Welcome to the LWV
of Saginaw County

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, has fought since 1920 to improve our systems of government and impact public policies through citizen education and advocacy. The League's enduring vitality and resonance comes from its unique decentralized structure.

The League of Women Voters is strictly nonpartisan; it neither supports nor opposes candidates for office at any level of government. At the same time, the League is wholeheartedly political and works to influence policy through advocacy. It is the original grassroots citizen network, directed by the consensus of its members nationwide.


All of our meetings are open to the public. We welcome you to membership in the Saginaw League of Women Voters if you are a voting age citizen. Come to our meetings, eMail our president [address at the bottom of this page], or click the Join the League button on the right side of this page.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

LWV Marks FOIA Anniversary

Press Release--
Washington, DC – This Independence Day marks 43 years since the landmark Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was signed into law. FOIA established the public's right to access government records. However, recent polling data indicates that most Americans continue to view our government as secretive – something that the League of Women Voters has long been trying to change.
"The key to a healthy, open government is public access and participation. Given the gravity of the issues facing our nation, the need to increase public access – and input - to the governmental decisions and policies that affect all Americans is greater than ever," said Mary G. Wilson, national League President. "The League has acted as a government watchdog for decades – at all levels of government."
On his first full day in office, President Obama called for making the federal government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative, and The White House is soliciting input from citizens and groups to improve policy making. The League has been active in this groundbreaking public-private policy discussion, sharing our expertise and decades of experience.
"FOIA - and related state and local laws - are only as good as we demand that they be," Wilson stated, and more attention needs to be paid at the state and local levels as well. As a result,Leagues in 11 states conducted Freedom of Information audits this spring, partially funded by a grant from The Herb Block Foundation, as part of the League's latest effort in this area. "While the audits ranged in scope from focusing on local school boards to county and state agencies, some common threads emerged that shed light on ways to improve access and public participation," Wilson noted.
"There needs to be better use of technology," said Wilson. "Can citizens access information online? Can they request public records online? These are just some of the questions that government officials need to ask themselves as they conduct business. It seems only natural that agencies would be taking advantage of such technology, but they simply aren't," Wilson added.
"A more alarming trend that we saw was that of a public hesitant to get involved," said Wilson. "Several of the participating Leagues reported that individuals were reluctant to request information as they thought it would be perceived badly – as being meddlesome or even trigger some type of retribution. This is very disturbing and points to the need for education on all fronts."
Wilson also addressed the need for training. "In many instances, Leagues learned that the 'first line' responders – those who interact with public daily were not trained – only those in more supervisory roles were," said Wilson.
The League has worked for decades helping Americans gain better access to their government officials and the policy decisions that affect citizens. For more information, visit www.lwv.org.

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