Washington, DC – On Tuesday, Americans elected more female candidates to office than ever before. Across the country, voters selected women to represent them at every level of government, from local and state office to Washington, D.C.
“We could not be prouder to see so many women elected to public office this year,” said Chris Carson, President of the League of Women Voters. “This is an inspirational moment for women, and we will not stop until the number of women in elected office reflects the makeup of our communities.”
Americans are sending at least 117 women from both parties to Washington, including the first Muslim and Native American women ever elected to Congress, the first female Senators from Arizona and Tennessee, the first female African-American Congresswomen from New England, and the first Latina Congresswomen from Texas.
“It’s not just that women won big this year, but it’s how they ran and won,” said Virginia Kase, CEO of the League of Women Voters. “These are powerful, amazing women who ran strategic, smart campaigns, and they ran as their authentic selves. This year we saw women of all walks of life – women of color, veterans, doctors, mothers – who stood up and said it is our time to lead.”
The final voter count is not yet available, but the New York Times estimates 114 million votes were cast compared to 83 million in 2014. Voter engagement was also at historic highs, as the League’s voter information site, VOTE411.org, surpassed the number of users from the 2016 presidential election by more than a million voters.
"Our democracy is strongest when everyone participates, and this year voters had their voices heard,” said Carson. “All year long, League volunteers worked hard registering more voters than ever before and reaching out to more candidates in order to provide voters with the information they needed to cast their ballots. Our work is never done, but we are so encouraged by the turnout and renewed enthusiasm across the country for our elections.”
While more women than ever before will serve in Congress, there is a long way to go before women will reflect the full population of the country. Women make up 52% of the electorate, but in the 116th Congress they will still represent less than a quarter of all Senators and Representatives. At the state level, at least nine women were elected Governor Tuesday night.
"We believe the 2018 elections will inspire future generations of women to run for office, because now more women can see themselves in these positions of power,” said Kase. “For now, we hope these newly elected officials will stand up and represent the American people and set a new tone for our country.”
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Voting is a fundamental right and for nearly 100 years the League of Women has assisted citizens in exercising that right. LWV believes that all eligible voters should have an equal opportunity to exercise their right to vote. As a nonpartisan organization, the League cannot tell people for whom to vote, nor can it endorse candidates or give them money. The League does advocate for policies that ensure that our elections remain free, fair and accessible.
As part of its voter educational effort the League has long sponsored non-partisan candidate forums to help voters get acquainted with issues and meet and hear from candidates seeking their vote. The League of Women Voters of the Lower Cape Fear (LWVLCF) has successfully conducted such forums for decades in this region. Over the last several elections we have added forums for Brunswick County voters. For the 2018 election the LWVLCF planned forums in Leland, Shallotte and Southport to give residents living in all parts of the county an opportunity to hear and learn from candidates for legislative and county offices.
Unfortunately, implementing these Brunswick County forums this year proved to be difficult as the candidates of one major party (the Republican Party) refused to participate. For the most part, they just ignored our invitations to participate. We have not had the courtesy of them even initiating a discussion about their concerns with the forums.
When candidates decline to participate in these nonpartisan forums, democracy suffers. People want to hear from their elected officials before they cast their votes. They want to understand how candidates would address issues of concern to them. Elected officials who choose to listen only to their supporters and avoid people who might not agree with them, do themselves as candidates a disfavor and certainly don’t help enlighten the voters on their views.
The format of the League’s forums involves inviting all candidates for elected offices in the local area to participate and provide participating candidates with equal time to answer questions. The questions come from a variety of sources, including from members of the community, League Action Teams and League co-sponsors. Our professional moderators review the questions to ensure they are presented in a non-biased manner. The Alliance of Brunswick County Property Owners Association and the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce offered to co-sponsor these forums this year. Jon Evans, WECT anchor, agreed to moderate two of the forums as he has done in the past and WWAY-TV offered to moderate the third forum. The League mandates that at least two candidates for an office must be included to have a forum for a particular office.
The League’s forums have been very positively received in previous election years with participation from all parties’ candidates. Elections matter! Elected officials make significant choices that affect our daily lives. Local and state officials make decisions that affect how we plan for the rapidly growing community we call home. They will decide matters affecting our pocketbooks, transportation choices, natural resources, health care and public schools. When one party ignores invitations to participate in a nonpartisan professionally run forum in which all candidates are given the same opportunity to present their ideas it is saying an informed electorate does not matter. It is a shame.
Carol Roberts, President, LWV of the Lower Cape Fear Barbara Burrell, Brunswick County Voter Services Chair
For more information, contact Mary Ellen Cole, LWVLCF - Communications Director.
The League of Women Voters of the Lower Cape Fear Voters Services Team announced today that activities in New Hanover County have been severely limited due to the effects of Hurricane Florence. As previously announced, the League had to cancel the legislative forum for New Hanover County twice, due to special sessions calling incumbent candidates back to the NC Legislature.
"The good news is we were able to go forward with our New Hanover County Commission Forum and New Hanover County School Board Forum," said Carole Ellis, Voters Services Team Chair. "This forum was well attended by the community. The League members who helped are owed a thank you."
The League of Women Voters of the Lower Cape Fear also thanks their partners at WECT and forum moderator Jon Evans for their cooperation and dedication to helping the League educate the community before they head to the polls. WECT streamed the forum live. An archived copy is available at WECT.com.
As previously announced, the League's Brunswick County Candidate Forum is still scheduled for October 17 at Shallotte Middle School.
For more information, contact Mary Ellen Cole, LWVLCF - Communications Director.
The League of Women Voters of the Lower Cape Fear announced today the cancellation of two of its upcoming candidate forums, due to inclement weather. The Brunswick County Candidate Forum at Leland Town Hall, originally scheduled for tonight, October 10, has been canceled. Additionally, The New Hanover County Candidate Forum, originally scheduled for October 2 that had been moved to October 15 has also been canceled, due to location issues and the NCGA special session triggered by Hurricane Florence.
The Brunswick County Candidate Forum at Shallote Middle School on October 17, is currently scheduled to go as planned for now.
"We are very disappointed to cancel such important events just before early voting begins in North Carolina. We urge the public to find out more about their candidates using Vote411.org, so they can make informed decisions before going to the polls to vote," said Kim Hill Gramlisch, Digital Projects Coordinator for the League of Women Voters of the Lower Cape Fear.
Additionally, the Environmental Action Team Meeting scheduled for October 11 has also been canceled.
"Due to the incoming storm, a meeting at Wrightsville Beach is not advisable. See you on November 8," said Clarice Reber, Environmental Action Team Chair.
Members of the League of Women Voters of the Lower Cape Fear, as well as the public, are urged to look for further updates on Twitter @lwvlcf and on Facebook @lwvlcf as they become available.
For more information, contact Mary Ellen Cole, Communications Director for the League of Women Voters of the Lower Cape Fear.
Washington, DC – The League of Women Voters’ President Chris Carson and CEO Virginia Kase issued the following joint statement after the Senate voted to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice. Read more at LWV.org.
10/5/2018 Washington DC – Thursday, the League of Women Voters' CEO Virginia Kase participated in the civil disobedience to protest Judge Kavanaugh and was among the activists arrested at the Capitol. Read more at LWV.org