League of Women Voters US
Public Policy Positions
Impact on Issues is designed to help League members use LWVUS public policy positions effectively at the national, state, local, and regional levels. Download the League's Current Impact On Issues document as a pdf.
The intention of the Impact on Issues is to inspire Leagues to use national positions to act in their own communities.
Impact on Issues has been organized so that “Taking Action” is front and center followed by the League Principles. Then, for quick reference, the LWVUS public policy Positions in Brief summarize the more detailed positions in the sections that follow. For each of the major issue areas, the listing gives the full official statements of positions in bold type. The history sections provide background for each position and trace significant actions and achievements.
Since 1920, the League of Women Voters has been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believed that people should play a critical role in democracy. The League of Women Voters was founded by Carrie Chapman Catt in 1920 just six months before the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified giving women the right to vote.
Throughout the years, the League has continued its dual purposes of education and advocacy, engaging in studies on representative government, international relations, natural resources, and social policy. Although our history of advocacy goes back to our beginnings, this version of Impact on Issues covers our advocacy efforts beginning in the 1960s. Impact on Issues is an indispensable resource for League members.
A clear understanding of LWVUS positions, how they interrelate, and how they can complement and reinforce state, local, and regional Inter-League Organization (ILO) positions, strengthens the League’s impact on issues at all levels of government. In applying LWVUS positions to national, state, local, and regional issues, each appropriate League board—depending on the level of action—is responsible for determining whether member understanding and agreement exists and whether the action makes sense in terms of timing, need, and effectiveness.
In League, Program means the issues that we choose for concerted study, education and action at local, state and national levels. Programs can include both education and action.
The Program Planning process is part of what makes the League a grassroots organization; each League member has the opportunity to influence the selection of issues where the local, state, and national League will focus time, talent and money.
Every two years, members of local Leagues engage in Program Planning. Based on the results of this, the Board of Directors makes recommendations to the biennial convention delegates about the program to be adopted for the coming two year period.
The League of Women Voters takes action on an issue only when we have a position addressing it. If the members have not studied and come to consensus on it, the League has no position and therefore cannot take action. Studies (whether national, state, or local) are a defined process lasting one to three years, during which we undertake thorough pursuit of facts and details, both positive and negative, and come to a consensus about policy.
Studies from across the nation are in our League of Women Voters Education Fund Clearinghouse for studies.
- Study Committee members fashion consensus questions that are then asked of the membership as part of a study kit. Kits often include articles, books, data in the form of charts and graphs, videos, suggested speakers, discussion questions, and other resources. Members use the study kit internally and often with their community to better understand the issue.
- Consensus is the overall decision-making process by which substantial agreement among members is reached on an issue. Often this happens over the course of several meetings, but may include surveys and other methods. If the members reach consensus, the board forms recommended positions based on that consensus. Those recommendations are submitted to the Study Committee.
- The Study Committee then reviews all the submissions. It works to form a consensus statement - the statement resulting from the consensus questions - that becomes a recommended position.
- That recommended position is then reviewed and voted on by our members (usually by delegates at our Convention). The proposal may be approved, amended, or be rejected at that time.
- If a position is adopted, firm action can then be taken on the particular issue addressed by the position. Without a position, action can not be taken on that issue.
Read the national Guidelines for LWVUS Studies.