League of Women Voters of Oak Park & River Forest Newsletter April 2022 Volume 9 Issue 8
Co-Presidents' Letter
Dear Friends, 
It's springtime and wait, our minds turn to elections? This year it does, as much is at stake. The country is in uncharted waters with a wave of new, restrictive voting laws. During this mid-term election year, all 434 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested. This will be the first election affected by the redistricting following the 2020 census. Forty states have now finished redrawing their congressional maps (not counting the six states with only one congressional district). Although Republicans went into the redistricting cycle with control over drawing more districts, it is actually Democrats who have gained ground from the process.

Less clear is the impact that new voting laws will have on voter turnout and election integrity. The news from the March 1 Texas primary is not encouraging. More than 27,000 mail ballots were flagged for rejection in the first test of new voting restrictions, jeopardizing votes cast by Democrats and Republicans alike and in counties big and small. 

Please join Second Tuesday this month to view a segment of the film Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook The film chronicles how the right to vote is being undercut by a decade of dirty tricks including the partisan use of gerrymandering, voter purges, and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court. Mr. Timothy Smith, an Executive Producer of the film, will be the guest discussant and is an accomplished and award-winning television Executive Producer for documentaries for The PBS News Hour, Newsweek Productions, and MSNBC, among others.

In good news, at least for now, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker of Florida blocked the state from enforcing Republican-backed limits on when ballot drop boxes may be accessed. In his 288 page ruling, Walker noted that the state argued the law made "minor prophylactic changes to the election code" while challengers, including voting rights groups such as the League of Women Voters of Florida and the NAACP, said the bill "runs roughshod over the right to vote, unnecessarily making voting harder for all eligible Floridians, unduly burdening disabled voters, and intentionally targeting minority voters -- all to improve the electoral prospects of the party in power.”

There is optimism at the local level also, thanks in part to the good work that our LWV OPRF Voter Services Committee accomplished in 2020-21: 
  • 12 Municipal candidate forums with more than 3400 views live/on recorded channels (hat-tip to our residents!) 
  • Distributed 340 door hangers to recent high school graduates 
  • Distributed over 100 voter information posters to businesses in three villages in English and Spanish and with Voter information/QR registration code 
  • Recruited HS Students to work as election Judges
  • Held 5 Fall virtual programs on voting procedures for the 2020 Presidential election.
  • Surveyed new voting machines in 45 precincts 
  • Partnered with OPRF HS to register students 
  • Registered students at Elmwood Park H.S. and Trinity H.S.
  • Partnered with Jack and Jill of America with students using ranked choice voting to decide importance
As we welcome Spring, the most hopeful of seasons, think of the symbol of Ukraine, the bright yellow sunflower, and remember “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” -- Lady Bird Johnson 

Jane and Joan 
Branching Out
Forest Park has officially received the Tree City USA designation by the Arbor Day Foundation, thanks to the hard work of League member Jessica Voogd.  The Arbor Day Foundation, which has been around since 1976, lists four standards a village must meet in order to receive national recognition: having a tree board or department; putting into place a tree care ordinance; having a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita; and holding an Arbor Day proclamation and observance.  Well done Jessica! Read the whole story here.
Cook County Assessor Town Hall
Reform for Illinois will sponsor a virtual Town Hall this Wednesday, April 6, with Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi. You can still register for the event here.
Next Week! Second Tuesday Forum
On April 12 from 9:30-11:00am, the Second Tuesday program will present "The Fraudulent Claim of Voter Fraud." A 15-minute segment of the documentary film "Rigged: the Voter Suppression Playbook" will be shown that focuses on attempts to discover non-existent voter fraud in a recent election. Mr. Timothy Smith, an Executive Producer of the film, will be our guest discussant. Mr. Smith is an accomplished and award-winning television producer who has been Executive Producer for documentaries for The PBS News Hour, Newsweek Productions, and MSNBC, among others. Register for this Zoom program here. BTW, the entire 70-minute film can be streamed for no charge at riggedthefilm.com.
Plant Sale Fundraiser
We will soon send out a list of offerings from The Good Earth Greenhouse for our upcoming plant sale fundraiser. You will be able to pre-order plants via credit card over the phone and then pick up your plants from April 29-May 1. You can also go to the Good Earth the weekend of the sale and buy your plants in person. Forms will soon be available to give to the cashier upon checkout. The League will receive 15% of your purchase. Start planning now!
Mothers and Others For Peace
LWV OPRF has supported Mothers and Others For Peace from their inception. Here is a quick review of what they have accomplished:
1.   Saturday 2016 there was an outdoor event where Senator Harmon read an Illinois Senate proclamation Honoring Mothers’ Day History Day;
2.   For 7 years, MOFP events were outdoors or at the Oak Park Public Library where the LWV OPRF sponsorship of MOFP was acknowledged;
3.   As an educational arm of the LWV OPRF, the MOFP question remains: How can we help all women become citizens before consumers?
4.   MOFP has reserved the Veterans Room at the OPPL for May 6, 2022, from 2:00-5:00 pm for Stephen Jackson's Leadership of Peace Circles program. The program is for as many people who can come to begin the journey of learning conflict resolution. Exact details will follow.
MOFP welcomes all to begin your Mothers’ Day History Day celebrations with peace building, critical in today’s world. Contact Mary Rose Lambke for more information.
LWV Cook County Annual Meeting
The League of Women Voters of Cook County will hold their virtual Annual Meeting on Monday, May 2, from 9:30am- Noon. The business meeting will be followed by a program featuring a panel of the three Cook County Commissioners who are not seeking reelection this year: Cook County Commissioners Peter Silvestri (District 9), Deborah Sims (District 5), and Larry Suffredin (District 13). The meeting will be over by noon. Our Co-Presidents will decide who will be our voting delegates to the business meeting, but any member can attend the Annual Meeting. Registration information will be sent out from LWV CC soon.
Legislative Visits
This is the time of year that local Leagues across Illinois meet with their legislators to ask our 2022 advocacy questions. Each year our LWV IL issues specialists put together these questions on key legislation affecting LWV IL policy positions. After our visits, we report back. Our Advocacy Committee is working to secure appointments now for us to meet with our local legislators. Are you interested in being on the Advocacy Committee’s mailing list? We use it to recruit members for the dates and times that become available. Write to Judith McDevitt and we will add your name.
U.S. Census
"Many of you, including myself, voiced concerns. How could anyone not be concerned? These findings will put some of those concerns to rest and leave others for further exploration," Census Bureau Director Robert Santos said during a news conference announcing the follow-up survey results. Asked by NPR if there are any plans to factor the new over- and undercounting rates into those estimates, Karen Battle, chief of the bureau's population division, replied that the agency is "taking steps in that direction." Read more about the census results here
The League of Women Voters of the United States CEO Virginia Kase Solomón issued a statement in reaction to the US Census Bureau report undercounting 18.8 million and underrepresentation of Black, Latino, and Indigenous people in the 2020 Census. You can read her comments here
Election Protection Volunteer
Every election cycle, Common Cause runs a statewide Election Protection program that helps voters to navigate the polls and informs them of their rights. They provide robust training for volunteer poll watchers who help to ensure that election judges and poll workers follow the law. Go here to read more and to register as a volunteer. 
LWV UMRR May 21 Annual Meeting