Thursday, October 8, 2020

Guiding hand

League of Women Voters Election

Guides delivered to local libraries

Julie Brown, Special Writer

Paula Bowman displays the voter guides of the League 
of Women Voters of Northwest Wayne County now available 
in local libraries.
Gathering as volunteers isn't new for the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Northwest Wayne County, but last Friday was especially busy. Members gathered in a garage of one volunteer to assemble Voter Guides.

“It's been a lot of work but it's satisfying to know people use them. There's no spin on them,” noted Paula Bowman, a Plymouth Township resident and LWV of Northwest Wayne County president.

She and other League volunteers delivered print Voter Guides through Monday to area libraries for distribution. 

Volunteers including, clockwise starting bottom left, 
Lois Baughman, Pat Bindas, Ting Westra and Judy Westra, work
on packaging the League of Women Voters guides for distribution.
“Seniors especially really rely on these,” noted Bowman of the print guides, which include both state and local races and issues. “We did print more than we usually do. We expect them to go fast.”

The League's Vote site offers Nov. 3 election information, supplementing the print Voter Guide.

“I wish everybody would appreciate how local elections impact their lives. Those are the people that can impact our lives. The township officials are the ones that determine when your garbage gets picked up,” Bowman said.

The LWV of Northwest Wayne County hosts candidate forums, too, and is using Zoom now due to the pandemic. “We have had plenty of work to do remotely and in print,” said Bowman, retired for about a year from office administration work.

“When people are making sound decisions about who represents them we all benefit. That is a benefit to all of us,” said Bowman, also a vice president of the state League of Women Voters. She's been volunteering about 25 years thanks to her mom, now 93.

“She got me involved all those many years ago,” said Bowman, adding that retiring “has given me more time to volunteer.” She said she is proud of the work to educate voters since the founding of the League in 1920, the same year as national women's suffrage in the U.S.

Also proud is Carrie Moon-Dupree of Canton Township, the LWV Northwest Wayne County vice president of Voter Service who said she is confident the League is “providing accurate, unbiased information.” She's a three-year member and retired from Presbyterian Villages of Michigan as an administrator.

Bowman notes Canton has three school districts, meaning its Voter Guide' is larger than some others.

 “We cover all the school districts,” said Bowman of Wayne-Westland, Plymouth-Canton, Northville, Van Buren, Garden City, Redford Union, and South Redford, “because people need that information more than, say, about the President” of the U.S.

She notes during League candidate forums many parents asked about in-person classroom learning. “We devote a lot of time and effort to those races,” said Bowman of boards of education, agreeing they handle large budgets.

The Michigan Supreme Court is a contested race Nov. 3. “That race is definitely included in our guide,” said Bowman, adding less space is allocated for non-contested races for judge.

The League of Women Voters has a limited budget which determines some decisions on Voter Guide space, she said. The 34th District Court, which covers Romulus and serves Belleville, also has a contested race, as does the Wayne County Circuit Court.

The Michigan Supreme Court candidate information includes who those candidates were nominated by, she said.

Cities this Nov. 3 have fewer races than townships do, and Bowman appreciates that candidates are willing to serve. “Yet there are still people wanting to be involved,” she noted of school boards.

The 2018 measure to allow no-reason absentee voting, along with online voter registration, has “compressed time” for the League and for municipal clerks, she added. 

That's true too for endorsements, such as by labor unions and others. Some voters have relied on endorsements, said Bowman, whose organization doesn't endorse candidates.

“Here people who rely on those endorsements are looking for them,” she added. She notes information from candidates will be ongoing, and that organization candidate forums can be viewed online.