|Founded||February 14, 1920|
|Founder||Carrie Chapman Catt|
|Focus||Political action, civic engagement|
|Chris Carson (President)|
The League of Women Voters (LWV) is an American civic organization that was formed to help women take a larger role in public affairs after they won the right to vote. It was founded in 1920 to support the new women suffrage rights and was a merger of National Council of Women Voters, founded by Emma Smith DeVoe, and National American Woman Suffrage Association, led by Carrie Chapman Catt, approximately six months before the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution gave women the right to vote. 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, and one territory league in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The League of Women Voters is officially nonpartisan—it neither supports nor opposes candidates or parties. However, it does support 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.
In 1909, Emma Smith DeVoe proposed at the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) convention in Seattle that a separate organization be created to educate women on election processes and lobby for favorable legislation on women's issues. When her proposal was ignored, DeVoe founded the National Council of Women Voters in 1911. She recruited western suffragists and organizations to join the league.
Ten years later, prior to the 1919 Convention of the NAWSA (in St. Louis, Missouri), Carrie Chapman Catt began negotiating with DeVoe to merge her organization with a new league that would be the successor to the NAWSA. Catt was concerned that DeVoe's alignment with the more radical Alice Paul might discourage conservative women from joining the National Council of Women Voters and thus proposed formation of a new league. As fifteen states had already ratified the 19th Amendment, the women wanted to move forward with a plan to educate women on the voting process and shepherd their participation.
Though not all members of either organization were in favor of a merger, a motion was made at the 1919 NAWSA convention to merge the two organizations into a successor, the National League of Women Voters. The merger was officially completed on 6 January 1920, though for the first year the league operated as a committee of the NAWSA. The formal organization of the League was drafted at the 1920 Convention held in Chicago.
The LWV sponsored the United States presidential debates in 1976, 1980 and 1984. 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. LWV 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."
State and local leagues host candidate debates to provide candidates' positions at all levels of government.
In 2012, LWV created National Voter Registration Day, a day when volunteers work to register voters and increase participation.
The League sponsors voter's guides including Smart Voter and Voter's Edge, which was launched in collaboration with MapLight. The League, including state and local leagues, runs VOTE411.org, a website that allows voters to input their address and get candidate information tailored to their ballot.
The League has opposed voter ID laws and supported efforts at campaign finance reform in the United States. LWV opposed the decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The League supports increased regulation of political spending.
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, and through the mail.
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. LWV opposes the proposed Keystone Pipeline project.
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.
The League actively opposed welfare reform legislation proposed in the 104th Congress.
In May 2019, the League joined 400 other national, state, and local groups, in urging Congress to ensure passage of legislation that offers a path to citizenship to Dreamers and beneficiaries of temporary protected status and deferred enforced departure.
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.
A national board of directors consisting of four officers, eight elected directors, and not more than eight board-appointed directors, most of whom 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.
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.
- Inez Mee Boren, president of the Northern (California) Section
- Woodnut S. Burr, president of the Los Gatos Branch
- Becky Cain (194?–), former organization president
- Florence Fifer Bohrer, first female senator in the Illinois General Assembly. Served on the National League of Women Board and was the Illinois branch President.
- Frances St John Chappelle, State president of the Nevada League of Women Voters
- Minnie Fisher Cunningham (1882–1964), first executive secretary
- Naomi Deutsch, early member
- Nan B. Frank, very active in California League of Women Voters, president of the San Francisco Center of California League of Women Voters
- Edith Jordan Gardner, member of the Oakland Forum
- Betty Gilmore
- Harriet A. Haas (1874–19??)
- Fanny M. Irvin (1854–1949), drafted a resolution to Congress which was passed by the State Legislature, endorsing Woman's Suffrage, and lobbied for the passage of the Constitutional Amendment
- Jane Y. McCallum (1857–1977), women's suffrage and Prohibition activist and longest-serving Secretary of State of Texas
- Achsa E. Paxman (1885–1968), Utah State Legislature member, president of a State chapter
- Leonora Pujadas-McShine (1910–1995), women's rights activist, founder of Trinidad and Tobago chapter
- Edith Dolan Riley, chairman of the Spokane County Democratic Central Committee
- Zelia Peet Ruebhausen (1914–1990), United Nations observer appointed 1946, member of several federal policy committees
- Orfa Jean Shontz (1876–1954), early attorney
- Mary Jane Spurlin (1883–1970), first woman judge in Oregon
- Helen Norton Stevens, treasurer
- F. Josephine Stevenson, State Chairman of Uniform Laws of the National League of Women Voters (1920–21).
- Reah Whitehead, prepared the Drafts of Bills for and assisted in procuring passage of laws for Women's State Reformatory and Filiation Proceedings
- Wilhelmine Wissman Yoakum, treasurer of the California League of Women Voters
- Valeria Brinton Young
- Juanita Jones Abernathy, member of the board of directors of the Atlanta Fulton County League of Women Voters
- "Federal judge rejects bid to block proof of citizenship for new voters in three states". WashingtonPost.com. June 29, 2016. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
- "IRS Form 990 2014" (PDF). GuideStar. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
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- DeAngelis, Therese (2014). Women's Rights on the Frontier. Broomall, Pennsylvania: Mason Crest. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-4222-9352-2.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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- Ross-Nazzal, Jennifer M. (2011). Winning the West for Women: The Life of Suffragist Emma Smith DeVoe. Seattle, Washington: University of Washington Press. pp. 163–165. ISBN 978-0-295-99086-6.
