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MAKING DEMOCRACY WORK Remaining Nonpartisan in Hyper-partisan Times

By Virginia Kase Solomón, CEO of LWVUS

“The League of Women Voters of the United States 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.”

The League’s nonpartisan approach is outlined in the following article with sections titled Issues Are Not Partisan, Nonpartisan Does Not Mean Apolitical, Democracy Is a Civil Rights Issue, and We Can Bridge the Nonpartisan Divide.

We think you will come away from reading this article empowered with an understanding of how the League helps Make Democracy Work by upholding the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion and fighting for gender, racial, and social justice.

So many issues today are framed in partisan terms that it can feel impossible to communicate at all without being accused of taking a side. “If you believe this, then you must be a progressive.” “If you oppose that, then you align with conservatives.” Being painted into ideological corners because of a stance our organization takes is not a new phenomenon, but it continues to be one that undermines a vibrant democracy: discussion, discourse, and listening to other points of view are what makes democracy work.

More than 100 years ago, the League of Women Voters of the US was founded to be a nonpartisan voice for American women who wanted free, fair, and open elections, above all else. Our founders believed that voters must always have the facts, no matter how difficult those facts could be to accept, especially when it challenges one’s deeply held beliefs about a candidate or political party. Our founders were attacked for taking positions rooted in fact back then, and today, not much has changed. League leaders continue to face this challenge and often stand accused of being partisan for our efforts to advance democracy.


The League’s advocacy work is issued based, and we arrive at our positions based on careful study and input from our members in communities across the country. We never derive our positions from politicians, and even when candidates or parties support the same issue, we never endorse them. Issues may evolve over the years, but our allegiance will always be first and foremost to the voters. If a party changes its position on an issue, that doesn’t mean the League has to change our position to remain neutral. And one politician taking a similar position to the League on any one issue does not make the issue or the League partisan.

However, in this hyper-partisan environment, political connections and assumptions are made that simply aren’t accurate. Supporting the democratic processes of registering eligible voters and casting and counting ballots is seen by some as subverting one political party, even though these are sacred tools of our democracy. Likewise, empowering voters who previously have been left out of the process and supporting the anti-racism movement does not mean we are in alliance with one ideological segment of American government; rather, it means we are doing what we were founded to do: stand up for what is right.

Wanting every eligible voter to have equal access to the ballot box is not partisan. Wanting a robust democracy in which everyone has an equal voice and equal representation is not partisan. Wanting to see more elected officials that reflect the diverse makeup of our country is not partisan—it is American.

No party has a claim on any particular issue. Sometimes a candidate or political party agrees with our position—they may even champion them—but that doesn’t make the issue or the League partisan. We have seen an evolution of popular support and public opinion shift on issues over time, and the League has reevaluated and shifted priorities—but we have never compromised our values.


In the hundred years of the League’s existence, we have endured challenges to our democratic principles, policies, and practices. We witnessed in live video the violation and prevention of rights of American citizens due to racial and structural inequities, and the growing anti-racism movement responding to it. We’ve observed the pandemic obstacles faced and overcome by our election processes, resulting in secure, effective elections across the country.

League members are not a monolith. We represent opinions and positions that can be found across the American political spectrum. What brings us together is our commitment to voter empowerment—especially empowering women voters—and defending democracy. Standing up for these values is not a partisan narrative but a way to advance inclusion.

As we do this, we must ask ourselves and others within our election and democratic systems if we are walking the talk and prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion within our own organizations. Are we living our values, and are those values aligned with the ideals that we have as a country?

This self-reflection may be painful. It’s difficult to acknowledge that actions taken in the past with the best of intentions may have been hurtful or undermined the values we claim to honor. It will require us to be open, transparent, and willing to admit when we are wrong.