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The League of Women Voters is an Americanmarker political organization 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. It 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. The league is a grassroots organization with chapters in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The league has approximately 150,000 members (as of 2006).

The league is nonpartisan, refusing to endorse or oppose political candidates or parties at any level of government. The league does support or oppose many political issues after studying them and coming to a consensus on a position. The league works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and to influence public policy through education and advocacy, as well as through political lobbying of Congress.

The league is organized into two complementary halves: Voter service and citizen education; and program and action.

Program and action

The Program and Action portion of the league studies issues, develops consensus positions and lobbies for changes in law and public policy. Program and Action is divided into four broad categories: Representative Government, International Relations, Natural Resources, and Social Policy.

Representative government

The league supports "an open governmental system that is representative, accountable and responsive."

The league has worked to reduce barriers to voting, to implement campaign finance reform, and to prevent gerrymandering.The league is a strong supporter of transparency in government and in Open Meeting Law.In 2003, the league worked to incorporate key voter protection and civil rights provisions into Help America Vote Act (HAVA). In 2004, the league lobbied Congress in favor of the bi-partisan Security and Freedom Ensured Act (SAFE) which attempted to scale back some portions of the PATRIOT Act which impact on individual liberties.

International relations

The league believes that the United States should "promote peace in an interdependent world by working cooperatively with other nations and strengthening international organizations".

The league is a strong supporter of the United Nations. During the 1940s, the league launched a nationwide campaign to build public support for the United Nations. The league was one of the first non-government organizations affiliated with the UN.

The league supports a liberal U.S. trade policy aimed at reducing trade barriers and expanding international trade.

Natural resources

The league works to "promote an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest".

The league has worked to promote clean air, clean water and to manage solid waste in an environmentally sound way.

The league was a strong proponent of the Clean Air Act of 1990. The league continues to work for stronger Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution.

The league promoted the passage of the Clean Water Act of 1987.

The Hendersonville, NC branch of the league along with Lela McBride helped to compile the first environmental inventory of Hendersonmarker county leading to the creation of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, a non-profit land trust.

Social policy

The league works to "secure equal rights and equal opportunity for all, to promote social and economic justice, and to secure the health and safety of all Americans."

The league has worked on a broad range of activities under the rubric of Social Policy including ending racial discrimination, providing equal access to quality education, fair housing, health care, and gun control.

Specifically in the area of gun control, according to the organization's website,

The league endorsed and supported the Mother’s Day 2000 Million Mom March of the Brady Campaign through the activities of many league members across the country who participated in the event, as well as by the official involvement of the organization's leadership and board.

See also



References



Notes

  1. About Us, an organization profile at www.lwv.org
  2. League of Women Voters, 2005, p. 25.
  3. League of Women Voters, 2005, p. 40.
  4. League of Women Voters, 2005, p. 56.


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