A Century of Civic Action

In September, 1919, Minnesota became the 15thstate to ratify the 19thAmendment to the Constitution, which prohibited the states and the federal government to refuse the right to vote on the basis of sex. The following year the Amendment reached the necessary 36 states, and was adopted.

In November, 1919, the Ramsey County League of Women Voters was established, after many of its charter members had been involved for years in the process of assuring the vote for women. The Ramsey League later became the LWV of St. Paul, and its members have now worked for civic values and improvement for a century.

The League now operates at national, state and local levels. Membership in the local LWV brings affiliate status with the state and national; bodies, which each work on setting standards of practice for the organization as well as policy positions.

Non-partisanship is one of the core principles and great strengths of the LWV As a result, its work in voter registration and education is highly trusted and respected. Youth education about our democracy and voting system, and encouragement for them to register as soon as eligible, is a way to strengthen democracy in a bias-free way.

In recent years the St. Paul LWV Candidate Forums have been very well attended, and the scope of its collaborations has broadened:

  • Partnerships with Fair Vote Minnesota and COPAL. MN (Comunidades Organizando el Poder y la Acción Latina);
  • Greater efforts at voter registration;
  • Work with Ramsey County Elections. The St. Paul Public Library and Hallie Q. Brown Community Center.

As an all-volunteer organization, St. Paul LWV benefits from enthusiastic and highly committed volunteers, some of whom have been involved for decades. Current membership is around 150, with 14 in leadership positions.

The scope of the League’s activities is impressive. Because it is dedicated to informed and active participation of citizens in government, andto taking action on issues affecting our community, it has been involved in much more than voter education and registration.

  • In public education, it worked in the 1950s to pass the School Board amendment and bond issue, and in the 1960s to advocate for the integration of St. Paul’s schools;
  • In 1970 it led a successful campaign to adopt a new City Charter, which clearly separated the powers of mayor and council;
  • In 1976, it supported the creation of the Heritage Preservation Commission;
  • Its 1980 study of the city’s council ward system contributed to the passage (with 74% of the vote) of the Charter Amendment that created the electoral wards;
  • In 1996 and again in 2006 it studied the District Council system and issued recommendations for improvement;
  • In 2009 its study of fairness in housing helped government plan its response to the financial crisis and take steps to assist residents in need;
  • It is working now with the Upper Mississippi Inter-League on water quality issues.

The LWV welcomes new members and offers many ways to be involved in creative improvements to our civic life. See lwvsp.org or call 651-789-0118 for more information.

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