#1StudentNWI: League of Women Voters’ local Northwest Indiana chapters

#1StudentNWI: League of Women Voters’ local Northwest Indiana chapters

League of Women Voters is an important national and state organization and also has local chapters. Two such local chapters to Northwest Indiana are League of Women Voters of Porter County and League of Women Voters of La Porte Country.

Beckie Guffin is the current president of League of Women Voters of Porter County and has been involved with the organization since 2017.

“I was interested in working to protect voting rights and build awareness about the need for citizens to be active in their government,” said Guffin. 

In normal circumstances, the organization has many volunteer opportunities to choose from, but the pandemic has caused many of their usual events to take a shift. 

“Pre-pandemic we had many opportunities for members to participate in register-to-vote events, both in the community and in local high schools. As things improve, we hope to be able to resume some of those activities,” said Guffin. “During election years, we conducted several local candidate forums, which several volunteers are needed to make those successful. There are also several committees that focus on specific initiatives that members can participate in.”

When it is time for an election year, League of Women Voters are in full swing as they try to get people to go out and vote.

“As I mentioned, our work to register voters is ongoing; however, we ramp up those efforts in an election year. We also have conducted candidate forums for local races in Valpo, Portage, and Porter County overall in 2018 and 2020,” said Guffin. “In 2020, we participated in developing our Vote411 site: an online election resource for voters to find information about their candidates, locate their voting location, and even register to vote.”

On April 29, League of Women Voters of Porter County had an event scheduled for the National Day of Action, but it unfortunately had to be cancelled and rescheduled at a future date. This event usually consists of a rally at the Porter County Courthouse for League of Women Voters of Porter County to raise awareness about what the redistricting process in Indiana is about and the importance of fair maps when redistricting is done. When the event is eventually held, they will also be distributing information and registering voters. To find out when this event will be rescheduled, you can visit the League of Women Voters of Porter County website at lwvporterco.org/.

League of Women Voters of Porter County holds their Membership Meeting on the third Monday of every month at 7:00 p.m. The Monthly Meeting is held over zoom, and the next meeting is on Monday, May 17 at 7:00 p.m. Guests are welcome to attend. If you are interested in attending, please contact League of Women Voters of Porter County at lwvporter@gmail.com.

League of Women Voters of Porter County has been working on important work recently, the most notable of which being the big initiative focusing on the redistricting process of the national organization, which is League of Women Voters of the U.S., and the state organization, which is League of Women Voters of Indiana. The League of Women Voters of Porter County has a committee that contacts state legislators with a post-card-writing campaign to bring awareness to the need for fair maps and to lobby legislature to adopt citizen-drawn maps which they feel would better represent their constituents.

Co-President of League of Women Voters of La Porte County Jo Ann Engquist didn’t know anything about League of Women Voters when she had seen them on TV during a previous presidential debate. She thought they were fantastic and that she would love be a part of this organization. Though she originally joined a League of Women Voters in New Jersey for about four years, she wasn’t very active until she moved to Michigan City where she and a dear friend who was living in Michigan City got her join the League of Women Votes of La Porte County’s chapter. She has loved it since then and has been a member for a total of 47 years.

The League of Women Voters of La Porte County does their best to help prepare voters for both the primary and general elections. Primary forums can be very popular because of how many candidates there are. They usually receive good cooperation from the La Porte County Government and they have also provided copies of the candidates’ names and contact information.

Something that League of Women Voters does across the country is allowing candidates to add their photo and answers to questions specifically designed for the office they are running for. The answers are always protected and no one can change them. This program is known as Vote 411 and the public can readily access it, find out who will be on their ballot, and learn something about each of the candidates. They can also find out where they can vote, what the rules are in their state, and what important dates are coming up. On Vote 411, they can also provide videos of various candidate forums throughout the area.

The candidate forums occur in large, comfortable settings that are usually in public buildings, and there is never a charge to attend them.

League of Women Voters of La Porte County is having their annual meeting in virtual format on May 19. The guest speaker is Melissa Gentry, Ball State University Librarian and Map Collections Curator.

The subject of the meeting is the Gifted Sisters: The Story of Indiana Suffragists. Immediately following the speaker, there will be a meeting of interest to the public that includes election of board members, new policies, and amendments to by-laws. They will also announce local programs for next year that will enable us to address major issues of concern. The zoom link to attend can be found by clicking here

This is a great organization that many community members can benefit from by attending their events, getting involved, and volunteering with League of Women Voters. To learn more about League of Women Voters of Porter County, click here, and to learn more about League of Women Voters of La Porte County, click here.