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New Utah license plates celebrating Utah women's suffrage now available

SALT LAKE CITY — Wyoming may have beat Utah by a few months in giving women the right to vote, but Utah is the first state where women first cast a ballot.

In honor of that historic event in 1870, Utah released a new license plate design Wednesday celebrating the state's women being the "first to vote" in modern American history.

The new women's suffrage recognition plate design was unveiled during an announcement in front of the state Capitol. The plates are available for new or existing car registrations at Division of Motor Vehicles offices or on the Utah Motor Vehicle Portal website.

The license plate was spearheaded by Better Days 2020, a new movement to "popularize Utah women's history," the group's to co-founder, Neylan McBaine, said during the event.

The year 2020 will mark the 150th anniversary of the first women voting in Utah and the centennial of the 19th amendment, which assured women the right to vote nationwide.

McBaine recognized that women, such as Susan B. Anthony, attempted to vote before 1870, and others may have even disguised themselves as men to successfully vote, but Salt Lake City was where women first "legally cast ballots in the modern nation."

The new license plates are one of the group's efforts leading up to the anniversary to celebrate women's accomplishments in Utah.

Better Days 2020 was also a driving force behind a plan to put a statue of Martha Hughes Cannon in the U.S. Capitol. Cannon was the first woman in the country elected as a state senator, and, McBaine noted, she even ran against her own husband.

The group has also organized an education initiative, providing lesson plans and other resources for Utah and U.S. history classes.

Better Days 2020 is also working on a walking tour of suffrage sites, including areas where Utahns protested the federal government revoking women's voting rights as "punishment" for polygamy, McBaine said, and the Salt Lake Tabernacle, where Susan B. Anthony visited and spoke to suffragettes twice — once after the first female ballots were cast, and again after Utah's Constitution was ratified to include women's suffrage.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who also spoke at the event, said he loves how Better Days 2020 gives women a "chance to show what they can do. … That's what the American dream is about — no guarantees of outcome for success, but a guarantee of opportunity."