Engage in Your Democracy

Engage in Your Democracy

Top News

Virginia onAir is US onAir’s model of a curated state Hub. Over the past two years, George Mason University alumni, faculty, students, and staff through their GMU onAir chapter have led the development and testing of this Hub.

Mackenzie Gross, Outreach Director
Email: mackenzie@onair.cc
About Virginia onAir post      Hub linkva.onair.cc/

Major Projects:

To reinvigorate our imperiled democracy, US onAir has started 50 curated, media rich online state governance and election Hubs and a central US Hub – us.onair.cc.

US onAir supports the US public to become more informed about and engaged in federal, state, and local politics while facilitating more respectful, civil and positive collaboration.

Major Projects:

We are a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation of citizens in government. We work to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and we influence public policy through education and advocacy.

Anu Sahai & Nancy Roodberg, Co-Presidents
Email: Contact form
Websitelwv-fairfax.org/

Major Projects:

The nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project elevates public understanding of politics and government by organizing and presenting information in ways that are easily accessible and free of partisan bias.

David Poole, Executive Director
Email:  webmaster@vpap.org
Websitevpap.org

Major Projects:

The Democracy Squad is a virtual organizing space for George Mason University students, staff, faculty, and alumni, to promote positive civic engagement on campus. Organized by Professor Jennifer Victor, Democracy Squad participants commit to building a positive campus environment that promotes democracy. Democracy Squad is administered through Magnify, a social networking tool designed to help people solve collective action problems.
See Jennifer Victor page for more detail

Jennifer Victor, Organizer
Email: jvictor@gmu.edu
Websitemagnifyyourvoice.com/organization/democracysquad

Major Projects:

Virginia onAir

There are many ways to engage with Virginia onAir. All that is required for most projects is to become an onAir member with your first name and last name, email address, and zip code. It’s free to join!

OnAir members will be able to participate in discussions in both livestreamed, online Zoom meetings which we call aircasts as well as comment in forums in most posts. Elected politicians, candidates, and nonpartisan organizations will also be able to host aircasts supported by onAir producers as well as edit posts about supported by onAir curators.

Become a onAir member

All that is required to be a Democracy onAir member is your first and last name, an email address, and your zip code.

Your real name and any other profile information will NOT be displayed unless you choose to do so. Your personal information is NOT shared with any other website or organization.

Go to this post to become a onAir member

OnAir membership will enable you to:

  • Ask questions, make suggestions, and give endorsements to your representatives and other politicians;
  • Interact directly with Post Authors and Curators giving them feedback, content suggestions, and asking questions,
  • Participate in forum discussions, research studies, and surveys,
  • Be able to ask questions during onAir livestreaming broadcasts

To learn more about this Hub’s features and the organizations supporting this Hub, go to this About US onAir Network post.

Your Hub activity is NOT tracked or shared. Simply visiting any US onAir network Hub also does not expose your identity publicly.

When you submit personal information to Virginia onAir for any purpose, your information will not be sold or shared with any third parties unless you give consent.

You also can, at any time, request that your information be deleted. Such requests will be honored within one business day.

Hub members must be a US resident and/or US Citizen and be 13 years or older.

Learn more about Democracy onAir’s “Privacy Policy”.

Participate in VA onAir forums

Any onAir member can request to participate in the audience of an aircast- a livestreamed Zoom meeting.

OnAir members can also add comments to any post that has a asynchronous forum or discussion on various topics relevant to the post.

Curate your VA onAir post

If there is post on this Hub about your organization or yourself, you can co-author the post with one of Virginia onAir’s curators.

Contact Mackenzie Gross at mackenzie.gross@onair.cc to curate your post.

Host VA onAir aircasts

Politicians and candidates, faculty at universities, colleges, and high schools, and nonpartisan democracy promoting organizations can host an aircast on any topic of their choosing. Aircasts are livestreamed Zoom meetings archived in posts and on YouTube channels. To learn more about aircasting, watch this video.

Contact Mackenzie Gross at mackenzie.gross@onair.cc to host your aircast.

Intern with VA onAir

Democracy onAir welcomes any US citizen to apply for an internship. We require a minimum commitment of 6 hours per week.

