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To recognize the Centennial of the League and Missouri’s ratification of the 19th Amendment, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft presented a proclamation signed by Governor Mike Parson in the Capitol Rotunda on July 8. The proclamation concludes: Whereas, the State of Missouri recognizes that the League of Women Voters of Missouri, which arose from the Missouri Woman Suffrage Association, has worked to educate and empower voters since its founding in October 1919, and Whereas, the citizens of Missouri appreciate the struggles of the Suffragists and others who fought for the right to vote by all citizens; Now, therefore, I, Michael L. Parson, Governor of the State of Missouri, do hereby recognize the 100th Anniversary of the Ratification of the 19th Amendment.
State Board members took a photo by a plaque the League installed in 1931 that is a tribute “to those women in Missouri whose courageous work opened the opportunities of complete citizenship to all women in the state.” For a list of Missouri suffragists and a closer look at the plaque, click here.
About 50 League members and Girl Scouts celebrated the Centennial of the League of Women Voters of Missouri and Missouri’s ratification of the 19th Amendment by marching in a 4th of July parade in Webster Groves.
LWVMO Board for 2019-21: Treasurer Cindy Wunderlich, President Evelyn Maddox, Vice President Marilyn McLeod, Nancy Copenhaver, Sharon Swon, Marge Bramer, Secretary Louise Wilkerson, Carol Schreiber, Joan Gentry, Kathleen Boswell, Melodie Armstrong and Nancy Miller.
The 64th state convention featured several speakers on election reform. On Friday, Alicia Gurrieri from LWVUS presented a workshop to help League members empower voters and defend democracy.
Amber McReynolds was a fabulous keynote speaker. She explained how she worked to get comprehensive election reform in Colorado, including automatic voter registration and address changes, mail-in ballots and central vote centers. “Let’s make the voting experience something everyone can celebrate,” she told LWVMO convention delegates. The former director of elections for Denver, she is now the Executive Director for the National Vote at Home Institute and serves as senior strategic adviser on various election-focused projects across the country. She was introduced by Eric Fey, Director of the St. Louis County Board of Elections.
St. Louis City Treasurer Tishaura Jones updated the convention on proposed election reforms “to ensure an effective government of, by and for the people.” She called Amendment 1 “a tremendous victory to clean up Missouri politics.” After commending the League for its work for American democracy, she challenged delegates to block legislation now in the Missouri Senate to override voter wishes and make it easier to gerrymander. She also shared some exciting opportunities to make positive lasting changes for voters, including approval or ranked choice voting.
In honor of the League’s centennial in 2019, the League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis hosted a Suffragist Tour of Bellefontaine Cemetery on Thursday. On Friday night, delegates and guests enjoyed What Women Wore: A League of Women Voters Centennial Fashion Show. The entertaining and informative Fashion Show Script was written by Nichole Burgdorf and read by Rebecca Now, with fashions modeled by the volunteer board of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.
Laura Champion from Lafayette High School in the Rockwood School District just won LWVMO’s statewide poster contest to promote youth voter registration. The League will send a copy of Champion’s poster to every high school in Missouri before the April 2019 local elections.
Metro St. Louis League Co-presidents Nancy Miller and Louise Wilkerson surprised Champion with a $500 prize.
“This vibrant poster catches your attention,” Miller says. “Laura is a very talented young artist and I hope this poster will inspire more interest in voting among high school students.”
“The colors make it more exciting and enthusiastic, which is my stance on getting people to vote,” Champion said. “I’m passionate about having people’s voices heard.”
Miller noted that overall voter turn-out of almost 60 percent in November was unusually high for a mid-term election. An early estimate shows 31 percent of young adults ages 18 to 29 nationwide voted in 2018, but that would be an improvement over 20 percent in 2014.
State President Kathleen Boswell said, “We hope this poster will encourage more young people to register to vote as soon as they are eligible, which in Missouri is six months before their 18th birthday.”
The finalists in the competition included students from Kansas City, Sedalia, Springfield and Vandalia.
Amendment 1 was approved with 62 percent of the vote on Nov. 6, winning a majority in every state senate district. The League is reaching out to Governor Mike Parson and legislators, asking them to respect the people of Missouri and not undermine this effort to clean up Missouri politics.
After careful study, LWVMO endorsed the constitutional amendment in 2017. Using grants from the LWVUS Education Fund and the Election Reformers Network, LWVMO advocated for Amendment 1 and its changes to how legislative district maps would be drawn after each census.
