Founded six months before women officially won the right to vote, in February 1920, by Suffragettes Carrie Chapman Catt and Jane Brooks, the League of Women Voters immediately jumped into action, and within a few short years, chapters all over the country were formed. One of their initial programs addressed the issue of US-born women’s citizenship rights if they married a non-U.S. citizen. At that time, the Expatriation Act forced married women to automatically become citizens of their husband’s country, and lose their U.S. status, even if they were Americans. Shortly after the voting rights bill was enacted, this was overturned, so all American women would remain US citizens and be eligible to vote.
The organization has grown exponentially over the last century, despite a couple of decades when there were setbacks due to World War II, and later, a socio-cultural rift that sought to tear down much of what the League had already accomplished. Nonetheless, this organization continued to prosper and grow to its current 700 chapters around the country and 500,000 active members in all 50 states. Counting among its member’s notables are Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The LWV continues to encourage women to run for office to achieve a more accurate representation of the nation’s gender demographic.
To celebrate the achievements and upcoming plans for what the local Hilton Head-Bluffton LWV Chapter considers most urgent facing voters in the Lowcountry is a list of important 2020 programs to make a difference: