A League of Their Own

 In Do It Yourself, Local Government, Voting

Ladies Put in Work to Inform Electorate

Grassroots is the name of the game here on the Outer Banks. This community excels in supporting small businesses and nourishes ideas and alternative ways of life with an ease that comes only with life by the sea. But, when it comes to matters of great importance— of caring for our environment, the rights of those treading on our beaches, and the information spread through our favorite bars and wharves, we expect no different. While those who visit us may believe we’re all surf wax and sunshine, those who reside and make their livelihoods here know there is more to this sand than a place to play ostrich. And though a glance around those barrooms may turn up relatively politically homogenous, an influential group of women has been working to ensure electorate literacy in Dare County since 1978.

The League of Women Voters of Dare County is one of those grassroots organizations that blossoms on the Outer Banks. With long reaching roots to other inspired and determined women organizing at the state and national levels. Originally convening at the Ramada in 1978, the Dare County chapter of the national organization has worked for over forty years in the community, tackling issues of transportation, environmental quality, health and medical services, education and growth, and economic development. Never losing sight of their mission, the League distributes non-partisan voter information —on candidates, policy issues, polling locations, etc.— to any and all of the Dare County electorate. Grassroots has taken on a different guise since the paper flyers and tabling events of the League’s first Ramada sessions. The League of Women Voters now boasts an award-winning voter information website, a short and simple VOTE411.org. The streamlined and punchy site was internationally recognized as 2020’s Best Government & Civil Innovation Web-site at the 24th Annual Webby People’s Voice Awards.

VOTE411.org makes finding your polling location a breeze with customizable voting tools. But, it doesn’t stop there at making sure your voting experience is equipped with all the proper knowledge. The League’s site provides sample ballots to show voters what to expect on election day. In addition, it includes detailed information on all candidates and amendments to be voted upon and even provides calendars of voting-related events such as candidates’ public addresses and forums.

In a contentious time in which many worry about the validity of the news they hear and the nature of something being genuinely bipartisan or objective, the Dare County League goes out of its way to break down the exact ways in which members and the organization as a whole stay bipartisan. The County League’s website extensively details their bipartisan guidelines. Individual members are not to outwardly support any candidate or party in affiliation with the League. This means no distributing campaign material, wearing political pins, or lobbying for a candidate at League meetings or League-sponsored events. In addition, the League is not allowed to accept monetary contributions from campaigns. It can, however, take them from candidates’ personal accounts and cites the League’s longstanding, bipartisan reputation and transparency to remain honest.

While you may not be familiar with the League, you may recognize their work. The Dare County chapter researches and publishes voters’ guides in local papers as well as online. Additionally, the Dare County League annually publishes the Dare County Citizens Guide— a document packed full of information on local government services from education and libraries to contacts for obtaining a proper fishing license. The Citizens’ Guide cuts down on hours of searching through bureaucratic websites and archives for up-to-date, accurate municipal, state, and federal government policies with the effective use of hyperlinks and Cornell-style organization.

Don’t let the next election sneak up on you— though we find that may be hard to do these days. Instead, stay informed and keep up with local politics and changes to your community by allowing the League of Women Voters to keep up their excellent work one voter at a time.

Emily Moliken
Author: Emily Moliken

  • Laura Singletary


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