An Observer attends, watches or listens to a government meeting. You’ll see who is there, what they are doing, the process they use, what decisions are made, and what actions are taken. You can do this on your own, to whatever standards you set.
Want Help Getting Started?
Register for one of our online trainings. All are welcome, whether you live in San Francisco or not.
Anyone Can Be An Observer
- You don’t have to be an expert.
- Just listen, watch or use TTY — we recommend not speaking.
- You don’t need to go to every meeting or even entire meetings. Many meetings are live online and recorded, so you can pick how to attend (in-person meetings are discouraged during the pandemic).
- You can observe alone or with other observers.
You Can Choose
- Learn what your government is doing.
- Learn about the issues covered in the meeting.
- Tell people you know about what government is doing in person, or on your blog or social media. You have the choice to file your report with the League, or not (here is our Observer Reporting Form).
- Meet government officials, the media, community groups, and your neighbors.
- Protect everyone’s right to public records and meetings just by being there!
- It isn’t required, but we’d love for you to fill out the Observer Reporting Form during or after each meeting. We’ll take a look at your report and, if you’re willing, might offer to publish it here (you’ll see quite a few “General Member of the Public” reports on our site). We never publish anything without your permission! And we don’t guarantee we’ll publish all reports.
What is an Official League Observer?
If you’re willing to meet League requirements, you can work with us to be an Official League Observer. In addition to the above, you’ll report back to the League about the meetings you observe and your report may be published as an Official League Observer Report.
Requirements of Official League Observers
- Be a League member.
- Complete the League Observer training.
- Work with another League Official Observer (at least initially) as “buddies” to support each other. The co-leads will let you know when you’re ready to be an Official League Observer, usually after you’ve observed a series of meetings and had several reports published.
- Disclose all related advocacy, lobbying and party-affiliated activities so that the League can determine whether you are eligible to be an observer.
- Work with us to coordinate the best meeting(s) for you to attend.
- Have the League officially email the government body you’ll observe in advance of the meeting, introducing you.
- Research the government meeting you will observe.
- Wear your League Observer button (our logo on this site) to the meeting (if in person).
- Do not provide comments on behalf of the League: no informal comments, formal testimony, or media statements.
- Fill out the Observer Reporting Form during or after each meeting.
- Once your form is reviewed by LWVSF, we’ll post it here. Or even better, you can set up a Medium account and post it yourself for LWVSF to publish.
- Once your report is online on this site, you might want to send the government body the link to your report.
About the League
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, multi-issue organization that encourages your informed and active participation in government. The League works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Observers are part of our mission: you ensure government transparency and accountability.
We have more training materials and are eager to answer questions!