Guest Column: A Tradition of Service

By Elizabeth Nalepa

The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 with the goal of empowering women to exercise their newly recognized right to vote. Our goal today remains the same, though our audience has expanded. Our mission is to educate and empower all citizens to vote. 

It seems like voting should be easy by this point. It isn’t easy for everyone. One woman with a papery-soft voice and hands that picked at her collar told me that she didn’t really know anything about the issues. I convinced her to fill out a registration by telling her where to find the Voter Information Guide on her phone.

A gentleman with a riot of dark curls and a toddler on his hip told me he always had trouble finding the time on Election Day. I handed him a copy of the voter guide with the early voting hours printed on the front.

One of my neighbors let her driver’s license expire when she began to have trouble driving and had no idea what ID would work or how to get it. With a slight twinkle in her eye, she told me she was sure that I did. I opened the digital copy of the voter guide and scrolled to the second page, which had all the acceptable forms of ID, and helped her navigate from there.

Voting is a hard-won right that citizens everywhere take seriously. They want to be informed voters. It seems like every year, getting that information becomes more and more difficult. Our local chapter publishes the voter guide every general election. In the past five years, we have added a Spanish language edition as well as digital editions through This year, we began collecting information from primary candidates, which will be published at Vote411.

The annual Women’s Hall of Fame is our fundraiser to support the publication of the voter guide. We also take this opportunity to honor the amazing women empowering voters, strengthening democracy or building community in the Mahoning Valley. It is a pleasure to recognize amazing women who are universally too modest about their contributions to the community.

This year, we have selected seven outstanding women to celebrate: Suzanne “Samie” Winick, Racole Taltoan, Alexis Smith, Paige Fortner, Kathleen Chaffee Gaige, Lisa Resnick and Shari Harrell. They are all people who truly make our community a better place.

The League of Women Voters has a long tradition of service. We hope that you will consider celebrating the women who serve our Valley and support our ongoing mission of public education by joining us at the Hall of Fame event at 5:30 p.m. March 20. For more information or to purchase tickets, click HERE.

The most important thing that you can do to serve your community is VOTE. Ohio’s primary election is March 19. The general election is Nov. 5. Our democracy only works if you do your part and participate.

Elizabeth Nalepa is the current president of the League of Women Voters Greater Youngstown. She is a doctoral candidate in sociology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Her work focuses on the intersection of medicine and law, with a specific focus on reproduction. Her doctoral research focuses on measuring the scope of obstetric violence in the contemporary United States. She is also a longtime advocate for voting rights, the right to fair housing and finding joy and beauty in the struggle for equality.

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