CONVERSATION WITH THE SUPERVISOR
On March 17, 2016, the League of Women Voters® of New Castle held its annual event A Conversation with the Supervisor at the Chappaqua Library Theater. Supervisor Rob Greenstein provided updates to the community on the latest issues around Town.
In case you missed it, you can watch the video here: https://vimeo.com/159536788
LWV MEMBERS GO TO ALBANY
By Kay Schonberg, League Member
On Tuesday March 8, 2016 several hundred people from the Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island areas traveled to Albany to encourage state legislators to support the comprehensive budget item to raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York State from 16 to 18 years. The group included individuals who had diverse involvements with this issue. There were representatives of agencies which worked in both preventive and remedial programs; members of The League of Women Voters; young people with a history of incarceration who spoke about the impact of that experience on their lives; family members of incarcerated teens; attorneys; professionals who worked with incarcerated youth in the jails; and residents of the Youth Shelter of Westchester ( an alternative to incarceration). These young people from the Shelter served as an example of the potential for positive growth which can be realized when teens in difficulty are given the appropriate supports and services rather than being subjected to a punitive approach. Please contact your legislator to urge support for this budget item.
This year in New York State we will have FOUR election days, not counting the school board elections on May 17th and the Fire District elections on December 13th.
Below is a summary of important dates related to each of the above elections.
Who can Vote in a Presidential Primary?
People CANNOT change their party affiliation now and vote in the primary of their new party affiliation this April; people can vote in the primary for the party they are currently registered. However, anyone who is registering FOR THE FIRST TIME may vote in the presidential primary if they register by March 25th in person or by mail if received by the county BOE by March 30. People with questions can contact the Westchester County Board of Elections at 914-995-5700.
Vote 411 has information on the presidential candidates. Go to www.vote411.org and enter your address to get voter information. Watch for later in the year as we update the site for each of the upcoming primaries and general election.
COFFEE AND CONVERSATION WITH STATE LEAGUE PRESIDENT DARE THOMPSON
Local was very lively with the newly-elected president of the LWV of New York, Dare Thompson; the president of the LWV of Westchester, Marylou Green, and many members and friends of the LWV of New Castle. In addition, we were very honored to have our state Assemblyman, David Buchwald join us.
While sipping coffee or tea, and munching on Balthazar pastries, the audience learned about the State League. Dare described the League of Women Voters as a ‘grassroots organization,’ forming its positions, such as the recently adopted “Raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility,” based on the opinions of all of the local leagues in New York State. She also described how the State League conducts its efforts in Albany to support its many positions with state lawmakers.
Marylou Green spoke about the support the Westchester League lends to the ten local leagues in the county. The Westchester League keeps an eye on the work of the county legislators, and always monitors the county budget. It also organizes and publishes the fall Voters Guides that provides information on all local, state and national elections, as well as setting up Vote411.org, the League of Women Voters on-line voters guide to candidates as well as polling places.
David Buchwald provided valuable insights on the workings of Albany and gave us one bit of important advice: reach out to your representatives and let them know how you feel about particular issues-- phone calls are the best approach, but letters and emails are also ok.
See you soon at our next “Meet-Up.”
CONCURRENCE ON "RAISE THE AGE"
The state concurrence was considered by 25 local leagues and they all came to consensus in favor of the concurrence. At its meeting held on January 17, 2016 the State League Board of Directors adopted the following new position:
This provides a new position on which the League will be taking action during this current legislative session.
Our December 1st Forum on Raise the Age was well-attended and extremely compelling:
Thank you to all who ordered desserts in our Thanksgiving fundraiser!
Town Budget Forum
WELCOME TO OUR NEWEST MEMBERS
2014 Voter Participation in New Castle and Our Survey Results
“I always vote. It is a citizen’s civic responsibility and a privilege.”
“I have never missed an opportunity to vote, never will. It’s an obligation of living in a democracy.”
These quotes from two New Castle residents capture the sentiment expressed by many in our community who completed the recent voter participation survey conducted by the League of Women Voters of New Castle. Although New York State’s participation in the midterm elections was the fourth lowest in the country at 28.8%, we are pleased to report that the voter participation rate for New Castle was almost 50%.
The League’s objectives in doing a survey were to find out whether the community feels it is getting the information it needs about the candidates and the issues, and the community’s thoughts on what would make voting more accessible.
About 300 people participated in our survey; 82% of survey respondents had voted in the last election and 63% of respondents felt that they were sufficiently informed.
The following chart illustrates where survey respondents obtained their information on the candidates:
Of the 50 respondents who had not voted, about 40% stated that they were disillusioned, disgruntled or otherwise not sure their votes mattered. Here are a couple of their quotes:
“My vote can't change anything in politics."
"Difficult to determine who was telling the truth and who was not. So many negative ads and constant phone calls left more questions than answers.”
Research shows that negative ads late in a campaign can reduce voter turnout (see http://mediaproject.wesleyan.edu/blog/what-matters-with-negativity-is-timing/).
About 40% of nonvoters said they could not get to the polls because of their jobs. Suggested remedies included early voting, voting on the weekend, voting by mail or online voting. Early in-person voting and no-excuse absentee ballots are reforms that the League of Women Voters of New York State supports. In fact, New York is one of only 14 states where early voting is not available and an excuse is required to request an absentee ballot. The New York State Assembly has passed an early voting bill over the last two years, but the Senate has opposed it.
Our survey findings reflect only the opinions of those willing to complete our survey and are not meant to be a statistically valid sample. However, the survey provided us good information from the community. While our survey confirmed that the League’s Voters Guide—a Guide that the New Castle League provides free to every household in New Castle—is still a valuable resource to the community, the League’s interactive voter information website, www.vote411.org, is a great resource for candidate information but rarely used. We now know that we will need to more actively promote this site. Voter participation is a measure of the health of our democracy. Many residents shared their views on the election process. The League will continue to advocate for transparency in government, campaign finance reforms and election reforms. If you agree that we need easier access to voter registration and voting, campaign finance and election reforms, please support the League’s efforts by becoming a member (www.lwvnewcastle.org) or contact us (email@example.com) for information on how to contact your elected representatives to demand change.
On September 21, 2014, League members and friends joined over 400,000 people in New York City for the People's Climate March. The March was organized to call attention to the strong public support for moving ahead with meaningful action to fight climate change in advance of the United Nations Climate Summit in September.
Brandon Hilfer Attends League of Women Voters' Students Inside Albany Conference in May
Brandon Hilfer, a 10th grade student at Horace Greeley High School chosen by the League of Women Voters of New Castle, attended this year’s Students Inside Albany Conference, organized by the League of Women Voters of New York State. This fourteenth annual Students Inside Albany Conference took place from May 18-21, 2014, and brought together approximately 60 students from across the state to Albany to get a first-hand education about their state government. Brandon's report can be read here.
GIRL RISING FILM SCREENING
Our Girl Rising screening at the Chappaqua Library on January 16th was a great success! It was a sold out show of over 170 seats. $2,200 was raised to sponsor 2014 annual school fees for girls in low-income countries through The School Fund. For more information about The School Fund, go to www.theschoolfund.org
The screening was co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters® of New Castle and Molly Rosenthal. Molly is a 7th grader in New Castle who attended a Girl Rising screening last spring and was inspired to bring the film to her own community.
Make a tax-deductible donation to our Citizen Education Fund now:
LWV Social Events
It was a snow day, but League members and friends still enjoyed a wine tasting at Chappaqua Wine and Spirits. Thank you to Kirk Sprenger and all who came out to support the League