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Date: 9/29/2020
Subject: The VOTER Newsletter - October 2020
From: LWV of Johnson County

new oct 2020 meeting
How has the pandemic changed elections in 2020 and beyond? What can we do to overcome voting hurdles? How can we boost voter confidence and turnout? 

Join us for a discussion with voting rights experts about these and other important issues affecting voters and our election security at the local, state and national levels.  

Connie Schmidt, Johnson County Election Commissioner      
Nadine Johnson, Executive Director, ACLU of Kansas   
Jessica Jones Capparell, LWV Policy & Legislative Affairs Senior Manager

Free and open to the public. Registration required.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Crunch Time

Yes, everybody’s busy.

But our job’s clear: Protecting every citizen’s constitutional right to cast a ballot.  

The general election on November 3 is only five weeks off. Put on your “Extra Miler” shoes and sign up for just one more LWV job! We need you to help with Souls to the Polls car caravan Round 2, supporting the Election Office Round 2, and much more (see “Members Sign Up, Pitch In”).

Other news:

  • National media, part 1. CNN interviewed Ann Sanders on August 29 about the first Souls to the Polls Car Caravan in Wyandotte County on July 11. After hearing about a car caravan held in Salina, Ann said, “We began to plan, it was executed and it was a blessed event.” You can watch it here. 

  • National media, part 2. On August 31, MSNBC interviewed Secretary of State Scott Schwab about mail-in ballotsConcerning third-party applications for mail-in ballots, he said, “If you want to work with the League of Women Voters or political parties that use the county form,” fine, but put other forms “in the trash bin.”

  • Making Democracy Work (MDW) award. The board concurred with the MDW committee to skip this year since no in-person meeting is possible.  Rescheduling to the 2021 Holiday Party will preserve the tradition of inviting the honoree’s family and associates to join the celebration.

  • Membership growth. In January, 2020 our league had 309 members. As of late September, we have 386. Statewide, LWVK membership over the same period has grown from 1,112 to 1,270. That includes 43 members-at-large in areas having no local league.

Virtual meetings continue. Assume that all LWVJoCo events will be virtual through the end of this fiscal year, March 31, 2021. That includes the January planning session for member ideas and suggestions, the February program on redistricting, and the March 6 Annual Meeting. That timeline could be extended well into 2021, of course, depending on the pandemic and an available vaccine.

Don’t delay! Sign up today to help protect voter rights. Thank you!

Amber Stenger and Ellen Miller, Co-Presidents

Zoom and COVID haven’t stopped our members from stepping up. Since May, some have chosen “home alone” events. For example:

  • “Legislative Update” on May 4 with Paul Johnson and Michael Poppa. 81 registered and 50 attended. Interestingly, that 62% attendance is right in line with virtual meeting standards of 50-65%. It’s been viewed 55 times on YouTube

  • Member- to-member calls. Over 300 telephone calls were completed in August by 18 callers. They asked how folks were doing, and also their preferred contact method (email = 47%; text = 33%; phone = 10%.) Many said they really appreciated being telephoned. A second round is planned for late this year.

  • “Preview Party” on August 25. Committee chairs shared plans and asked for help. 85 registered, 60 attended. 54 stayed to the end when prizes were given out. Over 25 people signed up to help. 27 have viewed it on YouTube. 

  • “DEI Call to Action” September 12 Saturday program featuring local experts Dr. Andrea Hendricks and Juan Rangel. 64 attended out of 86 registrants, 74%. Another 27 viewed on YouTubeTo date, 33 members have signed onto the DEI team. For more information, contact Mary Lou Jaramillo,

Other members chose “out and about” activities, such as:

  • Souls to the Polls Car Caravan on July 11 in Wyandotte County. Thanks to the many partners such as civic/faith groups, the KCK police and Dotte Votes, about 100 people were in the estimated 70 cars. 25 people signed up with LWVJoCo; 17 of them or 68% were our members. Don’t miss Round 2 on Saturday, October 10, 10:30 a.m. Sign up via the calendar event and/or email

  • Opening mail ballots at the Election Office before the August 4 primary. 35 members donated over 200 hours. Round 2 is now open for October 19 through November 6; contact Jan Brunks for information at

  •  Get Out The Vote (GOTV). 43 members will write postcards to unregistered youth ages 18-22. Thirteen folks are hanging posters and flyers in small businesses, libraries and coffee shops.   

  • Outdoor voter registration. 33 members have signed up to register voters outdoors at 10 events before the October 13 deadline. Locations include Roeland Park, Notre Dame de Sion school, Rainbow Mennonite and the YMCA. More events are coming.

  • Yard signs, T-shirts. Since July 1, we’ve sold 31 yard signs, 10 car magnets, 7 rhinestone VOTE pins and 5 T-shirts. Contact Ann Norbury at to get your LWVJoCo swag.

Membership renewals also measure commitment. We currently have 386 members. In June, 239 were emailed renewal notices. As of September 4, 83% (198) had renewed. Other members will get notices on their anniversary date. Keep those renewals coming! 

Support voters! Sign up today. The general election (November 3) is only five weeks off.

