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Did you know...?

Each week the Center for Civics Education will post one “Did You Know” related to Civility or Civic Literacy. A new Did You Know will be posted here each week or you can check out our Instagram: @united.we.standccc for a shareable short version!

Week 1

Question: Did you know that the Constitution has never denied women the right to vote?

Did you know….the Constitution as drafted in 1787 did not deny women the right to vote? In fact, the Constitution does not deny to women any right guaranteed to men. In fact, women could vote in New Jersey even before the Constitution was drafted and the Constitution did not eliminate that right. Women were voting in more than a dozen states before the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920 guaranteeing to women the right to vote. So why was the Nineteenth Amendment necessary?

The Constitution ways very little about voting rights. It merely states in Article I Section 2 that those who are eligible to vote for the largest house of a state’s legislature are also eligible to vote for members of the House of Representatives from that state. Each state made its own decision regarding qualifications to vote. After the Civil War, the Fifteenth Amendment prohibited the states from denying the power to vote to anyone based on their race, color or previous condition of servitude, but said nothing about their sex.

By 1807, New Jersey had amended its state constitution restricting the vote to tax-paying white make citizens. In 1869 the territory of Wyoming enfranchised women and was followed by Utah in 1870. Momentum for the right of women to vote spread through the western states and then across the nation, culminating in the Nineteenth Amendment which simply prohibits the states from denying or abridging the right to vote “on account of sex.”

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