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SAT Question for September 23rd

Women’s Suffrage

The United States Constitution has been amended 27 times since its ratification. Rights such as freedom of speech, religion, and press, for example, are granted by the First Amendment. This passage focuses on the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

        The American political landscape is constantly        shifting on a myriad of issues, but the voting process        itself has changed over the years as well. Electronic        ballot casting, for example, provides the public with(5)    instantaneous results, and statisticians are more        accurate than ever at forecasting our next presi-        dent. Voting has always been viewed as an intrinsic        American right and was one of the major reasons        for the nation’s secession from Britain’s monarchical(10)    rule. Unfortunately, although all men were consti-        tutionally deemed “equal,” true equality of the sexes        was not extended to the voting booths until 1920.        The American women’s suffrage movement began        in 1848, when Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia(15)    Mott organized the Seneca Falls Convention. The        meeting, initially an attempt to have an open dia-        logue about women’s rights, drew a crowd of nearly        three hundred women and included several dozen        men. Topics ranged from a woman’s role in society(20)    to law, but the issue of voting remained a conten-        tious one. A freed slave named Frederick Douglass        spoke eloquently about the importance of women in        politics and swayed the opinion of those in attend-        ance. At the end of the convention, one hundred(25)    people signed the Seneca Falls Declaration, which        listed “immediate admission to all the rights and        privileges which belong to [women] as citizens of        the United States.”        Stanton and Mott’s first victory came thirty years(30)    later when a constitutional amendment allowing        women to vote was proposed to Congress in 1878.        Unfortunately, election practices were already a        controversial issue, as unfair laws that diminished        the African American vote had been passed during(35)    Reconstruction. Questionable literacy tests and a        “vote tax” levied against the poor kept minority        turnout to a minimum. And while several states        allowed women to vote, federal consensus was        hardly as equitable. The rest of the world, however,(40)    was taking note—and women were ready to act.        In 1893, New Zealand allowed women the right        to vote, although women could not run for office in        New Zealand. Other countries began reviewing and        ratifying their own laws as well. The United King-(45)    dom took small steps by allowing married women to        vote in local elections in 1894. By 1902, all women        in Australia could vote in elections, both local and        parliamentary.        The suffrage movement in America slowly built(50)    momentum throughout the early twentieth century        and exploded during World War I. President Wood-        row Wilson called the fight abroad a war for democ-        racy, which many suffragettes viewed as hypocritical.        Democracy, after all, was hardly worth fighting for(55)    when half of a nation’s population was disqualified        based on gender. Public acts of civil disobedience,        rallies, and marches galvanized pro-women advo-        cates while undermining defenders of the status quo.        Posters read “Kaiser Wilson” and called into ques-(60)    tion the authenticity of a free country with unjust        laws. The cry for equality was impossible to ignore        and, in 1919, with the support of President Wilson,        Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment to the        Constitution. It was ratified one year later by two-(65)    thirds of the states, effectively changing the Consti-        tution. Only one signatory from the original Seneca        Falls Declaration lived long enough to cast her first        ballot in a federal election.        America’s election laws were far from equal(70)    for all, as tactics to dissuade or prohibit African        Americans from effectively voting were still rou-        tinely employed. However, the suffrage movement        laid the groundwork for future generations. Laws,        like people’s minds, could change over time. The(75)    civil rights movement in the mid- to late twentieth        century brought an end to segregation and so-        called Jim Crow laws that stifled African American        advancement. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was        the final nail in the coffin; what emerged was a free(80)    nation guided by elections determined not by skin        color or gender, but by the ballot box.

The stance the author takes in the passage is best described as that of

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