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  • 21 Nov 2022 4:21 PM | Anonymous

    by Liz Bander, LWVWA Director

    Did you see the 2022 Election Impact Report from LWVUS? Around the country, we did amazing work empowering voters and defending democracy, including here in Washington. While this report looks fantastic, it's built on a strong data-driven culture. While it can feel awkward to ask for data, or even to consider it, we don't know what we don't measure, and most importantly, we can't assess our impact without measurement.

    This year, we experimented by adding in more data collection at various points to understand the work we're doing across the state, to understand who we are reaching, and to see if what we're doing is making an impact.

    What did we do during Election Season?

    Shelley Kneip, LWVWA Voter Services Director, detailed some of the incredible and creative voter services work Leagues across the state did during Election Season. We also sent a survey to local League presidents, asking them to respond with some numbers, so that we could assess our reach. Seven Leagues responded, for a 33% response rate, which is not bad for a first attempt!

    Between the survey and events shared to the LWVWA calendar, we found that across the state we had a big impact-- and because we are missing data, our impact is likely even larger:

    • 20+ Primary Election Candidate Events
    • 40+ General Election Candidate Events
    • 110+ Volunteers
    • 1000+ Attendees & Views
    • 15+ Partners & Co-Sponsors

    it's very normal to not have all the data, and while we should want to collect what we can, there are reasons why we don't have it all. Some of our data is owned by our partners- for example, while we can see the number of views on a partner organization's YouTube channel when it's publicly visible, we can't see anything further. That's okay. As we discuss what we want to do in the next election cycle, we can look at if and how we want to work with partners to collect additional data, as well as decide what we want to collect internally.

    What were voters thinking about?

    We were contacted many times by the press during this election cycle and one of the common questions was, "what's on voters' minds?" While we don't have our own polling information, we received some insights from folks who submitted questions to us for the WA Secretary of State and US Senate candidate debates at Gonzaga.

    The word cloud above is imperfect-- you can see that words like "support" and "Secretary of State" are large, but that's because a number of questions were entered in the form of, "As Secretary of State, would you support..." However, you can also see a number of items that mattered to voters. The submitted questions were shared with the Voter Services team to inform the actual questions asked during the debates separate from any demographic data voluntarily submitted.

    Who did we hear from?

    We also asked demographic questions for individuals. This was to understand if we were reaching a broad segment of the population. We could have done better, and one of my insights for next time is that the outreach should start earlier, and especially by engaging partners immediately. Overall, we received 49 responses, some of which may have been submitted by the same person. All questions were optional and could be skipped entirely. Here are some of the results and a few key insights.

    Result: Questions came from people in nine counties, with the majority coming from Spokane, followed by King and Kitsap.

    Insight: We have Leagues in far more counties than those that responded. How can we ask Leagues and League members to participate more?

    Result: The vast majority of respondents were over the age of 50, white, and women.

    Insight: This makes sense, given our overall membership demographics, but we should review how we publicize question solicitation for future candidate events.


    Result: Most folks heard about the debates via email, but a number heard via the newspaper.

    Insight: Media partners really help out here. Also, we know what's a good way to reach this demographic! 

    Did we make an impact?

    I reviewed the data as it was coming in, and with the knowledge that we weren't seeing much movement on social media, worked with Amy Peloff and Carolyn Stewart to change our outreach strategy, particularly with Instagram and Facebook. We made two changes to how we use the platforms and one change to the content we shared.

    First, we started using Instagram and Facebook Reels. Reels are short videos, and lately, Instagram and Facebook have been prioritizing them, which means people can more readily find our content. We made reels about candidate events, election information, and more. We'll continue to use them when we want to share video, though we will still share longer videos periodically. We also used Stories, including Story Highlights, to promote information. Using stories allows us to embed links, add emojis, and easily share content from other Leagues.

    Finally, the fun part: if you were watching our social media, you may have seen Carolyn meme-ing our way to voters. From reminders about voting deadlines to encouraging people to participate, we reached a number of folks, beyond our usual scope. Our top performers were the Zoolander meme below and a reel commiserating with our followers about elections ads.

    But did this work? In short, yes! We dramatically grew our reach, and overall, have increased our followers by 15%. And while we can still grow, refine processes, and build capacity, we know that we're connecting with folks across the state by having a good time with very serious work.

