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September 2019 ~ Vol. 35 ~ No. 2
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Message from our President

As I write this in early August, I am still numb from three mass shootings in the past week. When does it end? Some of our elected representatives blame video games and mental health issues. People all over the world play video games. People all over the world suffer with mental health issues. We need to talk about the real cause of this violence: guns and the leaders who refuse to take action. We need actions, not thoughts and prayers; we need leaders who think and act in the best interests of our communities. We get the leaders we want by making voting accessible to all who qualify. It sounds simple but many barriers to voting continue to exist, and voter suppression across the U.S. is a national disgrace.

The prospect of registering, educating, and turning out more informed voters is daunting, exciting, and necessary if we want leaders who truly represent ALL the people in our country. We can "walk and chew gum," as they say, so while we act to create the representative government we want, we also must address the problems government has not been able to solve: sensible gun ownership, affordable housing, adequate public transportation, and a sustainable natural environment. This constitutes our advocacy work. As we plan for a "more perfect union," we still need to address the here and now.

As I scanned the room at our May Annual Meeting, I was awed by the human resources in that room: women (and men) leaders in the community who have fought for civil rights, housing, the Equal Rights Amendment, single-payer healthcare, the environment, and advocated for our youth for many years. What an opportunity to work with these powerhouses!  What a year we have ahead!  

We will start this year’s work with a retreat on August 24 to plan our strategies and marshal our resources to lay the groundwork, empower voters, ensure an accurate 2020 census, and take on the issues not being addressed by our leaders. We welcome all members to join us!.  

Terry Godfrey, President

Advocacy Report

Some of the bills supported by our state league to date during the 2019-2020 legislative session include:

Voting Rights
LWVC joins Free the Vote Coalition to advocate for an amendment to the California constitution (ACA 6) which would restore voting rights to felons who have completed their prison sentences and are on parole. ACA 6 would affect at least 50,000 persons currently on parole, working, paying taxes, and contributing to their communities. 

Housing and Homeless
In the midst of a statewide housing crisis, LWVC strongly supports AB 1482, which would limit landlords owning more than 10 rental units to a yearly maximum rent raise of 10% for housing over 10 years old. The bill requires “just cause” to evict a tenant who has occupied the property for at least 12 months, and is defined as failure to pay rent, illegal conduct, damage, or refusal to sign a new lease identical to the old lease.  

"Rent caps and 'just cause' eviction will increase the opportunity for decent housing, promote sustainable communities and remove barriers to low and moderate income housing."  Read LWVC's support letter.

Reproductive Rights
LWVC strongly supports SB 24, which provides medication abortion services at California’s public universities. The League has a long history of supporting an individual’s right to choose abortion and to have meaningful access to reproductive health care. Making medication abortion services available at public universities would increase educational equity by reducing financial barriers to reproductive care that disproportionally impact low- income students. 

Lethal Use of Force by Police
LWVC supported AB 392 (signed into law by Governor Newson), which redefines the standard of justifiable homicide by a peace officer from “reasonable” force to “when necessary.” Half of civilians killed by police between 2005 and 2014 under the previous standard were people of color or those with mental disabilities.

See LWVC Bill Status Report  for a list of all state legislation on which LWVC has taken a position,

Lisa Ratner 

Santa Clara County Election Update

Coming Election Changes for Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County is one of 13 California counties that have adopted the Voter's Choice Act, which provides for new and expanded voter services beginning in 2020. Significant changes have been made to the voting process to make voting easier and more convenient:
  • A ballot will be mailed to every registered voter 28 days before Election Day. 
  • Voters will have three ways to return a ballot: 1) mail it, 2) drop it in a secure ballot drop box, or 3) visit any Vote Center in the county.
  • Vote Centers replace traditional polling places. Voters can cast a ballot in-person at any Vote Center in the county and are no longer tied to a specific polling place.
What is a Vote Center?
A Vote Center is a new, convenient option for in-person voting that replaces polling places. Vote Centers will be larger than a traditional polling place with more staff to assist voters and more voting equipment. Instead of being assigned to go to one specific polling place, you have the option to choose any Vote Center in the county. You can vote at any Vote Center which means you can vote where you work, where you go to school, or where you run errands. 

At any Vote Center you may:
  • Vote in-person
  • Drop off your ballot
  • Register to vote
  • Get a replacement ballot
  • Get help and voting material in multiple languages                                                                                                             
Ballot Drop-Off Locations are available 28 days before Election Day.   
Early Voting Centers will be available 10 days before Election Day.

Go to Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters for more information about Voter's Choice Act and 2020 Election voting options. 

