Summer Update 2016

Annual Meeting was a success with a good turnout of members and old friends. Rachel Blum, a Registered Dietician, was our speaker and we all learned more about the new guidelines for Food Labeling and foods that make a healthy diet. At this time we have a very small Board of Directors, losing both Brenda Marshall and Paula Leva. We will miss their contributions to the board and know both are active in other volunteer activities that do make a difference in our community.Brenda has promised that she and her husband, Phil, will still help us with several of our annual events. We will also miss the help of Sandy Daly who moved to Delaware.

Grafton has many issues that need our attention and I hope you are reading about plans for special Town Meetings.   We hope to have some events helping new residents Register to Vote and plan to work with the Town Clerk’s office to register students at the Grafton High School in September. In the fall we will be publicizing information about the Ballot questions we will be voting on in November.  LWVMA will also be sending us information about the state League’s study on Charter Schools.

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Annual Meeting June 15, 2016

The LWV of Grafton will hold its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 6:30 pm at the home of Shirley and Peter Williams. Please come early to view the gardens. After the meeting we will have dinner catered by the Buggy Whip and then learn more about the new guidelines for Food Labeling from Rachel Blum, a Registered Dietician. Rachel will also tell us more about the recommended changes in Food Groups and what is needed for a healthy diet. Your RSVP is needed by June 12. Please contact Ellen Goguen for more information or to RSVP.

We had a very successful Candidates Night in April. Donna Stock was the Moderator for the debate with the candidates for Board of Selectmen. Marsha Platt, Paula Leva and Anne Baskowski oversaw this event and we are grateful for their efforts in making this a success.

During the summer and fall months we will work on helping new residents register to vote. We will also want to publicize the new rules regarding early voting. Also in the fall we should be receiving information about the Ballot questions we will be voting on in November and also the state League’s study on Charter Schools.

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Candidates’ Night – April 24, 2016

The League of Women Voters of Grafton is hosting a Candidates’ Night on Sunday, April 24 at 7:00 p.m. at the Grafton Municipal Center, Conference Room F, 2nd floor. All the candidates have been invited and the candidates for Board of Selectmen have been asked to participate in a debate. The Moderator, Donna Stock,  will oversee the debate and will present written questions from the audience to the candidates. All the uncontested candidates have been invited to make a brief statement. The program will be recorded by Grafton community television and re-broadcast several times before the Town Election on Tuesday, May 17. The schedule will be available on their web site www.graftontv.org. Town residents are welcome at this event and encouraged to bring their questions.

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Update Spring 2016

Our March Pot-luck program on Water in Grafton will have two speakers: Donna Williams, LWV member and Audubon member, will do a presentation on “Protecting Grafton’s Waterways by Reducing Stormwater Impacts,” and Ken Grew, Commissioner Grafton Water Department, will talk about the Infrastructure of Grafton’s Water System. Our Pot-luck will begin at 6:00 pm at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church Hall in North Grafton.

In late April we will again have a Candidates’ Night for both contested and uncontested candidates for town offices. May will be busy with Town Meeting and Town elections. Dates are posted on our Events Page.

 

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Update February and March 2016

The next few months will be busy ones for the league with several elections taking place as well as two Town Meetings. Registering citizens to vote has been one of the league’s main purposes and Marsha Platt organized Voter registration at the Grafton High School in early February so the students who are now 18 can vote in the Presidential Primary on March 1, as well as in Grafton Town Elections on May 17. Over 25 students were registered, plus we answered questions from students who will turn 18 in the next few months.

In late January we conducted our consensus meeting on the LWVUS Money in Politics study. Paula Leva was our discussion leader and Sandy Daly and Ellen Goguen did the presentation. We came to agreement easily on most of the questions and had a stimulating discussion on several items.

We have made preliminary plans for our March pot-luck. The date will be Sunday, March 13th and the location will be St. Andrew’s Church Hall. The topic will be Drinking Water – the quality and sources for Grafton residents. We will have more details for you soon.

