Tag Archives: community

School Elections held on a Wednesday this year

The League of Women Voters of New Jersey reminds all citizens that the Annual School Election will be held Wednesday, April 27.  The School Election occurs on a Wednesday this year as a result of a religious holiday. Voting to select your school board members and decide your school district’s budget is an important and powerful way to have a voice in education and your community.

It is important for voters to examine their sample ballots this year, which should arrive about a week before the election. Some county clerk’s also make sample ballot available online. In addition to selecting school board members and voting on school budgets, voters may see additional questions on the ballot. As in past years, some districts will have bond proposals and a few districts will have “second questions” proposing specific school programs and spending that will exceed the 2 percent tax cap.

However, for the first time in New Jersey history, a municipal question will appear on the ballot of fourteen towns, asking if voters will allow their local governments to exceed the new 2 percent property tax levy cap.

“I cannot stress how important it is to look at and understand your sample ballot before heading out the polls,” said Jesse Burns, Interim Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. “The language of these ballot questions, particularly if you are voting to exceed a municipal tax levy cap, can be very detailed and confusing if the first time you are seeing the question is in the voting booth.”

Registered voters may apply for a mail-in ballot in person at the County Clerk’s office up until 3 p.m. on April 26. In New Jersey, anyone who chooses to and applies in time may vote using a mail-in ballot. Completed mail-in ballots must be received by the board of elections on the day of the election. Please be aware that if you apply for a mail-in ballot and receive it, you must vote using that ballot.

Polling hours differ from district to district. Please call your local School Board office to confirm your polling place and hours the polls will be open. If you have any questions about voting in the School Election, please contact the League of Women Voters of New Jersey for assistance at 1-800-792-VOTE (8683).

“Favorite Way to Volunteer”

The following is a continuation in a series highlighting members of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.

While she was reading through the daily newspaper, Anne Maiese came across an article about the League’s work on an important local issue. Intrigued by the piece she decided to call for more information and learn how to become involved. After attending her first meeting, Anne says:

“…I realized the League was my kind of organization—smart, informed people who were concerned about what happened in their communities, no matter how small or large one defined that term.”

Joining the League of Women Voters of New Jersey (LWVNJ) gave Anne the chance to become more involved in the community and contribute her valuable opinions within a nonpartisan environment. She was impressed by the respect people have for the League as a nonpartisan organization, and the good work it’s done over the years educating people about voting and important issues. Anne says it has provided her with interesting activities, intellectual stimulation, and many good friends. How could anyone resist becoming a part of such an inspiring and powerful organization? Anne believes others should get involved with the League because:

“It’s a great way to participate in your community—improving it for the long term by becoming informed and encouraging others to become informed and involved too. And you can have a much greater impact being part of a group than by acting alone.”

Anne’s work with the League of Women Voters significantly impacted her community. Camden County has an Open Space Fund partly because the League of Women Voters promoted it, and over 500 high school girls in the last decade have been inspired by the “Running & Winning” Workshop to be more involved in politics. These are among the many wonderful outcomes of the League’s work which makes it an extremely important asset to the community. Anne says:

“Its process of studying the issues before it takes a stand on them makes it unique among other ‘political’ organizations.  It helps people register to vote, holds candidate forums and provides information about candidates and ballot questions with no agenda of wanting them to vote a particular way.”

The League supplies communities with multiple resources to become wholly involved in government. Many of these resources are greatly helpful for voters to become fully informed and educated about what exactly they will be voting for in hopes of creating a society that reflects the wants and needs of the people. When asked about the importance of voting and actively participating in government, Anne says:

“I’ve never experienced not having the vote or the opportunity to participate, but I know how hard-won those rights are and don’t ever want to take them for granted. Besides, I ALWAYS have some kind of opinion on issues, and I want to express them!”

Everyone deserves to have their opinion represented and thankfully, the League makes this easier by providing resources to make the publics’ voices heard. Anne believes New Jersey would look much different without these helpful services, which include impartial moderators for candidate forums, a voter hotline 1-800-792-VOTE (8683), the Citizen’s Guide, and a website– all tools that help the public understand issues, find answers to their questions, and get active!

Members like Anne work so hard to make a difference in the lives of many. Her selfless and enthusiastic attitude towards the League’s work made her a valued and much appreciated member, ultimately resulting in her being elected the President of the League. In this position, she continues to work hard to carry out the League’s mission to promote political responsibility through informed and active participation in government. While Anne’s work with the League shapes society, the organization has also shaped her own life. Speaking of this, Anne says:

“Being a member and a leader within the League has allowed me to understand many issues I wouldn’t have been aware of and to meet and make friends with many others who are concerned about the same things I am.  It continues to be my favorite way to volunteer.”

Following in their Footsteps

The following is a continuation in a series highlighting members of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.

Anne Ruach Nicolas began her journey to the League of Women Voters at a very young age. As a child, she was struck by a photograph she saw mounted on her grandmother’s wall. After asking her grandmother about the photograph, Anne was told the story of Emmeline Pankhurst, the leader of the British suffragist movement. In the photograph, Emmeline is being held by a police officer who is arresting her for attending a protest to support women’s right to vote. Speaking of the photograph, Anne says:

“Emmeline is fighting for women to have the right to vote, so I don’t take voting for granted. I want to be a part of an organization with a rich history of social justice combined with the mission of empowering everyone in the voting booth.”

Identifying with Emmeline’s passion for social justice, Anne found a place at the League of Women Voters of New Jersey where she is able to continue making positive changes in the community. She believes that the League of Women Voters:

“…is an important asset to the community because of its nonpartisan stance and its thoughtful and educated discussion of the issues.”

