Annual Meeting Information
June 7, 2018
(from LWVUS Transformation Road Map)
On this day, June 7, 2018, I am pleased to report that the League of Women Voters Charlotte Mecklenburg is in great shape.
Membership has increased 10% since last year. Civics 101 classes are thriving; we've moved from one Civics class a year for 20 years to twice a year because of waiting lists. We have a very successful voter registration program for high school students and new citizens - and we continue to strongly advocate for public schools, school equity and fair elections.
Thanks to successful grant proposals, we are financially sound.
As we approach our 100-year mark in 2020, the national League is working on a re-organization, a realignment, which will take us into the next 100 years. That re-organization is called the Transformation Roadmap.
I'd like to speak briefly about a few aspects of that roadmap.
In recent years, many organizations have stepped into the space once primarily occupied by the League. They, like the League, are active in voter registration, voter education, and voting rights.
The League is a well-known brand across the country. We are known for being fact-based, fair-minded, honest, and non-partisan. We have a respected network of highly skilled volunteers. We produce a high volume of work.
Nonetheless, we do have challenges. And in the crowded space of so many like-minded organizations, while we work with them, we must articulate what differentiates us, so that we can attract new members and gain increased visibility and funding.
As a part of the Transformation Roadmap, the League's national board has come up with new mission, vision and value statements and also a new mantle: We are Defenders of Democracy.
We will continue to focus on voter protection, election reform, money in politics, and redistricting.
But with promised resources from national, we will work to rid ourselves of challenges that currently keep us from where we want to be.
One of those challenges is that our membership is not diverse and reflective of our community. That's an issue that has been a topic of discussion for over 20 years.
Our causes are sound, but we have lacked racial, economic, age, gender and social diversity.
The goal is to fully commit to a culture that is welcoming, inclusive, trusting and attuned to today's needs.
I personally believe that we in the Charlotte Mecklenburg League are making progress in that area but the task is by no means easy.
Secondly, as a volunteer organization, the League should look for ways to include those who may not want to engage as traditional dues-paying members. Some people may opt-in to our emails and social media. Some may be advocates for a particular League issue. Some may be donors.
We must meet volunteers where they and their interests lie, while at the same time publicizing that we as an organization are a training ground for preparing people to take on any public policy issue.
Thirdly, we must support a way to make it simpler and easier for young people to join the League.
And, finally, we can expect national and the state leagues to play a more active leadership role in aligning us with stated goals.
I'll hear more about the Transformation Roadmap at the national convention in Chicago later this month and will be sure to share what I've learned. ________________
As we can all acknowledge, the ideals of American democracy are under attack.
Many voters and non-voters are disillusioned; slightly more than half of all eligible voters participate in Presidential elections and many less in local elections.
Gerrymandering, as you've heard from Judge Norelli in regards to the judicial system, has resulted in districts designed to pre-determine election outcomes.
Barriers to voting are being erected non-stop to disenfranchise people of color and low-income.
Factual information on issues facing the electorate is muddled.
Decreased emphasis on civic education among young people and adults means that fewer people even understand the fundamentals of a working democracy.
It is clear that the work of the League is unfinished. We are needed now as much as at our founding. And we plan on being around a long, long time.
Former District Court Judge Nancy Black Norelli headlines the Annual Meeting of the LWVCM, discussing issues facing the judiciary, such as judicial redistricting and how state budget cuts have affected the system. Judge Norelli was one of the memorable speakers at the January Silent March in which the League participated protesting the proposed judiciary gerrymandering. Judge Norelli, first appointed in 2000 and then elected for two terms, presided over 60 civil jury trials; 1,000 Family Court matters, including equitable distribution, divorce, alimony, child custody and support, 300 juvenile cases and 7,000 DWI cases during her time on the bench. An often honored judge, she is a past president of the Mecklenburg County Bar and has served as a director since 2010 and vice chair since 2016 of Legal Services of the Southern Piedmont.