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Your Monthly

April 2022
Message from the Chair

April showers bring…many opportunities to empower voters and defend democracy. 2022 is shaping up to be a busy year! 

Voter registration, which is a cornerstone of the work of the League of Women Voters, is well under way in many school districts throughout the Greater Grand Rapids Area as LWV volunteers work on the MI Vote Matters HS Voter Registration Challenge. Currently there are eight local school districts that have signed on to the challenge. LWV volunteers are working with these schools in varying capacities to support them with youth voter registration and education. In addition to supporting the MI Vote Matters program, we are also working with several other schools to support their student voter registration programs. 

We are also excited to launch the signature gathering phase of the Promote the Vote 2022 ballot initiative. Read the Promote the Vote section below to find out how you (and your signature) can help us reach our goal of 425,059 signatures to ensure this proposal is on the November 2022 ballot for voters to vote into law to ensure we have a voting system to works for EVERYONE. After we complete the signature gathering phase of Promote the Vote, we will then participate in a statewide effort to educate voters about the importance of this proposal through educational town halls. 

April 17-23 is National Volunteer Week! We would like to thank each and every one of our members and friends that devote their time to the League. We recognize that you all have myriad responsibilities and that your time is precious. We are grateful for the time that you spend working on League activities, and we appreciate all that you do on behalf of the League. Our work would not be possible without our dedicated and committed volunteers like YOU! Thank you! 

In League,

Courtney Winell


We're excited to introduce new LWVGGRA members in this section, celebrate membership anniversaries, and share other updates about membership. 
Please join us in welcoming new members Katherine Wakeley and Carole Retan!
Voter Education
Our goal is to help keep our members informed of the latest issues regarding voting and voting rights. Check this section monthly for important updates.

Join Us for A Conversation About Elections in Michigan

May 12 at 7:00 pm

The League of Women Voters of the Greater Grand Rapids Area is excited to host Eric-John Szczepanik for A Conversation About Elections in Michigan on Thursday, May 12 at 7:00 pm. This conversation will be held virtually via Google Meet. This conversation is an opportunity to learn more about the election systems and processes in Michigan and ask any questions that you may have. Eric will also share his perspective as an elections administrator on the ballot proposals that are currently being circulated that would impact elections here in Michigan. 

Eric-John is the Elections Coordinator / Document Management Specialist for Kalamazoo Charter Township. He was elected, at age 18, to the Kenowa Hills school board in 2016, the body’s first LGBTQ+ member. He holds a B.A. in Public & Nonprofit Administration from GVSU and studies Election Administration through the University of Minnesota. He is the board president for the Michigan Center for Civic Education and a collegiate baseball umpire, having directed three Little League programs.

We hope you will join us for this conversation. Please register here to attend the event. Once you have registered, a link to the meeting will be emailed to you. 

LWVMI Spring Workshop

Observe, Educate Advocate: Act Locally

Join League members from across our great state of Michigan for virtual learning and conversation! At the spring workshop, you will pick up knowledge and tools to help your League advocate effectively at the local level. From being an informed petition signer to sharing what makes an Observer Corps such an important part of local advocacy, you’ll get the chance to learn and share during breakout sessions and informative conversations.

When: Saturday, April 30, 2022          

Time: 1:00 - 3:15 pm     

Mode: Zoom  

Cost: Free

This virtual workshop will be presented via Zoom at no charge to members of Leagues in Michigan. Register at the link below by April 22, 2022. You’ll be asked to choose topics for two conversations and one breakout session. The conversations are small, informal groups sharing information (think of those great conversations you might have during meal breaks or in the hallway). The breakout session is a bit more formal learning session where experienced Leaguers share best practices.

We look forward to seeing you virtually at this informative and fun event!

To register, click here and fill out the registration form by April 22, 2022.


1:00    Welcome

1:05    General session: Know What You’re Signing—Information on state ballot proposals, including tips for local Leagues about sharing information about the process & content of proposals. Presented by Judy Karandjeff, LWVMI and Talyce Murray, Promote the Vote.

