Meet the League of Women Voters
Why Our Work is Important
The mission of the League of Women Voters is to empower voters and defend democracy. Representative government depends on the participation of citizens. The League’s work to register voters, inform them about races and ballot issues they will decide, and eliminate barriers to voting fosters a representative political system where the electorate is prepared and motivated to vote.
Making Democracy Work for 100 Years
Three Things to Know About the League of Women Voters
First of all, the League is non-partisan. We never support or oppose political parties or candidates.
However, we do advocate for and against public policy, but only after we have studied the issue thoroughly and the membership has reached a consensus position. Visit our League Positions page to learn more about this process.
Finally, the work we do today is an extension of the goals the League set at its inception in 1920. It wasn’t enough that women won the right to vote. The suffragettes understood that all voters - not just newly enfranchised women - must be informed about the races and issues on their ballot and then must exercise their right to vote in every election.
Yes, the League is 100 Years Old
Expanding voting rights to women had been the goal of the League’s precursor, the National American Woman Suffrage Association, for half a century. At its 50th convention in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1919 - after the 19th Amendment had been passed by Congress but had not yet been ratified by the states - Carrie Chapman Catt proposed “a league of women voters to finish the fight and aid in the reconstruction of the nation”. In October of 1920 in Chicago, Illinois, the League of Women Voters was born.
A Brief History of the League
The League of Women Voters has achieved a lot since 1920. Here are some highlights.
- After its inception, the League grew quickly. By 1924, Leagues had formed in 4 out of 5 Congressional districts. One of those Leagues was in Kansas City.
- The League was recognized as a force in American politics by the 1940s. President Franklin Roosevelt asked the League to help him in his campaign to build support for the United Nations.
- The League has worked to pass and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) since 1972 and continues the campaign to this day.
- In 1976, the League sponsored the first televised presidential debate since 1960 and won an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Broadcast Journalism. The League continued to sponsor presidential debates until 1988 when the political parties changed the ground rules, and it chose to end its involvement.
- Membership was extended to men in 1974.
- One of the best examples of the League’s impact on voting rights was its grassroots campaign to pass the National Voter Registration Act, otherwise known as ‘Motor Voter’, which was signed into law in 1993.
- Most recently, in 2019, the League launched the People Powered Fair Maps campaign to work for fair and transparent re-districting processes in all 50 states.
For more information, click here for a decade-by-decade history of the League.
Kansas City League History
The Kansas City League was organized in 1920 out of the local Kansas City Women’s Suffrage League. Mrs. A. Ross Hill was the first president. Women throughout the Kansas City area were primed to identify issues of concern in their communities, and this resulted in the League playing a significant role in our area’s history over the last century.
Early on the League was a strong opponent of the Pendergast regime in Kansas City and was instrumental in the adoption of the Missouri Non-Partisan Court Plan which mandates that judges be chosen on the basis of merit, not political affiliation. In 1961, the Independence League worked toward the passage of the Independence City Charter that established a City Manager form of government. The League also participated in the school desegregation plan in the 1970s as well as the creation of the Metropolitan Community College network.
Independence, Raytown, and Lee’s Summit as well as eastern Jackson County, have all been home to local Leagues over the years. However, by 2004, all Leagues merged under the League of Women Voters of Kansas City, Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties.
Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
LWV is an organization fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in principle and in practice. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to the organization's current and future success in engaging all individuals, households, communities, and policy makers in creating a more perfect democracy.
There shall be no barriers to full participation in this organization on the basis of gender, gender identity, ethnicity, race, native or indigenous origin, age, generation, sexual orientation, culture, religion, belief system, marital status, parental status, socioeconomic status, language, accent, ability status, mental health, educational level or background, geography, nationality, work style, work experience, job role function, thinking style, personality type, physical appearance, political perspective or affiliation and/or any other characteristic that can be identified as recognizing or illustrating diversity.