- About the League of Women Voters
- The League of Women Voters of the City of New York is a non-partisan organization whose purpose is to promote informed and active citizen participation in government. We are committed to empowering citizens with the meaningful information needed to make sound decisions for our democracy.
Founded in 1919, the League of Women Voters was an offshoot of the Women’s Suffrage movement. While the League's legislative priorities change to reflect the needs of society, our organization remains true to its basic purpose: to make democracy work for all citizens. Membership is open to all women and men who support its causes. The League is supported by membership dues and contributions from public-spirited individuals, businesses and organizations.
The League's enduring vitality comes from its unique decentralized structure; working at the national, state, and local levels.
- Advocate reducing expenditures by minimizing waste and duplication in city spending,increasing productivity and better management.
- Advocate increasing revenues by: implementing tax abatement programs for business with emphasis on rehabilitation, job creation and retention; adjusting business occupancy tax to lessen the burden on small businesses; utilizing a reasonable commuter tax; revising sales tax to lessen the burden on people with low incomes; asking for additional payments in lieu of taxes for property owned by authorities, State and Federal governments; eliminating additional classes of property from tax exemption regulations.
- Oppose city residency as a requirement for civil service employment in city government
- Support the use of integrated statewide computer data banks throughout the criminal
justice system to assure efficiency of operation while safeguarding privacy and confidentiality rights of citizens.
- Support decentralization of juvenile detention facilities as a more effective and humane method of treating juvenile offenders.
- Support of alternatives to incarceration and measures to promote a fair and efficient jury system.
- Support programs and policies that would assure that Public Authorities be representative, accountable and subject to open government laws and regulations
- Support Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) when a majority of local business owners determine that a BID can provide supplemental services and job opportunities which cannot be provided with city resources. BIDs should be held accountable to and audited by appropriate city government agencies, required to hold annual meetings for their company and required to submit to public hearings and ballot approval before BID contracts are renewed by the city. At least 51% of the BID members must approve the renewal.
- Support commercial rent regulation that will provide a reasonable solution to the problem of steadily rising commercial rents. The League supports commercial rent legislation which promotes economic opportunity and development, sets forth criteria for the determination of reasonable rent increases and negotiation of lease terms, and is fair to both the landlord and the commercial tenant.
- Advocate quality public education in New York with emphasis on assuring that education funds support classroom services.
- Support inclusion of the responsibilities of the Department of Education in the City Charter.
- Support Mayoral Control of the public schools;
- Supports fixed terms for members of the Panel for Educational Policy who are appointed by the Mayor, the Borough Presidents and the Public Advocate.
- Support quality early childhood education, Head Start and universal pre-kindergarten.
- Support public financing of campaigns; a voluntary program of public matching funds for small donations
- Support comprehensive campaign finance reform and establishment of an independent, rigorous enforcement regime to ensure compliance
- Support full disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures
- Oppose term limits for elected city officials.
- Support continuation of run-off elections for Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate, which may be achieved through Instant Runoff Voting.
- Support a Board of Elections of 10 Commissioners -- two from each borough representing the two major parties with Board activities administered by a single Director.
- Support mandatory training for inspectors, recruitment of bilingual inspectors and appropriate compensation for inspectors.
- Support increased instruction on the use of voting machines, including demonstrations at the polls; increased publication of polling places, dates and times of registration.
- Support the implementation of voting systems and procedures which are secure, accurate, recountable, and endorse a precinct-based paper ballot optical scan voting system with a ballot marker to provide accessibility.
- Support publication of sample ballots on the Board of Elections website to be accessible through the poll site locator.
- Support elimination of the LLC (limited liability corporation) loophole which allows these LLCs to contribute to candidates as individuals rather than as corporations, which enables them to give larger and multiple contributions.
- Support government policies which assure an adequate supply of decent affordable housing, including the continuation of rent regulation, adequate financing for public housing, and provisions that guarantee that affordable housing provided in return for tax abatements to private owners remain permanently affordable.
- Support guaranteed inclusionary zoning; utilizing neighborhood median income rather than the federally defined area median income (AMI).
- Support increased density, provided that the developments are limited to locations where there is adequate infrastructure, subway and bus service, schools and parks to support the development.
- Support a citywide inventory of vacant land and buildings.
- Energy – Support environmentally sound policies that reduce energy growth rates, emphasize energy conservation and encourage the use of renewable energy resources while supplying a reliable and safe energy supply
- Water resources - Support measures to improve and protect NYC surface water, groundwater and drinking water.
- Air Quality - Support and promote measures to improve New York City’s air quality:encourage energy and waste reduction, and adoption of renewable energy sources.
