2016 election

League: Voter Participation -- Not Just Registration -- Crucial

The McLean County League of Women Voters (LWV) Saturday offered voter registration at the Festival of India on the Illinois State University campus quad, as well as assisting with NAACP registration at Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church on Bloomington’s west side.

Registration will continue next Saturday this month at the church, and Sept. 27 is a communitywide volunteer Registration Day, co-sponsored by the League with Not In Our Town: Bloomington-Normal

“The more people we get out to vote, the better our leaders will be prepared to know what we want and what we expect out of them,” LWV’s Phyllis VerSteegh said during the Twin Cities Indian community's annual event. “If we do not to events like this, people will not be aware of what they need to do, how they need to register, where they need to go to vote, how they vote, etc.”

NAACP registration efforts launched earlier this month at Mt. Pisgah, with volunteers also canvassing the area around the church, according to LWV’s Katie Pratt largely to spur community voter awareness.

In addition, the League next month will sponsor mock elections at Bloomington Middle School and Normal Community High School, as well as registration efforts Oct. 4 at Normal’s Unity Community Center, 632 Orlando Avenue. LWV participated as well as the recent Heartland Community College Fall Fest, and VerSteegh noted a local elementary school teacher’s aide has requested voter material, arguing “it’s never too young to start getting people engaged in and aware of political activities.”

Pratt stressed Twin Cities university students can vote either absentee or locally. Voter info is available at the Illinois State Board of Elections website (www.elections.il.gov/), the McLean County Clerk’s office site (www.mcleancountyil.gov), through the ISU student portal, at my.illinoisstate.edu.

Early registration ends Oct. 11 – after that, individuals must register onsite at area election authorities.

“It isn’t enough to register – people have to get out to vote,” VerSteegh emphasized. “They can start voting early Sept. 29 (see above list of sites).”


NAACP Sponsors Saturday Voter Registrations

The NAACP is sponsoring Saturday September voter registration drives on Bloomington's west side, at 9 a.m. at Mt Pisgah Baptist Church, 801 West Market Street.

Individuals need not be a voter registrar to participate in registration.

In addition, visit the national NAACP "This Is My Vote" website, at http://www.thisismyvote.org/. According to the group, "2016 is the first presidential election in over 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. It’s time to mobilize, act and fight for democracy!"

NIOTBN Trumpets Message at B/N Trump Rally

Today's appearance of a controversial presidential candidate in the Twin Cities afforded Not In Our Town: Bloomington/Normal the opportunity to amplify its message of inclusiveness.

During Republican candidate Donald Trump's campaign rally at Central Illinois Regional Airport, several individuals and community organizations concerned about some of Trump's campaign comments. NIOTBN representatives gathered at the site according to Steering Committee Member Mike Matejka "not to challenge Donald Trump, but to affirm our values of a safe, inclusive community."

The group pledged "solidarity with all who struggle for justice and equality in a non-violent way and to affirm the value of all people in our community, regardless of their economic class, race, ability, gender or sexual orientation."

"I was so proud of Bloomington-Normal today with the Trump Rally," said NIOTBN charter member Marc Miller, who participated in the group's presentation. "It was peaceful throughout. Those of us who turned out for Not In Our Town stood diligently and testified with our silence and our present for our non-partisan message of stopping hate, addressing bullying, and creating a safe community for all."

The Pantagraph, WMBD-TV, and the international Reuters wire service interviewed NIOTBN representatives at the rally site. NIOTBN's post regarding the rally and community response by late afternoon had been viewed by 3,500 people, garnering 142 likes and 20 shares.

The Twin Cities rally followed Trump's cancellation of a planned rally in Chicago in the wake of major protests by a variety of groups.

"Today’s rally has concluded and the crowd is clearing peacefully. No significant issues were reported, and no arrests have been made," the Bloomington Police Department said in a Sunday statement. "Thank you to all the law enforcement agencies in attendance for their hard work and dedication protecting public safety and free speech."