Making Democracy Work


Announcements and Breaking News

Program Planning Potluck Supper

The Program Planning Potluck Supper
Wednesday, February 13th

5:00 Orientation for new and prospective members
5:30 enjoy potluck food brought by League members while we
discuss updates to State League positions.

These will guide our advocacy efforts with the State Legislature and the local issues that we will work on during the coming year.
The potluck will be held at
Dick Shave's house,
1212 Raymond St., Schenectady.
RSVP to Dick at

Bring a dish to share!

Bring your copy of the LWVNYS Positions and Local Program (found in the Bulletin).

You can also read the LWVNYS Positions and the Local Program on line.

Immigrants in America: How Do We Decide?

Immigrants in America: How Do We Decide?

A forum will be held on January 10 at 6 PM,

McChesney Room,
Schenectady County Public Library

Panel participants will include:

  • Sarah Rogerson, Albany Law School Professor Detention Outreach Project at Albany County Jail;
  • Dr. Victoria Martinez, Union College Professor
    mini-term project with students at U.S./Mexico border;
  • Isabelle Paine Thacker, attorney with The Legal Project and formerly with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Representatives from the education and the faith communities will also be present.

Migrants, asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants: What's the difference?

  • Every day, people around the world make the difficult decision to leave their countries in search of safety and better lives.
  • Currently, there are 68.5 million men, women and children escaping war, persecution and political turbulence. These are refugees and asylum seekers.
  • There are others who are looking for jobs or an education--they are usually called migrants-- and people who want to live permanently in another country--immigrants.
  • There's been confusion and debate over the use of these terms to describe the plight of those on the move. Here's a closer look at the distinct differences between a refugee, asylum seeker, immigrant, and migrant.
    Who is a refugee?
  • A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her home because of war, violence or persecution, often without warning. They are unable to return home unless and until conditions in their native lands are safe for them again.
  • An official entity such as a government or the United Nations Refugee Agency determines whether a person seeking international protection meets the definition of a refugee, based on well-founded fear.
  • There are more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled to neighboring Lebanon due to a brutal civil war.
  • Those who obtain refugee status are given protections under international laws and conventions and lifesaving support from aid agencies, including the International Rescue Committee. Refugees in the U.S. also have the opportunity to become lawful permanent residents and eventually citizens.
    Who is an asylum seeker?
  • An asylum seeker is someone who is also seeking international protection from dangers in his or her home country, but whose claim for refugee status hasn't been determined legally. Asylum seekers must apply for protection in the country of destination--meaning they must arrive at or cross a border in order to apply.
  • Then, they must be able to prove to authorities there that they meet the criteria to be covered by refugee protections. Not every asylum seeker will be recognized as a refugee.
  • Tens of thousands of children and families from Central America have fled extreme danger-- murder, kidnapping, violence against women and forced recruitment by gangs. Those arriving at the U.S. border are being depicted as "illegal immigrants," but in reality, crossing an international border for asylum is not illegal and an asylum seeker's case must be heard, according to U.S. and international law.
    Who is an immigrant?
  • An immigrant is someone who makes a conscious decision to leave his or her home and move to a foreign country with the intention of settling there. Immigrants often go through a lengthy vetting process to immigrate to a new country. Many become lawful permanent residents and eventually citizens.
  • Immigrants research their destinations, explore employment opportunities, and study the language of the country where they plan to live. Most importantly, they are free to return home whenever they choose.
    Who is a migrant?
  • A migrant is someone who is moving from place to place (within his or her country or across borders), usually for economic reasons such as seasonal work. Similar to immigrants, they were not forced to leave their native countries because of persecution or violence, but rather are seeking better opportunities.
  • Many of those crossing the U.S. border from Central American countries--El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras--are in fact asylum seekers, not migrants. They have a well-founded fear of persecution if they were to return home.

