top of page

Member Handbook

This resource will acquaint new and existing members with League principles and processes so you can take full advantage of the opportunities of membership. Contents are linked below. 


The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.


Carrie Chapman Catt and others organized the League of Women Voters of the United States in 1920. The League of Women Voters of Oregon was also founded in 1920. The League’s first goal was to teach women how to exercise their new right to vote; the scope was soon enlarged to include service to all citizens. Political action based on knowledge gained from study became the cornerstone of the League’s diverse agenda.


The League never supports or opposes any political party or candidate for elective office. Because of scrupulous adherence to this nonpartisan political policy, the League takes action only in the public interest and only on issues on which members have reached agreement after conducting studies. However, as individuals, League members are encouraged to join fully in the political process.


Membership in the League of Women Voters is open to people of all genders, age 16 and up.

The League of Women Voters works on local, state and national levels. At all levels, members have a voice in what will be studied, what action will be taken, how League money will be spent, and who League leaders will be. The League is a grassroots organization, and members are dedicated to local Leagues as the foundation for local, state and national impact.

The League of Women Voters Education Fund, created to strengthen League activities in education and voter service, functions under the auspices of the League of Women Voters, but legally exists as a discrete organization. Contributions to the Education Fund can be considered tax‐deductible. The Education Fund never advocates and never lobbies.


Each local League determines its own schedule and meets typically nine times a year. A meeting for all members is usually called a General Meeting. The membership may divide into smaller groups, called units, which meet for discussion. Units are effective for different interest groups or when members are scattered over a large geographic area.

Members meet to study and to discuss issues such as voting rights, land use, taxes, water resources, human needs, international trade and issues of local concern. All League meetings are open to the public.

Each local League holds an Annual Meeting to elect officers, set local dues, and adopt local programs, bylaws and budget. All members can and should attend the Annual Meeting.


The national Convention—for the League of Women Voters of the United States—is held biennially in even‐numbered years, with Washington D.C. the location every other national Convention. Delegates are elected by local Leagues in numbers proportionate to their membership. Any voting member of the League is eligible to serve as a Convention delegate. Observers and guests may attend but not vote. Delegates debate and vote on program, budget, financial support, and bylaws. They elect officers for the next biennium.

The national Council is held in odd‐numbered years. Voting members include two delegates from each state plus the national Board of Directors. The League of Women Voters of Oregon holds its Convention in odd‐numbered years and Council in even‐numbered years, using similar rules.


League is a nonprofit organization that must have adequate financing to operate and to achieve its goals. Local Leagues adopt budgets to support local, state and national activities. Financial support comes from members, non‐members and the community at large.

Dues are a major income factor in local League budgets. Each local League decides the amount of dues and the method for collecting them. Dues can be paid on the membership anniversary or at the beginning of the fiscal year. A large portion of the dues, called Per Member Payment or PMP, supports state and national League mission. The League conducts fundraising campaigns at every level to augment income from dues. Dues are only tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law for League nonprofit status determined by the IRS.


The League of Women Voters of Oregon qualifies as a 501(c)(3) organization under the Internal Revenue Code and may accept tax‐deductible contributions. In part, these funds are used for Voter Service activities and balanced, impartial information on governmental issues, study guides, surveys, research projects and litigation in the public interest.

The League of Women Voters believes in representative government and in the individual liberties established in the Constitution of the United States.

The League of Women Voters believes that efficient and economical government requires competent personnel, the clear assignment of responsibility, adequate financing and coordination among the different agencies and levels of government.

The League of Women Voters believes government should be responsive to the will of the people in the following ways. Government should:

● maintain an equitable and flexible system of taxation;

● promote the conservation and development of natural resources in the public interest;

● share in the solution of economic and social problems which affect the general welfare;

● promote a sound economy;

● adopt domestic policies that facilitate the solution of international problems.


The League encourages citizens to register, vote, and take part in government and politics. League members register voters, sponsor candidates and issue forums or debates, and provide information about voting.  The LWVOR Voters’ Guide is an important resource for state elections. It provides objective, balanced election information and does not state League positions. The Voters’ Guide is available in many formats including easy‐to‐read, Spanish, Internet, large‐print and audio. We also coordinate a statewide mock election for K‐ 12 schools to help students learn the importance of participating in democracy.


Rights of US Residents

The League of Women Voters believes that:

● every citizen should be protected in the right to vote;

● every person should have access to free public education which provides equal opportunity for all;

● no person or group should suffer legal, economic or administrative discrimination.

The League of Women Voters believes that democratic government depends upon the informed and active participation of its citizens and requires that governmental bodies protect the citizen’s right to know by giving adequate notice of the proposed actions, holding open meetings and making public records accessible.


World Citizenship

The League of Women Voters believes that cooperation with other nations is essential in the search for solutions to world problems, and that the development of international organizations and international law is imperative in the promotion of world peace.


