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Celebrating 95 Years of Making Democracy Work at State Conventions

Innovation and inclusion were common themes of the three wonderful state League conventions that I attended this year. In each state, the conversations were about the League’s celebrated past as prelude to the future of Making Democracy Work® for all Americans. At each stop, I witnessed great programs and informative conversations amongst League members about the impact they’re having in their state and local communities. This past weekend, I wound up my convention travel on the shore of Lake Superior in Duluth, MN with the League of Women Voters of Minnesota.  

Voting rights, and free and fair access to the polls are critical to insuring that every eligible voter is included in our democracy. That theme was carried through every workshop, every presenter and every conversation in all three states I visited. Innovation was also a consistent theme as Leagues reported on legislative efforts to improve opportunities for voter registration, the first and critical step to increase voter participation. Leagues are also seeking to innovate new ways to make nonpartisan information on candidates and issues available to the public. Improving outreach and adapting to the changing environment of civic engagement were key goals for Leagues in each state.

Those who understand their history are not doomed to repeat it, and League leaders made good use of the opportunity afforded at state-wide meetings to learn about past struggles for equality and inclusion in their own communities. From presenters with the League of Women Voters of California, to story-tellers from the League of Women Voters of Iowa, to structured conversations about the role of diverse communities in the struggle for voting rights in Minnesota, delegates learned from the past in order to continue to work for equality and inclusion now and in the future.

The League was founded 95 years ago to finish the fight that is never finished, the fight to ensure that every eligible voter has a voice in government. These state conventions allowed us to celebrate our past accomplishments, the sustained commitment and hard work of our volunteers who register voters, prepare and promote voter guides, moderate debates and forums and so much more, while also taking a look towards the future. Through the unwavering commitment of our supporters, the League is building on our legacy and will continue to empower people across our country to make their voices heard in our political process by keeping secret money out of our elections and ensuring that our elections are fair, free and accessible to all eligible citizens.

Over the next few days, state League leaders will come together for our national Council. I look forward to celebrating with them the work of the past year as they prepare not just for the next year, but the years leading up to our 100th anniversary in 2020 and our many years beyond. I know that together we will be successful in keeping the power of our democracy in the hands of the people.