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Women's Suffrage Led To Creation Of League Of Women Voters

Courtesy of League of Women Voters

The U.S. on Tuesday celebrated 100 years of women being allowed to vote.

The 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920 by the legislature in Tennessee. The Volunteer State was the 36th to approve the measure. That pushed it over the threshold that qualified it for the U.S. Constitution.

The amendment spawned an organization that is now well-known for its involvement with voting.

Our guide for this history lesson is Ann Murphy, the co-chair of the Spokane chapter of the League of Women Voters.

“The League of Women Voters was formed out of the groups that were leading the suffrage movement. It was Carrie Chapman Catt who did that at the convention of the predominant suffrage movement at that time," she said.

This was about six months before the amendment was ratified.

“With their mission being to finish the fight. Interestingly enough, there were two states needed, at least two, to ratify that constitutional amendment. I found it interesting in reviewing the timeline that, even though in Washington state women had had suffrage since 1910, Washington state did not ratify this particular amendment for the federal change to the constitution until March of 1920," Murphy said.

Washington was the 35th state to approve it. Tennessee was the 36th.

After the amendment had been written into the constitution, Murphy says the League of Women Voters turned its eye to public education and voting. During Washington’s just-completed primary election, chapters held public forums for candidates for lieutenant governor and secretary of state.

“And then, along with that, the league over the years has had a very strong advocacy arm to advocate for issues that first were seen as issues that were more important to women but now are important to everyone," she said.

Along that line, on August 27, members of the Spokane chapter will convene a community forum that explores a proposal to put fluoride in the city’s drinking water.