SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The League of Women Voters is celebrating its 100TH anniversary this year. The organization was founded on Feb. 14, 1920, by Carrie Chapman Catt. That was just six months before the ratification of the 19th Amendment. But the League’s story began much earlier than that as the group fought for women’s right to vote.
The League of Women Voters of Southwest Missouri has been in existence since 1952.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan group whose mission is register voters and educate them on candidates and issues.
Jenifer Abreu talked to Marge Bramer, the current president of the Southwest Missouri chapter, and Ann Elwell, a former president, about the last 100 years, what the League has accomplished and current local efforts.
The SWMO chapter will be celebrating on Thursday, Feb. 13 at Alamo DrafHouse from 5 to 8 pm with its “For the Love of the Vote” event and social. They will register people to vote, and be sharing information about Suffrage and voter registration.
The organization’s mission 100 years ago, as it still is today, wasn’t just to get women the right to vote, but also to educate the new voters on how, when, and where to register, how to cast a ballot, and where to turn for information on political candidates and policy.
The League of Women Voters says it never supports or opposes political candidates or parties, but instead, study issues and takes stands on policies.
Over the years, the organization fought for children’s rights, the right to equal treatment in the workplace, clean and safe water, and other policy issues.
In Missouri, the League of Women Voters of Southwest Missouri supports keeping CLEAN Missouri, which were approved by a 62 percent majority in the last election.
Currently, the SWMO League has 125 members. Nationwide, there are 700 leagues and about 40,000 members in all 50 states. New leagues are forming in the Tri-Lakes area of Taney and Stone counties and in the greater Joplin area.
The SWMO chapter meets twice a month and holds informational forums and other events periodically.