  • 21 Nov 2022 12:52 PM | Anonymous

    by Lunell Haught, LWVWA President

    A humorous take on some lessons learned from candidate debates…

    • There’s more than one way to skin a cat and there are many ways to let the public meet candidates
    • Cash is king - remember to bring a coin to flip to decide the order of questioning
    • Gremlins are everywhere - make sure to do a sound and light check earlier on the same day as the event.
    • Nobody moves – once you get the angles and lighting set don’t let anyone "help" or just move one sign
    • We’re running late - run through timing particularly if it is filmed for broadcast
    • Gate crashers – be prepared and have a plan to deal with people who don’t have credentials or tickets
    • Candidate late crashers – know the rules about write-in candidates
    • Devil in the details – document who greets candidates, tells them where to sit, helps them when they’re finished, deals with photo ops and interviews
    • It’s my party - we are the hosts and we have rules; make sure to know and use them
    • Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt - the League has been doing this for decades and just about everything has happened at least once, so answers and resources are likely already available on the LWVWA and LWVUS websites
    • Be prepared - yes, a candidate did use prayer in the response

    If you haven't already had a post-election review, it's worth pulling your voter services volunteers together to chat about what went well, what can be improved, and what changes you want to implement for the next election. While leadership and volunteers may change in between then, having this documented will help everyone involved.

  • 21 Nov 2022 10:56 AM | Anonymous

    by Shelley Kneip, LWVWA Voter Services

    Local Leagues across the state were busy this election season, continuing our work to empower voters and defend democracy through a variety of Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaigns. While there were far too many actions across the state to report, here’s a highlight of League activities, lessons learned, and data on the work we did, because it’s time to start planning for 2024 while the memories are fresh!

    Registering Voters

    Getting new voters registered is a crucial function for local Leagues, and Leagues were very creative in how and where they registered voters this year. Most local Leagues were busy throughout the summer at fairs, festivals, and farmers' markets registering and educating voters through tabling, often providing printed information and swag, like buttons and stickers. We learned that including children in our outreach inevitably brings their parents to the table. Thurston County asked children to vote for their favorite animal and gives them an “I Voted” sticker while Snohomish County provided coloring books.

    Many local Leagues registered college students on local college campuses. This year, LWV Clark County participated in a “Floats for Votes” event at the WSU-Vancouver campus. LWV Pullman not only registered voters at WSU-Pullman, but also enlisted new League members on campus. With the changes in Washington law, Leagues have also started registering eligible high school students. Thurston County created the “Future Voter Advocates” program where they train teens to register and preregister their peers to vote. 

    A "tabling event" held by the Spokane Area League at Gonzaga University

    JoNell Edlin, LWV Spokane member, tabling at Gonzaga/Logan Block Party

    Increasingly, Local League registration tables pop up anywhere and everywhere, because voters are everywhere. Clark County tabled throughout business districts, while other Leagues tabled at libraries, thrift stores, food banks, and transit hubs. LWV also teamed up with other organizations to celebrate National Voter Registration Day, a civic nonpartisan holiday and this year, LWV Kitsap had almost 40 volunteers at registration desks throughout the county, including riding the ferries!

    Leagues also continued to broaden their outreach, registering voters within tribal nations and at cultural events. Snohomish County held a voter registration drive at a popular Mexican market, where two members who are fluent in Spanish provided registration forms and voter information in Spanish. Other local Leagues held voter registration drives at Naturalization Ceremonies; so far this year, the Benton-Franklin League has held events at three citizenship ceremonies.

    Candidate Forums

    LWV Yakima County Forum Announcement

    Leagues across the state held over forty candidate events, including debates, forums, and meet and greets. LWVWA held debates for the United States Senate and Washington Secretary of State races. Local leagues covered local elections, state legislative districts, and federal congressional districts, often working together when district boundaries overlapped. LWV Tacoma-Pierce County teamed up with the LWV Thurston County on candidate forums for the 10th US Congressional District this year.

    LWV Mason County created a unique Speed Dating with the Candidates event where the public has five minutes with each candidate to ask questions, before moving to the next candidate, and this year, they received national coverage. During the pandemic, many Leagues held candidates debates online and some have continued that practice, while others held hybrid events. LWV Bellingham-Whatcom County also had recordings of candidate debates translated into Spanish and Punjabi to reach more voters.

    Leagues also partnered with a variety of organizations within their communities, both local media, such as local community access television stations, and other nonprofits. LWV Yakima County pulled together a number of co-sponsors for a candidate forum, including the NAACP, and Latino Community Fund of Washington State. The newly formed Lewis County Unit-At-Large held a candidate meet and greet with the local chapter of Washington Realtors.

    LWV Spokane Area was an indispensable partner to LWVWA for the Washington Secretary of State and US Senate candidate debates, which were held in Spokane in October. They provided invaluable assistance with organizing logistics, providing volunteers, and helping get the word out.

