Making Democracy Work

President's Report

Messages from your LWV President

September Message from the President

When a potential candidate is thrown off the ballot because of a failure to comply with New York State election law, is this an issue of ballot access or voter suppression?

I would argue that it is both.

Primarily, it's an issue of ballot access. New York State election law is arcane and convoluted, tripping up many a novice candidate. The League has long advocated for a simpler format and procedure for ballot access. Challenging an incumbent or established party is already a difEicult expensive process. We shouldn't eliminate a candidate before voters even have a chance to vote for them.

And this is where voter suppression comes in. Being registered to vote is only relevant if there is a real choice of candidates in the election.

On a side note, the Schenectady League recently discovered that partisan comments/ conversations had appeared on our Facebook page, making it look like the League had endorsed the candidate. The comments had been made on the candidate's Facebook page, but somehow had become linked to our page. Kat Wolfram, administrator of our Facebook page, tried her best to remove the comments but was unable to do so. Since this violates one of our core principles, i.e. non-partisanship, we decided to take down the League's Facebook page for the time being.

Cheryl Nechamen

July/August Message from the President

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has tried to collect personal information, including names, addresses, dates of birth, political party affiliation and the last four digits of Social Security numbers, from state-level voter registration databases. Fortunately, the effort has met with a reluctance to cooperate from 45 states so far.

The supposed intent of the Commission is to create a national database of voter registrations in order to purge the rolls of voters with multiple registrations. This plays into the myth of massive voter fraud that people are voting in multiple districts. The reality is that people rarely call up the Board of Elections when they move in order to remove their registration from a previous address. When I was younger, I registered to vote at a new address every one to three years and of course, did not de-register from my old address.

It would make sense to purge the rolls of all but the most recent address, but it would be very tempting to purge the most recent address and thereby drop the voter from the rolls if they were members of the opposing party. And I don't think either of the two major parties could be trusted to resist that temptation.

Not to mention that a national database would be a fat target for hackers looking for personal information to engage in "traditional" credit card fraud.

As frustrating as it is sometimes to have 50 separate voting systems in the U.S. with different rules and standards, this lack of a unified system has a hidden strength. It's fairly resistant to hacking or tampering. If someone wants to tamper with an election, they would have to hack into 50 separate computer systems. And this is assuming that every state maintains a centralized database of voter registrations which may not be the case.

Cheryl Nechamen

Letter supporting the work of the SCCC

The following letter was sent by LWV President Cheryl Nechamen on behalf of the League and in support of the work of SCCC.

Jennifer Miller, Director of Community College Support SUNY System Administration Office of Community Colleges and the Educational Pipeline SUNY Plaza, 353 Broadway Albany, NY 12204 Dear Ms. Miller: The League of Women Voters of Schenectady County enthusiastically supports Schenectady County Community College's application to the SUNY Community College Community Schools (CCCS) grant. Schenectady County Community College (SCCC), in collaboration with an array of public, private and nonprofit partners, seeks to support high need students, and to build a network of accessible, on-campus, non-academic resources essential to successfully retaining and graduating these students.

The proposed SCCC Community Schools initiative, DESTINATION: SUCCESS, integrates college resources and community based services for students and their families through a centralized location on the College's campus. SCCC's DESTINATION: SUCCESS is aimed at increasing student retention rates of high-needs students by directly connecting them to multiple community resources available to support them through life's non-academic challenges. On-campus support will help students to navigate and address such issues as employment, food, housing, finances, childcare, primary care and mental health services, legal support, transportation, and other day-to-day needs than can negatively impact student success.

The League of Women Voters will partner with SCCC to develop and implement this important initiative. The League will hold voter registration drives on campus to increase the number of new voters. During the voter registration drives, pamphlets will be available that help students who may have felony convictions, disabilities or who are homeless which will enable them to exercise their right to vote.

The League distributes information on candidates and issues during election campaigns. In addition, the League has a long history of holding educational programs on local, state and national issues that will help students to become active and informed participants in our country.

The proposed DESTINATION: SUCCESS initiative is designed to improve SCCC's retention and graduation rates by significantly scaling up the College's ongoing efforts to provide support to its diverse and ever-changing student population. Providing on-campus access to crucial services will give SCCC students the support they need. This, in turn, will further strengthen student's families, our larger community, and our region. We enthusiastically support the College's application for SUNY Community Schools grant funding.


Cheryl Nechamen


League of Women Voters of Schenectady County