Making Democracy Work

News and Information

Recent News and Information

2018 Legislative Guide is Available

The League of Women Voters of Bucks County's 2018 Legislative Guide is now available via download, at various libraries and at our various events.

A special thanks to the First National Bank & Trust Company of Newtown for again donating the printing costs for this publication.

"What Makes Democracy Work?" theme of this year's High School Video Contest

The fourth annual High School Video Contest sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania begins on January 15, 2018. The contest is open to any team of students or individual student between 13 and 19 years of age and currently enrolled in a public or private high school or home schooled in Pennsylvania.

Contestants will create 30 second video Public Service Announcements that answer the question "What makes democracy work?" and that invite participation in every election and encourage attention to local, less-publicized races.

There are no limits to the number of students on a team, nor the number of teams that may enter per school

The top prize will be $1,000. Contest submissions must be uploaded to YouTube and forms received by email before midnight, March 1, 2018.

More information about the contest, as well as access to past winning videos, is available at the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania website http://www.palwv.org/events/videocontest/ .

Questions can be addressed to videocontest@palwv.org

Fair Districts PA

The PALWV has initiated a project with other organizations to promote the passing of legislation to reduce gerrymandering in the drawing of Pennsylvania legislative and congressional districts. Please consider getting involved.

Information can be found on their website and their Facebook page.

There is also a local Bucks County group already formed. Follow their activities on their Facebook page

Women Incarcerated

The February meeting for the LWVBC will address the issue of Women Incarcerated in our prison system and the particular problems faced by women in this system. Issues our guest speakers will discuss include housing conditions in prisons, healthcare, overcrowding, sentencing, opioids as a main driver to incarceration. They will also address the programs available to inmates such as education, rehabilitation, outside volunteer programs and preparation for re-entry.

One of the speakers, Cheryl Peterson-Jacquez, was once an inmate but now helps other women who struggle with addiction and re-entry.

When she tried that first line of cocaine, at the age of 42, she was married, a mother of two sons, and was employed as an accountant. After a while she started selling crack cocaine to fund her habit, she was arrested for possession for intent to deliver and received a 3 to 6 year state prison sentence.

After serving 2 years in prison, Peterson-Jacquez was selected as one of 2 females to start a work release program for state female inmates . Not only did Peterson-Jacquez "learn her lesson" while incarcerated she also witnessed first hand the number of women who received very little support, are under educated and have experienced various forms of trauma. Many of these women have really struggled to remain in recovery or to stay out of prison. After 9 years in sobriety she found herself with a heartfelt experience -driven desire to help women in addiction and/or in prison who are struggling to recover or stay out of prison.

Approximately 8 months ago Peterson-Jacquez created and directs a mentoring program inside the York County Prison and within her community. To date, approximately 65 women have voluntarily participated in the program. There are plans to expand the program to an easily accessible location within her community in the very near future. The goal is to include free employment clothing and workshops, GED studies and tutoring, yoga, meditation, general computer skills, community service and art therapy.

Cheryl Peterson-Jacquez believes that the difference between relapse or re-offending and a successful future can come down to having one person who believes in you.

We anticipate several other speakers joining Ms. Peterson-Jacquez as well.

Voting in the Digital Age

The League of Women Voters of Bucks County and the Computer Science Area of Bucks County Community College will be hosting Voting in the Digital Age on Monday, October 23 at 12:30 pm at Bucks County Community College's Newtown campus.

Speakers include:

Andrew Appel
Andrew W. Appel, Eugene Higgins Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University. He has been on the faculty at Princeton since 1986 and served as Department Chair from 2009-2015. His research is in software verification, computer security, programming languages and compilers, and technology policy. He received his A.B. summa cum laude in physics from Princeton in 1981, and his PhD in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1985.

In addition to teaching and research, Professor Appel produced a TEDx presentation in April 2016 entitled Internet Voting? Really? . He also testified before the House Subcommittee on Information Technology hearing on "Cybersecurity: Ensuring the Integrity of the Ballot Box" on September 28, 2016. Appel was invited to participate in a panel discussion, along with other computer scientists with expertise on election voting data security at the second meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in New Hampshire on September 12, 2017.

Marion Schneider
Marion K. Schneider,, Special Advisor to the Governor on Election Policy, will be speaking as well. She will address the recent Russian attacks in the 2016 election and steps necessary to protect America's elections. Schneider also is an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy and Political Science at Penn State Harrisburg. Ms. Schneider served from 2015-2017 as Deputy Secretary for Elections and Administration, Department of State. In her role, Schneider oversaw and supported the following bureaus: Commission Elections and Legislation, Finance and Operations, Human Resources, and Management Information Systems.

