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Editor of the Reformer:

This November, our country marks the centennial of one of the first major victories in the war for universal suffrage in America: the first election where women across the country were able to take part. It was a limited victory — only 26 million women were enfranchised, and countless women of color were excluded — but the road to even that achievement had been horrifically bloody and brutal. We forget too easily what suffragists and later civil rights activists endured: fierce beatings by police, violent abuses in prison, the force-feedings that can only be described as horrifying torture. They were mocked and targeted; some died in service to the cause while others had their lives ruined as punishment for simply wanting a say in the course of their nation. They sacrificed everything for the dream of equality but a century after that first victory, progress towards those dreams has been unbearably slow; now it is in danger of grinding to a terrifying halt. We may have very different goals from those women a century ago who fought tooth and nail just to vote in the 1920 election; some of them might have even thought that the war for universal suffrage should have been declared won and done with that imperfect victory a century ago, and that the millions of citizens deprived of a vote in 1920 should have remained on the sidelines forever. But that does not mean that we should throw away the sacrifices they made by sitting out this election. I beg every person who reads these words to ensure that their voice is heard this November 3 by doing the simple deed that voting rights activists across the centuries have fought and died for: marking a box on a ballot. I cannot tell you who to vote for, but all I ask is that you cast your ballots with compassion and respect for your fellow citizens in your heart, and reverence for the hard road it took to have this right and privilege at our fingertips. They fought that war out of love for us, and now it is time to use our voting rights to fight this new battle out of love for our fellow Americans. Sincerely,

Olivia McNeely

Townshend, Oct. 12


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