The League of Women Voters of the United States (abbreviated as LWV or “the League”) is a 501(c)(4) organization that lobbies and advocates on a number of left-leaning issues. The group is most widely known for “educating voters” through its state and local chapter affiliates. However, the national organization spends most of its programming dollars on lobbying and issue advocacy operations.
Though the group is officially nonpartisan under IRS nonprofit rules, it has been widely criticized for pushing left-leaning policies. The League’s current platform supports tax-and-spend policies, government-run healthcare, a wide range of increased welfare handouts, a ban on certain low-priced handguns, and support for international organizations including the International Criminal Court to which even the liberal Obama administration did not cede U.S. sovereignty. In January 2019 the LWV was a co-signatory on a letter that denounced nuclear power as “dirty energy” (nuclear power plants produce no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions). 
The League of Women Voters, its affiliates, and its associated 501(c)(3) “educational” arm, the League of Women Voters Education Fund, has received support from major liberal donors such as the Ford Foundation, George Soros’s Foundation to Promote Open Society, the New York State United Teachers government worker labor union, and the Tides Foundation.
Carrie Chapman Catt called for the creation of the League of Women Voters in 1919. The following year, during the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and six months before the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, the League of Women Voters was formally organized.
The League of Women Voters was originally created to help women carry out their new right to vote and to encourage them to use their new voting to participate in shaping public policy through “non-partisan” grassroots advocacy. 
Maud Wood Park was elected as the first president of the League, and by 1924, there were local leagues organized in 346 of the then-433 congressional districts. 
The League of Women Voters is organized at three levels: local, state and national. At each level, a volunteer president and board of directors govern the League. League members belong to all three levels of the League—local, state and national.
The League of Women Voters claims that its national network includes 700+ state and local chapters across 50 states, implementing its program through those state and local organizations.
The national League of Women Voters organization maintains two legal entities to carry out its mission. The League of Women Voters United States (LWVUS) and nearly all state and local Leagues are 501(c)(4) organizations allowed to intervene in elections within limits. The League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF) is organized as a 501(c)(3) organization able to receive tax-deductible and foundation contributions in exchange for strict limits on its electoral activities. According to the League’s bylaws, the Education fund carries out issue education and advocacy programs while the League’s traditional lobbying activities must be funded through the LWVUS 501(c)(4).
Political Activities and Spending
In FY 2015-2016, the League of Women Voters U.S. spent $809,000 on program services communications, $472,000 on helping local and state leagues with membership, $331,000 on issue advocacy, and $294,000 on the League’s council and annual convention.
All told the League spent $1.9 million (41.7%) of it FY 2015-2016 budget on operations related expenses, while at the same time spending nearly $2.7 million (58.2%) on fund raising and other administrative functions. 
Liberal “Nonpartisan” Activities
LWVUS claims that as a non-partisan advocacy organization it takes positions on issues but doesn’t support or oppose any political party or candidate (appointed or elected) for public office.
However, the League and its state/local chapters have consistently faced criticisms that it is a liberal organization operating under the guise of non-partisanship.
In its 1955 mission statement, the conservative magazine National Review specifically called out the League of Women Voters for its liberal bent toward radical social experimentation. More recently, in 1995 California Republicans claimed that the League “is not the nonpartisan policy analyzer it claims to be but rather a group rife with liberal bias.”
In 2014, Wyoming state Rep. Clark Stith (R-Rock Springs) blasted LWVUS, saying that he would skip a LWVUS sponsored candidates’ forum due to the group’s “leftward slant.” Similarly, in a 2014 editorial, Florida right-of-center Sunshine State News journalist Nancy Smith wrote that the “League of Women Voters Is Partisan as They Come” and noted that it wasn’t until recently that “League leaders began to emphasize their “other” role — claiming the organization is ‘wholeheartedly political and works to influence policy through advocacy.’”
The league has faced similar criticisms of liberal bias in their nonpartisan endeavors from Republicans and center-right groups in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia, and West Virginia to name a few.
After the 2016 election, the League of Women Voters issued a press release proclaiming the election was rigged. It argued “Tight margins in some key elections show that suppression may play a role” including in states like Wisconsin that Trump won.
The League was a partner organization in the “Women’s March on Washington,” which was a massive demonstration against President Donald Trump and in favor of liberal policies.
Additionally the group has attacked numerous decisions President Trump has made, opposing his decision to approve the Keystone Pipeline, his temporary bar on the admission of nationals of certain countries, his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate deal, his decision to stop the Obama-era policy of protecting certain illegal immigrants from deportation, his decision allowing employers to opt-out of providing abortion coverage under Obamacare, and his plan to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
In 2020, LWVUS co-signed a letter addressed to president Donald Trump which advocated for hiring Federal Election Commission (FEC) Commissioners to reach quorum and to enforce election laws.
Liberal Issue Agenda
LWVUS maintains a policy platform that expresses their opinion on a wide-range of liberal domestic and international social issues.
LWVUS supports liberal tax and spend policies. They oppose a federal balanced budget amendment and support deficit spending while at the same time call for a progressive broad-based tax system. LWVUS opposed the tax cuts passed by the George W. Bush administration, instead preferring President Bill Clinton’s plan to use the late 1990s’ government surplus to pay for various government programs relating to healthcare and the environment. In recent years, the LWVUS has pushed for low-income handouts paid for by increasing taxes on the wealthy. Additionally, the League has supported increasing taxes on capital gains. [/note]
On healthcare, “the League supports increased taxes to finance a basic level of health care for all U.S. residents.” In this vein, LWVUS calls for a government-controlled healthcare system provide every U.S. resident access to “basic level of health care” that includes among other things reproductive health care, long-term care, and mental health care. LWVUS’ liberal health care platform also contains non-typical health items, including a call for housing for the chronically homeless and specialty drug courts to help drug users avoid the criminal justice system.
