Gov. Mike DeWine signed a bill into law today to create a suffrage centennial commission, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s ratification, which gave women the right to vote.
Senate Bill 30 — which passed unanimously in the House and Senate — creates the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission to oversee statewide celebratory events from June 2019, when Ohio ratified the amendment, through August 2020, when the final state, Tennessee, ratified the amendment.
Appropriately, the bill was signed in the Ladies’ Gallery at the Statehouse, surrounded by women legislators, including Ohio’s first female speaker of the House, Jo Ann Davidson of Reynoldsburg.
The purpose of the commission is two-fold, Secretary of State Frank LaRose said: to celebrate trailblazers and educate young people on the 19th Amendment’s historical significance and its modern-day impact.
“What this is really about is the generation of young Ohioans … teaching them why this right is worth fighting for,” he said. “Nobody should ever give that right up by skipping an election, for example, or failing to be engaged civically.”
Members of the commission will include: LaRose or his designee; two senators and two representatives of different political parties; one member from the Ohio Republican Party and one from the Ohio Democratic Party; and members of any other applicable organizations or community members.
The bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Stephanie Kunze, R-Hillard, said she hopes the commission will highlight celebrations throughout the state and encourage young women to exercise their right to vote and take on leadership roles. Sen. Sandra Williams, D-Cleveland, also sponsored the bill.
“My hope is that everyday Ohioans — especially women, and especially young women — understand how hard it was to win the right to vote,” said Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “I hope that they see it as scared, and I hope that they will do everything they can to be active voters.”
The League has been working with LaRose’s office since December to create this commission; the Ohio History Connection has also partnered with the commission to promote local events and provide schools with educational curriculum for on women’s suffrage and the modern history of women’s rights.