League of Women Voters of Anne Arundel County, MD

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League of
Women
Voters of
Anne Arundel
County, MD
Principles of the League of Women Voters
The League of Women Voters
believes in representative
government and in the individual liberties established in
the Constitution of the United
States. The League of Women
Voters of the United States
believes that all powers of the
U.S. government should be
exercised within the constitutional framework of a balance
among the three branches
of government: legislative,
executive, and judicial.
The League of Women
Voters believes that
democratic government
depends upon informed and
active participation in government and requires that
governmental bodies protect
the citizen’s right to know by
giving adequate notice of
proposed actions, holding
open meetings and making
public records accessible.
The League of Women
Voters believes that every
citizen should be protected
in the right to vote; that
every person should have
access to free public
education that provides
equal opportunity for all;
and that no person or
group should suffer legal,
economic or administrative
discrimination.
The League of Women
Voters believes that efficient
and economical government
requires competent personnel, the clear assignment
of responsibility, adequate
financing, and coordination
among the different agencies
and levels of government.
“The vote is the emblem
of your equality...
the guaranty of your
liberty...a power, a
weapon of offense and
defense, and a prayer.
Understand what it
means and what it can
do for your country.
Use it intelligently,
conscientiously,
prayerfully.... That
vote has been costly.
Prize it!”
— Carrie Chapman Catt,
LWV Founder 1920
Source: The Woman Citizen,
September 4, 1920
The League of Women voters
believes that responsible
government should be
responsive to the will of the
people; that government
should maintain an equitable
and flexible system of taxation,
promote the conservation
and development of natural
resources in the public
interest, share in the solution
of economic and social
problems that affect the
general welfare, promote
a sound economy and adopt
domestic policies that
facilitate the solution of
international problems.
The League of Women
Voters believes that
cooperation with other
nations is essential in
the search for solutions
to world problems and
that development of
international organization
and international law is
imperative in the promotion
of world peace.
1
League of Women Voters of Anne Arundel County
Mission
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization
that encourages informed and active participation in government,
works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and
influences public policy through education and advocacy.
League Organization
and Nonpartisan Policy
• The League of Women Voters (LWV) is
organized into three tiers that parallel our
levels of government—national, state, and
local. However, the League distinguishes
itself from other similar organizations by its
strong grassroots system. League members
at the local level help to determine
League positions and future direction, and
volunteer their time and expertise to realize
League goals.
• The League has a strong nonpartisan
policy. It does not support or oppose any
candidate or political party. As a neutral
organization, its voice is heard above the
tumult of party politics and respected by
voters and government officials alike.
• Outside of the LWV’s work, League
members are encouraged to be active
in the political process. They may seek
election to public office and/or support
candidates, partisan or otherwise. Such
activities, however, must not be undertaken
in the name of the League.
League Membership
Requirements
• League membership is open to women
and men.
• Voting members must be U.S. citizens and
18 years or older. All others who join are
associate members.
• Individuals who have been league members
for 50 years or more are life members and
excused from the payment of dues.
• Annual dues provide membership to
the League at all levels, national, state,
regional, and local.
2
League of Women Voters of Anne Arundel County
League of Women Voters
of the United States
League of Women
Voters of Maryland
The U.S. League is organized into two major
work areas: program and action; citizen education and voter services.
The state League assists local/county leagues
in a variety of ways. It provides web-based
support; produces several publications
(Maryland Voter, Report from State Circle,
State Board Letter, Legislative Priorities
and When You Go To Annapolis); conducts
instructional workshops, hosts an annual
Legislative Day at the Maryland legislature;
and conducts consensus studies and
informational programs. It also serves as a
voice for the county Leagues when advocating
within the state on League positions.
Program and Action
Program is a general term used to describe the
process by which the League formulates and
adopts its public policy positions. Positions are
reached through member study discussions
and consensus. The U.S. League’s positions
fall into four broad categories: representative
government, international relations, natural
resources, and social policy.
Action is taken upon positions derived from
consensus. Actions include lobbying national
and state legislators, testifying at hearings,
monitoring projects, and submitting letters to
newspaper editors to influence public policies.
Citizen Education and Voter Services
The League works to protect and expand
voting rights; improve and reform the election
process, and educate and register voters.
The League operates one of the largest and
longest running nonpartisan voter registration
efforts in the nation. VOTE411.org, a popular
League program begun in 2006, provides
24/7 online access to nonpartisan electionrelated information. At this site, the public
may view general and state-specific
information on absentee ballot and early
voting options, election dates, polling
locations, ballot measures, and verbatim
responses to League-posed questions by
candidates in national, state, and local races.
