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THE VOTER BLOG

  • 17 Sep 2016 12:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On November 8, 2016, Minnesota voters will be asked whether to amend the Constitution to remove from the Legislature the power to set their own salary. This proposed Constitution Amendment will create a Legislative Pay Council. This citizen council will be responsible for determining the salary of state legislators. This proposed amendment was authorized with bipartisan support in the 2013 Legislature. Failure to vote on the amendment has the same effect as voting no on the amendment.

    Click this link to download a flyer with more information on the Amendment.

  • 11 Sep 2016 8:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The following report was provided by our Observer Corps volunteer, Elizabeth Zalanga:

    As students prepare to head back to school, The Saint Paul Board of Education is also preparing for the 2016- 2017 school year. During the August Board meeting, the Board listened to presentations about district-wide school readiness updates. Interim Superintendent Dr. John Thein expressed his excitement for his first day of school by saying he “can’t wait to see the smiling faces of all the students and staff on September 6th and 8th.”

    Dr. Thein, a former educator, administrator, and superintendent of Roseville Public Schools, was named the interim superintendent last month when the Board officially voted Valeria Silva out of the superintendent seat. This decision was heavily criticized and led to the immediate resignation of Board member Jean O'Connell, who strongly disagreed with the actions of some of the Board members and the lack of transparency in this matter. Silva received a separation agreement worth $787,500 and will serve full-time as a special consultant through September 2017. No details have been provided yet about the search for her permanent replacement. 

    Another important topic discussed during the Board meeting was about clarifying the role of school resource officers (SROs) in district high schools. The board voted 5–0 to approve a new contract for police officers assigned to work at high schools, which includes additional training, monthly meetings with student advisory councils, and new distinguishing uniforms. The contract comes after a video of a school resource officer at Central High School arresting a former student suspected of trespassing was posted on Facebook and within hours was viewed nearly 206,000 times. The officer was widely criticized for his actions as many believed he was being unnecessarily aggressive. This contract serves as a way to improve relationships between school resource officers and students.

    Our Observer Corps works to help monitor city government and its various departments, including: City Council, Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED), and the soccer stadium committee. If you would like to become an Observer Corps volunteer, please email Mary Vik at shack194849@gmail.com. 

  • 26 Jul 2016 8:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We've received an overwhelming response to this request for volunteers and have filled up the fall schedule at local libraries. Thank you to our volunteers for your energy and support of the League. We couldn't do it without you!

    You can make a difference this election season by registering voters this September and October at the library! Many local libraries have coordinated times for the League to visit and register voters. The libraries will provide tables and computers to help voters register online or find their polling place. While LWVSP will provide signs, forms and information. All we need is you! As a volunteer you will help library visitors fill out forms and empower them to make their voices heard this November.

    Please see the schedule suggested by the libraries below and let us know if you can volunteer for one or more shifts. We'd obviously love for you to volunteer as much as you can. Please email or call Nichole Fairbanks at nicholef@hlaccountants.com or 651-251-4389 and let her know the dates, times and locations you would be available to volunteer.

    Please note: There has been a specific request from the Highland Park location for a volunteer that speaks Amharic. If you or someone you know speaks Amharic, please let us know and consider helping in this location.

    Branch and Location  Preferred Days in September/October   Preferred Times
     Dayton's Bluff
     645 E 7th St
     Saint Paul, MN 55106
     Thursdays (except October 19)  5-7 p.m.

     George Latimer Central Library
     90 W 4th St
     Saint Paul, MN 55102

     Mondays, Tuesdays or Sundays  Mon. 12-2 p.m.
     Tue. 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.
     Sun. 1:30-3:30 p.m. 

     Highland Park
     1974 Ford Parkway
     Saint Paul, MN 55116

     Tuesdays  5-7 p.m. or
     5:30-7:30 p.m.

     Merriam Park
     1831 Marshall Ave
     Saint Paul, MN 55104

     Mondays or Wednesdays  4-6 p.m. or
     5-7 p.m.

     Rondo Community Outreach Library
     461 North Dale St
     Saint Paul, MN 55103

     Mondays or Tuesdays  Any two-hour block between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

     Sun Ray
     2105 Wilson Ave
     Saint Paul, MN 55119

     Tuesday, Sept 20, Monday, Sept 26,  Monday, Oct 3, and/or Tuesday, Oct 4

     9/20 5-7 p.m.
     9/26 4-6 p.m.
     10/3 5-7 p.m.
     10/4 4-6 p.m.

     West 7th Community Center
     265 Oneida St
     Saint Paul, MN 55102

     Friday, October 7 (This is the date of the monthly program "Fare for All" with 150+ library visitors.)  10 a.m. - 12 p.m.

