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Voting Rights

2020 marks several important milestones for voting rights:
150th anniversary of the passage of the 15th Amendment
100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment
55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act


These milestones are worth celebrating because of the years of struggle and sacrifice to expand the right to vote to women, Black Americans, Asian Americans, Latinxs, and Native Americans. But we can't forget the threats to voting rights, both past and present. 

For example, from the 1890's to the 1960's literacy tests were designed to disenfranchise people of color from voting, while white men were exempt. Click the link below for an example and see how many questions you'd be able to answer. This "Character Test" is from Georgia and includes questions related to government, politics, and the names of current office holders.


Georgia Voter's Character Test - 1963


Even today, challenges remain. In recent years, states have created barriers to voting including limiting voting times, restricting voter registration, and purging voter rolls. Racial minorities, poor people, and young and old voters have been particularly hard-hit by these efforts. Check out this PBS News Hour interview about restrictive voter requirements, featuring Emory University professor Carol Anderson.


PBS News Hour

We know that change starts at the local level—and we know how crucial it is to support women, in particular women and girls of color, this election season and beyond. Ensuring access to the voting booth is an important part of YWCA’s commitment to eliminating racism and empowering women and -- now more than ever-- it is critical to ensuring a healthy, safe, empowered future for our communities.

What can you do to get involved?

There are many ways to support marginalized individuals and communities in participating in the electoral process. Registering voters, providing transportation to and from the polls on election day, and educating your community on their rights are just a few of the ways you can enfranchise individuals, families, and communities.

Get Vote Ready!

All Pennsylvania voters are able - and encouraged - to vote in the upcoming primary election by mail. Click on the link below to request your mail-in ballot before May 26th.


Apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot HERE


Check your voter registration status HERE


Register to vote online HERE


Important Dates to Remember


Next primary election: June 2, 2020

Last day to register to vote: May 18, 2020

Last day to apply for a mail in or absentee ballot: May 26, 2020


Next general election: November 3, 2020

Last day to register to vote: October 19, 2020

Did you know?


On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act (VRA) into law. This legislation aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court rolled back the VRA’s provision that jurisdictions with a history of discrimination must obtain approval before changing voting rules, a process known as preclearance. This ruling had the effect of eliminating preclearance, ushering in a wave of efforts in states to restrict voting rights for people and communities of color.


YWCA USA supports the passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore the full power of the 1965 VRA.

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