LWV Article for The Bottom Line June 2019

 Forward! Wisconsin FIRSTTO RATIFY - 19th Amendment

By Jo Bailey, Member - League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield Counties

Did any of you voters (or even non-voters) know that The Nineteenth Amendment (XIX) to the US Constitution prohibits the states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex?  It was ratified on August 18, 1920 and certified by the US Secretary of State on August 26, 1920.

 Passage of the 19th Amendment is a legendary and multifaceted story.  The final struggle in passage began in 1916 amid the movement's divided strategies of state vs. federal suffrage efforts and moderate vs. more militant tactics. By 1916, several states had already granted women the right to vote, beginning with Wyoming in 1889.  Women in states that had passed presidential suffrage would work to pass federal suffrage.

 U.S. entry into WWI produced assurance that women would work to keep up the economy running during the war.  President Wilson was persuaded and pledged his support to the 19thAmendment granting the right for women to vote.  The House of Representatives measure passed 304-89. Two weeks later it passed the Senate and the amendment was sent to the states for ratification.

 As we approach the 100thanniversary of women’s right to vote, one of our goals is to shed light on Wisconsin’s role in that story.   On June 10, 1919, the Wisconsin legislature cast an historic vote to ratify the 19thAmendment and became the first state to deliver a correct certificate of ratification to the State Department at Washington, D.C. (Illinois actually ratified earlier, however an error in paperwork ensured Wisconsin’s place in history.)

 Did you know that our Local League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield Counties (LWV/ABC) has been active for over 60 years?  I had the privilege to interview Lu Eckels (age 90) who helped to birth our local League in 1956.  She indicated that four to five women, including herself, met to create this chapter of the League.  (Lu was a Political Science major in college and felt “Government is the basis of everything.”  She lives with her daughter and son-in-law in Bayfield and often attends League activities. She was my mentor when I joined in 2002 and was asked to be President!)  Lu has worked on voting issues for years and was chosen as Grand Dam for the Applefest Parade in 2015.  Our League (LWV/ABC) is proud to have her as a member and to recognize her years of accomplishments.

In the spirit of Wisconsin leading by example, as reflected in the state’s motto, we invite all Wisconsinites to join in the rallying cry, Forward! Wisconsin -  FIRST TO RATIFY - 19th Amendmentin remembrance of the day Wisconsin promptly acted to grant national suffrage to women.

 The League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield Counties is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. Get in touch with the local League at http://www.lwvabcwi.org/or info@lwvabcwi.org.