By Diane Martindale
February 14 marks our 95th anniversary of the oldest non-partisan voter registration organization in the U.S., the League of Women Voters.
After a struggle of more than 50 years, Washington women won the right to vote on Nov. 8, 1910 – 105 years ago. This then set the stage for the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution to be ratified in 1920 — 95 years ago.
From that moment on, the League of Women Voters has worked as the champions of our democracy in a variety of ways—nationally, within state organizations and at the local level.
Here in the San Juan Islands, your local league has been devoted to election and educational forums on subjects which affect all communities. Among recent forums we have covered subjects as diverse as taxes, energy, civil discourse, the Washington Voting Rights Act, agricultural issues, emergency preparedness, hospital mergers and the politics of food.
In addition, the League is paying close attention to the Gateway Pacific Terminal Proposal and the effects of increased rail traffic through Washington state and shipping through the Salish Sea.
Through the years the League has proudly embraced the 20th century courage of our founders in the fight for good government, and now is embracing the 21st century’s challenges and technology. The organization has created an online voter’s pamphlet, Vote411.org.
The state League publishes “The State We Are In,” an educational tool for schools, and the local league creates a one-stop pamphlet with contact information for elected officials from our towns, county, state and national officeholders, called TRY (They Represent You).
This month, as always, we are working in Olympia and throughout the state to increase opportunities to educate and empower voters and encourage action on the major concerns of our citizens. We encourage people to log onto the Legislative website http://leg.wa.gov; and to comment on bills of interest while the Legislature is in session.
The League of Women Voters of the San Juans holds monthly membership meetings on the second Monday of the month, noon to 2 p.m., usually at the San Juan Island Public Library.
For local LWV information, go to http://www.lwvwa.org/san-juan/index.html, where you can find past issues of the monthly newsletter, The Voter. And visit us on YouTube to view our videotaped forums.
For further information, go to lwvwa.org
For information on Orcas sub-group meetings, call 317-7518.
— Editor’s note: Diane Martindale is president of League of Women Voters of the San Juans.