Minutes March 1, 2017

In Attendance: Sue Okie, Clara Sartori, Kate Larson, Susan Spain, Martha Banks, Mary Genco, Stacey Tie, Taylor Carter, Molly Myers, Sandy McDonnell, Jean Sweeney, Nancy Cahoon, Laurie Williamson, Joan Davis, Karla Coe, MaryEllen Moore.

Call to order: Co-President Clara Sartori called the meeting to order at 9:40 am and thanked Susan Spain for taking February minutes. On motion by Susan Spain, seconded by Molly Myers, members approved these minutes, with abstentions by those not in attendance at February meeting.

Treasurer’s Report: Kate Larson distributed and briefly discussed “Darien League of Women Voters 2016-2017 Financial Statement.” She noted, as reported, that membership stands at 117 (115 plus 2 Life Members, Katharin Baker and Ursula Forman).

Observer Corps Light: Members welcomed Darien Registrars of Voters John Visi (R) (incumbent), and Susan Gray (D) (newly elected November, 2016). Their discussion was timely, given this meeting’s goal to review and vote to retain, archive, update, or take action on CT LWV position on “Election Laws” (adopted in 1983; amended 2005; amended 2007), consisting of provisions in each of four areas: “Registration Processes,” “Election Procedures,” “Voting Technology (based on the LWVUS position)”, and “Funding.” This position was included in prior e-mail agenda notice.

John and Susan distributed a hand-out, and presented an overview and examples of issues they face in election registration and accurate data maintenance, including observations about the recent Presidential election procedures.   Updates included:

–CT Dep’t of Motor Vehicles now automatically supplies a voter registration application upon license and other renewals, and processes those that are completed and submitted. (Also discussed later was that Libraries are required to request whether any new member wishes to register, and to proceed with this if they do so wish.) This creates overlap with local Registrar responsibilities to verify accurately each voter’s application information and signature. An example is that 1200 duplicate registrations prior to the last election had to be corrected.   This process, together with other mandates, have resulted in more overtime than previously.

–Darien had many same-day registrations in last election. More checks and balances should be established for this.

–Drivers’ licenses contain U.S. citizenship indication only on their backs, and State officials have said it is too expensive to code this information into the license, retroactively or prospectively.

–Current provisions allow voters to register at a Post Office Box address, which results in extra time to verify.

–On-line registration has increased registration elsewhere, but not significantly in Darien.

–Darien had many absentee ballots in last election, which contributed to 86% net turn-out.

–Last election reflected many new Darien voters’ registrations.

–New State computer system was given to 169 municipalities’ Registrars only two months before the last election, and without prior review or input by them.

–The Western CT Council of Governments (COG) has hired a regional registrar, but responsibilities of that office remain unspecified.

–John Visi and Susan Gray voluntarily attend UConn classes in election law and registration, with tuition paid by the Town. Darien’s polls are set, and they thank all those who work at the polls.

–Current system of R and D Registrars works well because their work involves Parties. However, it is governed by some 900 State statutes.

Members applauded John and Susan. Members next discussed briefly the options to vote on the CT LWV position on “Election Laws.” Several members supported the concepts and goals of the position but recommended inclusion of proper checks and balances in keeping with the presentation by and discussion with Darien’s Registrars.

On motion by Mary Genco, seconded by Martha Banks, members voted unanimously to retain-and-update the CT LWV position on “Election Laws.”   Members supported retention of current language; however, such language should be updated to include provision for proper checks and balances, and it also should include a recommendation to streamline and consolidate State election law statutes (now numbering over 900). Clara and Gwen were asked to re-word if or as required.

Recap of “Equal Means Equal” Community Movie: Clara thanked Jean Sweeney and Karla Coe for leading good discussion after the movie (well received by audience and Darien Library staff). Jean noted that the Equal Rights Amendment may yet be ratified by the required number of State’s required for passage.

Town Spelling Bee: Following brief discussion, on motion by Mary Genco, seconded by Martha Banks, members voted to approve the Darien LWV’s payment of $150 registration fee for entry of a LWV team to the upcoming Depot-sponsored community Spelling Bee.

Engage With Your Government – A Nonpartisan Letter Writing Campaign, co-sponsored by Darien LWV and Darien Library: Clara encouraged members to attend on Thursday, March 23, 6:30-8:30 pm, Darien Library Conference Room.

Spring Speaker Program: Karla Coe noted that she is waiting to hear if Clyde White, of “No Labels,” will be available. If this is determined to be our annual meeting, there is a 30 day advance notice deadline for the 2017-18 budget and board of directors slate. MaryEllen Moore suggested that the annual meeting be held in a nice (and possibly in a more-rather-than-less formal) venue. Also noted was that the annual meeting is preceded by a business meeting, and that it now functions also in place of a former “old board/new board” transition meeting.

Board Recruitment: Sue Okie thanked all who have agreed to be on upcoming Board. She is continuing to talk with anyone interested in Treasurer, Candidates Night, and Voters Guide positions. Jean Sweeney may be available for Membership.

Food for Thought: Karla Coe said turn-out was large at last FFT, and she invited all to next FFT, Thursday, March 16, 12:30-2:00 pm, hosted by Ann Ferris, 30 Hale Lane.

Adjournment: As moved by Sue Okie, seconded by Martha Banks, all voted to adjourn at 11:30 am.

Respectfully submitted,

Laurie Williamson, Co-Secretary