League of Women Voters

Candidates compete for voters’ support at forum

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For two hours Sunday afternoon, 18 candidates on the November ballot talked about the lack of civility in Congress, arming teachers in schools, abortion, and judicial temperament. As far as candidate forums go, this one was not a snoozer. However, it was rather lengthy, so another story will follow about the seven State Board of Education candidates. The forum, hosted by both the Bowling Green and Perrysburg League of Women Voters groups, skipped the candidates’ opening statements and went straight into questions. The three candidates for the 5th District Congress seat were Democrat J. Michael Galbraith, who has taught finance and management at the college level; Libertarian Don Kissick, who is an autoworker and Navy veteran; and incumbent Republican Bob Latta, who previously served as state legislator and county commissioner. The first question was about the brutal discourse in Congress, and how that might be changed. Latta talked about the importance of establishing working relationships with people. “You just have to turn off the TV and sit back and talk,” he said. Latta was critical of the Democrats being unwilling to consider the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, and instead stating from the beginning that they would oppose his advancement to the court. Galbraith saw the issue differently. “Congress is being run by a group of people with extremely narrow interests,” he said, noting tribalism on both sides. As for Kavanaugh, Galbraith said the nominee was “forced through.” “I personally didn’t feel this man has the temperament,” he said. Galbraith pointed out the partisanship that doomed Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. “They are simply not responsible to the people of the U.S.,” Galbraith said of Congress. Kissick suggested that more could be accomplished if Congress would stick to the issues rather than attacking each other. “We’ve lost that in Washington, D.C.,” he said. Career politicians are disconnected from the average person. He suggested citizens could change that situation by voting outside the two-party system. “You have to start voting differently,” Kissick said. “That’s how we ended up in this mess.” The congressional candidates were then asked about the contamination at the Luckey FUSRAP site and the harmful algae in Lake Erie. When would the studying end and the solutions begin? Galbraith said there is “too much finger pointing going on.” Farmers and people working on the environment and clean water issues need to “sit down together” to solve problems. “Farmers are interested in finding a solution” he said. “Water is a crucial resource and things are not getting better,” he said, adding that more regulations may be necessary. As a Libertarian, Kissick does not see a solution coming from government. “I’m a staunch free market advocate,” he said. Government solutions benefit politicians and their donors, Kissick said. The problem is best suited for the courts to handle, he added. “There needs to be a shake up,” he said. Congress has been “doing nothing or dragging its feet for years.” “I’m just not a fan of the federal government sticking its nose everywhere,” Kissick said. Once that starts, “they don’t like to leave.” Latta said the cleanup at the Luckey facility is the largest project in the Army Corps of Engineer’s Buffalo District. Latta also mentioned the…

Push is on to get local citizens to register to vote

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The man picked up the brochure in the library on how to check on his voter registration status. “I think I’m registered,” he said. “I definitely don’t want to miss out on this one.” The League of Women Voters don’t want him or any other Wood County citizen to miss out on voting. So on Tuesday, members staffed tables at libraries throughout Wood County to help people register or make sure they are already registered to vote. “Most people have said they’re registered, which is great,” said Judy Knox, as she sat at a table in the Wood County District Public Library on National Voter Registration Day. The window to register to vote is nearing closure, with the last day on Oct. 9. Early voting for the general election starts the next day on Oct. 10. The League of Women Voters teamed up Tuesday with libraries in Bowling Green, Grand Rapids, North Baltimore, Pemberville, Walbridge and Weston, to give local residents opportunities to register to vote. “It’s a very dynamic political environment,” said League member Joan Callecod as she volunteered up at the Walbridge Library. “It’s important for people to cast their votes.” The League of Women Voters have had a registration table at the Bowling Green downtown farmers market all summer. “We’ve tried to put a real push on,” Knox said. “This is the first step to being a citizen,” Knox said about registering to vote. “The next step is getting to the polls.” There are multiple options for how people vote, she explained. They can vote absentee, or do early voting at the board of elections, or vote on Election Day Nov. 6. As she was working at the voter registration table in Bowling Green, Knox heard a common refrain from a citizen. “Someone walked by and said, ‘I don’t know why people wouldn’t vote. Countries fight for the ability to do that,’” Knox said. Voting, she said, should just be part of a person’s life. “Every voting is important, frankly.” In addition to registering voters, the League of Women Voters members also offered information on registering online, the types of identification accepted at the polls, and verifying voter registration. “It’s just good to check,” with voter purging being done, Knox said. Prior to being removed from voting rolls for inactivity, citizens should receive notice from boards of election, Callecod said. “People should be contacted by mail,” she said. But citizens with questions if they are still registered to vote after moving, not voting recently, changing their name, or serving jail time, can verify their registration by calling the Wood County Board of Elections at 419-354-9120, or going to lwv.ohiovotes.us. Following is basic voting information from the League of Women Voters. Step 1: Register to vote by the deadline: The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 6 general election is Oct. 9. Who is eligible? You must be a U.S. citizen, 18 years old or older by the general election, an Ohio resident for at least 30 days before Election Day, not currently incarcerated for a felony conviction (people with prior convictions may register to vote), have not been declared incompetent to vote or denied the right to vote by a court. Register to vote or check your…