We have a special interest in working with undergraduate students majoring in government, communications, media, or a related field with a passion to improve democracy in the US.  Students (and other US citizens) who want to intern with Democracy onAir this fall can submit their resume with an introductory email articulating why you are interested in being a Democracy onAir intern and include a link, if appropriate, to your relevant academic program (internship, capstone project, research project etc.) to: internships@onair.cc. 

To learn more about interning, go to this post.

Become an VA onAir Advocate

Advocates of various issues important to VA residents will have an opportunity to contribute position papers, reviews, videos, and other types of content related to an issue. As premium members, they will be able to:

  • author new posts on issues
  • co-author existing posts on issues
  • contribute to curated overview posts on issues

Advocates can sign up through an existing organization or individually. Until our beta testing is completed, advocate memberships are currently only available upon request without charge.

Send requests to: Jessler Elvira at jessler.elvira@onair.cc

Become a VA onAir Sponsor

Any organization or business can become a sponsor of this Hub. Sponsors can choose to support the US onAir Network or as specific state Hub, as well as specific operations, such as a District and all the posts within it, an individual politician Post, or a specific Issue Post. We are particularly interested in sponsoring organizations that seek to support student civic engagement, democratic and civil discourse, and the intersection of technology and government. Foreign owned or affiliated organizations are not permitted to be sponsors of any US onAir Hub.

Hub sponsors will be displayed throughout an onAir Hub and its posts. Hub sponsors will have the option to create their own US onAir post or sponsors can have links to their websites or video.

Go to the Become a Sponsor post to support Virginia onAir.

Become a VA onAir Donor

If you are interested in donating to Democracy onAir and the US onAir network, submit the form below.

Donors who want to contribute more than $100, can contact Todd Gillette at todd.gillette@onair.cc. Democracy onAir was chartered in Virginia in 2018 and has obtained 510(c)(3) status.

Donations can made by any individual or foundation that wishes to support the mission of Democracy onAir. Donors can choose to support the entire organization or state Hub, as well as specific operations, such as a District and all the posts within it, an individual politician Post, or a specific Issue Post. Donations, at the donor’s request, can be displayed on the appropriate Hub with links to social networks and/or websites.. Anonymous donations are accepted as long as they are verified as US residents or US-based foundations with no foreign affiliations.

Checks or wire transfers are made out to Democracy onAir. All donations are tax deductible.

Go to the Become a Donor post to donate.

US onAir Network

To reinvigorate our imperiled democracy, US onAir has started 50 curated, media rich online state governance and election Hubs and a central US Hub – us.onair.cc.

US onAir supports the US public to become more informed about and engaged in federal, state, and local politics while facilitating more respectful, civil and positive collaboration.

Become a onAir member

All that is required to be an onAir member is your first and last name, an email address, and your zip code.

Your real name and any other profile information will NOT be displayed unless you choose to do so. Your personal information is NOT shared with any other website or organization.

Go to this post to become a onAir member.

OnAir membership will enable you to:

  • Ask questions, make suggestions, and give endorsements to your representatives and other politicians;
  • Interact directly with Post Authors and Curators giving them feedback, content suggestions, and asking questions,
  • Participate in forum discussions, research studies, and surveys,
  • Be able to ask questions during onAir livestreaming broadcasts

To learn more about this Hub’s features and the organizations supporting this Hub, go to this About US onAir Network post.

Your Hub activity is NOT tracked or shared. Simply visiting any US onAir network Hub also does not expose your identity publicly.

When you submit personal information to Virginia onAir for any purpose, your information will not be sold or shared with any third parties unless you give consent.

You also can, at any time, request that your information be deleted. Such requests will be honored within one business day.

Hub members must be a US resident and/or US Citizen and be 13 years or older.

Learn more about Democracy onAir’s “Privacy Policy”.

Participate in US onAir forums

Any onAir member can request to participate in the audience of an aircast- a livestreamed Zoom meeting.

OnAir members can also add comments to any post that has a asynchronous forum or discussion on various topics relevant to the post.

Curate your US onAir post

If there is post on this Hub about your organization or yourself, you can co-author the post with one of Virginia onAir’s curators.

Contact Kerrie Thompson at kerrie.thompson@onair.cc to curate your post.

