Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Lifestyles

March 10, 2013

Right to vote

Female voters in West Virginia showcase women's rights

BLUEFIELD —  Susan B. Anthony would have been proud of West Virginian women. Anthony, an activist for woman’s suffrage, died in 1906, 14 years before the passing of the 19th Amendment. But in West Virginia, female voters outnumber male voters by about 60,000, according to a press release from West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.

Tennant said women in West Virginia do not realize the power they have over the future in the Mountain State.

There are 660,000 female registered voters in the state, but only one women fills a seat in the state Senate, two females on the state Supreme Court and 21 women in the 100-seat House. Tennant is the only woman on the seven-member Board of Public Works.

During Anthony’s time, women were not a part of any elections.

But when asked if she thought women would ever be able to vote, Anthony said it was “inevitable.” But even Anthony could not have predicted the role of women in American politics.

 

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Only a few early supporters of the women’s suffrage were able to see the 19th Amendment pass. The right to vote started before the Civil War. During this time, reform groups began appearing in towns and cities all across America. Many of these groups — anti-slavery organizations, temperance clubs, religious groups and societies — were led by women. Many groups began talking about women’s rights, but with the war, the movement lost steam. But after the passing of the 14th Amendment (citizenship and equal civil and legal rights to blacks and slaves) and 15th Amendment (the right for black men to vote), the discussion of equal rights for females became organized under the National American Woman Suffrage Association. In 1910, some Western states extended the vote for women. But other states — those in the south and east — resisted the change. World War I helped the campaign with the argument that women deserved equal rights, especially after working during war to support their husbands and families.

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