TALLAHASSEE — Nearly 200 League members gathered in Fort Lauderdale Beach on Friday and Saturday at their State Convention to make decisions that will help direct and shape the League of Women Voters of Florida for the next two years.
But the overriding headline was the League‘s explosive 65% membership growth this past year. LWVF is now the second largest state league in the country. Orange County with more than 750 members is now the second largest local league in the country, followed by third place Palm Beach and St. Petersburg fourth. A number of Leagues throughout the State have doubled their membership.
“This is a year of which we can all be proud,” said LWVF President Pamela Goodman. “Our non-partisan, multi-position stand is drawing new members daily. But it is not just a question of numbers, it is the energy, knowledge, and determination of our members that makes Florida an example to Leagues throughout the nation. Our historical process is one of credibility and integrity. In the end, we make things happen.“
The Open Primary Study, which achieved consensus earlier this year by its membership, was added to the League‘s statewide positions. The aim of the study, which was headed by Orange County‘s Michele Levy, and took two years to complete, was to examine ways to increase voter participation in primary elections. It recommended “statewide use of an Open Primary election system that would allow for the broadest possible voter participation, including No Party and Minor Party affiliate voters.”
Vikram Amar, dean of the University of Illinois College of Law, who spoke on the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, said that slavery was the biggest single driver behind the Electoral College. Dr. Amar said that today the Electoral College benefits from just a handful of states. “It is a good moment in U.S. history to change the Electoral College rules,” he said. “…we need a standard, national ballot.“
Additionally, The League formally began their work as a coalition partner in the campaign to get the citizen initiative regarding Restoration of Former Felons Rights on the 2018 ballot and discussed their role in the Constitution Revision Commission process.
There were workshops, caucuses and meetings, as well as time to make friends, influence people and hear words of wisdom from the League‘s National President Chris Carson, Rick Christie, editorial page editor Palm Beach Post, former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fl., and Chris Hand, the senator‘s co-author of “America The Owner‘s Manual.”
Officers and Board Directors were also elected. Goodman, from Palm Beach County League, was re-elected as President for an additional 2 year term. The remaining Board elected are:
1st Vice President: Patti Brigham,
2nd Vice President: Cecile Scoon,
Secretary: Pat Drago,
Treasurer: Theresa Francis-Thomas
Board Members: Shawn Bartelt, Anna Eskamani, Lisa Hall, Julie Kessel, and Michele Levy.
Nominating Committee: LaVonne Grayson, Mary Gutierrez, and Maggie Fernandez