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february 14  - day of action!
On February 14, 2020, the League of Women Voters of the United States will turn 100 years old. For this milestone anniversary, Leagues all across Michigan will celebrate our history, our future and the power of our members by participating in an official "Day of Action". The Day of Action provides a framework to capture the events happening across the country to tell a single story of the League's impact. The League of Women Voters is rooted in a 100-year history of fighting to strenthen our democracy, and Michigan Leagues will demonstrate that power on February 14. Check with the local League in your area to find out what they're doing to commemorate this important anniversary.
New voting rights for michigan citizens

The League of Women Voters supported Proposal 3, "Promote the Vote", which was passed by Michigan voters in the November, 2018 election. This new constitutional amendment ensures that every eligible person can vote and that every vote will be counted. It safeguards our elections with audits and more accurate voting lists, and removes barriers that can make it harder for citizens to fulfill their responsibility to vote. Michigan citizens are now guaranteed these new voting rights:

  • A citizen can register to vote anytime with proof of residency. Click here for details.
  • All registered voters can access to an absentee ballot for any reason.
  • The right to vote a secret ballot is protected.
  • Military service members and overseas voters will get their ballots in time for their votes to count.
  • Voters have the option to vote straight party.
  • Citizens will be automatically registered to vote at the Secretary of State’s office unless the citizen declines.
  • The accuracy and integrity of elections are ensured by audits of election results


Click here to see a handy guide explaining the new voting rights. For more detailed information, see the ACLU of Michigan's comprehensive booklet "Know Your Voting Rights Guide" .

INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION - APPLICATIONS NOW AVAILABLE

Every 10 years following the U.S. Census, district lines for political offices must be redrawn in states across the country to accurately reflect their population. In Michigan, a randomly selected commission of citizens is responsible for drawing U.S. Congressional and Michigan State legislative district lines. Voters passed this constitutional amendment in the November 2018 general election, which makes citizens — not legislators or special interests — responsible for drawing district lines. The commission will be composed of 13 Michigan registered voters: four who self-identify as Democrats, four who self-identify as Republicans and five who self-identify as unaffiliated with either of those political parties.

Under the new constitutional provision, voters charged the Secretary of State with administering the application and selection process of commissioners, as well as providing administrative support to the commission once formed. On October 23, 2019, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson made the application for the Citizens Redistricting Commission available online at RedistrictingMichigan.org. All applications must be printed and notarized before being returned to the Michigan Department of State by June 1, 2020. For more information on the application and selection process, visit the Secretary of State's website to view updated public comment FAQ. Questions abour the application process should be directed to Redistricting@Michigan.gov.

For more information about the League's role in redistricting, click here.

u.s. SUPREME COURT PASSES ON lwvmi'S gerrymandering lawsuit

OCTOBER 21, 2019: The U.S. Supreme Court officially overturned a ruling which had called for nearly three dozen congressional and legislative districts in Michigan to be redrawn because they unfairly helped one political party.

"The U.S. Supreme Court decision was expected and is a follow-up to last summer’s decision in the Rucho v. Common Cause case, which stated federal courts didn’t have jurisdiction in partisan gerrymandering," said LWVMI President Christina Schlitt.  Schlitt continued, "The Supreme Court vacated the decision and remanded it back to the federal district court. The Michigan League of Women Voters continues to support efforts to fully implement the Michigan Redistricting Commission and the voter-approved election reforms that passed in November 2018.”

For more information and a timeline of the League's lawsuit, click here.

COURT SUPPORTS MICHIGAN CITIZENS' RIGHT TO initiate legislation
The League of Women Voters of Michigan was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against the State of Michigan concerning PA 608, which imposed a myriad of new restrictions on ballot initiatives. We are very pleased with the Court of Claims judge’s decision on September 27, 2019 which supported the claims that a 15% limit on the percentage of initiative signatures that come under any U.S. House district is unconstitutional. Also cited as unconstitutional is the requirement that petition circulators fill out a check box on the petition indicating whether they are paid or volunteer staff.

The League supports and encourages the grassroots efforts to initiate legislation, to amend the constitution or to recall our elected officials through the ballot initiative process. The judge’s ruling removes unreasonable barriers to circulating petitions in Michigan and vindicates the constitutional right to petition.

lwvmi joins "adopt and amend" lawsuit
June 19, 2019. Today, the ACLU of Michigan filed an amicus brief joined by the League of Women Voters of Michigan and the American Association of University Women in support of the brief filed in the Michigan Supreme Court on behalf of Michigan One Fair Wage and Michigan Time to Care, the proponents of last year's successful petition drives to raise the minimum wage and provide paid sick time for all Michigan workers. The brief urges the Court to reject the legislature’s attempt to undermine the will of the voters by removing citizen-led proposals from the ballot through an anti-democratic maneuver known as “adopt and amend.” Voters Not Politicians also filed an Amicus Curiae brief, urging the Michigan Supreme Court to rule the Michigan Legislature’s “adopt and amend” practice of passing and then gutting citizen-initiated legislation in the same session unconstitutional.

