Officers for the League of Women Voters of Central Kane County include, from left, Llona Steele of Geneva, Patti Lackman of Batavia and Jean Pierce of Geneva.
Officers for the League of Women Voters of Central Kane County include, from left, Llona Steele of Geneva, Patti Lackman of Batavia and Jean Pierce of Geneva.

CHICAGO – The League of Women Voters is celebrating the centennial of its founding today with an observance in Chicago.

“Voting rights are the key to our democracy, and the League has always worked hard to defend those rights,” said Barbara King of Batavia, a long-time member of the LWV of Central Kane County.

Many members of the Central Kane League were planning to attend today’s ceremonies at the Congress Hotel in downtown Chicago, where the LWV was founded on Feb. 14, 1920.

With nearly 100 members in St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, Sugar Grove and Elburn, the Central Kane organization is one of the most active chapters in the state, sponsoring numerous candidate forums and voter registration drives every year.

In the last month alone, the League’s voter service team screened the questions and provided the moderator for two local forums for the March primary election featuring candidates for Kane County offices, the Illinois General Assembly and the U.S. Congress.

The Central Kane chapter has three top officers, who effectively serve as co-presidents.

They include Jean Pierce and Llona Steele, both of Geneva, as well as Patti Lackman of Batavia.

Lackman serves handles voter service activities, Pearce heads the group’s issues and advisory efforts, while Steele is in charge of educational programming.

Even as the League celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding, the organization is looking ahead to yet another landmark centennial.

It was on Aug. 18, 1920 that Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing women the right to vote.

Congress approved the measure on June, 4, 1919, with Illinois becoming the first state to ratify the amendment just days later on June 10.

King said people should never take their right to vote for granted.

“People need to go out and exercise their right to vote,” King said, taking note of voter-suppression efforts in some states.

“Government should be making it easier to vote,” King said, not more difficult.

Originally, only women could join the League, but men have been eligible for membership since 1973.

Kane County