The League is the original and preeminent grassroots citizens network, directed by the consensus of our members and committed to engaging citizens in our democracy so that it works for all Americans. Strictly nonpartisan, the League is at the same time wholeheartedly political and works to influence policy through advocacy.
In 2011, the LWW celebrates the 91st birthday of two great American landmarks: passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the League itself. The League of Women Voters, with its roots in the suffrage movement, was founded in anticipation of women winning the vote. This was a "mighty political experiment" designed to help 20 million women carry out their new responsibility as voters.
The League has made undeniable progress for all Americans during the past 91 years. The realization that half the population secured the right to vote--the most fundamental democratic freedom--only a single lifetime ago is a powerful reminder of how young American democracy is. Our democracy must be carefully nurtured and fiercely defended, both in principle and practice. Yet, there is no problem in our democracy that cannot be solved through the efforts of an informed, active citizenry.
Since our founding in 1920, protecting and promoting the right of every citizen to vote has been a guiding principle of the League. South Carolina's state and local Leagues sponsor debates and forums to educate voters about where candidates stand on important issues. We register voters, offer them nonpartisan information about issues and candidates, and promote voter turnout. Last year, along with a diverse coalition of groups, we mobilized to ensure the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. To ensure that citizens, not special interests, own government the LWV has been involved in campaign finance, lobbying and ethics reform efforts in the our state and nation.
The League does not endorse political parties or candidates, but undertakes meticulous analysis and study to arrive at member consensus on critical issues. At our May 2011 LWVSC convention, delegates voted to concur with two positions that were proposed by local Leagues: Regional Growth Management, and Illegal Drugs. Delegates also and passed a resolution opposing off-shore drilling and chose a new study of Evaluation and Retention of Effective Teachers for member focus in 2011-1013. League members in South Carolina are currently participating in two LWVUS studies: 1) The Role of Government in Public Education and 2) Government Privatization.
Action agenda items prioritized by convention delegates for focus in the coming biennium are: education, voter access, tax reform, criminal/juvenile justice, transportation, redistricting, natural resources, judicial independence and diversity.
Several bylaws amendments passed at our convention, including one that permits co-presidents or a management team to lead the state League. It is believed that alternative leadership structures will allow for greater flexibility in League governance. This was followed by the election of co-presidents for LWVSC. Several local Leagues across the state have co-president leadership roles in place.
We invite you to explore websites for the LWVSC, LWVUS and local Leagues to find out all the exciting things that are happening. Contact either co-president or any other League leader for more information. We'd love to have you attend any of our events. You'll see for yourself that the LWV is grassroots in reality, not just in name. Please join us in our efforts to make democracy work for all.
Peggy Brown, Barbara Zia, Co-Presidents