Making Democracy Work

Learn and Take Action

The 2016 election cycle was divisive and the LWVUS president said it presented an "unprecedented danger to the very foundation of our democracy." The League of Women Voters is poised to strengthen our non-partisan work to bring groups together, and also to further our work on core issues including public education, women's rights, voting rights, climate change, and ethics reform. We remain devoted to citizen participation in government, and will continue to update this page with ways you can join us in our efforts.

Citizen Participation and Advocacy

(1) Call or write your local council members and state legislators about issues you want them to act on. Do your research, be civil, follow up with them, and attend meetings if you can. Find their contact information on the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Regional Directory and the State of South Carolina's directory.

(2) Brush up on your advocacy skills. LWV South Carolina published a wonderful handbook entitled Advocacy 101 that is available for free online.

(3) Attend meetings and begin building relationships with elected officials and government staff. If you are interested in going to meetings and reporting back to the League, we would love to have you join our brand new Observer Corps. Observer Corps members attend meetings on a regular basis (they may choose to cover school board, or their local town council, for instance) and then report back to the LWVCA with a summary that will be made available to the members and the public.

(4) Encourage and prepare women to run for office. Nationwide, only 1 out of 5 statewide elected officials are women, which means women are not being fairly represented as laws and policies are made. Following the 2016 election, SC now has the most women in our state senate that we've ever had at one time: 4. That's progress, but 4 out of 46 means the people who we are electing to represent us are not representative of our demographics.

The League of Women Voters is working with like-minded groups in SC including Women's Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN), Center for Women, and American Association of University Women (AAUW) to help prepare interested women to campaign for public office.

Many elected officials get their start at the local level, and one way to serve is being appointed to a board or commission.

Charleston County Boards and Commissions - with vacancies listed
City of Charleston Boards and Committees - with vacancies listed
Dorchester County Boards and Commissions - with application; click on individual board links to see vacancies or expiring terms
South Carolina Statewide Boards and Commissions - with a link to vacancies

(5) Become an Issue Reporter. Interested in one of the League's position areas such as voting, environmental quality, or public education? Volunteer by emailing shaynahowell@gmail.com and keep tabs on local, regional, and national outlets for key articles and studies so that the information can be posted to our website and social media. More

(6) Follow current state legislation through online weekly legislative updates. These reports summarize actions in the state House of Representatives when it is in session. You can also follow Congressional activity including new bills and videos of hearings on the national level.

(7) Educate yourself on issues you find important.

Websites on national issues:

ProCon.org - Pros and cons of controversial issues
Introduces you quickly to the competing sides of an issue.

Balanced Politics - Focuses on the backgrounds and solutions of issues currently in the news.

AllSides.com - A running newsfeed of the concerns and issues of the left, middle, and right.

Countable - Not as detailed as ProCon.org, but provides more context than "AllSides.com." Focuses on current bills being discussed or up for votes.

Websites on State Issues:

Statehouse Report
Provides weekly updates and articles of interest while the legislature is in session.

Institute for Public Service and Policy Research (University of South Carolina)
- Provides links to an array of governmental statistics and organizations such the SC Municipal Association. Lists recent publications of interest to SC issues.

Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs (Clemson University) - Provides regular updates on the economic situation for SC, lists its publications, and gives a calendar of relevant lectures.

Televised SC Legislative Updates: Weekly TV updates, interviews on SCETV

Also, with so many news and pseudo-news outlets, it is important to be able to spot fake news. Here are some reliable fact-checking sites.

(8) Hear and understand the different politics of your neighbor: These are websites designed to help you host a meeting or meet up digitally.

(9) The next opportunity to vote is never far away. Check Your Voter Registration to determine in which federal, state, county, and municipal or public service districts you live. The League goes out into the community to register voters throughout the year. If you are interested in joining us, please email vote@lwvcharleston.org. And if you are interested in doing more than voting on Election Day, volunteer as a poll worker at your local precinct.

(10) Involve kids to help them become more active citizens.

The LWVCA Acts, Post-2016 Elections

Letter to the Editor Immediately after the 2016 election, the League of the Charleston Area sent a Letter to the Editor of the Post and Courier newspaper entitled, Now, We Must All Work Together

Sips and Civility Shortly thereafter, the League held a "Sips and Civility" open meeting to an overflow crowd. The purpose was to discuss a nonpartisan approach to citizen engagement.

Nonpartisan Forum Barbara Zia, experienced LWV leader at local, state, and national levels, led a discussion on what it means to be nonpartisan in a highly partisan era in January. Her presentation is available online.

Encouraged LWV Membership The League of Women Voters was founded 97 years ago as women won their fight to be able to vote, and has worked continuously on voting rights, engaging and educating community members that we serve, and a host of public policy issues.

The 2016 Election Cycle was ugly and brought up many issues that face our democracy. We are heartened by the groundswell of support that we are seeing for our organization, and welcome new members as we respond to the need we feel this election has presented. Our Charleston chapter is an all-volunteer organization and we welcome any contribution of your time, money, or talent as we help to Make Democracy Work.

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