Our society needs such an organization with members who fight for the rights of the people. Without the League, many people would not be seeking the necessary education to be active members of our democratic society. Anne strongly encourages active participation in government and through her position at the League of Women Voters she is able to spread awareness about important issues to educate and create a community of informed voters. Her work with the League of Women Voters has had a tremendous impact on the community. Speaking of some of the League’s accomplishments, Anne says:

“We’ve educated thousands of voters through our educational publications, our voter hotlines and our educational forums. We’ve helped shape the landscape on issues such as election reform, the environment and educating New Jersey’s children.”

Anne also notes that there aren’t many places left where one can have an informed and educated discussion about the issues. This is one reason why it is important for others to get involved with the League. The League, and League meetings:

“…are a modern day version of a town square.”

Education Outside of the Classroom

The following is a continuation in a series highlighting members of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.

As Jesse Burns left college to enter an entirely different world, she began to miss an environment that encouraged political discourse and social activism and yearned for a way to continue debating and studying policy issues. Her desires became a reality after she applied for a position with the League of Women Voters of New Jersey. It was a place she felt a connection with and it allowed her to become more involved in the community. Jesse says others should get involved with the League because:

“…the League is a multi-issue organization—registers voters, runs debates and holds educational forums— there is a place for every interest. So long as you have a core belief that participating in government is important, there is a place for you in the League.”

One of the most important aspects of the League is that it encourages active participation in government. It is possibly the most crucial part of a democratic society. Jesse recognizes how important voting is but thinks it may be even more important to understand what exactly you’re voting for. While discussing this, Jesse says:

“Get to know the candidates, know where they stand on issues that are important to you, and make an informed decision in every election— whether it’s voting for the school board or the President.”

Knowledge about candidates and issues can really shape our society for the better. Without knowledge we are unable to make informed decisions about how to vote. This is why the League is such an vital aspect of our community. Not only does it play a positive role in our community, but it has a huge impact on League members and staff. How has the League shaped Jesse’s life? Jesse says:

“It’s offered me an education I haven’t been able to find elsewhere. It’s incredible what I have been able to learn from other League members. Often, subjects that I thought I wasn’t interested in have come alive when listening to others’ passion.”

While working at the League, Jesse’s passion only grew stronger and allowed her to make a huge impact on the community. As the Communications Director, Jesse has been able to get the word out about the League through newsletters, the League’s Facebook page, and blogs. She has also worked hard to get election information out to the public like candidates’ answers to policy questions, analysis of public questions, and voting rights information.

Jesse was able to have an impact on such a wonderful organization at a young age. While speaking about the importance of younger generations to join the League, Jesse says:

“The League has a lot to offer to young people. It extends their education outside of the classroom and looks wonderful on a resume. The League offers them training that they won’t find elsewhere including how to moderate debates, working on a board and in committees, and advocating for certain legislation.”

Younger generations of women and men need to develop the same passion that Jesse has for the League. Their participation in the League can greatly benefit the community while positively contributing to their own lives. When speaking about her favorite part of the League, Jesse says:

“My favorite part of the League is the people I’ve met. League members have become role models to me.”

More than an Internship

The following is the first in a series highlighting members of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.

When Lauren Fisher accepted an internship with the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, her interests in women’s studies and politics were just beginning to develop. The League provided her with an opportunity to combine all of her interests and expand her knowledge even further. Throughout her time at the League, Lauren was exposed to many different aspects of nonprofit work. Speaking about her experiences at the League, Lauren says:

“I got to know the New Jersey political scene, and for the first time, I actually felt knowledgeable about policies that were being introduced in the State House. Initially I was unsure as to how that type of internship would relate to my career goals, but the experience has actually helped to shape my endeavors.”

Through her internship with the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, Lauren was able to gain a unique experience that contributed greatly to her life. Her background in women’s studies and politics allowed her to give back to the League through various projects including improving and working to expand the League’s Running & Winning Workshop, a popular program that encourages young women to consider a political career.  When asked why others should get involved with the League, Lauren says:

“The LWVNJ is a mobilizing organization.  Not only does it get its members, along with others, to participate in protests or advocacy events, but it also promotes female involvement in politics.  The values of the LWVNJ are not geared toward a certain political party, which is refreshing since party loyalty does not interfere with what the League advocates for.”

Along with the League’s nonpartisan stance, educating and encouraging the public to actively participate are important aspects of its mission. On voting, Lauren says:

“It is one of the main ways one can actively participate in government.  It demands that the voter be—at the very least—somewhat in touch with what the candidates stand for, and how they will handle issues currently facing the US.  I think for women, voting is especially important because it’s a right we did not always have.  We weren’t a part of the segment of society that had a say in who would be in charge.  Actively participating in government also gives people a chance to voice disapproval, advocate, and to stand up for what they believe in.”

As Lauren notes, women were not always able to freely vote for who would govern over them. Women’s history is a valuable piece of the League and it continues to encourage their right to actively participate in government. Younger generations of women and men are included in this population and therefore should seek opportunities that will enhance their education, just as Lauren has done. Speaking of the importance of young men and women to become involved with the League, Lauren says:

“I think it is definitely important for women and men to become involved with the LWVNJ and organizations like it.  Men’s involvement in organizations that promote women in politics is important for developing a vital partnership and mutual respect.  Also, as more people get involved in organizations that are politically active, then there is a stronger force against bad policies or rather, for good policies.  Younger generations need to get involved so as not to turn into complacent voters who side with whoever their friends are voting for, and also to promote political action to people they know, people younger than them and even people older than them.”