Making Democracy Work

President's Report

Messages from your LWV President

September Message from the President

Along with many other League members, I like to volunteer at voter registration drives. The Phyllis Bornt branch of the Schenectady County Public Library had recently opened and Helen MacDonald and I were staffing a table there. As people walked in, we politely asked them whether they were registered to vote. One young woman answered, "Oh, I can't vote. I have a prison record." We gave her the LWVNYS' pamphlet on voting rights for those with criminal convictions or who are detained in jail. A few minutes later, she came over, said "I guess I can vote!" and asked us for help registering. It was a very rewarding experience helping someone who thought she'd never be able to vote.

Which is why I'm thrilled that the Center for Law and Justice, NY Civil Liberties Union and the University of Albany have asked the LWV (Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady chapters) to partner with them to provide voter information to people held in the county jails or who have criminal convictions.

In case you're not familiar with these rules, a person can vote if they're in jail awaiting trial; if they've been convicted of a misdemeanor, even if they're still in jail; if they've been released from prison after serving their maximum sentence; if they've finished parole; are on probation; have been pardoned; their prison sentence was suspended; or they've been charged with a felony but have not been convicted. Basically, the only people who are not allowed to vote are those who are currently in prison or on parole from a felony conviction, a much smaller percentage of those with a prison record.

The Schenectady League is looking for volunteers to give a prepared presentation to individuals detained in the Schenectady, Rensselaer or Albany county jails and to help them register to vote. I hope you'll consider helping us bring the right to vote to a part of the community that is often overlooked. Contact me for more information.

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.

Sincerely,

Cheryl Nechamen

President

League of Women Voters of Schenectady County