1. The League of Women Voters is an outgrowth of the Suffrage Movement. First proposed in Congress in 1878, the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was passed in 1919 and ratified in 1920. Two generations of women fought, sacrificed and were imprisoned….to finally get the right to vote.
In 1920, the National American Woman Suffrage Association dissolved, and the League of Women Voters of the United States was formed.
2. It has existed continuously since 1920. The women who worked so hard to win the right to vote believed that women should be informed voters, so they created the League of Women Voters to ensure this.
3. It has been open to men since 1974. Almost half a century. Who knew? Just as it made no sense that women (roughly half of the nation) were not able to vote, it made no sense to limit an organization dedicated to preserving democracy to roughly half of the nation by excluding men.
Because of the clear recognition of the name “League of Women Voters,” the name was not changed when opened to men. The Bucks County Chapter of the LWV has 27 men — representing 13% of the total membership of 200. Like the Marines, the League is “looking for a few good men.”
4. It provides voter services and citizen education. The League helps citizens register to vote, provides speakers, sponsors forums and hosts educational events.
Before each election, the Bucks County League provides voters guides, both in print in the Herald and online at Vote411.org, so that voters can learn about the races on the ballot and the candidates running. Vote411 also provides other important election information including how to register to vote, where to vote, how to apply for a mail-in ballot and important election dates.
5. It never supports or opposes any candidate or party. Individual members, who come from all political persuasions, are encouraged to be politically active. The organization itself, however, operates in a strictly nonpartisan manner.
6. It studies and takes positions on issues. To better understand governmental issues at the local, state and national levels, the League undertakes in-depth study of issues at the grassroots level. State and national positions can be found at https://www.palwv.org/issues and https://www.lwv.org/impact-issues, respectively. It is important to understand that issues are not partisan; the League believes that one must understand the issues to be an informed voter.
7. It advocates for its positions. It monitors governmental bodies and tracks issues of importance to democracy and the well-being of the community. Advocacy includes lobbying, and sometimes filing amicus briefs.
8. It works well with others. The LWV partners with a variety of other organizations. These include Fair Districts PA, The Committee of Seventy, the AAUW, the NAACP, the YWCA and other organizations seeking good government.
9. It publishes a directory of elected officials for our community. The League’s Legislative Guide can be found at libraries, senior centers, legislators’ offices, and the League’s website (LWVBucks.org).
10. The League seeks to expand its impact. Its mission can be summarized in four words: “Empowering Voters; Defending Democracy.” This requires people power.
If you are interested in supporting this mission and you are at least 16 years of age, regardless of gender or political affiliation, become a member. Join online at www.LWVbucks.org.
When you join, you will simultaneously become a member at the local (Bucks County), state and national levels, and receive newsletters from each.
Cathy Morano is a member of the LWV of Bucks County, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to providing voter education and services and advocating for issues. It envisions a democracy where every person has the desire, the right, the knowledge and the confidence to participate.