Studies & Reports

The League of Women Voters of Washington conducts formal studies to create our position and issues reports to present current information about important subjects. Learn more about our study process, the formal process by which The League of Women Voters does studies and takes positions on issues. 

Studies & Reports Available

Click on the links below to be taken to a summary & a link to the documents.

Report Summaries
Protecting Our Democracy
The report begins with general redistricting information: its level of importance, the legal requirements, and the process used to carry out these requirements across the nation. Then the report discusses Washington’s redistricting history, the process used in recent decades and the changes in representation since the state constitution was amended in 1983. After discussion of how several other states are working for better representation, the report concludes with suggestions on improving Washington state’s redistricting process. In order to keep the report brief, there are numerous appendices to provide in-depth information on many of the topics.

Election Reform
This study reviews the issues raised by the historically close 2004 governor's race and the resulting changes in state law. Examined were the new state Voter Registration Database system and the various approaches to auditing election results. Included is a synopsis of Building Confidence in U.S. Elections, (The Carter-Baker Report) and a summary of recommendations of the Brennan Center for Justice and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights for Improving Reliability of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Voting Systems.

  • Election Reform (PDF)
    An examination of the goals of representative democracy, the voting systems used in Western Democracies, and procedures in preparation for and conducting elections.
  • An Evaluation of Major Election Methods (PDF)
  • A Review of Various Election Methods, February 2020 (PDF)
    At the turn of the 21st century, the League examined major alternatives of election methods used in western democracies and came to the above positions, which continue to address election methods well. That was nearly 20 years ago so the focus of this report is research and a report to bring up to date the information on election methods in use or under consideration for use in various places in 2020. Our goal, as always, is continuing education of League members, our elected officials and the public.

Voting Studies
A two-year study looks at voting with absentee/vote-by-mail ballots, reviews the security checks in the ballot counting process, evaluates the role voting equipment plays in voting and tallying, and includes a definition of terms used in election processes.

The Initiative and Referendum Process

Citizens Guide to the Courts

  • Citizens Guide to the Courts (PDF)
    A project on Judicial Independence was undertaken in conjunction with 14 other Leagues across the U.S., funded and administered by the national League of Women Voters Education Fund. An outcome following from this project was the distribution to several thousand members of the public of this booklet published by the state office of court administration with production assistance from the LWVWA Education Fund.

Tax Studies

  • County Finances: Tax and Revenue Systems in Washington Counties (2000) (PDF)
    There is a need for greater understanding of taxes in our communities. We believe that we should lead our communities in discussing how our governments should be financed. We hope that this study will help our members take an active role in informed public dialogue. This study was written by the League of Women Voters of Washington (LWVWA) in partnership with the Institute for Washington's Future (IWF).
  • Washington State Tax Study Summary (PDF)
    A two-year project updating the League’s previous studies regarding the state tax structure and examining how to achieve a fair, adequate and transparent tax structure to be adopted for the State of Washington. 53 pages.

Public Banking 

Under the framework of the league’s Privatization Position, the LWVWA Public Bank task force was formed to explore the public banking issue and evaluate the legislature proposed Washington Investment Trust, a state chartered public cooperative bank. The task force has two primary objectives: One is to analyze the issue of public banking, share the information and provide education to all leagues. The other is to recommend to the LWVWA state board whether to support, not support, or not decide on the current legislation after the analysis and evaluation of public banking and the proposed WA state legislation for a state owned public bank. The work of the task force is NOT a study. It is an evaluation of whether the existing state use of private commercial banks to manage public funds would meet the league standards under the Privatization Position or should the control of the state’s funds be returned to state control under a public bank.

The Decline of Local News and Its Impact on Democracy

  • The Decline of Local News and Its Impact on Democracy (PDF)
    Washington is experiencing a crisis in local news coverage, the result of three dailies and at least 20 weeklies closing since 2005. Newsroom staffing is down 67 percent. This LWVWA study reports declines in Washington state are linked to reduced voter participation, fewer candidates seeking office, higher government costs, challenges for public health, greater political polarization and reduced community involvement. The study also looks at our founders’ commitment to a vibrant free press as a cornerstone of our democracy. Finally, it also reviews a number of responses to the decline, including the growth of nonprofits, philanthropic efforts and legislation. (Also available in print or as eBook on Amazon.)

Energy & Natural Resources

Shoreline Management Act at 50+ Years
The Washington State Shoreline Management Act is one of the first environmental laws enacted in Washington and the United States. There was an overhaul of its implementing regulations in 2003, but the statute itself has rarely been amended. This study evaluates how the SMA is working for the protection of our state shorelines. Shorelines are the dynamic and fragile place where land and water meet. We set out to examine current shoreline conditions, projections, and issues. The LWVWA Study Committee interviewed a variety of “stakeholders” who work directly with the Act, either by enforcing it, being regulated by it, or seeking to strengthen it. Are the approximately 28,204 miles of shoreline in Washington state being protected adequately through existing policies and agencies, or are additional safeguards required? This study identifies issues of concern.

Renewable Energy
This report examines the various sources of renewable energy, with the intent to provide a better understanding of these sources and the challenges and benefits to their development.

Washington State Conservation Districts
There are 47 conservation districts in Washington state, with the mission to promote conservation within their borders. This report reviews the history, governance and election procedures of the conservation districts, including the role of the Washington State Conservation Commission.

Growth Management Act

  • Growth Management Act (PDF)
    A two-year study about the Growth Management Act in Washington State. Topics include how we got the Act and what it was intended to fix; specific components of the Act, such as goals, planning requirements and enforcement; an assessment of how it has worked around the state; successes and challenges; case studies; current controversies and comparison with other states.
  • Role of Vesting on the Growth Management Act
    This report seeks to evaluate the impact of the vested rights doctrine on the permitting process and these goals, and the Land Use position of League of Women Voters of Washington State.

Washington's Dynamic Forests
A two-part study of forests and forest issues for citizens who wish to understand the history, policies and current issues of forests in our state.

Social & Economic Justice

Public Assistance as Public Policy
An examination of the safety-net and welfare system with a focus on who participates in Washington and the impact of the system.


Early Learning
This report includes recent changes in early care and education, current research results, the quality and affordability of current care, community-based services, and emerging issues in the field. The report also includes a discussion of government's role in this issue. 


Washington State Ferries
Washington State Ferries are both a part of the state highway system and a mass transit provider. An updated study of the League of Women Voters of Washington Transportation Position with a focus on the Washington State Ferry System.

Washington State Public Port Districts
Examines the organizational structure of the ports system in Washington state—its governance (defined as the act, power, or process of governing); its financial basis; and how the public can be involved. 


To inquire about the availability of printed copies or for other titles, please contact the state office at (206) 622-8961 or by e-mail. Please contact the LWVWA for any additional information about studies and reports. 

The League of Women Voters of Washington is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.
The League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. LWVWA Education Fund contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law. The League of Women Voters Education Fund does not endorse the contents of any web pages to which it links.

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