Definitions of terms commonly used by the League of Women Voters
Action or Advocacy - Support for or opposition to legislation or policies at the local, state or national level. The League may only advocate for or against issues on which the League has an applicable position or principle.
Action to Educate – The League also provides factual information on such issues as voter registration and public policies such as the “Help America Vote Act” which changed the election process.
Annual (Business) Meeting - The yearly business meeting of local Leagues at which they elect officers and directors, adopt a budget, consider bylaws amendments and adopt the local League program.
Concurrence – The act of agreement by League members with a statement or position. The concurrence could be with the report of a League committee, a position previously taken by another League or a decision statement formulated by a League board. Prior to concurrence, local Leagues must be provided information on the subject.
Consensus – Agreement among a substantial number of members representative of the whole membership reached after objective study and group discussion.
Convention – The biennial League business meeting at the state or national level. State conventions are held in odd-numbered years and the national convention is held in even-numbered years. The business purpose is to elect officers and directors, adopt program and a two-year budget, and approve bylaws changes. In addition to the business purpose of conventions, convention attendees have access to workshops, speakers and panels on subjects of League interest.
Council – A biennial League business meeting at the state or national level. State council is held in even-numbered years between conventions. National council is held in odd-numbered years. The purpose is to adopt any revised budget figures for the second year of the budget adopted at the previous convention and to review the work on program items. Workshops and speakers are also part of the Council agenda.
Education Fund – A tax-exempt educational arm of the League. The national and state leagues each have an Education Fund. A local League may have its own Education Fund or it may choose to let the state League hold those funds. The Education Fund facilitates citizen participation by providing factual information to the public on voter registration, public policy issues and government processes. Also, see Action to Educate.
General Fund - The LWVAL or local League General Fund supports the League organization (administration, membership, the member newsletter) and League program that includes study and advocacy.
General Meetings – Meetings to which all members are invited. The public is often invited to general meetings that deal with issues of general or community interest.
Honorary Life Member - A person who has been a League member for 50 years or more. Life members are excused from dues payment and their Leagues pay no per member payment (PMP) for them to the state or national Leagues.
Issue for Emphasis – An area of one or more League positions to which League energy and resources are directed. Action can involve lobbying, media releases, public meetings, development of League publications, etc. Local and state Leagues may use the term “Priorities for the Year” instead of Issues for Emphasis.
ILO - Acronym for an Inter-League Organization, formed by local Leagues within a county, metropolitan area or region to act on issues that are beyond the local League area in scope. (As of this writing, July 20, 2017, there are no ILOs in Alabama.)
MAL - Acronym for Member-At-Large, a member of the state League who resides outside the area of, and is not enrolled in, a local League.
MAL UNIT - A state-recognized group of Members-At-Large, in an area where there is no local League.
Mission Statement - The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Note - Mission Statement for Education Fund: The League of Women Voters Education Fund is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government and works to increase understanding of major public policy issues.
Orientation – Information to help members understand the purpose of the League, its policies, and how it does business. Leagues hold new member orientations for the above purpose.
PMP - Acronum for Per Member Payment. the amount local Leagues pay per member to state and national Leagues to support the League’s work on those levels. The amount of the PMP is determined by convention vote.
Portfolio – The specific area of responsibility of a board or off-board member.
Position – A written statement of the point of view of a League on a public or government issue. The position is formulated after objective member study and agreement by consensus or concurrence. Positions are the basis for League action, i.e. advocacy for or opposition to legislation or public policy. Without position or a principle on which to base action, the League does not have authority to take action.
Program – The collection of governmental or public policy issues of concern adopted by the members of the League for study or action. The League's position on an issue is adopted after objective study and consensus discussion by the members. League members may also adopt an issue position based on concurrence. (See definitions of consensus and concurrence.) Action may be taken by the League only after a position on that issue has been adopted as part of the Program through the process of concencus or concurrence. New positions are adopted by the members at annual meetings or conventions. Existing positions are readopted at the same meetings.
Purpose of League - See Mission Statement.
Study – The process by which members of a League learn about an issue adopted as part of its Program. The League assigns study items to a committee whose responsibility is to research the topic, define the issues, produce study/background material, propose the consensus questions to the appropriate board, provide study consensus materials to local Leagues, consolidate member responses to consensus questions, and propose a position to the League's board of directors. The study committee and the relevant board have the responsibility to ensure that the League study upholds the League’s commitment to objective research and definition of the issues and that the consensus/concurrence of members on study issues is accurately reflected in the position statement.
Unit Meetings – Smaller groups of local League members who meet at a set time and place. The size of the League determines the number of unit meetings held. The purpose of unit meetings is to study and discuss program items, register opinions of members if a consensus or concurrency is on the table, learn about new items or deal with organizational issues. In large Leagues that cover a number of governmental jurisdictions, some unit meetings may be devoted to specific local government issues of particular interest to the members of that unit.
Voter Guide - A publication that provides nonpartisan information about candidates and/or ballot referendums (such as proposed state constitutional amendments). Information might include a description of the office for which the candidates are seeking election, office qualification requirements, length of term, candidate biographical information and qualifications, and candidate answers to questions regarding the candidate's position on relevant issues. Preparation, publication, and distribution of Voter Guides are funded by the League's Education Fund.
Voter Service – Activity to objectively educate and encourage citizens to be politically active. Voter registration, nonpartisan information about candidates or ballot measures (voter guides), and candidate forums are voter service activities for which the League is most well known. Voter Service falls under Education Fund activity.