League of Women Voters

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League of Women Voters of the United States
LWV Logo.svg
Founded February 14, 1920
Founder Carrie Chapman Catt
Type Political advocacy
Focus Political action, civic engagement
Location
Key people
Elisabeth MacNamara (President)[1]
Revenue
$4,647,062 (2014)[2]
Slogan "Making Democracy Work"
Website www.lwv.org

The League of Women Voters (LWV) is an American civic organization that was formed to help women take a larger role in public affairs as they won the right to vote. It was founded in 1920 by Carrie Chapman Catt during the last meeting of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, approximately six months before the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution gave women the right to vote.[3] The League of Women Voters began as a "mighty political experiment" aimed to help newly enfranchised women exercise their responsibilities as voters. Originally, only women could join the league; but in 1973 the charter was modified to include men. LWV operates at the local, state, and national level, with over 1,000 local and 50 state leagues.[4]

The League of Women Voters is officially nonpartisan, though it supports a variety of progressive public policy positions, including campaign finance reform, universal health care, abortion rights, climate change action and environmental regulation, and gun control.[4][5]

Activities[edit]

The League sponsored the United States presidential election debates in 1976, 1980 and 1984.[6][7] On October 2, 1988, the LWV's 14 trustees voted unanimously to pull out of the debates, and on October 3 they issued a press release condemning the demands of the major candidates' campaigns. LWC President Nancy Neuman said that the debate format would "perpetrate a fraud on the American voter" and that the organization did not intend to "become an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public."[8][9]

In 2012, LWV created National Voter Registration Day, a day when volunteers work to register voters and increase participation.[10]

The League sponsors voter’s guides including Smart Voter and Voter's Edge, which was launched in collaboration with MapLight.[11]

Policy views[edit]

League of Women Voters members in front of the White House, 1924

The League lobbied for the establishment of the United Nations, and later became one of the first groups to receive status as a nongovernmental organization with the U.N.[12]

The League has opposed voter ID laws and supported efforts at campaign finance reform in the United States.[13] LWV opposed the decision in Citizens United v. FEC.[14][15] The League supports increased regulation of political spending.[1]

The League pushed for adoption of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which requires states to offer voter registration at all driver's license agencies, at social service agencies including those providing public assistance agencies, and through the mail.[16]

The League endorsed passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which banned soft money in federal elections and made other reforms in campaign finance laws.[17][18]

LWV supports the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Kyoto Protocol.[19][20] LWV opposes the proposed Keystone Pipeline project.[21]

In January 2013, the League of Women Voters in Hawaii urged President Obama to take action on climate change under his existing authority, the Clean Air Act of 1990, which the League supported.[22]

The League supports the abolition of the death penalty.[23]

LWV supports universal health care and endorses both Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act.[24][25][26]

The League supports a general income tax increase to finance national health care reform for the inclusion of reproductive health care, including abortion, in any health benefits package. The League supports abortion rights and strongly opposed the passage of the Partial-Birth Abortion Act.[27][28][29]

The League actively opposed welfare reform legislation proposed in the 104th Congress.[30]

The League opposes school vouchers.[31] In 1999, LWV challenged a Florida law that allowed students who were attending failing public schools to use school vouchers to attend other schools.[32]

The League supports a system for illegal immigrants already in the United States to earn full citizenship. It lobbied for passage of the DREAM Act.[33]

The League advocates gun control policies including regulating firearms and supporting licensing procedures for gun ownership by private citizens to include a waiting period for background checks, personal identity verification, gun safety education and annual license renewal.[34]

Governance[edit]

A national board of directors consisting of four officers, eight elected directors, and not more than eight board appointed directors, most of who reside in the Metro Washington D.C. area, govern the League subject to the Bylaws of the League of Women Voters of the United States. The national board is elected at the national convention and sets position policy.[35]

Local Leagues and State Leagues are organized in order to promote the purposes of the League and to take action on local and state governmental matters. These Leagues (chapters) have their own directors and officers. The national board may withdraw recognition from any state or local League for failure to fulfill recognition requirements.[35]

Controversies[edit]

In May 2011, the League televised advertisements showing a young girl wearing a face mask with a voice-over saying “when Scott Brown voted to eliminate clean air standards…just imagine what it could have done to her.”[36] The decision to sponsor these ads was made by the executive committee of the national League. By poll, the entire national board approved the decision as did the state presidents of Massachusetts and Missouri, where a similar ad targeted the vote of Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill.[37]

