Queen of Voting Sylvia Levin Dies at Age 91

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Nov. 4, 2008: Voting booths displace barber chairs at a polling place at the Ven-Mar barber shop in Los Angeles' Venice district.

    A Santa Monica woman who set the record for registering voters in California -- and perhaps the United States -- has died after suffering a stroke.

    Sylvia Levin, who was 91, died Thursday.

    She is credited with registering more than 47,000 voters since 1973.

    "It helps when eligible citizens become voters. No matter what the issues are -- such as the environment, the war in Iraq, Social Security, health care -- citizens are involved. You keep the power to vote forever," Levin said in 2007.

    Former White House senior staffer Robert Weiner, a close family friend, said he recently accompanied Levin as she registered voters. He recalled a middle-aged man coming up to their table and saying to her, "I've been looking to register to vote and you're like a mirage, I found you."

    Weiner said Friday, "she was a model of love and passion for our country and for improving it, sitting at her table registering more voters than anyone in California history, maybe even U.S. history, right through the age of almost 92."

    "What a model of aging with mission intact, and the mission itself is a wonderful message to do what we can, always, and to be involved in our politics and government," he added.

    Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, said in the congressional record in 1997, Levin "has done more to increase voter participation than virtually anyone we know."

    Levin was inducted into the Voter Participation Hall of Fame in 2001. Secretary of State Bill Jones and then-Assemblyman and Los Angeles City Councilman-elect Paul Koretz cited her "longstanding leadership and exemplary voter outreach efforts in registering Californians to vote."

    In 2007, on her 90th birthday, the Los Angeles City Council awarded Levin with a commendatory resolution citing her work "registering voters for decades, her belief in the Constitution and making the Constitution work."

    Levin registered voters in front of the Westwood Post Office, the Malibu Post Office, Sunya Currie on Abbot Kinney in Venice, and Westwood Village Farmers Market.

    Her son, Chuck Levin, estimates she spoke with more than 470,000 people, trying to convince them to take part in the electoral process.

    A public tribute and memorial is planned for September. Donations on her behalf may be made to the nonprofit organization The First Vote, P.O. Box 241870, Los Angeles, CA 90024.