So, The 19th Amendment Just Turned 96

24 August 2016 Written by  

This week, exactly 96 years ago, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, which was — and is — a big deal. Why? Because it’s incredibly rare that you can double the population of our national electorate overnight, but it happened. 96 years ago. Which means that 97 years ago, women categorically were denied a vote. They couldn’t even vote on their right to vote. Think about that.

You know sliced bread? That’s only eight years younger than women’s suffrage. Or, one Usain Bolt 100 Meter Olympic Reign younger than women’s suffrage, for those that have watched a little too much Olympic coverage this year. But I digress…

96 years ago, That’s really not that long ago. So, again, 97 years ago, women were constitutionally barred from voting on matters that very much affected them. Constitutionally barred. Think about that for a second — in an era defined by overreactions, shifting ideologies and new technology (sound familiar?), essentially only one constituency, white males, were being heard, which, in 2016, sounds objectively insane.

And think about this too: 99 years ago, 200 supporters of the Alice Paul-formed National Women’s Party, members of a sub-group dubbed the Silent Sentinels, were arrested for picketing the White House*. Some of those arrested — for picketing — were sent to prison, where they carried out one of the most ardent and effective hunger strikes in American history, only to be force fed when they refused to break. That’s how much voting meant to them. Their voice was worth a prison sentence.

Just two years later, on August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. And since opening up the ballots, our democracy has only gotten more inclusive. In 2016, every citizen has the right to vote. And many demographics take advantage of that right — those north of 65 go harder than just about any demo — but we millennials aged 18-29 really don’t. There should be a reason, but there isn’t.

Just 8% of 18-29 year olds in Utah voted, which would probably make the Suffragettes want to skip a few more meals. And there isn’t a good reason for that. Literally no good ones.

So don’t squander a right that was so recently a hard-won privilege. It’s a terrible thing to waste.

And guess what? Registering to vote just got 10 times easier! Now anyone with a smartphone or cell phone can register to vote simply by sending a text.



*Yes, for picketing, a crime about as offensive as speaking loudly on public transit and also constitutionally protected, but it was a different time and, again, it wasn’t like there was a representative democracy to hinder this type of corrective action. Or Twitter. Or FacebookLive. Or even really magazines. So, remember, we got it pretty good.