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10 Ways to Honor the Anniversary of the 19th Amendment

10 Ways to Honor the Anniversary of the 19th Amendment

The fight for women’s rights in America is as old as our young nation. It was just months before we declared our independence from Great Britain that Abigail Adams implored her husband, John Adams, to “remember the ladies” while writing our country’s new code of laws.

Nearly 150 years would pass after Abigail Adams wrote these words that the United States would give women the right to vote. And even then, equality at the ballot box was not extended to all women.

Today marks 99 years since the ratification of the historic 19th Amendment, which states that the right to vote cannot be denied based solely on one’s sex. In the fight for access to the ballot boxes, generations of women before us lobbied, marched, protested and in some cases were jailed and participated in hunger strikes. Labeled radicals and agitators, these women were ridiculed and resisted almost every step along the way, sacrificing for something that too many of us now take for granted.

Though this was a monumental victory in our nation’s history, it’s important to note that the 19th Amendment did not apply equally to all women. It would be decades more before the same privilege extended to other ethnicities.  Intimidation, poll taxes, and literacy exams were examples of impediments on the liberties of minorities trying to exercise their same right to vote. Native American and Asian American women would face citizenship issues for years. African American women would not see true progress until the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights of 1965.

And yet, the fight for voting rights is still far from over. Voter suppression efforts are keeping people from the ballot box throughout the country with the rise of intentional barriers such as voter ID and proof-of-citizenship laws, the reduction of early voting and polling hours, gerrymandering, and even the purging of registered voters from polls. Thwarting Americans from casting a ballot is counter to the republican ideals set forth in the Constitution.

With so many competing issues that need our attention, such as climate change, reproductive rights, immigration and more, it’d be easy to dismiss voting rights as yet another cause to care about on the laundry list of things under attack. However, it’s important to note that all of the other causes can be strengthened by, and in some cases may be dependent on, voting. Who gets to exercise their right and who actually shows up to cast a ballot, can be the determining factor. Voting rights should be a priority for all citizens, no matter the cause that drives them to the polls.

As we lead up to the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, it’s important that we carry on the work of women before us. The fight for the right to vote is still critical, so if you want pay homage to the women like Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, and Ida B. Wells, to name a few, consider engaging in one of the actions below. These women deserve to have us continue their fight.

And to continue with the words of Mrs. Abigail Adams, let us not forget that “if particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion.”

  1. Become a Voter Deputy Registrar. Registering new voters is one of the most impactful actions you can take. Go where the people are, particularly the non-voters, and get creative. Consider a naturalization ceremony, public transit stop, or your local college.  Turn a day at the beach into an opportunity to meet the people around you and spread encourage civic engagement.

  2. Donate and volunteer for campaigns who will fight for voter rights. Before you cast your vote for a candidate, ensure they will not hinder or suppress the vote.

  3. Support organizations taking on the challenge. Efforts by voting rights voting rights groups such as Let America Vote, the ACLU, and the League of Women Voters often rely on volunteers and financial contributions in order to do their work, so take a moment to find a chapter near you today.

  4. Write to your representatives. Put the pressure on our leaders and let them know you support voting initiatives such as automatic automatic voter registration, expanding early voting, and voter restoration efforts.

  5. Organize.  Bring your networks together to support in any of the above efforts. Same-day voter registration or other voting rights initiatives will not be a reality unless we are organized and demand it.

  6. Volunteer to be a poll watcher. If you see something during elections that you think will keep people from voting, speak up and take action.

  7. Become a census volunteer. The 2020 Census is around the corner and though citizenship status will not be asked, there is still a high level of fear and distrust in many communities on how this data could be used. Census data is important for the allocation of representatives and funding for a district, among many other things, so work to push participation in your area.

  8. Write an op ed or get media attention. Your local, state and federal official keep tabs on what their constituents are demanding, so be sure to take up space in the papers they read or the channels they watch so they know this is a priority in their district.

  9. Run for office. Make the difference by being the decision maker.

  10. And, of course, VOTE. Since 1980, women have had a greater turn out at the polls than men, but with less than half of eligible women voting during non-presidential elections, it’s important to encourage engagement during local elections and midterms.

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