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League of Women Voters marks milestone

By Staff | Jan 30, 2020

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The community is invited to join the League of Women Voters for a 100th anniversary celebration Saturday.

The celebration will take place from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Feb. 1, at Coastal Commons at Shell Point, 17500 On Par Blvd., Fort Myers.

Tickets are $20 per person, which includes a plated breakfast.

Those interested in attending are asked to email reservations@lwvlee.org with name, address and phone number, or call (239) 278-1032.

President of the League of Women Voters of Florida Patricia Brigham, who is a proven national and Florida grassroots leader and coalition builder, will be the featured speaker.

“We will continue to fight voter discrimination and to keep secret money out of our elections to ensure that our elections are fair, free and accessible,” Brigham said in a prepared statement. “We’ll also continue to push for improved access to health care as well as recognizing that climate change is a scientific reality that must be addressed to ensure a sustainable planet for everyone.”

The topics of Brigham’s discussion will touch upon the league’s priorities, including election reform, voting rights, preservation of natural resources, prevention of gun violence, juvenile justice, health care and economic opportunities.

“Today we are faced with many challenges that threaten to compromise our democracy,” League of Women Voters United States President Chris Carson said in a prepared statement. “Our efforts to support voting rights and to fight against voter suppression and discrimination at the local, state and national levels have been very successful, and this has been achieved primarily by educating and empowering voters, circulating special petitions, and intervening in several critical court cases.”

In 1920, during the convention of the National American Women Suffrage Association, Carrie Chapman Catt founded the League of Women Voters, six months before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote.

“We are celebrating the fact that the League of Women Voters is 100 years old as of Feb. 14. The purpose of the league was to make sure, now that we have the right to vote, we should be educated about the issues and study the issues and be able to advocate for public policy,” League of Women Voters Lee County President Clara Ann Graham said.

She said that their chapter is doing well and is extremely busy this year going into the elections of 2020.

“The last election we had 13 candidate forums and I can see that happening again this year. We had all the candidate information posted on vote411, so we are going to be very busy for the election,” Graham said. “We don’t support, or oppose candidates.”

She explained that the league has two arms. The first is a 501c3 voter service and education arm. The second is a 501c4, which is the advocacy arm.

“That is where we lobby and advocate for selected issues that the membership has studied and established a position. We cannot lobby, or advocate for a position unless we have a position on it,” Graham said.

On Aug. 28 the League will hold a 100th anniversary celebration marking of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.

The event will be held at Florida Gulf Coast University.

The league’s next meeting will discuss affordable housing on March 7, followed by addressing women’s reproductive health and justice April 4. The meetings start at 9:30 a.m. and are held at the Collaboratory, 2031 Jackson St., Fort Myers.