    Other Election-Related Activities

    Be a Voter Banner in Ellensburg

    While many local Leagues had their hands full with Voter Registration and Candidate Events, that’s not all they did! Some local Leagues, such as LWV Clallam County, volunteered to be election observers. LWV Snohomish County members were enlisted by the county auditor’s office to assist in curing (securing or verifying signatures) ballots after the election. Following the Washington Secretary of State guidelines, Clallam County members also helped a voter in an assisted living facility, by reading the Voter’s Pamphlet so she could make an informed decision.

    LWV Kittitas County purchased a banner to encourage voters, which reads, "Be A Voter - Your Vote Counts!" and hung it over University Ave. in Ellensburg. Finally, several local Leagues, including Thurston, participated in Election Heroes Day on November 7 by providing meals and goodies to election workers.

    What will your League do for the next election? The time to start preparing is now!

  • 21 Nov 2022 10:42 AM | Anonymous

    by Beth Pelliciotti, LWVWA Board & Nominating Committee

    December is the month for closing out the year, anticipating New Year’s resolutions and, for some of us, planning what to do next. If you are thinking about what to do next in League, consider yourself invited to the LWVWA Nominating Committee Meet and Greet on Thursday, December 8 at noon or 6:30 PM.

    The LWVWA Nominating Committee would like to invite you to consider state Board work. Given the LWVWA Bylaws change on staggered terms at Convention 2021, every year the Board welcomes new members. With many new Board members starting each year, you would help shape the direction of the “new” Board.

    We welcome applications from those who might enjoy planning statewide candidate forums, facilitating an exchange of ideas from local Leagues on voter services or civic education, or supporting state-level advocacy. As a new Board member, you would have choices of possible Board work; these are but a few.

    If you would like to learn more about LWVWA Board work, come ask the two former and current Board members on the Nominating Committee on December 8, 2022. Then make a New Year’s resolution to fill out an application for the LWVWA Board, due January 31. 

    These are special sessions for members- click the links below to get the Zoom information for your preferred session:

     Option 1: December 8, 2022 - 12 PM  Option 2: December 8, 2022 - 6:30 PM 

  • 10 Nov 2022 10:42 AM | Anonymous

    by Shelley Kneip, LWVWA Voter Services

    The League of Women Voters of Washington Education Fund proudly sponsored two high-profile candidate debates in Spokane on October 23. Washington Secretary of State candidates Steve Hobbs and Julie Anderson, along with United States Senate candidates Patty Murray and Tiffany Smiley, chose the League of Women Voters and partners The Spokesman Review and KSPS-PBS TV to host the live debates at Gonzaga University's Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center. It is increasingly challenging to get the candidates, the date, the security, and the venue together, and it was thrilling for the League to take its place as a leader in democracy and voter information.

    Thanks to the LWV of the Spokane Area for providing volunteers to assist as ushers and security, and for providing voter education during the debates. With roughly 30 League members volunteering at the event, the audience got to see firsthand the League's work on our mission of Empowering Voters. There were displays and sales for The State We’re In: Washington textbook, as well as lots of buttons, stickers, and brochures for VOTE411 and the "Be a Voter" campaign. They also provided information about voting privileges for returning citizens.

    In addition to the approximately 500 people who attended in person, extensive media coverage resulted in the debates being watched or heard online, on the radio, and on television by thousands of voters statewide. The Senate debate was covered nationwide by various media, including C-Span, Fox News, and other national and out-of-state media.

    This election cycle local Leagues sponsored more than 40 candidate events. These Leagues used a variety of formats—including debates, forums, speed dating, and mixers—to give the public an opportunity to learn about their candidates. The competitiveness of the races and the innovative ways local Leagues handled helping voters learn about the candidates resulted strong (and informed) voter turnout across the state, as well as national media coverage and increased visibility of our work across the state.

  • 10 Nov 2022 9:53 AM | Anonymous

    by Liz Bander, LWVWA Director

    At the 2021 Convention, the League of Women Voters of Washington awarded Karen Verrill the Evergreen Award for her tireless commitment to civic education. She was instrumental in developing our textbook, The State We're In: Washington, and we heard from a number of people about her impact on our state.

    Celebrating Karen at her tree in Squaxin Park in Olympia.

    Karen first joined the League in 1973 and has been an active member of the Thurston League since 1987. Her roles within the League include serving as the president of the LWV of Thurston, the president of the WA State League, the LWVWA development chair, and a member of the LWVWA Ed Fund Board. 

