Of the dozen in southeast Kansas to recently join The League of Women Voters of Kansas, seven are from Allen County.
Thats a great start, said Cille King, Lawrence, and co-president of the Kansas chapter. But it would be better to have 10-12 to start a chapter.
Only five attended a meeting Monday night to learn about the League and how it promotes civic engagement. Key among its objectives is to increase voter registration, provide information on current issues, and host election forums and debates.
Membership in the League costs $60 a year for an individual and includes a monthly newsletter. Currently, a grant through Kansas Appleseed will cover the fee for those in need.
Ashley Dixon of Kansas Appleseed is working to foster a greater League presence throughout Southeast Kansas. To reach Dixon call 785-864-9294. Also, membership is not restricted to women, despite its name. About 30 percent of members are male. And students from high school on up can join for free in celebration of the Leagues 100th anniversary in 2020. The League of Women Voters was formed by suffragettes in 1920, soon after women were granted the right to vote with passage of the 19th Amendment.
Much to the consternation of Kansas League officials, it has recently become the target of ultra-conservatives. At the 2016 convention of the Kansas Republican Party, Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State and now the Republican candidate for governor, referred to the League as the communist League of Women Voters, and criticized the League as undermining democracy.
For a group of predominantly middle-aged women, thats a big stretch, said King. In fact, League members work in concert with civics and history teachers across the state in stressing the importance of voting and becoming aware of the important role government plays in our everyday lives.
The League never endorses or opposes candidates or political parties at any level of government, but it does take positions on issues such as voters rights and the importance of having secure and fair elections.
King said the League takes a stance on an issue only after two years of study, by appointed committee members.
Melissa Wick, Lawrence, explained the vote411.org website under the League umbrella of services and how it includes the personal biographies and political stances of current candidates. A click of a button, for instance, goes to the race for Allen County Commission. So far, only Steven Henderson, candidate for District 3, has posted any information about his candidacy.
The vote411.org website is also a way to check if you are properly registered to vote, Wick said. A call to the Allen County Clerk at 620-365-1407 will do the same. Reasons to double-check if you are properly registered is if you missed voting in the last two general elections and ignored notices from the county clerks office to register and if you have recently changed addresses. You can properly re-register either either online or at the clerks office.
The deadline to register to vote for the Nov. 6 general election is Oct. 16.