Making Democracy Work

Action and Advocacy

We are truly a grassroots organization...


The League of Women Voters takes action on an issue or advocates for a cause when there is an existing League position that supports the issue or speaks to the cause.

Positions result from a process of study. Any given study, whether it be National, State, or Local, is thorough in its pursuit of facts and details. As the study progresses, a continuing discussion of pros and cons of each situation occurs. Prior to the results of the study being presented to the general membership, study committee members fashion consensus questions that are then addressed by the membership.

Additional discussion, pro and con, takes place as members (not part of the study committee) learn the scope of the study. After the members reach consensus, the board forms positions based on that consensus.

It is the consensus statement -- the statement resulting from the consensus questions -- that becomes a position. Firm action or advocacy can then be taken on the particular issue addressed by the position. Without a position, action/advocacy cannot be taken.


LWVHHI/BA Program Plan 2016-2017 Focus for Action
Approved May 11, 2016

Making Democracy Work

Informing and Engaging the Electorate

Prepare and publish Voter's Guide to Candidates via LWVHHI/BA website or in collaboration with Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette and/or Bluffton Sun, Hilton Head Sun

Hold candidate forums for key local races

Hold issue forum/s for likely Beaufort County School District and Beaufort County capital projects/sales tax referenda

Review and consider taking a position on sales tax referenda Partner with other organizations regarding elected positions likely to become available/deadlines for filing and the longer-term possibility of developing a database to match government positions with women seeking appointed or elective office

Utilize a variety of media to share information/communicate messages, with more emphasis on electronic media

Protecting Voters and Voting Rights

Support LWVUS/LWVSC positions on Money in Politics and Voter Rights/Protection

Expand voter registration activities/locations, with particular attention to underserved communities and youth and to partnership opportunities

Maintain relationship with Board of Voter Registration and Elections

Advocate for greater number of voter registration places and adequate number, location, and resources for polling places. Publicize on-line registration.

Protecting our Natural Resources

Study local and area-wide transportation issues as they relate to land use and natural resources, with a view to educating our members and recommending action, if warranted.

Develop Off-Shore Drilling position in concert with other South Carolina Leagues.

Monitor the expenditures and purposes of land purchases made with public funds approved by the voters by referendum.

Monitor other LWVHHI/BA natural resources positions with a view to recommending action as appropriate.




Letter (January 13, 2018) from LWV National President, Chris Carson, condemning racist comments by President Trump during a bipartisan meeting with Congressional leaders


We are appalled and disgusted by President Trump's racist statement made during a bipartisan meeting about Immigration yesterday. Language and ideals like this have no place in our society, and certainly not in our White House. (For full text see below)

letter from league president on racisist comments
Copy of letter from US LWV League President


Letter to the Editor of the Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette, July 13, 2017

The League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area strenuously oppose seismic testing Regarding the proposed "Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Geophysical Surveys in the Atlantic Ocean," the League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area strenuously oppose seismic testing in the waters off our coast as a prelude to possible offshore drilling for oil and gas. These tests, which are loud and jarring, are detrimental to all marine life. The economy of South Carolina depends on the health of the marine animals off our shore for fishermen, crabbers, and oystermen, and are important to our tourism industry.

Whatever benefits might be realized from offshore drilling, should seismic testing reveal substantial oil and gas deposits, are far outweighed by the substantial damage to our environment, health and quality of life. The negative impact on our fisheries, business climate and tourism industry would be enormous. Seismic testing and offshore drilling must not be permitted off the shores of the State of South Carolina

Nancy Williams and Dot Law, Co-presidents

Letter to The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette(published April 17, 2017)

Along with the League of Women Voters of the United States, the League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton area is very concerned about the current movement in Congress to terminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). With continuing controversy about the accuracy, conduct and participation in American elections, this is not the time to abolish the only federal entity devoted exclusively to improving election administration on a bipartisan basis.

The EAC does invaluable work to improve our nation's election systems on a voluntary, non-regulatory basis. It oversees the federal voting system certification program that sets standards for the upgrade of America's voting machines and that 47 states depend on to maintain their voting machines. The EAC also improves accessibility at the polls for more than 37 million voters with disabilities. Finally, local election officials rely on the EAC to provide best practices on voting and election administration.

