With 67 days until the midterm elections, voting is on my mind. A vote is more than helping shape the future, it's about acknowledging and honoring the past. We are responsible for continuing the legacy of the women who fought for our right to vote; we owe it to our communities to act as a catalyst for change by taking our voices to the polls.
By Sasha Altschuler
In 1872, Susan B. Anthony cast her ballot in the presidential election, at a time when women were prohibited from doing so. Fifty years after she was arrested for illegally voting, women finally secured the right to vote. While voting is now a woman’s right, we should also consider it a call to action. The candidate who reflects my values may not always win, but will that stop me from voting? Never. It’s my vote for my community.
And yet, many choose to sit out in these midterm elections. Voter turnout is historically lower than in presidential-election years. According to a recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, “only 50 percent of Americans and 28 percent of young adults ages 18 to 29 say they are “absolutely certain” they’ll vote in midterms.” This number is far too low considering everything that’s at stake in the coming years. The power of voting affects the condition of our counties, cities, states, and nation. Local and state elections decide core issues that we live with on a daily basis: reproductive rights, equal pay, gun violence, children’s education, discrimination laws and so much more.
Women deserve a seat at the table. Whether that means electing women or having a hand in who is elected, our voices can only be heard if we allow them to be. Our voices matter.
We asked 25 women across the country why they are voting in the upcoming midterm elections. Here are their responses:
"A vote is an embodiment of needs, wishes, and aspirations for yourself and your community. It is absolutely essential that women vote because it is a political expression of our voices and experiences— and if we don’t use our voices to advocate for our needs, no one else will.”
“As more and more women are running office it's more important than ever that woman show up to vote. It's important that we remind political candidates of our interests and the issue areas that matter most to us. Showing up to vote ensures that our issues make it to the main stage."
“I always vote! If you’re running for dog catcher, I’m voting. I encourage my husband, my brother, and my kids to vote. My whole family meets up to go to the polls together - we feel the energy from everyone at the polling station. You need to vote, it really makes a difference. If no one voted, their voice would never be heard.”
“This year, as more women’s issues come to the forefront, I think it’s important to continue the momentum and for women to get out there and show our representatives that we care and we want people in office that are representing our views. The first time I voted in person was in the DC primaries this year (I’ve usually done it by mail), and it was a really amazing experience--there was a great energy and people were so excited to be there and happy to be voting!”
“I’m voting because I know my vote will not only make an impact for people in my state, but also in Congress as well. I remember when I was really little, my mom would take me with her to vote and she would let me flip the voting switch in the voting booth (not sure if this was even allowed!) I’ll never forget that.”
"Decisions are being made by politicians every day that impact women — their bodies, their workplaces, their children’s schools — and the only way to influence these decisions is to change who is making them. More women voting means more women in Congress, state legislature, and governorship."
“Of course it’s important for women to vote! Women fought for the right to vote; this is not just a right, it is a privilege and it is a civic responsibility that we have to honor the women who came before us in order to help protect the lives of the women who will come after us.”
Sydney Rachael Levin Epstein
“I’m planning to vote because it’s really important that the elected officials share my values as they represent me at all levels of government. It is especially essential that women vote in the upcoming election because representation is extremely important and we need to have seats at every table.”
“Our vote as women cannot be taken for granted and today more than ever, critical policy issues are at stake. Additionally, there is a cultural divide of how women are treated and viewed in our country that must end. I know many people are disillusioned by politics today and some may think their vote doesn't matter. We have seen countless examples recently of elections won by less than 1000 votes. Our vote does matter, especially as a woman, especially in these mid-term elections. We have to help educate our friends and encourage all women in our networks to vote.”
"I understand that U.S. politics can feel hopeless. I understand that the people I vote for may not wind up in office. I understand that our government may not always live up to the values I believe in. But, I have a vote. The women that came before me made that possible because they fought for it, they believed in justice, they persisted. Like them, I will not give up hope. I will vote for people who will fight for the betterment of our country. I will persist in the fight for goodness. I understand that voting is the best weapon I have."