Amber Stenger and Ellen Miller, Co-Presidents

Urge candidates to respond to LWV’s requests is a LWV’s nonpartisan online voter guide. It offers balanced and relevant information, including answers to questions by candidates on issues facing your local community. Several local candidates, however, have not responded the survey. 

What you can do: Go to, type in your address and see which candidates running for office in your districts have not participated. Then, use Google to get their email address or social media pages and send them a quick message. Tell them you want to know more about how they would tackle challenges facing our community, and is where you and thousands of other voters go to learn more about candidates. Urge them to fill out their surveys or email for more information.   

Upcoming Virtual Candidate Forums
Board of County Commissioners
Tuesday, September 29

Our democracy works best when citizens are informed and active. Take time to learn about the candidates currently running for the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, and important issues surrounding these races.

Six candidates are running for three available seats: Jeff Meyers and Rob Patterson (District 2), Charlotte O’Hara and Stacy Obringer-Varhall (District 3),  
and Mike Brown and Shirley Allenbrand (District 6). Only the three candidates listed below responted to our invitation to participate, despite repeated requests.
Tuesday, September 29 at 4:30 p.m. | Zoom. Candidates: Jeff Meyers (District 2), Stacy Obringer-Varhall (District 3), and Shirley Allenbrand (District 6).
Moderators: Amanda Vega-Mavec, Johnson County Latina Leadership Network, and Amber Stenger, League of Women Voters of Johnson County.

Register in advance for this free virtual candidate forum.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email one or two days before the event containing information about joining the meeting.

Hosted by the League of Women Voters of Johnson County, Mainstream Coalition, Advocacy and Awareness Group: Johnson County, ACLU Kansas, Johnson County Latina Leadership Network, and NEJC Chamber.


 The Shawnee Mission Post
The Shawnee Mission Post is hosting a series of candidate forums for political races in Johnson County. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic still putting limits on large gatherings, the Post will bring candidates in each race together for up to an hour at a time (remaining socially distanced) and livestream the resulting forums on their Facebook page. Questionnaires were generated from Post readers’ priorities, and candidates’ responses will be published starting Oct. 12.

Mark your calendars for the forums to make sure you’re informed on the races that will impact your area of northern Johnson County. If you miss a forum live, you will be able to come back to watch an archived version on the Post's Facebook page.


  • 5:30 p.m.: KS Senate District 10, Mike Thompson (Republican) and Lindsey Constance (Democratic)
  • 6:30 p.m.: KS Senate District 21, Tom Bickimer (Republican) and Dinah Sykes (Democratic)


  • 5:15 p.m.: JoCo District Attorney, Steve Howe and Zach Thomas
  • 6:15 p.m.: State Board of Education, District 1, Benjamin Hodge and Melanie Haas
  • 7 p.m.: Board of County Commissioners, District 2 Jeff Meyers and Rob Patterson


  • 5:15 p.m.: KS House District 17, Jo Ella Hoye (Democratic), Michael Kerner (Libertarian) and Kristine Sapp (Republican)
  • 6:15 p.m.: KS House District 18, Cathy Gordon (Republican) and Cindy Neighbor (Democratic)
  • 7 p.m.: KS House District 39, Les Lampe (Democratic) and Owen Donohoe (Republican)


  • 5 p.m.: KS House District 14, Angela Schweller (Democratic) and Charlotte Esau (Republican)
  • 5:45 p.m.: KS House District 16, Rashard Young (Republican) and Linda Featherston (Democratic)
  • 6:30 p.m.: KS House District 23, Matthew Clark (Libertarian), Susan Ruiz (Democratic) and Jeff Shull (Republican)
  • 7:15 p.m.: KS House District 30 Laura Williams (Republican) and Brandon Woodard (Democratic)


  • 5:30 p.m.: KS Senate District 6, Pat Pettey (Democratic) and Diana Whittington (Republican)
  • 6:30 p.m.: KS Senate District 7, Ethan Corson (Democratic) and Laura McConwell (Republican)


  • 5:30 p.m.: KS Senate District 8, James Todd (Republican) and Cindy Holscher (Democratic)
  • 6:30 p.m.: KS Senate District 11, Joy Koesten (Democratic) and Kellie Warren (Republican)


  • 5:15 p.m.: KS House District 20, Mari-Lynn Poskin (Democratic) and Jane Dirks (Republican)
  • 6 p.m.: KS House District 21, Bob Reese (Republican) and Jerry Stogsdill (Democratic)
  • 6:45 p.m.: KS House District 29, Jerry Clinton (Republican) and Brett Parker (Democratic)

Need a speaker for your next meeting, workshop or event? 

 Call the LWVJoCo Speakers Bureau to speak at your next gathering.

Is your community group looking for objective information about voting or other important issues? Trained representatives of LWVJoCo are eager to speak to schools, churches, companies, neighborhood associations and other groups. 

LWVJoCo offers interesting, nonpartisan presentations on a wide range of timely topics.

