League of Women Voters Advocates
for Positive Civic Engagement
by Terri Farneti
The volunteers of the League of Women Voters take a professional approach to vitally important public issues, making the organization a respected, trusted asset in cities and towns across the country.
League leaders empower others to define and accomplish goals for themselves, the organization, their communities and the nation as a whole that express the organizations its mission. Throughout its history, the League has adapted its procedures and goals to meet current and future needs. League leaders help make their communities stronger, healthier, and more vibrant.
Carrie Chapman Catt founded the League in 1920, just six months before the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, winning American women the right to vote after a 72-year fight for women’s suffrage.
The movement to pass the amendment was a heavily coordinated lobbying and advocacy campaign. Let’s be clear: women won the right to vote, it wasn't “given” to us. It was a struggle, decades in the making, and many suffragists, like Susan B. Anthony, didn’t live to see the victory at the end of it.
After the full enfranchisement of women, the Sheppard–Towner Act was a key success for the League. The act played an important role in the medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth, the decrease in infant-mortality rates, and the expansion of federal welfare legislation in the 20th century.
In 1945, at the United Nations Charter Conference, President Harry Truman invited the League to serve as a consultant to the US delegation. Since that time the League has maintained its presence at the UN through its one official and two alternate observers. That status allows the League to make formal oral and written statements to the UN and advise the body on issues where it has expertise.
Over the years the US Supreme Court has rolled back some of the voter protections setout in the Voting Rights Act. We have seen countless attacks on the right to vote, too often targeting racial minorities, as has been the case throughout our nation’s history. Following that lead we have seen rollbacks to early voting, unjust voter purges, and strict photo-ID laws that make it harder for young people, women, people of color, and individuals with low incomes to register and exercise their right to vote.
Through our voter education programs, League volunteers equip millions of voters with essential information about the election process, and provide trusted and sought-after information about candidates and issues on federal, state and local ballots. Across the country the League hosts thousands of community events to mobilize and help voters participate, as well as debates and forums for voters to hear directly from candidates.
The League advocates on a given issue only with a formalized study and position addressing it. The study process lasts one to three years, applying a thorough pursuit of facts and details, both positive and negative, to build consensus about policy. The League's Impact on Issues explains the positions it has adopted over the past century.
The League of Women Voters of Central Yavapai County officially formed in 1995, after years of work by the founding members to meet the requirements, which include:
A set of bylaws, the first three articles of which must be consistent with those of the LWVUS; the remaining articles must provide for democratic procedures, establish and maintain a nonpartisan policy, hold an annual business meeting of the membership, and hold regular board meetings.
Have a plan for membership growth and retention that encourages a membership as diverse as the community.
Act in ways that are consistent with League principles, positions and policies. Women and, since 1974, men who are citizens and at least 18 years old may join the League as voting members. Joining at any level of the organization is membership at every level, and with that membership comes the opportunity to have a positive effect on local, state, regional and national public policy issues.
The LWVCYC maintains a wonderful working relationship with Yavapai College's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and meets on the YC campus on Saturdays. Meetings take place in September through April, with an annual meeting in May, when bylaws are reviewed, annual budget and suggested programs presented, and elections of new board members take place. To learn more about the League and its planned events for 2020 visit LWVCYC.org.
Terri Farneti, an LWVCYC member since 2002, is also past two-term president of the local League, a graduate of Prescott Area Leadership Class XIII, past board member for the Launch Pad Teen Center, has mentored two Littles for Big Brothers-Big Sisters, and currently serves on the Mayor’s Commission for Well-Being for the City of Prescott.