Whew. The people elected to office in November 2020 have now taken their places in government. This has been a very difficult and divisive election cycle. But we've made it through and are about to start on a new federal administration, divided state government in Minnesota and some new faces in our city and county offices.
The value of the work done by LWV
Following is from a message that LWV Minneapolis sent out to their members on Inauguration Day; we at ABC will borrow their stirring words... great reflections on the value of League and the work that we do!
"One of the super powers of the League of Women Voters is that we are non-partisan AND we stand for truth, justice and fairness. We are proud to be a members of League. During the 2020 election we used our voices and volunteered time to help keep the election fair and safe and to make sure every vote was counted and that every voter trusted that their vote mattered. We joined our fellow League members in Minneapolis, in Minnesota and across the Nation to ensure that our Democracy, which is more fragile than we ever imagined, survived and will thrive as we move forward. Grassroots activism is a powerful force that makes significant change happen. Imbedded in LWV's mission is the commitment to educate, advocate and empower. Working together we will achieve great things."
Challenges and truth-telling
This IS a good time to pat ourselves on the back as Leaguer's for our work on this election, but there are still many troubling things that our democracy is facing. In the weeks after the election, we saw our President become increasingly strident in his claims that the election was 'rigged'. This message was echoed by many elected officials, lending credence to the claims and eventually fomenting the violence we saw at our nation's Capitol on January 6. Some of these echoes came from Minnesota, despite the fact that our election here was closely scrutinized at every step and the results were certified by local and state election boards.
On January 14, LWV Minnesota, through action of the state Board, sent a letter to Minnesota legislative leaders that specifically called on the legislative leaders to:
LWV ABC Letter to the Editor:
"For more than 100 years, the League of Women Voters has diligently promoted good governance and fair voting. The need for our diligence and our voice has never been greater.
We of the LWV of Anoka, Blaine, Coon Rapids Area call on our Legislative leaders to require that all MN State Representatives and Senators accept the outcome of the 2020 elections and fulfill their oath to the US and MN constitutions. We stand with one voice on the need to call for truth and accountability around our elections.
LWV is a nonpartisan, good government organization. Being nonpartisan means we don’t support any specific party or candidate. Equally, it means we don’t abandon our positions or our principles of good government for any party.
We will continue to work with all legislators to advance free and fair elections. And we will continue to hold accountable all legislators, regardless of party, who undermine the democracy for which we stand.
Signed, Gretchen Sabel, President, LWV ABC"
*Minutes from the special Board meeting can be reviewed on the LWV ABC members-only pages, under Board Agendas in the Jan 25 agenda on page 15."
Anti-racism is the act of opposing racism/white supremacy in all forms - in our society, other people, and ourselves. It is about identifying the root causes of racism and putting an end to them. A critical part of anti-racism is self-education - educating yourself without placing the burden of your education on Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). In that spirit, we are asking you to educate yourself and share resources you found helpful or insightful to help others continue their antiracism self-education.
In January 2021, Twin Cities PBS launched Racism Unveiled, a multimedia, multiplatform storytelling project which will examine the impact of systemic racism on Black, Indigenous and communities of color in Minnesota, how racial inequities came to be, how they hold us back and what we can do about them. The two year project is “a platform for people of color to share the honest truth about their experiences in this state and to find a way forward together.”'
Some Racism Unveiled recommendations:
Explore a Racial Awakening in a Small Minnesota Town article and short video
Tethered: How Race and Policing Binds Minneapolis to Louisville article
Jim Crow of the North - 1 hour documentary on redlining in Minnesota
A blog to follow with good anti-racism resources is Real Talk: WOC and Allies.
Real Talk: WOC & Allies is the voices of women of color (WOC) and allies working against racism and oppression. Great blog to learn more about being antiracist.
Some Real Talk: WOC & Allies recommendations:
The Perils of “People of Color” by E. Tammy Kim
For Black Women in Media, a “Dream Job” Is a Myth by Kathleen Newman-Bremang
White Millennials Are Products of a Failed Lesson in Colorblindness by Mychal Denzel Smith
Submit your recommendations for articles, blogs, video, podcasts, etc. to email@example.com
Write: RECOMMENDATION in caps in the subject line
On January 11, the ABC League of Women Voters will discuss the impact of distance learning and the pandemic on student mental health, academic progress, opportunities and challenges. We will hear from a school psychologist, a parent of children with disabilities, a music teacher and a high school student. Each person will discuss the impact of distance learning and social isolation from their experiences. We will talk about the impacts as we know then today, but recognize that there will be more that we will learn about how the needs of our students and staff evolve as a result of this experience.
6:00 Zoom meeting room opens (link in Jan '21 newsletter, and will be sent in email to all members on Jan 9)
6:00 to 6:30–Getting connected and visiting
6:30-Announcements and Program
This study update was authorized in 2019 at the LWVMN Convention. The study’s purpose is to update the LWV MN Firearms study from 1990. The study will be a consensus-type study to update the 1990 position on firearms, to come out around September 2021. (What is a position or a study? Review this page on the LWV website.)
