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March 2022
Message from the Chair

Dear Members,

March is Women’s History Month! During this month we celebrate and commemorate the vital role of women in American history. These contributions include all of the efforts over many years that lead to women finally obtaining the right to vote 102 years ago. During this time when voting rights are under attack, we ask you to help us make history as we work to enshrine further voting rights into the Michigan Constitution. 

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 in November 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. This proposal will pick up where Proposal 18-3 left off. 

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.

The League of Women Voters of the Greater Grand Rapids Area will be very active over the next several months working on this proposal. We will be working with our coalition partners and other Leagues throughout the state to gather the required petition signatures. We will also be working to educate the public about the proposal both during the signature gathering phase, and then again during election time. 

WE NEED YOU to help us make history with this critical constitutional amendment! Please consider gathering signatures for this important effort. Every signature gathered gets us one step closer to the goal of 425,059 required signatures needed by the July 11 deadline.  Even if you can only commit to a couple signatures on your petition -- that’s two more towards our goal. We will take any valid signatures that you can provide. 

Most of us have little to no experience gathering signatures for a petition drive. Not to worry. Training will be provided to make sure everyone is comfortable with the process and has all of their questions answered before we get started. If you would like to participate in this important process, please reach out to me at You will be added to the volunteer list and will receive updates on Promote the Vote 2022 including training opportunities. 

Again, as we celebrate Women’s History Month, we hope you will help us make history as we work to enshrine these important voting rights into the Michigan Constitution and create a voting system in Michigan that works for ALL!

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 consider forwarding this newsletter to a prospective member with a personal message about why you are part of the League of Women Voters. We are stronger together!
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.

Democracy, Disinformation, and Distrust

A webinar titled "Democracy, Disinformation, and Distrust: Building Citizen Capacity to Impact" was recently presented by the LWV Civil Discourse Network and National Institute for Civil Discourse on January 19. The webinar explores the ways that everyday Americans can build our capacity to establish resilience to the impact of mis/disinformation. Here is the link to the recording.

Update on LWVMI Lawsuit against the MICRC Hickory Map

The LWVMI v MICRC lawsuit was filed with the Michigan Supreme Court on February 1, 2022. This lawsuit challenges the partisan fairness of the state House map, also known as the Hickory map. As ordered by the Court, the MICRC responded on February 9 and LWVMI filed its response on February 11. Oral arguments were requested. On February 9, the Michigan Department of State filed an Amicus Brief in the LWVMI v MICRC lawsuit. It did not take a position on the lawsuit. It did request the Court to: (1) expedite its decision, (2) expedite the MICRC’s work if a new map is ordered, and (3) adjust the candidate filing dates if necessary.

2022 Statewide Petition Status

There are currently fifteen petitions being circulated that could end up on the November 2022 ballot. What would each of these petitions do? Who is behind the petition drive? Does the League support or oppose these initiatives? You can find answers to these questions and more on the LWVMI website. The LWVMI Advocacy Committee monitors where these petitions are in the State Board of Canvassers process and regularly updates the information on the website. 
Advocacy & Current Projects
The League is always busy! We'll keep you informed of current activities and advocacy work here.
Great Lakes Advocacy

Below, you'll 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.

MI Environment - New types of technology help monitor Michigan beaches for harmful pathogens

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

$1B windfall fuels toxic cleanup of Great Lakes, but uphill battle looms | Bridge Michigan

Questions? Contact Kathi Harris:


Women’s History Month Panel Discussion 

It was just over a century ago that women won the right to vote. Then and now, women continue to power a more fair and equitable democracy. Join LWV for a panel discussion about: 

  • Gender and race in the voting rights movement

  • Fighting barriers to voting

  • How to get out the vote in 2022.

This panel will stream live from 12pm-1pm EST on March 3, 2022.  Join here.
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!
MI Vote Matters High School Challenge

Be on the lookout for requests from our High School Coordinators as schools gear up for registering voters during the Secretary of State High School Challenge.

Coordinators (and the list is growing):
  • Audrey Craft - Aviation Academy, Kelloggsville Public Schools
  • Chris VanEyl - Northview Public Schools
  • Courtney Winell - Kentwood Public Schools, Muskegon Public Schools
  • Joan Long - Rockford Public Schools, Wyoming Public Schools
  • Teri Chaplin - Cedar Springs Public Schools (with Joan Long)
  • Kami Weninger - Caledonia Community Schools
  • Karen Joseph - Forest Hills Public Schools
  • Kathi Harris - Grand Rapids Public Schools
  • Marcia DeVos - Godwin Heights Public Schools
Thanks to our coordinators for their efforts on this important part of our mission! 