1:50    Conversation (choose topic on registration form)

2:05    Break

2:10   Breakout sessions (choose topic on registration form)

  • Local Advocacy Tools in Action—Sue Smith, LWVMI; Rosemary Edgar, LWVJA
  • Climate Change Toolkit for Local Action—Karen Schmidt, LWVMC; Sandi Sorini Elser, LWVWC
  • Local Observer Corps—David Allen, LWVMC & Joanna Mitchell, LWVMC
  • Get a Pro-voting Resolution Passed by Your Governing Body: Jo Foley, LWVMC

2:55    Conversation (choose topic on registration form)

3:10    Closing

Advocacy & Current Projects
The League is always busy! We'll keep you informed of current activities and advocacy work here.
Great Lakes Advocacy

Below, find links to articles to help you stay informed on Great Lakes related issues. If you find current news related to LWVGGRA's advocacy efforts that you would like to share with fellow members, please reply to this email for possible inclusion in an upcoming newsletter.

With new invasive carp money, the Great Lakes learns from past invasions – Great Lakes Now

The pandemic that closed the U.S./Canadian border to people may have opened it to the invasive sea lamprey | Bridge Michigan

 Road salt threatens Michigan lakes and rivers. Can an alternative take hold? | Bridge Michigan


Promote the Vote 2022 – Signatures Needed

The League of Women Voters of Michigan, along with its coalition partners in Promote the Vote that championed Proposal 18-3 in 2018, is excited to announce Promote the Vote 2022! This proposal is a constitutional amendment that will go before the voters and is proactively intended to assure that we have a voting system that works for all of us. This proposal was developed based on conversations with voters and election officials.

Promote the Vote 2022 would:

  • Ensure that voters can vote free from harassment, intimidation and interference. 

  • Allow the ballots of military and overseas voters to be counted if they are postmarked on Election Day and received within 6 days of the election. 

  • Provide access to state funding for 1) postage on absentee applications and ballots, 2) security for drop boxes, and 3) absentee ballot tracking that alerts voters if there is an issue with their ballot and how to fix it.       

  • Allow voters to request an absentee ballot be mailed to them for all future elections without having to apply each time.

  • Allow voters to prove their identity when voting in person by showing a photo ID or signing a legal document. When voting by mail voters must provide their signature, which is then verified by the election officials.

  • Require election audits be conducted in public, by state and county election officials, based on methods established prior to each election. 

  • It also makes clear that the Legislature or political parties play no role in the vote certification and that boards of county canvassers have a clear and ministerial duty to certify election returns received by municipal clerks.         

  • Provide a minimum of 9 days of early voting, for 8 hours per day, before statewide elections

Because this proposal is a constitutional amendment, it will require 425,059 valid signatures by July 11, 2022. That is A LOT of signatures! We need your signature! Please consider being a ‘micro circulator.’ Often times when we hear the team ‘petition circulator’ we think of someone gathering hundreds of signatures. While that is great, each and every signature is important to getting us to our goal. Being a ‘micro circulator’ you can gather signatures of the people that you talk to throughout the course of the week. 

Your spouse? Your children(if they are 18+)? Siblings? Neighbors? Coworkers? Your book club? Members of your church? Using this strategy, you just filled up a full petition sheet of 10 signatures! See how easy that is? Please think through your contacts and consider being a ‘micro circulator.’ We promise there will be NO pressure to get more signatures than you are comfortable obtaining. 

Still not interested in gathering signatures? We at least need YOUR signature! We will come to you with a petition to sign. Simply sign the form and we will be on our way.

If you are able to supply signatures to help us reach our goal, please contact Karen Legault at our Courtney Winell at
Volunteer Opportunities
There's never been a better time to get involved! Read on to learn how you can help support the League's mission of Empowering Voters and Defending Democracy. Thank you for your support!

Public Logic and Accuracy Testing for May 3, 2022 Election – Volunteers Needed

Prior to each election, city and township clerks must test and verify the accuracy of the materials and systems used to conduct an election. That includes the tabulator and programming, paper ballots, equipment, and election reporting software. Depending on the various districts, there may be several ballot types in each precinct. Each ballot type has its own specific test chart that instructs local election officials how a sample set of ballots, called a test deck, should be marked and tabulated in order to verify that your vote will be properly counted. Each test deck is passed through an associated ballot tabulator just as your ballot will be on Election Day. Once the entire test deck is scanned through the tabulator, the test results are printed and verified against the chart of predetermined results. If the printed results match the chart of predetermined results and there are no functional issues with the equipment, the tabulation is reset to zero for Election Day. Tamper evident security seals are applied to the machine, securing them until Election Day. 