Prior to joining the Commonwealth, Ms. Schneider was a Senior Attorney at Advancement Project, a national, non-partisan, non-profit civil rights and racial justice organization based in Washington, DC. She served as the lead attorney in Advancement Project's Voter Protection Program in Pennsylvania and Virginia working to remove barriers to voting for voters of color. Ms. Schneider has been working on election and voting rights issues since 2005.

This presentation will take place in the Gallagher Room of the Charles E. Rollins Center . There is no charge for admission however registration is required. Visit the College's website to register.

Former Six-Term Congressman Jim Greenwood Speaks from Past and Current Experience inside Washington about Gerrymandering

If you were unable to attend this event - some video clips of the event are available on You Tube.

The League of Women Voters of Bucks County and Fair Districts PA + Bucks are hosting Reclaim Our Democracy: A Discussion on Gerrymandering with former Congressman Jim Greenwood and Fair Districts PA Wednesday, September 20 at 7 p.m. in the Community Room of Wesley Enhanced Living Doylestown, 200 Veterans Lane, Doylestown, PA.

This will be a rare and engaging opportunity to hear from one of Bucks County's respected elected officials on an issue which he and many consider to be one of the most crucial issues facing our government and democracy. Six-term GOP Congressman Jim Greenwood represented the 8th Congressional District of Pennsylvania in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2005. Prior to his election to Congress, Greenwood served six years in the Pennsylvania General Assembly (1981-86) and six years in the Pennsylvania Senate (1987-1992). Greenwood is currently President and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) in Washington, DC.

Former U.S. Representative Jim Greenwood (R-PA)
Congressman Greenwood will share his observations from experience about the impact gerrymandering has had on how government is conducted, including the impact of gerrymandering on voters, on elections, and on the community. Congressman Greenwood shares the opinion of many former and current legislators that ending gerrymandering is essential to preserve our democracy.

Greenwood will be joined by a representative of Fair Districts PA, a non-partisan volunteer organization working to pass an amendment to the Pennsylvania constitution to end gerrymandering. Ardith Talbott of Fair Districts PA will explain the current status of the proposed constitutional amendment, how redistricting would be done under the new system, and the timeline of what legislators and citizens must do to pass the constitutional amendment before the 2020 redistricting cycle.

Seating is limited. Receive more event information and reminders by visiting Fair Districts . For information, call 215-230-9986 or contact donohkat2@gmail.com

Fair Districts PA + Bucks is one of dozens of local chapters that have organized across Pennsylvania to advocate and educate about the measures Fair Districts Pa supports in order to stop partisan gerrymandering in Pennsylvania by 2021. For more information, visit Fair Districts or facebook FD.

The League of Women Voters of Buck County is a non-partisan political organization dedicated to encouraging informed and active participation in government. Membership is open to men and women sixteen and older. For more information, call 215-230-9986 or email lwvbuckspa@gmail.com.

Get Out The Vote (GOTV) 2017 Tool Kit

The Bucks County League of Women Voters is a member of a coalition of Bucks County Organizations working to assist non-profit organizations in providing their constituencies with the information to become registered and informed voters.

A new 2017 Toolkit has been developed to assist these organizations.

Union Edge Radio Partnership

The League of Women Voters US is excited to partner with The Union Edge, the only nationally-syndicated labor talk radio program in the country.

League leaders will participate in regular radio segments to discuss voting rights, public policy issues and advocacy.

"The League looks forward to reaching a diverse new audience of listeners across the country," said Chris Carson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States. "The Labor community has a strong record in elections and we embrace the opportunity to have thoughtful discussions about issues that impact American voters."

The Union Edge is a 4 hour daily live radio program out of Pittsburgh, PA, syndicated on 33 stations nationwide, and available by webstream, mobile apps, and podcast. You can download the free app at http://www.theunionedge.com.

"We are excited to partner with the League of Women Voters for their strong commitment to voter engagement, voter protection and education," said Charles Showalter, host and founder of The Union Edge. "Union members are Democrats, Republicans and Independents; all should have the unimpeded chance to vote their conscience. As a non-partisan organization, the League always brings a fresh perspective on the critical issues facing working people across the country."

The League segments will start January 3rd and air every first and third Tuesday of the month at 1:30pm ET/ 10:30 am PT.

Voter Registration at Naturalization Ceremony

Bucks County League Registers Voters at Naturalization Ceremony

The League of Women Voters of Bucks County helped to welcome 46 new citizens from 21countries at the Bucks County Naturalization Ceremony held at Pennsbury Manor on July 28, 2016.

Following the ceremony, the LWV registered 15 new voters from 6 Pennsylvania counties, answered questions about voting and online registration, and encouraged everyone to pledge to vote. Twenty-four new citizens and family members completed pledge cards and agreed to receive voting reminders through the GOTV collaboration project of Bucks County LWV, AAUW and BCWAC.

