By Ivy Orr Hamerly, Christina Chan-Park, and Rebecca McCumbers Flavin
In 1920, 20 million new voters won the right to vote. That same year, the League of Women Voters began helping these new voters learn how to exercise their voting rights. Almost 100 years later, the League of Women Voters is still protecting democracy and empowering all voters.
After the 2016 election, we looked for a way to be more politically active while still bringing people together and uniting around shared values and concerns. We found the the League of Women Voters does exactly that. We are inspired by the work that the LWV does to “empower voters” and “defend democracy.” This mission speaks to our calling as educators and involved citizens.
The Waco chapter of the League of Women Voters was active for many decades, but had been dormant for the past few years. In 2017, we revived the Waco chapter, and the LWV of Texas generously provided training and moral support. The W.R. Poage Legislative Library hosted our earliest meetings and is co-sponsoring our candidate forum next month. Our fellow Wacoans invited their friends, distributed voter guides for the 2017 Texas election, learned how to register voters, and more.
One of the things we like about the League is that it is strictly non-partisan and neither supports particular parties nor endorses specific candidates. This does not mean that the League is apolitical. The national and state Leagues are among the most effective grassroots organizations in the United States. The League lobbies Members of Congress and state legislatures about various issues ranging from voting rights to campaign finance reform to environmental sustainability. Both the national and Texas Leagues have websites that provide a wealth of information and tools for all citizens.
Who can join League of Women Voters?
That’s easy – everyone! The League is open to men and women of all ages who want to learn more about our democratic processes and be more civically engaged. Whether you have never voted or have never missed an election, the League is for you. We welcome Wacoans of all political parties as well as those who identify with no party at all.
What kind of work is the League of Women Voters-Waco doing right now?
Candidate Forum: To help Wacoans prepare for the primary election on March 6, we will hold a candidate forum on Tuesday, February 13, at 5:30 PM at the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. All candidates running for McLennan County Judge, Criminal District Attorney, and Precinct 2 and 4 Commissioner have been asked to participate in this event. The format will be speed-meeting, so everyone who attends will have a chance to meet all the candidates.
Voters Guide: We are writing a non-partisan voters guide for the general election in November. We are working with the LWV-Texas to make sure Waco voters have unbiased information about candidates for local, state, and federal offices.
Voter registration and turnout
Voter Registration Drives: On Saturday, January 27, we will have registrars on-site from 10 AM – 2 PM at the Old Navy at Central Texas Marketplace and from 12 PM – 4 PM at the West Waco Library. If you are not yet registered in McLennan County, or if you need to update your registration, stop by and let us help you.
Voter Turnout: We will also have more information about early voting days, times, and locations at our tables.
Follow us on Facebook to learn about voting rights and voter education on the local, state, and national level. Join the 200+ people who liked/followed our page in 2017. We hope to add 100 more in 2018. Search for League of Women Voters of Waco (@lwvWaco).
If you are not a Facebook user, contact us at [email protected] to join our email list.
How can you get involved in League of Women Voters of Waco, and how much time does it take?
The level of commitment is up to you! You can simply like us on Facebook or become involved in planning an event.
Why should you join us?
We need you, and Waco needs the League! We can work together as neighbors to serve our community today. We can hold our leaders accountable. We can educate ourselves on the issues. We can make democracy work.
Ivy Orr Hamerly is the Coordinator of LWV-Waco. She is a Senior Lecturer in Political Science at Baylor University where she teaches Comparative Politics and researches legislative oversight of executive leaders.
Christina Chan-Park is the Co-Communicator of LWV-Waco in charge of voter education. She is the Science Librarian at Baylor University where her research focuses on scholarly communications, specifically data management, bibliometrics, and academic identity.
Rebecca McCumbers Flavin is the Co-Communicator of LWV-Waco in charge of voter registration and turnout. She is a Senior Lecturer in Political Science at Baylor University where she teaches courses in American constitutional law, Model United Nations, political philosophy, and politics and religion.