The entire process outlined above is conducted in each jurisdiction, on every ballot tabulator and for every ballot type to be used, and is witnessed and reviewed by the local election commission, along with any public present. This is where you come in! We are seeking volunteers that are willing to attend the testing sessions to observe the process. You do not need to have any experience operating election equipment, or with the election process; you are simply there to watch the testing be performed. This is actually a really great way to learn more about the process. With so much misinformation circulating currently about the elections process and systems after the 2020 Election, we feel that it is important to have our nonpartisan organization present at these pre-election testing sessions so that we can message to the public that the equipment and processes are working accurately. 

Below is a list of testing sessions that are scheduled in jurisdictions that will be having an election on May 3. Please email Courtney Winell at if you are able to attend any of the sessions listed below. Our goal is to have LWV volunteers observe each testing session.

Thank you for considering volunteering your time for this very important part of our election process.

Volunteers Needed for Voter Registration at Grand Rapids Public Library

We are excited to announce that we will be hosting Voter Registration tables at various Grand Rapids Public Library branches ahead of the August 2022 Primary Election to register library patrons to vote and answer questions about the right to vote.

We are seeking LWV volunteers to work at the voter registration tables during the dates and times listed below. If you are willing to devote some time to this important voter registration effort, please contact Courtney Winell at or 616.430.6445 and indicate which date(s) and location(s) where you are able to volunteer. 

  • Wednesday, June 22, 2022 |10:30 am – 2:00 pm | Yankee Clipper Branch – 2025 Leonard NE

  • Thursday, June 23, 2022 | 10:30 am – 2:00 pm | Seymour Branch – 2350 Eastern SE

  • Wednesday, June 29, 2022 | 10:30 am – 2:00 pm | West Side Branch – 713 Bridge St NW

  • Thursday, June 30, 2022 | 10:30 am – 2:00 pm | Van Belkum Branch – 1563 Plainfield Ave NE

  • Thursday, June 30, 2022 | 10:30 am – 2:00 pm | Ottawa Hills Branch – 1150 Giddings Ave SE

  • Wednesday, July 13, 2022 | 10:30 am – 2:00 pm | Madison Square Branch – 1201 Madison SE

  • Wednesday, July 13, 2022 | 10:30 am – 2:00 pm | West Leonard Branch – 1017 Leonard NW

  • Thursday, July 14, 2022 | 10:30 am – 2:00 pm | Main Library – 111 Library Street NE

High School Voter Challenge Update

Each High School Coordinator will define their needs for volunteers to help register voters.

High Schools currently signed up for the Secretary of State High School Voter Registration Challenge are:

·        Rockford - Joan Long

·        Kelloggsville - Audrey Craft

·        Northview - Chris VanEyl

High Schools in the process of getting a voter drive defined:

·        Aviation Academy - Audrey Craft

·        Forest Hills - Karen Joseph

·        Godwin - Marcia DeVos

·        Grand Rapids Public - Kathi Harris

·        Kent City - Joan Long

Additional schools are considering participating in the Challenge and will be added to the list when they are confirmed.

Community Spotlight
In this section, you'll find interviews highlighting League members, elected or appointed officials, and nonpartisan partners. Do you know of someone who should be featured here? Reply to this email with your ideas!

Meet Kristin Brace, the Secretary for our League! You may have seen her friendly smile and noticed her can-do attitude during our Zoom meetings. What you might not know is that this community-minded young woman has been the executive director of a local organization and that she is a published poet! Read on to learn more about Kristin's career, family, and creative outlets. Our local league is fortunate to benefit from Kristin's talents and hard work. Thank you for all that you do, Kristin!

When did you join the LWV? How did you hear about it and why did you decide to become a member?

I began attending League meetings in August 2018 and became a member shortly thereafter. I had been inspired to look into the organization by a conversation with a member who volunteered at the nonprofit where I worked. My concerns about the state of voting rights in our country were growing and I wanted to work with others to help protect and expand those rights.

Thank you for serving as our secretary! How long have you been in this role? Have you had other positions in the LWV?

I believe I became secretary in the summer of 2020. It’s the only position I’ve held in the LWV.

A little bit about Kristin's background...

What education have you received? 

I earned a BA in English with a Creative Writing focus at Hope College followed by a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Spalding University. 

What career have you had so far?

I have worked primarily in nonprofit roles promoting literacy and creativity, most recently as executive director at the Creative Youth Center. I’ve also taught writing at the collegiate level and in the community. As a writer myself, I have published a few books of poetry and have other projects in the works. 

