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Civics Conversations

The League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County would like to thank WFHB Community Radio for broadcasting these podcasts. In addition to the audio files below, you can access all of these broadcasts at The WFHB news director is Kade Young. The current producer for the podcasts is Becky Hill (, LWV-BMC. There are links to categorized podcasts below followed by the podcasts presented in reverse chronological order. This is the podcasts archive. For current podcasts, go to

Gerrymandering, Voter Suppression 

Redistricting and Civic Engagement, Simone Smith and Shari Frank, 10/8/21, 10 min. Link 

Recent Redistricting Developments, Julia Vaughn and Sonia Leerkamp, 8/24/21, 16 min. Link 
2020 Election Review, Julia Vaughn, 12/2/20, 15 min. 

Gerrymandering, George Hegeman, 9/18/20, 11 min. Link 

Conversation about Redistricting, Elaine Gaul, Chaz Mottinger, Vicki Polansky, and Jim Allison,  4/11/19, 20 min. Link 

Gerry’s Regret, a play by Jim Allison, acted by Becky Stapf and Betty Greenwell, 2/27/19, 19 min. Link 


Voting, Elections, Democracy

Election Security and Surrounding Disinformation, Abby Stemler and Scott Shackelford, 12/14/21, 21 min. Link
Democracy: An Ongoing Process, Lee Hamilton, 11/16/21, 21 min. 
Disinformation, Betsy Grabe, 1/19/21, 16 min. Link
Supreme Court, Sheila Kennedy, 12/31/20, 19 min. Link
Election Process, Karen Wheeler, 10/14/20, 10 min. 
Big Ten Voting Challenge, Josephine McCormick, 8/20/20, 10 min. Link


Community Voices for Health, Liz Grenat and Terry Amsler, 2/15/22, 19 min. Link  

Indiana Coalition for Public Education, Keri Miksva, 9/10/21, 13 min.  Link

Environment, Climate Change

Indiana Climate Change Assessment, Melissa Widhalm, 6/15/21, 15 min. Link 
Diving into Lake Monroe, Dave Simcox, 3/5/19, 14 min. 


Gun Safety

Moms Demand Action Advocates for Gun Safety Measures, Jennifer Haan, 7/13/21, 15 min. Link 


Race, Ethnicity, and Gender  

Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland, James Madison, 5/12/21, 13 min. Link

Tribalism, Marjorie Hershey, 4/13/21, 13 min. Link
Women in Politics, Nicole Browne, 3/18/21, 10 min. 

Gender Equality, Susan Williams, 2/22/21, 14 min. Link

Community Voices for Health

Guests: Liz Grenat and Terry Amsler, Community Voices for Health 

Host: Jim Allison, LWV-BMC

February 15, 2022


In this podcast, Jim Allison talked to Liz Grenat and Terry Amsler. Liz is the Executive Director of the Community Justice and Mediation Center and Project Lead for Community Voices for Health. Terry Amsler is the Program Director Emeritus of the Institute for Local Government’s Public Engagement Program and adjunct professor at IU's O'Neill School. Both Liz and Terry serve on the steering committee with the Community Voices for Health, a three-year grant-funded project that addresses the inequities in community decision-making about issues that affect health. The project is funded by the Robert Wood Foundation, and Bloomington was one of six sites selected. In the podcast, Liz and Terry talk about how Community Voices for Health has been progressing in our community by gathering feedback from a diverse selection of people and where that information will be used in the future.  

Election Security and the Surrounding Disinformation

Guests: Professors Abbey Stemler and Scott Shackelford, IU Kelly School of Business, Business Law, and Ethics 

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

December 14, 2021


Election security has been on everyone's mind since the 2020 election. In fact, according to Professor Abbey Stemler, two-thirds of Republicans believe that it was not a fair election. In this podcast on election security, Professors Stemler and Shackelford discuss the actions that we need to take to fight disinformation in our electoral politics and the impact it is having on our confidence in our election systems. Professor Shackelford talks about the actions that Monroe County has taken to secure votes via paper ballots, and he advocates adding risk-limiting audits to further secure the vote.  

