(Jan 30, 2021) Catherine Read interviews Debora “Deb” Wake, President of the League of Women Voters – Virginia. The League was founded in Virginia Nov. 10, 1920 and currently has 14 chapters across the Commonwealth. LWV-VA is involved in voter education and forums under their 501(c)3 and advocacy under their 501(c)4.
Issue advocacy is an important part of the mission of LWV-VA and allows members to work alongside others who want to impact policies and regulations. Some of the ongoing issue areas include Redistricting, Gun Violence Prevention, Campaign Finance Reform, Criminal Justice Reform, Election Security, Childcare, Environmental Issues, Behavioral Health Issues, Voter Access, Broadband Coverage, and Election Security.
This year the Virginia Legislative Session in Richmond began January 13, 2021 and will adjourn Feb. 27th. Virginia’s part-time legislature meets for 45 days in odd years, and 60 days in even numbered years. It’s one of the peculiarities of Virginia’s political system that also mandates off-year elections for Governor, creating a cycle of elections every year here. Catherine and Deb discuss the voter fatigue that leads to drop-off in voter turnout every year after the Presidential Election. Catherine points out that in 2020 in Fairfax City, the voters were asked to go to the polls four times – Presidential Primary Elections in March, Fairfax City Municipal Elections in May, Congressional Primaries in June, and the General Election on Nov. 3rd. All while the COVID pandemic shut down the country.
Writing postcards evolved as a way to organize voters around issue advocacy and became quite popular since it could be done at home. Their Postcard Project sent out over 200,000 postcards in 2020. They also successfully lobbied to have voter registration extended by two days after a severed fiber-optic connection shut down the online registration on the last day to register, October 13th. Every year they have a list of bills they support and advocate for – and some that they advocate against. There are at-large memberships for those who don’t live close to a local chapter.
For more information about the League of Women Voters Virginia, visit: www.LWV-Va.org