    Since 2000, she has served as the project manager for the LWVWA civics education textbooks, The State We’re In: Washington. She has overseen the development, publishing, selling, and translation of these books and their companion teacher guides. In addition to a solid coverage of all levels of government, these are the first civics texts to include current and historic tribal governments. Chapters about sustainability and civics and the natural world are also included.

    Thanks to her hard work, these books are used in classrooms and libraries across the state, giving Washington’s students a foundation for understanding our government and how to be actively involved participants.

    Interested in learning more about these civics books? Visit our website to download free digital copies or to order hard copies.

    One of the best parts of League is that we come together to do incredible work.

    Karen sharing some of the versions of The State We're In over the years.

    All images graciously provided by Oriana Von Specht Photography.

  • 10 Nov 2022 1:52 AM | Anonymous

    by Lunell Haught, LWVWA President

    The midterm election may be over and the legislative session still weeks away, but the League of Women Voters of Washington is as busy as ever. So, what are League members up to? Here is a short list—we’d love to have you join us!

    Listening Up 

    At the League, we want to try to understand what what is going on from multiple sources. Shop the competition and the allies. Knowing what others are saying and how they understand a situation is crucial to being relevant and effective. At the end of listening, try saying “Let me see if I understand you…”

    Standing Up

    Sometimes at the front, sometimes alongside, and sometimes at the back. Standing up and showing support for the values and principles we believe in makes it easier for others to do the same. Act based on your underlying values and find opportunities when the world asks you to stand up for them.

    Speaking up

    There is guidance on how to speak up on the League’s positions. The League is unique in that when we speak about public policy, we have our membership—local, state, or national—behind us, as our positions are based on member research and consensus. We can speak up because we have real authority on the subjects and because we have learned how to do so.

    If you would like to learn how to speak up, we have two virtual workshops that will teach you how to communicate effectively with your legislators.

    Speaking up also provides safety for those who think they are the only ones who think “that way” and they agree with the League, but are concerned about being the only one publicly sharing their opinion. Vulnerability can be a very real concern, so if you are willing and able to speak up, we’d love to have your voice.

    Stirring Up

    Don’t just do something, stand there… and when you are finished considering the best strategy for demonstrating your values and moving them to the center of our culture, act. Relentlessly stirring up is a perfectly valid method to accomplish goals. Don’t give up. Pause and assess the situation, change your tactics if you must, but keep stirring. Be bold.

  • 26 Oct 2022 11:37 AM | Anonymous

    by Liz Bander, LWVWA Director

    When we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), we often spend a lot of time talking about diversity, and how to build a more diverse League. With our Double Up/Double Down campaign in full swing, and Lunell's message on welcoming, I also want to highlight the principle of inclusion, as that is also required for us become a League that is representative of our communities.

    After a white woman called police on Black birdwatcher Christian Cooper, in June 2020, The Washington Post interviewed another Black birdwatcher, Walter Kitundu. It has stuck with me ever since, and if you've heard me talk about DEI, you've probably heard me reference it.

    The line that I keep coming back to is, "It's about addressing the nature of those organizations, not bringing people into a space that is still riddled with the same issues and toxicity." This is not meant to say the League is a horrible place and we shouldn't welcome new members and leaders—we absolutely should! But we can't expect new people to come in and fix old problems. We need to be willing to do that work ourselves. Making the League more inclusive and equitable will lead to it becoming more diverse.

    Inclusion shows up for us individually as grantors and recipients. One example is the one Lunell gave about how someone said they felt welcome because, "I was not introduced as 'one of our younger (or another identity) guests.'" We valued this person not because they made the group more diverse, but because they were Jane or Shanti or Bob—a whole person who had chosen to spend their valuable time with us. Each of us can be inclusive and welcoming, but that's not a complete solution.

    Inclusion also shows up systemically, and this is what the above quote really addresses. For example, the League has a long and storied history, but it our history also includes founder Carrie Chapman Catt and others choosing exclusion to focus on white women in getting the 19th Amendment passed. This shows up today when League members wear period costumes to events. Is that welcoming people into today's League? Are we reminding people that our nonpartisan values are 102 years old or that their great-grandmother was purposefully excluded? 

    This can also show up when we think about our values. One exercise we've used to facilitate values discussions is called "Preferences, Traditions, and Requirements." For example, "education" comes up regularly as a requirement. What do we mean by education? Do we mean a PhD or the ability to thoughtfully discuss issues? Who are the educators? Who should receive education?

