President of League of Women Voters of Michigan has strong ties to Crawford County
Tue, 10/01/2019 - 12:42pm caleb
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
As elections continue to become a year-round topic in the headlines, the leader of a trailblazing organization founded to promote voter advocacy and education calls Crawford County home.
Christina Schlitt of Frederic is president of the League of Woman Voters of Michigan. She was elected to the position for a two-year term in July.
Born and raised in Detroit, Schlitt said she was drawn to the organization by voter guides published by League of Women Voters of Detroit to educate voters about the candidates and ballot proposals.
“Especially as a young woman and not being as familiar with the organizations that lead us that we vote for, I would use the voter guide to review the questions and answers from the candidates and then make my decision based on that or continue to look at whatever else we had available,” she said.
Schlitt became active in the organization in 2000.
“It was on my bucket list, so at the turn of the century, I said now is my time,” she said. “I respected their non-political, non-partisan views on candidates.”
Schlitt started with the Grosse Pointe League as a voter service director and worked her way to be president of the League.
Schlitt and her husband, Bruce, bought property on the Manistee River in Frederic 45 years ago. They built a cabin on the property 15 years ago.
After Bruce retired from working as a truck driver hauling cars and Christine retired from serving as the finance and administrative director for the Agency for the Blind, the couple opted to move to Frederic. They said the work to maintain two homes was not retirement.
“We loved the beauty of the area and the peace and the serenity on the river,” she said.
Schlitt joined the Grand Traverse League of Women of Voters and the fledging unit in Crawford County.
To be selected as president, a nominating committee is formed, which is independent of the board and the president. Judy Karandjeff of Lansing decided she did not want to maintain her position on the League of Women Voters of Michigan after serving two consecutive two-year terms.
Statewide, there are 26 Leagues and almost 2,500 members.
The League of Woman Voters of Michigan was founded in 1918 when women were given the right to vote. That was before the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, when women gained the right to vote and the national League of Women Voters was established.
“Michigan has been a leader in that respect,” Schlitt said.
The League is open to all citizens, and men started joining the organization in the 1970s.
As president, Schlitt is required to go to League headquarters in Lansing a number of times per month for meetings and to address other issues.
The two missions for the League are advocacy and education.
Members provide education through candidate forums and voter guides. They advocate for citizens by getting them registered to vote.
“We are non-partisan. We do not now or ever support or oppose candidates or political parties,” Schlitt said.
“That’s huge. We bring the integrity of that and that’s what people come to us for is information.”
The League will only take a position on a ballot issues after several months of studies.
“That is all done by grassroots,” Schlitt said.
Currently, the League of Women Voters in Michigan is working to educate citizens on Proposal 2, which establishes an Independent Redistricting Commission rather that leaving the right to form federal and state district in the hands of politicians. It is also promoting Proposal 3, which guarantees Voting Policies in the State Constitution. Both ballot proposals were overwhelmingly supported by voters at the November 6, 2018 general elections polls.
The League will also host town hall meetings this fall and in the winter to promote the taking part in the 2020 Census.
Schlitt said it’s important for rural areas such as Crawford County.
“It behooves this county to have everyone counted because that directly effects federal funding to the county,” she said.