  • 28 Jun 2016 1:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From a report to the Board of Directors from Program Chair Judy Screaton about our 2016 Youth Voter Registration project:

    We visited six St. Paul High Schools hosting eight registration events.  We used iPads and iPhones to conduct the registration.  Online registration is encouraged by the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office due to accuracy and the resulting saving of money.  Overall, 99% of registrations were done online with only five students using paper forms. St. Paul High Schools provide students with an electronic device. We asked for a show of hands to get registration totals.

    We registered over 300 students, provided voter information to over 1090 students, 10 League volunteers participated, and estimated volunteer hours spent on the project was 67.

    We partnered with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office to register the entire senior class at one time at Harding High School.  We registered 93 students in 15 minutes.

    Congratulations and thanks to Judy and our volunteers! A special thanks also to Alena Porter, our Youth Voter Coordinator.

  • 17 Jun 2016 8:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On Saturday, June 11, members from eleven League chapters met for a moderator training workshop led by LWVMN president, Terry Kalil.

    New Board member Jayne Discenza attended and provided this report:

    “As a new Saint Paul voter last year, League’s forum for my ward’s city council race was invaluable in informing my vote. It’s clear from the national debates on television that moderating politicians can be quite a trial. This training sought to raise the bar for local debates by reinforcing League goals of nonpartisanship and providing the nuts-and-bolts logistics of running a forum.

    Prior to arriving, participants were instructed to write out the most offensive, off-topic, petty questions imaginable. As a group exercise, participants re-wrote them to comply with League standards. This task demonstrated the importance of question screening and sorting—more difficult than one might expect. Do you reject a question that may be offensive, or should it be composed differently to get to the heart of the question? How do we maintain our neutrality while still asking tough questions?

    Much of the workshop was a discussion on characteristics of an effective moderator, from tactics of controlling the room, handling crises and noncompliant participants, and elevating the level of discourse. Experienced moderators shared their horror stories and successes and helped those of us with no experience address our hesitancies surrounding moderating. At the end of the training, I walked away with a greater understanding of League ideals of nonpartisanship and objectivity.”


  • 25 Apr 2016 10:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Are you interested in engaging young voters? Or, looking for a way to get involved this election season without a large time commitment?

    We have a very successful youth voter registration campaign going on now!  In April and May we are registering high school seniors at Harding High School, Washington Technical Magnet, Creative Arts High School, Como Park High School and Highland Park High School.

    As part of this, on April 27, we are registering the entire senior class at Harding High School and offering a way to get a reminder phone call about voting in November. A representative from the Secretary of State will also be in attendance at this event!

    We are still looking for more volunteers to help us register students at Como Park Senior High School on Monday, May 16, 2016. There are two openings for three hours in the morning and two openings for three hours in the afternoon. If you are interested in helping with this important registration drive, please email Judy at rjscreaton@gmail.com.


    *Photo via Flickr, KOMUNews

  • 30 Mar 2016 5:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On Monday, March 28, 2016, the League of Women Voters - Saint Paul hosted the "Use Your Voice" Concert with Grammy and two-time Americana Music Award winner Patty Griffin; Sara Watkins, a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning group Nickel Creek; and acclaimed singer/songwriter Anaïs Mitchell. The event was a huge successover 1,000 people attended to support the artists and voter participation.

    Amy Mino, our Treasurer, opened the event with a speech to a crowd donning "I Will Vote" stickers about the importance of voting and the work that the League is doing this year to increase voter turnout. The League received several special mentions throughout the night and high praise from the artists which led several individuals to approach the League after the event to ensure they would receive updates on upcoming opportunities to get involved and to inquire about materials that will be helpful for the cause.

    The artists really shined throughout the night, crooning to the group of politically active citizens and supporters of the League. We're very happy with the event and hope it is a sign of the many successes yet to come in 2016!

  • 24 Mar 2016 2:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Are you interested in engaging young voters? Or, looking for a way to get involved this election season without a large time commitment?

    We are looking for volunteers to help us register students in Saint Paul area high schools to vote in upcoming elections. Volunteers can choose to commit to as little as one morning or afternoon shift at a school, or be more involved and assist at multiple registration events throughout April and May.

    We are currently lining up dates and times for each event but have finalized plans to visit Central High School on April 21, Creative Arts High School on May 4, and Como Park High School on May 16.

    If you are interested in helping with this important registration drive or learning more, please email Judy at rjscreaton@gmail.com. She will keep you updated on the need for volunteers, as well as the dates and times available.