- Support working with other advocacy groups, City officials and members of the City Council to pass specific bills that help improve New York City’s air and water for the health of those who work, visit and live in New York City.
- Support action to promote energy-efficient and environmentally sound transportation systems that improve the well-being of cities and other communities and afford better access to housing and jobs.
In New York City, the League provides:
- Telephone Information Services: answering questions about city, state and national government, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday - Friday
- Educational publications, including: What Makes New York City Run?, a citizen’s guide to New York City government. They Represent You, an annually updated directory of city, state and federal legislators who represent New York residents.
- Candidate debates that inform and stimulate: The League and WABC, for example, were selected by the Campaign Finance Board to conduct the official televised candidate debates for the Mayoral, Comptroller and Public Advocate races during the municipal elections in 2001, 2005 and 2009.
- Speakers on the political process and public issues and moderators for candidate forums.
- Helpful tools to contact your elected officials including the website mygovnyc.org in partnership with the CUNY Graduate Center and the Voices App in partnership with co-founder John Bogil.
New York State League of Women Voters Website
New York State League of Women Voters Impact on Issues (pdf)
New York State League of Women Voters Legislative Agenda (pdf)
National League of Women Voters Website
If you've wandered onto our site from outside of New York City, find your local League here.
- 1840After being denied seats at the World
Anti-Slavery Convention in London because
they were women, Lucretia Mott and
Elizabeth Cady Stanton made a pact to start
a women’s rights movement in the U.S.
- 1848 First women’s rights convention held
in Seneca Falls, NY.
- 1869Women Suffrage Association founded
- 1918 New York State Women’s Suffrage
Party was instrumental in having New York
State adopt women’s suffrage in 1917, to be
effective for elections in 1918.
- 1919The League of Women Voters of the
City of New York is formed.
- 1920The 19th Amendment to the U.S.
Constitution granting women the right to
vote is passed.
- 1920sThe League develops and advocates a
comprehensive social welfare agenda,
achieving its first legislative successes with
passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act
providing federal aid for maternal and child
- Membership is open to men, and Fiorello H.
LaGuardia, the president of the City
Council and future Mayor, won first prize
by enrolling 80 men.
- Successfully advocated for Social Security
and the enactment of the Food and Drug
Acts, as well as the TVA. Launched a
national campaign in support of a merit
system to select government employees
- 1950sCampaigned for civil rights,
emphasizing protection of individual rights
and testified against abuse of congressional
investigative powers during the McCarthy
- 1960s Supported equal access to education,
racial integration of schools, fair
employment and fair housing.
- Adopted position in favor of direct
popular election of the President;
Supported the 26th Amendment reducing
the voting age to 18; Worked for passage of
the Clean Air and the Clean Water Acts.
- 1980s Joined the fight to pass the Voting
Rights Amendments of 1982; advocated for
- 1990sSupported passage of the National
Voter Registration Act which simplified
voting procedures; Worked for campaign
finance reform and effective gun control.
- 2011The League is in the forefront of
efforts to reform legislative redistricting by
supporting an end to partisan
gerrymandering and the adoption of
legislation creating independent
commissions to draw impartial legislative
and congressional lines.
- 2014The League of Women Voters of
Florida was the lead organizational plaintiff
in the lawsuit, and was the driving force
behind passage of the Fair Districts
Amendments. Florida Circuit Court issued
an opinion in Romo v. Detzner, a case that
examined whether Florida's congressional
districts violate that state’s constitution.
The Florida decision is major victory against
- TodayThe League of Women Voters is active in 50 states as well as Guam and the Virgin Islands. It is
a grassroots, non-partisan, multi-purpose organization that encourages its members to educate the
public about, and lobby for, government and social reform legislation. Over the years, the League has
tackled the major issues facing our nation, state and city.
Co-President – Cathy T. Gray
Co-President – Ruth S. Altman
Vice President – Crystal Joseph
Vice President – Diane Burrows
Secretary – Edna Rosen
Treasurer – Jane E. Colvin
Board of Directors
Voter & Information Services – Barbara Ettington
Special Projects Coordinator – Laura Altschuler
Elections Specialist – Kate Doran
Honorary Emeritus Board Member – Nicky Heller
Hospitality/Students Inside Albany – Sheila Hosni
Membership/Education - Mary Jenkins
Director of National Liaison - Gladys Krasner
They Represent You - Tiana Leonard
Education - Nancy Schwartz
Environmental Action – Mary Anne Sullivan
Program – Joanna Leefer
Director of Community Relations – Doris J. Welch