The League of Women Voters, a bipartisan organization with a mission to empower voters, increase civic engagement, educate and protect democracy, has created a local league in Lewis County.
The League of Women Voters is a national organization with a large state chapter and many other smaller chapters around the state that work to educate voters, host candidate debates for local elections and create voting guides for down-the-ballot races.
Victoria Johnson, a Toledo resident and Toledo High School graduate, is the president of the new local group. Johnson recently graduated from Baylor University in Waco, Texas with a political science degree and moved back to Lewis County in March.
“My hope would be that I would see less misinformation being spread within my town and county,” Johnson said.
She hopes that as the group becomes more involved and established, people will have access to the tools to determine if a news source is credible and unbiased and feel more knowledgeable on the voting process.
“I just hope that people can make more educated decisions moving forward and not fall into these misinformation pitfalls that we’ve seen people become victim to,” Johnson said. “I didn’t really realize what a privilege education is until you have it and talk to someone who doesn’t have the same access to education. What could seem like a no-brainer to you could be news to someone else.”
The group meets twice a month — the first meeting is more formal and is held on the first Monday of the month. The second meeting, held on the third Friday of the month, is more of a social meeting.
“We’re really trying to build a sense of community along with it and that’s tough to do nowadays so we just have a social hour virtually. All of our meetings are held on Google Meet. We just hang out and go wherever the discussion takes us,” Johnson said.
The group is currently looking to appoint a treasurer, preferably someone with 501(c)3 non-profit experience but it’s not necessary. Johnson said letters of interest can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and the treasurer will be chosen at the Dec. 7 meeting.
At the upcoming meeting, the group will also be discussing election security in Lewis County and in the state since that is a topic of concern across the country.
“We’re living in such a polarized society that those words — Republican and Democrat — are very alienating for anyone of the other side at this point. So I think it’s best to come in as politically neutral and nonpartisan right off the bat,” Johnson said.
The local group of the League of Women Voters has about seven paying members but cannot receive funding for community outreach programs until they have at least 10 dues-paying members. It costs $51 for a year-long membership.
“Our priority right now is growing, gaining members and becoming a ‘unit at large,’” Johnson said.
Johnson said that they would like to eventually host candidate debates for the local races and create a voter’s guide to help educate the public on some of the down-ballot races.
Lewis County League of Women Voters is open to anyone, not just women, over the age of 16. Students can join for free with a student ID. Those interested in getting involved can sign up on the League of Women Voters website — www.lwvwa.org/join_us.