On May 11, 2011 FactCheck rated the League's ads as deceptive, writing: "We find the League of Women Voters' ads to be deceptive primarily because they lead viewers to think Sens. Brown and McCaskill voted to ease restrictions on the kinds of 'emissions' that everybody agrees are health-threatening pollutants. That's not what the senators did."[38]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wilson, Megan (February 11, 2015). "FEC deadlocked on 'dark money'". The Hill. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "IRS Form 990 2014" (PDF). GuideStar. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "Carrie Chapman Catt". History.com. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Carter, Gregg Lee (2002). Guns in American Society: A-L. ABC-CLIO. p. 352. ISBN 9781576072684. 
  5. ^ Sherman, Amy (December 3, 2012). "Broward GOP activists claim "we had the liberal League of Women Voters Guide removed from the Broward Supervisor of Election's website"". PolitiFact Florida (Tampa Bay Times). Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  6. ^ Montopoli, Brian (October 15, 2012). "Do the debates unfairly shut out third parties?". CBS News. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "Everything you need to know about presidential debate history". The Week. October 14, 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  8. ^ Shepard, Scott (October 3, 1988). "League of Women Voters Pulls Out of Presidential Debate". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Flock, Elizabeth (September 21, 2012). "In a First, Debates Give Presidential Candidates the Topics Ahead Of Time". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  10. ^ Bouie, Jamelle (September 23, 2014). "Nothing to See Here". Slate. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Peterson, Karla (October 17, 2014). "Where to get info on candidates, issues in Nov. 4 election". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  12. ^ Zeiss Strange, Mary; Oyster, Carol; Sloan, Jane (2011). Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World, Volume 1. SAGE Publications. p. 833. ISBN 9781412976855. 
  13. ^ Brucato, Cyndy (February 16, 2012). "Republicans, League of Women Voters go at it over Voter ID". MinnPost. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  14. ^ Lefler, Dion (July 17, 2012). "Voters group seeks city resolution against Citizens United decision". Wichita Eagle. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  15. ^ MacNamara, Elisabeth (December 29, 2014). "How the League Was Busy Making Democracy Work in 2014". Huffington Post. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  16. ^ Ford, Lynne (2009). Encyclopedia of Women and American Politics. Infobase Publishing. p. 280. ISBN 9781438110325. 
  17. ^ Curry, Tom (August 19, 2004). "Why 'reform' equals more campaign spending". NBC News. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  18. ^ Malbin, Michael (2003). Life After Reform: When the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act Meets Politics. Rowan & Littlefield. p. 29. ISBN 9780742528338. 
  19. ^ "Environmental Protection and Pollution Control". League of Women Voters. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  20. ^ Huse, Carl (May 25, 2011). "Voter Group Flexes Muscle in Ads Aimed at Senators". New York Times. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  21. ^ Savage, Melanie (October 20, 2014). "League of Women Voters holds discussion on climate change". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  22. ^ Gerhardt, Tina (9 January 2013). "70 Groups Send Pres. Obama Letter Urging Action on Climate Change". The Progressive. 
  23. ^ Dickson, Amelia (March 6, 2013). "Bill to abolish death penalty gets hearing". Seattle Times. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  24. ^ Redmond, Pat (April 6, 2015). "League of Women Voters support the expansion of Medicaid". Juneau Empire. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  25. ^ Burr, Carol (April 9, 2015). "A national necessity". Chico News Review. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  26. ^ Vanzi, Max (May 5, 1995). "Women Voters League Accused of Liberal Bias". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  27. ^ Moses, John (July 29, 2014). "Candidate boycotts League of Women Voters debate". Jackson Hole News & Guide. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  28. ^ "Health Care". League of Women Voters. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  29. ^ Hoover, Tim (March 15, 2010). "League of Women Voters comes under attack as Republicans call it ‘left of center’". Denver Post. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  30. ^ "Meeting Basic Human Needs". League of Women Voters. Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  31. ^ Dunkelberger, Lloyd (August 6, 2014). "League's influence felt as special session begins". Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  32. ^ Hachiya,, Robert; Shoop, Robert; Dunklee, Dennis (2014). The Principal's Quick-Reference Guide to School Law: Reducing Liability, Litigation, and Other Potential Legal Tangles. Corwin Press. p. 47. ISBN 9781483333342. 
  33. ^ "Immigration". League of Women Voters. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  34. ^ "Gun Control". League of Women Voters. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  35. ^ a b "Bylaws and Certificate of Incorporation". May 3, 1946. Retrieved February 8, 2012. 
  36. ^ Trygstad, Kyle (April 29, 2011). "League of Women Voters Hits Brown, McCaskill on Clean Air Votes". Roll Call. Retrieved 4 May 2015. 
  37. ^ Judy Thomas (May 20, 2011). "Cape League opposes partisan ads". Cape Cod Times. Retrieved February 14, 2012. 
  38. ^ "Deceitful Attacks from the League of Women Voters". FactCheck.org. May 11, 2011. Retrieved February 14, 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Handbook for Members. Boston: League of Women Voters of Massachusetts. 
  • Impact On Issues: 2004 - 2006. Washington,D.C.: League of Women Voters of the United States. ISBN 0-89959-446-8. 
  • Lee, Percy Maxim; Young, Louise Merwin; Young, Ralph B. (1989). In the public interest: the League of Women Voters, 1920-1970. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-25302-1. 
  • Stevens, Jennifer A (2010). "Chapter 9 Feminizing Portland, Oregon: A History of the League of Women Voters in the Postwar Era,. 1950-1975". In Laughlin, Kathleen A., and Jacqueline L. Castledine. Breaking the Wave: Women, Their Organizations, and Feminism, 1945-1985. Routledge. pp. 155–72. ISBN 0-415-87400-9. 

External links[edit]

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