The League of Women Voters of New Castle held its annual meeting and luncheon at Ibiza Kitchen on Wednesday, May 8th. Peter Egziabher, a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law spoke on "Automatic Voter Registration: An Idea Whose Time Has Come." Our Greeley Senior Experience intern, Sarah Kugelmas, summarized the presentation for us.
The Brennan Center for Justice is an advocacy group and a public interest law firm that has works with the League of Women Voters in many different states across the country. They believe in a living Constitution: times change and the Constitution should be adjusted to the fit those times. The Brennan Center works to make America more democratic, just, and free. One way they're working towards that goal is with spreading the discussion and implementation of automatic voter registration (AVR).
The current method of voter registration in the United States is costly and ineffective and an eighth of registrations are invalid or inaccurate. Digitizing voter registration is one way to make this process more effective. Along with digitized voter registration, AVR would improve the rate of voter registration by making registering the "default option." This can be done either on the front-end (a government agency such as the DMV states that the person will be registered unless they decline) or on the back-end (the person will be told by something like a letter in the mail). There are currently about 51 million eligible but unregistered voters in the country and AVR could make that number drop.
Between 2015 and 2018, AVR has been implemented in 15 states and Washington DC. This means that a third of Americans live in a state with AVR and voter registration has only increased, regardless of the people were told front-end or back-end. In states like Georgia, the percentage of increase in registrations was 93.7% which demonstrates the large positive effect of AVR. It's also been shown that the rate of registration rose regardless of state size, political party, etc. The discussion about AVR has spread to 45 states and the number of states that implement AVR will likely rise in the upcoming years. There are still some challenges for New York with it being in the bottom third for turnout and with a large non-citizen population to filter out, but AVR and digital registration can help to manage these problems and improve voter registration rates in the state.
Many thanks to Alex Holt and Jennifer Mebes Flagg for arranging the luncheon, and thanks to Ibiza Kitchen for the delicious meal!
On July 26, 2018, at the White Plains Courthouse on MLK, Jr. Boulevard in White Plains, NY, 115 people became newly naturalized citizens of the United States. Mary Kirsch and Sheila Miller Bernson from the League of Women Voters of New Castle represented the League of Women Voters of Westchester at the Naturalization Ceremony, and Kathy Schreiber represented Polly Cooper Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). Mary, Sheila and Kathy, standing side by side, welcomed each new citizen with a handshake and big smile after they received their Certificates of Naturalization from Timothy C. Idoni, County Clerk and Susan Kiernan, Executive Deputy County Clerk. Kathy handed out a small American flag and a brochure (with an American flag pin attached) entitled, "Flag Code," and Mary and Sheila distributed a League brochure, "Welcome New Citizens" that provides information on voting. In an adjacent room, there were representatives to assist these new citizens in getting the US passports, as well as representatives from the Westchester County Board of Elections to help fill in voter registration forms. Hon. Sam Walker, Supreme Court Judge, welcomed the new citizens and shared his personal history. Judge Walker arrived in the United States in 1970 from Jamaica as a teenager, and focused getting an education. He encouraged the new citizens to "settle down and aim high." He concluded his comments by saying, "Now you can vote," which resulted in spontaneous applause from the audience. The crowd was joyous and represented many different nationalities from all over the world. Many children and family members and friends accompanied the newly naturalized citizens to this important ceremony. If you haven't yet attended a Naturalization Ceremony on behalf of the LWV of Westchester, it is a truly wonderful and heartening experience. Children are welcome!
Listen to the podcast of our Constitutional Convention Forum: Pros and Cons:
On February 7, 2017, Sally Robinson, Vice-President of Issues and Advocacy from LWVNYS discussed the "Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of New York State's Constitutional Convention Question" at an event co-sponsored by the LWV White Plains, our LWV New Castle, and numerous other local area leagues.
Additional educational materials are available at http://www.lwvny.org/programs-studies/con-con-edu.html
The League of Women Voters of New Castle Forum on media and politics addressed these issues and the impact they had on the 2016 Presidential election and will have on elections moving forward, both local and national.
Moderated by Jeanne Zaino, Ph.D.
Political Analyst and Professor at Iona College
Jon Klein, Cable News and Internet Executive
Jerry McKinstry, Media Strategist and Journalist
Phil Reisman, Columnist/Radio Talk Show Host
Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 7:00 PM
Chappaqua Library Theater, 195 South Greeley Avenue, Chappaqua, NY.