Making Democracy Work


The League's Study Process

"Program" The League's "program" consists of those governmental issues that the League has chosen for concerted study and action, or advocacy, at the national, state or local level. The program process is specified in the bylaws and includes the following steps:
  • Formal adoption (by members at an annual meeting or by state/national convention delegates) of an issue for study.
  • Member study and agreement on broad concepts.
  • Formulation of a position by the appropriate board of directors based on results of the study.
  • Action as directed by the board of directors.
  • Annual or biennial re-adoption of the position.

Local Leagues may work simultaneously on local, state, national program issues but action may be taken only in those areas where there is member understanding and agreement based on the study process. Local Leagues can act based on positions developed after study at the national or state level. State Leagues may act based on positions they develop from their own studies or from those conducted by the LWVUS.

Studies and Program Adoption

League program arises from the suggestions of members. At every level of the League, the board of directors is responsible for reviewing and discussing these suggestions, formulating them in appropriate language, and recommending all or some of them for adoption.

A local League's "action" or advocacy program is determined by members at its annual meeting; state and national programs are voted upon by delegates at state and national League conventions. In the course of the program adoption discussion, members often give suggestions to the board on scope of inquiry, timing, emphasis and ways to handle the study and/or action phases.

Reaching Member Agreement

Before the League can take action, members must agree in broad terms on what they think about various aspects of the policy issue. The nature of the issue will affect how it is studied and how positions are reached. The board usually selects the method to be used: consensus (where agreement is reached using League responses to specific questions) or concurrence (where agreement or a vote is required on a pre-stated position such as one developed by a different League based on its own study).

The technique most often used in the League for reaching member agreement is consensus by group discussion. It is not a simple majority, nor is it unanimity; rather it is the overall sense of the group as expressed through the exchange of ideas and opinions, whether in a meeting of the full membership or a series of smaller discussion meetings.

Regardless of the method used, it is essential that members have an opportunity to become informed before being asked to make decisions on the issue under consideration. It is through this process that League members become educated on a given issue, and this is what makes subsequent League action on that issue uniquely credible and respected.

During the study phase, the study committee prepares background information, there may be public forums to educate the public and seek input, and members have an opportunity to examine the facts and key pro/con points. They are encouraged to discuss the political realities of action and to contribute ideas for the board to consider when it formulates an action strategy after a position is reached.

If the League has a position on a given issue, action can be taken as appropriate. The issue does not need to be studied each time action is thought to be necessary.

LWV NCC Studies

Land Use/Transportation Study (continuing study in 2015-2017 Program) - Examine developments and concepts in land use and transportation. The Land Use/Transportation Committee subscribes to the LWVDE positions on land use and transportation which supports reducing transportation-generated greenhouse gas emissions by wiser land use planning and by enhancing public transit options.

Urban Health/Justice Study (continuing Study in 2015-2017 Program) - A re-evaluation of Delaware's criminal justice system and the impact of the current policies and practices on society. See "Justice System" under LWVDE 2017 Ongoing Studies, below.

Energy and Climate Change Studies - The Energy Committee of the LWV New Castle County, and its Climate Change Subcommittee, initiated the past Energy and Climate studies described below under "LWVDE Studies."

LWVDE Studies

2017 Ongoing Studies

At the League of Women Voters of Delaware (LWVDE) state convention in June 2017, members approved the re-adoption of the current program and three continuing studies as recommended by the state board:

  • Justice System - A re-evaluation of Delaware's criminal justice system and the impact of the current policies and practices on society. The study is worded intentionally broad so that the study committee can start where it sees the most effective effort and timeliness.
  • Education - A study of the public education system in Delaware with special focus on financing, charter schools, and transparency and accountability to citizens
  • Health Care - A study of the financing and delivery of health care in Delaware with emphasis on following the work of the Delaware Health Care Commission and its related committees and the activities of the Delaware Center for Health Innovation. (the underlined portion was added to the study description in 2017)

Recent Studies

More recent studies by LWVDE have resulted in several new 2017 position papers, such as this one by Julie Price supporting the National Popular Vote Interstate Vote Compact (NPVIC).

The 2017 position papers should be available soon on the LWVDE website.

2015 Price on Carbon Study

At the 2014 National Convention, LWVUS reached this position on carbon pricing: "the LWVUS supports a price on carbon, either by cap-and-trade or carbon tax or fee, as an effective way to decrease carbon emissions and reduce the negative effects of climate change."