Prior to participating in Naturalization Ceremonies, permission was secured in writing from the presiding judge, Cynthia M. Rufe. Peggy Dator also coordinated the event with Douglas Miller, site administrator with the PA Historical and Museum Commission. Mr. Miller was thrilled with the LWV's willingness to lend a hand to the participant's first action as a new citizen + voter registration.

The ceremony was presided by three judges from the US District Court of Pennsylvania - Cynthia Rufe, Mitchell Goldberg, and Linda K Caracappa. Other speakers included Grace Deon, President of Bucks County Bar Association, and Dr. Deepika Chhabri, who was chosen to represent the new citizens. The speakers all related stories from their own families about how the immigrant experience impacted them. Douglas Miller welcomed the group to Pennsbury Manor.

Many thanks to the following who volunteered at the event: Connie Borichesvsky, Arthur Cohn, Peggy Dator, Judy Franlin, Hiltrud Koehler, Corryn Kronnagel, Kathy Horwatt, Doreen Stratton, Pat Savadove, Celia Sharp, and Andy Warren.

Gerrymandering - An Important Issue

The Founding Fathers did not envision "legislating" as a permanent career choice. They also recognized that compromise and incremental change were the outcomes of healthy debate and a democratic process. Our Constitution was a model of compromise. Some of these original measures are now recognized as odious, but without them the thirteen weak colonies would not have survived to form our nation of today. As do most states, Pennsylvania places the adjustment of its voting districts in the hands of State Legislators.

While the PA Legislature mandates representation from both parties within the redistricting process, effective control of results remains in the hands of the incumbent majority. Sophisticated tools analyze demographics and voting patterns, allowing the redistricting teams to carefully orchestrate district lines. The overall results generally work to the advantage of incumbents or favored members.

When incumbents are protected by gerrymandering, their only fear is that of the party primary. Therefore, the primary serves as the actual "election" in most cases. While the 2016 Primaries nationally attracted nearly 30% of registered voters to the polls, normal Primary turnout in recent election years is generally around 10% for each party + almost certainly the most enthusiastic members. This pattern generally favors the more distinctly conservative or liberal candidate. (See: the recent defeat of Eric Cantor).

The greater the difference between points of view, the less constructive dialogue will occur in the legislature. We in the League have heard that in the PA Legislature there is no longer a sense of "camaraderie" among members. It has been widely reported that our U.S. Legislators return to their districts every weekend, thus reinforcing political positions and eliminating opportunities to form social friendships with their peers. Without "human" interaction, opinions harden, open discussion and compromise are lost, little gets done and gridlock occurs.

An even greater problem can arise if the legislative imbalance becomes too great. Special interests are easily tempted to sweep in and use their influence with the majority (it's cheaper) in an effort to shape legislation to their liking. Influence comes in the form of "educational" information or "fact finding opportunities" or "campaign contributions." Sometimes the lobbyists simply write the bills for the legislators,

When we vote, we want our elections to be fair, our votes to count and our voices to be

heard. When politicians meet behind closed doors and draw voting maps that directly benefit themselves, they manipulate the outcome of elections to keep themselves and their party in power.

Partisan redistricting is a conflict of interest that allows legislators to choose their voters, rather than voters choosing their legislators. It also allows wealthy special interests far too much power in deciding who can run and what policies and budgets our representatives will support. The good news is that there are some Pennsylvania legislators committed to restoring the voices of voters and a fast-growing movement of people willing to take action in support of reform.

If you think every vote should count, then you need to learn more about Gerrymandering, how it impacts our policy and economy, and what you can do to help change this. Join us on September 14, at the Northampton Library, 7:00. Our speaker will be Carol Kuniholm, co-chair of Fair Districts PA and election reform specialist for the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania. She believes informed, engaged voters working together can restore government of, by and for the people.

By Judith Franlin

Voter Photo ID Law - Court Decision

On April 28, 2014, the League of Women Voters of Bucks County sent a letter to Ms. Deena Dean, Director of Bucks County Board of Elections regarding Act 18, also known as Voter Photo ID Law. To see a copy of this letter, please click here.

Immigration Issues in Bucks County

Bucks County League of Women Voters presented a public program on Immigration Issues in Bucks County on October 8, 2013. The Peace and Justice Committee of the Bux-Mont Unitarian Universal Fellowship co-sponsored the program.

Speaker Amanda Bergson-Shilock addressed "Immigration Issues and Pending Legislation in the Pennsylvania Legislature and the U.S. Congress."

Ms. Bergson-Shilock is the Director of Programs and Outreach of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.

Information that was presented at the meeting is available for viewing:

Immigration in Bucks County: Data Snapshot

Imprint Project's Information on Immigration Reform