Why It Matters
Elections affect every area of our lives, from health care to jobs to racial justice. When we choose our leaders by voting, we’re choosing the people who will make decisions that shape the direction of our country and our communities. There are several types of elections in which voters participate, including but not limited to:
Every four years, Americans elect our president, a position that carries huge power. The President enacts laws, directs where money and resources go when communities are in need, leads our nation in times of crisis, and represents our country in important matters around the world. No single elected office is more significant: a President’s decisions and policies affect the direction of the country every single day.
Voters elect Senators and Representatives to serve them in the two houses of Congress. We call these officials “lawmakers” because Congress writes and votes on the laws that the President enacts. Often, these officials will have an important say in the way the government spends tax dollars—including whether tax dollars are invested in your community. When a highway is repaired or a hospital is built in your community, one of your elected lawmakers probably helped get money for those projects.
Senators and Representatives are also expected to help their constituents with all kinds of problems, like when a senior is having trouble getting a Social Security check, a family member traveling overseas needs assistance getting home, and a wide range of other matters.
These elections determine state leadership including the governor, state legislators, and attorney general. Many of the laws that affect our lives every day are state laws. Did you get a speeding ticket on the highway? State officials probably passed the law establishing that speed limit and the fine. These officials are responsible for writing, enacting, and enforcing those laws.
State elections can also include ballot measures and initiatives on issues like the state minimum wage and the legality of recreational drug use. In elections like these, voters choose for themselves, directly, what laws they want.
These are elections for local community offices, such as mayors or school boards. Elected officials at the local level impact decisions in your community, everything from public safety to trash collection to the books that are used in your child’s classroom.
The promise of a democracy is that every person’s voice carries equal weight in each election, creating a government that works for the needs and values of the people. Yet complicated voting rules, a lack of accessible election information, and hurdles in voter registration prevent millions of Americans from casting their ballots each year. This is especially true for historically marginalized communities including women, Black and brown Americans, and people with disabilities.
What We're Doing
The League works not only to empower voters with the information they need to take part in elections, but to create more fair, accessible election systems.
Candidate Debates and Forums
Hearing and seeing candidates engage in healthy debates before an election is an important part of our democracy. Candidate debates and forums help us determine which candidates align with our values and which ones we want to support with our votes. Every year state and local Leagues host candidate debates and forums for candidates running at all levels of government, from congressional races to statewide offices, city government, local school boards, and everything in between. Due to our deep roots and long history of nonpartisanship, communities across the country have put their trust in the League to hose these events.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the League of Women Voters sponsored the televised presidential debates. In 1976 the League won an Emmy award for Outstanding Achievement in Broadcast Journalism.
Our award-winning voting and election resource, VOTE411.org, provides reliable, nonpartisan information in both English and Spanish, including candidates guides, voter registration and verification, details about your unique ballot, and how to vote in your state. In 2020, more than 6 million people came to VOTE411 for election information on over 22,000 races nationwide.
Advocacy and Litigation
We engage in litigation and grassroots action to promote policies that make elections more equitable and accessible and to fight attempts to limit the freedom to vote. Policies we fight for include:
Same-day registration and mail-in voter registration expansion;
Expanding voting locations, especially in marginalized communities;
Extending voter registration deadlines;
Eliminating the use of voter ID requirements;
Transparency around campaign finances; and
Clearly communicated candidate positions.
Through our advocacy and litigation efforts, we’re able to strengthen our electoral system by getting more people involved, like in the 2020 election, which had the highest level of voter engagement in over a century with 158+ million voters.
We host hundreds of events and programs every year to educate voters about candidates in thousands of federal, state and local races, as well as distribute millions of educational materials about state and local elections.
We work year-round to make sure all eligible Americans — especially first-time voters, non-college youth, new citizens, communities of color, and low-income Americans — have the opportunity to register and vote.
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