Making Democracy Work

About the League

What is our mission? How are we structured? What is our history? What can I do as a League Member?

Our Mission and Roles

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging the informed and active participation of citizens in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. We never support or oppose any political party or candidate.

The League of Women Voters has two separate and distinct roles.

  • Voters Service/Citizen Education: we present unbiased nonpartisan information about elections, the voting process, and issues.

  • Action/Advocacy: we are also nonpartisan, but, after study, we use our positions to advocate for or against particular policies in the public interest.

To conduct our voter service and citizen education activities, we use funds from the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund, which is a 501(c)(3) corporation, a nonprofit educational organization. The League of Women Voters, a membership organization, conducts action and advocacy and is a nonprofit 501(c)(4) corporation.

Our Vision, Beliefs, and Intentions guide our activities.

Other League Organizations

Our Glendale Burbank League is one of eleven local Leagues in Los Angeles County, all of which comprise the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles County.

Our members are also members of:

See other Leagues in California and other state Leagues and local League websites.

History of the League of Women Voters

Meaning of Membership

The League is different from many organizations in that what it accomplishes comes directly from the involvement of its members. It as a grassroots organization providing every member with opportunities to learn and educate others about government, and take action on public policy. Groups of League members, scattered about the city, meet monthly to discuss topics in a nonpartisan setting. They learn effective techniques for public discussion, how to advocate on specific policies, and what the issues beneath the rhetoric are. Our study and consensus process ensures that we are fully informed on issues before we take a stand. This approach has earned the League a national reputation for integrity and thoroughness.

Your participation in League will expose you to a breadth of experiences and issues that will not only inform you but create greater possibilities for civic engagement than you might imagine. You can spend as much or as little time as you wish--but we promise there will always be a League opportunity you won't want to say no to. Whether you aspire to leadership or are keen to follow the lead of experienced members, the League will excite, use, and nurture your civic curiosity, ideals, or desire for action.

To begin to keep you informed as a member, you will receive the VOTER newsletter published monthly by the League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank. Additionally, you will receive a quarterly newsletter from the National and State Leagues.

The League's Purpose

The League of Women Voters (LWV) is a national organization divided into independent but affiliated national, state, county, and city levels. Founded in 1920 at the culmination of a 72-year struggle to gain women's suffrage, the League took as its first charge helping to educate 20 million women on how to exercise their new political rights and responsibilities.

The League of Women Voters is a unique, multi-issue, activist network that derives its strength from the energy and commitment of more than a hundred thousand members and supporters nationwide. It is a nonpartisan, political organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy. The League is a force in public policy because its positions are based on sound, informed work at the grassroots level.

Although programs and priorities have changed over the years, the League has remained true to its basic purposes, which are:

  • To establish positions on public policy issues through member study and agreement (consensus)
  • To take concerted action that secures public policies consistent with League positions (advocacy)
  • To offer voter services to enhance citizen participation in federal, state, county and local government decisions and to educate the electorate in the election process

Nonpartisanship

The League's voice is heard above the partisanship of party politics because the League decided never to support or oppose either candidates for public office or political parties. It does, however, take action on a selected issues once (a) the issue has been studied, (b) consensus of the members on the position is gained, and (c) that position is later adopted at the annual convention. Therefore the League is political but NOT partisan.

To protect the League's nonpartisanship policy, board members agree not to run for nor hold political office. Additionally the President, Voter Service Director, and local Action Director may not take an active, visible role in a campaign for a political candidate nor for a non-League issue.

Structure of the League

The League of Women Voters is made up of affiliated organizations at the national, state, county, and city levels. Each level of League works on policy issues within its own stratum of government. Although these issues may encompass the same topic (e.g. transportation), the actual scope will be different, for example, highway systems at the national level versus city bus systems at the local level. The affairs of each League organization are governed by its own board of directors.

Membership

Full membership is open to all citizens of voting age, male and female, with associate memberships available for younger people and non-citizens. Joining the League at any level automatically confers membership at every level (national, state, county and local) and with that membership comes the opportunity to work on issues and voter service. Each member has a direct voice in the selection of officers and program.

The National Level

The work of the League at the national level (LWVUS) emcompasses public policy issues of national scope. Examples of action on national positions include improving the Food and Drug Act, supporting measures embodied in the Social Security Act, and supporting the United Nations. More recently, LWVUS has been a prominent force in campaign finance reform, as well as understanding globalization, trade and sustainable communities.

The State Level

The League in California (LWVC) has focused its attention on statewide issues including state laws concerning the welfare of women and children, and the maintenance of public school standards. More recently, LWVC has supported the merit system for government personnel, a state-wide master plan for water resource development, universal health coverage and redistricting.

The County Level

The League of Women Voters of Los Angeles County (LWV/LAC) concerns a regional leverl which encompasses all local Leagues within the County. LWV/LAC has focused on region-wide issues such as election procedures, juvenile justice, waste management, transportation, and land use. This group of local Leagues is organized as an Inter-League Organization or ILO.

The Local Level

The League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank was established in 1941. LWV of Glendale/Burbank has a long history of public policy engagement.

One of our League's strengths is voters service. We present nonpartisan televised forums for candidates for offices including Congress, State Assembly, Mayor, City Council, City Clerk, School Board and Board of Education.

We provide balanced, nonpartisan presentations on ballot measures to the community via the City television channel. We also give live presentations to community groups.

