Making Democracy Work

Helping to Make Democracy Work Since 1920!

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Supreme Court Decision Promises More Money in Campaigns

LWVUS President Elisabeth MacNamara's reaction to the Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v, FEC that struck down aggregate contribution limits.

"Now more than ever, we need to fight to make every vote count and give every eligible voter free and fair access to the polls. In the end, the only reliable response to a flood of money in our elections is a flood of voters at the polls, each voter armed with the kind of reliable, unbiased information that the League provides."

Youth Voter Registration Drive Launched

League volunteers have so far registered voters at Benton Harbor High School and Niles High School. The picture on the right was taken at Niles High School where 26 kids were registered. The total schedule appears on the News page.

A total of 14 League members are participating in this project, which is headed by Voter Service Chair John Ripley and Special Projects Board member Earl Bickett.

Liz Ennis & Melissa Clapper Take the Show on the Road

Liz and Melissa, pictured at left, will be speaking on Michigan education issues on Monday, April 14 in Dowagiac to members of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. DKG is a professional honorary society of women educators. It promotes the professional growth of its members and excellence in education. DKG also was a co-sponsor with the League of the 2012 candidate forums.

Liz will also be speaking at the Three Oaks Area Rotary on Friday, April 25. The Three Oaks Rotary meets at 7:30 am at the Elm St. Bistro in downtown Three Oaks.

Local Clerks Need Election Day Help!

Two city clerks have sent out calls for help: Linda Casperson of Niles and Kim Thompson of Benton Harbor. They particularly seem to be in need of Republicans to serve as election judges. Since Republicans are a majority in Berrien County, it shoudl just be a matter of informing people of the need. Election workers receive training and are paid for their work.

Linda Casperson can be reached by e-mail and Kim Thompson by e-mail and phone at 269-927-8408.

League Now In Its 95th Year

Ninety-four years ago on February 14, 1920, pioneering suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt founded the League of Women Voters to secure the right to vote for women. Within just a few months, Congress would grant American women the vote after decades of advocacy.

But that did not complete the League's work and our work is still not done today. Barriers to the ballot box might look different today, but threats to our democracy remain. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision which gutted a key component of the monumental Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, but last month members of Congress introduced legislation to update the VRA through common sense solutions: The Voting rights Amendment Act of 2014.

This bipartisan legislation was carefully crafted to protect the rights of all voters from discrimination and repair the damage to the VRA inflicted by the Supreme Court's decision. The updated legislation seeks to better protect all voters against discrimination and ensure Americans are guaranteed their right to vote.

Elisabeth MacNamara President LWVUS

Let's Talk About the Medical Device Tax

Many of us in Michigan's 6th Congressional District received one of Congressman Upton's regular e-mails on October 8 or read the same piece in one of the area newspapers. The Congressman is very misleading in his comments about the Medical Device Tax, saying that it has "cost Kalamazoo employer Stryker nearly $100 million this year and already resulted in 1,000 layoffs". Indiana's Congressional delegation is saying similar things because the medical device capital of the world is in Warsaw, Indiana.

When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed Congress declared it had to be self-supporting, so approximately 20 taxes on various segments of the health care universe were enacted. Everybody was going to share the pain. If the Medical Device Tax is repealed, why won't every other group being taxed demand that their tax be rescinded? It could be like a house of cards; if one tax goes they all do and there goes the Affordable Care Act. Is this the real goal?

Those who would like to see the tax repealed are playing the jobs card, as did Mr. Upton. If you want a more objective account of the whole Medical Device Tax issue go to There you will learn that because medical device makers can deduct taxes from their IRS return, the tax rate is really about 1.5% rather than 2.3%, the number Mr. Upton used to calculate Stryker's tax burden. That the tax is on all devices SOLD in the U.S. so manufacturing them overseas won't make any difference. That the tax is not on consumer items such as glasses and hearing aids but on clinical medical devices like CAT scan machines, defibrillators, stents and artificial joints. That Stryker did lay off 1,000 people worldwide as it announced it would in 2011, but that the new tax was only one factor of many in their reorganization plan. As of December 2011 Stryker had 21,241 employees and now it has 24,000 employees (from Stryker spokeswoman Jo Johnson), an increase of 2,759.

It would be really nice if we could count on our elected officials to give us accurate information, not blatant misinformation.

League Members Have Fun Too!

League members are intelligent, clever, serious and dedicated. They also know how to have fun! On December 7 LWVBCC had its annual Holiday Open House, this year at the home of former president Liz Ennis and Annette Van Dusen.

A great time was had by all, as you can see from the picture above of, left to right, Darlene Heemstra, Bonnie Pollack, Margarita Doerschner, Donna Dutton and guest Bette Pierman.

LWV Presentation on Michigan Education Issues Available

The League of Women Voters of MIchigan has prepared a presentation on current education issues in Michigan and the League of Berrien and Cass Counties will make the presentation to groups interested in learning more on the current status of public education in Michiganand Governor Snyder's proposals to change education in Michigan. If you are interested please e-mail Chris Zilke at

LWVBCC Newsletters

View our informative e-newsletter, published almost monthly. The April 2014 newsletter is now available. It is a copy of an e-newsletter and does not have the same professional appearance as the original. If you would like to join our mailing list email