Letter to the Editor Regarding the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity's Request for Sensitive Information
The League of Women Voters of Glenview/Glencoe urges voters to support the Illinois State Board of Elections in their efforts to maintain the integrity of the voting process and the privacy of Illinois citizens. In an open letter to news outlets, League of Women Voters President Bonnie Cox described the situation this way: “On June 28 Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, created by executive order in May, sent a letter to election authorities in all 50 states requesting voter data.
Requested information includes registrants' full names, addresses, dates of birth, political parties, the last four digits of their social security numbers, a list of the elections they voted in since 2006, information on any felony convictions and whether they were registered to vote in other states, their military status or if they live overseas. In Illinois, the election authority to which the Kobach request was sent is the State Board of Elections (SBE). On Friday, July 7th, the SBE, through its General Counsel, Kenneth Menzel, advised the Kobach Commission that “...our agency does not have any material responsive to the Commission’s request,” further stating that the Illinois Election Code “protects the confidentiality and privacy of voter registration data....”
The League of Women Voters is grateful to the State Board of Elections
which joins at least 45 (including Kansas, where Mr. Kobach is the Secretary of State) other state election authorities in refusing to release detailed, sensitive information on their states’ voters. The SBE meets again on August 22nd where this issue is likely to be on the agenda; we hope the SBE will maintain its current position on the release of voter data. We fear how Illinois citizens would be subjected to those using the information for non-election or commercial purposes. A greater fear is the data will be used to enact a stringent voter law intended to suppress the vote.”
We urge every citizen in Glenview and Glencoe to call the State Board of Elections (217-782-4141) and urge its members to stand firm in their current position.
Ann Yoshida and Sheri Latash
Co-Presidents, League of Women Voters of Glenview/Glencoe
An educated electorate is essential to democracy. Effective with the 2016-2017 school year, a new Illinois law mandates a semester of civics education in high school. We anticipate that acquiring the skills of civil discourse and understanding the structures of our democracy will increase interest and participation in governance and voting processes. In the end, we trust that students will internalize a fundamental truth--EVERY vote counts.
On November 8, more than 400 5th-8th grade students at Glencoe's Central School had the opportunity to participate in mock elections. This Election Day event capped off a year of extraordinary volunteer efforts by our many members interested in Voter Service issues. Thank you to the eight Glencoe members for their efforts managing this event.
FOR THE PRIMARY AND GENERAL ELECTION SEASONS OF 2016, we offered services in multiple venues, sometimes at our suggestion, sometimes invited by facilities.
1. Offered voter registration at 15 venues
In all, we registered 305 new voters, including one proud new citizen from Hungary.
Our fantastic team of 21 deputy registrars volunteered dozens and dozens of hours toward voter registration. We also provided valuable information to current voters, and spread terrific publicity about the League.
2. Sponsored mock elections at the high schools
3. Co-sponsored 2 candidate forums
9th Congressional (2 Congressional candidates, 2 State Rep candidates)
10th Congressional (2 Congressional candidates, 2 State Senate and 2 State Rep)
4 volunteers answered the call by LWV Wisconsin to serve as Election Day observers in Racine and Kenosha, as Wisconsin implemented a new Voter ID law widely viewed as a measure to suppress the vote.
Distributed Bookmarks to the Glencoe & Glenview Public Libraries, area book stores & local businesses, showing key dates and information resources on judicial and political candidates.
Several members had an opportunity in November to witness an acknowledgement of community organizing at its finest. LWVGG member Roxanne Junge was thanked by a grateful Glenview Park District as she retired as the Farmers' Market manager.
As the loving tribute explained, Roxanne had taken Glenview's small, faltering Farmers' Market, and through diligent work and unbridled enthusiasm, turned it into the robust, vibrant jewel it is today. Roxanne established a system which allows those who receive state assistance to purchase food to do so at the market, ensuring that healthy food is available to everyone in our community.
Though Roxanne brought many skills to this job, this was the first time she had ever managed a large farmers' market. She saw a need, had an interest, and jumped in to make things better for our whole community. Thank you for your service, Roxanne!
In the last few weeks, we have all been aware of a heightened urgency and energy to do more in our communities. Many of us have thought more about League positions and how important they are to us than we ever have before. We are thinking about how to enhance community organizing and participation.
We have never been gladder than we are right now that we are part of an organization with a longstanding tradition of sober, fair thought, study and action. As the country discusses elections, the Electoral College, voter suppression and a host of other vital topics, the League of Women Voters should be participating in and leading some of those conversations. There is a lot to be done.
Illinois DOT, Wisconsin DOT, and the Federal Railroad Administration have proposed expanding commuter rail service between Milwaukee and Chicago. A doubling of service would entail more delays for freight traffic using the same tracks. Thus, the three government agencies have proposed constructing a 2-mile holding track in Northbrook and Glenview adjacent to the existing freight rail line, to accommodate additional freight delays. A consultant to the agencies prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) on the proposal.
On Nov 15, 2016 we filed comments on the EA, rejecting their conclusion that no significant environmental impact would occur. The EA, a less rigorous environmental evaluation than an Environmental Impact Study (EIS), was not based on any actual measurements, monitoring, or sampling of existing, localized conditions. Rather, their conclusion was based on county-wide data. We recommended that a full EIS be conducted on the proposal.
In response to LWV Wisconsin's urgent request for assistance, Henrietta Saunders & Richard Day and Judy Beck & Sheri Latash went to Racine and Kenosha, respectively, to serve as election observers on November 8. Wisconsin's voter ID law created a complex process for exercising the right to vote, beginning with the obstacles for obtaining a state ID card and continuing with proving residency. That process, combined with the practice of dropping voters from the rolls if they hadn't voted in recent elections, required those voters to re-register on election day.
Due to new registration requirements, particularly related to acceptable proof of residency, a number of voters could not re-register and thus could not vote. Some of them returned later with one of the accepted forms proving residency, and were able to exercise their franchise.
Watch a video of NPR Reporter Ari Berman, author of Give Us the Vote, explaining recent government of Wisconsin efforts at voter suppression. Witnessing firsthand the disenfranchisement of voters is something that will not be forgotten.