League of Women Voters to inform citizens

League+of+Women+Voters+to+inform+citizens

Akasha Khalsa

The next opportunity to vote will occur on Nov. 5, and Marquette citizens looking for information on new voting rights and personal representation can turn to events put on by the League of Women Voters (LWV) Marquette County Member-At-Large State Unit this week.

The LWV is holding three informational Making Democracy Work town hall sessions on voting in Marquette County, one of which will be held at 12 p.m. on Oct. 24 in the Lakeview Arena Citizen’s Forum Room. Another, which is co-sponsored by NMU’s political science department, will be hosted on campus at 7 p.m. on Oct. 24 in Jamrich 1318. Each session is free and open to the public.

The sessions will focus on explaining early voting, expanded voter registration rules, the selection and function of the Citizens Redistricting Commission and issues pertaining to the 2020 Census. Marquette County Clerk Linda Talsma will speak at both sessions on new voting rights in Michigan.

November will mark the selection of Marquette City Commissioners, a process voters will determine by putting in their ballots. Last year, the LWV focused on two proposals relating to their impacts in goverment.

“Last year we had two important proposals on the ballot to vote on,” Chairperson Darlene Allen said. “Proposal Two put legislative redistricting in the hands of a citizen commission, and Proposal Three made some important voting rights a part of our state constitution. The speakers at the town halls will provide a snapshot of these amendments and will also discuss the importance of the 2020 Census.”

The LWV is a nonpartisan organization, and it seeks to uphold democratic virtues by helping empower voters with information and keep them involved in decision-making processes, Allen said. Meetings such as these town hall information sessions attempt to further these goals.

“Attendees will learn how registering to vote and exercising their right to vote has become easier,” Allen said.

Allen hopes the town hall events increase voter participation by providing relevant information, she said. 

A decent turnout is expected at the NMU town hall event, due to political science Department Head and Professor Carter Wilson providing publicity and securing the event’s location on campus. In addition, the LWV is collaborating with the Center for Student Enrichment so that Skill Builder credit will be offered to Student Leader Fellowship Program participants and Superior Edge students for attending.

The LWV often holds events that educate citizens and encourage political participation, Allen said. These events sometimes include candidate forums which take place at election time, which function to allow citizens to interact with and hear directly from those running for office. 

The LWV Marquette County League was recently re-established in the area in 2017 and is awaiting certification from the national branch, while recently approved by the state of Michigan’s legion to begin operating. The local branch currently holds 83 members, 11 of whom are NMU students, Allen said.

“We’d love to have more students involved. We want to introduce students to the work of the League and we also recognize the passion, energy and creative perspective that they can bring to the work of the League,” Allen said.

At the moment, the LWV membership fee is waived for students. Both men and women are welcome to join and participate in LWV activities. 

“We believe that democracy is not a spectator sport, and we want to help others to become involved in protecting and defending our democracy. The best ways to do that are to stay informed, find ways to be involved in local and state government and vote,” Allen said.