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Governor Proclaims November as “Women’s Right to Vote Month”

November 5th marks the 100-year anniversary for women’s suffrage in South Dakota.

Pierre,South Dakota (PR MediaRelease) October 25, 2018

In observance of the arduous and decades-long struggle for women’s suffrage in South Dakota, Governor Daugaard has proclaimed the month of November as Women’s  Right to Vote Month.  This proclamation requested by the League of Women Voters of South Dakota recognizes the importance of this historic vote and commemorates the dedication and tenacity of the many women and men who were involved in the women’s suffrage movement in South Dakota.

After several failed territorial efforts and six unsuccessful state suffrage campaigns, a long-awaited victory occurred on November 5, 1918, when 64% of South Dakota’s male voters passed a state “citizenship amendment” giving the women of South Dakota full voting rights for the first time.  While the previous campaigns were fraught with strong opposition from anti-suffragists and the liquor industry, internal conflicts within the movement, and lack of support from political parties and many of the clergy, the final effort occurred under different circumstances.

When the United States entered WWI, many in South Dakota felt a growing concern about German “aliens” who could legally vote based solely on their intent to become citizens. While many of these immigrants were also not being drafted to serve in the armed forces, many of the eligible male voters of South Dakota were overseas and not able to vote at home. Governor Peter Norbeck had the insight to change these circumstances by convincing the Legislature to propose an amendment to the suffrage clause of the state constitution.  A vote for Amendment E, the citizenship amendment, removed the franchise for these non-citizens and extended it to women on the same 1918 ballot measure.

The veracity of these suffrage campaigns is evidenced by historical records, scholarly research, and news media of the times.  This presents a timely opportunity for individual South Dakotans, organizations, and communities to join the Governor and the League of Women Voters in investigating, celebrating, and commemorating the story of the women’s suffrage movement in South Dakota.  Get started searching the Internet, archives, library holdings, and the family attics in November! Continue into 2019 and 2020 when South Dakota will celebrate their own ratification of the 19th Amendment (December 4, 1919), and the nation will celebrate the official adoption of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution (August 26, 1920).

As women received the right to vote across the nation, suffragist leader Carrie Chapman Catt realized that these 20 million new women voters would need help in carrying out their new responsibilities as voters.  Catt founded the League of Women Voters in 1920 just six months before the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was officially adopted, giving women across the nation the right to vote after a 72-year struggle.  League units were also established in South Dakota at this time.

The League has continued to provide voter services and work on vital issues of concern to members and the public for nearly a hundred years.  Today, the League continues it’s mission to “Empower Voters and Defend Democracy” and is recognized as a force in molding political leaders, shaping public policy and promoting informed and active citizen participation at all levels of government.

 

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

Lynda Oldenkamp
League of Women Voters of South Dakota
Secretary
605 271-0651
lwvsouthdakota@gmail.com

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