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LWV Toledo-Lucas County
Our History

The League of Women Voters® of Toledo-Lucas County (LWV-TLC) has a long history of supporting the rights of all people to participate in the democratic process.  

In 1869, a group of Toledo women gathered to form the Toledo Equal Suffrage Association. In attendance were Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the leading advocates for female suffrage. These women and those that joined them afterward worked tirelessly for female suffrage.  By 1915, those fighting believed that broadening their focus might bring others to their cause and help solve some of the problems that existed citywide, so they turned themselves into the Political Equity League (PEL). As the PEL, they also focused on educating themselves and others about citywide issues including a 2¢ increase in streetcar fares, the standardization of bread loaves, and the treatment of juvenile delinquents. 

Naturalization 8-2-22

In 1919, while congress was deliberating the passage of the 19th amendment, Carrie Chapman Catt urged suffrage associations nationwide to rename themselves as Leagues of Women Voters as part of an effort to lobby for the amendment’s ratification. Once the amendment passed, the new organization would help newly-minted voters understand and use the franchise. That has been the League's mission since the beginning: originally focusing on women’s voting rights but quickly seeing that the need for non-partisan information was equally great. 

In response, the PEL morphed into the Toledo League of Women Voters in 1921. With a 52-year history of education and advocacy, this gave the League a significant head start. The Toledo League started focusing on informing women on how to register, the mechanics of voting, and the intricacies of party politics. This was accomplished by holding a school of politics and legislative institutes, creating a list of questions and answers every voter should know, and explaining details about impending elections. There were also study groups and committees to examine issues from all sides and act on them as the members deemed appropriate with the goal of always enlightening and expanding the members' and the public's understanding. 

In the 1920s and 1930s, the League was intimately involved in the birthing of the city manager movement to create a council-manager form of local government. This charter change, passed by the electorate in 1934 and effective in 1936, was an answer to blatant machine politics that took the form of political patronage, favoritism in the awarding of contracts, and lack of law enforcement. 

Also, during this time, the League worked to establish a family court within the Court of Domestic Relations. One of its members, Eva Eppstein Shaw, drew up the bill that created this court. Before the Child Study Institute existed, there was a Detention Home where delinquent youth were jailed. The League held meetings, tours of the home, talked to other organizations, and produced literature to demonstrate the unsuitability of the Detention Home; not only in its physical structure and condition but also as an answer to juvenile delinquency. 

In cooperation with the Toledo District Nurses Association and the Toledo Public Health Association, LWV-TLC waged a campaign for a full-time health officer. In 1932, the League lobbied for a board of health, which was eventually set up in 1940. The 1945 local study, "A Sound Municipal Tax System," led to League support of the 1percent payroll income tax proposal passed by council and confirmed by a referendum vote. In 1975, the League’s involvement in housing issues led to support for the establishment of the Fair Housing Center, which reemphasized the League’s position for equal opportunity in education, employment, and housing.

In the 1990s, LWV-TLC held programs in conjunction with Partners in Education and the local Bar Association to encourage 18-year-olds to know their adult rights and responsibilities and register to vote, ran mock elections in elementary and middle schools, and brought well- known speakers in their fields to town for an annual Signature Event. This event recognized local unsung heroes in areas of advocacy important to the League including health care, environmental protection, and juvenile justice.
The League of Women Voters of Ohio, the LWV-TLC, and a dozen Ohio voters were plaintiffs in a ground-breaking lawsuit filed in 2005 to help revamp Ohio Boards of Election practices that failed to protect the fundamental rights of eligible Ohio voters to vote and have their votes counted. One result of this is the establishment of an Observer Corps which monitors the local Board of Elections meetings. 

One of the major advocacy issues which LWV-TLC has been involved in over many years is the fight for fair legislative districts. Our members, along with other Ohio local Leagues, have gathered petition signatures several times to create a fair process for redistricting. The League of Women Voters of Ohio and all its local Leagues were instrumental in the passage of an amendment to the Ohio Constitution in 2015, which was anticipated to cure the problem of gerrymandering but unfortunately failed.  Which only means in true League fashion, the fight is not over but strenuously continues. 

The League sponsors issue and candidate forums; publishes a general election voters’ guide and an annual directory of elected public officials; attends every naturalization ceremony to provide new citizens with voter registration information and materials; and participates in National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) every year. The League of Women Voters of Toledo-Lucas County is always open to voter registration and education opportunities. 

What began in 1869 and continues today is the League’s commitment to protecting democracy. The League of Women Voters of Toledo-Lucas County promotes understanding of issues through knowledge - the true currency of democracy. Over 100 years ago, when the suffrage amendment became law, the idea that voters could benefit from instruction in the political process and nonpartisan information was a novel one. No one person or group had attempted to set itself up as an unaligned aide or guide through the political maze, until the League came into being.

The U.S. League was the first and the Toledo League was one of the first in Ohio.

The League of Woman Voters of Toledo-Lucas County is
a member of Northwest Ohio Community Shares

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P.O. Box 2506
Toledo, OH 43606-0506

Cell Phone: 419-540-3487

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