Sign up for our LWVPA Kickoff on September 26 and hear Rachel H. Jung, election specialist and CA/outreach coordinator for the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, explain the Voter's Choice Act.
LWVPA Reaches Out to Diverse Language Communities
Hilbert Morales talks with Jeannie Lythcott. Photo by LWVPA member Trudi Clifton-Vizvary
LWVPA is reaching out to the diverse language communities of Santa Clara County to support issues they care about. Member Jeannie Lythcott met with Hilbert Morales recently to discuss how best to reach Latino communities about major changes to voting in Santa Clara County in 2020.

Mr. Morales is the founder and Publisher Emeritus of El Observador, a bi-lingual newspaper headquartered in San Jose which provides vital information relevant to the Hispanic community on a weekly basis through print, digital, and social media platforms.

Mr. Morales' advice on how to reach the Latino and other communities? Promote and advertise the Voters Choice Act in newspapers that publish in Spanish and languages other than English.

Jeannie Lythcott

Census 2020 Update

The League is working hard to help facilitate the education and outreach efforts for the upcoming 2020 Census which will begin on April 1, 2020.

At the county level, the Leagues of Women Voters of Santa Clara County are part of the Complete Count Committee, with Julie Cates (LWV Los Altos/Mountain View) as the League Representative for our five county Leagues. Locally, a Census 2020 Team at our Palo Alto League includes Aisha Piracha-Zakariya, who is our Census Liaison, and Lisa Ratner. To learn more about why everyone must be counted, and receive updates on upcoming events, and local outreach and education plans, members are invited to join our Census 2020 Google Group: to join the group, send an email with your full name.

LWVUS Webinar: July 30, 2019, led by LWVUS staff: Jessica Jones Capparell (Policy & Legislative Affairs Sr. Manager), Celina Stewart (Senior Director of Advocacy and Litigation).

Useful materials from the LWVUS webinar: What is the League planning?
The League's Census 2020 work will occur in three phases at the local level: 
  • Phase 1: Now until March 31, 2020 - Education & Community Engagement 
  • Phase 2: April 1, 2020 - Get Out the Count (GOTC) - guidance and activities 
  • Phase 3: Now until count completes in Aug. 2020 - Watchdog Reporting. In the months leading up to Census Day April 1, 2020 
Aisha Piracha-Zakariya, LWVPA Census 2020 Liaison

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

LWV DEI Webinars

LWVUS is hosting a series of webinars on DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) this year. A cycle is scheduled for June through September, taking a deeper look at topics the League has been exploring for the past year and offering tools members can use in their League work.

August 29, 2019: Register

September 26, 2019: Register
DEI Share

"The first step to reclaiming democracy
is to recognize that we don’t have the answers for others, rather we need to open ourselves to learning about and understanding the realities of life experiences that are different from our own. The League was founded as a learning organization."  Nancy Leifer, President LWV of Montana

Ellen Forbes

Book Group

Friday, September 27 from 10am to noon at Betty Gerard’s house.

We are reading West of the West by Mark Arax.


Volunteer To Register Voters

Register Voters at 
New Citizens Naturalization Ceremonies
Thursday, August 22 and September 19, 2019  8:00am - 5:00pm
Heritage Theater, 1 West Campbell Ave., Campbell 95008 

Twice a year, the Palo Alto League of Women Voters is responsible for assisting the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters with voter registration at the New Citizens Naturalization Ceremonies in Campbell. As new citizens and their families stream out of the ceremony, it is volunteers' task to ask them if they would like to register to vote. Some are too occupied with family, but others are very excited to take this first step toward meeting their civic obligations. Volunteers who do this work say it is truly inspiring.

So if you are familiar with the voter registration form and would like to volunteer for this activity, please sign up using this online sign up sheetYou can sign up for a morning or afternoon "shift" or, if you would like to stay the entire day, feel free to choose two slots!   Note that you cannot wear any LWV buttons or paraphernalia to the event. You are essentially volunteering with the Registrar of Voters.

Sign Up Here to Volunteer
National Voter Registration Day 
Tuesday, September 24, 2019  10:30am - 1:30pm
Palo Alto Veteran's Hospital, 3801 Miranda Ave., Palo Alto 94303

To volunteer to help register VA patients, their family and friends or VA Hospital employees, contact Liza Taft.

LWVPA Events

LWVPA Summer Social!
Friday, August 23, 2019  6:30 - 8:00pm
223 Oxford Ave, Palo Alto

RSVP now to meet our new president and board and catch up with your League friends!

