LEAGUE ACTIVITIES: the Nuts and Bolts
Voter Service/Citizen Information. The LWV is perhaps best known for its services to voters. It directs its efforts toward encouraging citizens to register to vote and to take part in government and politics. Voter service activities include: sponsoring candidate forums ***; conducting voter registration drives; providing information about voting to the public; and getting out the vote on Election Day.
***Part of the Voters Service mission of the League of Women Voters is to conduct and moderate Candidate Forums.
We conduct these forums as a service to voters because it gives them a means of forming a first-hand judgment of the various candidates. [It is also] a service to candidates because it gives them an opportunity to present their views to citizen audiences of varied political affiliations. We do not refer to them as “debates” since no one conducts classical debates.
The format we general use is somewhat formal. Candidates start by making an opening statement. The moderator then asks a series of questions alternating [which candidate gets to make] the first response. ….Finally closing statements are made by each candidate. The time allowed [for the forum] depends on the number of candidates. In addition to the written questions collected from audience members, questions [may also come from] …… the League and the meeting sponsors. It is the responsibility of the moderator to see that the questions reflect the issues of greatest interest to the entire community, cover a broad range of topics, and are worded to elicit the political philosophy of each candidate. The moderator also screens out “soft ball” or inappropriate questions submitted by the audience.
The League of Women Voters is a non-partisan volunteer political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government. The League does not support or oppose political parties or candidates. We are pleased to work with non-partisan community groups who take their civic responsibility seriously by volunteering to sponsor Candidate Forums.***
Study of Issues. LWV’s at each level choose public policy issues for their members to study. Study committees examine the issues in-depth and present their findings to members. Members discuss the issues and the pro’s and con’s of potential solutions and then strive to come to a consensus (substantial agreement amongst the members) on a position for the League to promote. The LWV’s reputation for fairness rests on this practice of thorough, impartial study and consideration.
Action and Advocacy
Once the LWV has a position on an issue, the LWV board develops a plan of action. Advocacy actions include:
- lobbying, writing letters and sending e-mails to elected officials;
- testifying at public hearings;
- litigating to help clarify laws in the public interest;
- working in coalitions with like-minded organizations;
- monitoring elections and other government activities; and
- using public forums, panel discussions, publications, and the media to provide information to members and the public.
(The LWV always makes a distinction between LWV advocacy of specific positions on issues and the League’s nonpartisan voter information activities.)
The LWV uses the Internet, press conferences, radio and television programs, statements to governmental bodies, presence at community events, and the enthusiasm of each of its members to promote the LWV’s mission.
The LWV produces publications that are researched, written and distributed by members at every level. Catalogs are available for state and national publications. Many publications are free to members and the public; others are available for purchase.
The Rensselaer LWV produces a newsletter, The Voter, 6 times a year. It is mailed to members and is also available on this website. The state and national Voter newsletters are published quarterly and available in print and on-line.
The LWV maintains observers at many meetings of various local, regional, state and national governmental bodies. Observers do not speak for the LWV but attend these meetings to listen, learn, and make factual reports of the proceedings. The Rensselaer LWV has been attending meetings of the Troy and Rensselaer City Councils and also the Rensselaer County Legislature.
Many LWV’s have members who are available to speak on LWV issues to organizations within their communities. Anyone wishing to contact the Rensselaer LWV about speakers should inquire at info@lwvrc.