Sylvia Levin, a longtime Santa Monica resident who was recognized for setting a California record by registering more than 47,000 people to vote, has died. She was 91.
Levin died Thursday, June 25th from complications of a stroke she had suffered on May 18th, her son Chuck Levin said.
The Los Angeles City Council honored Sylvia on her 90th birthday September 14th, 2007 with a resolution commemorating her setting the all-time California record for registering voters. Officials note that it is perhaps a national record.
Levin set up a table six days a week to register voters in front of the Westwood Post Office, the Malibu Post Office, on Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice, and the Westwood Village Farmers Market. Every week at each location, she registered voters and answered questions on a nonpartisan basis.
“It gives me the pleasure and the honor to give them that service,” Levin told The Argonaut following her 90th birthday. “Democracy rests on our involvement and constant participation.”
According to Chuck Levin, 62, also of Santa Monica, Sylvia spoke with more than 470,000 people since she began in 1973. Levin encouraged everyone, regardless of party, to participate in the democratic process.
“She had dedicated herself to registering voters for nearly four decades, walking and taking the bus to each location,” said Chuck Levin, a political consultant. “She lived a long and full life of adventure and grace, of simplicity and openness, of love and hope. No regrets and no fear.”
Congressman Henry Waxman spoke of Levin in the Congressional Record in 1997, saying, “She has done more to increase voter participation than virtually anyone we know.”
The June 14th, 2007 issue of Malibu Magazine named her “Best Patriot.”
In 1996, Third District Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky arranged for the county to give her a plaque in recognition of her “outstanding service.”
Robert Weiner, former chief of staff of the U.S. House Aging Committee under Chairman Claude Pepper and a close Levin family friend, said “She was a model of love and passion for our country and for improving itÖ sitting at her table registering more voters than anyone in California history, maybe even U.S. history, right up until her May 18th hospitalization at 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.”
During this decade, after a stroke, colon cancer, and a broken hip, Levin came back from each, to continue her commitment to register voters.
Levin is survived by son Chuck Levin, daughter Susan Levin, and sisters Dottie Sadowsky of Manhattan, and Daisy Neustadt of Willingboro, New Jersey.
A private funeral is being held by the family and a public tribute and memorial is being planned for September. Donations on her behalf may be made to The First Vote, PO Box 241870, Los Angeles, CA 90024.