Allie Cossman Friedman
“Women often underestimate their power-and we often see that within the political landscape. We see women not thinking that their issues are important enough or that female candidates don’t have a chance at winning. Women voting is an opportunity to say “no, these issues DO matter.”
“With important issues such as gun control, immigration, and women’s health on the line, the stakes are especially high for the November elections. Voting is the BEST way to make your voice heard and have a say in decisions that affect you.”
“As women, we have worked so hard for decades to achieve equality. It has been an uphill battle with many great achievements, but there is still so much progress to be made. It is our responsibility to go vote and ensure our voices continue to be heard.”
"The results of this year’s midterm elections will be incredibly important, not only with regard to the current presidency, but in shaping our political landscape for years to come. The next census is scheduled to take place in 2020 and many of the state politicians who will be in office for that redistricting will have been elected to 4 year terms in 2018. The results of these elections will help define legislative districts all the way through 2030, and because the stakes are incredibly high, we have a common mission to make sure everyone votes."
“Being a powerful woman means being a leader this November and make sure you get out there and vote!”
“In the past many years, I’ve been one of those people who only focuses on the Presidential elections. I remember I was with the Young Women’s Leadership Network and we were meeting with a Congresswoman and she was sharing her story and she was talking about how every level of our government is so important—starting with the school board, they are the ones who control our children’s education. And I thought to myself, wow, at every election, at every stage is so critical.”
“Voting is a way that we hold our elected officials accountable. If our values align with their actions, we will keep them in office. If they don’t align, we are going to try and vote them out. I’m excited for the day when even more women are running for office. In my opinion, women should be at least 50% of Congress, if not more.”
"We cannot just sit by and say we don’t want other people to make decisions about our body and our health, we must get out and vote to elect leaders who will listen to us and protect our rights.”
“I am planning to vote because I believe in the importance of using our voices to lift up each other and our communities, and voting is the major way to do that.”
“Countless people have fought for our right to vote. My maternal great-grandmother was a suffragette, who marched for women’s rights. She did a lot for the most vulnerable in Boston and encouraged the state government to do more for the poor, for families, and for women and children at risk. So I come from a long line of people who are very active. Voting is an honor and a privilege that millions of people around the world don’t have. I take it very seriously. So I encourage everyone to vote, regardless of their gender, regardless of their party affiliation. Just go out and vote.“
"Today, when our rights (to our bodies, to our principles as Americans) are under attack, it is more crucial than ever to participate in the midterms. As strong-minded, intelligent women, it is our duty to help shape this country and cast our votes for the women (!!) and men who will fight for us. Get involved and VOTE.”
“We know that women are underrepresented in politics, and that so many people who are eligible to vote aren’t voting. Born in raised in Florida, a swing state, I know how much my vote matters. Even though I’ve lived in DC since 2010, I’m still just as involved.”
“A lot of people think one vote doesn’t matter but it really does make a world of difference. Women’s voices in democracy is huge! Women are key to the progression of any society.”
"It’s important for everyone to vote this year, but it’s especially important for women to vote. We can’t take what we have for granted—access to healthcare, sexual assault and domestic violence prevention programs, our right to choose, and so much more. By exercising our right to vote, we elect people who share our values and vision for the future we want.”
“Although I’ve always felt the need to stand up for what I believe in, 2018 has me feeling the need to show up more than ever before. With the elections coming up in November, I know my vote is a powerful way to help realize change.”
Learn more about JWI's efforts to get out the vote this year,
as we tell our representatives to Hear Us Vote!
Sasha Altschuler is the National Manager of the Young Women's Leadership Network at JWI. JWI’s young women’s division empowers and inspires communities of young professional women dedicated to making a difference. Under Sasha's leadership, the Network has expanded from a regional initiative to a national network (including chapters in D.C., New York, Denver, Los Angeles, and Chicago) engaging more than 2,000 women in unique networking, volunteer, and skill-building programs each month. During her tenure, the Network has shifted focus beyond social and career development to programming that emphasizes women's empowerment and social justice, including events that promote grassroots advocacy, philanthropy and community development. Sasha graduated from the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan (GO BLUE).
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