“The League of Women Voters of Missouri played a crucial role in promoting the anti-gerrymandering provisions of Amendment 1,” said Clean Missouri Communications Director Benjamin Singer. “Thanks in big part to the League, Missouri will have more fair and competitive maps that protect minority representation and follow city and county lines when possible. Thank you, League of Women Voters of Missouri.”
LWVMO President Kathleen Boswell was encouraged by the vote. “Amendment 1 will clean up state politics by increasing fairness, integrity and transparency in government.”
Amendment 1 includes strong language ensuring racial fairness in redistricting. Besides improves the system for drawing fair maps, Amendment 1 bans most lobbyist gifts to legislators, lowers contribution limits for state house and senate races, requires state government to be more transparent, and makes other needed reforms. For more information and the complete text of the Constitutional amendment, go to www.cleanmissouri.org.
By a wide margin, voters on Nov. 6 approved a Constitutional Amendment to clean up Missouri politics. Several bills were introduced in 2019 to negate Amendment 1’s redistricting reform and sunshine law expansion. HJR 48 would have asked voters in 2020 to eliminate the nonpartisan state demographer and move partisan fairness and competitiveness to the lowest priority in the redistricting process. The House also added language that could shift the basis of redistricting away from total population, as is currently the practice in all 50 states. LWVMO encouraged legislators to Respect Missouri Voters and the Senate adjourned without voting on HJR48.
Voters in 2018 also approved Amendment 2 on medical marijuana, Amendment 4 on Bingo, and Prop B to raise the minimum wage by 85 cents an hour each year until it reaches $12 per hour in 2023.
The Missouri Court of Appeals sided with the League and the NAACP in our challenge of the photo ID law. The court found “insufficient appropriation” for implementing the law, including providing advance notice to voters and providing ID and underlying documents for voters to obtain an ID without cost. The court ordered the case back to the trial court. Denise Lieberman said this ruling is a recognition that the state cannot implement onerous voting rules and not provide the mechanisms to effectively implement them.
In a similar suit brought by Priorities USA, the Missouri Supreme Court said voters with identification but not a driver’s license or passport don’t have to sign an affidavit. Acceptable forms of ID include a voter ID card, college ID, utility bill and bank statement with name and current address.
Missouri sends 20 delegates to LWVUS 53rd biennial convention
Twenty women from Missouri enjoyed Creating a More Perfect Democracy, the 2018 National Convention at the Chicago Hilton. Mary Merritt, LWV Missouri sold about $6,500 worth of merchandise. State President Kathleen Boswell dressed as a suffragist and took photos of National President Chris Carson, LWVUS Board Member Deborah Turner and many other Leaguers in front of our backdrop.
Banquet speaker Elaine Weiss, the author of The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote., inspired the audience with details of how Carrie Chapman Catt, Alice Paul and others worked to get the Tennessee Legislature to adopt the 19th Amendment in 1920. Weiss is pictured in the slideshow below with Admin. Mgr. Jean Dugan.
Other delegates from Missouri were Cheryl Barnes, Donna Hoch, Evelyn Maddox and Pauline Testerman (Kansas City), Jill Young (SEMO), Meredith Donaldson and Sharon Schneeberger (Columbia), Angie Dunlap, Debby Howard, Nancy Miller and her granddaughter Bella White, Jennifer Rushing, Sydell Shayer, Catherine Stenger and Louise Wilkerson (St. Louis), Joan Gentry and Lorraine Sandstrom (SWMO).
The Equal Rights Amendment – Hearing Held Feb. 20
The Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee held a hearing on SCR 41, a resolution to ratify the ERA. The League was one of many groups to testify in support of the ERA.
The proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) states that the rights guaranteed by the Constitution apply equally to all persons regardless of their sex. After the 19th Amendment affirming women’s right to vote was ratified in 1920, suffragist leader Alice Paul introduced the ERA in 1923 as the next step in bringing “equal justice under law” to all citizens.
In 1972, the ERA was finally passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. The original seven-year time limit was extended by Congress to June 30, 1982, but at that deadline, the ERA had been ratified by only 35 states, three states short of the 38 required to put it into the Constitution. The ERA has been introduced into every Congress since the deadline, and beginning in 1994, ERA advocates have been pursuing two different routes to ratification: the traditional process described in Article V of the Constitution (passage by a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, followed by ratification by three-quarters of the states), and the innovative “three-state strategy” (ratification in three more of the 15 state legislatures that did not ratify the ERA in 1972-82, based on legal analysis that when three more states vote yes, this process could withstand legal challenge and accomplish ratification of the ERA).
Nevada passed the ERA in 2017 and Illinois passed it in 2018. Only one more state is needed. Why not Missouri?