Following the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, women spent over seven decades tirelessly campaigning and organizing in efforts to secure the right to vote. Success came when Congress passed, and President Woodrow Wilson signed, the 19th Amendment in 1920. But women’s work did not stop there.
Today, women continue to empower our electorate and democracy. In every presidential election since 1996, voter turnout rates for women have exceeded the rates for men, with women casting between 4 and 7 million more votes than men in recent elections. Yet women remain underrepresented in elected office, and women are disproportionately affected by discriminatory voter photo ID laws.
Since 1920, groups like the League of Women Voters have worked hard to remove these barriers to the ballot box—not only for women, but for all voters. Ninety-five years after women won the vote, the fight for equality continues. Read on to see how!
Fighting to Protect Voting Rights
Rooted in the movement that secured women the right to vote, the League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 to help empower new women voters. Ninety-five years later, the League continues to stengthen our democracy by helping to ensure equal access to the polls for all eligible voters. The League joins groups like the NAACP, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights in fighting voter discrimination measures, some of which disproportionately affect women, low-income, minority and elderly voters.
Helping Improve Our Nation’s Elections
Today’s women are busier than ever. More and more women are becoming breadwinners, yet they’re still putting more hours into household chores and childcare than are men. When it comes to voting, this means women, especially those of whom are low-income, need more flexible options to cast their ballots. Reforms to expand early voting and increase absentee voting opportunities help give women and others the flexibility they need to vote.
Women won the vote, and now we must use it! The first step? Registering to vote. Today’s women register to vote at higher rates than men. By voting, women can make sure that our leaders in Washington focus on their needs. Do you or someone you know need to register? Take a moment to visit VOTE411.org to register or update your voter registration record!
Empowering Young Women
Today, young women are driving voter turnout. Since 1972, when 18- and 19-year-olds won the right to vote, young women have been more likely than young men to vote. In 2012, over 48 percent of young, single women turned out to vote, compared to about 40 percent of young, single men.
Creating a Better Future
As more than half of all voters, women can play a powerful role in expressing the importance of voting and mobilizing voters. According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), parents have a huge impact in motivating young people to vote. Encourage the women in your life to bring their children, grandchildren or neighbor’s children with them to the polls to help foster important habits. Together, we’re creating a healthy democracy and brighter future for all!
Ninety-five years after women won the vote, there remains more work to be done to ensure equal access to the ballot for all. Much like the brave suffragists who fought for the vote nearly a century ago, many women today are refusing to remain silent in the face of voter discrimination.
“The vote is the emblem of your equality, women of America, the guarantee of your liberty,” said Carrie Chapman Catt, founder of the League of Women Voters, upon passage of the 19th Amendment. Go forth and use it!
The League of Women Voters is celebrating 95 years of Making Democracy Work® at every level of government. In 1920, the League was founded as an outgrowth of the movement that secured women the right to vote to help new voters engage with their government. Today, the League empowers all voters to improve their local, state and national government. Learn more about the League of Women Voters and join our celebration!
All photos used with permission from the League of Women Voters.
Renee Davidson is a feminist writer and activist living in DC. Her work has been published by Salon, Bitch, PolicyMic, Fem2pt0 and more. Follow her at @reneetheorizes.