Host US onAir aircasts

Politicians and candidates, faculty at universities, colleges, and high schools, and nonpartisan democracy promoting organizations can host an aircast on any topic of their choosing. Aircasts are livestreamed Zoom meetings archived in posts and on YouTube channels.  To learn more about aircasting, watch this video.

Contact Kerrie Thompson at kerrie.thompson@onair.cc to host aircasts.

Intern with US onAir

Democracy onAir welcomes any US citizen to apply for an internship. We require a minimum commitment of 6 hours per week.

We have a special interest in working with undergraduate students majoring in government, communications, media, or a related field with a passion to improve democracy in the US.  Students (and other US citizens) who want to intern with Democracy onAir this fall can submit their resume with an introductory email articulating why you are interested in being a Democracy onAir intern and include a link, if appropriate, to your relevant academic program (internship, capstone project, research project etc.) to: internships@onair.cc. 

To learn more about interning, go to this post.

Become an US onAir Advocate

Advocates of various issues important to US residents will have an opportunity to contribute position papers, reviews, videos, and other types of content related to an issue. As premium members, they will be able to:

  • author new posts on issues
  • co-author existing posts on issues
  • contribute to curated overview posts on issues

Advocates can sign up through an existing organization or individually. Until our beta testing is completed, advocate memberships are currently only available upon request without charge.

Send requests to: Jessler Elvira at jessler.elvira@onair.cc

Become a US onAir Sponsor

Any organization or business can become a sponsor of this Hub. Sponsors can choose to support the US onAir Network or as specific state Hub, as well as specific operations, such as a District and all the posts within it, an individual politician Post, or a specific Issue Post. We are particularly interested in sponsoring organizations that seek to support student civic engagement, democratic and civil discourse, and the intersection of technology and government. Foreign owned or affiliated organizations are not permitted to be sponsors of any US onAir Hub.

Hub sponsors will be displayed throughout an onAir Hub and its posts. Hub sponsors will have the option to create their own US onAir post or sponsors can have links to their websites or video.

Go to the Become a Sponsor post to support Virginia onAir.

Become a US onAir Donor

If you are interested in donating to Democracy onAir and the US onAir network, submit the form below.

Donors who want to contribute more than $100, can contact Todd Gillette at todd.gillette@onair.cc. Democracy onAir was chartered in Virginia in 2018 and has obtained 510(c)(3) status.

Donations can made by any individual or foundation that wishes to support the mission of Democracy onAir. Donors can choose to support the entire organization or state Hub, as well as specific operations, such as a District and all the posts within it, an individual politician Post, or a specific Issue Post. Donations, at the donor’s request, can be displayed on the appropriate Hub with links to social networks and/or websites.. Anonymous donations are accepted as long as they are verified as US residents or US-based foundations with no foreign affiliations.

Checks or wire transfers are made out to Democracy onAir. All donations are tax deductible.

Go to the Become a Donor post to donate.

Fairfax League of Women Voters

We are a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation of citizens in government. We work to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and we influence public policy through education and advocacy.

  • We discuss and study issues of local, national, state and regional concern. We inform ourselves, legislators, and the general public about the results of our research.

  • We monitor elections and government activities.

  • We sponsor candidate debates and community forums about vital issues.

  • We testify at legislative and administrative hearings to insure citizen input in policy making decisions.

  • We publish and distribute issue-oriented material.

  • We advocate, occasionally go to court to help clarify and enforce laws in the public interest.

  • We produce and distribute Voters’ Guides to help citizens to choose a candidate and to be prepared to vote on ballot questions.

  • We get INVOLVED!

We Never Support Nor Oppose Candidates For Office. We Never Support Political Parties. Any Use Of The League Of Women Voters Name In Campaign Advertising Or Literature Has Not Been Authorized By The League

Monthly calendar of events
Action Alerts

Anu Sahai & Nancy Roodberg, Co-Presidents
Email: Contact form
Websitelwv-fairfax.org/

Voting Registration Drives

Upcoming Voter Registration Drives

Drives During The Pandemic

Volunteers the Farmer’s Markets, Food Drives and more. Have an idea or question? Write to Bob Meredith.

We have completed our voter registration drives for the fall of 2020. See you in 2021!

