Making Democracy Work

LWV of Smithtown

Smithtown Day 2018

The League of Women Voters in Smithtown

The League has been in existence since February 14, 1920. The League is an outgrowth of the suffrage movement. The American Women's Suffrage Association had a victory convention in Chicago in 1920. It was there that a strong-minded woman, Carrie Chapman Catt, proposed a League of Women Voters. The League's purpose would be to "finish the fight," by educating women for the vote they had struggled so hard to achieve. Its founders quickly discovered that it wasn't only women who needed assistance as voters, and that the need for the League would not vanish after five years as originally thought.

It was the zeal of Carrie Chapman Catt that established the League, which is now in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It was her organizing genius and leadership that brought the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, making the United States the 27th country to grant women the right to vote. The League has been a force in public policy since its founding because of sound, informed work at the grassroots level, and Carrie Chapman Catt set its standard.

In 1885, after she married Leo Chapman, the editor of the Mason City Iowa newspaper and worked as an assistant editor, she organized a group of women to canvas the town for signatures to support a bill granting suffrage to women, all but 15 women signed. This caught the attention of the national suffrage movement. After her husband died, Catt became state organizer for the suffrage movement in Iowa. In 1890 she married George Catt, but only after he had signed a contract agreeing that each year she could devote two months in the spring and two months in the fall to speaking and organizing women's suffrage. In 1900 she was elected president of the National American Women's Suffrage Association and continued working for women's suffrage until it was passed in 1920.

Mrs. Ethel Dreier and Mrs. Molly Hoyt (of the Hoyt Farm family) founded our Smithtown League in 1920. They had marched in the Women's Suffrage Parade in New York City and were inspired to start a League in Smithtown.

In the 1920's and 1930's Smithtown was a rural community so the League concerned itself with National and State affairs. However, after the land boom in the late 1940's, the League studied town planning. The report won a prize for excellence at the New York State Fair. The Smithtown Town Board used the League study for many years in its planning.

During World War II, The Smithtown League did a study on rationing. Years later, during the formation of the United Nations in San Francisco, the League sent a telegram commending the founders for work done for world peace.

The years have wrought many changes. Most of the members are in the work force outside the home. Membership is now open to men as well as women. The fundamental aims of the League of Women Voters, however, are still appropriately expressed in a quotation from a 1919 League pamphlet described as follows: "The organization has three purposes + to foster education in citizenship, to promote forums and public discussions and support needed legislation." Remember, the League is non-partisan, but political. This means "we don't endorse candidates" but we do "lobby legislators." A past Smithtown President, Ida Kimbrig, best expressed another of our fundamental aims with the words, "let the people know + make the people care + help the people act."

Students Inside Albany Conference

Find the full 2018 Students Inside Albany brochure here

Smithtown Candidate Debate on Tuesday October 17

Click here for the full video of the October 17 Candidate Debate for Town of Smithtown Residents

Debate coverage appears on, and on page 22 in the October 19 issue of Newsday. The Smithtown News October 19 issue includes multiple articles on the debate.


Toward enabling Smithtown residents to cast informed votes on November 7th, the League of Women Voters of Smithtown hosted a Candidate Debate Tuesday evening October 17, at the Nesaquake Middle School, in St. James. Participate in this event were candidates for Town offices, plus County legislative offices representing Smithtown residents, per the Suffolk County Board of Elections Certified Ballot.

The League issued invitations to the following candidates:
For Town Supervisor:
William G. Holst, Kristen Slevin, Edward R. Wehrheim
For Town Council:
Robert P. Doyle, Thomas Lohmann, Amy Fortunato, Thomas McCarthy, Lynne C. Nowick, Patricia Stoddard
For Town Clerk:
Conrad Chayes, Vincent A. Puleo, Justin W. Smiloff
For the Suffolk County Legislature:
12th LD: Kevin Hyms, Leslie Kennedy
13th LD: Colleen Maher, Robert Trotta

(note: LWV guidelines allow candidates time at the debate only if at least 2 candidates for a given office are present. Because Ms. Maher did not attend, Mr. Trotta was unable to speak at the debate)

The League of Women Voters is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government. We do not support or oppose candidates or parties.

Celebrating 100 Years of Woman Suffrage in NYS

Women in New York State won the right to vote in 1917 after decades of struggle. LWV Smithtown launched our centennial celebration at the Nesconset branch of the Smithtown Library by hosting a community viewing of the film Iron Jawed Angels, the true story of Alice Paul and Lucy Burns. This film gave us a fresh and contemporary look at a pivotal event in American history, the story of how a pair of defiant and brilliant young activists took the women's suffrage movement by storm, putting their lives at risk. A brief discussion followed the film.

League Celebrates Smithtown 350 In Style

LWV of Smithtown celebrated the Town of Smithtown's 350th Anniversary in style at the September 26, 2015 parade on Main Street. Jim Dowling, WWII Vet and truly one of the "Greatest Generation" (still going strong at 94!) graciously allowed Smithtown Leaguers to ride in his 1931 Model A Woody Station Wagon. We received lots of cheers and attention, and were honored to be sharing the car with a much-written about WWII hero. Thanks Jim, and congratulations to our hometown of Smithtown at 350!

Voter Bulletin of LWV Smithtown

Learn more about LWV Smithtown

The Smithtown League of Women Voters is always ready to welcome new members. Accordingly, anyone wishing to learn more about the League and its activities, with the potential for membership, is invited to call 499-0107.

