For many Westerly Sun readers, all eyes are on the activities related to Westerly’s 350th anniversary activities, especially the upcoming Olde Tyme Fair on Aug. 24. But the League of Women Voters (LWV) would like to remind readers of another anniversary: 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — the amendment that gave women in the U.S. the right to vote. While the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1790, this document did not provide voting rights for women. One-hundred-and-thirty years later, in 1920, after a fight of over 72 years, women were finally accorded equal rights with men in the voting booth.
The LWV and the passage of the 19th amendment are intertwined. The League was founded in 1920, six months before the ratification of the 19th amendment, by Carrie Chapman Catt during a convention of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The nonpartisan League was founded to provide the education and experience the public needed to assure the success of democracy. Today, we continue in that tradition, and in 2020 the League will sponsor a series of programs to commemorate the suffrage movement and the ratification of the 19th amendment on Aug. 18, 2020.
At the Olde Tyme Fair, the South County Chapter of the LWV invites all who attend to visit their booth. League members in period costumes will be educating attendees on what it took for women to win the right to vote. Our booth will have a modern voting machine where you can vote in the 1920 election with the ballot headlined by Warren Harding (Republican) vs. James Cox (Democrat) running for president.
At the booth, take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the League, sign up for membership, and register to vote. Today’s LWV welcomes men and students as members and dues are a modest $50 per year. The LWV meets monthly the second Wednesday of the month at the Dime Bank, 131 Franklin St., Westerly. More information may be found at lwvri.org.
The writer is the vice president of the League of Women Voters South County.