BY Patti Cherri

Last year, a group of local citizens began working to increase voter turnout in Tuolumne County, with an emphasis on registering younger voters. A commitment to expressing non-partisanship is important when registering voters. Knowing this is a core value of the League of Women Voters of California we turned to them to help sponsor this activity. But, the following question kept coming up for us, “why don’t we have our own chapter in Sonora?

The growing animosity between people of opposing political views caused us to ask, “Is there a way to converse intelligently with each other about political issues and remain friends even though we don’t see eye to eye”?

Those two questions caused me to investigate what it would take to form our own league chapter. The more I learned about this organization the clearer it became our county would benefit immensely by having our own chapter. As it turned out, many agreed and in April 2018 Sonora became the hub of the Mother Lode League of Women Voters with 36 charter members, women and men. Our newly formed chapter includes Tuolumne and Calaveras counties.

The National LWV has a remarkable history. I recommend checking out our state league’s web site: www.LWVC.org. The league was formed on Feb. 14, 1920, to educate women about voting issues, six months before the 19th Amendment was ratified on Aug. 26, 1920. This significant amendment earned all American women the right to vote.

Women had fought vigorously for well over 70 years for this right. They were vilified, jailed, beaten with clubs and other weapons, and had fasted in protest. Some imprisoned women were force fed with tubes, some lost their children and one-woman Alice Paul died trying to secure this right. Voting is not a right to be taken lightly. Our vote is our voice.

The LWV acts, after study and member agreement to achieve solutions in the public interest on key community issues at all government levels. Builds, citizen participation in the democratic process. Engages, communities in promoting positive solutions to public policy issues through education and advocacy.

Because LWV takes these objectives seriously, they have established a long list of hurdles and protocols to go through to become a chapter in good standing. We did it in record time.

We have already plugged in with our county registrar Deb Bautista and will sponsor ongoing voter registration opportunities all over the county, including on National Voter Registration Day, Sept. 25th.

Jane Braga is our voter services chair and has formed a committee who will be well trained in voter registration protocol. The LWV never advocates for or against candidates but does seriously vet political issues. After training, this committee will be available to speak to groups about the all-important pros and cons publication the State or National league produces regarding the many measures on your local ballot for upcoming elections.

On Oct. 17 at Sonora High School Auditorium we will sponsor our first large event. We will be showing RBG, the box-office record-breaking film about the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

RBG and deceased Justice Antonin Scalia were considered opposites on constitutional issues, yet they had a deep regard, respect and friendship for each other. Often speaking in public and attending operas together they modeled how it is possible to argue adamantly about an issue while remaining supportive friends. They did this throughout the many years they worked together. They both put the Rule of Law above party politics.

Whether you agree or disagree with Justice Ginsburg’s judicial decisions, her entire life is an inspiration to all women. I saw this film with two of my granddaughters aged 15 and 20. When we left the theater they said, spontaneously and in unison, “I think I want to be an attorney.”

We had quite a lively conversation for days after seeing the film together. I encourage you to bring your own young adults and high schoolers.

I hope you will join us.

Patti Cherry is president of Mother Lode League of Women Voters. Contact her at MLLWVPresident@gmail.com .

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