by Karen Hendershot
On September 18, 2018 the League of Women Voters of Burlington County (LWVBurlCo) supported a special naturalization ceremony held by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at Rowan College Burlington County (RCBC). As part of USCIS' annual celebration of Constitution Week and Citizenship Day, marked on September 17, 100 people from 45 countries were sworn in as United States citizens.
The new citizens were welcomed and congratulated by a number of speakers, including Dr. Michael A. Cioce, President, RCBC; Kate Gibbs, Director, Burlington County Freeholder; and Ya-Mei Chen, Director, Mount Laurel USCIS Field Office. Dr. Karen Hendershot, President of LWVBurlCo, made congratulatory remarks to the audience. She urged the new citizens to "...consider taking a big and important step towards empowering your voice in our democratic process. Register to vote today!"
Immediately after the ceremony a team of 30 LWVBurlCo volunteers, led by Voter Service Chairperson Susan Illion, registered new citizens to vote. This initiative is part of a collaboration, which began in January 2017, between USCIS and the LWVBurlCo (and supported in part by the League of Women Voters Education Fund) to register new US citizens to vote at weekday ceremonies in the Mt. Laurel USCIS Field Office and at special ceremonies throughout the year. Through its New Citizens Voter Registration Initiative, the LWVBurlCo has registered more than 4000 new citizens to vote since April 2017, and currently has a corps of nearly 60 volunteers.
On April 4, 2018, the League of Women Voters of Burlington County held a volunteer recognition ceremony and reception to celebrate the first anniversary of its New Citizen Voter Registration Initiative in cooperation with the Regional Office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service in Mt. Laurel, NJ. Since April 2017 nearly 2400 new citizens have been registered to vote through this project.
An audience 50 people, including League members, volunteers and special guests were inspired by LWVNJ President, Nancy Hedinger, and Keynote Speaker, Attorney Shereen Chen. Volunteers were presented with certificates of recognition, and, to close the evening, everyone enjoyed refreshments and conversation,
This initiative is supported by the League of Women Voters of Burlington County and (in part) by the League of Women Voters Education Fund.
Karen Hendershot, LWVBC Vice President
On April 27th, the League of Women Voters Burlington County will host its seventh Running and Winning program. Not sure what Running and Winning is? You can read about our sixth program below, written by the Running and Winning chair, Marcy Rosner.
On March 8, 2017, we held our sixth Running and Winning program at Shawnee High
School in Medford. Forty-one young women from grades 9-12 participated in the event. We thank our co-sponsors, Alice Paul Institute, AAUW Medford Chapter, and The Links,
Rancocas Valley Chapter, for making it such a successful event.
Volunteer facilitators helped the girls at their table complete their leadership assessment
while they enjoyed a delicious breakfast. We began the program with a representative of each organization sharing their mission statement and opportunities for involvement. This segment allowed the girls to see that there are many ways to give service and help their community. State assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt gave an inspirational talk sharing her experiences and how her passion led to “Lampitt Laws”. Burlington county freeholder Mary Ann O’Brien then spoke about how she got into politics and her experiences as a woman in government. We were honored to have LWVNJ president Nancy Hedinger talk about the history of the league and why it is so important for woman to participate in government. Following, 11 elected female officials from Burlington County including 7 Municipal officials and 4 school board members, moved around to 3 tables each so the girls could interview them in an intimate format for 15 minutes a piece. Their evaluations showed that this was an inspiring segment.
Another event was the campaign exercise. Facilitators discussed the topic, which was
whether or not to increase the minimum wage. In their groups of 3-4 they were asked to
prepare a slate supporting their position. Half of the groups were told to choose the con side and half pro. Roles were chosen: candidate for state senator, her campaign manager, speechwriter, and public relations. The girls found the process very exciting and presented their posters and slate to the entire group after lunch. As always, it was very interesting to see the variety in the girl’s opinions as well as the creativity used to present their slate. Each girl was presented with a certificate at the end of the afternoon. We look forward to hosting this event again next spring at another high school in Burlington County.
by Karen Hendershot, Vice President
On February 7 our League held its Biennium Program meeting. For those new to the
League, "Program" is the education and advocacy platform adopted at the national
level to move the organization's mission forward, and is renewed every 2 years.
Results of our meeting are compiled, submitted to LWVUS, and used to modify old,
and create new, national agenda items. Though the League has policy positions on
scores of issues, not all are elevated to "Action" items.
This year the League asked us to continue to focus efforts around the "Campaign for
Making Democracy Work," and, in particular, on 1. Supporting Voting Rights, 2.
Improving Elections, 3. Campaign Finance/Money in Politics and 4. Redistricting.
After discussion, our members agreed to continue to support this platform and not to
recommend or suggest any additional items be added to the above agenda for 2018-
During the current 2016-2018 Biennium our League took action on a number of the
four platform items within the "Campaign for Making Democracy Work" through the
following initiatives: Provided Voter Services on a college campus and government
agency through National Voter Registration Day activities and the New Citizen Voter
Registration Initiative in collaboration with USCIS; engaged in public outreach by
providing programs on voter issues for the NAACP, AARP, RCBC, and by hosting
expert speakers on topics such as voter rights and voter suppression; encouraged
young women to become interested in the political process and running for public
office through the Running and Winning Program held on-site at high schools in
Burlington County; hosted or moderated scores of public Candidates' Forums; and
wrote letters to editors on topics related to voter issues.