The League of Women Voters (LWV) was on founded on February 14, 1920 in Chicago, Illinois. Born of the women’s 90-year long suffrage movement, the League was organized when it became apparent that the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing voting rights to women citizens, would finally be ratified.
“In the League of Women Voters we have an anomaly, we are going to be a semi-political party. We want political things; we want legislation. We are going to educate for citizenship. In that body, we have got to be nonpartisan and all partisan. Democrats from Alabama and Republicans from New Hampshire must work for the same things.”
Carrie Chapman Catt
Spoken at the League’s founding in Chicago, 1920
The choice made in 1920 to neither support nor oppose any political party or candidate for the public office continues today to ensure that the League’s voice is heard above the turmoil of party politics thru its stated mission:
To encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government and to influence public policy through education and advocacy.
This nonpartisan policy has added strength to the League’s position on issues. It has made possible wide acceptance of the League’s voter services and other education activities.
At the same time, the League is a political organization and encourages members to fully participate in the party of their choice. It is important for the public to realize that at the national level, LWV consists of two entities for tax purposes:
- LWV Education Fund (a non-profit 501 (c)(3)), which accepts tax-deductible donations and uses the funds for voters service at the national level
- LWVUS (a non-profit 501 (c)(4)), which accepts non-tax-deductible donations and uses the funds to support membership and advocacy
Advocacy at the national level includes lobbying congress for positions the League has chosen to take after thorough study of pros and cons, discussion of the study, and consensus of the members. For more information, see Education and Advocacy and League Positions.
In Colorado, the League of Women Voters (LWVCO) was organized in 1928. Throughout its history, members have researched, studied, discussed, and reached consensus on many controversial issues. The League in Colorado has had an impact in many areas of government. Some of our notable achievements include:
- Merit Selection of Judges (Constitutional Amendment 1966)
- Independent Reapportionment Commission (Constitutional Amendment 1974)
- “Motor Voter” Voter Registration at Motor Vehicle Sites (Statutory Amendment 1984)
- “GAVEL” – “Give A Vote to Every Legislator” – Legislative Reform (Constitutional Amendment 1988)
- Support for Referendum C, – Five-Year Timeout from TABOR (Statutory Amendment 2005)
In Chaffee County, almost all of our activities can be considered Education Fund activities, as opposed to advocacy. We serve our voters primarily by holding forums for fall and spring elections.
Candidate forums enable those who seek election to present their views and qualifications. Issue forums enable citizens to present the pros and cons of ballot issues. Local voters appreciate these opportunities to hear the forums in person or watch them on DVD and local television.
The League never endorses a candidate or political party. We do take a position on most ballot issues at the state level. We also study and perhaps take a position on local issues. To this end, we invite authorities to speak at our public meetings on topics such as immigration, affordable health care, sustainable living, and land use planning.
In 2010 and 2011 we focused on geothermal resource development in the county. In 2011 we are participating in the LWVUS national study on the Federal Role in Public Education. We submitted our consensus to LWVUS in November.
In addition, we present the Making Democracy Work Award biennially to an active citizen in the county, and we sponsor foreign policy discussions (“Great Decisions”) based on materials provided by the Foreign Policy Association.
We meet regularly on the second Monday of every month, including an April dinner, a walk in the July 4th parade(s) and an August picnic. To raise funds for our programs, we sell poinsettias in December and geraniums in May.
LWVCC offers you many opportunities to participate in these grass roots activities. Consider joining us! We’re not for women only; we welcome everyone of voting age. Join
History. About 1975, Marjie Gray from Buena Vista and Beth Smith from Salida organized a group of Members-at-Large (MAL) from registered League of Women Voters members in the area. When Beth moved away, Marjie carried on the duties without her. Beth continued to participate in LWV through the leagues of the Boulder, Durango, and Fort Collins.
In 2001, the group received official recognition as the Upper Arkansas League of Women Voters MAL Unit. In 2003, members of the board (President Marjie Gray, Secretary Jan Scar, and Membership VP Lynn Young) petitioned to have the MAL unit receive full local league status “with all of the privileges and responsibilities this entails.”
At that time, the MAL jurisdiction included Buena Vista, Coaldale, Cotopaxi, Fairplay, Granite, Howard, Leadville, Monarch, Nathrop, Poncha Springs, Salida, and Villa Grove.
In a letter dated April 15, 2003, Gerry Cummins, president of the League of Women Voters of Colorado, acknowledged the MAL’s achievement in completing all the requirements to become a local league: The League of Women Voters of Upper Arkansas Valley. Full recognition was granted to the local league on April 23, 2003, by letter from Kay J. Maxwell, president of the League if Women Voters of the United States.
In April of 2005, the local board requested permission from the state league to have our chapter name changed to League of Women Voters of Chaffee County. Permission was granted on June 10, 2005 in a letter from Francine Harvey, Membership Coordinator for the League of Women Voters of the United State.
The League justified the name change by saying it was a more accurate identification of our membership and geography. In addition, the national membership coordinator hoped the new name would “increase… voter service activities…[and] help emphasize countywide issues and membership recruitment.”