League of Women Voters Day is celebrated on February 14 — the anniversary of the creation of one of the most powerful voices in the women’s suffrage movement and voters’ rights advocacy in the United States. On this day, we celebrate the impact and achievements of the League of Women Voters, which has existed for more than 100 years. Although it was initially created to campaign for women’s suffrage, educate women about the election process, and lobby for legislation affecting women, the League of Women Voters has had a tremendous impact in increasing overall voter access and education for women in the United States. No discussion of the political history of the United States can be complete without mentioning League of Women Voters Day.
History of League of Women Voters Day
The League of Women Voters was created on February 14, 1920, through a merger of two organizations: the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and the National Council of Women Voters (N.C.W.V.). In 1909, the woman popularly known as ‘the mother of women’s suffrage,’ Emma Smith DeVoe, proposed that a separate organization be created from NAWSA to educate women on the election process and create awareness about women’s issues. Her proposal was ignored, and in 1911, she created the National Council of Women Voters.
Carrie Chapman Catt, the president of the NAWSA at the time, was worried that some of DeVoe’s ideas might discourage conservative women from joining the movement, and so she proposed a merger of the two organizations. At the 1919 NAWSA convention, a motion was made towards this end, and by January 6, 1920, the merger was complete.
At first, the National League of Women Voters only operated as a committee of NAWSA, but that changed after a formal organization of the league was drafted at the 1920 NAWSA convention. The group was one of the first to receive status as an N.G.O. with the United Nations.
The league used to be exclusively for women, but men were allowed to join in 1973 when the league’s charter was modified. Over the years, the league has worked to expand voter access, educate voters, and fight voter suppression. They run VOTE411.org, a bilingual website that gives voters information about elections and candidates tailored to their location.
Today, the league has over 500,000 members and supporters with over 700 state and local leagues across the United States. The league has sponsored presidential debates in the past, and in 2012, they created National Voter Registration Day.
League of Women Voters Day timeline
The league creates an education fund to encourage citizens’ active participation in government and to educate people about major public policy issues.
The league is one of the first organizations to be officially recognized as a non-governmental organization by the U.N. and granted official observer status.
The League of Women Voters receives an Emmy Award for an Outstanding Achievement in Broadcast Journalism after sponsoring the first televised presidential debate.
The League of Women Voters launches a one-stop-shop website for election-related information called VOTE411.
League of Women Voters Day FAQs
How did the 19th Amendment change women’s lives?
The 19th Amendment, ratified in August 1920, guaranteed all American women the right to vote.
When did the League of Women Voters start?
The League of Women Voters was officially founded in 1920, just six months before American women won the right to vote.
How does the League of Women Voters promote their agenda?
They empower voters and, through advocacy, litigation, and education, they defend democracy.
How to Observe League of Women Voters Day
Volunteer your time
There are many ways to support the League of Women Voters in their campaign for voting rights. From joining the volunteers on National Voter Registration Day to simply signing any of their petitions, you can help out and continue the fight for voting rights.
Register to vote
What better way to celebrate League of Women Voters Day than by honoring their work? The struggle for voting rights begins with more people becoming registered voters and active participants in public policymaking and the election process.
Donate some money
League of Women Voters Day is the perfect day to whip out your bank card. You can make a one-time contribution or commit to a monthly donation to help the league in its work of protecting our democratic rights.
5 Important Facts About The Women’s Suffrage Movement
A woman ran before women could vote
In 1872, over 50 years before the 19th Amendment was passed, Victoria Woodhull ran for U.S. president with backing from the Equal Rights Party.
The movement inspired a fashion trend
In 1851, Elizabeth Smith Miller debuted a radical new look called the ‘bloomer,’ which became synonymous with the women’s rights movement.
Some women voted illegally
From 1868 to 1872, several women, including Susan B. Anthony, went to the polls to vote illegally.
Single women could vote in 1797
The original New Jersey constitution gave anyone worth £50 the right to vote and since married women’s property was legally controlled by their husbands, only single women could vote until 1807.
Since only men could actually vote on whether women’s suffrage could be granted, male allies helped, especially in Colorado, New York, and Oklahoma.
Why League of Women Voters Day is Important
Anyone can participate
Male or female, young or old, Democrat or Republican, anyone can celebrate League of Women Voters Day. The struggle for true democracy does not care about our differences. As long as you believe in free, fair, and accessible elections, League of Women Voters Day is for you.
We love democracy
Of the different systems of government, democracy is definitely our favorite. We love the idea of people having the right to choose who leads them and what decisions are made for them. Democracy is the foundation of a just future.
More people need to vote
Only 66.1% of the U.S. eligible voter population voted in the 2020 Presidential Election. For context, that means that 82 million Americans did not exercise their democratic rights. Voting needs to be made more accessible and more people need to be educated about the importance of active participation in the election process.
League of Women Voters Day dates