The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization,
encourages the informed and active participation of citizens
in government, works to increase understanding of major public
policy issues, and influences public policy through education
and advocacy. Any person of voting age may become a
Learn more about what the League does Click
here for more information
To join, contact your local league directly. If you're not sure which league to contact or there isn't one in your area, you can call, write or email
the state office. They will help you contact your
local League, or sign you up as a State Member-at-Large. Credit
cards may be used for State memberships, publications, and
Membership dues vary from about $35 to $60. Dues for a second
person at the same address are about $25. Scholarships are
Click here for a list of the 22 Local Leagues and their home
Thank you in advance for joining the League.
Forming A New League
- Organizing Local Leagues and League Groups
- Who To Contact —
Contact the League of Women Voters of Washington:
1402 Third Avenue, Suite 430 Seattle, WA 98101
Starting a League can be one of the most rewarding endeavors
for individuals and for a community. The formal League structure
includes provisional Leagues (new Leagues working toward full
recognition as local Leagues), local Leagues, Inter-League
Organizations (ILOs), units of members-at-large (members living
outside the area of any local League) organized by some local
Leagues, state Leagues, and the LWVUS.
| Provisional & Local Leagues | Administration
Inter-League Organizations | Informal
Groupings of Leagues
for Provisional, Local and State Leagues and Inter-League
Leagues must meet the following requirements to gain LWVUS
recognition and to maintain League status:
- The League must have bylaws, the first three articles
of which must be consistent with those of the LWVUS. The
remaining articles must provide for democratic procedures.
- The League must establish and maintain a nonpartisan policy.
- The League must hold annual business meetings of the membership.
- The League must hold regular board meetings.
- The League must contribute to the financial support of
the League as a whole.
- Any advocacy pursued by the League must be consistent
with League principles, positions and policies.
These requirements should be seen within the framework of
the League's Mission Statement: The League of Women Voters,
a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed
and active participation of citizens in government and influences
public policy through education and advocacy.
The state League consults with local Leagues and advises
them on meeting the requirements, which are intended to serve
as a continuing gauge of a League's health and well-being.
Some state Leagues may supplement these basic requirements
with additional ones--requiring, for example, a minimum dues
level or a minimum number of members based on population served.
Provisional and Local Leagues
Community Basis of Organization
Local and provisional Leagues fall into two categories: municipal
Leagues that cover a single political unit (e.g., a city,
township or borough) and area Leagues that include within
their borders more than one unit of local government (e.g.,
two or more adjoining municipalities, a metropolitan area
covering both city and suburbs, a county or part of a county
that has both municipalities and unincorporated areas). In
consultation with the state board, provisional League members
decide on the area or areas to be included in the new League.
The League's name reflects its geographic basis of organization.
Once a provisional League's basis of organization is set,
the League studies the community to become familiar with the
structure of local government, various resources in the community,
issues needing citizen attention and channels through which
action is possible. The information gathered through the survey
may be disseminated to members and the public through a Know
Your Community publication, through a series of local League
bulletin articles or perhaps through a video presentation.
Local Leagues adopt, study and act on program as follows:
- Members living in the jurisdiction suggest an issue.
- The local board decides whether to include it as part
of the proposed (recommended) program.
- The annual meeting adopts or rejects the issue by a vote
of all members present or a vote of the members living within
the jurisdiction and concurrence of the other members present.
Specific bylaw wording is needed for this procedure.
- If the item is adopted, members in the jurisdiction research
and study the issues, and reach agreement, and the board
formulates the position based on the participating members'
- Under the board's direction, action plans are approved
and carried out, and members living in the jurisdiction
take the lead in lobbying, testifying, monitoring and other
forms of action.
For municipal Leagues, program issues relate to issues in
the municipality and special districts, such as school districts,
that are wholly or mostly within the city or town boundaries.
For area Leagues, program issues cover either the entire area
or any municipality or special district within the area.
The distribution of population in a League's area--where members
live and where the League may draw new members--is a major
factor in deciding how to organize and administer League activities
and communicate with members. The members of Leagues with
small geographical areas usually can come together easily
in general meetings and other activities, and the board can
keep in close personal touch with them.
Larger Leagues covering a wide geographical area may require
a series of membership meetings or units to enable members
to attend discussion meetings conveniently. Ideally the board
will develop ways, such as a general meeting, to foster unity
within the League.
Changing Basis of Organization
If a League wishes to change its name or basis of organization
to adapt to new circumstances (e.g., suburban population growth
or a desire to merge with an adjoining League with which there
is a community of interest), it should take these steps, in
consultation with the state League:
- Make sure there is member agreement to the change.
