Project Elect: Women in Public Service is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization launching with the primary goal of supporting women members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they seek public office.
Among the many organizations helping women run for political office, Project Elect is uniquely poised to address the barriers that prevent Latter-day Saint women from seeing themselves as eligible for public office. Project Elect is unique in its focus on developing political candidates from among the deep bench of Latter-day Saint women qualified for public service. We focus our efforts on finding these women, who often have not considered running for office, and encouraging and supporting them to become involved in public service.
We believe many members have too long overlooked running for public office, which is a critical opportunity for godly service. And yet, Church leaders have frequently called for members to be more involved in public service. For example, in a recent General Conference, in addition to noting the role citizens can play in affecting government by voting, communicating with political leaders, and donating to political parties, etc., Pres. Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency said, “In the United States and in other democracies, political influence is exercised by running for office (which we encourage). . . .”
Women specifically are underrepresented in political office. And Latter-day Saint women, even more so. We believe that women need to be at the table in government offices. Women need to be a greater part of the discussion, they need to be much more involved in the community decision making process.
Project Elect is a nonpartisan organization and will help women across the political spectrum.
Women members of the Church already know about their communities’ problems and strengths. They already have ideas on how to solve them. They have deep networks. They already have the experience and skills they need to be incredible elected officials. Church volunteer service gives most members unusually meaningful experience developing the skills necessary for quality political service. Latter-day Saint women aren’t just talented and competent, they are also compassionate and empathetic and good listeners. This makes Latter-day Saint women ideal candidates — they just might need a push to recognize that fact!
No, we are not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are faithful members of the Church who believe that church leaders have been clear in their call for more members to run for public office and be involved with their communities. We are working to answer that call.
Project Elect is a stand-alone organization. We are not affiliated with MWEG or any other group or organization. However, we do partner with many other groups, including MWEG, Utah Women & Leadership Project, Real Women Run, etc. to reach as many Latter-day Saint women as possible in order to accomplish our mission. We may host events with other organizations, update our members on research or events held by organizations with overlapping missions, send our members to other groups for training, etc. We partner with groups from across the political spectrum, as well as other nonpartisan groups, like ourselves.
Of course we want more women to run for office! Our society benefits when we have elected officials who are more representative of the populace — and getting more women and minorities into elected positions is crucial to reaping those benefits. There are so many amazing organizations that are supporting women who run for office right now, and we support those organizations, and hope to partner with some of them. But we believe that Latter-day Saint women needed a group to focus on the specific cultural barriers that hold them back from running for office — while also highlighting their unique qualifications and skills to run for office. We wanted to encourage women to run from a gospel perspective, and explain all the ways public service fits into gospel living and point out how often our leaders have encouraged faithful members to get involved in community affairs.
Although we think it is great when members of our Church of any gender run for office, if you look at the number of men in our Church who have held higher political office vs the number of women — there is clearly a large discrepancy. We think women members need a little more of a push to convince them to run.
Project Elect is not going to take any positions on public policy — unless those policies very directly help elect more Latter-day Saint women to office. We are not going to be commenting on the issues of the day, we’re interested in offering our support to women of diverse political views, and so we remain neutral on the hot-button topics.