Making Democracy Work

About the League of Women Voters of the Bay Area

Who are we? What do we do? What is our history?

Our Organization and Activities

Who we are. The LWVBA is an Inter-League Organization (ILO), a recognized level of LWVUS. The LWVBA is comprised of all the local Leagues in the nine counties that touch San Francisco Bay. Currently, this means 4,000 members in 21 local Leagues.

What we do. The League of Women Voters, a non-partisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy. The League neither supports nor opposes political candidates and parties, but does take action on issues. League membership is open to all men and women who are U.S. Citizens and of voting age.

The LWVBA, by including all nine Bay Area Counties, makes possible League study and action on region-wide problems and issues. It also serves as a facilitator of, and vehicle for, inter-League communication among the Bay Area local leagues. The League of Women Voters of the Bay Area has two separate and distinct roles:

  • Voters Service/Citizen Education: we present unbiased nonpartisan information about elections, the voting process, and issues.

  • Action/Advocacy: we are nonpartisan, but, after study, we use our positions to advocate for or against particular policies in the public interest.

To conduct our voter service and citizen education activities, we use funds from the League of Women Voters Bay Area Education Fund, which is a 501(c)(3) corporation, a nonprofit educational organization. The League of Women Voters, a membership organization, conducts action and advocacy and is a nonprofit 501(c)(4) corporation.

Our Vision, Beliefs, and Intentions guide our activities.

History of the League of Women Voters of the Bay Area

The League of Women Voters of the Bay Area, first organized in 1959, is one of the oldest organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area dedicated to the concept of regional solutions to areawide problems.

In the 1940s, concern about the overlapping problems between city and county services resulted in formation of League county councils. In 1953, as urban dwellers moved to the ever-expanding suburbs, the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) issued a study outline, A Guide to a Metropolitan Area Study, calling attention to the new political and social problems related to economic regions, rather than to existing governmental jurisdictions.

First steps toward an areawide or regional League in the San Francisco Bay Area came in 1956 and 1957. Enough interest was generated among local League members that a study of Bay Area problems and possible governmental solutions was adopted by 8 local leagues in 1959. In 1960 a follow up study evaluating proposals relating to metropolitan government in the Bay Area was adopted by 10 Leagues. In addition to the steering committee which had formed to guide the studies, an executive committee was created to carry out administrative duties.

April 1961, saw the formal establishment of a permanent organization, the LEAGUES OF WOMEN VOTERS OF THE BAY AREA (LWVBA). An "Inter-League Organization," an ILO, was the official title given to such a group of Leagues organized to address areawide or regional problems. More>