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League of Women Voters: 80 years of empowering Tucson voters & defending democracy

Believe it or not, the League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson was founded 80 years ago this month. On October 28th, 1941, our league was officially formed after it had met informally for a few months. Their first task as a new league was to form study committees and write a pamphlet called “Know Your Town.” An article from the Tucson Citizen in 1941 noted that this requirement for every local league had “earned the respect of their communities by their methods of ‘study first, then action.’”

Eighty years later we are still carrying on this work today. Our publications committee is busy updating our guide, Know Your Pima County Government, which is used by citizens and officials across the county. You probably know that we do voter registration and train community groups to do their own voter registration work. That’s our bread and butter, but we do so much more.

We held candidate forums this fall to inform you about the Tucson city election, like we do for every election. We also held voter education programs on medical assistance in dying and the filibuster, and we’ll be having another one on the Justice for All ballot measure in November. These are just some of the topics we research and bring in guest speakers to inform you about every year.

Next January, we will shift gears to focus on the legislative session. Last year, we fought hard against a slew of anti-voter bills in the state Legislature, and we have a feeling we will be doing the same again to make sure everyone eligible to vote in Arizona can do so easily. We also have an Observer Corps, a group of members who watches our local city councils, board of supervisors, and school boards to watch for open government adherence and to report back to the league with recommendations for action.

One of our newer groups is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, although this work stretches back to our founding. Would you guess that some of our founders and earliest members were Black and Latina women and that our league held its first panel discussion on the issues affecting racial and ethnic groups in Tucson in 1944? Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee focuses on educating our league members on diversity topics and finds ways in the community to partner with other groups on issues of social and racial justice.

This fall we have so much to celebrate: we are one of the largest leagues in the country, and we are a leader that many other leagues look to for our innovative programs, voter outreach, and advocacy work. We have also managed to forge ahead through the past few years through crisis after crisis, adapting to vast changes that none of us were expecting. Through it all, we’ve stuck to our core principles: nonpartisanship, education on issues, empowering voters, and defending democracy.

As we turn towards the 2022 election, our renewed mission will be to fight against the spread of misinformation concerning voting and elections in our state. If you are tired of politics as usual, consider attending one of our programs or events. You may be inspired to join us in this mission in saving democracy, one voter at a time. To learn more, visit https://lwvtucson.org.

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