My books are Toward the Wild Abundance, published by Wheelbarrow Books—an imprint of Michigan State University Press—as well as Fence, Patio, Blessed Virgin and Each Darkness Inside, both from Finishing Line Press.

Aside from your current busy role in our League, are you employed now or active in other organizations? If so, what specifically?

Much of my time and energy these days is spent parenting. I try to write with some regularity, but it’s in bits and pieces right now. Previously, until I was six months pregnant, I milked goats once a week with Dreamgoats (you can cuddle baby goats later this month!). I look forward to branching out more when I am able, possibly volunteering with refugees, possibly offering writing workshops, possibly training to become a Michigan Master Naturalist…

Tell me about your family! I know you're married and have a little one.

My husband Neal is an inventor and entrepreneur. We got engaged after five dates and married three days later. We celebrated 14 years of marriage earlier this year. Our daughter Lark just turned 17 months old and keeps us busy and laughing. Her newest method of freaking me out is climbing onto the kitchen table. Oh, and we have four cats.

And some personal notes about Kristin...

What does the League mean to you personally? 

I sometimes think of all the problems in the world and feel immobilized and uncertain of what I can do to help. Being a member of the League enables me to be part of something bigger than myself that is working toward real, positive change. That alone is satisfying; it also motivates me to seek out the next opportunity to help create positive momentum in ways that matter.  

What do you do for fun?

I like to read, hike, create art, bike, garden, do yoga, and explore new places. I’m smitten with the Italian language and try to keep up on some basic speaking skills. I hope to get back to playing my accordion soon. I’m often happiest being outside or making and eating food with the people I love. 

Is there a random fact that might surprise us about you? :) (Examples: You're a master juggler, you've been to all 50 states, amateur presidential historian, amazing cake decorator, etc!) 

As a child, I was obsessed with doing cartwheels and continued to do them into adulthood. At some point I decided to do as many cartwheels on each birthday as the age I was turning. I haven’t kept up the practice in the last few years (some vestibular issues have made me wary), but I have fond memories of once doing thirty cartwheels down a public beach in San Francisco. 

Grand Rapids Update
Each month, we'll spotlight current League-relevant news from the City of Grand Rapids. 
The City of Grand Rapids is inviting all residents to share feedback on City services, programs, events, and facilities. The community survey is available in English and Spanish until April 1. It takes 15-20 minutes to complete.

There's also a 10 minute survey on special events.
Mark Your Calendar
Check this section for upcoming events, deadlines, and educational opportunities hosted by the League and our nonpartisan partners. 

April 1: Sexual Assault Awareness Month Begins
April 1: Arab American Heritage Month Begins
April 4: Monthly LWVGGRA Board Meeting 7:00 pm via Google Meet
April 7: World Health Day – Celebrate the founding of WHO
April 12: Thank Election Heroes Day
April 17-23: National Volunteer Week! Thank you LWV volunteers who make our work possible! 
April 22: Earth Day
April 28: Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day
April 29: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Week of Action Begins
April 30: LWVMI Spring Workshops 1:00-3:15pm. Free to all LWV members. Register here

May 1: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Begins
May 1: Law Day
May 2: Monthly LWVGGRA Board Meeting 7:00 pm via Google Meet
May 3: Election Day- Polls open 7 am to 8 pm. Check to see if there is an election in your community.
May 8: Mother’s Day
May 12: A Conversation About Elections in Michigan Featuring Eric-John Szczepanik | 7:00 pm via Google Meet. Register here
May 18: LWVGGGRA Fundraiser at Panera | 4:00-8:00 pm | 2044 Celebration Dr NE, Grand Rapids, MI  49525
May 19-21, 2023 | LWVMI Convention | Kellogg Center in Lansing

June 23-26: LWV National Convention | Denver, Colorado | In person and virtual options are available for participants 
July 11: Promote the Vote signatures due by 5:00 pm 

Once our new website is live, we will be able to accept online donations. For now, if you would like to donate, please send checks to the address below.
League of Women Voters GGRA
P.O. Box 174
6220 Belmont Ave NE
Belmont, MI 49306

Please note that the League is a 501c4 and donations are not tax-deductible. Thank you for your support!
Copyright © 2022 LWVGGRA, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
PO Box 174
6220 Belmont Ave NE
Belmont, MI  49306

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League of Women Voters Greater Grand Rapids · PO Box 174 6220 Belmont Ave NE · Belmont, MI 49306 · USA

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