League of Women Voters
of Anne Arundel County
• To be affiliated with the national League,
a local league must: (1) have bylaws;
(2) establish and maintain a nonpartisan
policy; (3) hold an annual business meeting
of the membership; (4) hold regular Board
meetings; (5) meet financial obligations
to the state and national levels of the
League; and (6) plan for membership
growth and retention.
• The League of Women Voters of Anne
Arundel County (LWVAAC) is made
up entirely of volunteers who help to
accomplish the national league’s mission
at the grassroots level. We do this by
advocating for change, encouraging
voting, creating opportunities for political
discussion, and helping citizens to
understand how government works
and the tools available to them so they
can make a difference.
3
League of Women Voters of Anne Arundel County
LWVAAC Member
Involvement
It is within the local League that a member
learns what it means to belong to the LWV.
• The local League is the vibrancy, diversity,
and strength of its members—the League’s
greatest asset. Therefore, the LWVAAC
strives for continuous membership
development aimed at providing
each member with opportunities for a
meaningful league experience.
• Members have opportunities to attend a
variety of planned educational events and
get involved in League activities (using
honed skills or developing new skills).
Participation helps to increase members’
knowledge of the League.
• New League members have the option
of being paired with a veteran League
member who acts as a mentor. A mentor is
available to answer questions, accompany
the new member to League events, and
to help the new member identify League
activities that would benefit from their
skills or spark their passion for an issue
or topic. Getting involved with the help
of a mentor ensures that new members
move comfortably to higher levels of
participation, such as chairing a committee
or serving on the Board as a League officer
or director.
• The local League offers several levels of
membership: (1) individual, (2) household,
and (3) student. The local League membership year is July 1 through June 30. At the
end of the fiscal year, members have until
October 1 to renew their membership by
paying dues. After that date, members who
have not renewed are designated inactive.
• When a person joins the local League, their
name and contact information is entered
into a national membership database of all
League members in the United States. At
this point, the member also is enrolled at
the Maryland and U.S. League levels.
• An active member who recruits three (3) or
more new members to the local League
in a single fiscal year will be awarded
a scholarship equal to one-half of the
subsequent year’s annual dues. It is usually
through members that others learn of the
League and decide to join.
LWVAAC Programs
• Local Leagues address local issues of
compelling interest; often building
relationships in the community and alliances
with other organizations. At the local
League level, the word “program” is used to
describe a variety of events, including, but
not limited to, speakers, panel discussions,
candidate debates, and other educational
activities for members and the public.
A program or meeting at the local level
may be planned around an issue without
undertaking a study or having a position.
Examples of recent Anne Arundel County
League programs include:
»» Coffee & Conversation, a members’
meeting with the Anne Arundel
County delegation in the Maryland
General Assembly to discuss upcoming
legislative priorities;
»» Expert panel discussions on current
topics such a gerrymandering; public
transportation, voting in the digital age,
the effects of global warming locally,
and more.
4
League of Women Voters of Anne Arundel County
LWVAAC Studies,
Positions, and Actions
• Studies are the anchor of all League work.
The League is known for its capacity to
study an issue. A League study is thorough
in its pursuit of the facts and details, stating
the pros and cons. Ideas for issues to be
considered for study originate with the
membership. New studies are adopted by
a vote of the members at the LWVAAC’s
Spring annual meeting.
• Positions are determined through
consensus of the membership. The study
committee develops a fact sheet through
research and fashions consensus questions
that are then discussed only among the
membership. When a consensus is reached,
the committee and the Officers of the
Board write a consensus statement, which
becomes the position on the issue.
In the past, studies undertaken by the
LWVAAC have led to public policy
positions on immigration, transportation,
planning and zoning, solid waste
management, Board of Education, County
Charter, affordable housing, and waste
management, to name a few. Also, local
Leagues may utilize positions taken by
the state and U.S Leagues. Each year, all
local Leagues review the relevance of their
current positions.
• Action describes an event that promotes
the League’s position on an issue to
government officials and the public, often
using the media as a communication tool.
Such actions may include lobbying or
advocating for a cause while simultaneously
educating the public for support.
A league study
is thorough in
its pursuit of the
facts and details....
LWVAAC Voter Services
• The League holds voter registration
drives throughout the year to encourage
all eligible citizens to vote. Two annual
opportunities are the naturalization
ceremony at the historic Paca House in
Annapolis on July 4th and National Voter
Registration Day in September of each year.
