Viewpoint

Women’s History Month: A time to celebrate the vote

March 12, 2014 

During March, Women’s History Month, the League of Women Voters celebrates the achievements of the women’s suffrage movement and the civil rights movement in securing the voting rights of millions of American women and minorities.

No one should be surprised that the League is all about voting, and we are justifiably proud of what we have accomplished. We are also aware that we can’t rest on our laurels. We must be vigilant and oppose any effort to prevent, restrict, or suppress the vote of any American who is qualified to vote. With elections coming up in June and November, we want to take this opportunity to remind everyone what the League of Women Voters is doing.

The League of Women Voters is dedicated to three major efforts:

1.) We work to ensure that all Americans who qualify to vote can register and vote. We register voters and we support efforts to make voting a positive experience. We encourage those who are not registered to pick up a registration form at their local library or the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office at the County Government Center in downtown San Luis Obispo. The registration form is also available on line at the California Secretary of State’s website http://registertovote.ca.gov. At the national level the League urges the modernization and repair of the Voting Rights Act so that no citizen is denied the right to vote because of racial or ethnic identity, gender, language, or geographic location. We oppose all efforts to restrict the vote through redistricting and voter suppression laws.

At the state level, we have joined other organizations to oppose the disenfranchisement of thousands of people who have been released from prison on community-based supervision after being incarcerated for low-level, nonviolent, nonserious crimes. The League believes that voting should be part of a successful reintegration into the community.

2.) We encourage the informed and active participation of citizens in government. In a world where information is too often biased in favor of one political opinion or the other, the League seeks to provide nonpartisan, unbiased information on ballot propositions and candidates.

The League never endorses a candidate or a political party. We moderate candidates’ forums where the voters ask the questions and hear directly from those seeking public office. We provide “pros and cons” on the propositions where both sides of the issue are presented. This information on candidates and propositions is available in the state League’s Voter Information Guide and online at http://www.smartvoter.org.  

3.) We work to build public confidence in the integrity of our democratic institutions. We monitor voting to ensure that it is a fair and open process. We participate in elections as poll workers and we work with the county clerk-recorder to ensure that elections are well run and aboveboard. We support full compliance with the Brown Act, which protects the public’s right to know how their government is being conducted.

Here in San Luis Obispo County, the League offers voter services to homeowners associations and other local organizations seeking an impartial monitor for their elections. For more information on this service contact the League at 782-0404 or info@lwvslo.org  .

At all levels, we are committed to the widest possible voter participation by a well-informed electorate in a democratic system in which we can all have the highest degree of confidence. We will continue this election year and in the future to provide services to the voting public that will move us all in this direction. We are committed to making democracy work.

Marilee Hyman is president of the League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County.

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