    Finally, inclusion shows up in how we do our work. Where do we go to register voters? Should we be focusing on registration or should we focus on getting out the vote? Who should we partner with? Are we even the right people to carry the message?

    Becoming inclusive as an organization is a continuous process. It involves regular questioning and evaluation. It requires us to sit with discomfort and examine what we thought we were, what we are, and what we want to become. It is also a path that will create the necessary conditions for diversity, and as we double up on membership, I invite you to double down on inclusion.

  • 26 Oct 2022 10:57 AM | Anonymous

    by Lunell Haught, LWVWA President

    Inviting people to join the League or attend a forum is a bit like inviting someone into your home. What will they think of your house? What will they think of your family? Will your family be welcoming?

    As part of our Double Up/Double Down campaign, members have been asked to send an email/note to two friends this month, so we expect to have some new people joining us. We want to welcome them, and if League is right for them, we want to retain them. Retention has to do with finding meaning and friendship in the group. Retention has to do with being able to disagree while appreciating other people's viewpoints and their positive qualities. And retention is also about feeling welcome. When I ask people how they feel welcome here are some responses:

    • "I was greeted by name and asked to do a small job."
    • "When I did the small job no one told me I'd done it wrong or I should have done it a particular way, they let me do it. I was thanked."
    • "If something had to happen a particular way I was told before, not after I did it."
    • "Someone asked me what I was interested in and introduced me to another person who shared that interest or background."
    • "I was not introduced as 'one of our younger guests.'"
    • "I was not smothered with attention or ignored, it was just right."
    • "I was not asked to join right away—I could attend without joining."

    These are just some examples of how people have found a welcoming environment within the League. Another way to welcome people is to invite them into leadership—with support, of course. This is truly doubling up, as individuals get an opportunity to connect more deeply to work they care about and we make sure that the League has leaders to continue our mission. There are a number of ways to help build up League leaders:

    • Create or identify opportunities;
    • Create clarity around the leadership role and who is following through a RACI matrix;
    • Engage the collective wisdom of the team by crowdsourcing with colleagues and members;
    • Provide clarity around what needs to be executed and the timeline;
    • Offer coaching and mentorship along the way;
    • Provide feedback along the way;
    • Celebrate success.

    As mentioned, RACI is an excellent tool for bringing clarity to everyone's roles and responsibilities—as leaders and followers. The R is for responsible; A is for accountable.  C is for consulted and I for Informed.

     Responsible  Who is responsible for doing the work?
     Accountable  Who is the final decision maker? 
     Consulted  Who are the experts we should ask?
     Informed  Who needs to be in the loop?

    Many people are afraid of responsibility and accountability, not because they don't want to commit to the work, but because it can feel like they're put on a high wire with a spotlight and no net, and told to go for it. This should not be the case. Responsibility and accountability are opportunities to shine. There should be a team around the person to support them, as defined by RACI, so they shouldn't feel like they are on their own.

    As we double up and double down, and bring in new members and new leaders, I hope that you double up on welcoming them to League.

  • 26 Oct 2022 2:05 AM | Anonymous

    by Amanda Clark, LWVWA Nominating Committee

    The League-co-sponsored senatorial and secretary of state debates haven’t been held as I write this, and I’m really looking forward to them. The League-sponsored debates are always among the best—the questions are nonbiased and fair and deal with important issues, not "gotchas."

    League candidate forums and debates are at the forefront of our mission to empower voters and defend democracy. The Board member whose portfolio is Voter Services will spearhead these debates, but with lots of help from local Leagues, committee members, and in some cases, like these upcoming debates, local newspapers and other nonpartisan organizations.

    The Voter Services portfolio is just one of the many portfolios a Board member could have. The Civics Education portfolio may involve promoting our textbook, The State We’re In, to schools around the state, or possibly help local Leagues develop plans to work with area high schools to register students. Last month Mary Coltrane, Program Chair, discussed the importance of studies in developing League positions,  one part of the League's Program of Work.

    The specifics of a particular portfolio may change, depending on the needs of the Board and the League, and it’s possible that a board member can develop a new portfolio.

    In last month's In League, Shelley Jones, chair of the Nominating Committee, encouraged League members to apply for the Board, whatever their experience and interests. There will be a portfolio that suits you, whether it’s secretary or fundraising or communications or voter services or even something that you think the Board needs that you can supply. And serving on the Board can give you the opportunity to exercise your talent while helping the League toward its goals.

    Don’t be shy. You do have something to offer. You can find more information about the Board and an application in the Members section of the State League website or by going directly to https://www.lwvwa.org/Nominating-Committee.

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