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Women's Equality Day: Fighting for Democracy for All

Women are still trying to get a square deal decades after winning the right to vote. (Wikipedia)
Women are still trying to get a square deal decades after winning the right to vote. (Wikipedia)
August 26, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Women have only been able to legally vote for less than 100 years, and an observance today commemorates efforts to achieve equal rights as well as the continued need to protect democracy. Women's Equality Day marks the certification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

League of Women Voters Ohio President Carrie Davis said it's a reminder that democracy takes work. She explained that everyone who has the right to vote has had to fight to get it and preserve it.

"The 15th Amendment was passed during Reconstruction after the Civil War, giving African-American men the right to vote," she said. "We had the 19th Amendment passed in 1920, giving women the right to vote. And the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in 1965 made sure that women of color had the right to vote."

And Davis noted there is now a new generation in the fight for voting rights, with restrictions on identification and registration among the current debates around the country. The U.S. Constitution prohibits the restriction of voting based on race, gender and age, but it does not provide the explicit right to vote.

Ohio has seen its fair share of voting-rights struggles. Davis explained that's because as a battleground state, Ohio's elections are typically highly contested.

"When you have close races, rules about who can participate and whose vote counts has more of an impact on the outcome," she said. "It's a constant tension in Ohio, and going back to 2004, I don't think we have had two back-to-back elections where we haven't had rule changes."

This week, a federal judge eliminated Golden Week in Ohio, the period when voters can both register and vote at the same time. And pending litigation challenges the state's recent purge of tens of thousands of voters for inactivity. Davis said these fights occur because the right to vote is so powerful.

"They wouldn't be trying to take it away from you, they wouldn't be trying to protect it for you," she added. "The right to vote is precious and we need to exercise that and really take charge. Your vote is your voice. It is your power. Make sure you have a plan for how you're going to use it."

She recommends Ohio voters ensure their registration is current, decide how to vote and learn about the candidates and issues on the ballot. Voters guides are available at

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH