Welcome to the Observer Corps! Please look over the information below and join us in active participation in our democratic government!
- Learn about the League Of Women Voters Observer Corps
- Learn about Montgomery County Government
- What does an Observer do?
- What do we focus on when we observe a meeting?
- Meeting observation information
- Count me in! How do I join the Observer Corps?
Learn about the League of Women Voters Observer Corps
Join the Montgomery County Observer Corps and learn more about what’s happening at the local school board, county council, planning board, and other local government agencies. AND, in the process, support the League’s work of reaching consensus on and advocating for or against important local policy issues.
Learn about Montgomery County Government
Links to specific Montgomery County government committees, boards, elected officials' pages.
What does an Observer do?
Observer programs, or Observer Corps, are a way for people to exercise their right to know about government agendas, legislation and procedures, providing a valuable service to the community. An observer is an individual who attends a governmental meeting, notes what happens at the meeting and reports back to the League with the prospect of broadcasting the information to the community via newsletters and discussion groups. If this newly collected information is of interest to the League and it’s policy positions, the League will act accordingly.
By attending public government meetings, observers learn more about what their representatives are doing and the issues facing their community. Observers keep elected and appointed officials on notice, letting them know that someone is watching what decisions are being made and how they are being made. Ideally, observers are monitoring both the issues being discussed as well as the process by which they are being discussed. Observer programs must be non-partisan therefore observers are not to provide commentary or testimony at the meetings they observe. Rather, observers attend meetings to gather information.
For more information about the League of Women Voters recommendations for members of the Observer Corps, the document Observing Your Government in Action explains the process and objectives of observing in detail.
Click here for important information about observing governmental meetings.
What do we focus on when we observe a meeting?
The League is interested in both the process of governing as well as the content. In observing process, some things to look for are: was an agenda posted, did members of the public attend the meeting, was there anyone from the press attending, was the meeting conducted properly?
When observing the content of the meeting, the League is interested in local issues of particular concern to the public, as well as issues that are related to positions taken by the League of Women Voters of Montgomery County.
Meeting observation information
- WE ARE OBSERVING. Only the president or her/his designee, speaks for the League.
- We are the eyes and ears of the League. We're the first line for conveying information that impacts League positions to League leaders. What we see and hear can lead to League action.
- Feel free to introduce yourself to the governmental body you are observing and to wear a League of Women Voters badge to identify yourself as a member of the League. LWV badges may be picked up at our office. Please call the office at 301-984-9585 in advance for office hours. Address: LWVMC 12216 Parklawn Drive, Suite 105, Rockville, MD 20852-1710
- Since we represent the League, we must be on our best nonpartisan behavior.
- The LWV of Montgomery County document Know Your County has websites and names of government entities you may want to observe. Visit the websites and choose the entity (committee, council, commission, etc.) you want to observe. Contact the Observer Corps Coordinator to get more information and to notify the LWV that you will be attending the next meeting.
- Check the website for the government entity for a copy of the agenda and information on the members of the entity.
- Some government entities broadcast and record their meetings, so you can virtually "attend" some meetings by playing the video.
- Complete an observation form for each meeting that you observe, whether in person or virtually. You may print the form and mail it to the address on the form.
- Keep your own file with agendas and notes. You may want to write a brief article for the newsletter!
- Please let the Observer Corps Coordinator know about your experience. We want to know about your excitement and your frustrations.
- Enjoy yourself as you learn more about how government works and pass along any ideas you have to help the observer corps be a par of our organization.
Observer Corps Coordinator:
Count me in! How do I join the Observer Corps?
Fill in the volunteer form, you will be contacted by the volunteer coordinator.