The EAC instills confidence in our election system. Rather than eliminating the EAC, Congress should provide the agency with resources and a renewed commitment to sponsoring and encouraging information state and local officials.

Elections are the life blood of a democracy. We urge readers of The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette to join us in asking Representative Mark Sanford to oppose The Election Assistance Commission Termination Act.

Fran Holt, President League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area

Letter to County Council, February 210, 2017

D. Paul Sommerville, Chairman Beaufort County Council 1509 Pigeon Point Road Beaufort, South Carolina 29902

Dear Chairman Sommerville:

The members of the League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area urge the Beaufort County Council to move with extreme caution before approving a development as large as Scratch Golf LLC is proposing for the Hilton Head National Golf Course property.

The impact on the natural environment would be huge--new demands on our regional water supply, possible pollution of air and water, destruction of green space and wildlife habitat. The impact on the built environment would also be huge--long lines on roads and bridges, greater use of energy, expansive impervious surfaces leading to erosion and water pollution and trapping of heat. We are also concerned the development, as currently proposed, would overburden services provided by government including schools, the sheriff's department and fire protection.

As stated by the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, we believe in promoting "an environment beneficial to life through the protection and wise management of natural resources in the public interest by recognizing the interrelationships of air quality, energy, land use, habitat preservation, waste management and water resources." We urge the members of the Beaufort County Council to proceed with such goals in mind when agreeing to the parameters of this proposed development.

Thank you for considering our views.


Fran Holt, President
Sally McGarry, Natural Resources/Land Use Committee Chair
League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area

cc: Members of Beaufort County Council


Creating the Beloved Community, January 11, 2017

In the spirit of Martin Luther King, we sponsored this conversation on race relations in our communities. If you missed that event or simply want to revisit it, here, courtesy of WSAV, is a link Creating the Beloved Community



Two bills that signify progress in ethics reform were passed by the South Carolina General Assembly on June 15, 2016. Governor Haley is expected to sign both bills on June 23. This legislation is a step forward that took four years to happen. It was the result of much effort on the part of legislators and supporters, including the League of Women Voters of South Carolina (LWVSC) and local Leagues. The League effort was led by Lynn Teague, LWVSC lobbyist and Vice President for Issues and Action, and LWVSC Co-President JoAnne Day.

H3184 provides for independent investigation of ethics complaints against legislators. H3186 calls for the disclosure by legislators of sources of their private income (with exceptions such as private pensions, IRAs and disability payments) that are received by legislators and their immediate families and are reported on IRS forms. There is no requirement to report amounts.

The League plans to continue its work on ethics reform It is particularly interested in measures to solve the problem of "dark money."

More detailed information on this will be available in the next LWVSC newsletter, SC Votes.


Letter to The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette(published September 23, 2016), (published September September 20, 2016) and to Bluffton Today (published September 11, 2016)

With so much discussion about candidates this election year, important information may be getting lost in the shuffle. Consequently, the League highly recommends that voters and potential voters go to Everyone who is a resident, a citizen and 18 years old by election day can register to vote or change their address on that site.

The site also provides lots of information including sample ballots, voting places and instructions on voting absentee. Many people don't realize that voting absentee is available for a wide range of reasons, not just being away from home.

To make sure there is ample opportunity to register to vote by the October 8 deadline, the League is conducting a series of voter registration drives, including ones at the Technical College of the Lowcountry and Hilton Head High School on September 27, National Voter Registration Day, and at Burgers and Brews at Shelter Cove from 10 to 5:30 on October 1.

To help voters become informed, we are planning forums for candidates for Hilton Head Island Town Council and the Board of Education as well as a forum on the Beaufort County and school tax referenda.

More information about the League's registration drives, forums and questionnaires will be available at The Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections can be reached at 843-255-6900 in Beaufort or 843-255-6940 in Bluffton.

We encourage everyone to be registered, to be informed and to vote on November 8.