Photo credit: Stamps School of Art & Design - University of Michigan

Voter Registration Volunteers are needed for the following dates and times. If you are available and would like to volunteer, please contact Kathi Harris at  

1. Brown Hutcherson Ministries - Fridays 

  • 3/4 2:00pm - 6:00pm
  • 3/25 2:00pm - 6:00pm
  • 4/15 2:00pm - 6:00pm
  • 5/6 2:00pm - 6:00pm
  • 5/27 2:00pm - 6:00pm
  • 4th Sunday of each month 12:30pm - 3:00pm

2. Wyoming Public Library - Saturdays

  • 3/5 12:00pm - 4:00pm 
  • 3/19 12:00pm - 4:00pm 
  • Future dates pending 

3. Baxter Community Center - Tuesdays

  • 3/15 9:00am - 1:00pm
  • 4/2 9:00am - 1:00pm
  • 4/26 9:00am - 1:00pm

4. Kentwood Location (TBD) - dates being finalized

If this is a convenient location for you and you would like to help, please get in touch with Kathi for details!
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!
Interview with Paula Manley

Growing a chapter is a lot of work. It takes the efforts of multiple people -- people who are relatively new to LWV, encountering new milestones which often present new challenges using processes that may be new to us. The antidote to all that “newness” is the wisdom, grounding, and encouragement that we have received from one woman: Paula Manley! 

Her advice, steadfast support, and warm smile have propelled us forward to become the vibrant state unit that we are today. We are so grateful to her! Read on to learn more about our remarkable coach. 

How long have you been a member of the LWV? How did you hear about it and end up joining?

I have been a member for 49 years. I was living in Pella, Iowa at the time and heard about the local League through a friend. It was an opportunity for young mothers and other women to get together to discuss issues such as natural resources. 

I know you were once a part of the LWV of Grand Rapids. Could you tell me more? (For those unaware, the League of Women Voters of Grand Rapids was one of the oldest chapters in Michigan and closed in the mid 1990’s.)

When we moved to GR in 1975, I transferred my membership from Pella to the GR League. We met at Trinity Methodist Church for unit meetings during the day and had babysitting for our children. At that time the GR League was quite active. We hosted the 1977 LWVMI State Convention. When I was treasurer First Lady Betty Ford sent her dues check to join the GR League. It had the address on the check "The White House".

What roles have you taken on? 

I have served in various positions through the years -- treasurer in GR and Kalamazoo, Vice President of Program of League of Women Voters of the Kalamazoo Area (LWVKA), and Co-President of LWVKA. Also, I have chaired various committees through the years and served on the Observer Corps for Pella and LWVKA. I served on the LWVMI Board 20015-21 and was Director of Membership and then VP of Membership 2019-21. I have been a State Coach for Local Leagues since 2015.

You are a wonderful resource to us and we have grown so much because of your support. How long have you been our advisor / mentor?

I became the mentor for GR when it was re-establishing under the mentorship of the LWVKA as a Geographical Unit. Now that LWVGGRA is a State Unit, I am your Coach.

Paula’s long history with the LWV provides some unique perspectives. Her observations below are very interesting!

Do you see a difference in voter engagement now compared to what you observed in the 70’s and perhaps the 80’s?

The biggest difference is the computerization and ability to give information or disinformation to the public through social media. VOTE411 has been a great asset for the League to educate voters around the country in recent years as we no longer have to rely only on print voter guides. The League has focused on engaging younger voters more in recent years with the Young Voter Registration Programs. Now that young people at least 16 years of age can join the League as full members, we have more opportunity to engage young people to become lifelong voters. 

Have you noticed a difference in the size and make-up of our League membership over the years? What stands out to you?

In the 70's we had quite a few members and then as more women entered the workforce, women had less time to volunteer. I remember when LWVKA had twice a month daytime unit meetings with babysitting as well as evening unit meetings. Then over time we went to evening only meetings and then meetings once a month or every other month. After some years of declining membership, we have once again had increased interest and growth in Michigan as well as nationwide, especially since 2016. We are attempting to be more inclusive with the DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) initiatives.

Do you have any other observations that newer members might find surprising or enlightening?

Men were not allowed to become full members, only associates, until the late 1970's. One had to be a citizen to join until several years ago when delegates at the National Convention lowered the age to join the League to 16 and deleted the word citizen as a requirement. We have a League in Hong Kong and the US Virgin Islands.

And lastly, we have some personal notes about Paula.

What does the League mean to you personally?

I have had the opportunity to develop leadership skills and meet many amazing people around the country. I value the in-depth study that the League does to arrive at positions on the various issues.

What do you do for fun?

I enjoy traveling with my husband and look forward to resuming that when the pandemic subsides. We have a place in South Haven for escape year-round and now a small studio condo in Miami Beach. We enjoy spending time with family who are spread around the country.

Is there a random fact that might surprise us about you? 

Ken and I have been involved in mission work in Haiti and the Dominican Republic for over 30 years and used our vacation time when we were employed for the work in those countries.

Mark Your Calendar
Check this section for upcoming events, deadlines, and educational opportunities hosted by the League and our nonpartisan partners. 


April & Beyond

  • April 30: LWVMI Spring Workshop | Time TBD
  • 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 
Additional Resources

LWVMI Website
LWVMI League Links Newsletter 
League of Women Voters Lake Michigan Region Website
LWVUS Website 
Michigan Secretary of State - Voter Information Center

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!
Current Board Members
Courtney Winell, Chair
Teri Chaplin, Vice Chair
Kristin Brace, Secretary
Carolyn Sturgis, Treasurer
Karen Joseph, Fundraising Team Lead
Elianna Bootzin, 411 Team Lead
Board meetings are held every first Monday at 7:00 PM via Google Meets.
Invitations are sent to the full mailing list and all members are welcome.
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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