Feature in Houstonia Magazine – February 2020

At first blush, the mission seems simple enough. “We want people to vote, we want to make it easy to vote, and we want to inform people,” says MaryJane Mudd, president of the League of Women Voters of Houston, a nonpartisan organization. Just over 15 percent of Harris County turned out to vote in November, a number that is higher than the state average by three points. But there is much progress to be made, and the League’s dedicated volunteers are working toward that with a three-pronged approach. First, they boost registration by targeting newly eligible voters; in 2019 the League added more than 30,000 newly naturalized Americans to the rolls, while also partnering with local high schools and colleges to reach young adults. Second, before every major election the organization produces a comprehensive voter’s guide with information on all the candidates, plus intel on ballot items such as propositions, which is distributed in four languages—English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese—and also available at vote411.org. Finally, the League advocates for expanded voting rights and election laws that make it easier for Houstonians to participate in the civic process. “Everyone deserves to have a voice and to make their voice known through the practice of voting,” Mudd says. “When more in our city can participate in our elections, the outcome better reflects who we are.”