Registering Voters Requires Official Training.

The Virginia Department of Elections requires online Voter Registration training to be renewed each year after July 1st. 

https://www.elections.virginia.gov/registration/registration-drives/voter-registration-training-video/

 1. Watch the online training video (Updated 7/1/20). Certification expires on June 30th each year. Online training must be retaken annually after July 1st.

2. Once you have watched the ELECT certified training video, submit the voter registration application request and affidavit.

Interested In Organizing A Voter Registration Drive Or Have Questions About Volunteering?

The League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area seeks volunteers to register voters at various locations across the county.

For any voter registration question, contact Bob Meredith, our Voter Registration Chair.

Serve as an Election Officer

Election Officers Needed!

The Fairfax County Office of Elections is currently recruiting voters to serve as Election Officers a few days a year. To learn more, go to http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/elections/working.htm

In order to be an Election Officer, you must:

  • Be fluent in English

  • Be a registered voter in the Commonwealth of Virginia

  • Be able to fulfill the Federal I-9 employment eligibility requirements

  • Attend a 3-hour training class

  • Arrive at the polling place at 5:00 am and remain until all work has been completed after the polls close at 7pm

  • Have basic computer skills

The Election Officer’s main priority is to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the election process. A typical Election Day consists of:

  • arriving one hour before polls open to set up voting equipment

  • hanging up pertinent signage

  • preparing the polling room for voting

  • processing voters throughout the day

  • assisting with operating voting equipment

  • securing voting equipment and closing down the polling place at the end of the day

Election Officers are offered a stipend of $175 for serving a full day.

We especially encourage bilingual citizens to serve as we need language assistance in many precincts. Residency in Fairfax County is not required.

It is a wonderful opportunity for those interested in the election process or public service, and we need civic-minded individuals to help make Election Day a success!

To apply, call the office at (703) 324-4735. You can also email elect@fairfaxcounty.gov or visit the Fairfax County Office of Elections for more information.

Webpage

Condo and Community Center Elections

If you are interested in having the League come to facilitate your condo or community center elections, contact our co-presidents, Anu Sahai and Nancy Roodberg.

Condo and Community Center Elections are one of the League’s biggest fundraisers.  If you are interested in volunteering to help out, please see the election calendar below for individual elections.

Webpage

Join the League’s National Lobby Corps!

Join the League’s National Lobby Corps!

Do you love to learn about national public policy? Now’s your chance to serve our country and get a deep dive about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. Become a national League volunteer lobbyist! Learn more about the issues impacting our country and help the League bring bills to U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives. You can bring education to the offices at the capital!

How can you join? Print and fill out the application. Then scan, mail, and/or take a picture of your application. Email scans and pictures of completed applications to the national chair of the Lobby Corps: Jackie Coolidge — jcoolidge@schoolbench.com.

Lobby Corps Application

Opportunities for High School students

We have many opportunities for high school students to volunteer and engage in voter registration activities.  Webpage

Student Volunteer

Interested in volunteering with us? Great! Please write to HSVolunteers@lwv-fairfax.org.

For the March 3rd Presidential Primary, you could create social media.

FCPS Interns

For more about the internship program, write to Beth Tudan, director@lwv-fairfax.org.

More Projects

Learn more about the Fairfax League of Women Voters and their activities at their website

VPAP – Virginia Public Access Project

Source: Webpage

The nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project elevates public understanding of politics and government by organizing and presenting information in ways that are easily accessible and free of partisan bias.
VPAP is fiercely nonpartisan. We do not lobby or take positions on issues. Our singular focus is to give Virginians information they need to make their own decisions.

We were founded in 1997 with one simple premise: If Virginia’s campaign finance system relies upon disclosure, citizens should have the right to know who is giving to whom. Since then, we have expanded our focus to include related topics such as election results, lobbying, the legislative process and redistricting.

Our approach is grounded in verifiable facts drawn directly from government databases. Our integrated methods provide unique and valuable insights into decisions that impact your family and community. Our data visualizations turn complex data into easily digestible information.

In addition, we operate a free news aggregation service. VaNews provides a convenient way to find articles about government and politics that meet high standards for original news reporting.

