On Giving Tuesday, the League of Women Voters of NYS (LWVNYS) announced it has received an anonymous $1 million donation to expand and strengthen its “fight to defend democracy and voting rights for all.”
The donation comes during a time of great transformation for the organization, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019. This gift will allow the LWVNYS to bolster efforts to address voter suppression at the state and local level. With this gift, the organization will expand efforts to educate voters and work to ensure voting ease and access for all New Yorkers.
LWVNYS Executive Director Laura Ladd Bierman said, "This gift is a new beginning for the state league, providing it with new resources to address voter access and engagement among many elements of its mission.”
This is the largest gift LWVNYS has ever received and, although the donor wishes to remain anonymous, they “have a deep commitment to the league’s work.” A press release noted, “One of the donor's motivations in making this gift is to draw attention to the crucial importance of the League of Women Voters as a nonpartisan organization that seeks to educate, inform and encourage citizens to take an active part in their governance at every level.
The donor reminisced about her early experiences with parents who believed in taking an active role as citizens: "I remember walking with my mother door to door in neighborhoods to hand out political material and to talk with people about upcoming elections. I am grateful to my parents for nurturing a spirit of civil debate and discourse.”
With this gift, the LWVNYS will strive to increase New York’s voter participation rates. This state ranked 30th in the nation for turnout in 2020. The LWVNYS plans to use a portion of this donation to increase voter access and education so that New York can rank among the top 10 states for voter turnout.
The LWVNYS is particularly focused on increasing youth participation in elections. In 2020, only 45% of 18 to 29-year-olds cast a ballot in New York state. The LWVNYS seeks to increase youth voter participation to 60% in New York through improved outreach and education.
“Over the last decade, the league has successfully advocated for the modernization of New York state’s elections, resulting in passage of progressive voting rights reforms that increase ballot accessibility,” Ladd Bierman said. “Now the league is taking on the monumental task of informing voters of these rapid operational changes while simultaneously working to provide nonpartisan election information in the form of candidate forums and ballot guides. This donation gives the league the foundation it needs to expand our current educational efforts and reach new, underserved communities throughout New York state.”
Judie Gorenstein, president of the state association, said, “With the beginning of our second century of work, the state league sees this gift as a new opportunity that will create a more impactful state league for all New Yorkers. While this is a significant gift, it does not fully fund the state league in perpetuity. In fact, the donor hopes the gift will inspire others to support the mission of the league. This gift provides a huge endorsement of the state league and will also benefit local leagues around the state."
The state league said it looks forward to sharing news of future developments related to this gift. To find out more about the LWVNYS, visit www.lwvny.org.