You're invited to come enjoy this cordial backyard gathering, see your League friends again and meet new folks. Members are warmly encouraged to bring a friend. Let's catch up from our summer breaks and get ready to work together in the coming year. Light refreshments will be served.
We look forward to welcoming you!
RSVP for the LWVPA Summer Social
Join Us!
for our
Back to the League

Fall Kickoff!
Goodbye Precincts, Hello Easy Voting: The Voter's Choice Act
Thursday, September 26, 2019  7:00 - 8:30pm 
First Congregational Church, Harmony Hall & Courtyard, 1985 Louis Rd, Palo Alto

Come hear our speaker, Rachel H. Jung, election specialist and CA/outreach coordinator for the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, explain the Voter's Choice Act, which the county will implement beginning in March 2020. The Santa Clara Board of Supervisors adopted this new voting model on April 9, 2019.

Co-sponsors: AAUW Palo Alto, Avenidas Palo Alto, LWV Cupertino Sunnyvale, LWV Los Altos-Mountain View, LWV Southwest Santa Clara County

Sign Up Here for the LWVPA Fall Kickoff!

LWVPA Co-Sponsored Events

Voting Rights in America:

"From the Constitution to the June Decisions, Including Rucho v. Common Cause" 

A Talk by Alice Smith
Tuesday, September 10, 2019  1:00 - 3:00pm 
Woman's Club of Palo Alto, 475 Homer Avenue, Palo Alto 94301

Join us to hear Alice Smith's informative presentation. All are welcome.

Sponsored by: Woman's Club of Palo Alto and LWV Palo Alto.
"Building a More Resilient Community" Series:

Bridging the Divide—How to Have
Better Political Conversations

Robb Willer, PhD
Wednesday, September 18, 2019  7:30 - 9:00pm
AME Zion Church, 3549 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

Speaker Robb Willer, PhD, Professor of Sociology, Psychology, and Organizational Behavior at Stanford University is the Director of the Polarization and Social Change Lab and Co-Director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University. Professor Willer's research focuses on bridging the ideological divide, overcoming polarity, and moral reframing for more meaningful conversation. Listen to Dr. Willer's Ted Talk: How To Have Better Political Conversations.

The three-part series "Building a More Resilient Community" builds on the successful collaboration between the League of Women Voters of Palo Alto and the University AME Zion Church to promote civil conversations and address political polarity.  

Sponsor:  University AME Zion Church
Co-Sponsor: LWVPA
Endorsed by the City of Palo Alto Human Relations Commission,
Register for Bridging the Divide Talk

LWVC Event

NorCal LWVC Climate Change Forum
Saturday, September 14, 2019  11:00am - 3:00pm
CSU Sacramento, 6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819

The LWVC Climate Change Task Force invites all California League members to attend the NorCal Climate Change Forum. The Task Force is comprised of over 200 League members across the state who are working on climate action at the local, county and state level. We will discuss state-wide climate teams that are forming. This forum follows the LWVC's first SoCal Climate Change Forum that took place June 22 in Pasadena.

If you have any questions about the forum or would like to participate in a carpool, please contact Mary O’Kicki
Register for the Climate Change Forum

Come to a LWVPA team meeting and learn about important issues affecting you and your community. You can make a difference!

Learn More About Our Teams and Programs on our Website!

Stay Informed!

Sign Up for LWV California & LWVUS News & Alerts

Click here to sign up for LWVC Newsletter and Action Alerts
Click here to sign up for Email News and Action Alerts from LWVUS

LWVPA  Board Officers & Directors

Terry Godfrey

Ellen Forbes  
1st Vice President and Webmaster
Lisa Ratner
2nd Vice President and Advocacy Chair  ​
Sue Hermsen
​Paula Collins

Jeannie Lythcott
Voter Services Co-Chair

Ellen Smith
Leadership Development Chair

Karen Kalinsky
Collaborations and Community
Outreach Chair

Lynne Russell
Membership Chair

Lizzy Gardner

Liz Jensen

Myra Lessner

LWVPA  Off-Board

Budget Team
Bonnie Packer
Paula Collins

Census 2020 Liaison
Aisha Piracha-Zakariya 

Communications Team
Chair TBD

E-blast Administrator
Briggs Nisbet

Education Team
Chair TBD

Facebook/Social Media Admin
Aisha Piracha-Zakariya

Fundraising Team
Chair TBD

Housing & Transportation Team
Steve Levy, Chair

Naturalization Ceremonies Voter Registration/VOTER Distribution
Liza Taft
Natural Resources/Climate Team
Maureen O'Kicki, Chair​

New Voices for Youth
Veronica Tincher

Nominating Team
Louise Valente, Chair
Megan Swezey Fogarty 
Nana Chancellor

Chair TBD

Pros & Cons/League Presentations
Mary Jo Levy

Responsible Gun Ownership Team
Hilary Glann & Katie Causey, Co-Chairs

VOTER Newsletter Editor
Briggs Nisbet

Voter Services
Kathy Miller, Co-Chair

Voter's Edge
David Springer
Copyright © 2020 League of Women Voters Palo Alto, All rights reserved.

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