Giving thanks is a conscious — and sometimes challenging — act.
My mother used to tell me you should wake up every morning and be grateful for one more day. When so much in the world feels out of our control, it can be difficult to shift into a mindset of gratitude. Yet, at least for me, giving thanks is what uplifts and inspires me in moments of doubt or trouble.
And when I look at everything people have done this year to protect and uplift every person’s voice, I find so much to be thankful for.
Specifically, there are so many people who have inspired me and given me hope for our nation. Here are just a few of them:
From helping folks cast their ballots to ensuring a complete, accurate count of everyone’s votes, election workers keep our democracy functioning.
Recently, we have experienced election worker shortages across the nation. In response to these shortages, everyday Americans and organizations like Power the Polls have stepped up to keep polling places fully staffed.
These folks recognize one of the most important things about our democracy: it is ours, and when we see a problem, we, the people, will keep it safe and strong.
Thank you to everyone who took time out of their busy lives this year to keep our election process safe, accessible, and efficient. We owe our democracy to you!
Voters in Local and State Elections
Everything from the quality of our education to the affordability of our housing is determined in state and local elections.
Empower voters in your community by joining one of the 700+ state and local Leagues.
Yet local elections still see low turnout; some research suggests that only 27% of voters nationwide vote in municipal elections, as opposed to the 60% who vote in presidential elections. That means 73% of eligible voters aren’t having a say in decisions around:
Reproductive health care and all aspects of health access;
Accessibility in public spaces;
And much more.
The 2023 election cycle improved on these past numbers, with as many as 37% of people casting their votes. While we still have a long way to go, this was some of the highest voter turnout we’ve experienced in decades, and it deserves to be celebrated!
I am grateful to everyone who dedicated time to researching their ballot and casting their vote. In particular, I extend my thanks to:
Voters who faced hurdles while casting their ballots, such as folks who dealt with limited polling options;
First-time voters, including new, returning, and younger citizens;
Caregivers who helped others cast their vote and/or used this opportunity to teach the next generation about voting — a shout-out to those who brought their children to the polls!
You stood up for the needs of your community — and it made all the difference.
I am always proud to see the work our 750+ Leagues do to empower millions of people to get involved in our democracy.
For example, in the 2023 election cycle, Leagues made more than 4 million voter contacts. They reached more than 2 million voters with election information using VOTE411.org, our one-stop-shop election site. They also recruited more than 2,000 people to work as poll workers and empowered voters with information on 20,000 races and 46,000 candidates.
Further, League members made more than 1 million voter contacts during textbanks in 2023 and reached out to 1,400 friends and family through our digital organizing tool, League in Action.
Leagues also got creative when it came to civic education and outreach. Below are just a few of my favorite stories.
The LWV of Oxford (OH) partnered with students from Miami University to help students write op-eds and contact their representatives;
The LWV of Kentucky held a press conference supporting a constitutional amendment that would restore voting rights to people with felony convictions. LWVKY's president also wrote an op-ed;
The LWV of Houston (TX) hosted 40 events in honor of National Voter Registration Day, registering students at colleges across Houston and at an Astros game;
The LWV of Emporia (KS) tracked lawmakers' votes on bills related to "gun legislation, Medicaid expansion, voting rights, K-12 and higher education, climate change, LGBTQ issues," and other topics;
The LWV of Sarasota (FL) created report cards for their school board, grading them on their meeting and governance "performance" (and even providing them with a total GPA);
Eloisa Gómez, author and member of LWV Milwaukee (WI), co-authored a book highlighting 25 Wisconsin Latina activists;
LWV Pullman (ID) held its second Visual Arts Competition, asking kids to illustrate how civics and the natural world are connected.
Support the League's work to empower voters and defend democracy
This is all on top of hosting thousands of educational events, rallies, forums, and trainings, and partnering with 100+ state and local organizations nationwide.
I know there are many more praiseworthy activities that Leagues in every state and jurisdiction engaged in, and I acknowledge all of you. Thank you, League members, for empowering voters and defending democracy.
As I gather with loved ones to give thanks, these acts of civic service will stick with me. In times like these, being surrounded by people fighting for a more fair and representative nation is a gift. I will think about it regularly in the coming year as we take to the polls to cast our ballots in the 2024 elections.
So, take a moment to think: what — and who — are you thankful for this year? And how can we meet their selfless acts with our own, building a world where every act of giving thanks multiplies into a dozen more?
The Latest from the League
On May 16, 2023, Mary Roche volunteered as a poll worker in her county for Pennsylvania’s municipal primary election. She'd recently joined her local League, and by volunteering, she learned more about everything poll workers do to keep our elections running smoothly and ensure that every voice is heard.
The League of Women Voters Education Fund has registered, educated, and engaged young people through its Youth Voter Registration project since 2010.
In January – June 2023, 86 Leagues hosted close to 1000 events and registered over 19,000 youth in high schools, community colleges, technical and vocational schools, and other youth-serving areas, like community and recreation centers. And that’s just the 86 Leagues mentioned — our 750+ Leagues nationwide did even more!
Civic education and involvement are key to a healthy American democracy. Included are stories from states across the country about the importance of civic engagement and the work that they are doing to promote it.
This blog highlights work in Florida, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania.