The League of Women Voters was founded 95 years ago in February, six months before the 20th Amendment granted women the right to vote. The Maryland League celebrated this anniversary with a gala banquet featuring an address by Congressman John Sarbanes on Saturday evening, May 30, at the O’Callaghan Annapolis Hotel. The League in Maryland was founded shortly after the national League was established by suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt, by her friend and fellow suffragist, Madeleine Lemoyne Ellicott of Baltimore. Ellicott was president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland for twenty years, and is a member of the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame.
The banquet was in conjunction with the two-day biennial state convention, May 30 and 31, hosted by the Anne Arundel League. The convention was be presided over by Susan Cochran, an Anne Arundel resident who has been the state president for the past two years. Delegates from the 14 Leagues across the state also took part. New officers were be elected and a program of state wide studies for 2015-17 was adopted. Workshops on topics like the new Maryland voting machines and developing leadership were held. Fun Friday was be an opportunity for the visitors from around the state to tour the Annapolis and the Statehouse and dine in local restaurants.
This year, the state League can claim legislative success in advocacy for putting into law the Maryland Climate Commission, creating a uniform and more accessible system for obtaining public information, passing a fracking moratorium bill, ensuring that the watershed restoration and protection funds will be mandated and the program monitored, and restoring a system for a gubernatorial campaign fund. The need for reform of the Congressional redistricting process was vigorously promoted and hopes are high that the state will adopt a fair and transparent system before the 2020 census.
Through the years, the League has encouraged informed voting, holding candidate forums and educational programs. In state after state, the League has gone to court or filed amicus briefs to protect our citizens against legislation that would suppress the fundamental right to vote. Equally important are the League’s efforts to improve our government and society through advocacy at the national state and local level. Improved election methods to make voting more accessible, clean water, clean air and many other environmental programs, improved juvenile justice, better education and social issues like affordable housing are just some of the issues the League champions.
The League is a completely non-partisan political organization that welcomes men and women as members. Their mission is “To Make Democracy Work.”