ADAMS, Mass. — The "Vote For Susan" project is ramping up for 2020 with new goals and initiatives in place for the upcoming 2018 election.
Organizer Virginia Duval said the group has big plans leading up to 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, but the most immediate is to increase the number of registered voters in town, encourage voting and fill vacant town government seats.
"Voting and government participation are at the very foundation of our republic but for residents of Adams, the birthplace of Susan B. Anthony, this literally hits closer to home," Duval said. "The Adams Suffrage Centennial Celebration Committee has big plans for 2020…The Vote For Susan Project is a way for everyone to take part, to make a difference and to have pride in the outcome."
The project kicked off last year in congruence with the Adams Suffrage Centennial Celebration Committee. This year, it will encourage voter participation in Adams as part of the anniversary of women getting the right to vote.
The year 2020 is also the bicentennial of the birth of Anthony, an Adams native who dedicated her life to advocating for women's civil rights, including the right to vote. She died at age 86, 14 years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment that extended suffrage to women.
Duval said so far there has been a good response to the project and even people from as far away as Maryland, Virginia and Texas have expressed an interest.
"The response so far to the Vote For Susan Project has been very positive," she said. "We've been invited to speak briefly to several local groups in the coming weeks and are open to invitations from others to spread the word about the project. We are always looking for ways to reach different groups of people. The ultimate test of our success will be how Adams voters respond at the polls."
Duval said the group's first charge is to reverse downward trends in local civic involvement and fill the current 17 vacant seats in town government and in town meeting.
Not only does the group want more people to run, but it wants more people to register and actually get out there and vote.
She said last election voter turnout was 19 percent and through the group's initiatives, Duval hopes to increase this to 30 percent in the 2018 May election and to 50 percent in the coming November election.
"We think that Adams should and can do much better than the national average for voter turnout," she said. "Voting becomes a habit, which we hope people will keep long after 2020."
Duval said the group has dispatched promotional buttons and ribbons reminding residents to register to vote by April 17 and if they are interested in running, to return papers by March 19.
"Yellow/gold, white and purple were the official colors of the women's suffrage movement in America in the late 19th and early 20th century. The sunflower was its symbol," she said. "Purple badges, sashes, ribbons and other items of clothing were worn by suffragettes in this country and in the UK to show support for the movement."
Most importantly, the promotional materials are out there to remind people to vote on May 7.
Duval added that the group also has some upcoming events and there will be two presentations on Feb. 18. There will be a presentation at 3 in the Adams Free Library's Memorial Hall as part of the annual Susan B. Anthony birthday celebration (Anthony's birthday is the Feb. 15) and another at the same time at the Maple Grove Civic Club at the PNA Hall on Victory Street.
Duval added that the group will also have a presence at Thunderfest on Feb. 24 and residents can pick up flyers, buttons and ribbons to help spread the word.
"Anthony and many others sacrificed much and worked very hard to extend the vote to women because exercising that right is critical to the success of our nation," Duval said. "I think she would say to the residents of Adams, a place she loved to visit, that they shouldn't waste what she fought so hard for and that going to the polls would be a wonderful way to honor her."
More information can be found on the group's Facebook