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Money in Politics: National League Study

The LWV of Grafton will participate in LWVUS study about Campaign Finance Reform.  Since the decision of the Supreme Court allowing corporations to be allowed the same rights as persons under the constitution’s First Amendment, we have seen the amount of money spent on political campaigns sky rocket. The LWVUS already has a broad position (see below) on Campaign Finance, but in light of the recent ability of big corporations to spend unlimited amounts to influence the outcome of elections, this position needed to be updated.

More information is available on the LWVMA website and the LWVUS website. Please contact one of the Grafton board members for more information and please come to our Consensus meeting in January 2016.

 

SCOPE OF THE MIP REVIEW AND UPDATE

The scope of the study, as adopted by the LWV Education Fund Board, October 2014, states:

The Committee will conduct an update of the League’s position on campaign finance for the purpose of addressing the lack of member understanding and agreement on the extent to which political campaigns are protected speech under the First Amendment. The campaign finance position will be updated through a study and consensus process to consider:

  • The rights of individuals and organizations, under the First Amendment, to express their political views through independent expenditures and the finance of election campaign activities; and
  • How those rights, if any, should be protected and reconciled with the interests set out in the current position.

CURRENT LEAGUE POSTION ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE

Statement of Position on Campaign Finance, as Announced by National Board, January 1974 and Revised March 1982:

The League of Women Voters of the United States believes that the methods of financing political campaigns should ensure the public’s right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office and allow maximum citizen participation in the political process. This position is applicable to all federal campaigns for public office — presidential and congressional, primaries as well as general elections. It also may be applied to state and local campaigns.

 

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Update August 2015

Our Annual Meeting in June was a productive meeting with the adoption of budget, adoption of local programs and election of officers. After dinner, we enjoyed a presentation on Climate Change by Cathy Buckley from the Massachusetts Sierra Club. She reminded us that there are many ways to work on this problem at the local level. We enjoyed the gardens and hospitality of Shirley Williams, who always makes us feel welcome.

The national and state leagues are doing studies that members of the Grafton League can participate in. We may want to do this regionally with the Worcester and Shrewsbury leagues.

The two LWVUS studies are:

Constitutional Amendment Process Study: a study of the process of amending the U.S. Constitution.

Money in Politics (MIP) Review and Update: a review of money in politics issues and update of the LWV’s campaign finance position as to whether the League believes that financing a political amendment is protected by the First Amendment.

LWVMA is setting up a committee to work state-wide on the Money in Politics study since this grew out of a study done by the state LWV in 2013-14. We should be able to participate in this study and if anyone would like to get involved please let me know. Launa Zimmaro of the state board is organizing this study along with several other state league board members.

Charter Schools Study:

At its May Convention, LWVMA approved a two-year study aimed at developing a position on the issue of charter schools.

Currently, a committee is being formed to develop information materials and consensus questions. If you are interested in serving on that committee, please contact Anne Borg, at LWVMA
Since local Leagues will be involved with the two LWVUS studies on the Constitutional amendment process and on money in politics through the first of next year, the charter schools study committee will work to have information on that study available to local Leagues by spring 2016, so that work on the study can begin then and into fall 2016, with consensus reports due in early 2017.

Election Reforms: When They Happen and What They Mean

The 2014 Election Modernization Law calls for online voter registration, early voting, pre-registration of teens, post-election audits and a task force to evaluate these reforms and recommend additional changes.

The first three changes, in particular, will impact League voter service efforts, especially in voter registration. Here is the implementation schedule for the changes, and suggestions for ways your League can work with those changes.

Online voter registration went into effect in late June, ahead of the scheduled August start. Anyone with a driver’s license or Registry of Motor Vehicles-issued ID can register to vote online at the Secretary of State’s online voter registration site. As you plan voter registration efforts, take into account that you can offer to help voters register instantly on their phone or tablet, but it’s a good idea to have paper registration forms available if something goes wrong.

