What's On Our Mind ...
This week marked the 101st anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. It was a 72-year effort that began in 1848 after the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY. The convention included a resolution that women should seek the right to vote.
While women’s right to vote is now enshrined in our nation’s Constitution, women are still being denied access to the ballot box. To date, 18 states have enacted 30 laws that make it harder for Americans — especially women — to vote.
Many of these laws require voters to present ID at the polls. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, one third of all women have documents that do not identically match their current names primarily because of name changes at marriage. Women are constantly being turned away away from the polls because they don’t have precisely the right documents.
These 18 states have been permitted to enact laws contrary to the1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA) because a 2013 Supreme Court ruling gutted many of the VRA protections. Today voter suppression laws are being enacted at a record pace continuing to disenfranchise women and minorities.
Rep. Terri Sewell (D-GA) and her House colleagues are trying to change that. Standing on the historically significant Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, AL, where the fight for voting rights reached a violent pinnacle, she introduced the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (HR4).
HR 4 would again prohibit states and localities with a recent history of voter discrimination from restricting the right to vote. Those states would be subject to federal oversight, as the bill reinstates those requirements of the VRA.
John Lewis said, “Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime.” We therefore we must continue to work harder for voting rights. Resignation is not an option because voting matters.
It was the vote of one Tennessee state representative that decided Tennessee would become the critical 34th state needed to finally ratify the 19th Amendment.
Every vote counts.