Several positions recommended in the 1990 study have not been implemented, so the study committee thought it would be a good idea to learn the views of our local police and sheriffs. Local Leagues like LWV ABC are asked to interview their local police chiefs and sheriffs in the month of January, reporting data to the study committee. The interviews will provide the committee a broad view of the possible impacts of proposed firearms legislation.
The 'top cops' who participate in the interviews give the study committee great insight on the pros and cons of firearms safety issues. Through this work, League is engaging in our communities and through police interviews are learning what’s going on in their community, and whether firearms are an issue or not.
The help being requested is for members throughout our service area to contact the police chief or sheriff who serves their city, interview them using the 20 questions provided by the study committee, and then relay written notes from the discussion to the study committee. The total project would be 1-1.5 hour commitment; scripts are provided for making initial contact and setting up the interview as well as the twenty questions for the interview. It would be wonderful if we had two volunteers from each of our jurisdictions - see the list of cities below.
If this is a topic that really interests you, the study committee welcomes additional committee members. The study committee is headed by Marti Micks of LWV Golden Valley, an articulate and organized leader. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll help you make the connections.
In the LWV ABC service area, we have police departments in Anoka, Blaine, Champlin, Columbia Heights, Coon Rapids, Fridley, Spring Lake Park and Ramsey. The Anoka County Sheriff serves the rest of the communities in which our members live. We have members in all these except Spring Lake Park.
Ideally we will have a team of two interviewers for each police department. LWV ABC will provide a Zoom meeting space and or conference call capabilities for the meeting. Written results from the interview are to be sent to the Study Committee by Jan 31.
December 14 is the day that Electors gather to cast their votes for President. This year, Mel Aanerud from Ham Lake will be one of those Electors. and he's agreed to join us on December 14 at 6:30 to tell us about his experience. The presentation will be non-partisan, and will include information on how the Electoral College came to be, the pros and cons, and what are the prospects of change. Of course, we'll be meeting virtually through Zoom; we'll send the link to members on Dec 7. The meeting is open to everyone, if you are interested, email us at email@example.com and we'll send it on to you, too.
Mel Aanerud is literally a Friend of League, having received
this award from LWV ABC in 2018. Besides being a Friend
of League and an Elector, Mel has been a Will Rogers re-
enactor and further supports LWV ABC as husband of
Kathy Aanerud, our Acting Vice President.
Mel is a man of many talents who continues his studies of history,
political science, and current events in his retirement.
You can see a recording of Mel as Will Rogers by clicking here
its on QCTV Special Editions.
A second presentation on the Electoral College is being planned for later in December. In this presentation, we will talk about the LWV position on the Electoral College and efforts that different groups in League are undertaking to bring about change. We'll share information on this as soon as the details are set. In the meantime, you can read the LWV US position on the Electoral College below.
From LWV US Impact on Issues 2018-20:, page 29
Selection of the President
The League’s Position Statement of Position on Selection of the President, as announced by the National Board, January 1970, revised March 1982, updated June 2004 and revised by the 2010 Convention:
The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the direct-popular-vote method for electing the President and Vice President is essential to representative government. The League of Women Voters believes, therefore, that the Electoral College should be abolished. We support the use of the National Popular Vote Compact as one acceptable way to achieve the goal of the direct popular vote for election of the president until the abolition of the Electoral College is accomplished. The League also supports uniform voting qualifications and procedures for presidential elections. The League supports changes in the presidential election system—from the candidate selection process to the general election. We support efforts to provide voters with enough information about candidates and their positions, public policy issues and the selection process itself. The League supports action to ensure that the media, political parties, candidates, and all levels of government achieve these goals and provide that information.
A League study of the presidential electoral process culminated in a 1970 position supporting direct election of the President by popular vote as essential to representative government. The League testified and lobbied for legislation to amend the U.S. Constitution to replace the Electoral College with direct election of the President, including provisions for a national runoff election in the event no candidates (President or Vice President) received 40 percent of the vote. The measure, which passed the House and nearly passed the Senate in 1971, has been revived in each Congress without success.
In 1997, LWVUS again called for abolition of the Electoral College and for direct election of the President and Vice President in testimony before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution. 28 The League has supported national voting qualifications and procedures for presidential elections to ensure equity for voters from all states and to facilitate the electoral process. In February 2001, a memo was sent to state and local Leagues outlining the League’s position on the Electoral College under the LWVUS position on Selection of the President.
The League believes strongly that the Electoral College should be abolished and not merely “reformed.” One “reform” which the League specifically rejects is the voting by electors based on proportional representation in lieu of the present “winner-takes-all” method. Such a system would apportion the electoral votes of a state based on the popular vote in that state. Instead of making the Electoral College more representative, such proportional voting would increase the chance that no candidate would receive a majority in the Electoral College, thereby sending the election of the President to the House of Representatives where each state, regardless of population, would receive only one vote.