At the LWVDE Convention 2015 the LWVDE approved the Delaware Price on Carbon (DEPOC) Study. A study group of eight was formed, including Chad Tolman, Pat Todd, Peggy Schultz and Ellen Wasfi from the Delaware League, Diz (Linda) Swift from the LWVCA, Gary Witt from Temple University, Lance Noel from UD, Dick Bingham from the Delaware Nature Society, and Elizabeth Siftar from Delaware Interfaith Power and Light. The committee held virtual meetings throughout 2015 and 2016.

The LWVDE Carbon Study Summary of Findings includes recommendations and links to further resources.

At the 2017 State Convention, LWVDE adjusted its positions on Carbon Pricing and Climate Goals to support specific strong reduction targets on greenhouse gas emission from power generation, the transportation sector, and other general greenhouse sources, and to include specific targets for increases in use of renewable energy resources in Delaware.

2012 State Revenue Sources Study

Margaret (Mickey) MacKay
Mickey MacKay

In 2012 under Study Coordinator Margaret (Mickey) McKay, LWVDE conducted a study of State Revenue Sources, focusing on:

  • understanding Delaware's current funding sources (some of which rely on out of state businesses and individuals) and their relative importance to the state budget;
  • examining the criteria used by several other state Leagues in doing revenue studies (adequate yield, equity/fairness, compatibility with state social and environmental policy, cost effective administration, elasticity/natural growth, benefit/fairness, simplicity, public acceptance, compatibility and links with federal policy, competitive business climate);
  • the process used by Delaware to estimate future revenues for budgeting purposes (Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council--usually known as DEFAC); and
  • evaluating possibilities for enhancing Delaware's revenue profile.

2011 Land Use/Transportation Study

In the spring of 2011 the Land Use/Transportation Committee--with active participation from two Sussex County members--presented to all three counties a powerpoint summary of their findings on the relation of carbon dioxide emissions to land use and transportation. These consensus meetings followed two years of study which included interviews with county and metropolitan planning organization planners, elected officials from all three counties and the Director of the Office of State Planning Coordination. The consensus resulted in support for the following positions:

  • Direct development towards growth zones, except for environmentally sensitive areas within those growth zones; assure availability of infrastructure, services and walkability before developing.
  • Build compact, or dense, development within established development areas in which pedestrians can safely and conveniently access services.
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled.
  • Modify Delaware's paratransit fee schedule to establish separate classifications for ADA and non-ADA service. Reform the system to establish fairer pricing for non-ADA paratransit use. Tighten eligibility requirements for all paratransit use in situations where the state has discretion.
  • Establish a dedicated funding stream for public transit; explore a variety of funding sources.

For background information and the position statement, see this Consensus document for Land Use/Transportation. Committee members included Pat Brill, Jane Dilley, Betty Hutchinson, June MacArtor, Margo Perkins, Marge Purcell, Peggy Schultz, Esther Shelton, Sandy Spence, Laura Swiski, Pat Todd.

Chad Tolman
Chad Tolman

2011 Climate Change Study

In March of 2011 the blue ribbon Climate Change Subcommittee of the Energy Committee presented informational materials and led consensus discussions in the three counties. Members of the Subcommittee were John Austin, Chris Bason, Sumner Crosby, Mary Anne Edwards, Steve Hegedus, Peggy Schultz and Chad Tolman. Chad Tolman chaired the effort.

Following the State Board's approval of the consensus positions Chad received support from state leaders in the environmental community to support this consensus in a request to the Governor to establish by Executive Order a carbon dioxide reduction plan and a target for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. See this document for background information on the Climate Change study. The consensus position is that LWVDE supports an aggressive and comprehensive energy use/climate change plan for Delaware. To read the League's official climate change position click here .

2009 Energy Study

energy committee meeting
Brian Kramer (speaking), Mary Anne Edwards (standing), Chad Tolman (taking notes)

In 2009 the statewide Energy Committee traveled to the three Delaware counties with information on energy issues, followed by a series of meetings the next year to gather consensus on the issues. Click here for the final positions which now help to direct League energy lobbying efforts before the State Legislature.

For detailed background information on the energy study, see this document . Committee members included Mary Anne Edwards, Lorraine Fleming, Brian Kramer, Lisa Pertzoff, Peggy Schultz, John Sykes, Pat Todd and Chad Tolman.

Recent LWVUS Studies

At the 2016 National Convention in Washington DC, LWVUS took or announced new positions based on recent studies and task forces in these areas:

In addition, the LWVUS Health Care position was amended in concurrence with the Behavioral Health position of the LWV Colorado: LWVUS is currently supporting a League-wide Campaign for Making Democracy Work®, with special emphasis on protecting voting rights.