Most of Wilton CT’s planned events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment were upended by the pandemic. So today, the Town’s First Selectwoman and many Wilton organizations are posting virtual ‘I VOTED’ stickers on their social media platforms. These ‘digital stickers’ are not the generic flag version voters are familiar with. Instead, the series consists of six designs, most with images of Wilton women who fought for equality in the late 1800s/early 1900s — Grace Knight Schenck, Hannah Raymond Ambler, Alice Merwin Eakland and more. Republicans and Democrats alike fought for equality at the ballot box. The posts include short captions explaining the women’s contributions.

Because of the changes in voting this year — the expansion of voting by absentee ballot and the move to ‘contactless’ in-person voting, the idea of giving out ‘I VOTED’ stickers at the polls was shelved and the project transitioned to a digital format. Wilton organizations are posting these digital files on their Facebook and Instagram pages and distributing them to their respective members/databases in time for the August 11th primary election and again on November 3rd for the general election. Wilton voters are invited to upload, post and share the images on their preferred social media platforms for friends and neighbors (and the world) to see. We hope this encourages others to vote as well as educate themselves on the suffrage movement locally and nationally. Perhaps this effort will inspire others to celebrate their own local suffrage history.

Wilton’s First Selectwoman (Lynne Vanderslice) and CT’s Secretary of State (Denise Merrill) are participating in this project, along with the Wilton Historical Society, the Wilton Library, the Wilton League of Women Voters, the Wilton DTC, the Wilton Garden Club, the Wilton YMCA, Ambler Farm and Weir Farm, to name a few. Ms President USA will also participate, an organization that helps empower young women not yet able to vote.

The project was initiated by Pamela Hovland, a Wilton resident, graphic designer, faculty member at Yale University and a long-time visual activist. Pamela collaborated with Julie Hughes, archivist at the Wilton Library History Room and Peggy Reeves, a former Democratic Registrar of Voters in Wilton, a former State Representative, and the former Director of Elections for the Secretary of the State’s office, now on staff focusing on voting access.

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Wilton LWV member Pam Klem was one of eight honorees who received the 2020 Political Courage Award at the annual League of Women Voters CT convention on May 30th.  Klem was recognized and honored for her tireless work on organizing and coordinating several state and municipal debates, community forums, and programs. As one WLVW member described Klem, “Pam works in a nonpartisan manner and is able to draw different viewpoints and opinions to a final consensus”.  In addition, as LWVCT campaign finance specialist, Klem has worked closely with the CT League’s Legislative Advocacy Team, working on behalf of clean elections, campaign contribution transparency, and equitable competition among candidates for political office. 

More than 56 participants representing 25 Connecticut regions, including Wilton LWV members Tina Gardner, Anne Pettigrew Nunes, and Virginia Gunther, attended via a virtual meeting. Wilton LWV delegate Ann Nunes explained, “We shared experience and bore witness to the many programs and actions that Chapters across the state have undertaken over the past year both in celebration of the Suffrage Centennial as well as regular activities focused on women’s empowerment, voter education and registration. It was exciting to be part of decision-making as we shift into a new way of connecting and communicating within the League network.” 

Cindy Wolfe Boynton and Brittany Yancy were the Convention featured speakers.  Ms. Boynton is an award-winning writer, playwright, college professor, and current president of the Ct Chapter of the National Organization for Women and sits on the steering committee of the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls.  Ms. Yancy is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Goodwin University whose research focuses on 20th century U.S. social movements, women’s activism and black women’s political and intellectual history.  Selected as one of the 100 Women of Color in Hartford, she was appointed to the Board of Ct.’s State Education Resource Center and currently serves on the steering committee for the Governor’s Council on Women and Girls.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the LWV, an organization that worked on behalf and supported the passage of the 19th amendment.  The LWV with its state and local chapters maintains its mission to inform voters, leading its work with its nationwide People Powered Fair Maps Campaign. Despite challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonpartisan mission of the state LWVCT as evidenced by its convention theme “Empowering Voters, Defending Democracy” endures. Its programs keep Ct. citizens informed.   The LWVCT urges Ct. citizens to participate in democracy by its CTVOTES! Campaign that fosters voter information and registration, working together with other community organizations and groups.  This year LWVCT has provided voting information publications, and advocated on campaign finance and media transparency, and environmental issues.