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Politics and Government

Gillibrand promoting the importance of celebrating suffrage

Ellen Abbott
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), center, and other officials spoke about commemorating the 100th anniversary of th 19th Amendment in Utica earlier this week. Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) is second from the right.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is hoping to establish a women’s suffrage commission that would help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920.

The underlying effort of this commission would be education says Gillibrand. And the concept takes her back to 1976, when she was ten years old and the Freedom Train came to town to celebrate the nation’s bicentennial.

“And it was an educational opportunity for kids to learn about 1776. And it was really fun. And we want to bring the same kind of excitement around women’s suffrage to celebrate women leaders, a lot of them came from New York state and talk about why having a voice in politics is so important,” said Gillibrand.

A bill to create the commission would set aside $2 million in grants in each of the three years leading up to the centennial celebration. Schools, non-profits or any institution that wants to celebrate women’s suffrage, could apply for the funds to create curriculum or any other kind of awareness raising program.

“The reason we want to commemorate suffrage is because we want to make sure that this election, the next election, the next election, that every person votes, especially women. We want them to know how important their voices are and how important these elections are," said the senator.

Gillibrand says it’s important that people understand the fight to get the right to vote at a time when voter turnout numbers are often dismally low.

"Talking about the right to vote, and how hard it was to win it, hopefully will leave an impression on the younger generation, that this is a basic civil right you don’t want to lose, by simply not exercising it.”

Gillibrand says she expects the bill to be passed by the end of the year and funds to be available immediately. She expects New York state, as a big player in the suffrage movement, will get it’s fair share of funds.