LWVUS supports a broad array of simplified welfare programs including food stamps, housing subsidies, and health care subsidies based on the recipients “declaration of need.” LWVUS also supports universal child care for all who need it. LWVUS supports expanding participation in Social Security, and opposes reforms that would allow SS beneficiaries to opt-out and use private benefits.
On immigration, the league supports legalization of status for illegal immigrants already in the country, opposes deportations for non-criminal illegal immigrants, and supports federal financial handouts to communities impacted by large illegal immigrant populations. In 2010, the League lobbied in support of the DREAM Act.
On education, LWVUS calls for a top-down nationalized education program through a national assessment, broad common standards, and a suggested national curriculum. The league “opposes vouchers” and opposes tax credits for private education. It demands education handouts to disadvantaged groups beginning at the pre-kindergarten level and argues that the federal government has the responsibility to support access to student health care and free or reduced lunch programs.
LWVUS believes concealed firearms and modern sporting rifles are a major threat and supports measures to limit access to and ownership of those weapons by private citizens. Among these restrictions, the League supports background checks, waiting periods, and annual license renewals.
LWVUS has filed numerous amicus briefs and has been an outspoken advocate for affirmative action programs and policies in public employment.  In 2004 and 2006, the league opposed the “Federal Marriage Amendment,” which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and called for “legislation to equalize the legal rights” of same-sex couples. 
LWVUS opposes the death penalty, opposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers, and believes that alternatives to prison should be utilized.
LWVUS also supports a very liberal international relations platform that includes a strong U.N., a significant increase in financial handouts to developing countries, a reduction in American defensive arms and nuclear weapons, and a decrease in U.S. military spending. LWVUS has also endorsed U.S. accession to the International Criminal Court, a cession of American sovereignty even the Obama administration rejected.
LWVUS’ liberal action platform has an extensive chapter on green environmental policies that they support. LWVUS touts their support of the Obama administration’s climate change policies, the “cornerstone of which caps carbon emissions from both new and existing power plants.”  Additionally, the League supports “putting a price on carbon,” a carbon tax.
LWVUS’ environmental platform calls for the predominant reliance on renewable energy, a limit on nuclear energy, government incentive handouts to green energy companies, and mandatory energy conservation requirements such as new appliance and auto-emission standards. LWVUS also calls for a wide-variety of liberal land and water conservation measures and is opposed to drilling in the Arctic and the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Opposition to Nuclear Energy
Nuclear power plants produce no carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gas emissions, and as of 2021 accounted for 20 percent of American electricity production—the largest source of zero carbon electricity in the United States.  An October 2018 proposal from The Nature Conservancy noted that zero-carbon nuclear plants produced 7.8 of total world energy output and recommended reducing carbon emissions by increasing nuclear capacity to 33 percent of total world energy output. 
The League of Women Voters was one of more than 600 co-signing organizations on a January 2019 open letter to Congress titled “Legislation to Address the Urgent Threat of Climate Change.” The signatories declared their support for new laws to bring about “100 percent decarbonization” of the transportation sector but denounced nuclear power as an example of “dirty energy” that should not be included in any legislation promoting the use of so-called “renewable energy.” 
The League’s 2018-2020 policy positions guide stated that the organization generally opposed “increased reliance on nuclear fission” for electrical power production. The policy document stated that state and local affiliates are permitted to “oppose licensing for construction of nuclear power plants based of the national position.” The document did not permit the affiliates to support expansion of nuclear energy production unless there was a unique concern, and the affiliate had obtained “prior permission from the national board.” 
Advocacy & Lobbying Activities
In support of their liberal policy platform, the League undertakes both advocacy and lobbying efforts.
In DC, the League’s staff testify on Capitol Hill and lobby Members of Congress through phone calls and office meetings. In the third quarter of 2017, LWV reported $26,477 in lobbying expenditures under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, since 2010 the League has spent $1.87 million lobbying the federal government, or on average about $233,000 per year.  In total during that time the League has lobbied on 116 different bills on 331 specific issues or reports.
Among the more notably liberal bills that they have lobbied for include: the Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017, the Satisfying Energy Needs and Saving the Environment Act of 2016, the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014, and against the Repeal of Obamacare Act of 2012.
Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings
On September 13, 2018, the LWV accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of not “demonstrat[ing] a commitment to protect voters” for taking positions which run “counter to the League’s principles.” 
The League, its 501(c)(3) arm, and its many affiliates receive significant funding from liberal mega-donors. Billionaire liberal mega-donor George Soros is said to have given over $3 million to the League’s various entities through his two philanthropies, Open Society Institute (now the Open Society Foundations) and Foundation to Promote Open Society.
Additionally the liberal Joyce Foundation, which once claimed future President Barack Obama as a board member, is noted to be the League’s largest benefactor since 1998, giving over $4.2 million to LWV-associated entities.
According to the Capital Research Center, other liberal donors to the League are: Ford Foundation ($1,075,000 since 1999); Carnegie Corporation of New York ($546,000 since 2000); John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($475,000 since 2005); and Tides Foundation ($196,535 since 2005).
Chris Carson currently serves as the League’s president. Carson has been a League member for over 30 years and in 2005 became a board member and government director of the League of Women Voters of California (LWVC).
Wylecia Wiggs Harris is the CEO of the League, overseeing the day to day operations of the LWV national office and executing the strategic priorities established by the national Board of Directors.