7/9 Voting Matters Meeting Minutes

Minutes for the Action Ridge Zoom Meeting 

Voting Matters 

July 9, 2020 

7:00-9:00 p.m. 

Liz Swanson hosted The Action Ridge Zoom meeting and gave an opening statement. She listed some Action Ridge victories that have occurred over the last month. Approximately 500 people attended The Peace and Prayer Vigil, which took place on June 2nd and was sponsored by Action Ridge, the Park Ridge Community Church and the Ministerial Association. Attendees responded to calls to Action made by several inspirational speakers. Fifty new requests to join the Action Ridge gmail group were made and 100 joined our FB group. At the vigil, Action Ridge was proud to share our values as listed in our Mission Statement. 

Thanks to newer, younger members, especially Mollie Carmichael, who heard about us at the vigil, we have modernized our social media platforms. We now have an Instagram account! 

As a result of the June 2nd vigil and a vigil held on June 6th and our regular meeting on June 11th, many members and citizens at large, wrote to the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council in support of increasing Affordable Housing in Park Ridge. 

Additionally, the Mayor has started a citizens’ task force to review police policies. 

Also several Maine South students and alumnae wrote a letter to District 207 asking that many changes be made to increase equity in the Secondary Schools. To date, over 500 people have signed the letter. 

Liz pointed out that our efforts, along with those of other social justice groups and individuals DO make a difference. 

Nan Parson then stressed the need to Get Out The Vote in order to make real change. She said that “Voting Matters” and that’s why we are doing our best to educate ourselves about election reform. She recognized Action Ridge member Pat Lofthouse for suggesting to Senator Laura Murphy that she sponsor the Ranked Choice Voting Bill (SB 2267). Then she introduced the speakers for the evening. 

Larry Garfield of Fair Vote IL spoke first. (At this point in the meeting there were 43 participants. Yay!) He explained that voters often feel disenfranchised and feel that their vote doesn’t count. It’s possible for the winner of an election to represent less than half of the voters, as occurred in the Bush versus Gore election in which Ralph Nader siphoned off votes. If Ranked Choice Voting had been used, Nader would have been eliminated from the race; and the votes of those who picked him as their first choice would have been distributed to their second choice. That way their votes would have been counted and, probably, Al Gore would have won. 

In some instances a run off of the top 2 candidates is held, but that costs money and the turnout is low and this discourages candidates from running. 

Rank Choice Voting actually shows the voters’ true intent and preferences. Also because candidates would want to encourage voters to choose them as a second or third choice, their behavior is more civil. Because of second and third choices the RCV system increases the chance of women and voters of color being victorious. Voters can vote for the candidate they really want, not the candidate they think is most likely to win. 

This is the way RCV works. The first candidate with 50% of the votes wins. If no candidate has 50% of the vote initially, the votes for the second, third and so on choices are are distributed until one candidate gains 50% of the vote. By allowing the candidate to win that 50% of the voters prefer, RCV works well for crowded primary races. If a voter votes early and his preferred candidate drops out, his vote is distributed to his next choice and so still counts. One half of the country already uses RCV for military and overseas elections and it works very well. 

Maine has been using RCV statewide since 2018 and NYC will start using it for city elections, joining Santa Fe, Ireland, Australia, and others. Many boards and universities already use it, as well. FairVote Illinois is working hard to see that Illinois institutes RCV with the hope that one day it will be used for national elections. 

ACTION: 

1. Join the mailing list @ FairVoteIL 

Look for their Twitter presence and on FB. 

2. Invite FairVote to speak to other groups. 

3. Donate to www. Fairvoteillinois.org. FairVote is a 501c3. 

4. Currently, SB 2267 has 9 supporters in the legislature (It will come up next year.). Be ready to speak up in support. 

Also there is a House Bill, which will come up next year at the earliest. 

Using mail-in ballots will not be a problem. However, results might take a day or two longer. 

RCV isn’t too confusing for voters. Voters still vote only once. Their votes just move around. The voter only gets one ballot. If you have questions, contact larry@garfieldtech.com. 

Lilliana Scales, Advocacy Director of Change Illinois, spoke second. Change Illinois focuses its work on ending gerrymandering and on election reform. This has been a 10 year project. It is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. If you would like more information about Change Il, please email Liliana at lscales@changeil.org. 

The effort to end gerrymandering starts with the census of every resident, which takes place every 10 years. Based on the census, the State determines the number of congressional seats allowed. IL is already projected to lose one, maybe even 2 seats. However, redistricting is not bad. It’s the process of drawing boundaries which is problematic. 

