Making Democracy Work

Help keep an eye on government proceedings!

Observers

Observers are an integral part of The League of Women Voters action arm. Locally our Observer Core has been steadily picking up steam again. Thank you Observers!! We are seeing their reports pouring in and have expanded into committees. As a refresher for everyone, here is a little background on the Observer Core and The League in Action.

Why does The League have an Observer Core?

  • To watch government in action
  • To let public bodies/agencies know that citizens are interested
  • To keep the League up-to-date with government
  • To uphold the public's right to be present at meetings of public bodies/agencies
  • To learn about local government from the source
  • To establish good public relations for the League
  • To alert the League to possibilities for action on positions
  • To become aware of emerging issues for program planning
  • To be informed, enlightened and fascinated

What does the Observer do?
  • Regularly attends (or watches on Public Access) meetings of any selected public body (some common examples are: City Councils, County Supervisors, School Boards)
  • Acquires a background about the function, powers, and operations of that agency
  • Figures out where to find relevant documents in addition to agendas and minutes such as plans, ordinances, maps, references, etc.
  • Become familiar with League program positions
  • Factually reports on those selected public body meetings using our Observer Core report form and attaching any supporting documents

What is required of the Observer at one of these meetings?
  • Introduce yourself as a League Observer to the clerk or secretary (your president can/may have sent a letter introducing you ahead of time)
  • Wear a League button clearly identifying you as an Observer
  • Express no opinion (your own or the League's) on any matter keeping as silent as possible
  • Keep an impartial and respectful attitude at all times

What happens after?
  • Observer submits report to the Committee chair, the Action chair, and the Observer chair
  • If the report states that action is needed then it is reviewed in committee and a draft is sent to the board for approval
  • Action is taken or it is not taken
  • Action can only be taken if we have a local or vertical (State and National) position

What happens to reports that do not recommend action?
  • The committees can use the information to keep the League membership abreast of emerging, continuing, and current issues
  • The reports can be used to continue to establish good public relations for the League

If you are interested in becoming an Observer or serving on one of our committees, please contact us.

For more on the National League positions or our vertical positions, the LWVUS has just published the Impact on Issues: 2014-2016, which is available for download. We have a paper copy in our League office for reference as well.