League of Women Voters Returns to WA


Eddie Lowney

Voter Registration Documents and forms from the Westford League of Women Voters.

Eddie Lowney, Staff Writer

After a multi-year hiatus, Westford’s League of Women Voters resumed their previously annual voter registration drive at Westford Academy. On April 5, League volunteers circulated the cafeteria, passing out forms to register to vote, for those aged 18 and up, or to preregister, for those who are 16 or 17. They also handed out QR codes allowing students to check their voting status. 

The Westford League of Women Voters, a non-partisan political organization focused on voter outreach and political advocacy, is a local chapter of the broader organization the League of Women Voters, which comprises of state Leagues and over 750 local Leagues. While the Westford League shares the goals of the organization, they work primarily at a local level to inform town residents of community issues and promote voter engagement. League membership is in no way restricted by gender, and the League, while at times taking stances on issues, is not affiliated with political parties.

Returning to Westford Academy after their pandemic induced break, The League expressed their intention to return to their previous level of activity at Westford Academy. League members also expressed their personal enjoyment in returning to Westford Academy.

“It was a lot of fun for us,” Steering Committee Member Lynn Cohen said.“Since all but one of us hadn’t had anybody at WA for a long time. […] I happened to bump into someone who still remembered my son who graduated in 2003, so it was a lot of fun to do.”

The event, organized by League member Emily Teller, provided an opportunity for students to become politically active. The event accomplished this not only by providing students with information about voter registration, but also by spreading awareness about local politics, such as the town elections on May 3, to curious students.

“I got into some interesting conversations with some of the kids,” Cohen said. “One of the other volunteers was talking to a kid who was excited to learn that there was a race for the school committee.”

The voter registration drive marked an instance of constructive collaboration between Westford Academy and the League, as staff and students helped to ease the process for League volunteers. 

“The administration was really supportive and helpful,” Cohen said. “All [Teller] had to do [to schedule the event] was call the school.”

Students also contributed to the event by arranging for information about voter registration drives to be readily available throughout the school. Cohen expressed that one student in particular, Vivian Aeder, was especially helpful.

“She included in the morning announcements that we were going to be there in the afternoon and arranged for a slide to be put up on all the monitors around the school, which was a great help,” Cohen said.

This registration drive also marked a shift in focus for the League due to the implementation of the Automatic Voter Registration Bill in 2020, which directs the RMV to register all eligble applicants for a learner’s permit or driver’s license to vote. This registration drive specifically saw a diminished focus on pure voter registration and a pivot towards other ways of fostering political awareness. Volunteers placed a greater emphasis on participation in upcoming local elections while speaking to students.  

In addition to registration drives, which prior to the past few years were held regularly at Westford Academy and Nashoba Valley Technical High school, the League plans and organizes many events around town. For instance, they promote civic involvement in local politics by encouraging discussion through events, such as their monthly Civic Social, and by informing residents through discussion of articles up for vote at town meetings with their Annual Town Meeting Preview event. The League also participates in local events, such as the recent Westford Earth Day Festival, at which they had an information and voter registration booth. 

The League’s monthly Civic Social specifically works to fulfill their stated goals by providing participants with a positive environment in which issues can be informally discussed. Civic Socials typically center on a certain topic, for instance the last Civic Social, held on April 20 saw attendees review Westford’s Roadmap to Net Zero carbon emissions with the help of Erika Kohl, a member of the League and the Clean Energy Committee.

The League’s upcoming Civic Social on May 18 will focus on recommendations from the Access to Town Meeting Committee regarding possible measures to increase town meeting attendance. The League encourages all those interested in the month’s topic to attend the meeting, which will take place over Zoom at 7:30 pm.

While these events differ in form, all the events aim to engage voters in the democratic process. The League felt the voter drive at Westford Academy was successful, as it provided them with an opportunity to promote voter registration and encourage involvement in upcoming town elections. Returning to Westford Academy after their recent hiatus, while some elements of the registration drive have changed, the core purpose remains the same.

“It’s always the same way of doing things,” Cohen said, “just trying to be there for the students to come talk to you and get them to register.”