On Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, Voting Rights Hang in the Balance
August 26, 2012, Washington, DC – On Women’s Equality Day – the day that celebrates passage of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution giving women the right to vote – the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) denounced efforts across the country to make voting more difficult, particularly impacting women. NCJW CEO Nancy K. Kaufman released the following statement:
“Women’s Equality Day celebrates, above all, women’s right to vote. The extension of that fundamental right from a narrow elite of white male property owners to all citizens regardless of race or gender is one of the great success stories of US history – one in which NCJW was actively engaged since its founding. It is therefore alarming to find that since early 2011, 25 laws and 2 executive actions that reduce access to the voting booth have taken effect in 19 states. These states will cast 214 electoral votes, or nearly four-fifths of the total needed to win the presidency.
“The measures adopted, including limiting early voting, abolishing same day registration, and requiring current government-issued photo identification, put women’s access to the ballot in jeopardy. Women balancing job and family responsibilities need early voting and same-day registration in order to vote. Older women often lack a driver’s license, the most common form of photo ID. Many have lost access to their birth certificate or never had one. Ninety percent of all women ever married have a marriage certificate reflecting a name that does not match their birth certificate. The logistical challenge of proving who they are is daunting and expensive, particularly if they moved long ago from their place of birth.
“It’s not as if these women voted without any proof of identification in the past. Typically states allowed voters to show a utility bill or other proof of residence. Now women who have voted for years at the same polling place are being told they no longer have what it takes to vote.
“These anti-voting laws are an outright attempt to turn back the clock and particularly impact seniors, minorities, and younger voters. They contradict the spirit of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 2002 Help America Vote Act. Through its Promote the Vote, Protect the Vote campaign, NCJW is continuing to work to overturn these measures and blunt their effect wherever possible. Women’s equality will truly be fleeting if these laws stand for all time.”
The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms. Over the past year, NCJW’s signature initiative Promote the Vote, Protect the Vote has mobilized Jewish women across the country to participate in voter registration drives, Get-Out-The-Vote training, education about campaign finance and specific ballot initiatives, and advocacy around voting rights. NCJW members in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington are participating in Promote the Vote, Protect the Vote activities, with some of the most concerted efforts in Florida and Ohio.
Contact: Brianne Nadeau