Rockford voting rights advocates offer history of casting your - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford voting rights advocates offer history of casting your choice

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Primary elections are just six weeks away. As you cast your choice, we've got some information for you to think about. 50 years ago, you might not have been able to vote.

Did you know Wyoming was the first territory allowing women to vote? One Rockford group talks about just how much work went into major milestones like that one.

Granting women's suffrage has to do with the 19th Amendment, ratified in 1920. Western U.S. territories like Wyoming implemented the new rules right away, hoping more people would move there and drive up population numbers. Back then, it was also thought that women would all vote the same way.

The Voting Rights Act, a federal law, prohibits even more discrimination. It was passed just five decades ago in 1965. President Lyndon B. Johnson helped move that along, saying passing the Act was a way to honor civil rights leader, late President John Kennedy. Students played a major role as well. Summer 1964 is called "Freedom Summer," or "The Mississippi Summer Project." College kids came from all over the country to Mississippi, making major efforts in voter registration.

One of the methods used to deny citizens their chance to vote is through limiting registration. League of Women Voters guest speaker Dr. Catherine Forslund says that happened a lot, especially to African American voters late in the 19th century.

Another voting rights expert, attorney Marissa Liebling, spoke about where we are now-a-days in Illinois, with new laws like allowing 17 year-olds to vote in primary elections and online voter registration starting up summer 2014.

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