The Alabama Voter
Summer 2010 Edition
Published July 19, 2010
Ding! The door opens. Ding! Another round of voting. Ding! The door opens. Ding! Yet another caucus/workshop or gathering. Exhausted yet? I was. This is the reflection of my time at the 45th National League of Women Voters Convention. As we celebrated the 90 years that had passed, and looked forward to see where we were going (with lots of parallel roads), I made some new friendships, renewed others, and strengthened yet others. The elevators in the hotel were sort of symbolic of the way I experienced the time there. It seemed that each encounter was seemingly as random, and yet controlled as elevator doors opening and shutting, only to open again, with a new vista.
As I reflect on all that I encountered, it is almost overwhelming. Over 800 people gathered to ensure democracy works at all levels, locally (like here in Mobile), at the state level (like Alabama) and at the national level with all of the pomp and circumstance, complete with pro and con microphones, time keepers, numbered red no cards and matching green yes cards, and minutes from previous sessions to be read. Some of the voice votes were so close ballots were called for. This was the role of the cards: you were to hand in the green if you agreed/supported or the red if you were opposed/against the motion on the floor. While this happened, the doors to the hall were locked! No one in or out until the ballots were collected. They were opened while the ballots were counted and reported. The motions were projected onto large screens at the front of the room, read carefully and discussed in great detail. This of course happened after extensive caucus meetings and materials posted on the website. Very complicated at first glance. The roll call of states was also intriguing. Each state present was asked to share about a minute with the assembly. Some ran through their place in the history of suffrage or milestones, others told what they had been up to.
Interspersed with all of this formality, there were workshops where folks shared either best practices (like the workshop I attended, in my role as Nominating Chair in Mobile, on how to grow leadership) or resources such as the Treasury for Treasurers. LWVUS staff and Board members were either in attendance or leading these sessions. Some of the caucus meetings I attended included an impromptu one hosted by the state of Florida on lifting the travel embargo to Cuba (subsequently allowed on the floor and favorably voted on as an item for LWVUS to work on) to an overview by the Climate Change Task Force of their new toolkit (on the LWVUS website – see link – great stuff!). Some of the ideas I heard about included a poll worker outreach effort (in Iowa) where they reached out to 18-25 year olds, recruiting them to work the polls, and participating in the education of the workers, helping to further broaden the area knowledge of democracy. Another was a program Ready to Run and Running to Win. Both focus on helping people, particularly women, have information to prepare them to consider submitting their name as a candidate for office, or at least for a position on a Board or Commission. Tucson, AZ, shared a lot of this information.
Ding! The door opens again – this time for us to pack up and go home for another 2 years, until Ding! The door opens in Washington DC in 2012 – make your plans now, rest up, get your pencils sharpened and your wits sharper! It will be a wild ride!