The step-by-step instructions for filling out the registration form are clear and easy to follow.  LWVMA has screen shots of the registration form on our website so you can review them before going out to register voters.  If you plan to bring a computer to do online voter registration, be sure to confirm availability of internet service at the venue in advance.

Early Voting takes effect with the Presidential election in November 2016. The law allows early voting only in the regularly-scheduled biennial state elections, i.e. November of even-numbered years. There is no provision allowing early voting to be expanded to primaries or town/municipal elections. The law allows early voting to start the Monday two weeks before the election and end on the Friday before the election, during normal business hours.  Any weekend early voting would have to be the weekend before the weekend before the election. The law permits more than one early voting location and hours beyond regular election office business hours at the discretion of towns and cities.

The Secretary of State’s office will issue its recommendations on implementing early voting in September for public comment.  LWVMA and the Election Modernization Coalition will be offering comments, particularly to encourage multiple early voting locations in larger cities and some evening and weekend early voting hours.

Pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds goes into effect in August 2016. Teens can register to vote at the RMV or online and will receive notification and automatically go on the voter rolls when they turn 18.

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Annual Meeting, LWV of Grafton, June 10, 2015

Our Annual Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 10 at 6:30 pm.  We will meeting at the home of Shirley and Peter Williams. A buffet dinner follows the meeting and our Guest Speaker is Cathy Buckley from the Sierra Club of Massachusetts who will talk about Climate Change.

All our Board members have agreed to remain on the Board.  However, we are looking for a member to work on recruiting new members. Please contact any of the current board members if you are interested or need more information about this portfolio.

 

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State and Local Update May 2015

The LWV of Massachusetts held its Convention in West Springfield on May 15 and 16, 2015. Sandy Daly attended as a delegate from Grafton and as a member of the Nominating Committee. New officers were elected. The co-presidents are Ann Borg and Jean Cherdack. The convention also approved a two-year state study of charter schools with the aim of developing a position to be presented at the next convention in 2017.

The Grafton LWV has had a quiet spring since we had no contests in the local election. At our March pot-luck Lee Bona, president of the Worcester Area LWV, presented a history of the Worcester Area LWV which was founded the same time as the National LWV in 1920. The first president of the Worcester Area League was Margaret Perley Woodward. She was married to Dr. Samuel Woodward. Margaret and her husband had a summer home in Grafton on Brigham Hill Road. A few league meetings were held here. Grafton members were excited to hear of this early Grafton connection to the LWV.

The details for Grafton’s Annual Meeting should be finalized soon and all our members will be notified of the details.

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March events

Our Annual Pot Luck dinner will take place on March 22 at St. Andrew’s Church Hall. Lee Bona, President of the Worcester Area LWV will discuss the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Worcester.  The LWV celebrated its 95th Anniversary in February and the Worcester league has been active for 95 years.

The Grafton board met in late January to plan our Spring events. We also discussed our previous plan to work with the Grafton Senior Center to distribute Emergency Kits with pertinent information needed by emergency personnel if a senior citizen must be taken by ambulance to the hospital. Several league members will be working on this soon.

In February  the leaders of the Worcester, Grafton and Shrewsbury LWV met to discuss current activities and possible future collaborations.  Lee Bona would like to see us work together and apply for grant funding to carry out more activities.  In order to do this we would need to set-up a 501(c)(3) Educational Fund. We will meet again soon to discuss more details. Worcester could also use help at the quarterly Naturalization Ceremonies held in Worcester. At this event league members help new citizens register to vote. Hopefully some Grafton league members would like to get involved with this project.

In April we plan to have our Annual Candidates’ Night for those running for local offices. We will post more details in a few weeks.

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Gazebo on Grafton Common
Upcoming Events

Sept. 8, 2016, Primary - Massachusetts State Offices. Register to Vote by Aug. 19, 2016.

October 17, 2016, Grafton Town Meeting.
Register to Vote at Town Meeting by Sept. 27, 2016.

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