Election 2016: Educating & Engaging Voters

Voter Services – voter registration and voter education – is the keystone of our work every single year.  The League of Women Voters has long been recognized as the premiere source for nonpartisan election information. Throughout our history, we have produced and distributed nonpartisan, educational materials; funded activities promoting citizen responsibility in the democratic process; and facilitated communication between citizens and their government officials. 

Election years are our busiest period. Our Voter Services team and many dedicated volunteers work long hours to help get Washingtonians signed up and ready to vote. 

Voter Registration – kicked into high gear

Registration of voters is a hallmark of League work ... and this year our volunteers were out distributing voter information, and actively encouraging citizens to vote. We concentrated our registration drives in Wards 5, 7, & 8 - where DC citizens have been less likely to register to vote or participate in elections. Every month, we registered new citizens after naturalization ceremonies.  

To start off the election year, our Voter Services Chair Linda Soflti developed a very aggressive plan for the Primary Election and followed through with an even more aggressive plan for the General Election. During the election season, we held over 38 registration events across the city.  Additionally, our members participated in voter registration after 15 Naturalization Ceremonies. During the year, in a city with one of the highest voter registration rates in the country, we registered over 1,000 new voters. 

Special thanks go to the volunteers leading our voter registration efforts: Linda Softli, Judy Smith, Anne Laroche, Alex Dickson, and Linda Beebe. We would like to thank the allies in this endeavour, including United Planning Organization, National Political Congress of Black Women, Metropolitan AME Church, New Macedonia Baptist Church, Covenant Baptist Church, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Capital Area Food Bank, and the D.C. Board of Elections. 

Educating Citizens – new resources to reach more voters

Because the leaders you elect make decisions that affect you – your job, health care, energy costs, security, and more - we publish voter information brochures and booklets to help DC citizens understand how to vote, how our city works, and individual rights as voters.

This year, we introduced a major update of our primary voter brochure, Your Vote Counts!  It has a new look, a new name - Your City. Your Vote. - and more information than ever before. These brochures are handed out at all of our voter registration events and were provided to the DC Public Schools in the spring for distribution to every senior. We continued our publication of Reclaim Your Right to Vote – a fact sheet on voting rights for the incarcerated and returning citizens.  Finally, we unveiled a new website in July – expanding our voter information and education materials into our online format as The DC Voter’s Guide.  

Thank you to Linda Beebe, Alex Dickson, Elinor Hart, Kathryn Ray, Melody Webb, and Emily Tamlyn for their hard work on the research, writing, and design of these important resources.

Vote411.org: Election Information – breaking new records

Vote411 provides voters across our city and across the country with critical information on voting and elections including online voter registration, polling location information, and candidate guides. The DC League consistently publishes the only guide that provides nonpartisan, unbiased information on every race in the city.  

Every election cycle, we see an increase in DC voters using Vote411.  In 2016, over 48,000 Washingtonians used Vote411 to help them get ready to vote, a 274% increase from 2012. Over 78% of users came to the site for the first time.  Of course, Vote411 is not just for DC voters. Leagues across the country use Vote411 and this year, LWVUS expanded Vote411 to include races in every jurisdiction in the country. Across the country, Vote411 had over 6 million hits– and increase of 279% from 2012. 

We want to give special thanks to our local Vote411 team, Kathryn Ray and Dennis Beaufort , for their expertise and hard work.