Making Democracy Work

Get Involved

As a grassroots organization, the League of Women Voters needs interested citizens to help us making democracy work for our community. There are several ways for you to become involved.

Community Service

Informing the community about the League's activities strengthens the League's ability to be effective and increases membership. Thus, Community Services covers projects and programs that involve outreach to the larger community. Public relations, Know Your Town: A Directory of Officials, Agencies and Services, an annual Staples Tuition Grant, the Memorial Day Parade, our website and our three school programs -- Second Grade Water Quality Program, Seventh Grade Voter Education and High School Civics -- all fall under Community Services.

The League is proud to have participated in the Staples High School Tuition Grant Program since 1990. Our annual scholarship is awarded to a female Staples graduate (chosen by the Tuition Grant committee) who has shown civic responsibility or plans to major in political science, social studies, or history in college.

Informing the community about the League's activities strengthens the League's ability to be effective and increases membership. Thus, Community Services covers projects and programs that involve outreach to the larger community. Public relations, Know Your Town: A Directory of Officials, Agencies and Services, an annual Staples Tuition Grant, the Memorial Day Parade, our website and our three school programs -- Second Grade Water Quality Program, Seventh Grade Voter Education and High School Civics -- all fall under Community Services.

The League is proud to have participated in the Staples High School Tuition Grant Program since 1990. Our annual scholarship is awarded to a female Staples graduate (chosen by the Tuition Grant committee) who has shown civic responsibility or plans to major in political science, social studies, or history in college.

Seventh Grade Civics

Each year the LWV presents a civics program to all 7th graders in town designed to acquaint them with the meaning and importance of voting. The program walks them through a brief history of voting in the United States, from the limited franchise at the inception of our country through the long struggle to universal suffrage. It is our hope that we will instill in our students an awareness of the voting process and encourage them to participate with their parents and that they will ultimately register and vote when they too come of age.

High School Civics

Twice a year the LWV goes into the High School Government classes at Staples to teach a 45 minute lesson on the importance of each and every vote. The goal is to encourage the students to become active participants in the democratic process, beginning with exercising their right to vote. The lesson includes a stark demonstration of how low our voter turnout is, and an opportunity for the students to think creatively about ways to improve turnout. We also register any students who are eligible.

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Member Service

The major responsibilities of Member Services are membership recruitment, retention and involvement. This includes organizing a variety of events throughout the year including the Fall Brunch, Post-Election Coffee, Holiday Lunch, and Annual Meeting. To keep members informed, the Member Services publishes the monthly Westport Voter and the annual Member Handbook and maintains the email list and telephone tree. In addition, Member Services administers the membership database required by the state and national Leagues.

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Program/Advocacy

Program can be at the local, state or national level. At the local level, members choose issues for study at the annual program planning meeting. Studies include research and discussion, and culminate in consensus and the development of a position that is adopted by approval of the Board and the general membership.

At its annual meeting in June, 2012, the general membership of the LWV Westport adopted the following two studies:

A mini-study on aging in Westport with a review of appropriate locations for housing/care. This mini-study will also look at what would be considered as appropriate uses for Baron's South.

A Study of downtown riverfront access and development on both the East and West banks of the Saugatuck River including pedestrian safety issues in the downtown area.

Observer Corps

Members of the Observer Corps are the eyes and ears of the League at public meetings; they attend town board and commission meetings to listen and take notes on the agenda items. They do not speak, testify or act in any way on issues under discussion. Observers meet monthly, together with the Action Committee, to share observations and jointly identify issues meriting League attention.

Action Committee

The Action Committee follows issues of interest to the League as they develop and, based on League positions and the six founding principles, recommends action in a variety of forms, including meetings with elected or appointed officials, statements at public meetings, letters, or articles for the local papers.

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Voter Service

Voters Services strives to increase citizen participation in the electoral process and to increase political awareness in a nonpartisan manner. Each year, the League creates a Voters' Guide that contains information on candidates and issues for the upcoming elections. The goal is to distribute the Guide to every household in Westport.

During the fall, debates are held to help citizens learn candidates' positions on the issues. Other community organizations are recruited to co-sponsor. Questions from the audience highlight voter concerns and issues. Debates are usually broadcast on the local government access cable channel.

Voter Services assists the Westport registrars with registering eligible high school students and educating the public on voting changes such as the new optical scanning voting machines. Voter Services is continually developing "Get out the Vote" campaigns and exploring new ways to increase voter turnout.

Debate Committee

The Debate Committee is responsible for organizing and conducting the candidates' debates which take place in the fall prior to Election Day. These debates are a public service and are open to all, as well as being televised on the town's public access channel and streamed live. The committee coordinates the date(s) with the candidates and town political committees, engages a moderator, generates opening questions, recruits and trains timers, screeners and ushers and produces a program.

Voters Guide Committee

The Voters' Guide Committee is responsible for producing the annual Voters' Guide, a public service made available to all Westport residents. The committee formulates questions for the candidates, collects candidates' responses and biographical information, and formats the guide in collaboration with the Westport Minuteman.

My Town My Vote

My Town My Vote

The League's semi-annual effort to raise awareness of and participation in local elections

In "off" election years, when there are no federal-level elections, the voter turnout in Westport is lamentably low. My Town My Vote is our all out effort to reverse this trend and get people interested in local politics and elections. The approach varies from year to year, but we always need people and ideas to make this project a success.

The Top 10 Reasons To Vote Local

10. It's a nice break from work.

9. There are usually great bake sales at the polls

8. I earn a full year's right to complain (and I'll learn who to complain to).

7. The polls are open before and after my train.

6. I only have to do it once a year.

5. Why should I let someone else make all the decisions?

4. I might run into someone I know; it's a great chance to catch up.

3. It only takes a minute.

2. I can find out what "RTM" means.

1. Voting is part of my responsibility to my community.

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