Democracy: An Ongoing Process

Guest: Congressman Lee Hamilton, U.S. House of Representatives 1965-1999 

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

November 16, 2021


Congressman Lee Hamilton served in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Indiana from 1965 through 1999. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. He is the founder of the Center on Representative Government at Indiana University-Bloomington and served as its director until 2015. In this podcast, Congressman Hamilton reaffirms his faith in our American democracy, saying that we must protect the right to vote while also keeping a fundamental sense of optimism. "Democracy is an ongoing process," he says. "We have the right formula and just need to make it work."  

Redistricting and Civic Engagement: A High School Student's View

Guests: Simone Smith, high school junior, Brown County; Shari Frank, president, LWV Brown County 

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

October 8, 2021


In this podcast, we talk with Simone Smith, the winning contestant in the essay contest on redistricting sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Brown County, with an introduction by Shari Frank, president of LWV-BC. Simone won the contest for the Grade 9-12 category. Click here to read her essay. Essays were judged anonymously by members of the Brown County Retired Teachers Association. The contest was developed in conjunction with the 7/8 grade "We the People" teacher and a high school AP history teacher, who just won History Teacher of the Year in Indiana and is going on to national competition. 

Indiana Coalition for Public Education

Guest: Keri Miksza, chair, Indiana Coalition for Public Education 

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

September 10, 2021


Joining us in our September 2021 podcast on public education is Keri Miksza, chair of the Bloomington chapter of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education. In our podcast, Keri and our host, Jim Allison, discuss why public schools and their school boards are so stressed in today's divisive climate. She talks about the issue of teacher pay and teachers leaving the profession as well as the state of charter schools and public education funding. Keri has two children in Monroe County Community Schools and has been involved with ICPE since 2014.

Recent Redistricting Developments

Guest: Julia Vaughn, Common Cause, and Sonia Leerkamp, Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission 

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

August 24, 2021


Redistricting is much in the news these days with U.S. census data being recently released. In this Civics Conversation, we talk to Julia Vaughn of Common Cause and Sonia Leerkamp of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission. They discuss developments with public hearings, legislative forums on redistricting, map drawing projects, and the recent study released by Women 4 Change that shows Indiana as one of the most gerrymandered states in the nation.  

Moms Demand Action: Advocates for Gun Safety Measures

Guest: Jennifer Haan, Lead Volunteer, Indiana Chapter of Moms Demand Action

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

July 13, 2021


Our guest for this podcast is Jennifer Haan of the Indiana Chapter of Moms Demand Action. Jennifer is their lead volunteer for Indiana. Moms Demand Action is a nonpartisan movement of Americans demanding reasonable solutions to address our nation's gun culture. It was founded by Shannon Watts after the Sandy Hooks Elementary School shooting that killed 26 people including 20 elementary school children. Since its founding in 2012, the national group has signed up over 6 million volunteers to encourage state and national governments to enact reasonable gun safety measures. In the podcast, we cover the advocacy undertaken by Moms Demand Action in areas like permitless carry and the red flag laws, and what governments can do to reduce the amount of gun violence.   

Indiana Climate Change Assessment

Guest: Melissa Widhalm, Operations Manager at the Purdue University Climate Change Research Center

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

June 15, 2021


In this podcast, Melissa Widhalm, Operations Manager at the Purdue University Climate Change Research Center, talks about the Indiana Climate Change Assessment Report and what Indiana can expect in terms of impact on agriculture, our cities, and water resources. In the podcast, Melissa shares a recent invention by Purdue engineers of ultra-white paint that reflects 98% sunlight and can be painted on building tops. This ultra-white paint helps reduce the "urban heat island" effect. She also indicated that Indiana can expect an approximately 15% reduction in corn yields due to climate change. Melissa is a frequent speaker on behalf of the Center, often speaking to groups around the state about these issues.  

Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland

Guest: James Madison, Professor Emeritus of History, Indiana University

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

May 12, 2021


James Madison, author of The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland, talks about his new book. Madison is the Thomas and Kathryn Miller Professor Emeritus of History at Indiana University. An award-winning teacher, Jim is the author of several books, including Eli Lilly: A Life; Slinging Doughnuts for the Boys: An American Woman in World War II; Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana and a New History of Indiana; and A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in the Heartland.


Guest: Marjorie Hershey, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, Indiana University

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

April 13, 2021


Professor Marjorie Hershey describes the challenges of tribalism and identity politics and how both are affecting our democratic system. According to Professor Hershey, U.S. demographics have changed more in the last three decades than in the last century. Although the U.S. has always been a nation of immigrants, the speed of the recent demographics change poses a specific threat to those who have held power for many years.