• Informing voters is an important part of
the League’s services. In major election
years, the LWVAAC contributes information
to VOTE411.org and publishes the Anne
Arundel County Voters’ Guide, a popular
booklet known for its nonpartisan candidate
profiles and ballot question explanations.
Both VOTE411.org and the Voters’ Guide
are offered free-of-charge to assist voters in
making informed decisions before they go
to the polls.
• For elections that are relevant to the county,
the League sponsors candidate forums
and debates, following strict nonpartisan
national League rules.
5
League of Women Voters of Anne Arundel County
LWVAAC Board of Directors
• The LWVAAC’s Board consists of elected
and appointed directors. At a Spring
annual meeting, League members elect
officers, which include the president or copresidents, treasurer, and secretary, as well
as six directors, to two-year terms. Terms
are staggered to provide continuity. After
the annual meeting, the elected directors
may appoint up to six additional directors
to serve one-year terms.
• Directors may take responsibility for a
portfolio (usually an ongoing League
activity), or serve at-large. Several off-Board
members work closely with the Board of
Directors to handle publicity, the newsletter,
and Board nominations.
• The Board meets at least seven times a
year. The date and place are announced via
email and in the LWVAAC newsletter, Voter,
and on the LWVAAC website: aa.lwvmd.org.
Board meetings are open to all members.
LWVAAC Financial
Administration
• A proposed League budget for the
upcoming fiscal year must be adopted
by the general membership at the Spring
annual meeting. The budget reflects
the goals, priorities, and activities of the
League, including funds for sending several
delegates to the state and national League
conventions.
• The Board of Directors can adjust or
revise the budget to respond to changed
circumstances within the League during the
fiscal year.
• The local League’s Board of Directors bears
the legal responsibility for the League’s
funds. Financial records are audited annually.
• At all levels, the League has two distinct
roles and, therefore, maintains two taxexempt, nonprofit entities. Local Leagues
are 501(c)4 nonprofit organizations because
the League is established as a lobbying
organization and plays an influential role in
politics. But, politics must not become the
primary focus. In practice that means the
League must spend less than 50 percent
of its money on politics. As a result of
the 501(c)4 status, contributions made
directly to the operating costs of a
League are not tax deductible. Moreover,
membership dues cannot be deducted on
income taxes as charitable contributions.
• The general membership must approve any
change in individual membership dues at
the Spring annual meeting. Dues levels are
as follows:
»» Individual member: $65
»» Household: $30 (subsequent member
of an individual member’s household)
»» Student: $25 (aged 18 to 30 and
enrolled in an accredited institution)
»» Life Member: no charge (an individual
who has been a member of 50 years
or more)
• All local Leagues are obligated to support
the state and U.S. Leagues as well as the
National Capital Area League (LWVNCA)
through per member payments (PMP).
The PMP is assessed on the dues of each
member based on their membership level.
No PMP is owed for life members. A local
League’s PMP is based on the number of
active members it has enrolled in the U.S.
League’s database as of February 1.
6
League of Women Voters of Anne Arundel County
For Additional
Information
LWVAAC
$16.65
LWVUS
$31.00
How Your
Dues Are
Distributed
LWVMD
$15.00
INSURANCE
LWVNCA*
$1.10
$1.25
* LWVNCA is an inter-league organization that brings together representatives
of Leagues in the capital areas of DC, MD and VA.
Fundraising
The LWVAAC organizes a fundraising
campaign annually to solicit contributions
from members and the public to support
programs and activities.
League of Women Voters of
Maryland–Education Fund
• A separate Education Fund is classified as
a 501(c)3 entity. Contributions made to
this fund are tax deductible to the donor.
Donors may designate the League of
Anne Arundel County as the recipient of
these funds to be used for educational
purposes only, including voter services.
The League of Women Voters is
represented in 50 states, as well as DC,
Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In addition, local Leagues represent
counties, cities, areas, and regions.
League of Women Voters
of the United States
1730 M Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: 202-429-1965
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.lwvus.org
League of Women Voters
National Capital Area
c/o LWVUS, Suite 1000
1730 M Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
Email: [email protected]
Website: lwvnca.org
League of Women Voters of Maryland
111 Cathedral Street, Suite 201
Annapolis, MD 21401
410-269-0232
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.lwvmd.org
League of Women Voters of
Anne Arundel County
317 Eatons Landing
Annapolis, MD 21401
410-295-5228
Email: [email protected]
Website: aa.lwvmd.org
• The League, at any level, cannot accept
contributions for the Education Fund from
candidates running for elected public office.
LWVAAC Publication of January 2015

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