VPAP’s unique, nonpartisan approach is supported by Republicans and Democrats alike. Our work has won awards from numerous organizations, including the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, the Wilder School of Public Policy at VCU and the Society of Professional Journalists.

Election information

Source: Webpage

Money in VA Politics

Source: Webpage

Engage in Your Democracy 1

General Assembly

Source: Webpage

VPAP Issues

Lobbying

Source: Webpage

Lobbying in Virginia
Those who are paid more than $500 a year to influence legislative or executive actions, including procurement, are required to register annually with the state. Exceptions

Registrations expire each year on April 30. Each year, lobbyists fill out forms intended to disclose the matters they sought to influence, how much they were paid and how much they spent on things such as entertainment. Details

Who Hires Lobbyists?
Some 1,178 clients retained lobbyists in 2019-20.

A Typical Lobbyist’s Portfolio
There were 2,865 individuals who registered to lobby in 2019-20.

Lobbyist Status

Visuals

Source: Webpage

VA News

Source: Webpage

Democracy Squad at GMU

Source: Jennifer Victor page

Why Democracy Squad?

There are three reasons it is important to organize the campus community to engage in politics:

  1. Over the past several years, partisan polarization has contributed to the decline of democratic norms. Political science has shown that democratic institutions fail when citizens and leaders fail to adhere to democratic norms. We can shore up democracy, its institutions and norms, by taking positive actions to reinforce them.
  2. Politics and policy at the federal level are are damaged and gridlocked. We can reinforce democracy by taking actions in our community.
  3. Modern American politics are ugly. Conditions are ripe for misinformation, conspiracy, and sometimes violence. As a campus community, it is important to be a model of positive civic engagement. Democracy Squad highlights partisan-neutral, positive civic participation.

What does Democracy Squad do?

Volunteers in Professor Victor’s Democracy Squad connect through Magnify, a social media application designed to facilitate collective action. Democracy Squad includes a collection of projects, big and small, to help facilitate positive civic engagement on campus. Democracy Squad members can join one another’s projects or event, or post their own. Examples include: attend an open panel or talk on campus, attend a local city council meeting, create an info-graphic about misinformation and post it on social media, create a chalk campaign to thank first responders and essential workers, and more!

Can small, individual acts really reinforce democracy?

Yes. How do I know that small, individual acts can reinforce democracy? Because it’s the only thing that ever has. When combined, small acts of individuals add up to collective action. When people reinforce democratic values, the democracy is strengthened.

What type of small acts are most effective at reinforcing democracy?

To support democracy, take actions that directly impact the sources of polarization: inequalityweak parties, and lack of shared information. The books listed below each category help to explain how trouble in these three areas have contributed to polarization. Taking action to correct these, can counteract polarization. Examples of current Democracy Squad projects that speak to these challenging areas are listed below.

1. Inequality (economic, racial, health, education, environmental, etc.). Polarization rises with inequality. Read more about how inequality contributes to democratic decline in these books:

2. Strong political parties have a moderating effect on political candidates. Strengthen parties that support democratic values. People are attracted to extremism and anti-democratic movements when they feel unrepresented. Change election laws to promote multi-partyism and generate more representation.

3. Bifurcated information environment contributes to polarization.

What has Democracy Squad done?

During the peak of the 2020 election season, George Mason University’s Democracy Squad boasted about 120 members who took more than 100 actions in 48 different local projects. Our movement was noticed by the Mason community and spread to other campuses, including University of Texas, Austin..

GMU Democracy Squad participants showed a 40 percent engagement rate with DS projects.

How do I join Democracy Squad?

Join Democracy Squad by creating an account on Magnify and joining the Democracy Squad organization on Magnify. You can then join a project that is already posted, or create your own project in Democracy Squad. Proposed projects will require approval from Professor Victor. Student generated projects are encouraged and should be consistent with the goals of Democracy Squad: encourage Mason Nation to take positive actions that reinforce democracy, reduce partisan polarization, and support democratic norms and values through civic engagement.

Click Here to Join Democracy Squad

You can also join Democracy Squad using Magnify invite code: “squadgoals.” Democracy Squad is open to any George Mason University student, staff, alumni, or faculty.

