With the upcoming presidential election being the most hotly-contested—and controversial—in United States history, keeping informed on the issues and exercising your right to vote is more important than ever. This is the steadfast mission of the League of Women Voters of East Nassau, the local chapter of a group dedicated to the very spirit of democracy for nearly a century.
The League of Women Voters traces its roots all the way back to the women’s suffrage movement when women successfully lobbied for the right to vote in 1920. The League of Women Voters was founded the very next year in 1921.
Barbara Epstein of Wantagh is a co-manager of the East Nassau chapter of the League of Women Voters, one of a total of four managers—the vast amount of responsibilities involved in running things being too much for just one person—and noted that while she was uncertain as to when exactly the East Nassau was founded (she joined in 1970), she is in possession of archived newspaper articles revealing that it has been around since at least the 1950s, if not earlier.
“The League of Women Voters exists to educate and advocate. We’re a grassroots organization…we have a number of positions on many important topics, such as water, legislative redistricting, healthcare, the environment, things like that, and what we do is we lobby New York State on these issues,” she said. “We try to keep the public informed so they can in turn make an informed decision when they vote. We have many guest speakers at our monthly meetings, and both men and women are welcome to join our league.”
Originally, the group was known as the Levittown League of Women Voters—the group continues to meet monthly at the Levittown Public Library—but as population increased throughout the area, the League expanded into East Hempstead, eventually covering all of Eastern Nassau County, according to Barbara Josepher of Syosset, another co-manager of the chapter.
“There are chapters of the League of Women Voters covering many different geographical areas. For example, there is a Central Nassau and Southwest Nassau chapter…there are chapters of the League of Women Voters all throughout the country,” she said.
“Geographically, the East Nassau chapter goes from Freeport to the Suffolk County Line in Massapequa, and we go north into a fair amount of Oyster Bay, including Plainview.”
Another co-manager, Peggy Stein of Levittown, said that membership of the East Nassau chapter has seen busier days—currently the group has approximately 50 members—which she attributed to the hectic pace of modern-day life for most people. However, she noted that young people are becoming more interested in politics than ever before, and the League is taking steps to keep up with the times and appeal to that demographic, technologically speaking, and doing so should help swell their ranks once again soon.
“People seem to be busier these days, and just don’t have time to join organizations like the League of Women Voters. Between families and jobs, it’s a very busy time. A lot of members in our Chapter tend to skew a little older, many of us being of retired age, which gives us the time to devote to this,” she said. “However, there are certain chapters of the League of Women Voters that have very young members, and it’s very exciting talking to a lot of these college-age women and men and see their passion and excitement. To appeal to them, we’re increasing our online presence with our website and social media, so we’re hoping that will help our membership to climb.”
Epstein noted that the League will be holding National Voter Registration Days at several of the libraries within their jurisdiction. In addition, the public is always welcome to attend their monthly meetings, which feature thought-provoking topics and guest speakers such as local politicians and civic leaders. It’s all a part of the mission of the League of Women Voters of East Nassau to get people involved in the democratic process that is their very birthright as Americans.
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