In 2018, citizens collected enough signatures to place initiatives on the ballot that would raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour for all Michigan workers and guarantee one hour of sick time for 30 hours worked. But instead of allowing citizens to vote on these important measures at the November 2018 election, the Michigan legislature adopted them into law in order to keep them off the ballot—and then proceeded to gut them as soon as the election was over. This cynical move is unconstitutional and had never been done before. The Michigan Constitution gives citizens the right to propose laws that must either be adopted by the legislature or voted on by the electorate the ACLU’s brief explains. “It therefore violates the Constitution for the Legislature to do what it did here: ‘adopt’ the people’s proposal—with no intention of allowing it to become law—and then snuff out that proposal during the same legislative session.” This case was argued in the Michigan Supreme Court in July 2019 and a decision is pending. 

DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION
The League of Women Voters of Michigan (LWVMI), in both its values and practices, affirms its belief and commitment to diversity and pluralism. LWVMI recognizes that diverse perspectives are important and necessary for responsible and representative decision making, and subscribes to the belief that diversity and pluralism are fundamental to the values it upholds.

Inclusiveness enhances the organization’s ability to respond more effectively to changing conditions and needs, and therefore, LWVMI will in both principles and practices promote the inclusion in participation in any activity of LWVMI all persons whatever their gender, race, socio-economic status, creed, age, sexual orientation, national origin or disability. Read more about the League's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by clicking here.

Michigan environmental council's roadmap 2019-2022
A new Michigan legislature was sworn in on January 1, 2019. A whole slew of public health and environmental issues are threatening Michigan and its residents that legislators need to address. Decision-makers in the Capitol need to deal with these issues thoroughly and swiftly, but they do not have to do it alone. Michigan Environmental Council and Michigan League of Conservation Voters, in conjunction with our many member and partner organizations, including League of Women Voters of Michigan, have put together an Environmental Roadmap for lawmakers and the new administration, a multi-year plan for addressing Michigan’s top environmental and public health challenges. Click her to see the 2019-2022 Environmental Roadmap.
LINE 5 PIPELINES:  AN AVOIDABLE ENVIRONMENTAL RISK

The League of Women Voters of Michigan is one of 21 members of the Oil and Water Don't Mix Coalition that sent a letter to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality ("MDEQ") and the US Army Corps of Engineers ("Corps") on June 29, 2017 regarding Enbridge Oil Company’s joint application to the MDEQ and the Corps (No. 2RD-DFDK-Y35G) to install 22 anchor supports on the Line 5 pipelines in the Mackinac Straits. The Coalition members are Michigan organizations dedicated to the protection of Michigan’s water, natural resources, public trust in those resources, the environment, communities, and the health, safety and general welfare of citizens.

The Coalition organizations are requesting that MDEQ and the Corps take the following actions with regard to Enbridge’s joint application:
1. Reject as incomplete due to its overly narrow scope of review;
2. Require a comprehensive review of Line 5 in the Straits that includes an assessment of adverse environmental impacts, risks, and feasible and prudent alternatives;
3. Temporarily terminate the transport of crude oil in the Line 5 pipelines during this comprehensive review; and
4. Hold a formal public hearing given that Enbridge Line 5 occupies publicly owned waters and bottomlands and the threat of a catastrophic oil pipeline rupture to the Great Lakes are of tremendous controversy and have generated an extraordinary level of public engagement. Read the entire letter here.

Other resources:
Under-the-Straits tour of Pipeline 5 (3 min. video)
Area businesses expressing concern about Pipeline 5 (3 min video)

ADVOCATING WITH THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS:  WHAT CAN YOU DO?

1. Join the LWV
    a. Connect with people who share your democratic values
    b. Share in decision making and work
    c. Know you are a part of bigger coalitions

2. Learn About Issues
    a. Improve your general knowledge of issues – learn from others
    b. Focus on issues important to you – Share your knowledge
    c. View issues from a broader perspective – respect people’s right to different viewpoints

3. Strengthen our Voice & Establish Relationships
    a. Engage
    b. Mentor
    c. Demonstrate
    d. Advocate

4. Be Realistic – build bridges, not walls
    a. Compromise
    b. Non-partisan solutions

5. Stay Positive
    a. Hard work needs positivity – remember to have some fun
    b. Avoid burnout - take time for yourself & your loved ones

THE GOAL: BECOMING A TOP TEN EDUCATION STATE
The Education Trust- Midwest, a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization, has published their 2016 Michigan State of Eduction Report. Titled, "Michigan’s Talent Crisis:The Economic Case for Rebuilding Michigan's Broken Public Education System."  The report deals with steps to reach the goal of becoming a top ten education state. Today, Michigan's K-12 system is among the weakest in the country and getting worse. In a little more than a decade, Michigan has gone from being a fairly average state in elementary reading and math achievement to the bottom 10 states. This is a devestating fall. Read the annual report here.
CURRENT LWVMI NEWSLETTER
Click here to open the April, 2019 newsletter.