By Skye Pratt
 
March is Women’s History Month, and it also marks the 95th anniversary for the national voter’s rights group the League of Women Voters. The League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County are joining 800 local and state league chapters this month in honoring this milestone by celebrating their rich history in the fight for voter equality, as well as pressing forward in combatting current barriers to voting rights.

Celebrating the past

Carrie Chapman Catt originally founded the League of Women Voters in 1920, six months before the 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote in federal elections. The League started as a political experiment designed to help the 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters. The League is dedicated to improving the voting process, promoting voter participation, and protecting the right to vote for all citizens, men and women alike.

The League of Women Voters of San Luis Obispo County has been in place for over 50 years. Established in 1962, it has since provided voter service and educational programs to enable voters to make informed decisions at election time, and to educate the public on issues important to the well being of their respective communities.

Embracing the future

Granted, the barriers to voting rights look very different than they did back in the 1920’s, and yet threats to voter participation still remain in this modern age, such as voter photo ID laws, or efforts to limit polling places or voting times to discourage voting.

The League strives to challenge all efforts to limit the ability of voters to exercise their rights. They support expanded early voting and online voter registration, campaign finance reform, and the regulation of “big money” in elections. They want to instill confidence in the integrity of our democratic process and be assured that our elections are fair, free, and accessible.

In the future, they hope to modernize and streamline the voting process, while being careful to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act. They also want to improve communication and access to information for voters. “We are concerned that we aren’t listening to each other,” said representative Marilee Hyman, “that we aren’t coming together to solve our common problems, and that the ability of our public institutions to serve our communities is being undermined as a result.”

In an new effort to promote Civil Discourse at public meetings and in political discussion, they plan to attend public meetings, and urge participants to use calm, polite, and respectful speech and behavior. Moving forward, “Expect to see more voter service, educational programs, and advocacy on the issues we care about – all of it presented in a nonpartisan, dispassionate, and resolutely civil way,” Hyman said.

URL: 
http://lwv.org/content/league-women-voters-celebrates-95th-anniversary