRC’s Women in Retirement.
Karen Sladek and Jean Nitzberg joined Chrystal Schivell in staffing VOTE411, but the biggest contribution was that of Ana Stucker, our intern and a student at WW-P, who took responsibility for 22 races in six counties not covered by local Leagues. Another WW-P student, Lily Zullow, was interviewed on the Kayla Thomas show, 94.5 WPST. Lily gave an impassioned presentation about the importance of voting, which you can hear on our website. Lily has also started an LWV club at her school.
Jennifer reiterated that our League is looking for a new treasurer and a new website guru. Ellen described the treasurer’s job as essentially writing a few checks per year. Sandy Shapiro suggested that having an eye for design might be a qualification for the webmaster but that the technology was already established and relatively easy to use. Please let the Leadership Committee know if you’re willing. Without a treasurer, our League will have to disband.
Assessment of Election and Suggestions for Future Elections
Jennifer solicited from everyone their experiences with paper mail-in ballots or their experience at the polls. She and Ellen had checked on the polls on November 3 at Jesse Burn’s request and had found nothing amiss. The consensus was that mail-in ballots worked and were more secure than machines but that voters seemed intimidated or confused by the instructions. Voters also did not understand that provisional ballots are almost identical to mail-in ballots nor that machines would not be used at the polls except by those with certain disabilities. Several members supported voting only by mail; others preferred a combination. It was agreed that more drop boxes are needed if mail-in balloting continues. Another suggestion: put a barcode on the instructions that links to a video showing how to fill out a mail-in ballot.
Given that attendees live in Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset Counties, we noted differences among them, like not using the same envelope for mail-in ballots. Some provide ballots in different languages; others do not. Each county purchases its own voting machines, so they differ in having a paper trail. Ingrid suggested that the League become involved in improving elections by exploring the role of the state versus that of the counties. She would like the state to standardize voting machines and the instructions sent to mail-in voters. Counties would continue to administer the elections. Although Ingrid is grateful that the League provides the pros and cons of ballot questions, she believes it should be the responsibility of the state, as it is in other states. Whether to allow early voting in New Jersey and how long to allow votes to be accepted after Election Day are other areas that the League could explore. Sandy suggested that follow-up meetings with county election officials might be useful. No decision was made about how or whether to involve the League in improving elections.
Jennifer noted that it’s likely that the State Convention will be virtual this year, but we will still have to approve LWVNJ’s Study and Action. We will do that at the next meeting, January 12. The Education Committee is updating its positions and will be sending out a survey to members regarding updates to the positions on charter schools, regionalization, and civics education.
The election is over, but the League continues to register citizens returning from incarceration. The Reentry Program is scheduling in-person voter education and registration sessions starting in December. Three new sites are within our League’s area: Trenton, Hamilton, and New Brunswick. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information or to volunteer.
Next meeting – Tuesday, January 12 at 7:00 on Zoom