Local League of Women Voters chapter to celebrate 100th anniversary

It’s a celebration 100 years in the making for the League of Women Voters of Downers Grove, Woodridge and Lisle as the organization in August marks a century of supporting voting rights and voting education.

The organization will mark its 100th birthday with a party with guest speakers at 4 p.m. Aug. 8 at Hummer Park in Downers Grove. There will be an opportunity for voters to register, including those who have just turned 18. There will be birthday treats, too.

The local League of Women Voters started in Downers Grove and as the nearby communities developed, it added Woodridge and Lisle to its title, though its members reside in Westmont, Darien and Hinsdale as well, said Mary Hobein, president of the League of Women Voters of Downers Grove, Woodridge and Lisle.

“We grew out of the suffrage organizations,” Hobein said. “We have a tradition of supporting voting rights and voter education.”

The Downers Grove chapter started Aug. 9, 1921, and continues to serve the community by hosting voter registrations and programming to help inform voters on local elections as well as discuss timely topics in the news. Programs have included discussions on the census and gun violence. Hobein said a program on how to discern fake news drew a standing-room crowd last year.

The League of Women Voters of Downers Grove, Woodridge and Lisle is a bipartisan organization that works closely with regional, county and state branches of the national organization, Hobein said.

Hobein said the organization has seen an increase in participation in recent years. Her interest started simply by following the organization’s voter information programs to help her learn more about the candidates in local and county elections. Hobein said as a member of the league she’s become more aware of issues in the community as well as the topics local governing boards are discussing.

Like many organizations, local chapter members had to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the league wasn’t able to host in-person forums, members found new ways to provide voter candidate education. This spring, league members organized video interviews.

“We solicited candidates to submit five-minute video clips to the questions we provided for contested races and posted them on our website and YouTube channel,” Hobein said.

In honor of its 100th anniversary, the league will receive honorary proclamations for its work in the community from the Downers Grove, Woodridge and Lisle village boards in August.

For information on the anniversary celebration, go to the league website at my.lwv.org/illinois/downers-grove-woodridge-lisle.