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Voting matters to women



The St. Petersburg Times Newspaper in Education program, which provides newspapers and learning materials to classrooms around the Tampa Bay area, is up to its elbows in voting matters! Each week leading up to the Nov. 2 general election, in this space NIE will bring you useful information about the voting process, fun facts and fabulous books about voting and elections for a variety of ages. Veteran NIE writer Holly Atkins, who teaches language arts at Southside Fundamental Middle School in St. Petersburg, will be on the election beat. Contact her at

TODAY: Why securing the right to vote matters.

NEXT WEEK: Why and how voting matters to American women.


Students in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas county public schools should watch for a special NIE supplement, voting matters!, provided to your school by your county's supervisor of elections office. The supplement, which should arrive this month, is full of activities for classroom and home.


Tune in from 7 to 8 a.m. Mondays through Nov. 1 to the Magic Morning Show with Chadd and Kristi on WWRM-FM 94.9 to hear how some bay area students answer today's Xpress Yourself question.


Go to and click on voting matters! to record your answers to voting questions in our Newspaper in Education guest book.

A tea party among five friends on July 13, 1848, marked the beginning of the women's suffrage movement in America.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton shared her frustration that more than 70 years after the American Revolution, women still didn't have many of the freedoms the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution declared were basic to all Americans.

Tea was pushed aside. The women took action. Two days later, plans were in place for "a convention to discuss the social, civil and religious condition and rights of woman" at Seneca Falls, N.Y.

Seventy-two long years later, the work of Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Sojourner Truth and many others resulted in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing women the right to vote.


+ Quote to ponder by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: "I think about how much we owe to the women who went before us _ legions of women, some known but many more unknown. I applaud the bravery and resilience of those who helped all of us _ you and me _ to be here today."

+ In 1895, noted antilynching activist and journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett organized Chicago's Alpha Suffrage Club, the first black women's suffrage group.

+ New Jersey gave women the right to vote in 1776 _ if they owned more than $250. After reconsidering this decision, the state took away the right in 1807.

+ Although the 19th Amendment guaranteed all women the right to vote, individual communities and states had allowed women to vote before the amendment's 1920 ratification.

The first woman to vote in Florida was Zena B. Dreier on June 19, 1915, in Fellsmere (pop. 1,500). Dreier also was the first woman in the South to vote in a local election. The Florida Legislature did not ratify the 19th Amendment until 1969.


Book connections

+ The Ballot Box Battle by Emily Arnold McCully, Dragonfly, grades 2-4, picture book. Inspired by her famous neighbor, suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, fictional character Cordelia finds the courage to wage her own mighty battle. Ignore a brother's chant of "No votes for pea-brained females!"? Never!

+ A Time for Courage: The Suffragette Diary of Kathleen Bowen, Washington, D.C., 1917 (Dear America) by Kathryn Lasky, Scholastic, grades 4-6, fiction. A 13-year-old girl fills a journal with notes about her world, including World War I in Europe, the march for women's suffrage, parties and schoolwork.

+ 33 Things Every Girl Should Know About Women's History: From Suffragettes to Skirt Lengths to the ERA, edited by Tonya Bolden, Crown, grades 6-12, nonfiction. Photographs, essays, poems, diaries and short stories celebrate the history of American women from the 18th century to the present.

Voting vocabulary

+ ratification _ noun: the act of ratifying; confirmation; sanction.

+ ratify _ verb: to confirm by expressing consent, approval, or + formal sanction: to ratify a constitutional amendment.

+ suffrage _ noun: the right to vote, especially in a political election.

+ suffragist (suffragette) _ noun: an advocate of the grant or extension of political suffrage, especially to women.


ON THE WEB featuressuffrage.html _ Part of the Public Broadcasting System Web sites, PBS Kids; the history of women's suffrage _ National Women's History Project _ National Women's Hall of Fame aramerica/parentteacher /guides/dearamerica/timecourage.htm _ "A Time for Courage" discussion guide from Scholastic