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 voter’s 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, and consensus of the members. For more information, see Education and Advocacy.
In Colorado, the League of Women Voters (LWVCO) was organized in 1928 and provides ongoing support and leadership for local chapters. Throughout its history, members have researched, studied, discussed, and reached consensus on issues of statewide significance. The League in Colorado has had an impact in many areas of government. Some 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)
LWVCO now has over 1,600 members in 21 local leagues.
History: In 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 Karen Dils) 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 of 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 to more accurately reflect our membership, geography, and emphasis on countywide issues . 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.
In Chaffee County, the League of Women Voters has earned a reputation for providing reliable and timely information on important local issues to citizens of our community.
The League never endorses a candidate or political party. After study, discussion and consensus, we may take a position on state and local ballot issues. To this end, we invite authorities to speak at our public meetings on relevant topics such as immigration, affordable health care, sustainable living, and land use planning.
Key activities of the LWVCC:
Monthly Meetings are typically held from September through March on the second Monday of the month, alternating between Salida and Buena Vista. Speakers at our monthly meetings are often community experts on topics of local interest to our members. During the year we also invite our elected officials to share information on their work and accomplishments on behalf of our community.
Special Events often include a kickoff picnic in August, an annual dinner in April and participation in our local 4th of July parades.
Candidate forums enable those who seek election to state and local offices to present their views and qualifications to members of the community. To ensure non-biased presentations, we ask participants to abide by strict forum rules and our moderators are trained to guide appropriate discussions.
Candi-Dating is an alternative format to our traditional forums that allows candidates more opportunity to interact with voters in a small group setting. With participating community members seated at tables around the room, candidates move from table to table over the course of an evening much like “speed dating.” During their time at each table, candidates answer questions and discuss their positions with participants.
Issue forums enable citizens to present the pros and cons of ballot issues. Local voters appreciate these opportunities to hear the arguments on both sides of the issues and to ask questions to clarify their understanding before voting.
Drinks & Dialogue events offer an evening opportunity for community members to come together to discuss important, and sometimes controversial, issues over appetizers and beverages. After watching a film or hearing from a speaker, participants have the opportunity to discuss the topic in more depth and share perspectives with others in attendance.
LWVCC’s Making Democracy Work Award is awarded biennially to an active citizen in the county who has contributed to the betterment of our community.
Great Decisions brings interested citizens together on a monthly basis to discuss foreign policy based on topics and materials provided by the Foreign Policy Association.
LWVCC offers you many opportunities to participate in these grass roots activities. Consider joining us! We welcome everyone of voting age and we’re not for women only!
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