Over the holidays I was thinking about what the LWV contributes to our town, our state and our nation. Who are we? Is what we do relevant as we near our 100th anniversary (2020) as an organization? I must admit I have a strong bias. My mother was an active League member in Connecticut in the early 1940’s, and when my family moved to Alabama in the late 1940’s, she helped start a LWV in Montgomery. She took me to meetings where the discussion was often about how to get rid of the poll tax and literacy tests, and find ways to encourage voting rights for African Americans in the South. I even went to some demonstrations with her. I watched my mother and her League cohorts try to change their community. Then when I was married and had kids in my 20s, I joined the LWV in Florida where we lived because I was becoming deeply concerned about Florida’s land use policies, the draining of Floridan Aquifer and the negative effect the many man-made canals had on the ecosystem and especially the Everglades. The LWV of Florida was actively working on these issues. So the LWV has been an important part of my personal history. In fact, when I was a little girl in Montgomery, I called the LWV “The Leaky Women Boaters”. That was what I actually thought the name was when I was 5 or 6 years old!
What is the LWV’s relevance today? We are one of the most active organizations in the country in the area of voting rights, voter education and voters service. We have a vast array of positions on many issues at the local, state and national levels. And one thing that makes us unique is that we are nonpartisan and we neither support nor oppose political candidates or parties. We protect that stance because it gives us credibility. We must be vigilant to make sure that our citizens can vote and have enough information to make good choices about those whom we elect. The LWV must keep working at one of our original goals of informing and educating the electorate. It isn’t enough to cast a vote. A voter needs to understand what and whom they are voting for! That is where the LWV is indispensable.