As we gear up for local election later this fall, it is important to remember the history and the struggles that led to the universal suffrage that we enjoy today.
When the constitution was young and just inked by our Founding Fathers, neither women nor people of color, could vote.
In fact, when George Washington was president, only about 6 percent of the population could vote. In those years, only landowners were allowed to cast a ballot.
Luckily for later generations, the founders of the nation designed the constitution to be a living, dynamic document serving the needs of the current population while anchored on the original principles.
As the United States population has changed, so has the constitution. Amendments were added, removing the criteria that only landowners could vote and granting women and people of color voting rights.
The fight for women’s suffrage is almost 100 years old.
The centennial is next year, and it’s important to remember the fight for the right to vote, and exercise the privilege.
Although Kansas women have had the right to vote in Kansas municipal elections since 1887, that was twenty years after the State Impartial Suffrage Association was first defeated in an effort to extend the vote to both women and African Americans.
Finally, in 1912 Kansas became the eighth state to grant full suffrage to women.
Nationally, the suffrage movement continued thru World War I, and the national women’s suffrage movement was finally achieved on Aug. 8, 1920.
Kansas lawmakers had called a special session on June 16, 1919, becoming the fourth state to ratify the amendment.
It was a long struggle whose fruits are clear. Accessibility to the vote has made our nation and communities better and enhanced the ideals of democracy first envisioned by the founding fathers. Today women and persons of color freely participate in elections resulting in leaders who truly represent us. It’s a hard fought right, one we honor only by participating.
Elections are coming in November. Be sure to register to vote, or check your voting status, at jocoelection.org.