Start a Democracy Squad or at another university or in your neighborhood

Source: Webpage

Assignment

To complete this assignment:
1. Use Magnify to establish a Democracy Squad for your neighborhood or community. Seed the organization with a few projects and encourage others to join and post their own projects. Keep the group non-partisan and focused on helping people vote in 2020. Post a screenshot in comments of your new group.
-or-
2. Encourage a friend at another university to start a Democracy Squad on their campus. Post screenshots in comments that show the new commitment or group at another school.

Description

Using social network tools to connect with people about voting and to help people make a plan for voting is what will make this election work. Voting is a social activity and the pandemic presents many barriers for many people. Plus, voting laws are different depending on where you live. Small, local organizations to help citizens exercise their voting rights will make a difference in voter turnout in 2020 and beyond.

Join Faculty Network for Student Voting Rights

Source: Webpage

Assignment

Faculty, go to the website for the Faculty Network for Student Voting Rights and sign up! Join their efforts to promote voting on campus. https://facultyforvotingrights.org/

Description

Faculty, join a national organization for faculty to support student voting rights on their campus. Faculty commit to promoting campus polling stations, absentee voting, and generally supporting student voting rights on their campus. This project is for FACULTY to show their commitment to students.

Register to vote or verify your registration

Assignment

Use this link citizen portal to register to vote in Virginia, or verify your registration:
https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation

Description

It will take you less than five minutes to complete this project. Register to vote or verify that you are registered to vote. Done!

A Healthy Community: Workout Together

Source: Webpage

Assignment

Can you build a healthy community? Democracy starts by building social cohesion. If you are a Mason student, sign up for an exercise class and invite your family or friends to join you. It’s a free resource. A healthy community is one that collaborates, whether that’s with voting or fitness. Sharing events bring us together.

Let us know what you’re doing and send us a photo in the comments!

Description

Are you a Mason student? In case you haven’t already signed up for this free benefit, BurnAlong is a free health and wellness app you have unlimited access to thousands of on-demand and live video classes spanning 45+ health and wellness categories (from cardio to yoga to dance to mindfulness to sleep to nutrition to financial wellbeing to prenatal to kids classes to classes for chronic conditions).

You can take classes alone or you can also invite up to 3 friends and family to join you in a live class – see and hear each other while taking classes together. Again, the service is available free of charge to you and your family members (you can add up to four family members under your account).

Propose your own project or event in GMU Democracy Squad!

Source: Webpage

Assignment

To complete this assignment, propose a new project in GMU Democracy Squad. It can be an event about voting that you want to help promote, or an original idea you have about how to help Mason nation get ready to vote in 2020. Projects must be non-partisan and promote positive campus civic engagement. Post about your new project in comments below so we can see the movement grow.

Description

The more projects there are for students to complete, the more activity, energy, and engagement democracy squad will create. As the projects and engagement grows, more and more of Mason nation will be ready to vote in 2020.

Attend a Meeting: City Council of Fairfax

Source: Webpage

Assignment

Choose a Fairfax City government meeting to participate in (virtually) from the list here: https://www.fairfaxva.gov/services/about-us/city-meetings

Write which meeting you’ll attend in the comments. Post a photo and any thoughts that you have about your experience afterwards!

Description

The City of Fairfax has a council/manager form of government. The mayor and six council members are elected every two years on an at-large, non-partisan basis. The current term expires 6/30/2022.

Participatory democracy requires participation. Sign up to listen to an upcoming city council meeting for the city of Fairfax, VA. Let us know which meeting you’ll be joining in the comments. Take a photo while you’re listening, and share your thoughts!

Run for Student Government

Source: Webpage

Assignment

Sign up to lead. Email sg@gmu.edu to register to run for student government! Leadership starts with you.

Description

Each spring, Student Government hosts an election for Student Body President, Vice President, and 30 Student Senator positions. The Student Body President and Vice President run as a combined ticket and students running for Senate can choose to run alone or with a “coalition” or group of other students (please keep in mind that each member must still be elected). For more information please email sgedc@gmu.edu.

More Projects

Source: Webpage

Democracy Squad at GMU has more national and local projects. Check out the webpage above.

More Organizations

Virginia Government

Source: Website

This website has information on the Executive Branch, Constituent Services, Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch.