Taken from the League Newsletter of the LWV of Chautauqua County

Better Angels

"Polarization is tearing America apart" Better Angels is bringing conservatives and liberals into a working alliance and building new ways to talk to one another through workshops, debates and training. The board of the LWV of Schenectady has voted to support this group. Look into it for yourself.

More info

Voter Girl Project

Preparations for the Voter Girl Project are underway! This Project, developed by LWV Arlington Heights, Ohio and Ohio Girl Scout Council will be presented to local Cadet Girl Scouts (Middle School Grades 6 to 8) on Sunday November 4 from 1-4 pm at the McChesney Room of the Schenectady Public Library, 99 Clinton Street, Schenectady NY.

Middle School Girls will take part in activities exploring Mediating Difficult Situations, Reaching Decisions, and Voting and leadership skills. If you would like to volunteer as a discussion or activity leader, or to help with organization at the activity, email Cindy Weissend.

New Facebook Page

Find our new Facebook page: League of Women Voters-Schenectady County!

Once you've found us, for those of you not familiar with FB, click "like", then click "follow", then click "share" so that it appears on your own page for all of your friends to see. This will help increase our viewership and keep people informed of everything we're up to. Make sure to send updates of League activities, along with pictures to to Cynthia Weissend.


Stay tuned for details on the Observer Corps Fall Start Up Meeting.

What's so bad about "the question"?

Every ten years, the United States conducts a census of everyone living within its borders. The last census was conducted in 2010, and the next will be in 2020. The accuracy of that head count has a great effect on all our lives, although we probably don't give it much thought during the years between.

Census data is the basis for drawing district lines to ensure fair political representation. It is used to allocate resources for education needs, hospitals, veterans' assistance, public safety, disaster response, and business planning.

The Department of Commerce has surprised us all with a recent decision to add a new and unnecessary question to the census form, asking about the citizenship of the person completing the form. In response, the League of Women Voters has joined with business leaders, elected officials of all parties, grassroots leaders, and civic activists, to tell Congress to remove the citizenship question from the census for the following reasons:

  • The U.S. Constitution says the census counts all persons -- not all citizens.
  • This is viewed as a political move designed to frighten immigrants into not participating.
  • Getting an accurate count in the 2020 census is critical to all American communities.
  • The citizenship question is invasive and raises concerns about the confidentiality of personal information.
  • It will cause participation in the census to plummet.
  • Businesses will have inaccurate data when making economic decisions.
  • The cost of adding this question, this late in the process, is significant to taxpayers. The stakes are too high to allow this unnecessary question to derail the count. We get only one chance every ten years to get this right. The League of Women Voters vows to work with everyone who cares about the accuracy of the census to remove the question on citizenship.

Reprint from the LWV Buffalo Niagara Voter written by Janey Goodsell

"Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport"

You've heard that before. Especially if you find fault with what is happening in government be it local, state or federal. Not everybody has to hold office---or even run for office to be a participant. There are plenty of ways to be active and to get involved.
  • If you admire a candidate for office---actively support them. You can carry their petitions, campaign for them---go "door to door" with them---write endorsement letters to the Editor---financially support their campaigns.
  • Become involved in the community---volunteer for a commission or board in which you have an interest, especially if you have expertise or special knowledge that would benefit the work of that body.
  • Publicly support (or speak out against) issues that concern you and find allies to work with to see these issues resolved.
  • The League of Women Voters offers you many opportunities to participate in the business of democracy. Join us in registering voters, volunteer to help us conduct a candidate forum, collect returns at a polling place on election night.

The main thing is tp look for ways to be involved and then to get involved. Be a game player, not a spectator!

The League Speaks with One Voice

"League members must keep in mind that THE LEAGUE SPEAKS WITH ONE VOICE.

It is the prerogative of a member to take no action or to take contrary action as an individual. Thus, as individuals, we all have the right to contact our public officials about matters of concern. What we learn from League sources can always be used to inform a person's individual action. "