Women in Politics

Guest: Nicole Browne, Monroe County Clerk

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

March 18, 2021


Nicole Brown talks about the experiences that led to her running for public office and what she believes should be the criteria for public office. She also talks about the challenges for women in politics and how women are increasingly overcoming them. She describes the potential advantages of voting centers and other voting issues.

Gender Equality

Guest: Susan Williams, Walter W. Foskett Professor of Law at the IU Mauer School of Law and Director for Center for Constitutional Democracy

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

February 22, 2021


What is gender equality? Professor Susan Williams gives Nancy Frasier's three-part criteria: redistribution of resources, respect, and representation in decision-making positions. According to Professor Williams, women are disadvantaged in all three, and she goes on to describe the current status of women by these criteria and the effects women are experiencing from COVID-19.


Guest: Betsi Grabe, Professor, IU Media School

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

January 19, 2021


According to Professor Grabe, disinformation is often used as an umbrella term for false information, but it has a distinction regarding intent. A false statement resulting from an honest mistake is actually categorized as misinformation. Disinformation involves constructing a lie and misleading the public. In addition, Grabe remarks that local news is undergoing a crisis, leading to the formation of “news deserts,” small communities with little to no news coverage. She goes on to stress the need for policy reform and education.

The Supreme Court

Guest: Sheila Kennedy, Professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

December 31, 2020


Sheila Kennedy is a professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI and former executive director of the Indiana chapter of ACLU. This conversation covers a variety of issues within the Supreme Court, including Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s interpretation of originalism. Kennedy calls for greater civics education in schools. She says, “we need to prepare students to live in a multicultural, democratic society.” Other topics include voter suppression, religious freedom, and marriage equality.

2020 Election Review

Guest: Julia Vaughn, Policy Director for Common Cause Indiana

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

December 2, 2020


In this conversation, Julia Vaughn, Policy Director for Common Cause Indiana, focuses on a review of the 2020 election, partisan redistricting, and the need for an independent commission to redraw legislative maps. According to Ms. Vaughn, the admittedly "wild ride" of this election has been characterized by amazing participation from voters juxtaposed with voter suppression. Gerrymandering played a significant role in that voter suppression, and much damage to our electoral system has resulted that will need to be repaired.

Election Process

Guest: Karen Wheeler, Election Supervisor, Monroe County

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

October 14, 2020


Voting security was a hot topic in the days leading up to the 2020 election. Karen Wheeler, Monroe County Election Supervisor, describes the county's efforts to not only ensure that every vote counts but also to comply with safety measures regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. She notes that by mid-October 2020, Election Central had sent out 13,000 requested mailing ballots compared to 1300 sent out for the 2018 election. According to Ms. Wheeler, Indiana is on top of voter security but they are always keeping their eye out for irregularities.


Guest: George Hegeman, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

September 18, 2020


The term "gerrymandering" was coined in the early 19th century after Elbridge Gerry's controversial attempt as governor to draw congressional districts in Massachusetts to the advantage of his party. And the practice has borne his name every since. George Hegeman traces some of the lineage of this political practice, which is both used and decried after each census, when political districts are redrawn. Mr. Hegeman also looks at redistricting from an Indiana perspective.

Big Ten Voting Challenge

Guest: Josephine McCormick, IU Political and Civic Engagement Program

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

August 20, 2020


Josephine McCormick, student ambassador for IU's PACE program and liaison for the Big Ten Voting Challenge, talks about engaging young people in the voting process. The midterm elections in 2018 showed young people voting in higher numbers than ever before, but still far below the potential. According to Ms. McCormick, there is still a disconnect between voter engagement and education of young people and actual voter turnout. Many young voters feel that their vote doesn't matter and part of the challenge of programs like the Big Ten Voting Challenge is to change that perception.

A Conversation about Redistricting

Guests: Elaine Gaul, Chaz Mottinger, Vicki Polansky; LWV-BMC

Host: Jim Allison, Civics Education Committee, LWV-BMC

April 11, 2019


Redistricting, left to state legislators, opens us to partisan “gerrymandering,” whereby the dominant party draws the new district maps to its political advantage by packing opposition voters into a few districts while spreading its own among more districts. That way the opposition scores big wins in its handful of districts, while the dominant party scores smaller wins in many more. This podcast conversation revolves around the problems of redistricting in Indiana.