League of Women Voters hosting informational meeting on Issue 1

The League of Women Voters of BG (LWVBG) invites you to their program about ISSUE 1 which is on the May 8 Primary Election ballot.  The program will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27th at First Presbyterian Church, 126 S Church St., Bowling Green, OH.   ISSUE 1 provides for an amendment to the Ohio Constitution which would reform the redistricting process, which is how the US Congressional electoral district map is redrawn following each decennial census.  This redistricting process, which historically has become increasingly partisan, has allowed the majority political party to draw map boundaries to favor itself, rather than an accurate reflection of the party affiliation of voters.  This map drawing, resulting in the legislators choosing voters rather than voters choosing their legislators, is called ‘gerrymandering’. ISSUE 1 implements a more non-partisan method to draw the map and is the product of a compromise between the Ohio General Assembly and the citizens action organization, Fair Districts = Fair Elections, of which League of Women Voters of Ohio is a member. Please join us to learn about the provisions of ISSUE 1 and why it is such an important principle for democracy to succeed.     Joan Callecod, Co-Chair LWVBG Voters’ Rights Committee

Petition against gerrymandering is taken to the streets

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The League of Women Voters wants to make it as easy as possible for voters to take a stand against gerrymandering. So on Saturday, the organization set up drive-thru petition signing locations across the region – with one in the parking lot of the Wood County District Public Library in Bowling Green. The project called “Fair Districts = Fair Elections,” is a non-partisan effort by the Ohio League of Women Voters to place a redistricting amendment on the 2018 ballot across the state. If the petition effort is successful, Ohio voters will have an opportunity to end gerrymandering – the practice of congressional districts being drawn to favor one political party over another. Joan Callecod, of Bowling Green, said citizens don’t need to be persuaded to sign the petition. “They hear the word ‘gerrymandering,’ and they say, ‘Show me the petition,’” Callecod said Saturday as she sat outside the library with other local League of Women Voters members. To get the issue on the November 2018 ballot, 306,000 valid signatures must be collected statewide. But Callecod explained the criteria is more specific than that. At least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties must collect signatures from a minimum of 5 percent of their voters in the last gubernatorial election. In Wood County, that’s about 1,700 signatures. During the first month of volunteers collecting signatures, more than 100,000 were gathered, Callecod said. The ultimate goal is to get congressional districts lines drawn so that the elections aren’t decided even before the votes are cast. “An expanded board would have minority participation and required approval of the proposed map,” Callecod said. That proposed map would also be available for public viewing before it is approved. “We’re trying to make it more open.” Politicians from both sides of the aisle support the measure. “The way it is right now, it just intensifies the divisiveness,” Callecod said. “Under gerrymandering, instead of the voters choosing the legislators, the legislators chose their voters.” Also collecting signatures outside the library on Saturday were Char Scherer and Joyce Kepke, other League of Women Voters members. “I’d like to see fairer elections, thank you,” Scherer said. “The voters deserve the opportunity to have a fair election and to really make their votes count – and they don’t now,” Kepke said. That not only makes it difficult for candidates of different parties to break through, it also discourages candidates from even attempting. “It’s very, very difficult to run now,” Kepke said. Highlights of the “Fair Districts” proposal include: In 2015, Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved Issue 1 to create the bipartisan Ohio Redistricting Commission to draw state legislative districts. This proposal adds congressional districts too. Votes from both major parties are necessary to approve districts, not just the majority, requiring compromise. Bans gerrymandering, the practice of manipulating districts to favor or disfavor a political party or candidate. Keeps communities whole by minimizing the splitting of counties, municipalities, and townships. No county may be split more than once. Requires representational fairness, meaning districts should correspond to the partisan preferences of voters. Must follow laws protecting minority voting rights and one person one vote, and requires districts to be contiguous and compact. More information may be found at www.fairdistrictsohio.org.