The "Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy." Awards reflect the Leagues' vision for a democracy where every person has the desire, the right, the knowledge and the confidence to participate.

Applications were reviewed by a panel of LWVUS staff and finalists were selected in each category. Voting is now open and the winners will be announced at on June 30 at the Convention banquet. 

Strengthening Democracy — This category is to showcase the work of Leagues that activate their grassroots network to empower voters and advocate change around key issues such as protecting voting rights or increasing voter registration and turnout.

Local League Finalists - VOTE HERE

LWV of Anchorage (AK)

Voter Engagement through Voter Registration and Vote-by-Mail Education and Outreach is a project to register new voters, inform current voters about the need to update address and name information, educate Anchorage citizens about the new Vote-by-Mail (VBM) voting system, encourage and facilitate meaningful conversations about voting logistics and highlight the purpose and nonpartisan role of League. These goals were accomplished by conducting voter registration drives; facilitating for the Municipality of Anchorage requests for speakers and speaking at various venues; drafting and distributing a nonpartisan pamphlet – Ballot Review – outlining the voting process, listing candidates and ballot questions; expanding Facebook posts; creating a new web site; drafting and creating a voting PSA for youth by youth; partnering with and assisting the Municipality of Anchorage Clerk's office with preelection, Election Day and post-election activities; and participating in the Anchorage Elections Stakeholder Group from July 2015 through April 3, 2018 with two League members chairing various subcommittees.

The League's priority issue was to be involved at the grassroots level with the transition to a Vote-by-Mail system while reassuring voters the new system was trustworthy, safe, secure, convenient and accessible by delivering nonpartisan educational information to all age groups, all economic groups, underrepresented groups, citizens of every background, location and work schedule. The League's role expanded over the course of this last year to include a partnership with Municipality of Anchorage Clerk's office in a variety of areas.  A by-product of the education and outreach effort was to increase the number of citizens registered to vote and inform currently registered voters of the need to update their registration address and/or name. During the last year, the League registered close to 1,000 voters.

Last year's Municipal election turnout was 24.77% with the highest turnout in a Municipal election at 35.82% in 2012 with 71,099 ballots received. The turnout for the April 3rd election is still to be determined but as of this submission 79,284 voted ballots.

LWV of Palo Alto (CA)

In June of 2017 the League of Women Voters of Palo Alto Voter Services co-chairs set an intention to register 100% of Palo Alto eligible teens during the 2017-2018 school year. To meet this ambitious goal, they developed a pilot program for registering students during classroom visits, worked with multiple school administrators and teachers to schedule those visits, and then recruited volunteers to work with students in more than 60 classrooms at two local public high schools and five local independent schools.

The result: From October of 2017 through April 10, 2018, more than 750 students have been registered or pre-registered by Palo Alto's League volunteers, with an additional 250 likely to be registered or pre-registered by June. 

During each senior classroom visit, League volunteers recorded the number of students present; the number registered during that class; the number who had already registered; and the number who were either ineligible (not citizens) or declined to register. For example, during 25 (23 in classrooms; 2 during lunchtime) visits to Palo Alto High School (Paly), volunteers registered 306 seniors; learned that 52 were already registered; and estimate that 54 seniors were either non-citizens or declined to register. Thus, of 486 seniors at Paly, they were able to track the voter registration status of 412 students – 85% of the senior class. A similar result is anticipated at Gunn High School when the project is completed there in mid-May.

In the classroom message volunteers talk about the League's mission and engage students in a lively discussion about why voting is important and discuss the various voting rights challenges that face our country.

By June 1, 2018, more than 30 volunteers will have participated in more than 60 classroom visits. Since each classroom visit required a four-person team, this means volunteers signed up for over 240 volunteer slots during the school year.

LWV of Snohomish County (WA)

The League of Women Voters of Snohomish County, Washington has empowered democracy throughout Snohomish County with a four pronged campaign "Spread the Vote."

First, its Voter Service Team has spread the vote through its wide ranging efforts to reach out at the high schools, Community Colleges, and issue events such as marches to register all eligible citizens of our County.For the youth registration, the League enhanced its partnership with Edmonds Community College and established the roots of a partnership with Everett Community College through its Diversity Director and made some contact with Washington State University extension for programs in the coming year. The Districting efforts brought LWVSC into closer coordination with the NAACP and Everett Districts Now, a coalition of local groups to promote district representation in the City of Everett. This campaign took members out to the neighborhoods and to regularly scheduled times at various local events such as Sortaculture, the July 4th Parade and the local Farmers' Market by the marina.

Second, the "League on the Air", monthly public radio program on KSER, spotlighted important subjects, people past and present, as well as election candidate interviews The KSER program supported the Districting efforts with a variety of interviews, especially during the Mayoral campaign, in which this became a central issue.

Third, in 2016 a Districting Committee formed to bring a change to the City Charter of Everett by having its Council change from an "at large" voting pattern to one that includes both districts and at large representation. This includes increased voter registration in underserved areas of the city. Finally, the Civil Discourse Committee has set in motion public education on elements of civil discourse with structured forums that include citizen participation and voter registration. This is also a campaign for the adoption of a civil discourse statement that would affect its local position on Civic Participation.