- Get the formal approval of the state League.
- Send the request to the LWVUS for a final decision.
The process is outlined in "Changing a Local League's
Organization Basis," available from LWVUS.
Communication Among Levels of the League
Good communication among the various levels of the League--local,
regional, state and national--is vital to the smooth and efficient
operation of our grassroots organization. The LWVUS publishes
some key publications on a regular basis to keep League leaders
informed and up-to-date on major activities and decisions
at the national level.
- President's Packet, published each September, includes
a section that outlines the materials local and state Leagues
should send to the national level.
- Post-Board Summary, issued after each national board meeting
(usually four each year).
- Post Convention/Council Summary.
Most state Leagues provide similar publications to keep local
Leagues informed of state League plans and activities.
Leagues within a county, metropolitan area or region may decide
to form an Inter-League Organization (ILO) which acts on governmental
issues that are countywide, metropolitan or regional in scope.
ILOs are organized with the consent of the members in the
participating local Leagues, must meet minimum requirements
set by the LWVUS convention and must be recognized by the
board of directors of the LWVUS. Like provisional and local
Leagues, ILOs must understand the relationship between the
various units of government corresponding to the Leagues they
represent. They also should be familiar with the structure
of regional bodies and jurisdictions that exist within their
ILOs adopt bylaws and hold annual or biennial conventions
at which all Leagues in the ILO are represented. They elect
officers and directors, choose program and approve a budget.
Program issues, or course, focus on the region covered by
the ILO. Each recognized ILO has the right to send one voting
delegate to the LWVUS convention; some state Leagues also
grant ILOs representation at their conventions and councils.
The state League's role in relation to ILOs is to provide
Coverage of ILO program and activities depends on the cooperation
and interest of each League in the ILO. ILOs communicate with
individual members of their constituent Leagues by sending
them a bulletin directly or preparing an insert to be printed
in the bulletins of the member Leagues. Local Leagues share
the responsibility for funding the ILO, and leadership for
the board of directors is drawn from members of the participating
local Leagues. Besides planning and acting on the ILO program,
many ILOs assist the local Leagues by coordinating functions
such as fundraising, citizen education/voters service, public
relations, study materials and action on state and national
Local Leagues sometimes decide to work together on common
problems or issues through informal groupings. This is a creative
way to pool resources (people as well as money) and increase
effectiveness. Such groupings can be temporary or permanent,
inter-state or intra-state. They do not need bylaws, although
some do work out procedural agreements. In contrast to ILOs,
these informal groups are not representative bodies and are
not formally recognized by the LWVUS.
A wide range of such groupings exists in the League. Some
simply consist of two or more neighboring Leagues that decide
to cooperate on an issue of common interest. One League takes
the major responsibility for researching and/or acting on
a state or national issue while another does the same for
a different issue.
Others are cooperative program groups that come together
to work on common problems, often related to national environmental
positions of the League. The Lake Michigan Inter-League Group
(LMILG) is an example that dates from the 1960s. A majority
of Leagues in an area, recognizing they share a common problem,
set up a program group that researches the issue, explores
remedies and prepares informational material for members and
the public. Action is taken only if agreement on a stance
or position is reached by each of the individual Leagues participating
in the group. The cooperative program group does not act on
its own. While the chair or a committee may draft statements
and letters, and perhaps testify, this is done only as arranged
with and approved by the Leagues involved.
Inter-League Councils are still another example of the informal
groupings that exist in the League. These groups, usually
made up of local League presidents in an area, meet informally
to discuss common concerns that run the full gamut of League
activities from fundraising and voters service to program/action
and overall organizational issues.
of the League
Members-at-large (MALs) are simply League members who live
outside the area of and are not enrolled in a recognized local
League. MAL numbers steadily increased in the 1980s, principally
due to active member recruitment efforts at the state and
national levels of the League. Capitalizing on this growth,
state Leagues established member-at-large units. These units
give a group of members-at-large an opportunity to participate
in League activities even though there is no local League
in the area.
While the structure and activities of MAL units vary greatly
from state to state, all operate under the direction and guidance
of the state board. Each state League decides how to organize
these units and what types of program each can carry out.
In some states MAL units take part in a minimum amount of
League work and have very few responsibilities. In other states,
MAL units are highly visible in their community and plan and
participate in a wide range of League efforts, although not
in local study and action. The LWVUS board of directors has
encouraged the participation of MAL units in national studies
and member agreement procedures.