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Don’t take liberties for granted

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The Jefferson County League of Women Voters’ co-presidents, Sue Vaughan and Ann Roux, are marking the 220th anniversary of the adoption of the Bill of Rights (Dec. 15) with a call for inclusive political discourse and greater civic participation.
“For more than 91 years, members of the League of Women Voters have defended civil liberties and promoted balanced, nonpartisan discussions on issues that are important to our community, and we continue this work today,” Vaughan said. “Our mission is to increase public participation — to help empower individuals to exercise the rights that are afforded to them through our democracy.”
“In 2011 we have witnessed democratic movements taking hold around the world,” said Roux, “so there is much to celebrate. But, it is also a reminder that we cannot take our liberties for granted. Every day, league members work in our communities to protect our liberties by encouraging voting, discussing critical issues, and holding elected officials accountable for their actions and decisions. In the highly partisan environment throughout our nation, our role in creating a ‘safe’ venue where all sides of the issues can be discussed civilly and thoughtfully is more critical than ever. We encourage all to join us and make their voices and opinions heard; it’s our right!”
Protection of the individual liberties laid out in the Bill of Rights has been central to the league’s work throughout its history. During World War II, the league worked to balance the preservation of civil liberties with the importance of national security. During the Communist “witch hunt” period of the early 1950s, the league conducted a community education program known as the Freedom Agenda, providing Americans with the opportunity to discuss and learn about the Bill of Rights. More recently, league members have promoted a diverse and independent judiciary, advocated against elements of the Patriot Act harmful to civil rights, and worked for government transparency and accountability.
In Colorado, we are especially proud of our role in advocating for the merit selection of judicial appointments with retention votes by the electorate after two years. We are also well-known for our nonpartisan presentations on ballot issues by our speakers bureau. Our candidate forums are a deservedly well-respected staple of the league. There were three such forums this year with the candidates for Jefferson County school board. This year the Jeffco LWV has a new speakers bureau to promote sustainability.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the league is open to men and women of all ages. With more than 91 years of experience and 800 local and state affiliates, the league is one of America’s most trusted grassroots organizations. For more information, visit www.lwvjeffco.org or www.lwv.org.