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Op-Ed | League of Women Voters of Nevada County: Democracy only works when we the people participate

This opinion was originally published by

An election may be a milestone, but it is not the journey. An election is an opportunity to check in with each other about the course of our country and the principles of our leaders. It is a conversation of sorts, a reminder to the people we have put in power about who they serve, inform them about what we believe, and tell them which direction we want to go.

This conversation changes over time. With each election there are new attitudes, influences, and developments that impact where the pendulum of our country rests. For now. Some people want change, others hate it. One group pushes to shift a certain policy, another resists. In this melting pot, we become exactly who we are. This is America.

During this Midterm Election cycle the League of Women Voters of Nevada County worked hard to register eligible high schoolers, organize candidate forums, help candidates submit information to the voting tool Voter’s Edge, and disseminate non-partisan voter information to print, radio and digital platforms. Our essential message through all of this was emblazoned on the neon T-shirts we wore around town and on the signs we held on busy corners and overpasses: Vote.

Along the way, we have had detractors. Despite our long-held and greatly respected rigorous standards, some candidates refused or ignored invitations to participate in candidate forums, a trend happening across the country.

We have also been accused of being an arm of the Democratic Party. Another head scratcher.

So let’s set the record straight and extend an invitation. The League is a political, non-partisan organization. We do not endorse candidates or political parties. We are not concerned about  candidates’ affiliations or where they stand on the issues of the day.

What we do care about is giving the voters unbiased information so that they can cast informed votes. The candidate forums, for example, are an opportunity for voters to ask candidates about their views and gauge their suitability for the job.

Some questions submitted by voters are thoughtful and fair, some are blatantly biased – from both sides of the aisle, by the way. Our Voter Services committee spends many hours to get to the heart of a question and give the candidates the most respectful and equitable opportunity to explain where they stand on issues the community cares about. The voter decides which candidate best aligns with their own values.

We invite and WELCOME people of any age, gender or political persuasion to observe and participate in what we do. If you accept our sincere invitation, you will see that integrity is our foundation and the voice of our community is our guiding light.

Thank you to the many Nevada County people and organizations who helped raise awareness and encouraged our community to participate in the voting process. After a few deep post-election breaths, the League will keep on doing what we have been doing for more than 100 years: Facilitating registration of new voters, encouraging diversity and inclusion, educating voters with non-partisan voter information, and protecting voting rights. Democracy only works when we the people participate.


Fran Cole
League of Women Voters of Nevada County