LWV Takes Action & Advocates on LWV Position Statements
The League of Women Voters takes action on an issue or advocates for a cause when there is an existing League position that support the issue or speaks to the cause.
Position results from a process of study. Any given study, whether it be National, State, or Local, is thoroughly in its pursuit of facts and details. As the study progresses, a continuing discussion of pros and cons of each situation occurs. Prior to the results of the study being presented to the general membership, study committee members fashion consensus questions that are then addressed by the membership.
Additional discussion, pro and con, takes place as members (not part of the study committee) learn the scope of the study. After the members reach consensus, the board forms positions based on that consensus.
It is the Consensus Statement (the statement resulting from the consensus questions) that becomes a position. Firm action or advocacy can then be taken on the particular issue addressed by the position. Without a position, action or advocacy can NOT be taken.
How are Consensus & Positions Achieved?
At every level, League programs consists of those governmental issues that members choose for concentrated study, consensus, and action. At the annual program planning meeting, members discuss their ideas for local, state and national programs. Their proposals are submitted to the respective administrative team or board of directors. Each board the considers the proposals forwarded to it, formulates a recommended program, and present it to the membership at local annual meetings or to delegates at the state or national convention.
When an issue for study has been adopted, the board appoints a chairperson of a “study committee.” This person in turn finds other members to serve on the committee. Taking part in a study in an excellent way to become familiar with and get involved in the League.
The study committee researches the designated topic and presents all its information to members at the local team meetings, where it is discussed. Members strive to reach consensus, or agreement, and clearly state their stand, called a Position or Position Statement, on a particular issue. Consensus is not a simple majority, nor is it unanimity, rather it means an overall sense of the group. It is the committee’s responsibility to present all sides of the issue to members for their consideration, and with each team or group reaching consensus, it is possible to fine out what members think on the whole. However, the minority opinion will also surface.
If the state League is studying the topic, usually on a statewide issue, then it becomes a state consensus, and similarly, a national consensus if the style was conducted at that level on a national issue. In all cases, the consensus is reached through local Leagues participating at their local meetings, which is why member attendance is so important. From the consensus comes the statement of what the League supports or opposes.
Another process for obtaining a League position is through concurrence or agreement with some other League entity’s proposed statement. League members or boards can concur with recommendations or a statement from a task force, a resource committee, a unit group, or any League board, another local board, any state board, or the national board.