Fran Holt, President Oleta Harden and Ruth Wilwerding, Co-Voter Service Chairs League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area

Letter to The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette(published April 27, 2016), and to Bluffton Today (published April 24, 2016)

To the Editor:

The decision of the SC Supreme Court in Abbeville County School District, et al, v. The State of South Carolina seemed to be a real step forward. It mandated that the SC Legislature must take steps to provide at least "minimally adequate" education to children in poor districts known as the Corridor of Shame, which includes our neighbor, Jasper County. Beth Yam recently conducted an excellent forum on turning the Corridor of Shame into the Highway to Hope. The importance of volunteerism was emphasized at the forum. The League totally supports volunteer efforts, but we believe productive action by government is essential too.

The SC Legislature is currently considering several bills to address the problems faced by the Abbeville districts and provide remedies mandated by the SC Supreme Court. In our opinion, the bills under consideration do not include enough substantive solutions. We hope readers of this letter will join the League in urging the Legislature to pass legislation which will provide the kinds of real solutions recommended by its own Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force in December 2015. Its report (see Committee Postings and Reports at calls for the state to play a role not only in providing additional funding but also in increasing efficiencies and expertise, recruiting and retaining effective teachers and funding capital improvements.

Education opens doors to children of poverty. It is time for SC to do the right thing and ensure access to a quality education for all our children.

Fran Holt, President Kathy Quirk, Education Chair League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area

LETTER TO THE ISLAND PACKET/Beaufort Gazette, Bluffton Today and Bluffton Sun,
Submitted January 9, 2016

To the Editor:

"What can be done about ISIS?" was the question addressed to League of Women Voters of the US President Elisabeth MacNamara at a recent local League luncheon. Her immediate reply was "vote!" She believes voting is key to trying to solve the problems of our times. We strongly agree and believe voting for wise and effective leaders is essential whether the problem is ISIS, education, poor roads or healthcare.

The League urges all registered voters to become informed and show up at the polls. In South Carolina we'll soon have the opportunity to vote in the presidential primary of our choice. Because we do not register by party in this state, voters can vote on February 20 in the Republican Primary or on February 27, in the Democratic Primary. They cannot vote in both. To vote, voters must be registered by January 27. Information on how to register is available at or 843-255-6900. We hope all eligible citizens not previously registered exercise that right now.

Other elections in 2016 will include the special election for Beaufort County Board of Education District on February 2 and the November 8 election for president and many state, county and town offices as well as probable referenda. There will also be primaries for some of the races. Let's not take our right to vote for granted. Let's cherish it and exercise it, and let's be sure to be informed.

Fran Holt, President


LETTER TO THE ISLAND PACKET/Beaufort Gazette and Bluffton Today,
Submitted November 11, 2015

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to Cynthia Bensch's recent letter to the editor regarding the Town of Bluffton election in order to make it clear that the League of Women Voters is nonpartisan and does not work in support of or opposition to parties or candidates. We do work to promote voter registration and to inform voters through various means including candidate forums that are conducted fairly and without giving an advantage to any candidate. One such forum was held on October 7 for candidates for mayor and Town Council for the Town of Bluffton.

Although we are never partisan, we are political. The League is a national, state and local grassroots organization that works hard to influence policy on selected issues through education and advocacy. We invite all interested men and women to learn more about our organization and to become members. Information is available at

Fran Holt, President


LETTER TO THE ISLAND PACKET/Beaufort Gazette and Bluffton Today,
Submitted September 28, 2015

To the Editor:

Our community is fortunate to have so many caring people. Last week five of them served on a panel at a meeting titled "A Healthcare Conversation." The League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area sponsored the meeting in cooperation with our state organization as a first step in trying to develop positions that will later enable us to advocate for improvements in South Carolina's healthcare system. The Unitarian Universalist Church in Bluffton kindly provided the venue.

The panelists were Florry Gibbes, M.Ed, CCC/SLP, a certified and licensed medical speech-language pathologist, who has practiced in a wide range of venues in South Carolina for over forty years; Omega Smalls-Francis, a native of Saint Helena Island, who is the Area Director of the Hilton Head Office of the Coastal Empire Community Medical Health Center; Tom Neal, Chief Operating Officer at Hilton Head Hospital; Ronald Smith, MD, a retired anesthesiologist who is now the Medical Director of Bluffton-Jasper Volunteers in Medicine and Alison Burke , a League member and an attorney who shared her perspective on the needs of the disabled.