League members register voters all over Glendale and Burbank, including community colleges, hospitals, adult schools and movie studios.

Our members study issues of importance to our communities. Members do research and present their findings to the entire group, which then discusses them in a civil manner. The group then tries to reach a consensus. Once consensus is reached, the League may conduct advocacy on the issue. Last year, we studied the local election systems in Glendale and Burbank. This year, we are tackling the complex and lively issue of local campaign finance reform.

Board Of Directors

Officers and a Board of Directors, chose by election and by appointment, govern each level of the League the Glendale/Burbank board has the responsibility of maintaining the nonpartisan nature of the organization and decided whether or not to engage in action on issues based on the already adopted League positions.

Funding

LWV of Glendale/Burbank is directly supported by membership dues, gifts, foundation grants.

How the League Functions

"Program" in the League of Women Voters is the agenda of public policy issues that will receive the League's focused attention for a period of time. First, members decide which issues should be emphasized for a one- or two-year "program" period. The issues may be new to the League's process of study and position adoption, or they be include old positions which need revision, deletion, re-study or more vigorous action.

Members' recommendations go to the Board of Directors, which shapes and adopts a slate of issues for concerted emphasis by the members to be voted upon at the annual meeting. This slate of issues for emphasis ("program") becomes the compass for League work which can involve research, establishing consensus, taking a position, presenting information, and many forms of advocacy.

Study When the League's members have decided which issue to study locally, a committee of members is formed with a chair to fully study it through research, interviews, participation in governmental hearing, and attending conferences. The results of the study are presented to the members in the form of a report as well as in unit meetings for discussion and consensus on what position members decide the League should take, if any.

Positions Positions are established after members have studied issues of significance and achieved agreement on policies and practices that would best serve the public interest. Positions are periodically reviewed for current relevance. Without study and consensus on a given issues, the League has no position and takes no stand.

Action/Advocacy When a position is taken, the League works to translate the position into reality through the political process. Action may take the form of lobbying, coalition building, speaking out, publishing materials, testifying, and monitoring of governmental activity. Although the League is a nonpartisan organization and does not support or oppose any political party or any candidate, it does, however, take action on selected issues once they have been through the rigouous process of attaining status as a League position. It is important to understand that speakers and publication supporting a position that the League has taken after careful study are not the same speakers and publication which League uses to disseminate impartial information to voters as a service to help them make informed decisions

The Board of Directors decides the timing of action as well as the kind and degree of action the League will undertake. Often this will take the form of a "Call to Action" which notifies members that it is a particularly opportune time to express their opinions to representatives of measures affecting a position.

Annual Meetings This is a special type of general membership meeting held at the national, state, county and local levels, and is the forum where members decide the following:

  • Adoption of the current program
  • Election of officers, directors and members of the nominating committee for the coming year,
  • Adoption of a budget for the coming year

Opportunities for League Members

All the League's work is done by its members on a volunteer basis. Here are some of the things League members do.

Voter Service Voter Service is the strength and the most important part of the League's mission and is taken very seriously. The League furthers this mission of informing the public about voting procedures, urging citizens to vote, and providing factual, impartial information about issues and candidates, with the following materials, procedures and events:

Election Guides Prior to each election, the League of Women Voters of California researches and publishes an Election Guide entitled Pros and Cons addition, the League participates in the publication of the Easy Voter. All of these materials offer unbiased and easily understood information. It is distributed free to members, schools, libraries and interested community members.

Speakers Bureau LWV G/B trains its members to be speakers for groups and organization requesting information on the supporting and opposing arguments regarding ballot measures and topics of current study.

Candidate Forums The League is known for sponsoring candidate debates. The Glendale/Burbank League has presented Candidates' Forums for elections such as Congress, State Senate, State Assembly, Mayor, City Council, City Clerk, School Board and Board of Education. Our forums are broadcast live on the city television channel and are repeated numerous times prior to the election.

Voter Registration The League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank provides nonpartisan voter registration service where large groups of people are assembled. We also respond to requests from businesses to make onsite voter registration available to their employees. In coalition with other groups we encourage all citizens to accept their rights and responsibilities to participate in the political process. Designing ways to increase voter participation in diverse communities with Glendale and Burbank is a commitment of the League. We work hand in hand with the County Registrar on voter outreach projects.

Election Mangement The League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank manages the elections of many different organizations. The League has organized and overseen many types of elections such as ratification of residents' decisions about policies of their apartment buildings, election of community committees as required by the Community Redevelopment Agency, and common interest developments.

Action/Advocacy Action and advocacy on Glendale/Burbank's positions can take many forms including

  • Lobbying representatives
  • Working with other organizations and in coalitions to plan lobbying strategies and support
  • Speaking out on position based issues through letter writing and Internet campaigns
  • Testifying at legislative and administrative hearings gathering citizen input
  • Monitoring elections and other government activities
  • Publicizing Glendale/Burbank's positions and concerns through the media, petition drives and special issue campaigns

Electronic Communications Glendale/Burbank, California (LWVC) and the United States (LWVUS) all have their own web sites providing up to date information on elected officials and League activities. The Glendale/Burbank League also publishes its monthly publication, the Voter, on its website. Be sure to check the Calendar often for upcoming events.

Smart Voter is a California League sponsored web site that provides people with a state of the art source of voter information and a personalized ballot based on a specific address, that is available before elections. It also reports such information as polling place locations, candidates' profiles and positions, ballot measures with supporting and opposing arguments, and post election results.