We can adapt our presentations to meet your group’s needs, from a short 20-minute overview to a longer presentation and discussion. No fees are required for our knowledgeable volunteer speakers to speak to your group. Here are a few presentations we offer:

Making democracy work

  • LWV: What we stand for and positions we champion

  • Be an informed voter: Knowing where to look for valid information

  • Make your voice heard: Discovering your style as an advocate

  • Electoral college

  • Media integrity

Keeping our communities healthy

  • Supporting America’s Clean Power Plan

  • Stormwater management: How you can reduce flooding

  • Is fracking a risk to Johnson County?

  • Medicare for all: Exploring the data driving the discussion

To learn more about these presentations and how to schedule one for your organization, contact Kathleen Morrow, chair, LWVJoCo Speakers Bureau, at

Candace Varner
Candice Westphal
Mary Wise
Amber Pugh
Anastasia Condron
Sara Groves
Gillian Wilcox
Jeanne Bates (transfer from LWVKC)
Sandi Fried
Jocelyn Wehr

Now for Men! We have five crewneck T-shirts in stock - $15
Women's T-shirts - $15
Yard Signs - $10
Rhinestone "VOTE" Pins - $20
Car Magnets - $5

Get your election swag today!
To place an order, contact our shop

The Voter Registration Team is in high gear, working tirelessly to serve voters in both Johnson and Wyandotte Counties. Here are some details for recent and upcoming events. 
🗳️ September Registration events: 15 events were staffed by 78 volunteers. 24 voters were registered in September, and an additional 458 contacts were made.
🗳️ Postcard Campaign: 43 volunteers will contact 10 unregistered potential voters a total of three times, with the personal touch of a hand-printed postcard.
🗳️ October Registration events: 5 so far! Voter registration in Kansas closes on October 13. 
Please consider volunteering. If you can help, please login and sign up at under GET INVOLVED, VOLUNTEER or email the Voter Registration Team.
Also... Shop to Benefit LWV in October: Kendra Scott jewelry stores have offered to partner with LWVJoCo and LWVKC. They will donate 20% of sales from the Leawood store to LWVJoCo on October 7 and 8 and 20% of sales from the Plaza store to LWVKC on October 1 and 2. One member from each league will staff these days to provide voter registration and information.

Our Optics Matter

Sure, we say we’re nonpartisan. But how does that translate into everyday life for our members?

Remember three huge facts:

√ Perception is reality.

√ Photos and audios can go viral in minutes.

√ Mixed messages are interpreted as being partisan.

What’s OK for Leaguers:

  • Displaying “Vote! It Counts” car magnets.

  • In your front yard, displaying either “Your Vote Matters” OR candidate signs (but not both because it sends mixed messages).

  • Giving out voting information.

What’s not OK for League members:

  • In your front yard, displaying two signs—ours that says “Your Vote Matters” AND another that says “Vote for Susie Q” (or endorses any candidate or party).

  • Saying, “I’m from the LWV AND please vote for Susie Q.”

  • On your car, displaying both LWV “Vote! It Counts” magnets and “Susie for Senator” stickers.

Member Spotlight: Jo Branine
Home is where the League is, through 50 years and multiple moves. Learn more about Jo.

JoCo Election Office Volunteers
Attention Independents and Republicans: Plenty of volunteer slots are still available for members who identify as Independent or Republican.
Contact Jan Brunks at to sign up.
Souls to the Polls
Don’t miss Round 2 on Saturday, October 10.
Sign up via the calendar event and/or email

Observer Reports


Our Observer Corps continues to grow! We now have an observer for the Mission City Council. Catch up on the actions, decisions and proposals of our local public officials. 


 Read the latest summaries by League members who attend several public meetings in our area.

Board and Committee Briefs

✅  LWVJoCo submitted its application to the IRS to become a 501(c)3 in August. Thank you to Ellen Miller and Anita Kaiser for the many, many hours they spent preparing the laborious application. This would position our League well to fully leverage nonprofit opportunities in the future. It is likely to take the IRS at least a year to review our application.

✅  Ann Schuster and Mimi Rainen spearheaded our voter registration efforts with community colleges and high schools offering assistance with voter registration, including links to our voter registration tutorials, presentations and posters. JCCC printed our graphic to give the students in a "swag bag" at the start of classes. KCKCC held three voter registration events and will use one of our signboards in their front hallway to encourage the students to vote.

✅  LWVJoCo co-hosted two candidate forums in September, one for the Johnson County District Attorney's race and one for the Board of County Commissioners. You can view the recordings of the debates on our YouTube Channel. On October 6, LWVJoCo is also co-hosting a forum featuring candidates running for the Kansas House from Wyandotte County.


✅  Thank you to Jan Brunk for stepping up to oversee our efforts to help the Johnson County Election Office process thousands of mail-in ballot applications. And kudos also go to Rebecca James and Marsha Ratzel for agreeing to lead our Great Decisions group in 2021. It’s volunteers like these that make our League strong!


❇️  The League still needs several people to help lead the organization at the state level: treasurer, development/fundraising chair and nominating committee chair. Email Jacqueline Lightcap if you are interested in finding out more about these positions.

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Find out more about what the Kansas League is doing.
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