Making Democracy Work

LWV of Lexington Nonpartisanship Policy

ADOPTED BY VOTE OF THE LEXINGTON LWV BOARD OF DIRECTORS OCTOBER 2011

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that promotes political responsibility of citizens through informed and active participation in government. The League is nonpartisan in that it neither supports nor opposes political parties or candidates for office. It is, however, a political organization. It takes positions on issues that it has studied and works to obtain support for any position which it has adopted.. Maintaining its nonpartisanship is an important element of its political effectiveness.

Program

League program is based on positions on issues to which the League has given sustained attention and on which it may continue to take action. As policy agents of the membership, the Board has a specific obligation to the program. The Board must continually keep the program in mind, keep it before the membership and support it.

The Spokesperson and Voters Service Chair comprise the Leadership Team who represent the League to the community at large and thus have extraordinary responsibility to uphold the nonpartisanship policyof the League. To preserve the integrity of the Lexington League of Women Voters, no member of the Leadership Team should make an individual statement, in print or in person, that compromises a position taken by the national, state or local League on an issue. If a Leadership Team member wishes to make a statement, it will be the responsibility of the Board member to discuss that statement with other Board members in advance to review the content for possible conflict. Members in leadership roles at League meetings have the responsibility to ensure the nonpartisanship of the meeting and its environs.

All League members and Board Members, including the Leadership Team, are encouraged to run for and serve as members of Town Meeting. In the course of debate in Town Meeting, Leadership Team members shall be careful to identify their comments as personal positions or League positions. Should any member of the Leadership Team support positions that are in opposition to League positions, that member shall refrain from speaking. If the matter is of such importance to the member that the member cannot in good conscience so refrain, the member shall discuss the matter with the full Board. Since it is advantageous to the League to be informed of the full range of opinion, every effort to reach a compromise short of resignation should be made. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to bind the voting of any member who is a member of Town Meeting or other Town boards. The Board member shall vote independently as the member thinks is best for the Town.

Board Members

The ability of the League to serve as a source of voter information depends on the recognition and acceptance within the community of the League's nonpartisanship policy. The Lexington League of Women Voters requires that members of the Leadership Team shall engage in no partisan activity during their term of office. Partisan activity shall be construed to include public association with a political party or candidate through newspaper publicity, personal interview, carrying of car signs, endorsement in newspaper advertising or contribution of sums greater than $50.

It is understood that, should a Leadership Team member resign due to public conflict with the nonpartisan policy, that Leadership Team member will do so for the complete length of the term.

Political Activities of Members

League members are encouraged to be involved in political activities. Most members have League activity as part of a range of activities and are not identified as spokesmen for the League. A member may support or oppose candidates for public office and may run for public office, endorse candidates, sign or carry nomination papers, or contribute money or time to campaigns. The member may support organizations working for the passage of legislation. In doing so, of course, the member will not be identified as a League member or use the name of the League publicly except in support of League positions.

League members representing the League as appointed members of a commission or committee are bound by League positions and the nonpartisanship policy. Should the committee or commission take a position contrary to League positions or become involved in an election campaign, the member should discuss the conflict with the full Board. League members who are appointed to commissions or committees as citizens and not as representatives of the League may act with ordinary discretion.

A Leadership Team Member May...

  • run for and serve as a member of Town Meeting.

  • be a member of a citizen's organization devoted to non-League causes. (Exceptional restraint should be exercised in participation in organizations that regularly endorse candidates, and in no case should a member of the Leadership Team be an officer in such an organization.)

  • attend a function for a candidate, and is urged to attend one for each candidate if at all possible.

  • sign nomination papers for any office.

  • serve as an appointed member of a local, state or national committee. If a member of the Leadership Team represents the League, the member shall have Board approval.

  • serve when a family member holds elected office except under extraordinary circumstances (to be determined by the Board).

  • make a contribution of less than $50 to a local, state or national campaign fund.

  • work for and endorse candidates for Town Meeting except where such candidate is running for town-wide office as well as Town Meeting.

  • be a member of a local or state party club.

A Leadership Team Member May Not...

  • run for or serve in any elective office other than Town Meeting Member.

  • publicly support a local, state or national candidate by circulating nomination papers, hosting fund raising or campaign functions or endorsing candidates. The member should not be restricted by his or her spouse's political activity, but if the spouse is a candidate, the member should not participate in voter contact work or use his or her League position on the spouse's behalf.

  • publicly or actively support a party or engage in party work.

  • be a member of a local or state party committee or an officer of a political club.

  • make a contribution of $50 or more to a local, state or national campaign fund.