I’ve just come from the Membership and Leadership Development training with League members in Illinois and I’m struck by the passion, knowledge and commitment of these true defenders of democracy.

At times we discussed worries about our democracy – big money efforts to suppress the vote and distort the truth, and the confusion voters may face in light of new laws and new districts drawn to retain those currently in power. We shared indignation and frustration over politicians who shirk their obligation to stand before voters in unscripted ways such as through League debates and forums.

But the more we worked together, the more inspired I became by the activities these passionate democracy activists were conducting to address the challenges. I marveled at the wonderful mix of League members with many years of wisdom working next to those new to the League filled with energy and idealism. This powerful combination gave me faith that their work, combined with active engagement of voters in their communities, will beat back some of the sinister attempts to stand in the way of that cherished American right – the right to vote.

I saw the fire in their bellies as they planed efforts to register thousands of voters this month – in high schools, with college students, in underserved communities – building on a unified national voter registration push by many groups, including the League. In Illinois on September 29 & 30, League members will be at colleges, grocery stores, transit stops, naturalization ceremonies – places where they can maximize their volunteer time and register many people to vote.

I saw the tenacity and determination of those working to provide voters with fair and unfiltered information through League candidate debates and forums. They strategize about how to get the public, allied organizations, and the media to join the League in calling on those candidates who had not yet committing to participate in debates. Like mothers protecting their children, Leaguers were fiercely determined to protect the voting rights and information citizens needed to cast informed votes.

As I left Illinois, I was filled with admiration of these women and men, pride in our organization, and confident that these champions of democracy would accomplish their goals of engaging and educating voters in these elections and building and strengthening their Leagues as they were doing so. They will successfully Power the League as they Power the Vote!