They obviously all care deeply about providing quality healthcare regardless of the finances of the recipients and despite the roadblocks they described. There are so many issues that make their work difficult. These include lack of Medicaid eligibility for many patients who would be eligible in many other states, lack of adequate funding to employ enough medical and support staff, lack of adequate transportation for clients to get to and from medical facilities, the inability of electronic data to be shared between different medical facilities and sometimes even between departments in the same facility, the reliance of some patients on emergency room care instead of less costly and more appropriate care, and the lack of adequate cooperation among different medical facilities.

Having started the process of learning about the problems faced by caring healthcare providers, our local League looks forward to working to ensure that adequate healthcare is available for everyone.

Fran Holt, President


June 29, 2015

Good evening Chairman Erickson, Senator Davis and Members of the House of Representatives:

I am Fran Holt, President of the League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island and the Bluffton area. I am here to speak on the League's behalf.

First, I want you know how sad we are about the tragedy in Charleston. We offer our condolences to friends and family of all nine victims. And we offer condolences to you for the loss of your colleague, Senator Pinckney, who should have been here today.

Second, we thank you for all coming out in favor of moving the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds. It is wonderful that Governor Haley, you and many other legislators are all on the same page on this. We hope you will now try to persuade those legislators who are on the fence about moving the flag to join you in wanting it moved.

Finally, we hope that the unity and good will that have become apparent following the tragedy in Charleston, will be long lasting and will result in actions that (1)reduce the likelihood of similar tragedies occurring and (2) improve the quality of life for all residents of South Carolina, and especially for those most in need, many of whom were Senator Pinckney's constituents.

Thank you.



In the fall of 2014 our League agreed to support the $20,000,000 bond referendum for the Beaufort County Rural and Critical Lands Preservation Program that was scheduled to be on the ballot on November 3. We, in cooperation with other organizations, worked hard to make sure the referendum passed. The purpose of the referendum was to provide funds to buy or place conservation easements on environmentally sensitive properties. Fortunately, the referendum passed by a wide margin.


Letter to the Editor of the Island Packet, July 1, 2014, by Loretta Warden and Sally McGarry

For the past two years, the League of Women Voters has made ethics reform a legislative priority. Locally, we mounted e-mail initiatives, made personal contact with legislators, sent postcards and supported our LWVSC board members as they testified at numerous legislative committee meetings in support of the ethics reform bill.

Disclosure of lawmakers' income, guidelines for use of campaign funds, PAC transparency, and an independent oversight committee were some of the components of H3945, the bill that would have given South Carolina's citizens confidence in the integrity of their elected decision makers.

In the final hours of the Senate's deliberation on the bill, it became obvious that disappointment was waiting in the wings for us. Some felt that the bill, with all of its disclosure requirements, was a big step forward and could be strengthened in future sessions. That was our position. Others felt that the bill no longer included all of the elements needed to make a difference. And, sadly, some never wanted ethics reform to begin with and saw this division as the perfect foil to do nothing.

Ultimately, a filibuster killed the bill and this year's chance to have ethics reform. We are disappointed, but not defeated. One legislator reflected that South Carolina will never have ethics reform until all the voices of the electorate demand it. Members of the league will continue to be among those voices. We encourage others to join us.

Loretta Warden and Sally McGarry, Hilton Head Island

Editor's Note: Warden is the president and McGarry is the action/advocacy chairwoman of the League of Women Voters Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area



The Board of Directors of the League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Area was pleased to welcome guests Saundra Ligon and Joe F. Fragale to our April 3, 2014 meeting. Ms. Ligon serves as Community Relations Senior Consultant at the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) and Mr. Fragale, who lives in Sun City Hilton Head, serves on the SCHAC Governing Board. They informed the LWVHHI/BA Board about the mission of the SCHAC and their efforts regarding the formation of a new Community Relations Council in Beaufort County. Currently the Human Affairs Commission is trying to establish Community Relations Councils (CRC's) in all forty-six South Carolina counties. A CRC in Beaufort County would consist of volunteer representatives organized on a permanent basis to work together to improve communication among disparate elements of the community. The mission of this state agency, founded in 1972 by the General Assembly under the leadership of Governor John C. West, is to eliminate and prevent unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, national origin, disability, and religion in the areas of housing, employment, and public accommodations.