Making Democracy Work

Where We Stand: Consensus & Positions

LWV Stands Together at All Levels. LWV Speaks With One Voice!

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How Are Consensus & Positions Achieved?

The League of Women Voters is a proudly non-partisan organization that supports no candidates or parties. However, LWV is political. This is the LWV process.

PROGRAM STUDY, CONSENSUS AND POSITION STATEMENTS

At every level, League program consists of those governmental issues that members choose for concentrated study, consensus, and action. At each year's program planning meeting, members discuss their ideas for local, state, and national program. Their proposals are submitted to the respective administrative team or board of directors. Each board then considers the proposals forwarded to it, formulates a recommended program, and presents 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 is an excellent way to become familiar with and 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 absorbed and 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, but 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 find 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 study 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 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.

ACTION

The League of Women Voters "speaks with one voice" national, state and local Leagues take part in and support consensus positions. Once members reach agreement and a position is stated, local, state or national League may take action by:

  • lobbying
  • working with other organizations
  • letter writing and email campaigns and personal visits to legislators and administrative agencies
  • publishing and distributing pertinent materials
  • testifying at legislative and administrative hearings to assure citizen input in policymaking decisions
  • monitoring elections and other government activities such as council, commission or committee meetings
  • litigation to help clarify laws in the public interest.

LWV takes action only when there is an existing League Consensus Position that supports a specific issue or speaks to a certain cause. While some of positions may or may not be favored by a political party, all were achieved by careful, nonpartisan consideration.