Montana Women Vote (MWV) is a coalition of non-profit women’s organizations working statewide to engage low-income women in the democratic process through leadership development, voter engagement, and policy advocacy. MWV works with low-income women, women in the LGBTQ community, Native women, and their allies, to fight for health care access, reproductive rights, economic justice, and violence prevention.
The founding organizations created MWV in 2000 in response to the profound lack of support and attention by elected officials for women’s, particularly low-income women’s, concerns. The coalition realized the low-income women they served had a very low voter turnout rate (30-40 percent — about half of Montana’s average turnout). This low turnout meant low-income women had little say in electing their representatives and in turn, elected officials felt little accountability to support issues important to them.
Apathy is not the root of this situation. Rather, we find women do not participate because they have not yet connected how policy affects their daily lives; they lack the information they need to feel like informed voters or policy advocates; they do not feel welcome to participate; and/or they face logistical challenges in getting to the polls. By registering, educating and mobilizing unlikely Montana women voters into a formidable voting block that supports real progressive policy change, Montana Women Vote helps empower women to make positive change in their communities and our state.
Over the past several election cycles Montana Women Vote has registered over 12,500 unlikely voters, a large majority being low-income women, and achieved a 77% turnout rate. MWV has distributed voter guides informing of candidates positions and ballot initiatives that impact low-income women to over 30,000 Montanans. Montana Women Vote also develops comprehensive legislative policy agendas and carries the energy of this engaged voting block into the state legislature to advance policies supporting women and families in the areas of economic security, reproductive health care, domestic violence and sexual assault, health care, human rights, and environmental health.