Gerrymandering, which is a method of drawing legislative district boundaries, manipulates the data for political party gain. The process is not transparent to the public. It takes place behind closed doors so we have no voice. Unfortunately, the House and Senate did NOT approve a possible solution to the problem because an independent review council, which was reviewing ways to amend the State Constitution, was cut short partly due to the Covid crisis. A large number of groups were backing an amendment and 67% of IL citizens polled approved it. So there was a chance for change. However, five powerful politicians are very influential and support gerrymandering. They decide for the whole State and include the Governor and the House Speaker of the House. 

If you want to learn more about the ways in which these powerful politicians influence gerrymandering, go to http://www.changeil.org. 

Currently, the completion of the census is delayed until July 31st because of Covid and the re-maps are due on June 30th or the maps don’t get redrawn. The legislature is trying to figure out how to solve this problem. Any hope of ending gerrymandering for the time being has been lost. Ten years from now, there may be a solution; so change-makers must keep the problem on the minds of voters. 

The only Action we can take is to contact our legislators to demand that redistricting be transparent so that the people have a voice regarding the drawing of district boundaries. 

Gov. Pritzger has previously said he opposes gerrymandering maps; but has done nothing to address the problem. According to the IL State Constitution, the time to make constitutional changes cannot be extended; so appeals were denied. 

The question was asked, “What about fall candidates who might not know what district they’re in?” Juliana said, “The answer is up in the air. They may use the old maps and redraw them next year.” Madigan’s lawyers got rid of a petition (TWICE) to put a referendum on the ballot that would require fair mapping. 

ACTION: Call or email your legislator and say, “We want you to support a bill that provides transparency in the re-mapping process. Drawing maps behind closed doors (Gerrymandering) is form of Voter Suppression”. 

Karen Yee Reid, The Director of LWVPR spoke about Getting Out the Vote in Park Ridge. 

The election will take place on November 3, 2020. We want to GOTV but must do so safely. Karen urged volunteers to please assess themselves for Covid risk in GOTV efforts. 

The Voter registration deadline is Sunday Oct 16th. October 6th is the deadline for registering to vote via paper application. In order to receive your voter registration application, go to http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/agency/register-vote / THIS IS A QUICK PROCESS! 

Currently, in person registration isn’t possible because of Covid. Action Ridge and the LWV are focusing on registering young people who will be 18 by November 3rd. It’s important to reach Seniors in residences and people who have recently moved also. 

Early voting begins on 10/19 and continues until 11/2. Voters may request the application to receive a mail-in ballot right now by contacting http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/agency/vote-mail 

A Driver’s License or State ID or the last four digits of your Social Security number are required. The ballot will come on the 1st week of Oct with prepaid postage. The filled out ballot must be postmarked by November 3rd. 

If you voted in 2018, you should get a Mail Ballot Application in July. Some college kids vote in their college state. They should check that state’s requirements. It’s possible to register and vote on the same day. Safety and Covid precautions will need to be in place. Gov. Pritzker has declared November 3rd to be a State Holiday, which should increase the voter turn-out. 

The LWV will be reminding students to vote. Please volunteer if you’d like to help GOTV. We can contact teachers, Senior residences and give information regarding mail-in voting and deadlines. 

The LWVPR may use signage with a QR link so that voters can register with their phone. This was done at the rally on June 6th and 30 voters registered to vote. 

ACTION : Use Social Media to communicate new information. Individuals can phone bank and write personal post cards. Door hangers may be available to put on the doors of houses that have graduation signs. Karen and Nan will let us know if we can get the doorhangers. 

Become a deputy registrar. Training will be on line soon. If you have questions, contact Karen at kayreid@comcast.net or Action Ridge at actionridge2017@gmail.com. To be a registrar you must be 18, a registered voter, and be sponsored by a group (like AR or LWV). 

Tuesday, September 22nd will be National Voter Registration Day. We were supposed to register young people at Maine West HS; but the event was cancelled due to Covid. Perhaps will be able to do it on the 22nd. 

We thanked our three presenters for helping us understand the importance of election reform and ways that groups are working toward that goal and ways that we can GOTV. 

Then Nan talked about three more actions we can take. 

ACTIONS : 

Alissa Goldwasser is still collecting brown paper bags with handles to help feed those impacted by the Covid pandemic. Drop bags off at 431 S Crescent. 

Join the Diversity Discussion Group on July 22nd. We are reading Waking Up White by Debbie Irving. Nan went on Hoopla through the Library and is listening to an audio version or you can purchase the book on Alibris. If you’d like to join in the discussion, please email actionridge2017@gmail.com. 

Tune in on Thursday, August 27th to hear a presentation on Fair Tax with Michael Rabbitt 

(Note date change from our regular schedule.) 

Michael gave us a very brief review of the Fair Tax Amendment to change the State Constitution, which he will talk about on the 27th. The question about this amendment will be on the November ballot; so we really need to learn about it. 

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00. Respectfully submitted by Beth Brosnan and Nan Parson

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