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A Different Kind of ‘Political Party’

June 13, 2008

Portland, OR – Despite this year's contentious presidential race, that battle will not be the main topic of conversation at the national League of Women Voters (LWV) convention, beginning today in Portland. At this meeting, which takes place every other year, members will cover issues they think voters need to know more about, and discuss how to give them the information.

Healthcare reform tops the list, and the Washington State delegation will suggest creating a task force to study nuclear arms control. National LWV President Mary Wilson, of the Albuquerque LWV, explains the group doesn't endorse candidates, and being nonpartisan is something they take very seriously.

"We believe so strongly in looking at all sides of an issue, and presenting the information to the public and letting them make their own decisions. We think partisan considerations really don't play any factor."

One of the largest delegations at the convention will be from Washington, since the state has a network of 23 leagues. Local leagues publish voters' guides, sponsor debates and forums, register voters and speak at schools about the importance of good government and citizen involvement. Wilson says they do it all to encourage people to vote, and she adds women have made a difference at the polls in the last two election years.

"In numbers, more women turned out to vote than men. Also, a larger percentage of women voted than men. So, very definitely, the women's vote is a factor."

League membership is not restricted to only women. And, for the first time in the League's history, a man will be elected to the national board this weekend. The Washington LWV Web site is www.lwvwa.org, which contains links to each local league site. The national convention runs through Sunday, June 15.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA