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Lane County’s League of Women Voters struggles to attract young members

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Terry Parker is the President of the League of Women Voters of Lane County. She said the group’s recent priorities include fair redistricting in Oregon and safety for election workers.
KLCC | By Nathan Wilk
Published January 3, 2024

The Lane County chapter of the League of Women Voters is struggling to find young people to replace its aging volunteers.

The League is a nonpartisan organization that works to register, educate and advocate for voters, while also adopting select policy positions.

Currently, Lane County’s chapter has around 160 members. Volunteers host forums on ballot issues and attend government meetings to promote public transparency.

“Our theme this year is, how do we step up and keep our elected officials alert to the fact that we’re watching and interested and holding them accountable,” said chapter president Terry Parker.

However, Parker said the group faces a looming problem, as most of the chapter’s current membership is over 60 years old, and new recruits aren’t joining fast enough to eventually replace them.

Parker said unless she can do something to attract the new generation, membership will soon begin declining. But she said it’s difficult to reach young people amidst a flood of online information.

Additionally, Parker said it’s often retirees who have the time and energy to get involved with the League. Moving forward, she said the chapter will work to accommodate different working schedules, while highlighting issues that are multigenerational.

“If we can really talk about the issues that we support, we may be able to create some alliances that we haven’t made yet,” said Parker.

Parker said if the Lane County chapter went away, it would be like a local newspaper shutting down.

“You would lose an organization that is interested in encouraging people to be engaged in civic life,” said Parker. “And our democracy is based on civic life and engagement.”

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.

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