SOUNDOFF: Women have been voters for only 82 years

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.

On Aug. 23 the National League of Women Voters celebrated the 82nd anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, giving women citizens the right to vote. The League took note on the occasion of this anniversary that nearly two years have passed since election 2000 and our federal lawmakers have yet to pass legislation that will help to remedy our broken election administration systems.

“The League’s founding members led the charge in 1920 to pass the 19th Amendment and secure the right to vote for all women,” stated Kay J. Maxwell, president, the League of Women Voters. “Today, 82 years later, League leaders all across our nation are continuing the fight to improve and reform our election systems for the benefit all citizens regardless of gender, age or ethnicity.

“Election 2000 illustrated that years of indifference and inadequate funds have left our election administration systems vulnerable and placed at risk the basic right of American citizens to vote, and to have their votes effectively counted on an equal basis.

“The League of Women Voters believes that Congress must act soon to provide federal money, backed by national standards, to the states for election reform. The standards must assure that voting machines actually work to accurately record the voter’s vote. They must protect voting rights and prevent discrimination. Our nation needs election reform to make sure that the problems we saw in Florida will never happen again.

This fall citizens can count on the League of Women Voters as their source for information. DemocracyNet, www.dnet.org, the League’s interactive voter education website, will provide voters with information on issues and candidates found on election 2002 federal, state and local ballots. A new League publication available in mid-September, “Navigating Election Day: What Every Voter Needs to Know,” will walk new and not-so-new voters through every step of the often confusing, and sometimes intimidating, process of casting a vote.

As Congress returns from its August recess, League members are gearing up to speak out for reform and push for citizen action in every community nationwide.

“The interests of the voter and the health of our democracy should be the central concern of election administration reform,” Maxwell concluded.

We urge all women citezens to take advantage of their hard-earned right to vote. The League of Women Voters of Whidbey Island also urges all people to vote. Check www.washingtonvoter.org for unbiased information and links to candidates.

Emily J. Ramsey directs voter education for the League of Women Voters of Whidbey Island.

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