The Smithtown League meets socially every last Friday of the month at Bagel Express - 264 W. Main St. in the Hilltop Shopping Center (Smithtown). We get together for breakfast and discussion at 9:00 AM and would welcome anyone who is interested in civic affairs, wants to improve local, state and national government and is willing to work in a nonpartisan way to accomplish this.

For more information contact LWV Smithtown President

Impact on Issues 2012-2014 A Guide to Public Policy Positions of the League of Women Voters of the United States

Immigration Position of the League of Women Voters of the United States

The League's History
In the 111th Congress, the League lobbied in support of the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act that would provide a path to citizenship for young immigrants who complete a college degree or serve in the military, thereby enabling them to be a fully productive part of American society. The legislation passed the House, but lacked enough votes to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.

The League's Position
Statement of Position on Immigration, as Announced by National Board, April 2008:
The League of Women Voters believes that immigration policies should promote reunification of immediate families; meet the economic, business and employment needs of the United States; and be responsive to those facing political persecution or humanitarian crises.

Provision should also be made for qualified persons to enter the United States on student visas. All persons should receive fair treatment under the law.

The League supports federal immigration law that provides an efficient, expeditious system (with minimal or no backlogs) for legal entry of immigrants into the United States. To complement these goals the League supports federal policies to improve economies, education, job opportunities and living conditions in nations with large emigrating populations.

In transition to a reformed system, the League supports provisions for unauthorized immigrants already in the country to earn legal status.

The League supports federal payments to impacted communities to address the financial costs borne by states and local governments with large immigrant populations.

Criteria for Legal Admission to the United States
The League supports the following criteria for legal admission of persons into the United States:

  • Family reunification of spouses or minor children with authorized immigrants or citizens;
  • Flight from persecution or response to humanitarian crises in home countries;
  • Economic, business and employment needs in the Unites States;
  • Education and training needs of the United States;
  • Educational program opportunities; and
  • Lack of a history of serious criminal activity.

Administration and Enforcement
The League supports due process for all persons, including the right to a fair hearing, right to counsel, right of appeal and right to humane treatment. The League supports:
  • Improved technology to facilitate employer verification of employee status;
  • Verification documents, such as status cards and work permits, with secure identifiers;
  • Significant fines and penalties for employers who hire unauthorized workers;
  • Improved technology for sharing information among federal agencies;
  • More effective tracking of individuals who enter the United States; and
  • Increased personnel at borders. The League also supports programs allowing foreign workers to enter and leave the United States to meet seasonal or sporadic labor needs.

Unauthorized Immigrants Already in the United States
In achieving overall policy goals, the League supports a system for unauthorized immigrants already in the country to earn legal status, including citizenship, by paying taxes, learning English, studying civics and meeting other relevant criteria. While policy reforms, including a path to legal status, remain unachieved, the League does not support deporting unauthorized immigrants who have no history of criminal activity.

LWV Smithtown Recent Events

Upcoming Programs

Who We Are and What We Do

The League of Women Voters of Smithtown is a local division of the League of Women Voters of the United States, a nationwide, non-partisan organization dedicated to strengthening democracy through citizen education and advocacy. The League grew out of the movement to give women the right to vote. Membership is open to all women and men.

Our work consists of voter service activities, education and advocacy.


  • Assist and advise new voters with registration
  • Conduct and moderate candidate meetings
  • Produce and distribute non-partisan information about candidates and ballot issues
  • Provide speakers to discuss the election process and ballot issues
  • Encourage voter turn-out
  • Observe government, library board, and school board meetings

  • A unified state court system
  • Affordable housing
  • Alternatives to incarceration
  • Campaign finance reform
  • Civil liberties
  • Ethics and lobbying reform
  • Global climate change
  • Health care reform
  • Local and county land use and preservation
  • Redistricting
  • Statewide guidelines for all levels of law enforcement
  • Statewide use of optical scan voting machines that have a paper backup

  • Information on a wide range of important regional and national issues
  • LWV publications - local, state and national
  • Smithtown LWV newsletter The VOTER
  • Facts for Voters and the annual Directory of Public Officials
  • Enhanced skills in discussion, lobbying, writing, speaking
  • Training for local community and governmental leadership
  • Increased awareness of how your government works
  • Chance to influence public policy
  • Meet a diverse and interesting group of friends in your community

Keep informed,
Educate the public,
Lobby our Legislators,
Encourage all those eligible to vote
Help us succeed in our mission to:
Let the people know
Make the people care
Help the people act

Information on the League of Women Voters of Smithtown

For more information contact LWV Smithtown co-President
For youth programs contact


History of the League of Women Voters

The League of Women Voters was founded by Carrie Chapman Catt in 1920 during the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association. The convention was held just six months before the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote after a 72-year struggle.

The League began as a "mighty political experiment" designed to help 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters. It encouraged them to use their new power to participate in shaping public policy. From the beginning, the League has been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believed that citizens should play a critical role in advocacy. It was then, and is now, a nonpartisan organization. League founders believed that maintaining a nonpartisan stance would protect the fledgling organization from becoming mired in the party politics of the day. However, League members were encouraged to be political themselves, by educating citizens about, and lobbying for, government and social reform legislation.

This holds true today. The League is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public. The League has a long, rich history,that continues with each passing year.