The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
-19th Amendment to the United States Constitution
Yesterday was the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which, when ratified in 1920, prohibited any U.S. Citizen from being denied the right to vote based on their sex. This constitutional amendment represented the conclusion of a long and arduous process to secure the right to vote for american women.
This result was a long time coming, as the fight for women’s suffrage in the U.S. began to take shape at least as early as 1878, 41 year earlier, when Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton drafted and first introduced the amendment.
Changes to the Constitution, are pretty rare though. The U.S. Constitution can be changed in only two ways — by constitutional convention (which never happens), and constitutional amendment, which has happened 17 times since the Bill of Rights was ratified. The last time the constitution was amended was 1992, which prevented Congress from giving itself raises that were effective before the next term, meaning that any congressman would have to win another election to see the benefit of a salary increase for which they voted to approve.
States have signed on to already passed constitutional amendments since 1992, like when Mississippi decided to sign on to the 13th Amendment, which banned slavery, earlier this year, but that kind of thing is only symbolic.
Yesterday, Christine Pelosi, chair of the California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus and daughter of Nancy Pelosi, writes in celebration of the 19th Amendment, but also in recognition that we still have a long way to go to advance equality. She explains that “the recent assaults on women’s health, worker’s voices and voting rights signal that we still have far to go.”
Discussing many aspects of recent assaults on equality and justice, Pelosi argues that “the fight begins with voting rights.” In the face of growing voter suppression (even though some don’t believe that voter suppression is real), it is important to remember this message, that ensuring robust voter rights is key to advancing equality.