I will never forget the mnemonic from my seventh grade history class: “Amendment 19, in 1919, gave women the right to vote.” It is not totally accurate (although the House and Senate passed the amendment in 1919, it did not get ratified until 1920). But it did work. I still remember how it felt when I first learned that if I had been born 100 years earlier, I would not have been able to vote: I simply couldn’t believe that such backward ideas about women were persuasive in recent history.
It wasn’t until August 26, 1920 that a woman’s right to vote became law in the U.S. Yesterday, August 26, was Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the passage of the 19th Amendment and recognizing women’s ongoing fight for equal rights. It is a day both to remember the tremendous work of women like Susan B. Anthony, Ida B. Wells, and Alice Paul to win the right to vote, and a day to redouble our efforts to combat modern-day attempts to take the right to vote away from us.
With the election looming in November, a wave of restrictive voting laws have cropped up across the country. By design, these laws make it more difficult for certain groups of voters to exercise the right to vote. Women are among those voters hit hardest by the restrictive voting laws. Among other things, the laws require voters to produce photo ID and proof of citizenship, which is often costly for women, many of whom do not have ID in their current legal names.
A Woman’s Guide to Voter Suppression, a fact sheet released by NWLC today, details the ways that women may be affected at the polls this November. Got married or divorced recently? Go to school outside of your home state? Maybe your grandmother no longer has a state-issued ID? Now is the time to make sure you (and your friends and family!) understand the voting regulations in your state so that you are ready to make your voice heard. Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE to find out more about what you need to vote, or to report any voting problems.
What better way to celebrate Women’s Equality Day than to make sure you are prepared to exercise your rights?
Check out our Voter Education page to find out more about why women should vote.