Election of the President by the House further removes the decision from the people and is contrary to the “one person, one vote” principle. The League also does not support reform of the Electoral College on a state-by-state basis because the League believes there should be uniformity across the nation in the systems used to elect the President.
The 2002 Convention voted to expand and update the position. The League came to concurrence on a new position in June 2004, which takes into account the entire presidential selection process and supports a process that produces the best possible candidates, informed voters, and optimum voter participation. The 2008 Convention voted to conduct a study of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) proposal, which would establish the popular election of the President through a compact among the states governing how they would cast their votes in the Electoral College.
The 2010 Convention adopted a concurrence to support the NPVIC as another method of selecting the President until the Electoral College is abolished. Convention 2018 voted to amend and add advocacy of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact to the 2018-2020 Campaign for Making Democracy Work®. To support this effort, in 2018 LWVUS created an online discussion group to enable members working on this issue across the country to connect and in early 2019 LWVUS created an NPVIC Task Force to assess state-level interest, evaluate the status of the effort, and recommend next steps."
Our Monthly Program: Monday, November 9
Whew. November 9 - the election will be over, the dust will be settled and we’ll know who the winners are in all these races nationwide. Or will we? Join us at 6pm on Monday, November 9, to talk about what happened, what’s known and not known, and how we feel about things.
We’ll spend an hour on this, maybe over a beverage of your choice, and share what we collectively know and understand in a civil and respectful discussion. Remember – LWV is a nonpartisan organization and we value civil discourse.
At 7, we’ll shift gears a bit and Sue Butler will lead a discussion geared at helping us all improve our skills at talking to folks who may not agree with our political views. This is important because we will all need to move ahead in rebuilding relationships and our community and our nation after the election. QCTV will record this second segment for later cablecast.
Zoom log-in information will be sent to members on November 5; non-members can request the link by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .
All are welcome, so join us. It will be a good session.
It is too late now (Nov 1) to mail your Absentee Ballot. If you still have your ballot at home, you should bring it to your city office or the county courthouse to drop off on Monday, Nov 2, or just vote in person either Monday Nov 2 or Tuesday Nov 3. You can vote in person Monday Nov 2 (8-5) at city offices in Anoka County (see list below) or the Anoka County Courthouse. Or vote at your local polling place on November 3. More info on the MN Secretary of State's website, including live links to each voting location for hours and directions: mnvotes.org.
LWV Minnesota reported late Thursday that a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Minnesota Secretary of State did not have the authority to extend the deadline to November 10 for receipt of mailed absentee ballots. Therefore, absentee ballots arriving after Election Day must be counted separately from other ballots. (Ruling at bottom of post.)
The ruling did not specifically invalidate absentee ballots received after November 3 but mandated that those votes be segregated into a special group that, by implication, could become the target of future law suits. The ruling did not indicate whether all races on the ballot would be equally vulnerable. An appeal may be in the works from the Secretary of State and/or Attorney General.
The message from the Secretary of State's office is simple and unambiguous: starting October 30, do not return absentee ballots by regular mail due to the risk they could eventually be invalidated. Even so, all votes cast will be tabulated; Minnesota county elections offices will report the number of absentee votes received by mail every day for a week following the election.
Those who recently returned absentee ballots should use the ballot tracker tool to confirm that their ballot has been accepted and will be counted: https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/AbsenteeBallotStatus.aspx
Those who have not yet voted (or who find their mailed absentee ballot has not yet been accepted when they use the link above) have two viable voting plans to consider: 1. vote absentee in person at local election offices, or 2. vote in person on Election Day.
The Census count ended on October 15. How many households were enumerated, when it was all said and done?
This blog post, from US Census Director Dr. Steven Dillingham, shows that nearly all the households were counted - more than 99% in all states. That's good! There's a link in Dr. Dillingham's post that leads to the page that lists results for individual states with links to break down results as far as by Census Tract. It's a very rich source of information about the count. Of course, the findings of the Census are not out yet - that will come in February.
Looking at Anoka County, we see that we had an initial self-response rate of 84%, meaning that only 16% of our households needed an follow-up visit from a Census enumerator. That's really good - we were tied for fifth in the US with Washington County (MN)! The enumerators finished up the work, bringing us up to 99.9% counted.
LWV ABC did a program on Census back when it all started in September of 2019 - you can watch the video on our webpage at this link. (What a different time that was - people were physically present in the audience and sitting next to one another!)
So, enough self-congratulating... now it's time to get down to work. One BIG use of the Census data is to redraw the lines for our electoral districts, from Congress to State to County to City. LWV at all levels will be advocating for Fair Maps that objectively represent the electorate and don't favor one party over another. Would you like to be part of this work? Email us at email@example.com and we'll get you hooked up with others to get this job done!
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