    *Photo via Flickr, KOMUNews

  • 02 Mar 2016 6:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Felony disenfranchisement is when a person who is convicted of a felony crime loses their right to vote as part of their punishment. This punishment happens automatically for all convicted felons, regardless of the particular crime. In Minnesota, ex-offenders may vote when they are no longer incarcerated, on supervised released (known in most other states as “parole”), or on probation. Since 1974, the percentage of voting age Minnesotans disenfranchised as a result of a criminal conviction has increased over 400%. In 2011, 63,000 Minnesotans were unable to vote due to a felony conviction.[1] That’s as if the entire population of Burnsville (and then some) was unable to vote.

    Restore the Vote Minnesota and its supporting organizations believe that it would be better for both the ex-offender and Minnesota in general if ex-offenders were returned their voting rights as soon as ex-offenders leave incarceration. That means that ex-offenders who are on parole or probation would be able to vote. The reasons for restoring voting rights fall generally into two categories: criminal justice and civil rights.

     

    Better for Criminal Justice

    • Long ago, the legislature believed that disenfranchisement would be a deterrent against crime; they thought that individuals would be less likely to commit felonies if people knew that they might lose their right to vote in addition to fines or imprisonment. However, no study has correlated the threat of losing one’s voting rights with reduction in crime. It is a policy that is not backed with evidence.

    • On the other hand, research links pro-social activities like voting to reduction in crime.[2]

    • Empirical study shows correlation between voting and lower recidivism, meaning ex-offenders who vote are less likely to commit a crime again in the future.[3]

    • Some people may believe that regardless of the above, ex-offenders should still lose their voting rights as punishment, as something that ex-offenders deserve. But our legal system is sophisticated enough to provide other alternative punishments that serve this retributive purpose. The question is not merely whether disenfranchisement is a retributive, but whether it is the best punishment compared to other options.

     

    Better for Civil Rights

    • Individuals interviewed about losing the right to vote express a feeling of being an “outsider” because they cannot vote.[4]

    • Children are more likely to vote as adults if they are raised by parents who engage in the voting process.[5]

    • Minnesota’s disenfranchisement rate of 1.5% is higher than most other states, and two-to-three times higher than most states in the north central region of the United States.[6]

    • Due to current felony disenfranchisement laws, voting-eligible individuals, election officials, and even courts have been confused about who is allowed to vote and when.[7] By restoring the vote to ex-offenders when they leave imprisonment, the moment in time when an ex-offender can vote is much clearer. It creates not only clarity for the ex-offender, but also an easier administrative burden on the state.

    • When the Minnesota Constitution first adopted felony disenfranchisement, only 75 crimes were felonies, but today over 375 crimes are felonies.[8] Disenfranchisement was only reserved for the worst kinds of crime, such as murder, and that no long seems to be the case. Felonies in Minnesota now include things like small-time burglary or minor drug possession.

    • ·Felony disenfranchisement disproportionally affects communities of color.[9]

     


    [1] Uggen, Christopher, and Suzy McElrath. "Draft Report on Felon Disenfranchisement in Minnesota." University of Minnesota Department of Sociology. (2012)

    [2] See Uggen, C. and Manza, J. (2004) “Voting and Subsequent Crime and Arrest: Evidence from a Community Sample,” Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Vol. 36, No. 1, 193-215, 213.

    [3] Id.

    [4] Id.

    [5] Gittell, Mary. "Empowering Citizens: From Social Citizenship to Social Capital." Social Capital and Social Citizenship. England: Lexington Books, 2003.

    [6] Haase, Mark. (2015) “Disenfranchisement in Minnesota,” Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 99, Issue 5, 1913-33, 1917.

    [7] Id. at 1929.

    [8] Id. at 1920.

    [9] In 2007 in Minnesota, over 10 percent of the black population, and nearly 17 percent of black males, could not vote because of felony disenfranchisement. Uggen, Christopher. Report on Felon Disenfranchisement in Minnesota. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Department of Sociology, 2009.

  • 26 Feb 2016 10:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We received a great question in the email this morning, and wanted to provide our answer to everyone who might be asking the same question.

    Can an individual participate in a caucus if she will not be eligible to vote by Election Day (e.g., not a citizen, disenfranchised by felony conviction, or under 18)?

    Yes!

    As far as we are aware, non-voting observers are allowed at all party caucuses. While they may not vote, they may still observe the caucus or even help run it. Party representatives often encourage observers because observers tend to become active voters in later years when they become eligible to vote. The parties also might need observers to assist with running the caucuses as well, although that is not required. Being an observer at a caucus is an excellent way to introduce oneself to the democratic process and grassroots politics!

    You can watch a video by the League of Women Voters Minnesota, "Caucus: Power Up Your Vote," to hear interviews with DFL and GOP representatives about the caucus process at this link.  (They specifically discuss and extend invitations to observers at the 6:20 mark.)

    For more information on the caucuses, including contact information for the parties (including minor parties), you can use this link.

    You should contact the party of your preference to confirm if any procedures are required to be an observer at your caucus.

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