To extend our community outreach, the library partners with many municipal, non-profit and business organizations that make Princeton such an extraordinary town. This month the League of Women Voters (LWV) is in the spotlight. We spoke with Cindy Gordon who shared that February 14 is not only a celebration of love and Frederick Douglass, but also the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the League of Women Voters.
The library has partnered with the League of Women Voters for a number of programs, most recently, during the 2019 naturalization ceremony where they helped new Americans get registered to vote.
How long has the League of Women Voters been in Princeton?
We are not quite as old as the national League of Women Voters, which was created a hundred years ago in 1920. Our Princeton area group was founded in 1933, 87 years ago.
What is your primary area of focus?
Our focus is “Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.” This covers a number of issues including:
Redistricting: Our Fair Maps project is designed to create fair and transparent district maps and do away with unfair gerrymandering.
Making voting more accessible: We have successfully advocated for automatic voter registration, vote by mail reforms and most recently, online voter registration, which was signed into law by Governor Murphy.
Census 2020: LWV will provide education about the census, get out the count activities and watchdog reporting to ensure that hard to count communities are included in the upcoming census count.
How does your mission align with the library’s?
We share the library’s mission to “engage, inspire, educate and unite everyone in our diverse community.” We do so in many ways, but a good example is our Vote411.org project. The Princeton Area LWV joins with hundreds of Leagues across the country to gather information from local, state and national candidates. The candidate’s answers to questions posed by the LWV are published in an easy-to-access online voting guide which also includes polling places, voter registration details for each locale and even a way to report election day problems. We were very pleased to learn from a librarian that Vote 411.org is considered a valuable resource at the Princeton Public Library
With whom do you work most in the community?
One of the long-standing League activities is holding pre-election forums to provide the community with an opportunity to learn more about candidates running for political office. These forums have become more accessible to Princeton residents thanks to our partnership with Princeton Community TV, which videotapes and broadcasts all our forums. They have also broadcast special programs with us, like this September 2018 “Cue the Lights” interview with local high school students on a broad range of topics:
What is something that you do that people might not know about?
We suspect that most people only think of the LWV in terms of voter registration. Yes, we do that and we are pleased to be thought of as a resource for registration. In fact, we invite community organizations and businesses to partner with us to hold registration drives. But the LWV is a multi-faceted organization that educates and advocates for issues. Some of our current projects are noted in question #2, above. Our agenda also includes activities related to the environment, women and family and immigration.
The League is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public.
Is there any project or event that you are particularly excited about at the moment?
We believe that 2020 will be an active time for voter registration due to the presidential election. We hope to bring new voters to the polls, including those in diverse communities which may not have voted previously. We are interested in encouraging young people to vote as well. To this end, we have worked with local students for voter registration and as a sponsor of March for Our Lives. We now have a joint project with New Jersey Girl Scout councils called “Voter Girl,” which connects the scouts and local officials in an educational setting. And we are very excited to provide the Rita Ludlum award, a financial stipend for local students who have demonstrated civic commitment.
In summary, this is an exciting and busy time for the League of Women Voters of the Princeton Area. We welcome new members to join us on this adventure to support and defend our democracy!
Library Programs Mark the Passage of the 19th Amendment
On April 21, author and journalist Elaine Weiss will speak on her book “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote.” In anticipation of her visit, join a book discussion before her visit on April 7 at the Historical Society of Princeton.
Keep an eye out for several exhibits at Princeton Public Library throughout 2020 including the National Archives traveling pop-up exhibit “Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote, ” the Alice Paul Institute‘s traveling pop-up exhibit “Marketing the Movement: How Women Won the Vote,” and a exhibit exploring the local history of suffrage in partnership with the Historical Society of Princeton.
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