Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – While heading into a voting booth and casting a ballot may now seem routine for both men and women, it wasn't always that way.
It took nearly 100 years for activists and reformers to win women the right to vote. Known as the suffrage movement, it was a time filled with the passion of Alice Paul, a civil rights activist from New Jersey, who founded the National Women's Party, the dedication of Antoinette Brown Blackwell who helped establish the New Jersey Women's Suffrage Association and of course Susan B. Anthony, for whom the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote was named.
Ocean County will mark the 100th anniversary of New Jersey's Ratification of the 19th Amendment during a ceremony scheduled for 3 p.m., Feb. 11 in historic Courtroom One of the Ocean County Courthouse, Washington Street, here. The public is invited to attend.
"The right to vote freely and without interference is by far one of the greatest privileges we have here in the United States," said Ocean County Clerk Scott M. Colabella. "The suffrage movement, some of which was anchored in New Jersey, was unrelenting in securing that privilege for all women, enfranchising them with all the rights and responsibilities of citizenship they deserve. And while the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on Aug. 26, 1920, the action was taken by New Jersey six months earlier on Feb. 9, 1920."
Colabella, a key organizer of the Feb. 11th ceremony, noted Ocean County was a pioneer in the movement and was the only county in New Jersey to support a referendum in 1915 to amend the state constitution extending suffrage to women.
"As an elected Constitutional Officer in Ocean County, I am honored to coordinate this important program recognizing the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution granting women the right to vote," he said.
The program recognizes women who continue to play a key role in public service in Ocean County.
Scheduled speakers include:
• State Superior Court Assignment Judge Marlene Lynch Ford, who, in addition to being the first woman to serve as Assignment Judge in Ocean County, also was the first woman to serve as Prosecutor in Ocean County. She was one of six women elected from Ocean County to serve in the State Legislature.
• Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines, the second woman only to be elected to the Board of Freeholders in the county's history. She led the Freeholder Board in 2019 as its Director. She also is a former state Assemblywoman.
• Barbara Lanuto, first woman to serve as Ocean County's Deputy County Clerk.
• Ocean County Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove, the sixth woman to represent Ocean County in the State Legislature.
"All of these women bring so much to the table as public servants and also as role models to young women who may be interested in pursuing public office," said Ocean County Freeholder Gary Quinn, liaison to the Ocean County Clerk's Office. "This anniversary highlights the challenges and the resulting opportunities that came from the suffrage movement."
Ocean County Historian Timothy G. Hart will present remarks on this important milestone.
"This program brings together students, elected officials, and women who have dedicated their lives to public service, all highlighting how far we have come," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari.
In an effort to encourage people to vote, the Ocean County Board of Elections and County Clerk's staff will be available to provide information and forms to register voters in addition to applications for voters to obtain a Vote by Mail Ballot.
"In addition to being a celebration of women, following a hard fought struggle to gain the right to vote, the event will be informational and a means for our residents to gain important knowledge about voting," Colabella said.