Our History On Voting
We believe in the power of women to create a more perfect democracy.
Things that definitely happened
White women win the right to vote
The 19th Amendment Ratified on August 26 The path to women’s suffrage was complicated, and sometimes ugly. History books tend mostly to credit the courage and tenacity of white women. It is past time to amend the history books and tell the real story of the suffrage movement. It is past time we all celebrate the women of color who were at the center of the movement alongside their white counterparts. And it is past time for our country to acknowledge that when the 19th Amendment was ratified, many women still weren’t able to cast a ballot because of Jim Crow laws that denied them full enfranchisement.
Asian Americans win the right to vote
Citizenship and ability to vote are inextricably intertwined. Without one, the other is impossible to achieve. And until 1952, federal policy barred immigrants of Asian descent from becoming U.S. citizens and having access to the vote. Today, as the nation’s fastest growing racial group, Asian Americans are quickly becoming an electoral force at the polls, making it imperative for Asian Americans to remain vigilant and active in ensuring the right to vote.
The Native American Vote was won in all states
Denial of citizenship, property requirements, and sanctioned violence against voters barred Native Americans from the polls. Literacy tests were used to disenfranchise racial minorities as late as 1970.
African Americans win the right to vote
Now, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t celebrate all the amazing women who fought for the 19th Amendment. We should. But in doing so, let us also ensure significant black suffragists like Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, and Mary Church Terrell have their place in history, a place equally as prominent as that of white suffrage leaders. Famous photographs of suffrage marches and historic meetings often failed to capture the many African American women who fought equally as courageously as white women to win the vote. Every little girl should learn about women’s history in America and see themselves represented, and not only during Black History Month. Women of color, especially those in the south, did not have full voting rights. Poll taxes and literacy tests deliberately kept African Americans from fully participating in democracy until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The U.S. Supreme Court rolled back voter protections in the Voting Rights Act in the Shelby County v. Holder decision
Since that time, we have seen countless attacks on the right to vote—too often targeting racial minorities, as has been the case throughout our country’s history. In the aftermath of that decision, we have seen rollbacks to early voting, unjust voter purges, and strict voter photo ID laws that make it harder for young people, women, people of color, and individuals with low incomes to register and exercise their right to vote.
Women’s Equality Day
Celebrating 100 years since the 19th Amendment to the US constitution was adopted guaranteeing women the right to vote. So, as we celebrate this great achievement, we do so with recognition that women’s suffrage was not perfect. Progress towards a more perfect democracy is often messy, but we can’t allow the ends to justify the means, especially if perpetuates oppression. Let us use the lessons of our history to inform our present and our future. Let us seek out ways to ensure all eligible voters have their voices heard and their votes counted.
Did You Know...
Learn more about LWV, voting, and much more..
When was the Women's Suffrage movement founded?
1920 — 2020
The LWV was founded 100 years ago. We believe in the power of women to create a more perfect democracy. That's been our vision since 1920, when the League of Women Voters was founded by leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. For 100 years, we have been a nonpartisan, activist, grassroots organization that believes voters should play a critical role in democracy.
What is the 19th Amendment?
the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted, guaranteeing women the right to vote. This major milestone in the history of our democracy was achieved over decades, even beyond the lifetimes of some of its greatest champions. Passing an amendment to the Constitution is no small feat; after all, it’s only happened 27 times in our country’s history. But as we kick off the centennial year of women winning the right to vote, we must not romanticize the story of the 19th Amendment. The truth is that it did not break down voting barriers for all women—and even today, there is more work to be done.
What is the origin of suffrage?
The origin of “suffrage” is not suffering, although plenty of people suffered in the pursuit of suffrage. It derives from the Latin suffragium, meaning a vote or a right to vote. It can also mean a prayer of intercession, certainly an apt description given the many groups of people who have prayed for the right to vote.
When were Native Americans granted the right to vote in all states? It was 1957.
Native people won citizenship in 1924, but the struggle for voting rights stretched on much longer. Native Americans were only able to win the right to vote by fighting for it state by state. The last state to fully guarantee voting rights for Native people was Utah in 1962. Despite these victories, Native people were still prevented from voting with poll taxes, literacy tests and intimidation—the same tactics used against black voters.
Native Americans Weren't Guaranteed the Right to Vote in Every State Until 1962
Education for voters, why does it matter?
The leaders we elect make decisions that affect our daily lives. Elections are our chance to stand up for what matters most to us and to have an impact on the issues that affect us, our communities, our families and our future.
Why is it important to increase voter registration?
Every eligible voter - especially first-time voters, non-college, new citizens, and low income Americans, should have a fair and equal opportunity to register to vote and to cast their ballot.
Millions of Americans miss the opportunity to vote because they don’t know how to register or they miss their state’s deadline to register.
Voters can trust in the safety and security of the mail-in voting process, regardless of recent politicized claims to the contrary. Since 2000, more than 250 million votes have been cast via mailed-out ballots in all 50 states, according to the National Vote at Home Institute.
Nellie Davis Tayloe Ross was an American politician, the 14th governor of Wyoming from 1925 to 1927 and first female director of the United States Mint from 1933 to 1953. She was the first woman to be sworn in as governor of a U.S. state, and remains the only woman to have served as governor of Wyoming.
Ross served five terms as Director of the US Mint, retiring in 1953. During her later years, she wrote for various women's magazines and traveled. Ross died in Washington, D.C., at the age of 101.
July 26 marks 100 days before the 2020 Election on November 3. As the League of Women Voters celebrates 100 years, and next month marks 100 years since the 19th Amendment was ratified, here are 100 ways to take action, get involved, and make a difference before Election Day!
Everyone can do something—what will you do?
As Americans go to the polls this Tuesday, they’ll likely also see which of their friends are doing the same, as their Facebook and Twitter feeds are overrun by “I Voted” sticker selfies.
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