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75, and More Necessary Than Ever

August 27, 1995

One of the nation's most venerable nonpartisan political organizations, the League of Women Voters, has reached the ripe old age of 75 with membership sliding, in part because more women now have jobs outside the home and less time to volunteer. Meanwhile, the league's quiet, independent voice sometimes seems drowned out by the shrill, partisan political attacks that substitute for policy debate these days.

Nonetheless, the league is celebrating--not just observing--its jubilee. The yearlong festivities, which culminate this weekend, have included art exhibits, theatrical productions, rallies and symposiums highlighting the contributions of women to American political life since the Revolution.

The league's celebration is timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. But gaining the right to the vote did not prompt women to found the league; rather the first league chapters, including California's, predated the women's suffrage amendment and were integrally involved in its passage. From its first years, the league's mission has remained constant: to encourage citizen participation in government at all levels and to serve as a nonpartisan advocate for the public interest. Toward that end, the league--which now includes many menpublishes analyses of ballot issues, fields candidate questionnaires and sponsors candidate debates.

It should beg the obvious to note that the league's role is more necessary than ever in these divisive political times.

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