One hundred years ago, some women won the right to vote.

To quote from Better Days 2020, a nonprofit dedicated to popularizing Utah women’s history:

“Although the 19th Amendment granted women’s suffrage nationally, the fight for universal suffrage in the United States was not over. Not all women residing in Utah were granted the vote in 1870 or with statehood in 1896 or with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

“Though the 14th Amendment had earlier defined “citizens” as any person born in the United States, the Amendment was interpreted to restrict citizenship rights (including the right to vote) of many. For example, since Native Americans were not considered U.S. citizens during this time period, they were excluded from women’s voting rights in Utah in 1870 and 1896, and nationally in 1920. Legal barriers enacted in numerous states effectively made it impossible for African Americans to vote. Many Asian immigrants in the United States were legally prohibited from applying for citizenship (and gaining voting rights) simply because of their countries of origin.

“These minority groups strengthened their rights to citizenship and voting through the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 (which granted full citizenship to indigenous people born in the U.S.), the McCarran–Walter Act of 1952 (which permitted Asian immigrants to become naturalized citizens), and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (which prohibited barriers at state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their suffrage rights).

“Even after the passage of the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act, many states, including Utah, still made local laws and policies that prohibited Native Americans from voting, arguing that Native Americans living on reservations were residents of their own nations and thus non-residents of the states. On February 14, 1957, the Utah State Legislature repealed its legislation that had prevented Native Americans living on reservations from voting, becoming one of the last states to do so.”

One hundred years ago, postcards explaining why only white males should be allowed to vote were circulated, ending with the assertion that “White Supremacy must be maintained.”

One hundred years is not very long. A whole lot of people worked very hard so you could vote. Many of them died so you could vote. Register to vote. And vote. It’s how you change the future in a democracy.

Carey Dabney

League of Women Voters-Grand County President