Virginia General Assembly

Source: Website

Virginia onAir posts:    VA Senate   VA House of Delegates

Citizen Involvement

Active citizen participation is an integral part of a functioning representative democracy. Members of the General Assembly want and need citizen input when crafting laws. As a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is your right to voice your opinion regarding pending legislation. There are many ways in which citizens can communicate with their legislator; phone calls, letters, email, or through visits to their legislative offices.

A citizen testifying before a committee

As a citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, one of your greatest responsibilities is to help elect the legislators who represent all Virginians. But your role in the democratic process of government does not end at the polls. By sharing your opinions and ideas with your elected officials, you help them resolve issues and evaluate pending legislation.

There are a number of online resources available on the Virginia General Assembly website to assist you in taking an active role in the legislative process:

  • Know who your Senator or Delegate is and how to contact them. If you don’t know who represents you in the Senate and House or Congress, you can find out by using Who’s My Legislator. In addition, a biographical page on each delegate and senator is available from the General Assembly’s homepage.
  • Make sure you understand the legislative process. Even the most basic understanding of the process will help you effectively express your ideas.
  • Contact your Senator or Delegate about a particular issue before the legislature takes action on it. Most matters coming before the legislature are well publicized before session. Using the Legislative Information System (LIS), you can track legislation and review committee agendas prior to a meeting. You can access LIS on the bottom of the General Assembly’s home page.
  • Meetings of the General Assembly are required by law to be open to the public. Citizen testimony in committee and subcommittee is encouraged. Committee and subcommittee chairmen may invite members of the audience to speak for or against proposed legislation. Citizens do not need to register in advance to speak before a committee or subcommittee. Public hearings may require advanced registration. For additional information on testifying before a legislative panel, please see a Tips for Testifying .
  • Lobbyists are individuals who receive compensation or are reimbursed for expenses for representing an organization, association or other group for the purpose of influencing or attempting to influence legislative (or executive) action by means of oral or written communication. Lobbyists play an important role in the legislative process, by providing information on many issues. Virginia law requires lobbyists, with a few exceptions, to register with the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth and file annual reports of their activities. For more information about lobbyist registration, reporting requirements and a searchable database of registered lobbyists by name, principal or disclosure reports, please go to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website.

Virginia21

ABOUT US
Virginia21 empowers college students and young Virginians to be engaged citizens and advocates for issues important to them and Virginia’s future. Founded and led by young people, VA21 envisions a well-educated, prosperous, and civically-engaged Virginia.

Virginia21’s premier student leadership development program attracts community-minded young people who are ready to begin the rewarding process of defining their identities as leaders. Virginia21 provides quality programming featuring elected officials, business leaders, citizen advocates, as well as access to one of Virginia’s largest nonpartisan political networks.

Virginia21 Action, Virginia21’s 501(c)4 affiliate, advocates on behalf of young people around the state to our lawmakers in Richmond. Virginia21 Action advocates for accessible and equitable higher education that leads to a good job, economic prosperity, and a full life here in the Commonwealth. Virginia21 Action also advocates for policies that increase civic engagement and participation, as well as good governance.

Our work ensures that the collective voice of our young people is heard in our local communities, campuses, the state capitol, and beyond. Click here to view our FY20-25 strategic plan.

Virginia Mercury

Source: Website

Virginia Mercury is one of the fews news publishers in Virginia that provides its content freely available under a Create Commons for Non Profits license. Below is from the Virginia Mercury website.

The Virginia Mercury is an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy. From the push to remove Confederate statues to big shifts in health care and energy policy, the Old Dominion is changing. The Mercury aims to bring a fresh perspective to coverage of the state’s biggest issues.

The news outlet, which also features original and guest commentary on a range of topics, is staffed full-time by five veteran Virginia newspaper journalists.

The Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence and are a proud member of the Virginia Press Association.

The Virginia Mercury generally features progressive commentary, though we are open to considering serious submissions on policy issues. We generally do not accept submissions, however, from declared candidates for public office or sitting elected officials. Contact Editor-in-Chief Robert Zullo at commentary@virginiamercury.com with submissions. Please include links and sourcing to expedite fact-checking.

 

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