Making Democracy Work

Action and Advocacy

We are truly a grassroots organization...

The League of Women Voters takes action on an issue or advocates for a cause when there is an existing League position that supports the issue or speaks to the cause.

Positions result from a process of study. Any given study, whether it be National, State, or Local, is thorough in its pursuit of facts and details. As the study progresses, a continuing discussion of pros and cons of each situation occurs. Prior to the results of the study being presented to the general membership, study committee members fashion consensus questions that are then addressed by the membership.

Additional discussion, pro and con, takes place as members (not part of the study committee) learn the scope of the study. After the members reach consensus, the board forms positions based on that consensus.

It is the consensus statement -- the statement resulting from the consensus questions -- that becomes a position. Firm action or advocacy can then be taken on the particular issue addressed by the position. Without a position, action/advocacy cannot be taken.

LWV Chicago Where We Stand

Positions taken by the League of Women Voters of Chicago are included in Where We Stand. Topics included are Cable TV, Chicago Government, Chicago Public Library, Education, Handguns, Housing and Land Use.


Letter sent to editor May 25, 2016

To the Editor:

The League of Women Voters of Chicago is alarmed at the size and significance of the cuts facing the Chicago Public Schools. Cuts of this magnitude will quickly destroy much of the improvement that has been made, slowly and painstakingly, in educational outcomes for nearly 400,000 students, over the past twenty-five years.

Without significant help for the Chicago Public Schools, there will be serious unintended consequences: skilled teachers and principals will find work elsewhere; families who can move to the suburbs, where they do not have to face these disastrous cuts, will do so; parents who have stayed in or moved to the city for its diversity will not sacrifice the education of their children for a school system that has class sizes of 40 or more, no extracurricular activities, no art, music, or other enrichment courses, and fewer AP classes.

The fallout from destroying the current, hard-won potential of the Chicago Public Schools will not leave the City unscathed, nor the State. As go the Chicago Public Schools, so goes the City of Chicago. Chicago, as the economic and cultural engine of Illinois, will take a severe blow to its reputation as a good place for new business and new employees. Everyone loses.

But even with all those negative outcomes for the State, the City, and CPS parents, there is a more basic question: how can our governor and legislative leaders allow the State to break faith with 397,000 students, from kindergarten to high school seniors, who have trusted them?

Sincerely, Margaret Herring, President, League of Women Voters of Chicago

Statement given prior to a Chicago Board of Education meeting on April 27, 2016.

The group Raise Your Hand arranged for many groups to speak to the issue of Charter Schools.

I am Nancy Brandt, a Board member of the League of Women Voters of Chicago. We have studied the issues related to expanding charter schools in Chicago and have thus called for a moratorium on new charters.

That the Governor and the Illinois State Board of Education can even consider forcing school districts to open new charter schools shows just how committed they must be to a privatizing agenda. Surely they understand the fiscal condition of the Chicago schools and of many other school districts. And yet new charters would make those fiscal conditions worse. The state hasn't even been fully funding the meager $6,119 per student they set in 2010 and has been shorting districts each year since. CPS may not even be able to open its doors in September. And so we ask: how could the Governor and ISBE decide that Chicago needs 24 more charter schools over five years, draining students and funding from all existing schools?

LWV Chicago v. City of Chicago

A suit was filed in Federal Court April 2, 2013 related to the ward remap in Chicago based on the 2010 census data and early implementation of the new boundaries. The suit was dismissed on August 16, 2013. An appeal was filed on September 4, 2013. On July 9, 2014, the United State Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to dismiss the claims. On October 7, 2014 a petition for a writ of certiorari was filed in the U.S. Supreme Court. On November 19, 2014 this was denied.

Statement made to announce the filing of a suit in Federal Court April 2, 2013, given by Helene S. Gabelnick, Vice-President LWVChicago

One of the basic principles of the League of Women Voters acts on is Representative Government: We "Promote an open governmental system that is representative, accountable and responsive."

In 2011, Chicago residents elected aldermen for 4 year terms. In 2012, the City Council redistricted ward boundaries. Residents are now told that the alderman representing the new 2012 ward boundaries within which they reside, not the alderman elected from the ward boundaries as they existed for the 2011 election, represents them. The aldermen are not accountable to the citizens that are moved into redrawn wards, because they did not elect the aldermen. Also, the aldermen may not be responsive to those who elected them, but who will not vote in that ward in the 2015 election. Thus, the aldermen are untethered from the electorate.

We feel that the City of Chicago violated the rights of its residents by implementing the new ward boundaries before the 2015 City Council elections and reassigning aldermen to provide services and represent the residents in the redistricted wards.

We also seek a ward map based on one person + one vote as outlined in the suit. We support a redistricting process, which is timely, orderly and meets the basic criteria relating to population, compactness and contiguity, and the requirements of the 1965 U.S. Voting Rights Act and subsequent amendments.

Death Penalty

The Chicago League is in favor of the abolishment of the death penalty. This position was recently approved by the national League of Women Voters and is a concurrence with the position of the Illinois League.

Election Laws

The Chicago League has been working with the Illinois League to implement HAVA, (Help American Vote Act). This federal law mandated significant changes in election laws throughout the country including the use of provisional ballots, a statewide voter registration database and new voting machines which can be used by the disabled, provide privacy for the blind and provide backup data. We will be working with the Illinois League to monitor polling places in future elections.


Adopted by National Board, March 2008

The League of Women Voters believes that immigration policies should promote reunification of immediate families; meet the economic, business and employment needs of the United States; and be responsive to those facing political persecution or humanitarian crises. Provision should also be made for qualified persons to enter the U.S. on student visas. All persons should receive fair treatment under the law.

The League supports federal immigration law that provides an efficient, expeditious system (with minimal or no backlogs) for legal entry of immigrants into the U.S. To complement these goals the League supports federal policies to improve economies, education, job opportunities, and living conditions in nations with large emigrating populations.

In transition to a reformed system, the League supports provisions for unauthorized immigrants already in the country to earn legal status.

The League supports federal payments to impacted communities to address the financial costs borne by states and local governments with large immigrant populations.

Criteria for Legal Admission to the U.S.

The League supports the following criteria for legal admission of persons into the United States:

  • Family reunification of spouses or minor children with authorized immigrants or citizens;
  • Flight from persecution or response to humanitarian crises in home countries;
  • Economic, business and employment needs in the U.S.;
  • Education and training needs of the U.S.;
  • Educational program opportunities; and
  • Lack of a history of serious criminal activity.

Administration and Enforcement
The League supports due process for all persons, including the right to a fair hearing, right to counsel, right of appeal and right to humane treatment.

The League supports:

  • Improved technology to facilitate employer verification of employee status;
  • Verification documents, such as status cards and work permits, with secure identifiers;
  • Significant fines and penalties for employers who hire unauthorized workers;
  • Improved technology for sharing information among federal agencies;
  • More effective tracking of individuals who enter the United States; and
  • Increased personnel at borders.

The League also supports programs allowing foreign workers to enter and leave the U.S. to meet seasonal or sporadic labor needs.

Unauthorized Immigrants Already in the U.S.
In achieving overall policy goals, the League supports a system for unauthorized immigrants already in the country to earn legal status, including citizenship, by paying taxes, learning English, studying civics and meeting other relevant criteria. While policy reforms, including a path to legal status, remain unachieved, the League does not support deporting unauthorized immigrants who have no history of criminal activity.