After reaching an agreement and announcing a position, local, state, or national Leagues take action by:

● working with other organizations (coalitions);

● speaking out through letter‐writing and e‐mail campaigns and through visits to legislators and public officials (based on our positions, we support or oppose legislation, ballot measures, etc.);

● testifying at legislative and administrative hearings;

● monitoring elections and other government activities;

● litigating to help clarify laws in the public interest.

The League sends observers to meetings of local, regional, state and national government bodies. Observers do not speak for the League but attend meetings to listen, to learn, and to make factual reports.


Educating Oregonians about government and relevant state and local issues is a major League activity. Through community handbooks, political directories, and factual studies of issues, the League provides unbiased information necessary for an informed electorate. Community organizations often call upon the League for speakers on selected topics about government.

Annual Program Planning

League program at every level consists of those issues members choose for concentrated study and action. At each year’s program planning meeting, members discuss ideas for local and state or national program topics or studies.


Deciding What to Study

Proposals are submitted to the appropriate Board of Directors. The Board then considers the proposals, formulates a recommended program, and presents it to the membership at the Annual Meeting of the local League or to the delegates at the state or national Convention. Not‐recommended items can also be considered at each level.

Such issues must fall within League principles and must be ones on which government action can be taken. Final decisions on state and national programs are made by a vote of the delegates to the respective Convention.

The Study Process

Once a study has been adopted, the Board appoints a chairperson of the “resource” or study committee and other members are solicited to serve on the committee.

The resource committee gathers information on the study item, analyzes information, clarifies issues, and identifies problems. The committee presents all sides of the issue to members. The study may include tours, guest speakers, interviews and other activities. When the study has been completed, a report is published.

Formulating a League Position Before the League can act, members must agree in broad terms on various aspects of the issue. To formulate a position, or statement of action, the League takes consensus. Consensus, or agreement, is reached through group discussion. Mem‐ bers come to an overall “sense of the group” as expressed through the exchange of ideas and opinions. It is from this agreement that the League formulates a position statement for action.

League positions can also be reached through concurrence, or agreeing with a proposed statement. League members or Boards can concur with recommendations or a statement from a task force, a resource committee, a unit group, or any League Board.


League publications are important tools for carrying out our purpose. They are researched, written and distributed by members at every level. The League provides its materials free of charge to members, and in most cases, to the public.

Aside from program study reports and Voters’ Guides mentioned earlier, other publications include member newsletters published locally, nationally, and at the state level (usually titled The Voter, although some local Leagues have their own titles), the Legislative Report (a statewide e‐ newsletter published during legislative sessions), and the National League’s email member newsletters. Other publications include annual reports, study report summaries, presentations, websites, and more. In order to accommodate a diversity of needs, items are published in multiple formats, including audio, and online.


Arranged alphabetically by topic




Voting Members 

US citizens at least 16 years old who have paid dues or who are Life Members.

Members At State

Members who do not reside within the geographic area of a local League, and choose to pay League dues for membership at the state level.

Household Membership 

Two or more members at the same address; one person pays full dues and each additional person pays half the amount. 


Life Members  

Those who have belonged to League for 50 or more years and no longer pay dues.

Associate Members 

Members under 16 or non-citizens who have paid dues.




Administrative body consisting of officers plus elected and appointed directors.

Education Fund 

A separate organization established by the League to accept tax-deductible contributions, the funds of which can be used only for educational or Voter Service activities, such as a League study or Voters’ Guide.


Describes the League’s policy of not supporting or opposing political parties or candidates.


The specific program or administrative responsibility of a Board member, such as international relations, land use or public relations. Many League Boards are moving away from the portfolio system, with Board members assuming responsibilities as necessary.


Small discussion groups. Not all Leagues use units. They work well in larger Leagues or those spread over a large geographic area.


Principles and Action


One of the four areas in which the League studies and acts. Governance refers to the workings of the three branches of government, especially state legislatures and Congress, where laws are made. It includes taxation and other financial matters of the state or nation.

International Relations 

The relationship of our country to other nations in trade, peacekeeping, the United Nations, etc. This is the second major area of League concern.

Local Item

A topic of concern and possible action in the city or county of a local League.

Natural Resources 

A third major area of League interest. It includes air and water quality, land use, energy, transportation, and waste disposal.

Social Policy 

The fourth area of concern to League members. Social policy covers education, health, housing, corrections, issues affecting women and children, human rights and civil liberties.




General agreement of League members to a statement of position written by the Board or other group at any level of League. Concurrence is often used to update an existing position.


General agreement of League members following thorough study and discussion. League positions are based on member consensus.


League members who attend and monitor meetings of government councils, boards and commissions.


A statement of beliefs of League members on a particular issue, reached by consensus or concurrence of members after thorough study and discussion. The position is adopted by the appropriate board, according to the level at which the study was done (local, state, or national). Action, pro or con, is carried out on the basis of positions from any level of League.


The process of researching and analyzing an issue from all sides.




Per Member Payment—monetary support for the state and national Leagues as decided by Convention delegates.

bottom of page