Posted on August 22, 2016
Celebrating Women’s Equality Day and the right to vote
August 26 is the 96th anniversary of women being granted the right to vote. The ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920 is now celebrated as Women’s Equality Day in the United States, after groundbreaking Congresswoman Bella Abzug passed legislation to mark the day in 1971.
While women’s right to vote is now protected by the Constitution, for some women it’s still very much at risk. Right-wing legislators in states across the country have followed up the Supreme Court’s gutting of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act by passing discriminatory photo ID laws, cutting back early voting, and eliminating polling locations — all voter suppression tactics designed to keep people of color, students and low-income people from voting. These laws endanger women of color’s ability to exercise their constitutional right and impact white women as well. For example, Salon.com reported:
It’s well-documented that [voter ID] laws disproportionately disenfranchise low-income voters, people of color, students and the elderly, but married women and transgender people (some of whom are married women) are also among those likely to be impacted by [the laws].
According to recent data, 34 percent of voting-age women do not have a document that reflects their current legal name. Among transgender women and men, the number is 41 percent. Voter ID laws make it hard, if not impossible, for people without matching identification to meet documentation requirements and cast their ballots.
In the last few weeks there’s been a lot of good headway made against voter suppression efforts thanks to several court rulings.The Texas voter ID law that discriminates against women was struck down by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, forcing a compromise agreement that should decrease the number of potential voters at risk of being disenfranchised. Likewise, the 4th Circuit Court struck down North Carolina’s voter suppression law. In North Dakota a district judge blocked the state from enforcing its voter ID law and there have been favorable court decisions recently in Wisconsin, Kansas, and Michigan.
While these wins are important, the fight for the right to vote in the face of Republican efforts to take it away is more critical than ever. The 2016 election will be the first presidential election in 50 years in which voters don’t have the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. In response, more than 120,000 CREDO activists have demanded that Congress act immediately to restore the Voting Rights Act and block new efforts to suppress African-American and Latino votes. And more than 110,000 CREDO activists signed our petition in support of Rep. Robert Brady’s Automatic Voter Registration Act, which would create a pathway to voting for up to 50 million new voters, dramatically increasing participation and registration rates. And we will keep fighting to make sure all Americans can exercise their right to vote.
Along with passage of the Voting Rights Act, the 19th Amendment marks one of the most significant victories for the right to vote in our country. We should celebrate this Women’s Equality Day by making sure that right is never restricted or taken away.
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