Our vote is our power. Through our votes, elections make our voices heard. The LWVC protects and empowers millions of voters every year to ensure that California’s elections are fair, accessible, and representative of all Californians.
Why it Matters
Elections affect every area of our lives, from health care to jobs to racial justice. When we choose our leaders by voting, we’re choosing the people who will make decisions that shape the direction of our country, our state, and our communities.
Types of Elections
Every four years, Americans elect our president, a position that carries huge power. The President enacts laws, directs where money and resources go when communities are in need, leads our nation in times of crisis, and represents our country in important matters around the world. A President’s decisions and policies affect the direction of the country every single day.
Voters elect Senators and Representatives to serve them in the two houses of Congress. We call these officials “lawmakers” because Congress writes and votes on the laws that the President enacts. Often, these officials will have an important say in the way the government spends tax dollars—including whether tax dollars are invested in your community. When a highway is repaired or a hospital is built in your community, one of your elected lawmakers probably helped get money for those projects.
Senators and Representatives are also expected to help their constituents with all kinds of problems, like when a senior is having trouble getting a Social Security check, a family member traveling overseas needs assistance getting home, and a wide range of other matters.
These elections determine state leadership including the governor, state legislators, and attorney general. Many of the laws that affect our lives every day are state laws. Did you get a speeding ticket on the highway? State officials probably passed the law establishing that speed limit and the fine. These officials are responsible for writing, enacting, and enforcing those laws.
California elections also include ballot measures and initiatives on a variety of issues like the state minimum wage, reproductive rights, taxes, and many other topics. When voting on these, voters choose for themselves, directly, what laws they want.
These are elections for local community offices, such as mayors, city councils, sheriffs, district attorneys, or school boards. Elected officials at the local level impact decisions in your community, everything from public safety to trash collection to the books that are used in your child’s classroom.
These elections directly impact your day-to-day life and the lives of your friends, neighbors, and community members. Voting in your local election is critical to making sure you can choose how issues and opportunities in your local community move forward.
What We’re Doing
The League works not only to empower voters with the information they need to take part in elections, but to create more fair, accessible election systems.
CANDIDATE DEBATES & FORUMS
Hearing and seeing candidates engage in healthy debates before an election is an important part of our democracy. Candidate debates and forums help us determine which candidates align with our values and which ones we want to support with our votes. Every year, Leagues across California host candidate debates and forums for candidates running at all levels of government, from congressional races to statewide offices, city government, local school boards, and everything in between. Due to our deep roots and long history of nonpartisanship, communities across the country have put their trust in the League to host these events.
DID YOU KNOW? In the 1970s and 1980s, the League of Women Voters sponsored the televised presidential debates. In 1976 the League won an Emmy award for Outstanding Achievement in Broadcast Journalism.
Our award-winning voting and election resource, VOTE411.org, provides reliable, nonpartisan information in both English and Spanish, including candidates guides, voter registration and verification, details about your unique ballot, and how to cast your ballot in California. For over a decade, the LWVC Education Fund has provided millions of Californians with reliable ballot information through an online ballot planning tool, so they have what they need to use their power and vote.
Advocacy & Litigation
We engage in litigation, lobbying, and grassroots action to promote policies that make elections more equitable and accessible and to fight attempts to limit the freedom to vote. Policies we fight for, or have won, include:
- Access to same-day voter registration;
- Expanding voting locations, especially in marginalized communities;
- Reinstating the right to vote to people who are no longer incarcerated;
- Expanding access to secure vote-by-mail;
- Ensuring policies that protect the safety of California’s election officials;
- Expand the success of our current Automatic Voter Registration system at the DMV to social services agencies that serve low-income people and other underrepresented potential voters;
- Transparency around campaign finance; and
- Clearly communicated candidate positions.
Through our advocacy and litigation efforts, we’re able to strengthen our electoral system by getting more people involved.