On this day in 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified, granting American women the right to vote.
Ninety-seven years later, however, we are still fighting for equal access at the ballot box—and an alarming trend threatens to roll back what we’ve achieved across the last century. That’s why the work of the League of Women Voters continues, and that’s why Americans everywhere must remain vigilant in protecting their role in our democracy.
In recent years, we have seen dangerous rollbacks to voting rights at the state and federal levels. In 2013 the Supreme Court discarded key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the case of Shelby v. Holder. This decision opened the door for states to pass more restrictive voting laws, making it more difficult for Americans to vote.
In the four years since the Shelby decision, states have pushed more onerous and restrictive photo ID requirements and purged eligible, registered voters from the polls – actions that would have been prevented under the Voting Rights Act prior to the Supreme Court decision.
The 2016 election was the first presidential race in 50 years without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act, and we felt that impact.
In Ohio, 400,000 registered voters across the state were purged from the rolls without notice. In Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin, the period of early voting was cut down to mere days. Across the country, there were more than 800 fewer polling locations to cast a vote in 2016 compared to 2012 and 2014.
Attacks on our voting rights continue to grow.
We’ve seen the Trump Administration make dangerous and unsubstantiated claims that millions of illegal votes were cast in the last election. We’ve seen a commission established for the sole purpose of reducing the number of Americans who are registered to vote. And just last week, the Justice Department escalated the voter suppression agenda by reversing their position on the Ohio voter purge.
Even as we celebrate the anniversary of the 19th Amendment today, and we reflect on the Americans who fought for the right to vote, too many people are losing confidence in our elections. A new poll last week found that more than half of likely American voters say voter fraud is at least a somewhat serious problem in America today.
This is NOT the case.
The real problems with our election system are polling place closures, cuts to early voting, restrictive voter ID laws and the illegal purge of registered voters.
This administration’s so-called “Election Integrity” Commission is laying the groundwork to roll back voting rights even farther. That is exactly why we must be vigilant and fight back.
Do not be intimidated by this Commission’s false accusations about voter fraud. Do not let their agenda threaten your ability to exercise your right to vote.
Voting is what brings us together as Americans.
The vote of the poorest citizen is equal to the vote of the wealthiest citizen. Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy and should be a moment at which we are all equal.
The League of Women Voters was founded in 1920 – just six months before the 19th Amendment was passed and ratified. Our mission at the time was to help 20 million women carry out their new responsibilities as voters.
Today, we are still committed to helping voters make informed decisions and fighting to make sure our elections remain as free, fair and transparent as possible.
Today, celebrate the 19th Amendment by registering to vote or helping an eligible voter get registered.