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- Montopoli, Brian (October 15, 2012). "Do the debates unfairly shut out third parties?". CBS News. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
- "Everything you need to know about presidential debate history". The Week. October 14, 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
- Shepard, Scott (October 3, 1988). "League of Women Voters Pulls Out of Presidential Debate". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
- 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.
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- Bouie, Jamelle (September 23, 2014). "Nothing to See Here". Slate. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
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- "Letter: Check Vote411.org before going to the polls". Journal & Courier. Retrieved 2018-07-06.
- Zeiss Strange, Mary; Oyster, Carol; Sloan, Jane (2011). Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World, Volume 1. SAGE Publications. p. 833. ISBN 9781412976855.
- Brucato, Cyndy (February 16, 2012). "Republicans, League of Women Voters go at it over Voter ID". MinnPost. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
- Lefler, Dion (July 17, 2012). "Voters group seeks city resolution against Citizens United decision". Wichita Eagle. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
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- Wilson, Megan (February 11, 2015). "FEC deadlocked on 'dark money'". The Hill. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- Ford, Lynne (2009). Encyclopedia of Women and American Politics. Infobase Publishing. p. 280. ISBN 9781438110325.
- "Representative Government – Voting Rights Archived 2018-03-18 at the Wayback Machine". Impact on Issues 2016-2018 – Online Edition. League of Women Voters. League Management Site (member resources). forum.lmv.org. Retrieved 2018-03-18. "In May 1993, the years of concerted effort by the League and other organizations paid off when both houses passed and the President signed the National Voter Registration Act.... The 'motor-voter' bill enabled citizens to apply to register at motor vehicle agencies automatically, as well as by mail and at public and private agencies that service the public."
- Curry, Tom (August 19, 2004). "Why 'reform' equals more campaign spending". NBC News. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
- Malbin, Michael (2003). Life After Reform: When the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act Meets Politics. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 29. ISBN 9780742528338.
- "Environmental Protection and Pollution Control". League of Women Voters. Archived from the original on September 14, 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
- Huse, Carl (May 25, 2011). "Voter Group Flexes Muscle in Ads Aimed at Senators". New York Times. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
- Savage, Melanie (October 20, 2014). "League of Women Voters holds discussion on climate change". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
- Gerhardt, Tina (9 January 2013). "70 Groups Send Pres. Obama Letter Urging Action on Climate Change". The Progressive.
- Dickson, Amelia (March 6, 2013). "Bill to abolish death penalty gets hearing". Seattle Times. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
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- "Health Care". League of Women Voters. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
- 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.
- "Meeting Basic Human Needs". League of Women Voters. Archived from the original on January 12, 2013. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
- Dunkelberger, Lloyd (August 6, 2014). "League's influence felt as special session begins". Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- 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.
- "League Urges Congress Pass Permanent Protections for Dreamers". League of Women Voters. League of Women Voters. May 2019. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- "Gun Control". League of Women Voters. Archived from the original on 5 May 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
- "Bylaws and Certificate of Incorporation". May 3, 1946. Archived from the original on May 23, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
- Binheim, Max; Elvin, Charles A. (1928). Women of the West: A Series of Biographical Sketches of Living Eminent Women in the Eleven Western States of the United States of America. Los Angeles: Publishers Press. Retrieved August 6, 2017. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- "But One Woman Seeks Election to Legislature - 29 Aug 1926, Sun • Page 18". Oakland Tribune: 18. 1926. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
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- Brereton, Bridget (4 January 2012). "Lenora: activist for women in politics". Port of Spain, Trinidad: Trinidad Express Newspapers. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
- "Edith Dolan Riley papers, 1876-1965". Retrieved 3 October 2017.
- "League Studies Recession" Pittsburgh Press (March 27, 1958): 24. via Newspapers.com
- 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.; Jacqueline L. Castledine (eds.). Breaking the Wave: Women, Their Organizations, and Feminism, 1945-1985. Routledge. pp. 155–72. ISBN 978-0-415-87400-7.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to League of Women Voters.|
- Official website
- League of Women Voters Collection (MUM00261) owned by the University of Mississippi, Archives and Special Collections
- FBI file on the League of Women Voters
- Woman's Suffrage Association and League of Women Voters Collection (MS-004), a manuscripts collection at Dayton Metro Library
- LWV Collection at George Mason University
- Margaret Levi Papers. 1965-1985. 3.17 cubic feet (4 boxes). Contains material collected by Levi on the League of Women Voters from 1967-1968.
- Katharine Bullitt Papers. 1950-1991. 68 cubic feet (68 boxes).
- Civil Unity Committee Records. 1938-1965. 24.76 cubic feet (58 boxes). Contains correspondence related to the League of Women Voters.
- A Guide to the League of Women Voters of the San Antonio Area Records, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries (UTSA Libraries) Special Collections.
- League of Women Voters of Walla Walla County records at the Whitman College and Northwest Archives, Whitman College.