The state league was formed Oct. 19, 1919, following the passing of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. Its first president was Jessie Daniel Ames—a prominent women’s suffragist, social reformer, Georgetown resident and graduate of Southwestern University.
Ames moved to Georgetown in 1893 when she was about 10 years old and graduated from Southwestern in 1902, according to university documents. Ames became a constant champion of women's and African American rights, leading her to head several state and national social justice organizations.
“If I had been a man, I would have been an awfully good revivalist,” Ames said at the time.
The newly established League of Women Voters Williamson County chapter was formed in September with plans to have a kickoff celebration in January. The group has formally broken off from the League of Women Voters Austin Area, which previously covered Williamson County.
Chris Spano, president of the Williamson County league, said she believed it was time to create a Williamson County-specific league, as the Austin-area one was spread thin with the increase in population.
While a century has passed since the league was formed and Ames was president, the purpose of the league remains the same: to increase voter turnout by creating better-informed citizens.
The League is a nonprofit that works to empower voters to make educated decisions at the polls by providing nonpartisan information on local and state candidates and ballot measures. It is also known for increasing voter registration and conducting candidate forums.
There are 35 active chapters of the League in Texas, including the state league.
“Voting is a right that we feel everybody should take advantage of,” Spano said. “We need to let our elected leaders know how we feel about issues and things that are important in our communities.”