What is Consensus?

The League of Women Voters takes actions, based on our positions on various issues, which influence public policy.

The Process:  Issue ─ Study ─ Consensus ─ Position ─ Action

  1. Issue - The process begins with the selection of an issue. These issues may address any level of public policy.

  2. Study - The next step is the creation of a Study of the issue. Studies (whether national, state, or local) are a defined process lasting one to three years, during which facts and details, both positive and negative, are revealed. The purpose of a study, at any level, is to educate members so that they can be informed participants in consensus and provide the necessary data for formulating the ultimate position.

  3. Consensus - Study committee members frame consensus questions that are then asked of the chapter membership as part of a study kit. Consensus is the overall decision-making process by which substantial agreement among members is reached on an issue.

  4. Position - For a statewide issue, members in each county or city league meet locally, discuss the questions, and try to reach consensus on them. These local results are then compiled at the state level. If 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."   

  5. Action - Firm action can then be taken on the issue addressed by the position that will be directed towards influencing public policy. Actions may include testifying before a political body, letters, emails, petitions, letters to the editor, meetings with public officials, and other common but non-partisan activities. Without a position, action cannot be taken on that issue.