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Florida League of Women Voters, Orange County
The League of Women Voters was founded right before women got the vote in 1920. The women's suffrage movement had gone on for decades, and once founders of the organization suspected that the vote was on the horizon, they realized that this huge portion of the country needed to be educated about the voting process and the issues of the day.
"That is the founding mission of the league and the mission we continue to fulfill today," says Sara Isaac, the co-president of the Orange County chapter of the Florida League of Women Voters.
Today, the league has grown to become one of the leading civic engagement organizations across the country. The chapter here in Orange County is the largest in the nation, with more than 700 members and still growing.
Both men and women of any party are free to join: The League is nonpartisan.
"What that means is that we don't support particular parties or particular candidates," Isaac says. "But we do take strong stands on issues, and we will call out politicians when they don't take what we consider to be the right stand on issues."
One might wonder how, in this divisive time in our country, Democrats and Republicans can come together and agree on an issue.
"In a country that is so increasingly divided politically, we are a third way," Isaac says. "If you strip away the rhetoric, most people want the kind of thriving, inclusive community that we advocate for. So it's a way of finding common ground."
That nonpartisan advocacy is what makes the League special: It's a multi-issue organization with a set of positions that range from the local to the national level. In Orange County, the League advocates for improvements to the juvenile justice system, restoration of voting rights for felons, the use of natural resources, fair and affordable public transportation, gun safety, solutions to public education problems, protecting women's reproductive health and more.
"We are fair, but we're fierce," Isaac says. "We're going to study the issue. ... When we take a position, we're going to advocate it with all our might."
Asked if members are worried about the new administration in the White House, Isaac admits that the League has disagreed with some of the new president's policies, like the recent executive order that temporarily banned immigration from seven predominately Muslim countries.
"I think it's reasonable to be worried, but I also think there has been a huge awakening of how important this is," she says, referring to the recent rise of protests.
The League welcomes anyone with a position they care about and is ready to give them the resources to fight for that issue. Isaac encourages anyone looking to get involved to join a committee, sign up for the newsletter, participate in a workshop or donate through the website.
"It's time for everybody to step up," she says. "We need everyone to come out and advocate for their passions." – DF